Food for Thought - Addictiveness of Porn


#1

article.nationalreview.com/429884/getting-serious-about-pornography/anonymous?page=1


#2

Good article. And given the increasing importance of academics in public life, it is my hope that those scholars who signed that report may be able to use their influence to get the government mobilized against porn. Anything is possible with God!


#3

Does a man objectify his wife because he's been looking at porn, or does he look at porn because he's that kind of a man to begin with?

Maybe the technology to make and distribute porn is new, but human nature isn't. Maybe it's much easier to look at porn now than it was to go to a whorehouse in the past, but I wonder if it actually changes people instead of simply making it easier for us to be who we really are and who we've always been.

It would be interesting to compare men from cultures without widespread technology with men in our societies, and whether our men are more "perverted" as a result of having been exposed to "weird" porn.


#4

[quote="flyingfish, post:3, topic:193052"]
but I wonder if it actually changes people instead of simply making it easier for us to be who we really are and who we've always been.

[/quote]

So you`re not convinced that porn is dangerous?
Just ask the late Ted Bundy!


#5

Does a man objectify his wife because he’s been looking at porn, or does he look at porn because he’s that kind of a man to begin with?

Maybe the technology to make and distribute porn is new, but human nature isn’t. Maybe it’s much easier to look at porn now than it was to go to a whorehouse in the past, but I wonder if it actually changes people instead of simply making it easier for us to be who we really are and who we’ve always been.

It would be interesting to compare men from cultures without widespread technology with men in our societies, and whether our men are more “perverted” as a result of having been exposed to “weird” porn.

People have a fallen nature due to original sin. Thus, men will have an inherent concupiscence towards sin and, given our nature, a natural concupiscence towards sexual sins. Because this is our nature, you will find such sexual concupiscence in men across all cultures.

Additionally, the biological responses inherent in sexual pleasure are addictive. We can see this even in rats which, when having electrodes attached to their sex pleasure centers, will choose to stimulate sex rather than choose to eat food.

What porn does is make it easier to choose that stimulation, both actually and culturally through the illusion of privacy. Just as guns make it easier to commit the sin of murder, porn makes it easier to commit sexual sins.

However, unlike guns, porn has no good use. Use of guns also does not have the same degree (power) of stimulation that porn does. Thus, porn is bad with no redeeming value at all. Sadly, under the guise of “freedom” (Satan’s battle cry) we have allowed this scourge to not only be tolerated, but to grow into a truly gigantic industry. :frowning:


#6

[quote="SunnaB16, post:4, topic:193052"]
So you`re not convinced that porn is dangerous?
Just ask the late Ted Bundy!

[/quote]

Why would I believe anything he has to say? Serial killers have different brains, I would bet money that he would have been a serial killer even if there was no such thing as porn.

[quote="ContegoFides, post:5, topic:193052"]

What porn does is make it easier to choose that stimulation, both actually and culturally through the illusion of privacy. Just as guns make it easier to commit the sin of murder, porn makes it easier to commit sexual sins.

[/quote]

I agree with you, but what makes you think that in the absence of porn men wouldn't just use their wives for that purpose? Remember, marital rape was legal in the US until the late 20th century! In quite a few places in the world, polygamy is permitted, and men marry much younger women (girls even).

I think it's an illusion that porn is what makes men use women for sex. Men have always been using women, even girls for sex. If anything, the lives of women are much better now than they've ever been in terms of being protected from such things as marital rape, pedophilia etc.

One point of view is that if men have an outlet for those desires in porn, they won't use real women for it. I don't know to what extent studies support it, but a while ago when I read about it there were many conflicting studies about the effects of porn.


#7

[quote="flyingfish, post:6, topic:193052"]
Why would I believe anything he has to say? Serial killers have different brains, I would bet money that he would have been a serial killer even if there was no such thing as porn.

[/quote]

He admitted that pornography led him in that direction. Do some Googling.

Among others:
www.everything2.com/title/The+Last+Interview+with+Ted+Bundy

I agree with you, but what makes you think that in the absence of porn men wouldn't just use their wives for that purpose? Remember, marital rape was legal in the US until the late 20th century! In quite a few places in the world, polygamy is permitted, and men marry much younger women (girls even).

I think it's an illusion that porn is what makes men use women for sex. Men have always been using women, even girls for sex. If anything, the lives of women are much better now than they've ever been in terms of being protected from such things as marital rape, pedophilia etc.

One point of view is that if men have an outlet for those desires in porn, they won't use **real women **for it. I don't know to what extent studies support it, but a while ago when I read about it there were many conflicting studies about the effects of porn.

