Analysis of “A Profile of Pornography Users in Australia: Findings From the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships” (2016)

COMMENTS: Many claim this study supports the argument that Internet porn doesn’t really cause serious problems. For example, this pro-porn advocate falsely states that only 2% of participants felt that porn was leading to adverse effects. In reality, 17% of males & females aged 16-30 reported that using pornography had a bad effect on them.

There are several reasons to take the headlines with a grain of salt. First a few caveats about this study:

  1. This was a cross-sectional representative study spanning age groups 16-69, males and females. It’s well established that young men are the primary users of internet porn. So, 25% of the men and 60% of the women had not viewed porn at least once in the last 12 months. Thus the statistics gathered minimize the problem by veiling the at-risk users.
  2. The single question, which asked participants if they had used porn in the last 12 months, doesn’t meaningfully quantify porn use. For example, a person who bumped into a porn site pop-up is considered no different from someone who masturbates 3 times a day to hardcore porn.
  3. However, when the survey inquired of those who “had ever viewed porn” which ones had viewed porn in the past year, the highest percentage was the teen group. 93.4% of them had viewed in the last year, with 20-29 year olds just behind them at 88.6.
  4. Data was gathered between October 2012 and November 2013. Things have changed a lot in the last 4 years, thanks to smartphone penetration – especially in younger users.
  5. Questions were asked in computer-assisted telephone interviews. It’s human nature to be more forthcoming in completely anonymous interviews, especially when interviews are about sensitive subjects such as porn use and porn addiction.
  6. The questions are based purely upon self-perception. Keep in mind that addicts rarely see themselves as addicted. In fact, most internet porn users are unlikely to connect their symptoms to porn use unless they quit for an extended period.
  7. The study did not employ standardized questionnaires (given anonymously), which would more accurately have assessed both porn addiction and porn’s effects on the users.

Check out the study’s conclusion:

Looking at pornographic material appears to be reasonably common in Australia, with adverse effects reported by a small minority.

However, for males & females aged 16-30, it’s not a small minority. According to Table 5 in the study, 17% of this age group reported that using pornography had a bad effect on them. (In contrast, among people 60-69, only 7.2% thought porn had a bad effect.)

How different would the headlines from this study have been if the authors had emphasized their finding that nearly 1 in 5 young people believed that porn use had a “bad effect on them”? Why did they attempt to downplay this finding by ignoring it and focusing on cross-sectional results – rather than the group most at risk for internet problems?

Once again, few regular porn users realize how porn has affected them until well after they cease using. Often ex-users need several months to fully recognize the negative effects. Thus, a study like this one has major limitations.


J Sex Res. 2016 Jul 15:1-14.

Rissel C1, Richters J2, de Visser RO3, McKee A4, Yeung A2, Caruana T2.

Abstract

There are societal concerns that looking at pornography has adverse consequences among those exposed. However, looking at sexually explicit material could have educative and relationship benefits. This article identifies factors associated with looking at pornography ever or within the past 12 months for men and women in Australia, and the extent to which reporting an “addiction” to pornography is associated with reported bad effects. Data from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR2) were used: computer-assisted telephone interviews (CASIs) completed by a representative sample of 9,963 men and 10,131 women aged 16 to 69 years from all Australian states and territories, with an overall participation rate of 66%. Most men (84%) and half of the women (54%) had ever looked at pornographic material. Three-quarters of these men (76%) and more than one-third of these women (41%) had looked at pornographic material in the past year. Very few respondents reported that they were addicted to pornography (men 4%, women 1%), and of those who said they were addicted about half also reported that using pornography had had a bad effect on them. Looking at pornographic material appears to be reasonably common in Australia, with adverse effects reported by a small minority.

 

Critique of “Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to Women”? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample” (2016)

The authors of this study (abstract below) framed egalitarianism as support for Feminist identification, Women holding positions of power, Women working outside home, Abortion. Secular populations, which tend to be more liberal, have far higher rates of porn use than religious populations. By choosing these criteria and ignoring endless other variables, lead author Taylor Kohut knew he would end up with porn users scoring higher on his study’s carefully chosen selection of what constitutes “egalitarianism.” Then he chose a title that spun it all.

In reality, almost all studies report opposing results. See this list of over 25 studies linking porn use to sexist attitudes, objectification and less egalitarianism.

Taylor Kohut has a history of publishing ‘creative’ studies designed to find little or no problems arising from the use of porn. In this 2016 study, Kohut appears to have skewed the sample to produce the results he was seeking. Whereas most studies show that a tiny minority of porn users’ female partners use porn, in this study 95% of the women used porn on their own (85% of the women had used porn since the beginning of the relationship)! Reality: Cross-sectional data from the largest US survey (General Social Survey) reported that only 2.6% of women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month.

Kohut’s new website and his attempt at fundraising suggest that he just may have an agenda. Kohut’s bias is revealed in a recent brief written for the Standing Committee on Health Regarding Motion M-47 (Canada). In the brief Kohut and his coauthors are guilty of cherry-picking a few outlying studies while misrepresenting the current state of the research on porn’s effects. Their distorted and laughable description of the published neurological studies on porn users leaves no doubt as to their bias.


J Sex Res. 2016;53(1):1-11. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1023427.

Kohut T1, Baer JL1, Watts B2.

Abstract

According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than sex objects over whom men should have complete control. Composite variables from the General Social Survey were used to test the hypothesis that pornography users would hold attitudes that were more supportive of gender nonegalitarianism than nonusers of pornography. Results did not support hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory. Pornography users held more egalitarian attitudes–toward women in positions of power, toward women working outside the home, and toward abortion–than nonusers of pornography. Further, pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory.

PMID: 26305435

DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1023427

Dismantling the “group position” paper opposing porn and sex addiction (November, 2017)

Introduction

In early November, 2017 three non-profit kink organizations (Center for Positive Sexuality, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance) released a group position paper “opposing the addiction model in relation to frequent sexual behavior and pornography viewing.” The groups’ press release, Position statement opposing sex/porn addiction model, explained their motivations:

“These organizations cite AASECT’s statement as one of the reasons for their joint statement, as well as citing many scientific studies that reject the addiction model in relation to these sexual behaviors.”

Contrary to this PR statement, there are no “scientific studies that reject the addiction model,” and ASSECT’s proclamation provided no studies to support its own assertions. As for the 3 kink organizations’ proclamation, all their “evidence” (which we examine below) is packed into this handy PDF: Addiction to Porn/Sex Position Statement.

We suspect the primary reason for yet another public relations push (as it was with AASECT) is that the World Health Organization’s upcoming edition of its diagnostic manual, the ICD-11, includes a diagnosis for “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder.”  Due out in 2018, “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder” (CSB) will function as an umbrella to diagnose both sex addiction and pornography addiction. And some sexual communities incorrectly perceive this as an attack on their behavior. It isn’t.

Like the other items now being pushed out as part of this campaign to manufacture “astroturf” resistance to porn/sex addiction, the current proclamation relies primarily on a single flawed study to support its bald assertions, while simultaneously disregarding 3 dozen neurological studies that support the addiction model. For more, see this article: How to Recognize Biased Articles: They Cite Prause et al 2015 (falsely claiming it debunks porn addiction), While Omitting Over 35 Neurological Studies Supporting Porn Addiction.

The opening paragraph of the proclamation

Let’s start with the proclamation’s opening paragraph, which omitted some 50 relevant neurological studies and reviews of the literature, while misrepresenting many of the studies it did cite.

“Although some academic and professional reports have supported the application of an addiction model to frequent sexual behavior and/or pornography viewing (i.e., Hilton & Watts, 2011; Kafka, 2010), others point out serious potential or actual problems with applying an addiction model to sexual behavior and pornography viewing (Ley, 2012; Ley, Prause, & Finn, 2014; Reid & Kafka, 2014; Giugliano, 2009; Hall, 2014; Karila et al., 2014; Moser, 2013; Kor, Fogel, Reid, & Potenza, 2013; Ley et al., 2014; Prause & Fong, 2015; Prause, Steele, Staley, Sabatinelli, & Hajcak, 2015).”

What this proclamation purposely omitted: 

Next, let’s look at the proclamation’s scientific support for its statement that “others point out serious potential or actual problems with applying an addiction model to sexual behavior and pornography viewing”:

1) Ley, 2012: Not peer-reviewed. It’s a book: The Myth of Sex Addiction by David Ley.

2) Ley, Prause, & Finn, 2014: An opinion piece commissioned by a minor journal (Current Sexual Health Reports). The lead author has never published any original research, yet was asked to give his opinion of pornography addiction and addiction in general. Virtually nothing in the opinion piece is backed up by the studies it cited. This extensive critique dismantles Ley et al., 2014 – claim by claim and documents dozens of misrepresentations of the research the authors cited. The most shocking aspect of the Ley paper is that it omitted ALL the many studies that reported negative effects related to porn use or found porn addiction. Also know that Current Sexual Health Reports has a short and rocky history. It started publishing in 2004, and then went on hiatus in 2008, only to be resurrected in 2014, just in time to feature Ley et al.’s “review.”

3) Reid & Kafka, 2014: This paper hypothesizes why hypersexuality didn’t make it into the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). However, both Reid & Kafka favored hypersexuality for inclusion in the DSM. See this 2012 UCLA press release by Rory Reid: Science supports sex addiction as a legitimate disorder.

4) Giugliano, 2009: This older paper, by a past president of SASH, set out to question sex addiction, but results didn’t support the author’s hypothesis. Nowhere does it suggest that sex addiction doesn’t exist. See the SASH position paper on sex and porn addiction.

