PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION AND COMPULSIVE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Emerson A. North Hospital Life Way Unit and Xavier University
Can behavior such as the excessive viewing of pornography constitute an addiction? Clinical evidence says "yes." Clinicians and researchers have recognized that sexual addiction, including addiction to the use of pornography, is a clinically identifiable illness ( Carnes, 1990; Coleman, 1990a). This chapter provides clinical evidence that the use of pornography can be instrumental in the development of compulsive, dependent, and addictive sexual behavior. The use of pornography can be both a cause and a symptom of behavior that serves to arouse or sedate individuals, dependent on their neurochemistry and conditioning. Any kind of pornography is potentially addictive, as it serves the purpose desired by the user, to either provide escape from internal discomfort or to produce pleasure. Not everyone who uses pornography is addicted, but thousands are. Diagnostic criteria focus around how the use of pornography relates to and affects the individual's ability to cope with life. Donovan ( 1988) stated: "The person becomes addicted to an experience, and addiction for an individual may take on a number of different objects" (p. 10).
Operant conditioning principles determine whether pornography usage, or other mood-altering behavior, causes addiction (or other deviant behavior such as aggression) or reinforces addictive behavior (or aggression).