A blog about forensic psychology

“Pornography Addiction:” Science or Naked Rhetoric?

Until the data establish sexual addiction as a viable scientific construct, it’s yet another example of an over-eager industry putting the cart before the horse. Read More

Brave, brave woman

You are one of the bravest women have read. You have been able to stand clear of what Chomsky called 'Manufactured Consent', and have dared to take on several Holy Cows of today.
I am deeply deeply heartened.
Thank you.

From the article: "the

From the article: "the dehumanization and degradation of women, in particular, that are the mainstay of pornography"

If you don't even know for sure the extent of pornography use on the Internet, how can you claim to know what is the mainstay of those who consume porn on the Internet? In the old days, the porn industry manufactured and most people got what they got and there were only a few flavors. But now people can seek very specific porn fetishes and types of interactions (including live web camming, etc.)

Frankly, I don't see much of the degradation of women in the porn sources I've checked on the web. But that's perhaps because of MY choices. Which is my point. Today, it's more what people seek, not what they are fed.

Gonzo porn is the most

Gonzo porn is the most popular porn genre and it's bread and it's butter is degradation and violence against women, including real injuries inflicted on women (vaginal and cervical bruising and anal prolapse for example). In some porn inflicting injury and conjuring visible distress in the woman is the entire purpose. You say you don't see 'much' of it, which indicates that you do see it. It exists and it's widespread, regardless of whether you yourself use it. One clever, new marketing strategy in the industry is supposedly 'feminist' porn. The very reason for the existence of this niche market is because so much of mainstream porn is decidedly un-feminist and woman-hating.

Gonzo most popular? Not so sure

Can you support your assertion with a real study or some kind of statistics or sources?

Gonzo porn that features degrading women is only a sub-part of only one genre of porn. It is not all of "porn", like rape is not all of "sex". What I've seen of the most popular search terms for porn include a whole variety of things, none of which (that I've seen) involve search terms having to do with degrading women.

One source I'm familiar with is a popular pay TV channel related to a well-known men's magazine. Of all the "porn" they have shown on that channel in recent years, I can think of only one show that had anything close to what you might be describing. So that might be about 1% of what that channel has been showing in the last 5 years.

So, by two imprecise measures of my own, I don't come up with anything even remotely close to what you seem to suggesting.

As for clever marketing strategy about feminist porn, not sure if you're saying its cynical or real. There are certainly sites out there that are started by real women who want to present porn in a positive way, having NOTHING to do with the rest of the porn industry.

I'm thinking that porn

I'm thinking that porn addiction for many is the "Oh crap my wife caught me!" excuse.

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry, I tried to stop, I have this horrible addiction."

Now its a disease, not a violation of trust.

Makes me glad I have a wife that watched porn with me (we don't any more mostly because our sex lives are better than the porn these days).

Being an addiction is an excuse for it being a violation of trust

This idea that having an addiction is a cop out from taking responsibility is wrong.

Any effective 'treatment' programme that I know of emphasises that the addict takes responsibility for the harm his / her behaviour has caused. Central to learning to exit without the object of your addiction is learning that you make the decision and that you always made the decision and that deciding not to 'act out' will not kill you, you can survive without acting out.

A 12 step principle is that 'the problem is in the room' - i.e. no one out there is responsible, you are. You cannot control what others do or say to you but you can choose how you react in response. That is called taking responsibility for your actions.

Sex is on fire

Remember the days when porn had music? Or where on VHS? My, oh my, how times change.


I believe watching porn is addictive like opium.It is very hard to stay away once hooked into.Can you substitute it for another addictive?

no, not like opium for everyone

No, it's not like opium. As I understand it, opium would addict just about everyone who consumed it regularly. Not so with porn. It definitely affects some people, but certainly not all.

I'm addicted to porn like I'm

I'm addicted to porn like I'm addicted to food. I always seem to need it, even after I had it recently. If I don't get it for a long period of time its all I can think about. Once I get it, I'm good for a while but then I start thinking about it again and the craving starts.

At least I don't need a needle like those diabetics with their horrible insulin addictions.

Not addicted to porn

I'm a guy and I find porn boring. Sometimes if somebody sends me a link to something new, I might watch it for a few minutes. But after that, it's all too much the same thing. Besides, why should I watch somebody else have fun? I'd rather have the fun myself.

I find my imagination, not to mention real women, much more interesting. Maybe I just haven't found the right kind of porn that pushes all my buttons yet.

I hear stories all the time about guys addicted to porn, and won't even go to bed with their ready and willing wives. I don't get it. You've got real 3-dimensional "porn" you can have with your wife, and you chose what you can see on a laptop instead? I guess I'm just not understanding the perspective.

Two more books for the list.

