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190612throwout450 karma

Hi Megan,

I discovered pornography when I was about 12 and have spent the last 10 years hopelessly addicted. I know there are healthy and sexuality-enhancing ways to use porn, but this is not me.

When I was living at home through junior/high school, it was a constant fight with my parents, who monitored internet traffic; when I left for university, I would skip classes and put off homework for porn, and my grades suffered. I have never talked with anyone about the reason for my poor performance at school before; the truth is that I was spending an average of 2 hours daily watching pornography and masturbating. As a student in a pretty tough school, 14 hours a week just for porn is clearly not sustainable, but I lacked (and still lack) the ability/will to control it. My abuse of porn has contributed to depression, sleeping issues, and a whole host of other problems, and yet I have been unable to stop my behavior. I hate it the same way an alcoholic hates his bottle.

I fell in love and have been together with her for about two years. I have never had the courage to be totally forthcoming with her about the depth of my problem. Hell, I wasn't even able to be forthcoming with myself about the problem until I went through some very deep reflection under the influence of a psychedelic drug several months ago. I had hoped a normal, consistent sexual relationship might help me overcome my compulsions, but when she's gone (different schools), I fall right back into old patterns. I don't want to have a secret addiction and behavior that I compulsively cannot talk about, and I especially want to feel able to be totally open with her. It's the only thing I keep closed with her, but it's still wrong.

So, sad story aside. I have two questions for you.

  1. I am really ready to tackle this problem head on. I need therapy, I am fairly certain, but I would like to know if you have any resources or other suggestions to help me get off the ground or supplement therapy. Even a recommended therapy type? Anything.

  2. Pornography was NEVER discussed in my sex ed courses, outside of one presentation which told us that we were Bad People if we looked at porn, and my education is visibly the poorer. With the sheer ease of access to every flavor of porn on the internet, it seems as though a mature discussion of pornography should be embraced, not avoided, in sex education. So, given your druthers, how would you start to educate youth about pornography and other sexual materials?

EDIT: Thanks to EVERYONE who's replied; I don't have time to read everything this second but I will get to it. This is the first time I've tried to seek help/get the information I need to help myself, and I'm really really glad to receive so much support/advice without judgement.

190612throwout39 karma

Megan's making more of an observation than a diagnosis and goes on to recommend therapy aimed at the compulsion. A lot of the shame might come from compulsion, but that doesn't mean it can't be examined for its own sake.

I think it's fine to say porn is never bad; it's never good either. Marijuana without a user is just a leafy green plant. And like marijuana, you can use porn in a way that enhances your life, or you can use porn in a way that detracts from it. I would put the normative judgement in the usage/relationship, not the object.

I hope I'm not putting words in Megan/CSPH's mouth, but I think she'd agree that porn can be used in ways which are bad for the user, or that some people have very unhealthy relationships with pornography. That doesn't equate to saying, 'porn is bad', which without further clarification is a statement of general case and definitely not the clearest way to communicate about how to interact healthily with porn.

Corn syrup analogy definitely captures the mass produced aesthetic of commercial porn :)

190612throwout30 karma

I just finished this; thank you! I'm always a little on edge around evopsych stuff, but the other stuff he discusses fits me...uncannily closely. This is very helpful.

190612throwout4 karma

Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely send a line to Joseph.

It's pretty keen that you picked up on the secrecy-shame component. I definitely don't think porn itself is the problem, but rather my behavior and cognition where it is concerned. I do tend to downplay the role that shame plays, but you're absolutely right, it is a huge great big bear of a factor.

I really do wish our culture would dialogue about sex much better than it does, in general. I grew up in a red state with abstinence only sex ed; I am definitely familiar with how sex can quickly and mysteriously lock up a conversation. Do you have any thoughts or suspicions on why porn is particularly difficult for us (culturally) to discuss? I'm sure there's more than one reason (shame, strong religious injunctions, particular beliefs about porn industry, etc etc), but I'm curious what you've seen to be the meatiest obstacle(s).