5) Hall, 2014: This article by UK therapist Paula Hall supports the existence of sex addiction. See this TEDx talk by Paula Hall – We Need To Talk About Sex Addiction.

6) Karila et al., 2014: This paper supports the existence of sex addiction. From the abstract: “Sexual addiction, which is also known as hypersexual disorder, has largely been ignored by psychiatrists, even though the condition causes serious psychosocial problems for many people.”

7) Moser, 2013: Charles Moser is a known “sex addiction” skeptic. In fact, as the Section Editor of Current Sexual Health Reports, he is the one who invited Ley, Prause and Finn to do their pseudo-review discussed above, Ley et al., 2014.

8) Kor, Fogel, Reid, & Potenza, 2013: This paper supports the existence of sex addiction. From the conclusion: “Although many gaps exist in knowledge in our understanding of HD, available data suggest that considering hypersexuality disorder within an addiction framework may be appropriate and helpful.

9) Ley et al., 2014: Same citation as #2.

10) Prause & Fong, 2015: This item was not peer-reviewed. It’s a short opinion piece in a lay volume, much of which is devoted to chronicling the mythology of Prause’s victimization.

11) Prause, Steele, Staley, Sabatinelli, & Hajcak, 2015: A single EEG study. No less than six peer-reviewed papers say that this paper, Prause et al., 2015, lends support to the addition model: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The neuroscientists on these six papers state that Prause et al. actually found desensitization/habituation (consistent with the development of addiction), as less brain activation to vanilla porn (pictures) was related to greater porn use.

So, let’s summarize the evidence for the campaign by these 3 organizations: Five of the eleven references explicitly support the addiction model, two references aren’t peer-reviewed, and one is a repeat of an earlier reference.

The three remaining references arise from 3 individuals who have often teamed up to “debunk” porn and sex addiction: David Ley, Nicole Prause and Charles Moser. Ley and Prause wrote Ley et al., 2014 (which Moser commissioned), and at least two Psychology Today blog posts. Charles Moser also teamed up with Ley and Prause to “debunk” porn addiction at the February 2015 ISSWSH conference. They presented a 2-hour symposium: “Porn Addiction, Sex Addiction, or just another OCD?” The lone neurological study out of the remaining three (Prause et al., 2015) is regarded by six peer-reviewed papers as consistent with the addiction model.

Why didn’t the proclamation cite any of the 13 recent reviews of the literature by some of the top neuroscientists working at Yale University, Cambridge University, University of Duisburg-Essen or the Max Planck Institute? Because the reviews lend support to the addiction model, contradicting the claims of these organizations.

The proclamation divides the rest of its claims into five sections: A, B, C, D, E.

The proclamation’s first main assertion (A)

A) The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not identify sex/porn addiction as mental disorders. Similarly, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) does not recognize sex/porn addiction as mental disorders and has concluded that an addiction model “cannot be advanced as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling, or therapy”.

Re AASECT: First, AASECT is not a scientific organization and cited nothing to support the assertions in its own press release – rendering its support meaningless.

Most importantly AASECT’s proclamation was pushed through by Michael Aaron and a few other AASECT members using unethical “guerrilla tactics” as Aaron admitted in this Psychology Today blog post: Analysis: How the AASECT Sex Addiction Statement Was Created. An excerpt from this analysis Decoding AASECT’s “Position on Sex Addiction, summarized Aaron’s blog post:

Finding AASECT’s tolerance of the “sex addiction model” to be “deeply hypocritical”, in 2014 Dr. Aaron set out to eradicate support for the concept of “sex addiction” from AASECT’s ranks. To accomplish his goal, Dr. Aaron claims to have deliberately sowed controversy among AASECT members in order to expose those with viewpoints that disagreed with his own, and then to have explicitly silenced those viewpoints while steering the organization toward its rejection of the “sex addiction model.” Dr. Aaron justified using these “renegade, guerilla [sic] tactics” by reasoning that he was up against a “lucrative industry” of adherents to the “sex addiction model” whose financial incentives would prevent him from bringing them over to his side with logic and reason. Instead, to effect a “quick change” in AASECT’s “messaging,” he sought to ensure that pro-sex addiction voices were not materially included in the discussion of AASECT’s course change.

Dr. Aaron’s boast comes across as a little unseemly. People rarely take pride in, much less publicize, suppressing academic and scientific debate. And it seems odd that Dr. Aaron spent the time and money to become CST certified by an organization he deemed “deeply hypocritical” barely a year after joining it (if not before). If anything, it is Dr. Aaron who appears hypocritical when he criticizes pro-“sex addiction” therapists for having a financial investment in the “sex addiction model”, when, quite obviously, he has a similar investment in promoting his opposing viewpoint

Several commentaries and critiques expose AASECT’s proclamation for what it truly is:

Re DSM-5 and ICD-11: Second, when the APA last updated its diagnostic manual in 2013 (DSM-5), it didn’t formally consider “internet porn addiction,” opting instead to debate “hypersexual disorder.” The latter umbrella term for problematic sexual behavior was recommended for inclusion by the DSM-5’s own Sexuality Work Group after years of review. However, in an eleventh-hour “star chamber” session (according to a Work Group member), other DSM-5 officials unilaterally rejected hypersexuality, citing reasons that have been described as illogical.

Moreover, just prior to the DSM-5’s publication in 2013, Thomas Insel, then Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, warned that it was time for the mental health field to stop relying on the DSM. Its “weakness is its lack of validity,” he explained, and “we cannot succeed if we use DSM categories as the “gold standard.” He added, “That is why NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories.” In other words, the NIMH planned to stop funding research based on DSM labels (and their absence).

Major medical organizations are moving ahead of the APA. The medical doctors and addiction researchers of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) hammered what should have been the final nail in the porn-addiction debate coffin in August, 2011 based on decades of addiction research. Top addiction experts at ASAM released their carefully crafted definition of addiction. Foremost, behavioral addictions affect the brain in the same fundamental ways as drugs do. In other words, addiction is essentially one disease (condition), not many. ASAM explicitly stated that “sexual behavior addiction” exists and must necessarily be caused by the same fundamental brain changes found in substance addictions.

In any event, the World Health Organization appears poised to set right the APA’s excessive caution. The next edition of its diagnostic manual, the ICD, is due out in 2018. The beta draft of the new ICD-11 includes a diagnosis for “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder,” as well as one for “Disorders due to addictive behaviors.” Why aren’t the 3 organizations mentioning this important development?

The proclamation’s second main assertion (B)

B) “Existing studies supporting an addiction model lack precise definitions and methodological rigor, and rely on correlational data. Pre-existing psychological issues that could account for changes in sexual behavior and/or pornography viewing have not been considered. Studies are needed that utilize experimental designs and account for a range of potential extraneous variables (Ley et al., 2014). Although some people may incorrectly assume that increased dopaminergic activity during sex or pornography viewing (which is to be expected) is evidence for addiction, Prause, Steele, Staley, Sabatinelli, and Hajcak (2015) found in their controlled study that participants reporting hypersexual problems did not show the same neural response patterns consistent with other known addictions. There are many diverse reasons why people may engage in pornography viewing, and frequent and diverse sexual activities, which must be considered when assessing behavior (Ley, 2012; Ley et al., 2014).”

The neurological studies on sex and porn addiction are very rigorous, and many of them are done by some of the top addiction neuroscientists in the world. Here they are: 3 dozen neuroscience-based studies.

The proclamation’s suggestion that “correlation” renders research useless, reveals remarkable ignorance (or spin), as it would be unethical to induce addiction of any type in human subjects. Besides, it is silly to suggest that porn addicts were all born with all the major addiction-caused brain changes that are showing up in rigorous brain research on porn/sex-addicted subjects. What are the odds? Zero. For example, the core addiction-caused brain change is sensitization, which can only occur with continuous and prolonged use.

The proclamation statement’s mischaracterizing the neurological research as investigations of “dopaminergic activity during sex or pornography viewing” reveal that the authors of this proclamation haven’t read any of the studies in question. None of the neurological studies assessed dopamine activity! Instead, the 3 dozen studies assessed the presence of one or more of the four major brain changes involved with both drug and behavioral addictions: 1) Sensitization, 2) Desensitization, 3) Dysfunctional prefrontal circuits (poorer exceutive functioning), and 4) Dysfunctional stress circuits. All 4 of these brain changes have been identified among the 3 dozen neuroscience-based studies on frequent porn users & sex addicts:

  1. Sensitization (cue-reactivity or cravings). Studies reporting sensitization or cue-reactivity in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
  2. Desensitization (decreased reward sensitivity & tolerance). Studies reporting desensitization or habituation in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
  3. Dysfunctional prefrontal circuits (poorer executive function + hyper-reactivity to cues). Studies reporting poorer executive functioning (hypofrontality) or altered prefrontal activity in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
  4. Malfunctional stress system (greater cravings & withdrawal symptoms). Studies indicating a dysfunctional stress system in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3.

What about the proclamation’s claim concerning Prause et al., 2015?

“Prause, Steele, Staley, Sabatinelli, and Hajcak (2015) found in their controlled study that participants reporting hypersexual problems did not show the same neural response patterns consistent with other known addictions.”

“Neural response patterns” means “cue-reactivity,” which reveals the core addiction brain change – sensitization. As you can see above, there are now 20 studies on porn users/sex addicts reporting findings consistent with cue-reactivity, attentional bias, or cravings. Even if the proclamation were correct that Prause et al., 2015’s findings actually contradicted the existence of cue-reactivity (it doesn’t), it would take more than one anomalous (and flawed) study to “debunk” decades of behavioral addiction research!

