What is porn or sexual addiction

Sexual addiction is excessive sexual activity, usually promiscuous and uncontrolled. Addicted people persist in their behaviour despite the negative consequences they inevitably suffer and fail to feel real pleasure. Sex education from childhood is the only way to promote sexual and emotional health and to prevent disorders in the constitution of the personality.

Human sexuality is a vital energy that brings together biological, psychological, social and spiritual needs. As the engine of our actions, attitudes and feelings, its healthy development guides us towards the search for pleasure, harmony and communication in everything we do. It allows us to structure a coherent identity, give and receive affection, raise our self-esteem, feel we belong to a social group.

The eroticism, uniquely human sexual experience, is linked to life experience and passion. Its main non-conscious purpose is to alleviate existential anguish due to loneliness by reaching union with another while still being oneself. It is awakened by external stimuli that our senses receive: touch, hearing, smell, taste and sight, and by internal stimuli: fantasies and memories.

Human beings go through common situations that are culturally erotic (for example, in the West, a plunging neckline) and erotic needs that are exclusively individual. Each person gives different meanings to their sexuality, among others, it can be important or despicable, a means for procreation, a defence against loneliness, a mode of communication, a form of aggression, a sport, love, art, a flight, a source of self-esteem, a way of expressing affection, a duty, a pleasure, a biological function, a challenge, an antidepressant, a sleeping pill, a struggle for power.

Since eroticism is an aspect of our inner life, the characteristics of the sexual partner we seek respond to that inner world. According to our history (especially childhood), with the models and mandates received, our beliefs, ideology and vital moment, certain external stimuli sensitize us more than others. Almost like a trap, historically linked to prohibition and transgression, if it becomes repetition, duty and custom, eroticism dies.

What then is “normal” for human sexuality in relation to ideas, needs, fantasies, behaviours or ways of connecting. Being within the norm means doing or feeling what the majority do or feel. People need to identify with others to the point of acting en masse to feel safe, accepted, socially adapted. The consumer society –which is overcrowding– promotes contradictory norms, from inhibiting (“that is not done”) to mechanizing (“how much mine do I have”) of sexual behaviours. In both cases the affectivity is absent.
Within this cultural ambivalence, depending on where the person stands, their sexual modality will be normal for one pattern but abnormal for another.

In sexuality, there is no universal norm. Each society according to each historical moment and each social stratum uses different guidelines to establish what is normal. To analyze it, we can consider various types of criteria (statistical, phylogenetic, moral, legal or social) but depend on whether one or the other is considered, certain behaviours will be “abnormal” or “normal”. Consider the meaning of beach nudity in the early 20th century (socially abnormal) and today (normal), as well as the chador that completely covers the orthodox Islamic woman even today (socially normal/abnormal). Let’s consider homosexuality: homosexual people are around 10% of the world population (statistically abnormal), in various animal species it is a habitual behaviour (phylogenetically normal), for the Catholic religion it is a sin (morally abnormal), for the laws of our country it has been accepted for a short time (legally normal), social acceptance has been gradual (socially abnormal/normal). So, is the abnormal thing the unnatural, the immoral, the illegal, the statistical minority, what is not usually done in a certain social group? This response is conditioned by each society. The abnormal of yesterday may be the normal of today. What is abnormal in one country or region may be normal in another, even coinciding with social time. What is not usually done in a certain social group? This response is conditioned by each society. The abnormal of yesterday may be the normal of today. What is abnormal in one country or region may be normal in another, even coinciding with social time. What is not usually done in a certain social group? This response is conditioned by each society. The abnormal of yesterday may be the normal of today. What is abnormal in one country or region may be normal in another, even coinciding with social time.

To bring an answer that clarifies us, that allows consensus, that transcends the times and that does not hide behind cultural relativism, we can conclude that since the word “normal” is tricky, it should be replaced by the term “acceptable.” What is sexually acceptable is any conduct agreed between adults, that does not produce physical or psychological harm and that does not include minors.

Within this context, what place does sexual addiction occupy? It is often believed (and in the sexual sphere most of us deal with beliefs) that those who lead a highly active sex life are more linked to pleasure than the rest of the people. We find ourselves here with a first problem, how to measure that “extremely”. What is the boundary between the usual and the exaggerated? Depending on the region, the historical period or the social group considered, the frequency (high or low) in which a person desires sexually can be considered habitual or out of the ordinary. The usual practice of various sexual attitudes (masturbation, sexual harassment, consumption of prostitution, pornography, cybersex, etc.) does not necessarily imply addiction to sex.

