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The 10 Steps to Porn Addiction: Where Are You?

Porn addiction? Please.

Let's try a little experiment, right now. Don't click on this link. It has a naked woman in it. Two naked women, in fact. One of them is stunning web pornstress Luba Shumeyko...



...and both are nude, lounging uncovered on a bed. Wiggle your mouse finger and you can see them both in high-res glory. But don't click it. We're proving a point here.

Recently some chick testified before the Senate about porn addiction. The entire red-blooded male internet had a good chuckle at the odd, puritanical fundamentalists poisoning our government, wondering when they were going to suggest that online porn was the work of a Pagan witchcraft conspiracy or even demons uploading from the second circle of Hell.



I would have laughed along with them, but I noticed that of the six Firefox tabs I had open, five were tuned to porn.

But still, this idea of "addiction" is ridiculous. Right? I mean, to hear that lady talk, some of you actually had to concentrate to keep from clicking that naked link up there, feeling a sort of nervous anxiety in your gut at the thought of the two tanned, nude girls laying on the sheets, gently caressing each other. Oh, I'm sure some of you clicked purely out of curiosity and know that the link didn't lead to porn at all. This one, however, does. But don't click it.



So I wanted to prove scientifically just how ludicrous this theory was. Using the power of the internet and my not-unlarge website audience, I gathered almost 100 volunteers to start with, all of whom were regular porn users. Now, to simply ask them if they were addicted would have been as useless as trying to wipe our asses with a handful of scorpions. Nobody likes to be told their favorite things are harmful or, even worse, a sign of some kind of weakness. Our knee-jerk reaction is to rush to the defense of our vices and in my years on the 'net I've simply never heard anyone admit to being a porn addict.

Krunkass12: Dudes, I just booted up HL2 for the first time. Simply awesome. I've got to change my pants now!

RckJmsBtch: Cool. Picking mine up tomorrow. Speaking of pants, it looks like my penis is going to have to take out a restraining order on my hand because I'm a slave to porn addiction.

Krunkass12: Ah. I, too, my friend, am whipped by the lash of a porny master.

Also, there's such a libertarian nature to the internet that anyone who takes the anti-porn side in a conversation is immediately cast down into the pit of hypocrites and book burners and Bible-thumpers, down with Fallwell and Bin Laden and webevangelist Jack Chick.



From www.chick.com


Besides, I once knew a girl who smoked for eight years and every day of it she swore she could quit effortlessly and any time she wanted. Addicts tend to be the last to know they're addicts.

She didn't realize she was hooked until she tried to quit.

So that's what we did. When I asked for volunteers I told them they would have one task: to try to quit porn. Then we'd see how long they could go without going in search of photographic nakedness, either on the web or on their hard drives or at the back of their closet shelf.

If there is a better way to gauge addiction, I don't know of it.

We paused after two weeks and calculated the results. How do you think we did? How would you have done?

Here's your last chance at nude Luba and her beautiful friend, for real this time, totally bare and on the sheets and one second away. Is it hard not to click on her?





I should probably note here that I am not a trained scientist.

Anyway, the numbers:

Of 94 subjects, 52 (or 55%) failed to go
just one week without porn.


That's right. Focusing their mental energy on the task of resisting the 2D naked temptress, having to face the public admission of failure when they did, some of them probably lying their asses off, not even half of them lasted seven days.

24 of them couldn't even make it through three days.

Of our 94 subjects, we had a core group of 28 (30%) who seemed to have little problem giving it up and they are still porn-free as of the writing of this article. All the rest, 66 of the 94, gave in.

Surprised?

I was. But I got the sense that the participants were even more surprised. The original data and comments from the participants are HERE. Here is the dropout rate in graph form:



The details are thus:

"Porn" for the purposes of this study was defined as "any picture or video you suddenly lose interest in after masturbating."

Only subjects who already regularly looked at porn were accepted. It seemed logical, since a study on Nicotene addiction, for instance, would be conducted only with smokers.

A "failure" was only counted when the subject intentionally clicked on and ogled the porn. Porn briefly and accidentally glimpsed, such as porn spam in their inbox, didn't count. That would have skewed the results as a man on the internet is a proverbial bottle floating in an ocean of naked JPEG's and pushy pornmongers.























Now, before you go running back to your favorite message board with your objections...

Things you're probably asking:

I thought you said you had a hundred subjects...

We had 96 and two of the subjects never reported back in. We had 92 males and 4 females.

