The Case for Porn


The Case for Porn

January/February 2016


Porn is polarizing. Porn is confusing. Porn can be alarming. For therapists, porn can push us out of our comfort zone and trigger negative countertransference. But one thing is for sure: porn is everywhere, and it’s here to stay. Right now, Internet porn accounts for 35 percent of all web traffic in the United States. More people visit porn websites than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Twenty-five percent of men admit to accessing porn at work, and 30 percent of all porn users are women. That’s a lot of people watching porn, but it doesn’t mean that we’re being overwhelmed by an epidemic of “porn addiction,” as some people suggest. Studies show that the brain of somebody who identifies as a “porn addict” is very similar to the brain of someone with a high libido who doesn’t self-identify as a “porn addict.” And a libido issue isn’t an addiction issue: it’s not a disease, and it doesn’t require some sort of sex rehab. In fact, the label addiction actually stops the conversation and doesn’t help us get at what may lie beneath someone’s sexual behavior, or the social context within which they’re pursuing their desires.

But if not addiction, then what? Sure, excessive porn use can be a symptom of mental health issues. When someone’s depressed, for example, their use of porn might increase, along with drugs and alcohol. But excessive porn use is the result of these issues, not the cause. Porn use can also be a coping strategy, or means…

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