Doctor Love: Healthy Mind
Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
Readers, email your question to [email protected] Your letters are edited solely for grammar, spelling and length.
Dear Doctor Love,
I am a licensed Addiction Counselor and couples therapist and I recently saw one of your earlier columns in the San Pedro Sun. It was a letter from a woman whose marriage was crumbling due to her husband’s continuous use of pornography. In your answer to her you labeled it a “Sexual Addiction”.
In a marriage where there is not a mutual acceptance of porn use and it is causing stress, it has become easy to use the excuse that he is suffering a porn addiction.
Addiction is recognized as a mental illness and treated as such. Sexual addiction is not a recognized psychiatric diagnosis and there is no scientific proof to substantiate the claim. There’s no evidence that high rates of sexuality lead to tolerance or withdrawal, two basic symptoms of addictive diseases. There is no physical repercussion from avoiding porn, again challenging the claim of addiction. Labeling pornography use as an addiction is giving it the status of mental illness and that does a great disservice to those who have a real mental illness.
All men have the ability to exert control of their levels of sexual desire and their sexual choices. Men choose monogamy every day. The fact that they can control their sexual choices adds to my contention that excessive porn use is not an addiction.
Calling it an addiction means he has no control, he is powerless. He can go on doing the thing that is damaging his marriage because he’s addicted and therefore not responsible.
Recognizing that porn use is a choice puts the user back in control then allows them choose the point at which to stop. Don’t go into the office and lock the door. Don’t turn on the computer. Don’t search that favorite site. It is a matter of exerting control over sexual choices and deciding to stop before that last step.
The wife in the letter may find it easier to believe it to be addiction to help her live with his actions. It may be easier thinking it is an illness than knowing he is making the choice to do something that hurts her.
I am in no way trying to discredit your advice—many well-respected therapists promote the “Sexual Addiction” theory. I am simply stating that there is a very different school of thought that holds people responsible for their actions instead of elevating them to the status of mental illness.
Dear Healthy Mind,
Thank you very much for your input on this subject and shedding light on another point of view. It’s certainly food for thought.
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