Surprisingly, *ahem* the females had little trouble abstaining when compared to the guys. Three of the four ladies (or 75% for you who are really bad at math) are still porn-free.

Do you actually think these results are valid? This was an anonymous survey conducted on the internet.

That's correct, which is why you're seeing these results on an internet comedian's website rather than the New England Journal of Medicine. Yes, these were faceless people with fake names (a porn study where the subjects went by names like Johnny Hard On and James Bondage probably will give the Nobel committee pause).

This is all just food for thought, like anything you read on the 'net. But also remember that if porn enthusiasts had a motivation to lie, it seems it would be to claim they went longer than they really did, not the opposite. As I said, nobody wants to paint their favorite hobby as being an addiction or as something they'd be better off avoiding. I can easily imagine some of the contestants broke down but didn't admit it. I don't believe any of them stayed porn-free but lied to say they failed.

So wouldn't that mean the real results would lean more on the addiction side rather than away from it?

Someone might also complain that a call for a survey on porn addiction would automatically draw people who suspect they are porn addicts (thus skewing the results again). But you could also say the opposite, that people dependant on porn would tend to stay far, far away from a study that requires them to go without it.

Lots of your subjects had no problem giving up porn. That proves it's not addictive. Besides, I once went a month without net access and I had no problem...

No substance on the face of the Earth is 100% addictive to everyone who touches it. I went to college with a guy who tried crack Cocaine on three separate occasions over the course of a year. He finally decided he just didn't like it.

No, my results would seem to show porn is less addictive than the 'ol Colombian pipe candy, but more addictive than, say, corn on the cob. Maybe it's on the level of Caffeine. I don't know. Try the Porn-Off yourself and find out.

Masturbation is a bodily function and the sex drive is a perfectly normal and natural thing. So how can you call any of it an "addiction?"

Unlike the old "Master of Your Domain" Seinfeld episode, this was not a ban on masturbation. The lady who talked to the Senate said it was porn that was addictive, not Whacking the Mole. That is indeed a bodily function and forbidding the subjects from Shaking Hands with the Bishop would have skewed the results. I did not.

Yes, I'm aware that porn is chiefly a masturbation aid but I suppose the thinking is that men were Punching the Munchkin long before porn was invented. Thus, if you are unable to Polish the Lance without the assistance of porn then you could say you're a porn addict, since physically you shouldn't "need" porn to do that. My pet chimpanzee certainly doesn't.

Also, part of the premise of porn addiction - or any addiction - is that indulgence only makes the need grow. A person may be using porn to help him masturbate but porn also makes him want to masturbate and the desire to masturbate makes him want porn. It's a cyclical mechanism that runs and grows on plentiful boobs and testosterone (interestingly, the internet itself can be descrbed in the same way).

Or, think of it this way. Even in a country where food was scarce, you'd think something had gone wrong if you saw people making billions selling pictures of food. Clicking on naked Luba won't let you pork her. The real woman is likely on a different continent and you're only porking yourself.

So people like porn. That doesn't mean they're "addicted." Why do we have to call everything an addiction now? I like the Lord of the Rings movies, so are you going to call me a LOTR addict?

There's a distinct difference between simply enjoying a thing versus having a compulsion to do it. It's "want" versus "need." I like wearing jeans, for instance. I would wear them every day if allowed. But when my workplace banned them and I went three straight years without wearing a single pair, the lack of jeans didn't cause me anxiety. I didn't sit there at my desk and fidget and have to constantly turn my mind away from my jeanlessness. I didn't have to constantly stop myself from reaching for them in my closet.

Compare that to John, who had to be virtually restrained in a straightjacket when he tried to quit smoking. Or compare that to the guy who loses $20,000 at the blackjack table and has to sell his children on the Thai sex market to pay off gambling debts. That's addiction. When you come back and do something again and again because your brain has gotten hooked into thinking you have to, everything else be damned.

Or, to put it the way the American Heritage Medical Dictionary does, an addiction is a "Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one's voluntary control." It goes beyond simply losing the enjoyment.

Note: I assume the writers of that volume figured we wouldn't be so moronic as to think "air" and "food" are included in that definition. You'll fall over dead without them.

Who says porn is bad for you?

Not me, not in this article. That's a totally different topic.

I suspect that many of the online discussions of this project will take that tact. "What is it with these fundies being ashamed of the human body!!!" "Why do they want to censor free speech and naked artistic expression!?"

