What do porn and meth have in common?

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porn methI commented recently on a forum thread about “Pornography Addiction.”

There were many replies but what I read as an underlying theme is that pathological use of porn- the type that becomes a compulsion and creates consequences in the person’s life- is primarily the aftermath of childhood trauma.  Oh. And that it doesn’t neccesarily have anything to do with being “addicted.”

I chimed in because the “new porn” of today reflects the massive changes in technology over the past 50 years and just as we are learning about new ways to relate online, we also must realize the new consequences to the dark side of the internet.  As a friend and colleague recently said, “Streaming internet porn is to the old days of magazines what methamphetamine is to caffeine pills.”

In my face-to-face practice I mostly deal with people who are experiencing negative consequences from their use of porn- mostly via the internet. I am trained in the psychodynamic tradition and post master’s supervision and training was primarily trauma work.

What I have found is that with porn- the “new porn”- that usual trauma that creeps up isn’t necessarily there. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t some predisposition, or early trauma, I am finding though that the early traumas are not obvious- but more insidious and covert- like benign neglect, for example.

So someone in their 30′s 40′s 50′s or 60′s finds the internet and what used to be relegated to pubescent sleepovers, and magazines stashed under the bed- is now readily available in any flavor. And the research says that the constant images on the net cause the brain chemistry to change, particularly for men, as we know men are stimulated visually. But what happens IS akin to the physiological reaction that takes place with drug use. And while some of the physical components are not there because these clients aren’t ingesting a substance, my experience with hardcore cybersex “addicts” is VERY similar to my experience working with meth addicts (and I worked with meth addicts for about 8 years in rural GA).

I think as clinicians we really need to tease out what their porn use looks like because if the internet is the primary source of stimulation (which may lead to risk taking behaviors in real life) then the way we relate to the client might be different. A solid intake that involves a history of porn use- first age of exposure- determining if there was any repetition- compulsion linking back to early trauma, etc. Sometimes the most obvious trauma may be the first time they flipped through hundreds of porn websites.

For more, check out the article by Wendy Maltz that first appeared in Psychotherapy Networker:

Out of the Shadow: What’s the Prevalence of Porn Doing to Our Psyches?

http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/component/content/article/694-out-of-the-shadow?q=pornography

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 Responses to “What do porn and meth have in common?”

  • Kenny:

    Interesting. My only note is that I find your assumption that both must stem from a past trauma questionable. These things are seducing and habit forming on their own. Most people, over the age of 5, have been traumatized at one point or another. Blaming problems in the present on unrelated incidents in the past is a failure to take personal responsibility.

  • Hi and thank you for commenting. I believe that is what I said…

    “What I have found is that with porn- the “new porn”- that usual trauma that creeps up isn’t necessarily there…”

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