Thanks to pornography, "real women" have been cheapened in the eyes of a lot of men. It`s caused more than a few marriage breakdowns, some of them detailed here on CAF.
With all due respect to you: you must be an ostridge.


#8

I know he said that, but I’m saying so what if he did. Some serial killers also say that the “slutty and immoral women” made them kill. Should we take them at their word and say oh yes, it was those evil slutty women that turned these upstanding men into serial killers, rather than looking inside the serial killer’s brain for reasons.

Thanks to pornography, “real women” have been cheapened in the eyes of a lot of men. It`s caused more than a few marriage breakdowns, some of them detailed here on CAF.
With all due respect to you: you must be an ostridge.

I’m not saying it’s not the case, I’m just speculating about whether it is. You can’t deny that women all over the world, before pornography, were treated like sex objects and property.

Why aren’t you shocked that it was considered okay for a man to rape his wife whenever he pleased UNTIL THE LATE 20th CENTURY IN THE UNITED STATES.

Those same men went on to make pornography, primarily marketed to other men and enjoyed by men. It just looks to me that pornography is the effect of male nature, not the cause.

By the way, we in the West don’t have it so bad. Our pornography is fairly normal in comparison to the kind of thing you see in Japan. In Japan child pornography was legal until 2008 (when they succumbed to international pressures to ban it, but they exempt cartoons depicting child porn), rape pornography is accepted and common (they have video games for example where the object of the game is to rape women). Japanese society is also very patriarchal, and has not been influenced by feminist thought as the West has.

Do you think it’s porn that made Japanese men make rape porn and rape video games? Or made their society consider child porn okay for so long? Or is it something about their society and the nature of men that makes them do this?

It’s the old nature vs. nurture debate.

(By the way, there is also normal pornography depicting couples in love having sex. You’d be hard pressed to argue that this kind of pornography has negative effects.)


#9

[quote="ContegoFides, post:5, topic:193052"]
People have a fallen nature due to original sin. Thus, men will have an inherent concupiscence towards sin and, given our nature, a natural concupiscence towards sexual sins. Because this is our nature, you will find such sexual concupiscence in men across all cultures.

Additionally, the biological responses inherent in sexual pleasure are addictive. We can see this even in rats which, when having electrodes attached to their sex pleasure centers, will choose to stimulate sex rather than choose to eat food.

What porn does is make it easier to choose that stimulation, both actually and culturally through the illusion of privacy. Just as guns make it easier to commit the sin of murder, porn makes it easier to commit sexual sins.

However, unlike guns, porn has no good use. Use of guns also does not have the same degree (power) of stimulation that porn does. Thus, porn is bad with no redeeming value at all. Sadly, under the guise of "freedom" (Satan's battle cry) we have allowed this scourge to not only be tolerated, but to grow into a truly gigantic industry. :(

[/quote]

I really like your post Contego. I especially like what you say about freedom as Satan's battle cry. That seems to be argument behind most attacks on things that the media and secular society holds sacred. Things like abortion, pornography, and conception are all protected by that so-called freedom.


#10

I agree with you, but what makes you think that in the absence of porn men wouldn't just use their wives for that purpose? Remember, marital rape was legal in the US until the late 20th century! In quite a few places in the world, polygamy is permitted, and men marry much younger women (girls even).

Some men might use their wives as objects of lust. However, you're losing the forest for the trees. Evil will be with us till Judgment Day, and some men will abuse their wives till then; however, porn makes it much easier and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

The issue of marital rape is irrelevant. Rape is about power, not sex.

The issues of polygamy and marriage of young girls are just additional examples of sin, which again will always be with us until the end. My point is that porn is both intrinsically bad because it has no redeeming value, it makes committing sexual sin easier, and it makes any predilection towards abusing women worse. Whether or not men commit other sexual sins, or other sins against women, does not change this nature of porn.

I think it's an illusion that porn is what makes men use women for sex. Men have always been using women, even girls for sex. If anything, the lives of women are much better now than they've ever been in terms of being protected from such things as marital rape, pedophilia etc.

I agree to a point, but I'm not sure what you are driving at. It is an illusion that porn makes men use women as sex objects. However, porn makes it easier and porn engenders an attitude that makes men see women as being sex objects. As for the lives of women being better, I suppose it depends where you are talking about. In the U.S. maybe, but not necessarily in other parts of the world. Besides, why does it matter that the lives of women are improved in some instances when porn remains an insidious problem. Are you implying that porn has improved women's lives?

One point of view is that if men have an outlet for those desires in porn, they won't use real women for it. I don't know to what extent studies support it, but a while ago when I read about it there were many conflicting studies about the effects of porn.