Sexual addiction or hypersexuality disorder is excessive sexual activity, usually promiscuous and uncontrolled. It is a sexual dependency. Addicts persist in their behaviour despite the negative consequences they inevitably suffer, they are unable to control their sexual behaviour. Thoughts about sexual issues are constant and intrusive. They hide their sexual behaviour through deception and lies. People with very low self-esteem can be isolated by the constant search for sex, without considering the physical or emotional risk themselves or the other. Without sexual performance, they suffer a discomfort similar to withdrawal syndrome(anguish, anxiety, despair, depression, etc.) and present severe mood swings related to the absence or presence of sexual activity (depression or euphoria). The threshold of addiction is reached when the behaviour causes discomfort or impedes social functioning with conflictive economic and family concomitants. Although the exaggerated increase in desire is considered as a sign of addiction, the essential point of every addict is given by the absence of self-control.
Every addiction is defined by the compulsion to develop a certain action beyond one’s own will. Compulsion is a psychological mechanism that differs from being carried away by impulses. The impulse, although it is uncontrolled and detached from reflection, tells us about a pleasant experience of the behaviour carried out, for example eating, smoking, drinking alcohol, having sexual encounters, gambling, getting high, etc. These same behaviours, when they are compulsive, generate an internal imposition to do something automatically and out of control in which the need is satisfied at the moment but displeasure and guilt arise as a final result.

This compulsive behaviour is carried out by the subject to calm negative feelings experienced as intolerable (anxiety, anguish, fear, low self-esteem, emptiness, loneliness, among others). This addict consumes sex in some of its forms: masturbation, harassment, the constant search for a sexual partner, carried out with such intensity that in it you can read the desperation for the discharge of those intolerable feelings. Except in masturbation, when another is needed to satisfy consumption, that other is not experienced as a subject, that other is an object of disposable satisfaction after being used.

Sexual addiction and promiscuity often go hand in hand. There is no selection, there is no real desire, there is only a need to silence an internal cry and anybody is fine, at least for a time the person thinks they are at peace until the cry begins again.

It seems that mental illnesses, drug use, alcohol, some medications, lesions in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, can damage the structures related to self-control and lead to compulsive behaviours. Beyond possible organic causes that justify their compulsive behaviours, sexual addicts suffered traumatic sexual situations in the first eight years of life (abuse, mistreatment, severe repression, direct or witness hyperstimulation). In these cases, the confirmation of the personal erotic map can range between hyposexuality (generally found in women) and hypersexuality (generally carried out by men).

Sexual addiction is seen more in men than in women. Considering a phylogenetic explanation of the greater sexual activity of males, from the mandates of nature, the male must impregnate as many females as possible to ensure the continuity of the species. In contrast, the human female can only produce one child per year and must take care of the young. Likewise, from cultural mandates and even considering the advances in this regard in this new millennium, men continue to have permission to exchange sex with a large number of women; that makes him “more man.” On the other hand, in various fields, it is still considered that women should be more selective and careful.

In certain circumstances, sexual addiction may be transitory, since it arises only at a certain point in life as a response to a personal crisis, in order to mourn an emotional loss, for example, after a divorce, the person needs to ensure That she is still desirable, that often leads to thoughtless sexual behaviour. Unlike addiction as a constituent of the personality structure, these people, once the crisis is over, return to a selective and “moderate” sexual life. These behaviours do not constitute a pathological addiction.

Let us consider synthetically some of the habitual addictive behaviours, which become such when they are compulsive, excessive, promiscuous, uncontrolled and generate displeasure and subsequent suffering.

Within the constant search for relationships parallel to the established couple, we can observe that in this case, the usual thing is that the couple is always made up of at least three (although one does not know it). This addict does not establish deep emotional ties with any sexual partner, not even with his formal partner. Within his external relationships, this man allows himself sexual behaviours that he would not perform with his partner. Robert De Niro in the film Analízame responds to his analyst when he asks him why he has lovers and he replies “With that mouth that kisses my children !?”, alluding to oral sex.

Although the sex addict seeks encounters with multiple simultaneous or successive sexual partners immediately, this behaviour is more evident in some homosexual men. They usually visit bathrooms or clubs to practice indiscriminate sex without any type of protection, which later generates intense fears. Considering that males are more prone to activity, promiscuous behaviours can be enhanced in male homosexuality.

