*Please do not copy/share without giving my work credit.
The Destructive Nature of Pornography Addiction
Internet websites such as www.pshychologytoday.com or www.webmd.com are full of arguments against the addictive nature of pornography. Their position states that pornography addiction is “pop psychology” and that watching porn is not addictive. Contrary to what an individual can find on the Internet, pornography is addictive. It damages marriages and families. Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pornography addiction is particularly destructive.
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) sexual addiction is not considered enough of a diagnosable disorder to be included in the criteria. Interestingly enough, smoking started out similarly. It was many years before smoking was considered harmful enough to be added to the manual. However, at www.familysafemedia.com, the current statistic is that every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. In a book entitled The Sex Industrial Complex written by John L. Harmer and James B. Smith, they discuss the lucrative business of pornography: “Since 1988 some of the most prestigious and best known corporations in the United States have been deeply involved in the business of pornography. The documentation is absolute and irrefutable that the combined annual net income from their production and sales of pornography comes to more than two billion dollars per year. That is only a small portion of the profits gained by the members of the Sex Industrial Complex from their production and sale of obscenity.” If pornography is not addictive, why is so much money spent and earned on sales and production?
To answer the question, is pornography addictive, we should look at the definition. Donald L. Hilton Jr. MD used this definition in his book, He Restoreth My Soul, “Addiction represents a pathological, yet powerful form of learning and memory. We use the term ‘pathology’ in medicine to describe a process of disease, where the body or mind has departed from the healthy normal state.” Repetitive use of pornography changes the brain. Several studies indicate the brain of a porn addict is similar to that of an alcoholic or drug addict. The same pleasure chemicals released in the brain for substance abuse are released for pornography use as well. Dr. Jeffery Satinover quoted in Dr. Hill’s book made this statement: “With advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus has become nearly resistance-free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.” Is the ease of access for those addicted to pornography significantly better than for drug or alcohol addiction? One can argue slow Internet speeds, dry counties or not knowing a dealer as deterrents. The key difference here is “unlimited supply.”
The damage this unlimited supply of pornography is causing wives and families is bringing into the psychology world another condition to deal with, that of Betrayal or Relational trauma. According to Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT, “In all my years of counseling individuals and couples, I have never seen any other behavior produce a pattern of pain and misery… Most men who reveal their secretive behaviors feel the relief of not having to carry the secret anymore. Ironically, the crushing load once carried by the addict gets transferred to the wife. Burdened by this new and unwelcome challenge, she typically experiences profound fear, anxiety, and confusion. Many scholars have noted that women betrayed by their husband’s pornography use experience symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder...” This PTSD-type trauma can cause sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anxiety and/or panic attacks, rage or anger, depression, emotional flooding, and much more. Women suffering from trauma are seeing their relationship as a source of danger, rather than one of trust. Dorothy Maryon said in her recent presentation at the UCAP (Utah Coalition Against Pornography) conference in Salt Lake City: “Because we are wired to connect with others, the closer the person is who hurts us, the more traumatic the experience.” Women experiencing this type of trauma find it is not possible to manage feelings, thoughts, or relationship interactions. To work through this trauma a recovery program and support system for the wife is crucial.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the trauma exacerbates when wives are dealing with hurt and betrayal of their husband’s ‘problem.’ Wives cannot compete with the airbrushed, photo-shopped women that are their husband’s virtual mistresses. When you couple this with commandments of chastity, fidelity and covenants made in the temples of the Lord -- these wives are devastated. They are ashamed, embarrassed, and wrongly blaming themselves for their husband’s choices. Another harmful element for LDS wives of porn addicts is the hurtful counsel given by inexperienced church leaders. In October of 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of this issue at the Priesthood session of General Conference. He said, “While the matter of which I speak was a problem then, it is a much more serious problem now. It grows increasingly worse. It is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful. I speak of pornography in all of its manifestations.” The women of the Church are living with this ‘raging storm’ often without help and support and understanding from their leaders. A condition resulting in loss of faith and increased doubt in what they once believed
A list of 12 recommendations for dealing with this scourge in our day was created by a blogger at www.rowboatsandmarbles.com, a well-respected source in the addiction community. In this list, his advice for wives is: we need to make sure wives get information about sex addiction, and that wives of addicts need someone else to talk to besides a bishop. Priesthood leaders are typically not qualified to help someone overcome addiction, or a wife deal with the emotional chaos betrayal brings to the marriage. This requires a professional.
Pornography is taking over homes and marriages not only in the world, but in the Church as well. The latest statistics state that 70% of men are dealing with this addiction in one form or another. 1 in 5 mobile searches are for pornography. 9 out of 10 Internet porn users only access free sites. The first exposure to porn among men is an average of 12 year old. 70% of wives of sex addicts could be diagnosed with PTSD, and 68% of divorce cases involved one party starting a new relationship over the Internet.
Whether this qualifies for inclusion in the diagnostic Statistical Manual or not, pornography is one of the most destructive conditions of our society. As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in 2004, “this is a raging storm.” It is not just ‘a little problem.” It is destroying relationships and marriages, worst of all, big corporations are making money off this.
Harmer, John. "The Moral Imperative Remains." The Sex Industrial Comples America's Secret Combination. Salt Lake City: Lighted Candle Society, 2007. Print.
Hilton, Donald L. "What Is Addiction?" He Restoreth My Soul: Understanding and Breaking the Chemical and Spiritual Chains of Pornography Addiction through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 5th ed. San Antonio, TX: Forward Pub., 2009. Print.
Steurer, Geoff. "How Pornography Affects Women and What They Can Do." S.A. Lifeline Foundation. Web. 26 June 2015.
Maryon, Dorothy. ""What's A Partner to Do?" Staying Sane through the Insanity of Relational Trauma | Utah Coalition Against Pornography." Utah Coalition Against Pornography. Web. 26 June 2015. <http://utahcoalition.org/project/whats-a-partner-to-do-staying-sane-through-the-insanity-of-relational-trauma/>.
Hinckley, Gordon. "A Tragic Evil among Us - Gordon B. Hinckley." A Tragic Evil among Us - Gordon B. Hinckley. Web. 26 June 2015.
"12 Things Members of the LDS Church Can Do About the Pornography Epidemic." RowboatAndMarblesorg. 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 26 June 2015.
"250 Facts and Stats About Pornography | Covenant Eyes." Covenant Eyes. Web. 26 June 2015.