I don't know about such studies. However, I can say with personal experience that porn makes desires worse not better.


#11

[quote="ContegoFides, post:10, topic:193052"]

The issue of marital rape is irrelevant. Rape is about power, not sex.

[/quote]

I don't know if I agree with this, maybe certain type of rapists rape to feel powerful. But there is a class of rapists that rape for sex, if a man forces himself onto his wife, or if a man doesn't stop when his girlfriend says stop (date rape) it could well be about sex.

I agree to a point, but I'm not sure what you are driving at. It is an illusion that porn makes men use women as sex objects. However, porn makes it easier and porn engenders an attitude that makes men see women as being sex objects. As for the lives of women being better, I suppose it depends where you are talking about. In the U.S. maybe, but not necessarily in other parts of the world. Besides, why does it matter that the lives of women are improved in some instances when porn remains an insidious problem. Are you implying that porn has improved women's lives?

I don't know, I don't really have an opinion on the issue because I haven't researched it.

I think some porn is horrendous (especially stuff like Japanese rape porn), and it makes sense to me that it would make the attitudes of men who view it worse than they would have been if they hadn't.

Porn could make the lives of women better if perverted men would choose to view disgusting porn *instead of * looking for real women to rape/molest. I don't know if this happens or not.

Deviant men aside, most men (whether they intend it or not) learn how to have sex from watching porn. A lot of porn that's out there is unrealistic, the positions are unfun and even painful. That's a definite negative.

But I wouldn't lump all porn into the same category. There is porn that depicts loving sex between couples, and could be a good instruction manual and even something a couple could watch together. I don't think this kind of porn would be harmful in any way, and could even be beneficial as an educational tool.


#12

I don't know if I agree with this, maybe certain type of rapists rape to feel powerful. But there is a class of rapists that rape for sex, if a man forces himself onto his wife, or if a man doesn't stop when his girlfriend says stop (date rape) it could well be about sex.

You could have any opinion you want; however, the vast majority of reputable psychologists would disagree with you. The vast weight of professional opinion is that although there is a sexual component to rape, the dominant component is power. Just google it or go look in the latest edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - the "bible" for psychologists) if you don't believe me.

But I wouldn't lump all porn into the same category. There is porn that depicts loving sex between couples, and could be a good instruction manual and even something a couple could watch together. I don't think this kind of porn would be harmful in any way, and could even be beneficial as an educational tool.

Not even close. By definition porn is about prurient interest. It is therefore gravely disordered and a possible cause of mortal sin. Anything that has the potential to cause you to go to Hell is bad in and of itself and should be avoided like the plague it is.

I can also speak from personal experience here. My ex wife (in secular terms) and I attempted to "treat" her "homosexual impulses" and "sexual identity issues" by viewing exactly the kind of porn you are talking about. The result was extremely destructive to our putative marriage. The kind of "educational" porn you are talking about still objectifies sex, takes it out of the marriage context, treats sex like a "plaything" that is about pleasure only, and is intrinsically prurient.

To make it simple, even the porn you are talking about - while not as grave as some kinds of ugliness out there - is still objectively bad, all bad, and nothing but bad.


#13

[quote="ContegoFides, post:12, topic:193052"]

Not even close. By definition porn is about prurient interest. It is therefore gravely disordered and a possible cause of mortal sin. Anything that has the potential to cause you to go to Hell is bad in and of itself and should be avoided like the plague it is.
...

To make it simple, even the porn you are talking about - while not as grave as some kinds of ugliness out there - is still objectively bad, all bad, and nothing but bad.

[/quote]

All forms of pornography are definitely sinful. However, we're talking about whether it is addictive, and whether it causes men to mistreat women.

I don't see the argument for why the loving (male/female) couple sort of pornography would cause men to mistreat women, it might even teach them techniques to become better lovers.


#14

All forms of pornography are definitely sinful. However, we're talking about whether it is addictive, and whether it causes men to mistreat women.

I don't see the argument for why the loving (male/female) couple sort of pornography would cause men to mistreat women, it might even teach them techniques to become better lovers.

Because it's not about instruction or the "other" - porn is about satisfying lust. Porn objectifies the man or woman (usually woman) involved and thus objectively offends their intrinsic human dignity. Engaging in this activity thus engenders a selfishness in the viewer, thereby increasing the predilection for objectifying the spouse for sexual reasons rather than the total self giving sex is meant for.

It is theoretically possible to have a licit "instruction manual" to help couples; however, such a manual does not need two people "demonstrating."