The Diseasing of America - Stanton Peele
I'm Dysfunctional, Your Dysfunctional - Wendy Kaminer

Neither deals with sex addiction per se, as I think they both barely pre-date its invention. The first is about the 12-step industry in general, while the second is a critique of the entire self-help industry.

Nothing highlights the decadence of society quite like the extent to which people are now forced to be reliant on whatever resources they can muster up on their own, for things society used to but no longer does for them. The worse conditions get, the more self-help will rain down from above.

Well what I experienced sure felt like an addiction

I don't care if you call it a compulsion or an addiction or whatever but I know I have had a very out of control relationship with my sexuality since I was 12 and while porn was never the central focus of that relationship it was a catalyst for it at times.

It makes me very angry when people play politics and engage it point scoring arguments about something that causes real ruin and anguish in peoples lives and something which they don't know how to change.

Yes there is an industry springing up about his just as there is an industry and many quacks dealing with drug, alcohol and other substance addictions. The fact that there are quacks and charlatans doesn't make the issue less real for those whose lives are out of control.

Sex is mood altering and the buzz and connection it brings can be just as powerful as any drug to those who use it. Sure it is used to medicate anxiety, loneliness and lots of other things as well - it is still real. And sure changing a person's behaviour means that they have to learn to deal with the anxiety, loneliness or whatever but they also have to learn that they can live without the 'drug', and that is not easy when your life time experience has taught you that if you don't have it you will in a sense 'die'.

I have a very ambivalent attitude to 12 step programmes or indeed anything that advocates a programmatic approach to dealing with the issues facing 'sex addicts' or porn addicts. But equally I cannot stand those who off handedly dismiss them. Be pragmatic, you have got to find what works and what speaks to an individual where they are at a particular time. For some people it will be a 12 step programme.

Links not working?

Thanks to all who are participating in this interesting conversation. A reader alerted me that a few of the links are not working. I am having trouble fixing them here, so in the meantime you can get to them from my professional blog site, where the post is also published:


Sorry for any inconvenience.

What about this link?

Dr, Franklin - Since you believe that critical exploration is important, are you willing to carefully read this analysis of David Ley's so-called "review of the literature"?

"The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Fractured Fairytale Posing As A Review" - http://pornstudycritiques.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=286&action=edit

In this "review", Ley, Prause & Finn -

1) Omitted all the studies demonstrating the negative effects of porn use. Yes. you read that correctly.

2) Misrepresented the content of several studies they cited in support of their thesis. This was done by cherry-picking sentences out of context.

3) Cited at least 10 studies that had absolutely nothing to with the associated text. Who proof-read this thing?

4) Clearly believe only opioids can cause addiction - not cocaine, alcohol, or nicotine - and certainly not any behaviors. They are out of step with all addiction researchers and the DSM.

5) Denounced the DSM5 for creating a behavioral addiction category. The same DSM they praised for not including porn addiction.

6) Cited Nicole Prause's "in the press" studies, but refused to cite in the press studies by Cambridge University. Valerie Voon of Cambridge performed the first ever brain scan studies on porn addicts. Voon found all the markers of addiction.

7) Clearly did not understand the role of DeltaFosB in reward or addiction. One of the top researchers on deltafosb said their section of Deltafosb was like a bad Saturday night parody.

8) Ignored several brain studies on Internet addicts, which included porn addiction as one of the internet applications.
9) Cited studies from 1980"s to refute the concepts of behavioral addictions.

10) Omitted the mountain of empirical evidence that demonstrates behavioral addictions involve the same shared set of mechanisms and brain changes which occur in drug addictions.

11) Omitted the 2011 new definition of addiction by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. ASAM sated that all addictions are one condition and that behavioral addictions, including sexual behavior addiction, are every bit as real as drug addiction. Note that ASAM contains Many of the researchers that provide the hard data.

All the above, and so much more, is meticulously documented in the analysis. In addition, citations that refute their claims are also provided, and studies are listed that show the negative effects of porn use. If nothing else, the publication of the Ley review demonstrates that the peer-review system is broken.

Whoops - bad link

Sorry. Here's the right link - "The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Fractured Fairytale Posing As A Review"<?strong>

A website dedicated to

A website dedicated to critiquing only studies that suggest porn isn't evil? As long as a study shows negative effects of porn, it's good?

Bias much?

Ley is not bias of course.....

Have your read Ley's book? Have you read his blog posts?
Have you read Prause's comments? Or seen her studies?
The word bias doesn't cover it.

Then you read the critique of Ley, Prause, Finn review, and you discover that they left out all negative studies and misrepresented many of the studies they cite to support their thesis.

