Pornography is any sexually explicit material, such as magazine, book, video, picture, or music, whose primary purpose is for sexual arousal. Parents sometimes maintain a collection of pornography, publications and videos, and do not view these as problematic. it is important to rethink acceptance of pornography and to consider its negative effects on those who view it. In Protecting and Parenting Sexually Abused Children
(2006), Rick Morris discusses its harmful effects. The following are adapted from that material:
- Pornography shapes the sexual desires of those who view it.
- Pornography imprinted in memory and cannot be erased.
- Pornography affects sexual arousal.
- Observations become a part of the individual's belief system - whether something is acceptable or not acceptable behavior.
- Objectification of women impacts the view of women as sex objects and contributes to the "use" of others in satisfying sexual desire.
- Pornography makes normal, non-deviant, loving sexual relationships less desirable and inhibits arousal.
- Deviant acts observed in pornography become potential behaviors in those who view it.
- Masturbation while having deviant sexual thoughts or fantasizing about images seen in pornography reinforces the behavior and increases the likelihood that the individual will commit the act that is fantasized.
- The more times that the deviant images are seen (such as child pornography on internet), the more likely the person will commit sexual acts against children.
- If pornography is in the home, children in the home are at risk.
Pornography addiction uses the same criteria as that of other addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, and gambling. A pornography addict views, reads, and thinks about pornography to an excessive degree, such that it causes significant consequences to family, social, work, or recreational life. The individual prioritizes pornography over other areas of his life.
Irons and Schneider (1990) provided criteria for pornography addiction, utilizing the same criteria as other addictive behaviors:
- Failure to resist impulse to engage in behavior
- Increasing tension prior to behavior
- Pleasure or relief when engaging in behavior
- At least five of the following:
- Frequent preoccupation with behavior
- Frequent engaging in behavior, more than or longer than intended
- Repeated unsuccessful efforts to reduce, control, or stop behavior
- Giving up social, work, or recreational activities because of behavior
- Continued behavior despite serious consequences
- Needing more of the behavior to get the same effect
- Restlessness and irritability if unable to engage in behavior
- Some symptoms have lasted at least one month or have occurred repeatedly over a period of time.
Online pornography addiction is now viewed as an addiction that has increased significantly with availability of computers and ease of access to pornography. Addicts can view sexually explicit photographs and videos online or can engage in sexual activities through the use of web cameras. Online prostitutes are also available.
Although some argue that pornography has no harmful effects, addicts give up relationships, overlook responsibilities, and spend large amounts of money satisfying their addiction. Pornography addicts tend to isolate themselves, engaging in compulsive masturbation while reading or viewing pornography. As with other addictions, the desire for new and more exciting material increases. With this increase in erotic material, addicts often fantasize the deviant activities they see in pictures and on videos. When pornography involves children, addicts begin to fantasize about sex with children and may follow through with the behavior. This tends to occur more frequently with regressed child molesters rather than fixated molesters whose preference is children.
When sex offenders are apprehended by police, and their residences are investigated, large quantities of pornography are often confiscated. Some sex offenders discuss the relationship of pornography to their sexual abuse of children and report that the obsession and compulsion with child sexual abuse began with their addiction to pornography.