Pornographic addiction or obsessive, excessive use of pornography is defined as the repeated use of pornographic material until it causes serious negative consequences to one’s physical, mental, social, or financial well-being. A large percentage of people, who are attached to porn, experience difficulties in personal relationships; they tend to isolate themselves from friends and even their family. Excessive use of porn may also lead to sexual dysfunctions such as erection problems, premature or inhibited ejaculation.
There is now widely read research published online that claims another aspect of pornographic addiction: changes that occur in the brain when one spends a considerable time focusing on the explicit images involved. When looking at porn the research states: testosterone, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin are released, creating a chemical change, which causes the person to have a temporary feeling of euphoria. Like other types of substance addiction, the hormonal release then becomes the addictive substance. These researchers prescribe abstinence from masturbation for a specific and significant number of days in order to detoxify the system.
Whilst agreeing with the scientific effects of excessive exposure to pornography, ICASA does not admit that hormones such as testosterone and oxytocin and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are substances that cause addiction to behaviours such as the excessive use of pornography and masturbation. Neither does ICASA encourage the suppression of these vital chemical components; in fact, depressed patients actually require more serotonin and dopamine rather than less. Men who are suffering from fear of intimacy, sexual insecurity, performance anxiety and sexual dysfunctions are often in need to be able to produce more testosterone by natural means – not less. They also need more exposure to real intimacy, rather than hide away in fearful groups of so-called ‘sex addicts’.
It is not so much dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and testosterone that are the addictive substances; adrenaline is the chief culprit. While men are exposing themselves to excessive pornography, their breathing becomes shallow and tense: a surcharge of adrenaline results. Many men and women today are ‘adrenaline junkies’, living on a diet of false stimulation and creating a low ‘boredom threshold’. To compound the problem of internal tension, the continuous stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system an effect of an adolescent style of masturbation causes further tension, which becomes a repeating cycle requiring temporary relief.
Simply abstaining from the practice of masturbation is not in itself the complete solution; touch deprivation will not, solve the need for a complete transformation of the mind and nervous system. What is required is total transformation of perception and personal experience of intimacy. This can be achieved through opening new pathways in the brain through transpersonal exercises and the systematic desensitisation of the sympathetic nervous system and the conscious balancing of the parasympathetic nervous system in full-bodied, intimacy based caressing exercises practised alone or with a partner.
It is still a very controversial subject as to whether pornography is an addictive substance or whether it is more appropriate to consider the misuse of it as obsessive-compulsive behaviour and treated accordingly. At ICASA we do not adhere strictly to one of those views or the other. We do not treat addicts we treat people.
If you are masturbating while watching pornography far too frequently for your own health and peace of mind, it is vital that you take action to prevent the cycle of behaviour from completely dominating your life and your relationships. It is possible to recover, but it requires commitment, honesty, accountability and motivation. The ICASA Sexual Recovery Programme helps the client to connect with a more authentic and higher experience of intimacy-based sexual experience, thus reducing the appetite for impersonal sex while simultaneously transforming the energy in the body and raising the level of consciousness.