Here's an entire section were they misrepresented all the studies:

In any case, in this section Ley et al. tumble from carelessness to mind-boggling incompetence. Not one of the six studies they cite has anything to do with their statements. To wit:

Studies examining rates of VSS use in nationally representative samples find higher rates of VSS use in both adolescents and adults who identify as other than heterosexual [133], as do studies of clinical samples [143].

- Citation 133 has nothing to do with VSS. It's about transcranial magnetic stimulation and depression. Citation 143 has nothing to do with VSS. It's about monkeys: "Male masturbation in free-ranging Japanese macaques."

Trials of DSM-5 hypersexual disorder criteria found that MSM were more than three times as likely to be in such treatment settings, compared with rates of MSM in comparable substance abuse or mental health facilities [144].

- Citation 144 has nothing to do with the above statement. It's "Sleep deprivation: Effect on sleep stages and EEG power density in man"

Increased use of VSS in these populations may reflect adaptive strategies. MSM may be more likely to seek information and stimuli consistent with their sexual orientation. This may reflect a common component of the ‘coming-out process’ of forming a stable sexual identity [145].

- Citation 145 has nothing to do with above statement. It's "Dieting and binging: a causal analysis"

Studies that examine use of VSS in MSM find that these men overwhelmingly endorse these positive benefits from VSS use [146]

- Citation 146 has nothing to do with men who have sex with men. It is about 12 and 13-year olds. "Sexual risk taking in adolescence: the role of self-regulation and attraction to risk"

It sounds like you're

It sounds like you're admitting you never critique articles that suggest porn is negative.

Show me a single link where you did.


Thanks for providing me and my readers with this link to a critique of Ley's article. I will review it as soon as I get a moment. In the meantime, can you please tell me who authored it (and/or why it appears to be anonymous)? That seems a little odd.

It's not uncommon

for science bloggers, especially neuroscience, to be anonymous. Some of my favorites are anonymous, such as neuroskeptic, neurocritic, and scicurious. Maybe such bloggers want readers to focus on only the content.


I am not a scientist or mental health professional. But you gave me a good chuckle about your rationale for anonymous comment.

Anonymous internet comment, at least in my belief, is not made so that readers "focus on detail". It is about not disclosing the source -- which might advise about motivation that may underlie comment. This is especially likely when there is no chance of government sanction. And, I have not been able to identify an economic sanction that may apply. Perhaps you can educate me on that.

I understand the value of anonymity in some contexts (like politics that can jeopardize employment or self-help support group discussions). But, from what I glean from the detail of your comment, you are a mental health professional who is discrediting another mental health professional's published work.

As a layperson, I think that experts on this forum ought to identify who they are when they seek to discredit an author who has the courage of conviction to publish here.

There is nothing wrong with ideas. And criticism is healthy. But, anonymous criticism, I believe, unduly chills people who have the courage to publish their ideas under their own names.

Too many people here have (or potentially have) ulterior motives for their conclusions. If you critique a writer here as an "expert", I want to know who you are so I can assess (rather than speculate about) what may influence your conclusions.

LOL - your logic says we should ignore your comment

But I'll answer even though you think we should ignore your comments because you are anonymous.

Whatever happened to the tried and true method of addressing the content? The article is heavily cited and addresses nearly every citation and claim in the Ley review. Sadly, It seems as if both you and the author are unwilling to address the substance.

QUOTE: Too many people here have (or potentially have) ulterior motives for their conclusions.

Everyone is already aware of David Ley's ulterior motive: he wrote The Myth of sex Addiction; authored 20 or more blog posts saying porn addiction does not exist; has been a guest on many TV and radio shows debating against the existence of porn addiction. So we already know what Ley will conclude.

QUOTE: If you critique a writer here as an "expert", I want to know who you are so I can assess (rather than speculate about) what may influence your conclusions.

So you are saying that you want to make up your opinion on the content before reading the article? Again, the post takes every Ley citation and every claim and exposes the actual science, backed up with citations.

Maybe you can be brave and daring and read the article and follow the citations - and fearfully arrive at your own conclusion based on the evidence. Or you can have someone tell you what to believe and blindly accept it. Your choice.

Show and Tell

First, thank you for replying to my comment. I raised it not only with respect to your specific post or you personally, but to address the "shadow war" that seems to be being fought in the professional debate over this question. Admittedly, I tend to notice it more on the pro-"porn" addiction side since my current opinion is and my experience suggests to me that the likelihood of "porn" being an addiction (similar to an addiction to, for example, opiates) likely is over-stated.

Next, with regard to your suggestion that my response somehow was offensive/inappropriate/illogical because I only use my first name and initial of my last name on PT -- I'll show you mine if you show me yours?

In further answer to your pithy critique, under my analysis, my anonymity is not important since I do not hold myself out as an expert in addiction, psychology or pornography -- although I have amassed some experience with all three (the first as an observer and the other two as a consumer).

