In a democracy where freedom of speech and thought is a basic rite, there is and always will be controversy surrounding pornography. A major study from the University of Sydney has shed light on the secret world of excessive porn viewing and the devastating effect it has on users and their families. 85% of males and 15% of females frequently access pornography – when does pornography addiction become dangerous?
Dr Gomathi Sitharthan of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor Raj Sitharthan from the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Sydney conducted an online study of 800 people who watch porn to gain an unprecedented insight into who suffers from porn addiction and how their addiction affects them.
Preliminary results from the study have revealed that 43 percent of those surveyed started to view porn between the ages of 11 and 13, 47 percent spend between 30 minutes and three hours a day watching porn. The researchers found excessive users had severe social and relationship problems and had often lost their jobs or been in trouble with the law as a result of their addiction.
We interviewed Professor Raj Sitharthan on the results and his expert tips on how to detect pornography addition.
RESCU: When did you commence this research and what is your sample data group?
Professor Sitharthan : We started the research 12 months ago and decided to go via internet to get real answers. We had 800 data sample from a Sydney University Study that was advertised via university websites and channels.
RESCU: What was the catalyst for your research into pornography addiction?
Professor Sitharthan : We were researching disorders and addiction and in our clinical work saw a lot of issues relating to pornography addictions. A couple may come in for relationship therapy and when we dug a little deeper, the issue was related to the husband’s porn addiction. Even young children who would come in with issues around being withdrawn or having social problems, we found again and again that the problem was due to a pornography addiction.
Expert tips to detect the early signs of pornography addiction in your partner
1. Secretive behaviour
2. A lot of time on the laptop or in the ‘office’ at home
3. As people get very engaged in pornography they start having to spend for access to certain sites. You may notice unaccounted for or irregular expenses on credit cards or paypal.
4. Spending less time with partner/ spouse
5. Noticing that your partner gets sexually aroused by porn but not by you
RESCU: What are the effects of porn addiction?
Dr Professor Sitharthan : After a while people are not happy with normal sexual interludes so they start to look for places and situations to re-enact what they see in pornography. They will go to prostitutes, online adult match-making services and ‘swinger’ clubs. If they start to develop fetish or preferences that they are not getting at home, they will seek it outside of the relationship.
RESCU: What affect does pornography have on how men see women?
Professor Sitharthan : Pornography is changing men’s sexual preferences and ideals of the female form. Many young men have a distorted perception of what is normal female genetalia due to air brushing and ‘idealised’ versions of a naked woman who may infact be surgically enhanced or modified. What is disturbing is that they will then demand this from their partners and ask them to have cosmetic or reconstructive surgery on breasts and genitals to fit the ‘norm’ they see in pornography.
RESCU: Is it true that exposure to pornography changes the way men treat women sexually?
Professor Sitharthan : In my clinical practice we see that more young men have distorted reality of sexual encounters and a woman’s readiness for intimacy. In films and online, a physical encounter happens with very little lead up and so young men are approaching young women in a aggressive way.
RESCU: What about their own self image?
Professor Sitharthan : Yes, younger and older men can find their own self image and confidence is eroded by watching pornography. They often compare their prowess and stamina to what they see and are disappointed or embarrassed by their own shortcomings .
Most Startling Pornography Addiction Statistics:
Males 85%, Females 15%
Average age of participants 32.5 years
Over 50% married or in a de-facto relationship
71% in paid employment
43% started to view porn between the ages 11 and 13 years
47% spend on average between 30 minutes to 3 hours per day watching porn
52% downloaded clips and XXX rated videos from the internet
15% fantasize multiple times during a day about viewing pornography
22% act upon these fantasies at least to 4 times a week
80% willing to seek professional help, but prefer to seek help via the web
About 30% said they will become defensive or secretive when asked what they are doing online
Over 35% said they will snap or yell if they are bothered when they are online
Over 20% said they will hide how long they have been online
Over 25% said they try to cut down the amount of time they spend watching porn but fail