The more pornography a person consumes the harder it becomes for them to be aroused by a real person or a real relationship. As a result, many users start feeling like something’s wrong with them; they don’t know how to be turned on by a real person, much less form a deep personal connection with one.

From a business perspective, the porn industry has a pretty clever racket going. Their product offers users temporary relief from anxiety, depression, and loneliness in exchange for making these same problems much worse in the long-term. [1] That works out really well for pornographers, since the worse their customers’ anxiety and isolation grow, the more reason they have to turn back to porn. But for the user, the end result isn’t nearly so nice.

“Any time [a person] spends much time with the usual pornography usage cycle, it can’t help but be a depressing, demeaning, self-loathing kind of experience,” says Dr. Gary Brooks, a psychologist who has worked with porn addicts for the last 30 years. [2]

The more pornography a person consumes, the more their brain connects being aroused with porn’s fictional fantasy (See Porn Changes the Brain)][3]—and the harder it becomes for them to be aroused by a real person or a real relationship (See Porn Ruins Your Sex Life). [4]

As a result, many users start feeling like something’s wrong with them; they don’t know how to be turned on by a real person, much less form a deep personal connection with one. [5]

Naomi Wolf, an author and political activist, has traveled all over the country to talk with college students about relationships. “When I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike,” she says. “They know they are lonely together … and that [porn] is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out.” [6]

Studies have found that when people engage in an ongoing pattern of “self-concealment,”—which is when they do things they’re not proud of and keep them a secret from their friends and family members—it not only hurts their relationships and leaves them feeling lonely, but also makes them more vulnerable to severe psychological problems. [7] For both male and female porn users, their habit is often accompanied by problems with anxiety, body-image issues, poor self-image, relationship problems, insecurity, and depression. [8]

Porn teaches that both men and women aren’t worth anything more than the sum of their body parts and how much sexual pleasure they can offer. [9] Whether porn users like it or not, those perceptions often start creeping into how they see themselves and other people in real life. [10] The harder it becomes for the user to see themselves and others as anything more than sexual objects, the harder it is to develop real relationships. [11]

“There’s a certain way of experiencing sexual arousal that is the opposite of closeness,” Brooks said. “At best, it can be managed somewhat by some people, but most of the time it creates a barrier that poisons relationships.” [12]

Click For Citations

[1] Flisher, C. (2010). Getting Plugged In: An Overview of Internet Addiction. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 46: 557–9; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 82; Kafka, M. P. (2000). The Paraphilia-Related Disorders: Nonparaphilic Hypersexuality and Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction. In S. R. Leiblum and R. C. Rosen (Eds.) Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, 3rd Ed. (pp. 471–503). New York: Guilford Press.
[2] Interview with Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013.
[3] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 105.
[4] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 105; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 104.
[5] Interview with Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 105.
[6] Wolf, N. (2004). The Porn Myth. New York Magazine, May 24.
[7] Laird, R. D., Marrero, M. D., Melching, J. A., and Kuhn, E. S. (2013). Information Management Strategies in Early Adolescence: Developmental Change in Use and Transactional Associations with Psychological Adjustment. Developmental Psychology 49, 5: 928–937; Luoma, J. B., Nobles, R. H., Drake, C. E., Hayes, S. C., O’Hair, A., Fletcher, L., and Kohlenberg, B. S. (2013). Self-Stigma in Substance Abuse: Development of a New Measure. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 35: 223–234; Rotenberg, K. J., Bharathi, C., Davies, H., and Finch, T. (2013). Bulimic Symptoms and the Social Withdrawal Syndrome. Eating Behaviors 14: 281–284; Frijns, T. and Finkenauer, C. (2009). Longitudinal Associations Between Keeping a Secret and Psychosocial Adjustment in Adolescence. International Journal of Behavioral Development 33, 2: 145–154.
[8] Flisher, C. (2010). Getting Plugged In: An Overview of Internet Addiction. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 46: 557–9; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Kafka, M. P. (2000). The Paraphilia-Related Disorders: Nonparaphilic Hypersexuality and Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction. In S. R. Leiblum and R. C. Rosen (Eds.) Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, 3rd Ed. (pp. 471–503). New York: Guilford Press.
[9] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 80; Mosher, D. L. and MacIan, P. (1994). College Men and Women Respond to X-Rated Videos Intended for Male or Female Audiences: Gender and Sexual Scripts. Journal of Sex Research 31, 2: 99–112.
[10] Interview with Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013.
[11] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 79; Lyons, J. S., Anderson, R. L., and Larsen, D. (1993). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Aggressive and Nonaggressive Pornography. In D. Zillmann, J. Bryand, and A. C. Huston (Eds.) Media, Children and the Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives (p. 305). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates.
[12] Interview with Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013.

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