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Pornography addiction, or more broadly overuse of pornography, is excessive pornography use that interferes with daily life. There is no diagnosis of pornography addiction in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Pornography addiction is diagnosed when an individual engages in the overuse or abuse of pornography to the extent that they experience negative consequences. In 1990 Aviel Goodman proposed a general definition of all types of addictions in order to extend the specific disorders included in the DSM-III-R. While not explicitly in the context of pornography, Goodman explains his criteria for addiction as a "process whereby a behavior, that can function both to produce pain and to provide escape from internal discomfort, [and] is employed in a pattern characterized by (1) failure to control the behavior (powerlessness) and (2) continuation of the behavior despite significant negative consequences (unmanageability)."
Pornography addiction is defined as a dependence upon pornography characterized by obsessive viewing, reading, and thinking about pornography and sexual themes to the detriment of other areas of life.[by whom?]
On August 15, 2011 the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) issued a public statement defining all addiction (including sexual behavior addiction) in terms of brain changes. "Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry."
The following excerpts are taken from the FAQs:
The new ASAM definition makes a departure from equating addiction with just substance dependence, by describing how addiction is also related to behaviors that are rewarding. This is the first time that ASAM has taken an official position that addiction is not solely "substance dependence." This definition says that addiction is about functioning and brain circuitry and how the structure and function of the brains of persons with addiction differ from the structure and function of the brains of persons who do not have addiction. It talks about reward circuitry in the brain and related circuitry, but the emphasis is not on the external rewards that act on the reward system. Food and sexual behaviors and gambling behaviors can be associated with the "pathological pursuit of rewards" described in this new definition of addiction. [emphasis added]
We all have the brain reward circuitry that makes food and sex rewarding. In fact, this is a survival mechanism. In a healthy brain, these rewards have feedback mechanisms for satiety or 'enough.' In someone with addiction, the circuitry becomes dysfunctional such that the message to the individual becomes ‘more’, which leads to the pathological pursuit of rewards and/or relief through the use of substances and behaviors. So, anyone who has addiction is vulnerable to food and sex addiction.
Since ASAM released its statement, and shortly before its release, additional new studies have come out on Internet addiction (which include Internet pornography use). They reveal the same fundamental brain changes seen in other addicts of drugs. Another 2011 study found that the risk of Internet addiction in men was about three times more than women. Researchers noted,
Internet addiction is a psychosocial disorder and its characteristics are as follows: tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, affective disorders, and problems in social relations. Internet usage creates psychological, social, school and/or work difficulties in a person's life. Eighteen percent of study participants were considered to be pathological Internet users, whose excessive use of the Internet was causing academic, social, and interpersonal problems. Excessive Internet use may create a heightened level of psychological arousal, resulting in little sleep, failure to eat for long periods, and limited physical activity, possibly leading to the user experiencing physical and mental health problems such as depression, OCD, low family relationships and anxiety.
In the past, others have argued porn addiction was not comparable to substance addiction and should not be classed as such.
Stephen Andert, coauthor of Web Stalkers: Protect Yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths, states "For many people, such as, pornography is a problem. Like alcohol, gambling or drugs, it can take control of a person's life and drag them kicking and screaming or voluntarily into the gutter. The addictive and progressive (or regressive) nature of pornography is well documented."
Erick Janssen, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, criticized the application of the term addiction to pornography overuse, arguing that while it describes addiction-like behavior, treating the users as addicts may not help. Another explanation offered is that some people "addicted" to pornography simply resort to it because they experience interpersonal difficulty in establishing real life relationships leading to sex, which is less predictable.
Proposed stages of pornography addiction
Some psychologists and sex therapists (for example Kimberly Young, and Victor Cline) have proposed stages in pornography addiction.     Rory C. Reid and Dan Gray note that the stages need not be sequential and not all individuals experience all stages.
In November 2004, a panel of experts testified before a US Senate subcommittee. Proponents of the addiction model argued that exposure to kinky sexual practices by means of pornography lead the watchers to "cross over". Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, is of the opinion that sexual addiction should be better framed as sexual compulsion, claiming the difference is subtle but important. Others, including Mary Anne Layden, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, disagrees. She was one of the witnesses at the Senate hearing on pornography addiction. She says the same criteria used to diagnose problems like pathological gambling and substance abuse can be applied to problematic porn use. "The therapists who treat pornography addicts say they behave just like any other addicts," she tells WebMD. One of the key features of addiction, she says, is the development of a tolerance to the addictive substance. In the way that drug addicts need increasingly larger doses to get high, she thinks porn addicts need to see more and more extreme material to feel the same level of excitement they first experienced.
Psychologists who see pornography as addictive may consider online, often Internet pornography more addictive than ordinary pornography because of its wide availability, explicit nature, and the privacy that online viewing offers. Some claim that addicts regularly spend extended periods of time searching the Internet for new or increasingly hardcore pornography.
Sex researcher Alvin Cooper and colleagues suggested several reasons for using filters as a therapeutic measure, including curbing accessibility that facilitates problematic behavior and encouraging clients to develop coping and relapse prevention strategies. Cognitive therapist Mary Anne Layden suggested that filters may be useful in maintaining environmental control. Internet behavior researcher David Delmonico noted that, despite their limitations, filters may serve as a "frontline of protection."
Causes of pornography addiction
Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction research, has outlined four core beliefs common in most sexual addicts. They usually result from growing up in a dysfunctional family, especially one with rigid rules, little warmth and affirmation, abandonment, and sexual or emotional abuse. The core beliefs are the following: 1) I am basically a bad, unworthy person, 2) No one would love me as I am, 3) My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend upon others, 4) Sex is my most important need. The root of sexual addiction usually begins in childhood. Carnes writes, "When a child's exploration of sexuality goes beyond discovery to routine self-comforting because of the lack of human care, there is potential for addiction. Sex becomes confused with comforting and nurturing." For example, a lonely and abused 13-year-old finds comfort in masturbation and pornography. More and more, he or she uses that for solace. As years go by, the type of sexual acting out may change. It can involve promiscuity, affairs, and visiting massage parlors or prostitutes.
Downside to pornographic viewing
According to Dr. Asa Don Brown, an author for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association:
Pornography’s downside is its ability to overtake one’s mind, body, and spirit. For so many, they become so enthralled with this alternative to sex, that it clouds their judgements leading to an acceptable denial. The man who spends more time masturbating over images and videos, than seeking to have intimacy with his wife. A woman who has been cybersexing discovers a pathway to turn her online romance into her own reality." 
Therapy is needed in many cases to overcome the strong arming of pornography. Likewise, those who are addicted to pornography are frequently feeling hopelessness, depression, anxiety, stress, and a feeling that they are incapable of overcoming their addictive issue when needed for co-occurring.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "If people want to escape feelings of low self-esteem, shame, isolation or the pressures of life, work or relationships, pornography is a place to get lost and feel wanted, imagining the perfect partners who always desires them - and whom they can always satisfy."  The Chronicle goes on to say that the risk of job loss and spousal loss is very high with those who are truly addicted to pornography.
Pornography is a teaser, it binds you and allures you to this notion of fulfillment, with a craving that becomes unmanageable and uncontrollable. Dr. Brown further says, "All too often, sexual addicts risk losing important relationships, being plagued with diseases, and place their jobs and careers on the line. For the addict, it is less about the desire and more about fulfilling a compulsive need."
Treatment for pornography addiction includes counseling or 12-step support groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous or Porn Addicts Anonymous. Medication may be prescribed when needed for co-occurring anxiety or depression.
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (January 2012)|
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