And what were the actual results of Prause et al., 2015? Compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The authors claim these results “debunk porn addiction.” Yet, in reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn – an addiction-related brain change.

Prause et al. findings also align with Banca et al. 2015. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn, compared to a control group. They were bored (habituated or desensitized), which can be evidence of an addiction process at work. See this extensive YBOP critique. Six peer-reviewed papers agree that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users (consistent with addiction): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

The proclamation’s third main assertion (C)

C) “The sex/porn addiction model reflects significant sociocultural biases (Klein, 2002; Williams, 2016), including specific measures of clinical assessment Joannides, 2012). Socio-cultural biases include assumptions concerning normal sex drive, relationship styles, and erotic interests and practices. Thus, people with alternative sexual identities are likely to face further marginalization and discrimination by those who support a sex/porn addiction model.”

Only one of the above citations is peer-reviewed: Williams, 2016. It is in a minor social work journal that is not PubMed indexed. The only neurological study Williams cited was, you guessed it, Prause et al. 2015. Williams, 2016 is a biased opinion piece that depends on Prause et al. 2015 and David Ley’s books and articles for its empirical support. It ignores the 36 other neurological studies on porn users, 13 recent reviews, and 80 studies linking porn to sexual problems and less sexual & relationship satisfaction. Wiiliams, 2016 is nothing more than empty rhetoric.

The proclamation’s fourth main assertion (D)

D) “Research has shown that religiosity and moral disapproval have a strong influence on perceived sex/porn addiction. For example, Grubbs and colleagues (2010, 2015) found that religiosity and moral disapproval were strong predictors of perceived pornography addiction, even when actual pornography use was controlled. Other researchers have reported similar findings (Abell, Steenbergh, & Boivin, 2006; Kwee, Dominguez, & Ferrell, 2007; Leonhardt, Willoughby, & Young-Petersen, 2017). Regarding pornography use, Thomas (2013, 2016) applied archival analysis to trace the creation and deployment of the addiction framework among evangelical Christians. Other scholars have reported that the concept of sex addiction emerged in the 1980s as a socially conservative response to cultural anxieties, and has gained acceptance through its reliance on medicalization and popular culture visibility (Reay, Attwood, & Gooder, 2013;Voros, 2009).”

Actually sex/porn addiction is not related to religiosity in men. First, the preponderance of studies report lower rates of compulsive sexual behavior and porn use in religious individuals (study 1, study 2, study 3, study 4, study 5, study 6, study 7, study 8, study 9, study 10, study 11, study 12, study 13, study 14, study 15, study 16, study 17, study 18, study 19).

Second, two studies that assessed treatment-seeking male sex addicts found no relationship with religiosity. For example, this 2016 study on treatment-seeking porn addicts found that religiosity did not correlate with negative symptoms or scores on a sex addiction questionnaire. This 2016 study on treatment-seeking hypersexuals found no relationship between religious commitment and self-reported levels of hypersexual behavior and related consequences.

As for the claims concerning morality and “perceived addiction” (almost all the studies listed in the proclamation’s excerpt), a new study suggests they are unsupported: Do Cyber Pornography Use Inventory-9 Scores Reflect Actual Compulsivity in Internet Pornography Use? Exploring the Role of Abstinence Effort. This new study says that the instrument Grubbs uses in all his studies, CPUI-9, is flawed.

The CPUI-9 includes 3 extraneous questions assessing guilt and shame, such that religious porn users’ CPUI-9 scores tend to be skewed upward. The existence of higher CPUI-9 scores for religious porn users was then fed to the media as the claim that, “religious people falsely believe they are addicted to porn.” This was followed by several studies correlating moral disapproval with CPUI-9 scores. Since religious people as a group score higher on moral disapproval, and (thus) the total CPUI-9, it was pronounced (without actual support) that religious-based moral disapproval is the true cause of pornography addiction. That’s quite a leap, and unjustified as a matter of science.

In addition, the conclusions and claims spawned by the CPUI-9 are simply invalid. Grubbs created a questionnaire that cannot, and was never validated for, sorting “perceived” from actual addiction: the CPUI-9. With zero scientific justification he re-labeled his CPUI-9 as a “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire. For much, much more see “New study invalidates the Grubbs CPUI-9 as an instrument to assess either “perceived pornography addiction” or actual pornography addiction (2017).”

Finally, religious shame doesn’t induce brain changes that mirror those found in drug addicts. Thus groups pushing the “sex/porn addiction is just religious shame” assertion still need to explain more than 3 dozen neurological studies reporting addiction-related brain changes in compulsive porn users/sex addicts. In light of 24 studies linking porn use/addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal, they also need to explain a nearly 1000% rise in youthful erectile dysfunction since the advent of porn tube sites.

The proclamation’s fifth main assertion (E)

Finally, this proclamation assertion combines 2 specious “straw man” arguments:

E) The sex/porn addiction model assumes that sexual behaviors as a coping mechanism are an indicator of addiction, but it does not consider the possibility that sex may be a positive coping mechanism.

The sex/porn addiction model makes no such assumption. It is concerned with people who cannot control their behavior despite serious negative consequences. This is the very opposite of “coping.”

Sticking To The Content: Response To “Red Herring: Hook, Line, and Stinker”, by Gabe Deem

I am certainly not alone in my grave concerns about the Nicole Prause & Jim Pfaus ED paper (P&P). Recently, Sexual Medicine Open Access published a Letter to the Editor by Richard A. Isenberg MD, which made many of the same observations as did my critique.

As is customary when a letter critical of a study is published, the study’s authors were given a chance to respond. Prause’s pretentious response entitled “Red Herring: Hook, Line, and Stinker” not only evades Isenberg’s points (and mine), it contains several new misrepresentations and several transparently false statements. In fact, Prause’s reply is little more than smoke, mirrors, groundless insults, and falsehoods. On a side note, check out this twitter convo where Prause attempts to substitute insults about Isenberg for substantive replies to his many valid objections:

@DrDavidLey definitely the most amusing letter I’ve had the chance to publish. Fun when the first writer cannot spell, math, or think!”

It’s unfortunate that she had “fun” instead of actually answering his concerns. She appears to be spinning a Big Fish Story littered with false statements and misrepresentations. I will address Prause’s claims in the order of her reply.


The Missing Subjects

Prause begins by boldly claiming that Isenberg was mistaken, and that she had already accounted for 280 participants:

“The author describes “discrepancies” in participant counts, but no discrepancies exist. Table 1 shows all 280 participants, including the subsample with International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores.”

This is the first of several false statements by Prause. It is irrefutable that discrepancies existed in her original paper, and these still have not been explained. For example, guess how Prause now claims to get from the 234 subjects Dr. Isenberg counted in the 4 underlying studies to 280, the total subjects she claimed? Simple. She now asserts that a 5th study exists: Moholy and Prause (circled below). This is an unpublished study not mentioned in the original Prause & Pfaus ED paper. No one can see it, so no one can check it or challenge it!

This unpublished paper, which may never be accepted for publication, is now brazenly and improperly tacked onto the existing paper, which has already been published (and supposedly peer-reviewed). How can you publish a study and say it’s peer-reviewed, when data it contains and bases its claims on have not been peer-reviewed? Riddle me that.

The original P&P ED paper explicitly states (in error) that all the subjects and data were culled from these four studies (study 1, study 2, study 3, study 4):

“Two hundred eighty men participated over four different studies conducted by the first author. These data have been published or are under review [33–36],”

Either the original ED paper is inaccurate, or the current response tacking on a 5th, unaccepted study is a slight-of-hand.

Why doesn’t this mysterious 5th paper add subjects to any other categories in the table? Look below its title in her table (above) and you will see two big fat zeros. Very fishy indeed.

Anyhow, as explained in my original critique, 280 was an empty number, mentioned for headline purposes only. The P&P paper was supposedly about ED in 280 (sic) men, yet it reported erectile functioning scores for a mere 127 men (IIEF). And even that figure (already much lower than the 280 in the headlines) was unsupported by the 4 underlying studies on which the ED paper purports to rest. That is, P&P may have claimed that 127 (or 133) men took the IIEF, but the underlying studies reported only 47 subjects. This glaring discrepancy still has not been explained.

Her table reveals a second sleight-of-hand. Prause now claims that 92 men, from 1 of the 4 studies (Moholy et al), took the IIEF. First problem: that particular study makes no mention of the IIEF. Second, much bigger, problem: that study lists only 61 male subjects (table 1 pg 4). Uh oh, guess 31 fish got away.

Summary of Prause’s new assertions:

  1. Prause conjures up a 5th unpublished study no one can check in an attempt to get her subject-count up to 280: Moholy and Prause (under review). This new development directly contradicts P&P ED paper. Suspiciously, the extra 52 men are nowhere else to be found in the original P&P ED paper.
  2. To get to 127 men for the IIEF, Prause announces that 92 missing men were somehow present in Moholy et al. Unfortunately, that study made no mention of the IIEF, and lists only 61 male subjects.

I guess I’ll need to add these two additional discrepancies and misrepresentations to the eight in my original critique. By the way, 1 and 2 above render her paragraph that starts with “Secondary analysis…” meaningless.