Self-stimulation or masturbation is a habitual and healthy sexual behaviour. In compulsive masturbation, the person urgently needs to stimulate himself several times a day, in any place and circumstance. This behaviour is not motivated by the need for pleasure but by destructive anxiety that needs to be discharged. Masturbation in these cases becomes a form of addiction that only temporarily calms the anguish until the emptiness is felt again. The subject cannot connect with his daily life, nor propose life projects, nor relate to others.

Both eroticism and pornography they awaken sexual desire. What is the limit between the two? In the first place, the limit is given by the society and the historical period of each culture. What is the last century could have been classified as pornographic, in our time can be considered erotic. Twenty years ago in our country, a television advertisement showing female buttocks was censored as scandalous “how good TV is.” The limit between erotic and pornographic also depends on the personal style of each one. In the social expression of eroticism, sexuality is treated as a suggestion, allusion and symbolism of the encounter. On the other hand, in the manifestations of pornography, the expressions are explicit, descriptive of sexual mechanisms, detached from emotions. There are different types of pornographic manifestations with different gradients, from those that limit very close to the erotic to those that are frankly far away. The consumption of pornography becomes addictive when it is exclusive, constant, compulsive and produces social isolation and suffering.

The cybersex, sexual exchange through computers, facilitates rapid consumption and uncommitted, the place of the other as an object, isolation, emotional disconnection, protecting the risks exposing any link. For some people, it can become an ideal form of satisfaction. As in all compulsive behaviours, if the person suffers from it, it is an addiction.

Similar reflections can be found in the consumption of prostitution, in which the user is generally a male, usually with a stable partner and an apparently organized life. This man feels he has all the rights since he pays for the service. The prostituted woman is an object of his satisfaction, who does not ask for, demand or excite anything, almost like a rubber doll. This man can fulfil wishes that are not allowed with his partner. This practice becomes addictive when it is compulsive and generates subsequent suffering.

In short, the sex addict does not feel real pleasure with his behaviours, he cannot control them, he is dominated internally and it is very difficult for him to connect with other interests that may be harmonious and productive for himself. He hides his “double life” as something shameful and is afraid of being discovered. You feel guilty because you violate social guidelines and you punish yourself with suffering.

I consider it important to delimit the scope between sexual addiction and the paraphilias formerly called sexual perversions. These people have an unconventional way of feeling pleasure as the only way to fulfil their full sexual response (desire-arousal-orgasm). There are social ones that do not harm third parties, such as fetishism (presence of a certain object in the sexual scene, for example, a shoe), transvestism (wearing the clothing of the opposite sex in the sexual encounter, does not indicate homosexuality or transsexuality) ) and asocial criminals such as paedophilia (attraction to children), necrophilia (attraction to the dead), sadism (inflicting damage), exhibitionism (showing genitalia by surprise to strangers), among others. They share with addiction the impetuosity and dependence on the object of satisfaction, however, these people do not usually feel guilt. Suffering appears when they fail to develop their paraphilic behaviour. The only thing that satisfies the excitement is the realization of that fantasy. Paraphilia can become an addiction when it is imposed automatically, causes later discomfort and is maintained over time.

Speaking of fantasies, let’s distinguish between a sexual fantasy of any kind and its implementation. The behaviours that we were mentioned in this article can be part of a person’s erotic imagination, without implying addiction or paraphilia. In sex life, fantasies are a necessary and rewarding ally. They constitute fundamental support points for the deployment of eroticism. As a stimulus that awakens desire, they continue to develop during the hypnoid state that implies letting themselves be carried away by excitement, the transgression of norms or values ​​that would not manifestly act appear more easily. Many people tend to fear their sexual fantasies, they believe that if they fantasize they may wish to take those fantasies into action and do something that their own conscience does not allow. Fear, shame, thinking that only one is the one who imagines “such things”, usually acts as an inhibitor of fantasies and their communication. Guilt impoverishes the imagination and even leads some people to adopt sexual behaviours totally opposite to their fantasy for fear of being discovered and criticized. Fantasy is a behaviour in itself that does not want to be brought into reality since it would lose its erotic force. It can become addictive if it is compulsive, exaggerated, isolates produce bonding and economic disorders and generate suffering.

We begin this note by mentioning the healthy aspects of sexuality as constitutive of being a person. However, these lines showed a dark side to human sexuality. Sexual psychotherapies can alleviate suffering in some way, however, some marks are practically indelible. That is why we vehemently insist on sexual education from childhood as the only way to promote sexual and emotional health and to prevent disorders in the constitution of the personality.

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