No, it's not about any of that. I would not propose censoring even one naked photo (that would, in fact, only heighten the "thrill factor" for the pornlovers). This was to judge this one simple premise, whether or not pornography is addictive.

But even being addicted to a harmless thing would have to be a negative, wouldn't it? People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, for instance, may have a compulsion to flip a light switch on and off seven times before they can leave a room. Certainly there is no harm in flipping a switch. But still, the fact that they feel a compulsion to do it against their conscious will and the fact that it costs them time and energy makes people consider it a bad thing.

Or, if you found out that you have been a loyal customer of Crest toothpaste, not because you like their brand, but because they've been secretly adding a highly addictive chemical to it over the years, wouldn't you be a little pissed off?

"David Wong?" Didn't you used to star in adult films yourself? Doesn't coming here and raving about porno addiction make you a hypocrite?"

That was a long, long time ago.



Besides, only Nixon could have gone to China.

Why is everybody talking about online porn as a scourge when porn has been around since the dawn of man? Isn't this more technology fear-mongering meant to scare the elderly?

This study included online and offline porn both, but among the people you know internet porn is probably 100 times more common than paper porn. The reason porn addiction is in headlines now as opposed to 20 years ago is the absolute saturation of internet porn. It's endlessly available, for free, with no effort, without having to stare down your old Sunday School teacher behind the counter of the convenience store while you ask for the new copy of ASS! magazine.

But more than that, it's the ultra-specific nature of internet porn that has sharpened its hooks to a needle point. I remember being 14 and seeing a copy of Hustler and almost being turned off of sex altogether. Shot after shot of splayed women with a camera view so close to their crotch you could see their kidneys. I mean, I was into naked women. But that kind of gynecologist-level view wasn't to my taste. And sexual tastes tend to get very, very specific.

Every guy has a specific fantasy and by God, the internet will find that shit out. Granny dressed as a schoolgirl? Oh, it's out there. A woman dressed as Alf getting raped by Frankenstein? They've got whole webrings devoted to that.

Whatever gets your heart pounding, it's out there. And it will find you.












Yes, I collect e-mail subject lines.


Other crap I noticed:

Many participants immediately treated it as an addiction.

The participants were not strangers to me and were largely people I "know" in an online sense. And while I had heard lots of jokes over time about being alcoholics or hoplessly fat or hopelessly poor, I had never, ever heard any of them talk about being porn addicts.

Until we did the study.

From the first hours on, lots of these guys were suddenly talking about "withdrawal" and talking about how tomorrow was going to be a "tough day" with time alone and high-speed access. They were using the language recovering addicts use, which I admit both surprised me and creeped me out a little.

I don't want to be melodramatic here. Nobody had to be rushed to detox for emergency nipple infusions. The point is they immediately treated it like a task, something that would require actual effort and planning and that would ultimately meet with failure.



Boredom was the killer.

I guess that's how vice works, in the vaccuum. Many of the most successful abstainers were also the busiest, the ones who had long workdays away from net access or trips to go on or school projects to finish on deadline.

But in a general sense, that's how all habits work, good and bad. Most of us eat lunch at noon because that's lunchtime. And if it's your habit that after school at 4:00 PM is Porntime, you'll have a tough time going without it unless you find something else to fill in the pornslot. Among our test subjects, many, many lonely hours were spent playing violent video games.

Also, many subjects noted that they were having sexual thoughts more often and with less stimulation. A flash of cleavage, a tight pair of jeans. Some found themselves seeing sexual overtones in the most innocuous situations and images.



But there is not much need for debate on this. If you're a porn user there's only one thing you need to do to test my results.

Try it yourself.


We have an ongoing porn-off HERE. Or, gather some of your own forum or chat room comrades and test your will.


The Ten Steps to Porn Addiction: Where are you?

1. You find yourself using a great deal of porn;

2. You often look at porn rather than other things that are not porn;

3. You call in sick to work so you can look at porn;

4. You look at porn while at work;

5. You apply for and take a job where looking at porn is a requirement;

6. You hide your porn habit from your friends and family;

7. You no longer feel the need to hide your porn habit from friends and family;

8. You find yourself reading porn at a funeral;

9. You read porn at the funeral of a man whom you killed for his porn;

10. You have paid for internet porn.


-DW



Okay, you've waited long enough for naked Luba. If you absolutely must see her and you're sure you can handle it, and you're an adult, here she is:

WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK:

The author of this article has a horror novel called John Dies at the End coming out in the fall of 2009, unless the UN resolution demanding its worldwide banning is passed before then.
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