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3 Common Misconceptions About Having a Personal Porn Habit

Many people think watching porn is healthy if you watch it every once in a while, or if you find ethical porn. We fact-checked these claims.

This article contains affiliate links. Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

The knowledge that porn can be harmful to individuals, relationships, and society is no longer unknown. For anyone paying attention to recent research findings and current events, a quick Google search will bring up multiple articles from academic institutions reporting about the considerable negative effects that can come from watching porn or porn culture in our society.

But for every groundbreaking study and heartbreaking personal experience that undeniably shows how porn is unhealthy, the belief that porn is ultimately healthy, safe, and empowering to consume is pervasive.

Related: The 3 Misconceptions Commonly Believed About Porn And Sexual Health

However convincing these arguments sound, there is solid research to illustrate the opposite. So what’s the best way to deal with these misconceptions? Confront them with quality information. We’ll provide you with the research, you make the decision.

Here are three popular myths about porn obsession or compulsivity, countered with information worth considering. Note that, in the scientific community, the issue of pornography being labeled as a certified addiction is still debated, and not everyone who watches porn is or will become “addicted.”

1. “Only people with ‘addictive personalities’ will have a problem with porn.”

There is still a lot of debate on this one.

A recent study by Simone Kühn and Jürgen Gallinat found that frequent porn consumers had a significant reduction in grey matter in the frontal lobes of their brain. They also found a decrease in neural connectivity in those areas. The important thing to know about this is these are the areas of the brain that control logic, reasoning, and decision-making. All things that contribute to compulsive behavior.

Related: An Interview With A 19-Year-Old Who Struggles With Porn

The catch is that this was not a “before and after” study. The scientists didn’t take a look at people’s brains before they had watched porn regularly for a few years, only after. Because of this, they couldn’t unequivocally conclude that porn addiction/compulsivity caused underdeveloped brain makeup. But there are a couple of reasons it’s unlikely that other factors affected the subjects’ brains:

1. After porn use stops, the neural pathways in the brain that were being inhibited begin to grow and develop. This shows that even if porn wasn’t the initial cause of underdevelopment, it was creating an environment that could have stunted neurological growth.

2. Porn acts like a drug, as far as chemical release in the brain. This is important when answering this question because we do have “before and after” science for drugs. These studies show that susceptibility to drug use has more to do with your environment than your personality.

This chicken-or-the-egg question can be a little frustrating but, honestly, why is it so important? If you have noticed that porn is causing negativity in your life the question should not be “why” but “what are you going to do about it?”

Here’s a video interview from Truth About Porn where Kühn discusses the study’s findings:

And if you want to learn more about porn’s impact on the brain, read this article with neurosurgeon and author Dr. Don Hilton.

2. “Porn obsession/addiction is for people who just can’t get enough sex.”

Not nearly as much as you would think.

The following video is a fascinating (and entertaining) explanation of misconceptions toward addiction. It concludes that addiction is more about a lack of healthy connections, rather than an obsession over one substance or behavior.

Related: How Much Porn Can You Watch Before It’s Unhealthy?

Sex is a powerful way to connect with another person. When it is healthy and reciprocated, that level of intimacy can help us feel important, powerful, wanted, and useful. Who doesn’t want to feel those things? As a pro-sex organization, we encourage people to foster healthy intimate connections in their lives, and we give visibility to research that shows how porn takes away from sexual satisfaction and intimate growth.

As author John Steinbeck once said: “Most of the vices of men are attempted short cuts to love.” When someone is caught in an obsessive or compulstive behavior, it becomes a primary way their brain knows how to seek out connection. Even though it is a short cut, and there is no real reciprocation, they will still try and fake it.

Remember, most of the things that drive people to an interest in porn are normal, healthy, human desires. A desire for sexual connection is not unhealthy even if porn’s version of sexuality is severely lacking and harmful.

Related: “Learning Sex From Porn Is A Terrible Idea”: Jameela Jamil Is Sounding The Alarm On Porn, And We’re Here For It

Fortify

3. “Watching porn is totally healthy if you only watch every once in a while, or if you find ethical porn with less violence.”

The “I watch porn all the time and I’m fine” logic is lacking, and we’ll tell you why. It’s self-focused and doesn’t consider the societal or social implications of the porn industry at large. Watching porn is not just a private, personal pastime, it can tangibly perpetuate the issues of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Perhaps a porn advocate hasn’t personally felt the impacts of porn in their own life, but what about the larger implications that aren’t just about one person? Is any amount of sexual exploitation acceptable, or is any amount of sex trafficking permissible?

RelatedHow I Discovered Unedited Porn Videos Are Nightmares, Not Fantasies

The second reason that the preponderance of the evidence with porn studies has illustrated that no amount of porn is healthy.

This is partly because of its long-term effects on how porn influences consumers to see othersobjectification, dehumanization, sexist beliefs and behaviors, etc. Consider how porn is created with entertainment in mind, not education. It isn’t produced with the intention to accurately or safely portray healthy sexuality, either. This can create big problems in current and future romantic relationships. Studies have shown that after consuming porn, people experience less attraction to their partner and less sexual satisfaction—even in situations of infrequent porn consumption.

Also, there’s no such thing as “ethical” porn. We’re not claiming that all porn is nonconsensual. We’re just pointing out that some of it is and some of it isn’t, and when you watch it there’s no way to know which is which.

Related: 3 Male Porn Stars Share Their Most Disturbing Experiences Doing Porn

How can it be ethical to say that “porn is okay because participants give their consent,” when we know for a fact that some—probably much more than the average porn consumer thinks—do not?

And even aside from porn performer abuse, it has been proven that perhaps millions of nonconsensual videos had reportedly been uploaded to popular porn platforms like Pornhub. Click here to learn more about why they and their parent company, MindGeek, are under investigation, and how countless people have been victimized by videos of their abuse being uploaded to Pornhub.

But even if there were such a thing as exploitation-free porn, it’d still be harmful to consumers.

Why this matters

There is a growing body of research that shows how consumers, relationships, and society are all harmed by porn. This isn’t a moral argument, it’s simply something to consider, given the facts. Those who think porn is a harmless and natural expression of sexuality can often stereotype those who think differently as “radical.” That’s not who we are. We’re here to shine a light on the harmful effects of porn outside of any religious reasoning, political opinions, or anything else.

This is about science and research, and real experiences from people all over the world—and that’s it.

Click here to read more about the proven harmful effects of porn, and make a decision for yourself about whether you want to support and contribute to it. We provide the information, you make the choice, it’s that simple. So, which will it be?

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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