The justification for my anonymity is based on me sharing personal-life anecdotal information as the basis for my admittedly not-statistically or study substantiated personal opinions. They are identified as personal opinions, based only on personal life experience, inference and observation.

Stated another way, what I say has little value in the "proof" portion of this debate because I don't claim to be bringing "proof" to the table. This, in my view, is not inappropriate since these forums, as I understand them, are not reserved exclusively for learned comment. My comments largely are written in lag-time between work tasks. (I know, it shows, doesn't it?)

Your response suggests that you do claim to speak as an expert. (It, for example, suggests that you have significant expertise and you have applied enough care and attention to this area to have identified and assembled links to many articles and studies that you declare refute Mr. Ley's position, demonstrate its predictability and bias, and discredit his science.) It is this thoroughness that suggests to me that you are an expert or are holding yourself out as an expert. (If you will not accept that flattery of expert status, we can, for the limited purpose of this comment, refer to you as an "enthusiast" or, possibly, an industry "usual suspect".)

I questioned your anonymity only because you have not based your argument (like another pro-porn addiction "anonymous" here whose comment and anonymous status I have not questioned), on your personal struggles or observations of friends' or family members' struggles with "porn" addiction. Instead, your comment suggests that you bring a different, "higher" level of analysis to the discussion.

I really don't care whether I convince you, or anyone else here, with my comments/arguments. Many of my comments, like yours, are made in an effort to suggest that what is claimed to be settled, might not be all that settled.

By trade, I am a lawyer. Part of analyzing expert testimony (and trying to assess whether that testimony is believable and/or will influence the finder of fact) involves understanding what may have influenced the opinions of both the expert and the audience. (I generally explain that with the aphorism "where you stand has a lot to do with where you sit".)

(As an aside, we "untrustworthy" lawyers have a professional duty to disclose to courts controlling authority contrary to our clients' positions. Not doing so is considered "fraud on the court". While PT is not a court, a similar duty of even-handed candor does not seem to be applicable to this debate on "porn" addiction.)

I am not fearful of reaching conclusions that conflict with my beliefs. And I will read your cited materials. (A part of my practice deals with health care so I have some limited familiarity with reading studies.)

I don't adhere to what Mr. Ley states as writ. I don't expect I will blindly agree with what you or your citations assert. My more than typical agnosticism derives from the fact social science studies only can show association not causation. (The prospect of a double-blind placebo controlled study of partner sex functionality and pornography use does intrigue me though. Is it in the recruitment phase?) In my ignorance, I believe that the interpretation of study associations should be filtered through experience of the reader.

But, I will (bravely, like the storied trailer) read them despite your, presumably principled, stand on maintaining your anonymity while you eviscerate/attempt to eviscerate Mr. Ley's arguments/scholarship. Perhaps more people would read them if they knew your identity?]

My second paragraph offer still stands.

Nice try at diversion, John B

See how this whole discussion has purposely degraded into spinning what was said and who said it, rather than the content of Ley's article, and the subsequent analysis of it.

I am not the author of the analysis. I posted one link, which has been widely circulated.

My little pithy comment was employed to highlight the absurdity of your argument that one must not address content unless everything about the author is revealed. For the 4th time, all the evidence has been laid out and thoroughly documented...for all to see. Including you.

Nothing else in your comment relates to the analysis. Are you willing to discuss the topic at hand, or not?

Anyone here want to address Gabe Deem's links?

one more thing

Right or wrong, author or not, failure to disclose raises doubts, (at least for me) and is offensive (at least for me).

No spin on your "science" intended. And, second opinion -- although this is not your article, you and your fellow porn addiction believers have written articles -- which I read and read.

Funny though, I don't get the same sense that coordinated efforts are being made by "opposing experts" to discredit those articles and their authors even though others in your industry disagree.

This reminds me of the GWB run-up to Iraq -- strikingly similar really ...

It make me wonder ...

George W, Bush invading Iraq......

is analogous to asking you to read a completely documented and cited analysis of the Ley review. What's next? Comparing reading this analysis to the Hitler's Holocaust?

Please don't stop, this is far too entertaining.

Another example of Godwin's Law in action :)

From Wikipedia:

Godwin's law (or Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1][2] is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"  —​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.


Amazing. Not only did I learn

Amazing. Not only did I learn about Godwin's law, but that comment was quite possibly the best addition to that back and forth.

Is this real life....

Oh looky here...

Another anonymous comment, on an anonymous comment, on a comment thread that was derailed by an anonymous user whose argument was anonymous comments are not the best additions to a argument. Ohhhh the irony

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Karen Franklin, Ph.D., is a forensic psychologist in Northern California.


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