What Is "Porn Addiction"?

Pornography use is a widespread means of dealing with sexual drives. Approximately 90 percent of young men report watching porn videos with some regularity, particularly in the United States. Much of it depicts acts they might never engage in themselves — in other words, erotic fantasies — accessed online. Pornhub, the world’s largest porn website, reports that in 2016, 92 billion videos were viewed by 64 million visitors daily (26 percent of them female), each spending nearly 10 minutes on the site. Although viewing erotica is ubiquitous among males, some men and women regard watching Internet porn as pathological and believe that any time spent doing so indicates “porn addiction.”

There is no question that porn use can create distress for individuals or couples. Studies show that “porn addiction” is closely tied to guilt and shame stemming from moral or religious beliefs about porn use in general or the type of one’s sexual interests, rather than to amount of time spent viewing porn or perceived self-control. In relationships, porn can create problems when one partner views it in secret, and the other sees it as a betrayal of fidelity or a depiction of unacceptable acts. Because problems arising from porn viewing mostly reflect pre-existing attitudes about sex, scientists generally reject the notion of “porn addiction.”

They also reject treatment approaches based on addiction. Instead, most recommend approaches that help individuals understand the conflicts between their own sexual desires and the moral or religious society around them. Among couples, conjoint counseling can help partners understand each other’s sexual interests and negotiate what is and is not acceptable in their relationship.

Recent posts on Porn Addiction

How the “Porn Addiction” Movement Disrespects Women

By Marty Klein Ph.D. on January 16, 2018 in Sexual Intelligence
Assuming that women can't control their emotions in the face of their partner's porn use disempowers them--and undermines the partnership a couple needs to work things out.

Porn "Addiction" in the Mainstream Media

The mainstream media presents pornography addiction as a legitimate disorder when in fact this is far from certain. In addition it offers questionable advice and suggestions.

Beyond Looking: When Voyeurism Leads to Criminal Behavior

Voyeuristic tendencies range from the mild to the malevolent. And although such behavior itself is unsettling, some voyeuristic individuals do more than just look.

When Sex Drives Clash

Do you and your partner have different sex drives? Is it causing conflict in your relationship? Here are some ways to improve your sex life.

Will Lookism Ever End?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 27, 2017 in Ambigamy
Caring about how we look is a huge and cruel distraction, here's a way we might end up working through it.

Porn Isn’t the Problem

By Ari Tuckman PsyD, MBA on October 25, 2017 in Sex Matters
Porn might spark disagreements, but usually the real problem has nothing to do with porn itself.

When Your Spouse Is Addicted

How do you cope if your spouse is struggling with addiction? Learn how to be honest, but not enabling.

"Pornography Addiction" in 2017

When does porn use become problematic? Once per day? Ten or more times per month? And what exactly does "problematic porn use" mean anyway? Research doesn't offer answers.

Husbands Watch Porn, Wives Despair—But Why?

When couples argue about porn, they're usually arguing about something else.

Pornography and Broken Relationships

People who view pornography are much more likely to experience a romantic relationship breakup. We look at research data supporting this expectation and discuss pivotal factors.

Child Porn Redux

By Karen Franklin Ph.D. on June 11, 2017 in Witness
An explosion of online pornography is leading to welcome research and debate on its social and psychological effects.

Religious Conflict Makes Porn Bad for Relationships

By David J Ley Ph.D. on April 17, 2017 in Women Who Stray
A new research study finds more evidence that the alleged harms from porn are actually caused by religious conflict, shame, and the "porn addict" identity.

Simple Steps to Porn/Sex Addiction Recovery

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on April 03, 2017 in Minority Report
What do you do if you're not ready for therapy but need "action steps" to help you with sex addiction recovery? This recovery "packet of information" can be a great start...