Each Study Used a Different Arousal Scale

Headlines for the P&P ED paper consistently claimed that porn use increased sexual performance. Shockingly, Jim Pfaus falsely claimed in an TV interview that P&P assessed men’s ability to achieve a erection in the lab. Pfaus also falsely stated: “We found a liner correlation with the amount of porn they viewed at home, and the latencies which for example they get an erection is faster.”

In reality, the study only asked men to rate their arousal after viewing porn. No erections or latencies were tested. The finding: Men who watched more porn rated their arousal slightly higher than men who watched less porn. That’s called sensitization, not “better performance”. P&P’s claims that porn use leads to greater arousal are dependent upon all four studies using the same arousal scale and the same stimulus. Neither occurred.

Prause tries to explain away the fact that none of her four underlying studies used the same “arousal scale” for porn viewing. Here’s what the original P&P ED paper actually said:

“Men were asked to indicate their level of “sexual arousal” ranging from 1 “not at all” to 9 “extremely.”

As Isenberg and I pointed out, only 1 of the 4 underlying studies used a 1 to 9 scale. One used a 0 to 7 scale, one used a 1 to 7 scale, and one study did not report sexual arousal ratings. Even more confusing, the sexual arousal graph in the P&P paper used a 1 to 7 scale. Two glaring mistakes in the original paper.

Instead of apologizing for the original paper’s false statements and graph errors, Prause now offers Isenberg a lesson on what researchers might theoretically do with different number scales:

“The author of the letter also made a false statistical statement: “Results from different Likert scales are not poolable”. Of course they are! In fact, there are at least three different methods to pool them.”

That’s great to know, but there’s absolutely no indication that Prause pooled the four different arousal scales. I suspect she didn’t as 1) she would have said so, 2) one of the studies had no scale, so couldn’t be pooled using any method, and 3) she refused to acknowledge her earlier errors, so why would she acknowledge this one?


Studies Used Different Sexual Stimuli

Not only did the four underlying studies have different arousal scales (or none), they used different stimuli. Two of the studies used a 3-minute film; one study used a 20-second film; and one study used only photos. No researcher can do that and expect valid results. It’s well established that films are more arousing than photos. What’s shocking is that the original P&P ED paper falsely claims that all 4 studies used sexual films:

“The VSS presented in the studies were all films.”

So how does Prause address this conspicuous methodological flaw and her study’s false statement? With another false statement, or two, in bold:

The author also made a false statement that stimuli varied between studies and this was not “controlled”. We assessed and controlled the stimuli as stated in our original article (“sexual arousal reported did not differ by film length, so data were collapsed across studies for this analysis”, p. E4).”

First false statement: Nowhere did Dr. Isenberg say that the stimuli “[were] not controlled.”

Second false statement: The stimuli did vary among studies: 3-minute film, 20-second film, photos.

“Controlled for” is meaningless here, and Prause refuses to say how she magically managed to do the impossible: control for some guys viewing photos, while other watched 3-minute porn flicks.


Some of the Subjects Were Gay

Prause begins her next paragraph with yet another false statement:

“Finally, again contrary to the author’s claims, there were not “four gay” men in any study.

Dr. Isenberg’s only reference to “gay” was a listing of “including 4 gay” in his table under Prause’s study “Biases for Affective Versus Sexual Content in Multidimensional Scaling Analysis: An Individual Difference Perspective (2013, Prause, Moholy, Staley). From page 2 of that study.

“A total of 157 (N=47 male, 1 transgender) psychology students over age 18 years participated in exchange for course credit. Most reported being heterosexual. Four males reported being homosexual and four reported being bisexual.”

Four gay men, just as Dr. Isenberg stated. It seems Isenberg can “math” good enough to know that 4 means 4.

Why did Dr. Isenberg list 4 gay men in the table? It’s well established (and common sense) that gay and straight men have very different brain responses to heterosexual porn. Including gay men, as Prause did, skews the “sexual arousal” results and her resulting correlations. It calls into question her findings.

In brain studies on addiction, or compulsive behaviors, valid results depend upon homogeneous subjects. Put simply, subjects must be the same sex, similar ages, similar IQs and, generally, all right-handed to produce valid results. Prause ignores standard protocols by having males, females and non-heterosexuals all watch heterosexual porn. You can’t do that, as many studies confirm significant differences between males and females in response to sexual images (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

This is one of various reasons why Prause’s 2013 EEG study on porn users was sharply criticized. The study’s subjects differed (women, men, heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals), yet they were all shown the same standard male+female porn. This alone invalidates the study’s claims that it “debunks porn addiction.” Please be aware that Prause has already announced that she has employed this same flaw (mixed subjects) in a study, which she maintains debunks porn addiction once again. From her SPAN Lab website:

What scientist announces on their twitter account and personal website that their single, unpublished study “debunks” an entire field of research?


Hours Per Week Not Defined

This section takes some explaining, but it leads us to another manifestly false statement by Prause. In the following paragraph, Dr. Isenberg explains that P&P failed to fully describe hours per week of porn use. In other words, Prause failed to say if hours per week referred to the previous week, or month, or year, or who knows.

ISENBERG: “The hours-viewed parameter itself is poorly defined. We are not told if the self-report of hours referenced the preceding week, the average over the last year, or was entirely left to subject interpretation. Were there subjects who were previously heavy users who had recently cut down or eliminated their pornography viewing? Absent a well-defined and consistent referent, the porn use data is uninterpretable.”

Prause responds by telling us what we already know – that she said “hours per week“:

“The author claims we did not adequately describe the sex film view variable. We described that variable at least 13 places in the manuscript. (“weekly average” in abstract; “reported the average number of hours they consumed VSS per week”…..

Again, Dr. Isenberg wanted to know: Are you asking subjects about the “previous week”, or “the last year”, maybe “since you started watching porn”, or some other time-frame? Prause ends her repetitive two-paragraph rant with yet another false statement:

The question was exactly as described, “How much time per week did you spend using pornography during the past month?” with the response box including the descriptor “hours” for which they could indicate partial hour(s).”

Search the P&P ED paper and you will find no such question (mentioning the past month).

Prause follows up this false statement with two paragraphs arguing that hours per week is an appropriate measure. Dr. Isenberg wasn’t commenting on its “appropriateness.” He just pointed out that the data cannot be interpreted without knowing how the subjects understood the question. Since she had to make a false claim to respond to Isenberg’s point, perhaps Prause’s statement is the red herring she refers to in her pompous title.


Many More Variables Than Current Hours Per Week

One of the most common questions posed on recovery forums is, “Why did I develop PIED when my friends watch as much (or more) porn than I do?” Instead of only current hours per week, a combination of variables appears to be implicated in porn-induced ED. Dr. Isenberg highlights the importance of investigating many other variables before claiming, as the authors do, that porn-induced ED is a myth (and he doesn’t even mention novelty of watching internet porn, arguably the most important factor):

ISENBERG: “Furthermore, the authors do not report on relevant viewing parameters such as total pornography usage, age of onset, presence of escalation, and extent of sexual activity with partner which may have bearing on male sexual functioning [11,12].”

In the above sentence, Dr. Isenberg cites two studies as examples of research that examined two additional variables: citation 11 employed ‘years of porn use’, and citation 12 employed ‘age started porn use’. Prause spends the next paragraph attacking a straw man, namely, that Dr. Isenberg claimed both studies assessed every single variable he listed. Why didn’t she instead explain why she didn’t ask her subjects about important variables before drawing her unsubstantiated conclusion that porn isn’t the culprit in youthful ED?


Average Erectile Scores Actually Indicate ED

While Prause admits to only a single oversight, it’s fitting that she adds yet another misrepresentation to her apology (bold):

“We also recognize that we stated in one place that the IIEF was a “19-item” (p. E3) scale. The scale actually is a 15-item scale. We profusely apologize for this gross oversight, although the scores, results, and conclusions were accurate and indicative of normal erectile function

As pointed out in my critique, P&P reported an average score of 21.4 out of 30 for the 6-item IIEF (average age 23). This is far from “normal erectile function” in 23-year olds. In fact, this score indicates “mild erectile dysfunction”, leaning towards “moderate erectile dysfunction”.


Still No Data Correlating IIEF Scores With Porn Use

Isenberg was also concerned that P&P offer inadequate data for their claim that no correlation existed between IIEF scores and hours viewed per week:

ISENBERG: Even more disturbing is the total omission of statistical findings for the erectile function outcome measure. No statistical results whatsoever are provided. Instead the authors ask the reader to simply believe their unsubstantiated statement that there was no association between hours of pornography viewed and erectile function. Given the authors’ conflicting assertion that erectile function with a partner may actually be improved by viewing pornography the absence of statistical analysis is most egregious.

Red Herring leaves us hanging on this critical point. We’re meant to swallow the authors’ conclusions “hook, line and stinker.”


Questions Were Raised About P&P’s “Strong” Finding

The following excerpt, taken from the second paragraph, claims that Isenberg failed to raise questions about P&P’s “strong” finding. Read carefully as Prause alters key words to give the reader a false impression:

“No questions were raised about the strong finding that the more men viewed sex films at home the stronger sexual desire they reported for their partner. In fact, this result was described as ‘hardly novel’.”

The actual finding? Guys who watched more porn scored higher in their desire to masturbate and have sex with a partner. In the above claim, Prause omitted greater desire to masturbate (presumably to porn), and leads us to believe that the questionnaire stated sexual desire for “their” partner. It didn’t. From P&P ED study:

“Men reported their desire for sex with a partner and desire for solitary sex

Prause added “their” and removed “solitary sex”. Since the questionnaire’s phrasing was actually “sex with a partner”, these porn-loving subjects could have just as easily been fantasizing about sex with their favorite porn star. I suspect many were, as a large percentage of the subjects had no partners (50% in one underlying study).

