With porn addiction spreading like a virus, the industry is also growing, a trend that can only be reversed with better sex education
“Addiction isn’t about substance,” said Susan Cheever, “you aren’t addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood the substance brings.” What happens when the solution to addiction stops being about kicking a bad habit, and becomes more about bringing a shift in the addict’s worldview?
Porn addiction, over the past few years has seen a significant rise, with people from all age groups falling prey to it. Addicts come in the form of 10-year-olds and men in their 50s and 60s alike. In this day and age, a plethora of content is available to the literate population, and unfortunately an addiction like this one does not require huge finances to maintain. Porn addiction has seen a rise across the board, affecting people from all ages and class groups, and there is no way of controlling the regulation of this content. Pornographic content is available without any filters or restrictions, to anyone, at any time, without any real-time constraints. This allows for the accessing of this content without the fear of any kind of consequences.
Dr Sujata Ghosh, general psychiatrist at Kolkata’s Desun Hospital, says that an interest in pornography has existed in almost all cultures, as seen quite evidently in the paintings and sculptures from our history, and the availability of the same on the internet is simply feeding the addiction. Studies conducted by Judith Reisman suggested that men are more likely than women to attempt to recreate the fantasies that they see in pornographic portrayals their own realities. And the porn websites are hardly lacking in videos depicting violence and objectification of women. Dr Ghosh said that this stems from the age-old need for control and power. The dizzying number of ways that the pornographic industry has come up with to fuel this need are astronomical.
The doctor is also able to lend some insight into how an addiction to porn really affects the addict. The effects of alcohol addiction and drug abuse are very visible, and have physical indications, with porn however, the same cannot be said. First and foremost, she says, “We have started calling it an addiction, which begs the idea that it is something of a disorder that the individual or addict has little control over.” She says that the instant it is given a medical moniker, people tend to think that their part in their own recovery is limited, and they tend to shy away from the responsibility.
As it stands currently, pornography does play a role, an extremely limited one, in medical practice. People with sexual dysfunctions are often advised to indulge in watching some pornography by their medical consultants. Sperm donor programmes also sometimes encourage their donors to watch porn, where the content provided is likely controlled — however, by and large, the dilemma remains that there is no way to regulate the content that they demand. There is a huge demand for Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism (BDSM) and role-play videos on porn websites, which re-enact violent fantasies with very real people, and an addiction to that kind of content is problematic, as it may dictate the behaviour of these people in their lives, and reflect in the way that they treat other people. Which is why, “one of the biggest concepts our country is still trying to understand is — consent,” says Dr Ghosh. Additionally, although the conversation about porn as an addiction is fairly limited owing to the culture of shame surrounding it, that does not stop people from demanding it. And due to this taboo, there is little to no discussion on changing the way porn is perceived, or bring about a change in the kind of content produced. It is the hypocrisy of the consumers desiring something that they should not want.
She goes on to say, that there is a little bit of voyeurism in every individual, and these voyeuristic tendencies are displayed on porn websites, where people have easy access to their fantasies being realised. But ultimately, the judgement of whether or not such an indulgence is good or bad, lies only with the individual. Recovery from pornography addiction is slightly more complicated, and something of a largely intrinsic process. Since, porn addiction does not manifest itself as physically as the other kinds, addicts are quite happy with their situations and often times are not invested in coming out of it. More often than not, parents and relatives identify the problem. So weaning oneself off of the addiction alone is not enough. A shift in perception is required, “a change in the way you view yourself and others,” summarises Dr Ghosh.
What is the solution to a fast spreading phenomenon like this, you ask? According to Dr Ghosh, “it’s a better sex education system. Educational institutions in India still shy away from sex education, and as a mother of three, I can say that the amount the kids are taught schools these days is highly inadequate.” The vast demand for porn incentivises more and more people to get involved in the pornography industry. With people willingly subjecting themselves to a certain kind of treatment whether they like it or not, effectively blurring the lines of consent for those that view these productions. The choices of a single porn addict have potential societal implications, and aid in perpetuating violence and disrespect in many cases. Research continues as to an adequate way to recover from this addiction, and one can only hope that we as a people are ready to accept it.