However, I'd say that a manual is not needed. It has not been needed for thousands of years and is not needed now. Loving couples, those who are oriented to the other, will naturally listen to the desires of the other and will instruct each other. Couples who are not loving do not need sexual instruction, they need marital counseling.

As to whether porn is addictive, that is another question. The article I started with this says yes. To investigate the question further, you have to define addiction. Alphadictionary.com suggests "being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)." Seems to match.

Perhaps what would be more relevant is how professionals who treat "addicts" define addiction.

In medicine, an addiction is a chronic neurobiological disorder that has genetic, psychosocial, and environmental dimensions and is characterized by one of the following: the continued use of a substance despite its detrimental effects, impaired control over the use of a drug (compulsive behavior), and preoccupation with a drug's use for non-therapeutic purposes (i.e. craving the drug).[1]

...

However, common usage of the term addiction has spread to include psychological dependence. In this context, the term is used in drug addiction and substance abuse problems, but also refers to behaviors that are not generally recognized by the medical community as problems of addiction, such as compulsive overeating.

The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his individual health, mental state, or social life.

Not all doctors agree on the exact nature of addiction or dependency [3] however the biopsychosocial model is generally accepted in scientific fields as the most comprehensive model for addiction. Historically, addiction has been defined with regard solely to psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain. However, "studies on phenomenology, family history, and response to treatment suggest that intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, problem gambling, pyromania, and trichotillomania may be related to mood disorders, alcohol and psychoactive substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (especially obsessive–compulsive disorder)."[4] However, such disorders are classified by the American Psychological Association as impulse control disorders and therefore not as addictions.

Many people, both psychology professionals and laypersons, now feel that there should be accommodation made to include psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, **sex**, pornography, computers, work, exercise, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), pain [1], cutting and shopping so these behaviors count as 'addictions' as well and cause guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, rejection, anxiety, or humiliation symptoms associated with, among other medical conditions, depression and epilepsy.[5][6][7][8] Although, the above mentioned are things or tasks which, when used or performed, do not fit into the traditional view of addiction and may be better defined as an obsessive–compulsive disorder, withdrawal symptoms may occur with abatement of such behaviors. It is said by those who adhere to a traditionalist view that these withdrawal-like symptoms are not strictly reflective of an addiction, but rather of a behavioral disorder...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction (Emphasis Supplied).

So, professionals don't agree on what is an addiction. However, what is clear is that there is a "compulsive" aspect of porn use, whether or not you classify it as a behavior disorder or an "addiction."

However, I think it is an addiction. Porn produces a natural "high" of endorphins and sexual pleasure which people seek. You feel bad if you don't get your masturbation fix. Some people engage in porn even if it brings down their marriages, families, or jobs.

So, right reason leads me to the conclusion that porn is "addictive." If you want to say otherwise, you could hold that opinion legitimately in the professional community, though for the reasons given above I don't think that conclusion is correct.

On the second question (whether porn causes men to mistreat women) Given that porn also objectifies the person being used as a sexual object, usually a woman, we can also say that porn engenders and attitude which reinforces the mistreatment of women. Porn is bad for marriages, and thus mistreats women in that way. While porn might not cause it directly, it is a contributing factor IMO.


#15

[quote="ContegoFides, post:14, topic:193052"]
Because it's not about instruction or the "other" - porn is about satisfying lust. Porn objectifies the man or woman (usually woman) involved and thus objectively offends their intrinsic human dignity. Engaging in this activity thus engenders a selfishness in the viewer, thereby increasing the predilection for objectifying the spouse for sexual reasons rather than the total self giving sex is meant for.

It is theoretically possible to have a licit "instruction manual" to help couples; however, such a manual does not need two people "demonstrating."

However, I'd say that a manual is not needed. It has not been needed for thousands of years and is not needed now. Loving couples, those who are oriented to the other, will naturally listen to the desires of the other and will instruct each other. Couples who are not loving do not need sexual instruction, they need marital counseling.

[/quote]

Pornography aside, this seems to me like such an unhealthy way to view sex.

What do you think "lust" is? Lust = sexual desire (and if not, what else is it?). It's normal and good to feel sexual desire for your spouse, and it's normal and good to want to enjoy sex. It just seems like telling yourself that desiring your spouse and wanting to enjoy sex is somehow selfish and sinful is just going to make you feel like a bad and guilty person since you will invariably desire your spouse and want to enjoy sex.


#16

Pornography aside, this seems to me like such an unhealthy way to view sex.

