Is Pornography Addictive?
Psychologists debate whether people can have an addiction to pornography.
Why We Watch
Weston says she thinks there are three main reasons why people turn to
pornography: to see their fantasies acted out, to avoid intimacy in a
relationship, and simply to aid masturbation.
"Sometimes people are just going to it for things they wish they could do in
real life," she says. "It fills in a gap in their own relationship. They have a
partner who doesn't like to do oral sex and they love it themselves, and
they're in this relationship and they want to stay, so they go and look at
pictures of oral sex."
In this regard, porn can be part of a healthy relationship, she says, but in
some circumstances it can hinder intimacy.
"Then there are the people who are too embarrassed to explain what it is
that they really would like to participate in, so they go there secretively,
never having revealed to their mate what they would like to try," Weston
If they were to reveal their fantasy, they might find their partner willing
to go along with it, and they might end up with more fulfilling sexual
relationships. For some, however, that would be unacceptable.
"Some people go there because the intimacy in the relationship is as high as
the person can stand it. If they were to unveil the sexual interest which is
sort of their closely held secret, the intimacy would be way too high for their
own ability to tolerate it, so they save it for elsewhere," Weston says.
Independent of the role it plays in relationships, people also look at
pornography just to arouse themselves before or while masturbating.
"I think of porn addiction as a label that's used to put down behavior
that's disapproved of socially," Violet Blue, a sex educator and author of
The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos, tells WebMD. "A lot of it is
Men are thought to be more easily aroused by erotic imagery than women are,
but many women masturbate to pornography, too, she says.
She moderates an online message board for female enthusiasts called the
Smart Girls' Porn Club. "I occasionally receive emails from members of the
group about different kinds of sexual problems," she says, but none so far have
expressed concerns about stopping.