In reality, higher “desire” to masturbate, or to have sex, might be evidence of sensitization, which is greater reward circuit activation and craving when exposed to porn cues. Sensitization can be a precursor to, or evidence of, addiction.

Two recent Cambridge University studies found that heavy porn users can experience higher desire (cravings), yet also experience erection problems with a partner. Participants’ brains lit up when exposed porn, yet 60% of them reported arousal/erectile problems with partners. From the Cambridge study:

“CSB subjects reported that as a result of excessive use of sexually explicit materials…..they experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material)”

Put simply, there’s no basis for claiming that a porn user’s higher desire to masturbate and have sex predicts better performance in the bedroom. Remember, the average erection scores for P&P subjects indicated ED.


Prause Tweets & Posts About Her Reply

Here’s Prause initially tweeting about her reply to Isenberg’s critique:

“Red Herring: Hook, Line, and Stinker” Our fun, published response to the crazy claims made by anti-porn groups

The next day Prause posts this on her SPAN lab website:

Amazing. As you have read above, Isenberg’s claims are valid, while Prause makes false statement after false statement. Moreover, she attempts to add an unpublished study after the fact in a desperate ploy to meet her published claim of 280 subjects. She conjures up IIEF subjects who cannot exist by her own earlier admission. Then she calls uro-gynecologist Isenberg a “crazy anti-porn group.” Feel free to Google his name. You will see that he has published peer-reviewed studies, yet has never said a word that was anti-porn. Spin without addressing the content.

Why has Sexual Medicine Open Access allowed Prause to publish numerous false statements in both the original P&P paper and her reply to Isenberg? Why weren’t Isenberg’s questions taken seriously and answered professionally? Why is there no serious investigation into the cause of the sudden jump in ED rates in the last few years? Rates have skyrocketed to around 30% in young men.

Debunking Kris Taylor’s “A Few Hard Truths about Porn and Erectile Dysfunction”

Introduction

I was surprised and somewhat baffled by grad student Kris Taylor’s recent VICE article on porn use and sexual dysfunctions. In his article Taylor not only misrepresented the content of a 2016 review of literature I co-authored with 7 US navy doctors, he chose to omit 24 studies linking porn use to sexual problems and lower sexual arousal. Before I address specific sections of Kris Taylor’s article here are the studies and articles he was given, yet chose to neglect in his article:

  1. 24 studies linking porn use or porn addiction to sexual dysfunctions & lower arousal. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.
  2. 55 studies linking porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction.
  3. Articles, interviews and videos citing over 100 experts (urology professors, urologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, MDs) who acknowledge and have successfully treated porn-induced ED and porn-induced loss of sexual desire.
  4. 20 studies reporting findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms.
  5. All the neurological studies published on porn users/sex addicts: 39 neuroscience studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neurospychological, hormonal) provide strong support for the addiction model.
  6. 13 reviews of the literature by some of the top neuroscientists in the world. All lend support to the porn addiction model.
  7. Approximately 2,000 first-person stories of recovery from porn-induced sexual problems (Rebooting accounts 1, Rebooting accounts 2, Rebooting Accounts 3, Short PIED recovery stories).

The rest of this piece will consist of excerpts from Kris Taylor’s article followed by YBOP comments, and excerpts from the 2016 review of literature I co-authored with 7 US navy doctors.


The truth behind current and historical sexual dysfunction rates in young men.

KRIS TAYLOR: “Hooked on porn: Prepare for a tsunami of damaged people,” warned the Herald last year. They quote Brisbane based sexologist Liz Walker, saying “before the internet appeared, erectile dysfunction in males under 40 was reported as being about 2-5 per cent, now that figure has jumped to between 27 and 33 per cent.

The percentages given by Liz Walker were accurate and they are documented both in this lay article (Research confirms sharp rise in youthful sexual dysfunctions) and in this extensive review of the literature involving 7 US Navy doctors and myself: Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016). The Navy doctors included 2 psychiatrists, 2 urologists, and an MD with a PhD in neuroscience. These seven doctors have spent much of their careers treating (primarily) young men.

KRIS TAYLOR: “But when you try to find the research she’s citing, thing get murkier. Her source is this paper, which in turn gives numbers sourced from two papers – neither of which reference pornography as causative. Not to mention that the second author of the paper is Gary Wilson, a well-known fervent anti-pornography campaigner.”

Taylor cites the US Navy paper and proceeds to blatantly misrepresent its content (perhaps hoping no one would click on the link). Taylor “suggests” that our paper cited only 2 isolated studies to support the claim that ED rates in men under 40 have skyrocketed since the advent of streaming tube sites (2006). In reality, we examined every PubMed listed study previously published that provided sexual dysfunction rates for men under 40.

We also examined all PubMed sourced meta-studies and meta-analyses examining ED rates in both men over and under 40. A meta-analysis is a study that reviews all previous studies on a particular subject, and lists the pertinent data. (Taylor may not yet know what a meta-analysis is as he linked to one of meta-analysis we cited.)

What did our paper cite in the 2nd paragraph to support the claim that historical ED rates for men under have been between 2-5%? (The following citation numbers and their original links are provided.)

  • [2] – (2000) Meta-analysis that reviewed 93 studies from across the globe.
  • [3] – (1992) Largest US survey.
  • [5] – (2001) ED rates from 29 developed countries (13,000 subjects).
  • Not cited: The Kinsey report concluded that the prevalence of ED was less than 1% in men younger than 30 years, less than 3% in those 30–45.

Taylor failed to provide a single study to refute our claim that ED rates for men under 40 have been consistently reported as between 2-5%. Instead, he attempted to mislead the reader with a single 2013 study, implying that high rates of erectile dysfunction in young men were always normal. However, the paper also supports our claims. He said:

KRIS TAYLOR: “By some estimates erectile ‘dysfunction’ may occur for about half of all men, and 1 in 4 men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction will be under 40.”

However, the paper’s authors were clearly surprised to find that 25% of men who visited doctors for erectile dysfunction were under 40. The name of the study says it all: One Patient Out of Four with Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is a Young Man—Worrisome Picture from the Everyday Clinical Practice. (The study did not assess ED rates in the general population.)

Further, what did our paper cite in the 3rd paragraph to support the claim that recent studies report much higher rates of sexual dysfunction for men under 40?

  • [9] – (2013). The above study. The rates of severe ED nearly 10% higher than in men over 40.
  • [6] – (2015). Europeans, 18–40, ED rates ranged from 14%–28%. Low libido as high as 37%.
  • [8] – (2012). ED rates of 30% in a cross-section of Swiss men aged 18–24.
  • [10] – (2014). Males aged 16-21: ED (27%), low sexual desire (24%), problems with orgasm (11%).
  • [11] – (2016). 2-year longitudinal study in which they found that, over several checkpoints during the 2 years, the following percentages of 16-21 year old males: low sexual satisfaction (47.9%), low desire (46.2%), problems in erectile function (45.3%).
  • [12] – (2014). New diagnoses of ED in active duty servicemen reported that rates had more than doubled between 2004 and 2013.
  • [13] – (2014). Cross-sectional study of active duty male military personnel aged 21–40 found an overall ED rate of 33.2%.
  • [16] – (2010). Brazilian study of men 18-40 reported ED rates of 35%.

The takeaway: The claims that historical rates of youthful ED have ranged from 1-5 percent, and that studies since 2010 have reported a tremendous increase in ED rates is supported by the peer-reviewed literature. All the above evidence (and more) was presented in the first 3 paragraphs of the US Navy paper. This fact indicates that Kris Taylor purposely misled VICE and its readers.


24 studies link porn use/porn addiction to sexual problems & lower arousal (all omitted by Taylor)

KRIS TAYLOR: “While searching in vain for research that supported the position that pornography causes erectile dysfunction, I found a variety of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. Pornography is not among them. These included depression, anxiety, nervousness, taking certain medications, smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use, as well as other health factors like diabetes and heart disease. Even riding a bike for too long can cause temporary erectile dysfunction if the bike seat compresses nerves in the perineum.”

First we will address Kris Taylor “searching in vain for research that supported the position that pornography causes erectile dysfunction.” This claim is rather hard to swallow as Taylor was earlier given this YBOP page by Liz Walker. It contains 24 studies linking porn use or porn addiction to sexual dysfunctions and lower arousal. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions (one of the three being the US Navy paper, which included case reports). Sixteen of these studies made it into the 2016 US Navy paper, and they were introduced with this paragraph:

While such intervention studies would be the most illuminating, our review of the literature finds a number of studies that have correlated pornography use with arousal, attraction, and sexual performance problems [27, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43], including difficulty orgasming, diminished libido or erectile function [27, 30, 31, 35, 43, 44], negative effects on partnered sex [37], decreased enjoyment of sexual intimacy [37, 41, 45], less sexual and relationship satisfaction [38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47], a preference for using Internet pornography to achieve and maintain arousal over having sex with a partner [42], and greater brain activation in response to pornography in those reporting less desire for sex with partners [48].

The following very convincing study was published after the US Navy paper appeared: Male masturbation habits and sexual dysfunctions, 2016. Like our paper, it too demonstrated causation as 35 men who developed erectile dysfunction and/or anorgasmia attempted to quit porn and cut back on masturbation. The study reported that 19 men experienced significant improvement by the time the author wrote up the paper. The author is a French psychiatrist who is the current president of the European Federation of Sexology. He is hardly a “fervent anti-pornography campaigner,” yet he noted that many of the men he assessed were addicted to porn.

