Internet pornography has just become an accepted fact of life. When I was writing a book on Internet pornography addiction titled Hidden Dangers of the Internet, people were astonished and outraged that the largest moneymaker on the Internet was pornography. There were calls to do something about it, curb it, regulate it. That has proven impossible to do, up to this point, especially given the complexities of Internet pornography — who makes it, where it comes from, who accesses it, the sheer number of people accessing it. The enormity of the task is so great that law enforcement agencies have focused their efforts on child pornography, leaving adult content to, ostensibly, adults. That adult porn is huge business on the Internet is now ho-hum given. The effects on families, however, are anything but ho hum.
In the past several years, The Center has seen an increase in the number of people calling in with “martial issues” and “sexual issues.” Often, the problem is not an affair or infidelity in the marriage. The problem is that one of the spouses is addicted to Internet pornography. There is absolutely an alienation of sexual affection but the “other person” isn’t even someone real. Instead, it’s a barrage of airbrushed, ultraeroticized, slickly packaged, pornographic images. These images are immensely powerful, with the power to create an addiction.
Pornography addiction is like any addiction, in that it is progressive in nature. What began as exciting and arousing becomes less so over time, and there is a need to increase the amount, volume, and depravity of the images in order to achieve the same level of stimulation.
It generally starts with one picture, one image, one instance. Porn companies are very clever and find all sorts of ways to push their images onto your computer. They know that a certain percentage of people who inadvertently view a pornographic image will take a second look and then want to see more. To them, it’s all a matter of numbers. If they can send out X amount of pornographic images, a percentage of X will come back for more. If the X amount is very large, then it doesn’t matter if the percentage number is small. The more images they can put out there, the more people will get sucked in.
There is something enticing about doing something you’re not supposed to do. You glance around to see if anyone is watching, and if they’re not, you feel a rush of having gotten away with something. No oversight, no accountability. It’s as if you’ve gotten something for free. You go through red lights at three in the morning when no one else is around. You fudge on your tax return because the chance of anyone ever questioning that amount is infinitesimal. These are, of course, fairly innocuous examples, but as people, there is a thrill of being about to get away with something for nothing. It’s part of the rebellion of our human nature.
When this tendency is coupled with the powerful images of pornography, the compulsion to continue is overwhelming. Even when you know you shouldn’t do it, you know it has gotten out of hand, you know you’re adversely affecting the relationships in your life, you do it anyway, and you do more of it, and you look for deeper and deeper ways to gain the same stimulation. This is the working definition of addiction. Just because it’s just you alone in your den doesn’t make it any less so. What started out as stimulating becomes scary and humiliating and compulsive. You’re no longer getting away with anything; it’s getting away with you.
If you are struggling with Internet pornography, The Center is here to help. I encourage you to read this testimonial from one of our clients, and if you feel a confidential consultation is needed, please do not hesitate to contact our admissions department to speak with a specialist.
“I came to The Center because my addiction to gaming and pornography was out of control. I would plan my day around being online. I lost my job because of it. I lost my girlfriend because of it. All the while, I was lying to myself, convincing myself that I had it under control. Finally my mom explained to me the damage being done to our family and to my future. For once, I listened to her, and I called The Center. After four weeks, I must say I feel like a new person. I feel in control and realize how silly it was to spend all my waking hours online. I have more perspective, balance and I’m truly happy. I never thought I could feel this way. Thank you so much” –— Darrin, 24 – Male