Episode #85 – What You Don’t Know About Porn with Kristin Hodson LCSW CST

Kristin Hodson is my favorite sex therapist. In this conversation we answer some really important questions about porn. Below is a summary of what we cover on in the podcast embedded above:

What is Porn?

Technically the official definition of porn is “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.

It’s worth noting that what is considered porn is different to just about everyone. When you hear the word “Porn” it’s associated with a certain type of images, emotions, experiences and judgements in your head.

Anyone who looks at porn gets attached to those judgements, whether good or bad…

Yet some people’s porn is the Victoria’s Secret catalog, while others consume much more graphic, or degrading, or violent content.

The world of porn is about as diverse as the world of food.

Now that I think about it, this is actually a pretty great comparison if you don’t think about it too hard… There are lots of different types of food. Some of it can be really bad for you. Some people have really unhealthy relationships with the food they eat. Some people get cravings for specific types of food. And saying “I like food” doesn’t really tell you much about me as a person. Saying, “I love hamburgers and get cravings for chocolate chip cookies.” is a lot more accurate… and no, that’s not a euphemism.

Lots of people look at porn. All of these people have unique experiences with it.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming harmful substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

Whether or not porn is addicting is one of the most divisive and polarizing conversations on the topic.

First, it’s important to knowledge that there are people out there who have a compulsion to look at porn. They feel like their reliance on porn is outside their control. They consume it regularly. They may hide this from the people they love, or they may be open about it.

Porn consumption for these people is almost always accompanied by high amounts of shame, and are almost always accompanied by other mental or emotional issues including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, stress, low impulse-control, narcissism, etc.

This is a condition that really exists for many people, and the word that best fits describes this state is “addiction.”

Now, if we want to get really technical, sex addiction is not a disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (aka the big book published by the American Psychiatric Association that therapists use to diagnose people). Why that is is a long conversation that I’m not going to have here or now.

The important thing to note for this conversation is that many psychologists don’t classify porn addiction as an official addiction for various reasons including the fact that the brain doesn’t behave exactly the same way when looking at porn as it does when consuming drugs. And nobody – to my knowledge – has ever died from the side effects of withdrawal.

So is porn addicting in the experience of the average Joe? Yes, it can definitely feel that way.

Is it addicting in the exact same way that cocaine, or alcohol are addicting? No… not really. But it can still be very harmful.

Why Do People Look at Porn?

People look at porn for a lot of reasons!

They look at it because they want to explore a fantasy. They look at it to self-soothe, and cope with things like stress or anxiety. They look at it to learn what a certain sex act might be or look like. They look at it because they’re in a sexless marriage and they desire a sexual outlet… the list goes on.

The list of reasons people look at porn, and what they get out of it is infinite.

Don’t be afraid to get curious with yourself or those you love to get a better understanding.

And if secret porn consumption is an issue in your relationship, rather than making porn the problem, it’s worth getting curious about what in your relationship, or in your life, or in your partner’s life might be contributing to the desire and/or need for porn consumption.

This judgment-free conversation could open up a lot of doors.

What To Do If You Or Someone You Love Has A Negative Relationship With Porn…

Check back soon for lots of resources provided by Kristin!

Show Notes:
Kristin Hodson LCS CST is Founder and Executive Director of The Healing Group and co-author of the newly published book Real Intimacy: A Couples Guide for Genuine, Healthy Sexuality. She practices as psychotherapist with a passion helping women find their authentic self by working through areas where they feel stuck. She believes in empowering women to own and take charge of their growth and healing. She does this by working beside them in a collaborative and professional way offering reflective insight, experience and expertise. Clients often say they feel supported and safe to express and explore thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities — bringing about new understanding, fulfilling changes and personal joy. She is a mother and wife and lives life passionately out loud.

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I'm the creator of The Loveumentary. I believe that just like art, language, and music, love is a skill that can be developed and mastered if you have the right training, mentors, and a high level of commitment. My hope is to help bring the possibility of extraordinary love to you and others like you. Thanks for reading! Please drop me a line or leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback.

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  • Jennifer Morgan

    Still no resources listed under “What to do…”