Conclusion: Addictive masturbation, often accompanied by a dependency on cyber-pornography, has been seen to play a role in the etiology of certain types of erectile dysfunction or coital anejaculation.

The takeaway: Kris Taylor was given 24 studies linking porn use to sexual problems and lower arousal, along with over 55 studies linking porn use to lower sexual and relationship satisfaction. Once again, Taylor deliberately mislead VICE and its readers.


A 600% – 1000% increase in youthful ED in the last 7-12 years cannot be explained away by the usual factors

Kris Taylor claims that the recent tremendous rise in youthful ED must be caused by the variables usually correlated with ED in men over 40.

KRIS TAYLOR: While searching in vain for research that supported the position that pornography causes erectile dysfunction, I found a variety of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. Pornography is not among them. These included depression, anxiety, nervousness, taking certain medications, smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use, as well as other health factors like diabetes and heart disease. Even riding a bike for too long can cause temporary erectile dysfunction if the bike seat compresses nerves in the perineum.

As explained in our paper, smoking, diabetes and heart disease rarely cause ED in men under 40 (citation 16). It takes years of smoking or uncontrolled diabetes to manifest neuro-vascular damage severe enough to cause chronic ED. From our paper:

Traditionally, ED has been seen as an age-dependent problem [2],and studies investigating ED risk factors in men under 40 have often failed to identify the factors commonly associated with ED in older men, such as smoking, alcoholism, obesity, sedentary life, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and hyperlipidemia [16].

As for “taking certain medications, smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use,” none of rates of these correlative factors have increased over the last 15 years (smoking has actually decreased). From the US Navy paper:

However, none of the familiar correlative factors suggested for psychogenic ED seem adequate to account for a rapid many-fold increase in youthful sexual difficulties. For example, some researchers hypothesize that rising youthful sexual problems must be the result of unhealthy lifestyles, such as obesity, substance abuse and smoking (factors historically correlated with organic ED). Yet these lifestyle risks have not changed proportionately, or have decreased, in the last 20 years: Obesity rates in U.S. men aged 20–40 increased only 4% between 1999 and 2008 [19]; rates of illicit drug use among US citizens aged 12 or older have been relatively stable over the last 15 years [20]; and smoking rates for US adults declined from 25% in 1993 to 19% in 2011 [21].

As for “depression, anxiety, nervousness,” none of these cause erectile dysfunction, they are simply weakly correlative to ED. In fact, some studies report that depressed and anxious patients have higher sexual desire. Other studies suggest the obvious: depression doesn’t cause ED; having ED increases scores on depression tests. From the US Navy paper:

Other authors propose psychological factors. Yet, how likely is it that anxiety and depression account for the sharp rise in youthful sexual difficulties given the complex relationship between sexual desire and depression and anxiety? Some depressed and anxious patients report less desire for sex while others report increased sexual desire [22, 23, 24, 25]. Not only is the relationship between depression and ED likely bidirectional and co-occurring, it may also be the consequence of sexual dysfunction, particularly in young men [26].

As we said in our paper’s conclusion:

Traditional factors that once explained sexual difficulties in men appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in sexual dysfunctions and low sexual desire in men under 40.

Finally, Taylor’s claim that bike-riding is associated with ED has recently been debunked. An excerpt from the article:

“As cycling gains in popularity, as both a hobby and a professional sport, it is important for the public to know that it has no credible link to urologic disease or sexual dysfunction,” said Dr. Kevin McVary, a spokesman for the American Urological Association.


Addressing the two papers Kris Taylor cited (both were extensively discussed in the US Navy review)

Ignoring the 5 papers demonstrating cessation of internet porn use reversing sexual dysfunctions, and 19 other studies that link internet porn use to sexual dysfunctions and low arousal, Taylor cited 2 papers as the “best available research”:

But the best research we have so far simply doesn’t support the claims. For example, a 2015 cross-sectional online study of 3,948 Croatian, Norwegian, and Portuguese men published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine indicated that “contrary to raising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties.” Another 2015 study, this time of 208 non-treatment seeking American men indicated that viewing pornography was “unlikely to negatively impact sexual functioning, given that responses actually were stronger in those who viewed more [pornography]”.

Neither paper was an actual study, and both have been formally criticized in the peer-reviewed literature. Both papers were discussed at length in the US Navy review of the literature – which I will excerpt below. I have a lot to say about both papers, so I have created separate sections for each. I will start with the second paper mentioned by Taylor, because we addressed it first in our review of the literature.


PAPER 2: Prause & Pfaus, 2015.

KRIS TAYLOR EXCERPT: Another 2015 study, this time of 208 non-treatment seeking American men indicated that viewing pornography was “unlikely to negatively impact sexual functioning, given that responses actually were stronger in those who viewed more [pornography]”.

I provide the formal critique by Richard Isenberg, MD and a very extensive lay critique, followed by my comments and excerpts from the US Navy paper:

The claim: Contrary to Taylor’s claim (and Prause & Pfaus claim), the men who watched more porn did not have “stronger responses.” None of the 4 studies underlying underlying the paper’s claims assessed genital or sexual responses in the lab. What Prause & Pfaus claimed in their paper was that men who watched more porn rated their excitement slightly higher while watching porn. The key phrase is while watching porn – not while having sex with an actual person. Arousal ratings while viewing porn tell us nothing about one’s arousal or erections when not viewing porn. It tells us nothing about porn-induced ED, which is the inability to become sufficiently aroused without using porn. That said, details from Prause & Pfaus, 2015 reveal that they could not have accurately assessed their subjects’ arousal ratings (much more below).

For argument’s sake let’s suppose that men viewing more porn rated their arousal a bit higher than men who viewed less. Another, more legitimate, way to interpret this arousal difference between the two porn-use groups is that men who watched the most porn experienced slightly greater cravings to use porn. This is quite possibly evidence of sensitization, which is greater reward circuit (brain) activation and craving when exposed to (porn) cues. Sensitization (cue-reactivity and cravings) is a primary addiction-related brain change.

Several recent Cambridge University brain studies demonstrated sensitization in compulsive porn users. Participants’ brains were hyper-aroused in response to porn video clips, even though they didn’t “like” some of the sexual stimuli more than control participants. In a dramatic example of how sensitization can affect sexual performance, 60% of the Cambridge subjects reported arousal/erectile problems with partners but not with porn. From the Cambridge study:

“[Porn addicts] reported that as a result of excessive use of sexually explicit materials…..they experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material).”

Put simply, a heavy porn user can report higher subjective arousal (cravings) yet also experience erection problems with a partner. Certainly, his arousal in response to porn is not evidence of his “sexual responsiveness” or erectile functioning with a partner. Studies reporting sensitization/cravings or cue-reactivity in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

The reality behind Prause & Pfaus 2015: This wasn’t a study on men with ED. It wasn’t a study at all. Instead, Prause claimed to have gathered data from four of her earlier studies, none of which addressed erectile dysfunction. It’s disturbing that this paper by Nicole Prause and Jim Pfaus passed peer-review as none of the data in their paper matched the data in the underlying four studies on which the paper claimed to be based. The discrepancies are not minor gaps, but gaping holes that cannot be plugged. In addition, the paper made several claims that were patently false or not supported by the data.

We begin with false claims made by both Nicole Prause & Jim Pfaus. Many journalists’ articles about this study claimed that porn use led to better erections, yet that’s not what the paper found. In recorded interviews, both Nicole Prause and Jim Pfaus falsely claimed that they had measured erections in the lab, and that the men who used porn had better erections. In the Jim Pfaus TV interview Pfaus states:

“We looked at the correlation of their ability to get an erection in the lab.”

“We found a liner correlation with the amount of porn they viewed at home, and the latencies which for example they get an erection is faster.”

In this radio interview Nicole Prause claimed that erections were measured in the lab. The exact quote from the show:

“The more people watch erotica at home they have stronger erectile responses in the lab, not reduced.”

Yet this paper did not assess erection quality in the lab or “speed of erections.” The paper only claimed to have asked guys to rate their “arousal” after briefly viewing porn (and it’s not clear from the underlying papers that this simple self-report was asked of all subjects). In any case, an excerpt from the paper itself admitted that:

“No physiological genital response data were included to support men’s self-reported experience.”

In a second unsupported claim, lead author Nicole Prause tweeted several times about the study, letting the world know that 280 subjects were involved, and that they had “no problems at home.” However, the four underlying studies contained only 234 male subjects, so “280” is way off.

A third unsupported claim: Author of the critical Letter to the Editor linked to above, Dr. Isenberg, wondered how it could be possible for Prause & Pfaus 2015 to have compared different subjects’ arousal levels when three different types of sexual stimuli were used in the 4 underlying studies. Two studies used a 3-minute film, one study used a 20-second film, and one study used still images. It’s well established that films are far more arousing than photos, so no legitimate research team would group these subjects together to make claims about their responses. What’s shocking is that in their paper Prause & Pfaus unaccountably claim that all 4 studies used sexual films:

“The VSS presented in the studies were all films.”

This statement is false, as clearly revealed in Prause’s own underlying studies. This the first reason why Prause & Pfaus cannot claim that their paper assessed “arousal.” You must use the same stimulus for each person to compare all the subjects.

