With the recent incident of the Ministers, watching pornographic film has brought about much ethical debate in the media; however the psychological impact has not been discussed. Sexuality is an issue which profoundly impacts not only an individual but also the family at large. In my experience, with only several exceptions, pornography has been a major or minor contributor or facilitator in the acquisition of their deviation or sexual addiction apart from complete psychological isolation from family. Treatment (psychotherapy) of the same is necessary as it tends to recur as all other means of control used by individual and society fail without an insight into the urge.
I found four factors common to nearly all of my clients, with almost no exceptions, especially in their early involvement with pornography.
A porn movie becomes an addiction as the material provides a very powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect with powerful imagery as a base of further fantasies, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Once addicted, they could not throw off their dependence on the material by themselves, despite many negative consequences such as divorce, loss of family, and problems with the law (as with sexual assault, harassment or abuse of fellow employees). Interestingly my clinical experience, education is positively correlated with sex addiction; that is to say higher the education and intelligence greater is the person’s vulnerability to sex addiction. Reason being, their finer ability to use their intelligence to fantasize.
Like drug addicts, sex addicts with the passage of time require rougher, more “kinky” kinds of sexual material to get sexually aroused. If their spouses or girlfriends were involved with them, they eventually pushed their partners into doing increasingly bizarre and deviant sexual activities. They often preferred this sexual imagery, accompanied by masturbation, to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminished their capacity to love and express affection to their partner in their intimate relations. In many cases, this resulted in a fall out in the relationship when the woman refused to go further-often leading to much conflict, separation or even divorce.
Material (in books, magazines or film/videos) which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive or immoral, though still sexually arousing, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. There was increasingly a sense that “everybody does it” and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards.
4. Acting Out Sexually
There is alarmingly increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex. This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse–no matter what the negative consequences were in their life.
PORNOGRAPHY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE FAMILY
However, in my clinical experience, the major consequence of being addicted to pornography is not the probability or possibility of committing a serious sex crime (though this can and does occur), but rather it’s disturbance of the fragile bonds of intimate family and marital relationships. This is where the most grievous pain, damage and sorrow occurs. There is repeatedly an interference with or even destruction of healthy love and sexual relationships with long term bonded partners. The most important negative consequence is that it isolates one from one’s own self. The ‘real’ world no longer appears appealing and the individual prefers to be in his own world ultimately severing emotional ties that gives meaning to his own existence. No amount of ‘knowing that its bad’ helps to reverse this habit. It’s like a latent cancer, it almost never disappears on its own or reverses its course unless there is some psychotherapeutic intervention.
PARENTING ISSUES AND PORNOGRAPHY
With the explosion of internet usage parents need to keep in control on the internet usage of their young ones. Their curious mind and age is bound to take them in this direction if left unattended on the net. Pornography films are often dismissed off as ‘educative’ or seen as rebelliousness by care givers. However parents need to be aware that there is tremendous peer pressure on the young adults and they often resort to pornography to be a part of the ‘in’ group or for the purpose of self education. When parents provide scientifically correct and age appropriate sex education to the child from a young age, they squash this curiosity and the chances of their child being misinformed via porn films. In fact sex education classes are conducted in many schools for the same purpose. It is a myth that imparting sex education will increase sexual activity in young adults. Rather as parents and caregivers it is your duty to ensure that the child is well informed about the sexual boundaries and the consequences. In fact in many of the abuse cases that I have handled in my practice, children were unable to protect themselves from further abuse because they felt responsible and guilty of the abuse and were unable to convey their feelings their parents whom they thought they could not talk as it’s a taboo topic or worse still would blame them. Because the topic was never raised by their parents they have nowhere else to talk about but their peers or left on their own for further experimentation.
Watching porn movies has a far outreaching psychological impact, especially on a young adults mind. Most of the porn films are made by men and are often extremely sexist in nature often debasing or humiliating a woman. Therefore children at a very young and impressionable age learn to disrespect women in general and treat them as object of sexual pleasure, have distorted perceptions about sexuality, destroys confidence, commitment and responsibility of an intimate relationship and institution of marriage in particular and making polygamous relationship an acceptable idea. In addition, pornography portrays “unhealthy” or even antisocial kinds of sexual activity such as sadomasochism, abuse and humiliation of the female, involvement of minors, incest, group sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc.
Watching pornographic films over an extended period of time raises a fundamental question of who you become as a person watching it.