“Theoretically a man could worry that he’s addicted to porn and it turns out he’s really not. Is there room in the diagnostic system for that possibility?”

This comment was from “wellokaythen” on the post “Why Does Porn Seem Hotter Than My Partner?

My first reaction to Robinson and Wilson’s work was disbelief, but I’ve come around quite a bit the more I think about it. I think what I didn’t understand before but do now is the crucial role that the self-referral plays in their view of diagnosing and treating porn addicts.

Here’s where they’re on solid ground: there are men who are aware that they have a problem with porn. These men know they have a problem because they feel like their porn habits are out of control. Their sense of being out of control gives them a lot of stress, and a part of each of them wants to change but is not sure how. I have no doubt the testimonials are genuine.

This is often how addiction or other psychological disorders are spotted and treated. Treatment often begins when the subject asks for help or when the subject identifies to himself that he has a problem. A diagnosis of porn addiction is literally “subjective” – based in large part on whether or not the subject thinks he has a problem. If he thinks he has a problem, then he probably does. This is a common threshold for a lot of conditions in the DSM-IV: the difference between a personal quirk and a disorder is how much it bothers the subject. If I have a problem with reliance on the subject’s own viewpoint, then I have a problem with psychiatry as a science in the first place.

So, if a man prefers to masturbate to porn instead of his partner and this bothers him, or if he can only get an erection to porn and this bothers him, then he has a problem.

My question is: if it doesn’t bother him very much, then can we still say that he has a porn problem? Maybe in some cases, maybe not. Maybe he’s addicted and he’s in denial, or maybe he doesn’t have a problem. That’s the tricky part.

You could say that his addiction is harming his intimate relationships, but again that’s largely dependent on how the subject feels about it. If his partner has a problem with his porn use, then that’s not necessarily evidence by itself he’s addicted.

From the diagnostic side of things, I’d be curious if the screening process has any possibility of a negative or inconclusive finding. Would a man refer himself to a porn addiction specialist and EVER be turned away because the clinic screens him and the test comes back “no evidence” or “not enough evidence to say yes”? If there’s a brain scan or qualitative survey and it always comes back positive for addiction, that sounds like a poor screening process, even for self-referrals.

Theoretically a man could worry that he’s addicted to porn and it turns out he’s really not. Is there room in the diagnostic system for that possibility? How to weed out hypochondriacs, Munchausen’s, and other misdirected self-referrals. I bet VERY few people would claim to be porn addicts who aren’t, but how would one ever know?

I totally agree that porn addiction should be treated as a serious problem. That means that there should be the most rigorous screening process possible. There should be extensive safeguards to prevent false positives and false negatives.

—Photo andres.moreno/Flickr

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Comments

  1. Anthony Zarat says:

    THANK YOU!!!

    Doctors who find a harmless individual choice to be distasteful and then use big Latin words to turn prejudice into a diagnosis are the real problem that needs to be understood.

    Thank you “wellokaythen”.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      By the way, I believe that there are a lot of genuine addicts that need help. Maybe its 1%. Maybe its 50%. Maybe the authors genuinely care about these addicts. Maybe the authors were careless with their language because the non-addicts never come to see them. If 100% of the people they normally talk to need help, then why bother with careful language?

      However, TGMP is not a clinic, and not every man (or woman) on this site is an addict. Even if 99% have a problem, there is no excuse for using unqualified diagnostic terms to describe a harmless personal choice.

    • Agreed. Too often in gender issues, the accusation is considered proof enough that the accused is in the wrong… and denial just confirms it. Seldom is the question asked, “What if your ‘diagnosis’ is just personal prejudice?”

  2. I once asked a Psychiatrist friend who worked in addictions how much masturbation was too much, to which he replied: I have a patient who can not work and collects disability because he must masturbate to porn dozens of times daily. It’s pretty much all he does except sleep and eat.

    To which I replied: “Wow”.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I say “Wow” to the collecting disability part of that story. Not to sound insensitive, but does that mean that the government is paying him money to masturbate 12 times a day? That’s the kind of welfare I would love to apply for.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    I hadn’t even thought of that issue, but that’s another important reason why there needs to be a reliable diagnostic. If insurance companies ever cover an addiction treatment, or if there are disability checks dependent on a positive diagnosis, then there better be some safeguards in place to make sure the screening is accurate. Any medical condition that makes one person pay another person creates an incentive for fraud.

    Whether or not the medical community accepts porn addiction as a distinct disorder will make a big difference in whether or not a physician or clinic can use it in a billing code. Without a billing code, there’s no payment from an insurance company, no malpractice insurance coverage, and less support behind you if you’re ever investigated for wrongdoing. Probably harder to get research funding as well. There’s a lot of money at stake over whether a condition is accepted or not. It’s not just a matter of reputations or empathy. It’s big bucks on the line.

  4. So the headline read “…a man could worry that he’s addicted to porn.”

    That question has an easy answer: He quits doing porn for, say, a month and he sees what happens. If he can’t abstain – well, he’s quite obviously addicted to porn. It really is that simple. Porn is the crack cocaine for the sex addict.

    As with everything there will be people who can indulge the hardest drugs without losing control, and there are others who had an innocent first beer and – BOOOM – the next thing they notice is they’re under the bridge shootn’ up heroin. They start as sane, functioning people in every aspect of life. Except that one part. And from there it goes downwards. They’re not at fault, maybe life’s thrown them one too many curve balls, maybe they have been born that way.

    I know from experience: An addict myself, I have lived the destructiveness of addiction first hand, including sex & porn addiction. It used to be once a week, then it was once a day, then the porn got nastier, hook ups via the Internet followed, then prostitutes. I ended up having sex with the nastiest of women, at peak times three new hookups in one weekend. The women started to get nastier. I had accepted the unacceptable. I threw away that porn collection, wiped that folder, I disconnected from these friends-with-benefits. A few days later it started all over. Isolation set in, my once promising management consulting career started to fall apart, then came the alcohol and the drugs. More than a decade would pass. If you watched the movie ‘Shame’ … that was me. I have spent tens of thousands on therapy, have been to hundreds of 12-step meetings, I went “to any length” as they say in AA. Ten months into ‘the program’ my life has started to turn around. It does work.

    You read this for a reason. Even if it’s only a suspicion, I genuinely invite you get help – please don’t let yourself get where I have been.

  5. The Blurpo says:

    ok my turn, I wanted to reply on the other thread but I dont know why, I cant.

    Well, addiction is a bad thing (and now I speak about porn addiction) because, our body is build to adapt. That means our body have the ability to adapt to the most incredible situations. Talking about porn, our brain adapts to solitude and vojeurism, and our sexuality gets molded in that way. So when we are with a partner, it may be our lover, girlfriend, wife, a one night stand or some mercenary intimacy…we sexualy fail (the failure is then determined by our expectations, if I want to emulate Rocco Siffredi, and instead I find myself closer to ‘super softy never hard’ well I get depressed and admit a big fail). Because we have adapted to the ‘solo’ action. The best course of action then would be to rewire our brain from ‘hand solo’ life style to the rockstar, doing this removing porn (or whatever else we have used to) for a while uintil we have adapted again to a more crowded sexuality. But thats my opinion.

    And I dont condemn porn, at the contrary, its sourche of fun and a good way to find inspirations; but like with everything good, bad things also come. So we have to be carefull. From the healthy enjoyment to the abuse, there is a thin line, that never should be crossed.

    ciao

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