A fourth unsupported claim: Dr. Isenberg also asked how Prause & Pfaus 2015 could compare different subjects’ arousal levels when only 1 of the 4 underlying studies used a 1 to 9 scale. One used a 0 to 7 scale, one used a 1 to 7 scale, and one study did not report sexual arousal ratings. Once again Prause & Pfaus inexplicably claim that:

“Men were asked to indicate their level of “sexual arousal” ranging from 1 “not at all” to 9 “extremely.”

This too is false as the underlying papers show. This is the second reason why Prause & Pfaus cannot claim that their paper assessed “arousal” ratings in men. A study must use the exact same rating scale for each person to compare the subjects’ results. In summary, all the Prause-generated headlines about porn use improving erections or arousal, or anything else, are unwarranted.

Prause & Pfaus 2015 also claimed they found no relationship between erectile functioning scores and the amount of porn viewed in the last month. As Dr. Isenberg pointed out:

“Even more disturbing is the total omission of statistical findings for the erectile function outcome measure. No statistical results whatsoever are provided. Instead the authors ask the reader to simply believe their unsubstantiated statement that there was no association between hours of pornography viewed and erectile function. Given the authors’ conflicting assertion that erectile function with a partner may actually be improved by viewing pornography the absence of statistical analysis is most egregious.”

In the Prause & Pfaus response to the Dr. Isenberg critique, they once again failed to provide any data to support their “unsubstantiated statement.” As this analysis documents, the Prause & Pfaus response not only evades Dr. Isenberg’s legitimate concerns, it contains several new misrepresentations and several transparently false statements. Finally, our review of the literature commented on Prause & Pfaus 2015:

“Our review also included two 2015 papers claiming that Internet pornography use is unrelated to rising sexual difficulties in young men. However, such claims appear to be premature on closer examination of these papers and related formal criticism. The first paper contains useful insights about the potential role of sexual conditioning in youthful ED [50]. However, this publication has come under criticism for various discrepancies, omissions and methodological flaws. For example, it provides no statistical results for the erectile function outcome measure in relation to Internet pornography use. Further, as a research physician pointed out in a formal critique of the paper, the papers’ authors, “have not provided the reader with sufficient information about the population studied or the statistical analyses to justify their conclusion” [51]. Additionally, the researchers investigated only hours of Internet pornography use in the last month. Yet studies on Internet pornography addiction have found that the variable of hours of Internet pornography use alone is widely unrelated to “problems in daily life”, scores on the SAST-R (Sexual Addiction Screening Test), and scores on the IATsex (an instrument that assesses addiction to online sexual activity) [52, 53, 54, 55, 56]. A better predictor is subjective sexual arousal ratings while watching Internet pornography (cue reactivity), an established correlate of addictive behavior in all addictions [52, 53, 54]. There is also increasing evidence that the amount of time spent on Internet video-gaming does not predict addictive behavior. “Addiction can only be assessed properly if motives, consequences and contextual characteristics of the behavior are also part of the assessment” [57]. Three other research teams, using various criteria for “hypersexuality” (other than hours of use), have strongly correlated it with sexual difficulties [15, 30, 31]. Taken together, this research suggests that rather than simply “hours of use”, multiple variables are highly relevant in assessment of pornography addiction/hypersexuality, and likely also highly relevant in assessing pornography-related sexual dysfunctions.”

The US Navy paper highlighted the weakness in correlating only “current hours of use” to predict porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. The amount of porn currently viewed is just one of many variables involved in the development of porn-induced ED. These may include:

  1. Ratio of masturbation to porn versus masturbation without porn
  2. Ratio of sexual activity with a person versus masturbation to porn
  3. Gaps in partnered sex (where one relies only on porn)
  4. Virgin or not
  5. Total hours of use
  6. Years of use
  7. Age started using porn
  8. Escalation to new genres
  9. Development of porn-induced fetishes (from escalating to new genres of porn)
  10. Level of novelty per session (i.e. compilation videos, multiple tabs)
  11. Addiction-related brain changes or not
  12. Presence of hypersexuality/porn addiction

The better way to research this phenomenon, is to remove the variable of internet porn use and observe the outcome, which was done in the Navy paper and in two other studies. Such research reveals causation instead of fuzzy correlations open to varying interpretation. My site has documented a few thousand men who removed porn and recovered from chronic sexual dysfunctions.


PAPER 1: Landripet & Stulhofer, 2015.

KRIS TAYLOR EXCERPT: For example, a 2015 cross-sectional online study of 3,948 Croatian, Norwegian, and Portuguese men published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine indicated that “contrary to raising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties.”

Landripet & Stulhofer, 2015 was designated as a “brief communication” by the Journal, and the two authors selected certain data to share, while omitting other pertinent data (more later). As with Prause & Pfaus the Journal published a critique of Landripet & Sulhofer: Comment on: Is Pornography Use Associated with Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions among Younger Heterosexual Men? by Gert Martin Hald, PhD

As for the claim that Landripet & Štulhofer, 2015 found no relationships between porn use and sexual problems. This is not true, as documented in both this YBOP critique and the US Navy review of the literature. Furthermore, Landripet & Stulhofer’s paper omitted three significant correlations they presented to a European conference (more below). Let’s start with the first of three paragraphs from our paper that addressed Landripet & Štulhofer, 2015:

A second paper reported little correlation between frequency of Internet pornography use in the last year and ED rates in sexually active men from Norway, Portugal and Croatia [6]. These authors, unlike those of the previous paper, acknowledge the high prevalence of ED in men 40 and under, and indeed found ED and low sexual desire rates as high as 31% and 37%, respectively. In contrast, pre-streaming Internet pornography research done in 2004 by one of the paper’s authors reported ED rates of only 5.8% in men 35–39 [58]. Yet, based on a statistical comparison, the authors conclude that Internet pornography use does not seem to be a significant risk factor for youthful ED. That seems overly definitive, given that the Portuguese men they surveyed reported the lowest rates of sexual dysfunction compared with Norwegians and Croatians, and only 40% of Portuguese reported using Internet pornography “from several times a week to daily”, as compared with the Norwegians, 57%, and Croatians, 59%. This paper has been formally criticized for failing to employ comprehensive models able to encompass both direct and indirect relationships between variables known or hypothesized to be at work [59]. Incidentally, in a related paper on problematic low sexual desire involving many of the same survey participants from Portugal, Croatia and Norway, the men were asked which of numerous factors they believed contributed to their problematic lack of sexual interest. Among other factors, approximately 11%–22% chose “I use too much pornography” and 16%–26% chose “I masturbate too often” [60]

As I and the Navy doctors described, this paper found a pretty important correlation: Only 40% of the Portuguese men used porn “frequently,” while the 60% of the Norwegians used porn “frequently.” The Portuguese men had far less sexual dysfunction than the Norwegians. With respect to the Croats, Landripet & Štulhofer, 2015 acknowledge a statistically significant association between more frequent porn use and ED, but claim the effect size was small. However, this claim may be misleading according to an MD who is a skilled statistician and has authored many studies:

Analyzed a different way (Chi Squared), … moderate use (vs. infrequent use) increased the odds (the likelihood) of having ED by about 50% in this Croatian population. That sounds meaningful to me, although it is curious that the finding was only identified among Croats.

In addition, Landripet & Stulhofer 2015 omitted three significant correlations, which one of the authors presented to a European conference. He reported a significant correlation between erectile dysfunction and “preference for certain pornographic genres”:

Reporting a preference for specific pornographic genres were significantly associated with erectile (but not ejaculatory or desire-related) male sexual dysfunction.”

It’s telling that Landripet & Stulhofer chose to omit this significant correlation between erectile dysfunction and preferences for specific genres of porn from their paper. It’s quite common for porn users to escalate into genres that do not match their original sexual tastes, and to experience ED when these conditioned porn preferences do not match real sexual encounters. As we pointed out above, it’s very important to assess the multiple variables associated with porn use – not just hours in the last month or frequency in the last year.

The second significant finding omitted by Landripet & Stulhofer 2015 involved female participants:

Increased pornography use was slightly but significantly associated with decreased interest for partnered sex and more prevalent sexual dysfunction among women.”

A significant correlation between greater porn use and decreased libido and more sexual dysfunction seems pretty important. Why didn’t Landripet & Stulhofer 2015 report that they found significant correlations between porn use and sexual dysfunction in women, as well as a few in men? And why hasn’t this finding been reported in any of Stulhofer’s many studies arising from these same data sets? His teams seem very quick to publish data they claim debunks porn-induced ED, yet very slow to inform women about the negative sexual ramifications of porn use.

Finally, Danish porn researcher Gert Martin Hald’s formal critical comments echoed the need to assess more variables (mediators, moderators) than just frequency per week in the last 12 months:

“The study does not address possible moderators or mediators of the relationships studied nor is it able to determine causality. Increasingly, in research on pornography, attention is given to factors that may influence the magnitude or direction of the relationships studied (i.e., moderators) as well as the pathways through which such influence may come about (i.e., mediators). Future studies on pornography consumption and sexual difficulties may also benefit from an inclusion of such focuses.

Bottom line: All complex medical conditions involve multiple factors, which must be teased apart before far reaching pronouncements are appropriate. Landripet & Stulhofer’s statement that, “Pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties” goes too far, since it ignores all the other possible variables related to porn use that might be causing sexual performance problems in users – including escalation to specific genres, which they found, but omitted in the “Brief Communication.” Paragraphs 2 & 3 in our discussion of Landripet & Stulhofer, 2015:

Again, intervention studies would be the most instructive. However, with respect to correlation studies, it is likely that a complex set of variables needs to be investigated in order to elucidate the risk factors at work in unprecedented youthful sexual difficulties. First, it may be that low sexual desire, difficulty orgasming with a partner and erectile problems are part of the same spectrum of Internet pornography-related effects, and that all of these difficulties should be combined when investigating potentially illuminating correlations with Internet pornography use.

