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Woman describes how porn addiction destroyed marriage, calls for more scientific study

.- In a previously published National Review Online article, a woman who chose to remain anonymous shared the painful story of her husband's pornography addiction and its detrimental effects on their marriage.

After citing various statistics on the nature and affects of pornography, she called on the scientific community at large to find and present a unified consensus on the results of porn addictions on family life.

In her article, the author described pornography as “a drug” that is thriving “under the ever-expanding banner of the First Amendment.” Citing authorities on the neurochemistry of addiction, she referenced data about pornography that “suggest its effects on the brain are strikingly similar to those of synthetic drugs.” She pointed to the fact that the pornography industry “produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined.”

Sharing her own experiences, she described how her husband of 13 years, who had been her high-school sweetheart, had tried to fight his porn addiction for years. First exposed to pornography at age ten, he “viewed it regularly during high school and college.”  

The effect on their marriage was devastating, the woman remembered. “For the past few years he had taken to sleeping in the basement, distancing himself from me, emotionally and physically,” she said.  She recalled how her husband told her that he no longer felt love for her like he used to, and how he thought of her as the “mother of their children” rather than as a sexual partner.

One morning, at about 2 a.m., her husband called her from his office, intoxicated, to announce that he had “developed feelings” for another woman, whom she described as having “the physical qualities of a porn star.” Although he subsequently tried to break off the relationship with this woman, he went on to move out of the house a few months later, leaving his wife and five young children behind.

“In retrospect, I believe he succumbed to the allure of the secret fantasy life he had been indulging since his adolescence,” the author said in the March article.

Lamenting the fact that her experience is not unique, the author referenced a report released by the Witherspoon Institute this spring on “The Social Costs of Pornography.” Signed by more than 50 scholars from various professions, academic disciplines and political ideologies, the report details the effects of pornography on men, women and children.

Describing the report as “a stern warning to all married women to take seriously the signs of a sexual addiction,” she explained the four phases of the pornography addiction process, according to Dr. Victor Cline, a nationally renowned clinical psychologist who specializes in sexual addiction.  

The first phase involves early and repeated exposure and indulgence in pornography.  The second is a period of escalation, in which the addict requires more frequent exposure to get the same “high” and may begin to prefer porn to sexual intercourse.  The third is desensitization, when behaviors once considered as repulsive or immoral come to be seen as normal.  Finally is the “acting-out” phase, when the addict may breach the gap “from screen to real life” in acts of sexual deviancy that may include promiscuity, group sex, rape, sadomasochism, child molestation and extramarital affairs.  

A 2004 study in Social Science Quarterly indicated that “Internet users who had an extramarital affair were 3.18 times more likely to have used online porn than Internet users who had not had an affair.”

The author spoke of the need for a more public scientific consensus on pornography's harmful effects on marriage.

She pointed to a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in which surveyed lawyers said that “an obsessive interest in Internet pornography” was a significant factor in 56 percent of their divorce cases the prior year.  

In addition, she referenced studies finding that “porn use creates the impression that aberrant sexual practices are more common than they really are, and that promiscuous behavior is normal.” She cited an analysis of 46 published studies showing that “regular exposure to pornography increased risk of sexual deviancy,” as well as neurological imaging via MRI scans of brain activity in a Princeton study indicating that “after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.”

The author asked the scientific community to learn more about pornography addictions in order to prevent more families from being devastated by them. She called on Congress to “fund a long-term, multidisciplinary analysis of the effects of porn addiction on marriage and family life,” noting that the American Psychiatric Association is likely to add pornography addiction to their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in coming months.

She then decried the fact that most health-insurance companies provide little or no coverage to treat porn addictions and that “the National Institutes of Health are granted billions of taxpayer dollars for research on a wide variety of public-health problems, and yet pornography addiction is not among them.”

“The fact is that the moral and financial needs of couples struggling with this form of addiction will remain unaddressed in a country that views pornography use as a constitutional right,” she observed.

Looking back at her own marriage, the author expresses regret that she was not able to understand what her husband had been experiencing and act to help him. “If anything is clear to me, it is this: We must learn more about this scourge and its effects on families,” she said.

Calling to mind the growing number of men and women feeling the effects of pornography in their lives, she concluded, “It is our obligation as a nation to pursue the truth for their sake, no matter how inconvenient for some the verdict may be.”


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September 1, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

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