What do you think "lust" is? Lust = sexual desire (and if not, what else is it?). It's normal and good to feel sexual desire for your spouse, and it's normal and good to want to enjoy sex. It just seems like telling yourself that desiring your spouse and wanting to enjoy sex is somehow selfish and sinful is just going to make you feel like a bad and guilty person since you will invariably desire your spouse and want to enjoy sex.

When you say "this seems to me like such an unhealthy way to view sex," I'm not sure what you mean by "this."

Lust is not just sexual desire, it is disordered sexual desire. CCC 2351. The CCC has more to say on the subject.

2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.301 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another's goods.

2515 Etymologically, "concupiscence" can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the "flesh" against the "spirit."302 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.303

Sexual desire, itself, is good - it is created by God and is therefore good. Even outside of marriage one may feel spontaneous sexual desire that is not disordered; and thus is good. When the sexual desire is disordered, it is lust. Sexual desire is disordered when it operates contrary to human reason.

Drawing the dividing line between "lust" and "ordered sexual desire" may be difficult; but the difference is still there.


#17

[quote="ContegoFides, post:16, topic:193052"]

Sexual desire, itself, is good - it is created by God and is therefore good. Even outside of marriage one may feel spontaneous sexual desire that is not disordered; and thus is good. When the sexual desire is disordered, it is lust. Sexual desire is disordered when it operates contrary to human reason.

Drawing the dividing line between "lust" and "ordered sexual desire" may be difficult; but the difference is still there.

[/quote]

What do you think the distinction is? What goes through a person's mind during "ordered sexual desire" vs. lust?


#18

What do you think the distinction is? What goes through a person's mind during "ordered sexual desire" vs. lust?

That is an extremely good question. I believe no bright line test can be established that will illuminate the difference. The reason why there is no bright line test is because the answer is necessarily subjective, just as guilt for sin is necessarily subjective. Probably the best thing to do is for each person to discuss their experiences with a spiritual director, if possible. If not, then people should examine their consciences as best as they may through prayer.

However, I think I can offer at least some insight as to the difference. I have been fighting a personal battle with lust for a long, long time and only in the recent past (last year or so) have been making serious strides away from lust and towards the light. I have also been fortunate to receive some spiritual direction in the confessional.

So, I once asked my confessor (an orthodox and holy priest) how do I tell the difference between actual sin and normal feelings or desires. This question is very similar to yours.

I can't remember his exact words, but his advice went something like this: A feeling or desire is probably disordered or bad if you feel like you want to shrink away from it, or if you want to hide it, or if you want to keep secret those actions that flow from the desire. A sin occurs if you know it is wrong and do it anyway. You can also tell that something is a sin from the fruits of what comes from it.

One other thing: A spontaneous impulse or feeling is not sinful. Dwelling on a feeling may be.

Some examples: Dwelling on the sexual attractiveness of another man's wife is disordered. Adultery is objectively wrong, you probably want to hide your desire from either the woman or her husband, and most people (if honest) would recognize that what they were doing is wrong.

If you are single and you see a sexually attractive woman, you might be prompted to ask her out for a date. So long as you do not dwell on the sexual feelings, honestly intend to respect her dignity, and do your best to control your thoughts, I would say that this is ordered desire. The key here is that you have no right to have sex with her, because you are not married. Thus, you have no right to dwell on her body or to dwell on desires of having sex with her.

In contrast, wanting to have sex with your spouse, with their consent, is also ordered, even if very excited, so long as you are making love with the person and are giving of yourself. I once heard that good marital sex is "free, faithful, total, and fruitful," and in this context the most satisfying relationships and sexual satisfaction are obtained.

However, marital sex could be lustful, such as if you are using your spouse for your personal sexual gratification only. The key word here is "only," again we can see the fruits of ordered sexual desire - increased unity between the spouses and the propagation of new life. You can also start to see why artificial birth control is bad, because the sex that results is based only on personal gratification rather than allowing the fullness of the dual purposes of sex to be fulfilled.

When in doubt as to whether a sexual desire is ordered, I would confess any action that comes from it (including mentally dwelling on such desires).

Naturally, one could abuse this advice by claiming to believe that, say, masturbation or "soft" pornogrophy doesn't make you feel bad and you don't want to hide it - or that it produces no bad fruits in you. However, given the telling negative effects, both personal and societal, of masturbation and porn, one can conclude that these things are objectively bad - and accordingly the more probably reason for the claim is that the person in question either has a poorly formed conscience or is lying in order to attempt to justify their actions.

So, that's a round-about way of saying there's no bright line test, but that's why God gave us a conscience and the sacrament of confession. If your conscience is well formed, you will probably "know" the difference between ordered desire and lust - just as Yoda told Luke he would "know" the difference between the dark side and the light.


#19

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