Second, although it is unclear exactly which combination of factors may best account for such difficulties, promising variables to investigate in combination with frequency of Internet pornography use might include (1) years of pornography-assisted versus pornography-free masturbation; (2) ratio of ejaculations with a partner to ejaculations with Internet pornography; (3) the presence of Internet pornography addiction/hypersexuality; (4) the number of years of streaming Internet pornography use; (5) at what age regular use of Internet pornography began and whether it began prior to puberty; (6) trend of increasing Internet pornography use; (7) escalation to more extreme genres of Internet pornography, and so forth.

Before confidently claiming that we have nothing to worry about from internet porn, researchers still need to account for the very recent, sharp rise in youthful ED and low sexual desire, and the many studies linking porn use to sexual problems.


Kris Taylor resorts to ad hominem and misrepresentation. I respond.

KRIS TAYLOR: Her source is this paper, which in turn gives numbers sourced from two papers – neither of which reference pornography as causative. Not to mention that the second author of the paper is Gary Wilson, a well-known fervent anti-pornography campaigner.

I was going to ignore Taylor’s ad hominem attack, but the above two sentences expose his tactics and bias. The first sentence misrepresents the content of our review of the literature, while the second attempts to dismiss it by mislabeling me “a fervent anti-pornography campaigner.”

As described earlier my co-authors included 7 US Navy doctors, among them 2 psychiatrists, 2 urologists, and an MD with a PhD in neuroscience from John Hopkins. My co-authors have spent much of their careers treating (primarily) young men. The paper provided 3 clinical case reports of servicemen, who had developed porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. Has Taylor ever seen patients for sexual dysfunctions? Has he ever performed a medical examination? It’s clear that Taylor’s goal was to encourage his reader to ignore the paper, the medical doctors who authored it, and just take his word for the paper’s content and merit.

As for Taylor’s branding me “a fervent anti-porn campaigner,” I have explained in multiple interviews my history and how I ended up creating www.yourbrainonporn in 2011. (For more see this 2016 interview of me by Noah B. Church.) As stated on the site’s “About” page, I am an atheist (as were my parents and grandparents), and my politics are far-left liberal. I had no opinion on porn.

Details: Through a fluke in search engine categorization, around 2007 (shortly after the advent of streaming tube porn), men complaining of porn-induced erectile dysfunction and low libido for real partners began posting on my wife’s rather obscure forum created for discussions around sexual relationships. Over the next few years many otherwise healthy men on that forum healed their sexual dysfunctions by giving up porn. Eventually we blogged about this phenomenon, because so many men found reading their peers’ experiences helpful. Soon my wife’s forum was overflowing with relatively young men seeking to heal the unexpected effects of their internet porn use. During this period, we cannot count how many times we asked academic sexologists to look into this phenomenon. They refused.

Sadly, many of the men suffering from porn-induced sexual dysfunctions had been suicidal when they arrived, fearing that they were broken for life. In the face of continued stonewalling by the experts who should have been investigating the sufferers’ circumstances, we felt a need make a cyberspace available that presented the relevant science and the stories of the men who recovered from a range of porn-induced sexual dysfunctions (chiefly delayed ejaculation, loss of attraction for real partners, and fleeting or unreliable erections). Www.yourbrainonporn.com was born. If it campaigns for anything, it would be sexual health.

Would Taylor’s professors approve of his tactics? If they would, he has spent too much on his tuition.

Is Utah #1 in Porn Use?

UPDATE: The points made below have now been affirmed in peer-reviewed research. In Social Desirability Bias in Pornography-Related Self-Reports: The Role of Religion (2017), Dr. Joshua Grubbs tested his hypothesis that religious individuals are more likely to lie about their porn use (in anonymous surveys studies or to researchers). The “religious people are lying” hypothesis rested on a few state-wide studies, which suggested that conservative or religious states might use more porn. The problem with such claims is that nearly every study that employed anonymous surveys had found lower rates of porn use in religious individuals.

Grubbs found no evidence for religious individuals lying about their porn use. In fact, religious people may be more honest than secular individuals about porn use. This suggests that the state-wide comparisons may be less reliable than anonymous surveys in which each subject’s level of religiosity is identified. Religion appears to be protective against porn use.

From the conclusion:

“However, contrary to popular sentiment-and our own hypotheses-we found no evidence for and much evidence against the suggestion that religious individuals have a more pronounced social desirability bias against the reporting of pornography consumption than the irreligious. Interaction terms assessing that possibility were either nonsignificant or  significant in the reverse direction.”


ARTICLE

Utah is not #1 in porn use. Not even close. That often-repeated meme arose from Benjamin Edelman’s 2009 economics paper “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?” He relied entirely on subscription data from a single top-ten provider of pay-to-view content when he ranked states on porn consumption – ignoring hundreds of other such websites. Why did he choose that one to analyze?

We do know that Edelman’s analysis was conducted circa 2007, after free, streaming “tube sites” were operational, and porn viewers were increasingly turning to them. So, Edelman’s single data point out of thousands (of free and subscription sites) cannot be presumed to be representative of all US porn users.

Turns out it’s not. In fact, other studies and available data rank Utah porn use between 40th and 50th among the states. See:

  1. This peer-reviewed paper: “A review of pornography use research: Methodology and results from four sources.Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace (2015)
  2. Or this easier to read 2014 article: Rethinking Mormons and Porn: Utah 40th in US in New Porn Data
  3. Per capita page views, taken from Pornhub in 2014 (graph below).

The oft-repeated, but unsupported “Utah as number 1” myth often bolsters another spurious meme, namely, that ‘religious individuals use more porn than nonreligious individuals.’ In fact, the opposite is true. Religiosity predicts far lower rates of porn use.

The preponderance of studies report far lower rates of porn use in religious individuals compared with non-religious individuals. Consider these studies:

  1. Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography (2004)
  2. Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults (2008)
  3. Internet pornography use in the context of external and internal religiosity (2010)
  4. “I believe it is wrong but I still do it”: A comparison of religious young men who do versus do not use pornography. (2010)
  5. Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality (2011)
  6. Pornography Use: Who Uses It and How It Is Associated with Couple Outcomes (2012)
  7. U.S. males and pornography, 1973-2010: consumption, predictors, correlates (2013)
  8. Adolescent religiousness as a protective factor against pornography use. (2013)
  9. Religiosity, Parent and Peer Attachment, and Sexual Media Use in Emerging Adults (2013)
  10. United States women and pornography through four decades: exposure, attitudes, behaviors, individual differences (2013)
  11. How does religious attendance shape trajectories of pornography use across adolescence? (2016)
  12. Spousal Religiosity, Religious Bonding, and Pornography Consumption (2016)
  13. How Much More XXX is Generation X Consuming? Evidence of Changing Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Pornography Since 1973. (2016)
  14. Religious and Community Hurdles to Pornography Consumption: A National Study of Emerging Adults (2017)
  15. The Influence of Religiosity and Risk Taking on Cybersex Engagement among Postgraduate Students: A Study in Malaysian Universities (2017)
  16. Explicit Sexual Movie Viewing in the United States According to Selected Marriage and Lifestyle, Work and Financial, Religion and Political Factors (2017)
  17. Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bi-Directional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation (2017)
  18. Seeing is (Not) Believing: How Viewing Pornography Shapes the Religious Lives of Young Americans (2017)
  19. Sexual Attitudes of Classes of College Students Who Use Pornography (2017)
  20. Predicting pornography use over time: Does self-reported “addiction” matter?

To take another example, a 2011 paper (“The Cyber Pornography Use Inventory: Comparing a Religious and Secular Sample”) reported the percentage of religious and secular college men who used porn at least once a week:

  • Secular: 54%
  • Religious: 19%

A 2010 study on college-aged religious men “I believe it is wrong but I still do it”: A comparison of religious young men who do versus do not use pornography reported that:

  • 65% of religious young men reported viewing no pornography in the past 12 months
  • 8.6% reported viewing two or three days per month
  • 8.6% reported viewing daily or every other day

In contrast, cross-sectional studies of college-age men report relatively high rates of porn viewing (US – 2008: 87%, China – 2012: 86%, Netherlands – 2013 (age 16) – 73%).

Finally, consider two recent studies investigating religiosity in treatment-seeking sex and porn addicts:

The “Utah Is #1” talking point lingers in mainstream journalism and sexology spin long after the science has proven otherwise. Why?

Finally, recent articles about the Joshua Grubbs studies (“perceived addiction studies”) have tried to paint a very misleading picture of what these studies actually reported and what these findings mean. In essence, bloggers, and sometimes Grubbs himself, have claimed that religiosity is strongly related to porn addiction. It’s not. In response to these spurious articles, YBOP published this extensive critique of the claims made in the perceived addiction studies and in the related misleading articles.


Page Views Per Capita on Pornhub (2014): Utah is 40th


 

Porn studies involving female subjects: Effects on arousal, sexual satisfaction, and relationships

While a handful of studies report little effect of women’s porn use on women’s sexual and relationship satisfaction, the vast maturity do report negative effects. This page contains studies linking female porn use to lower sexual or relationship satisfaction.

When evaluating the research, it’s important to know that a relatively small percentage of all coupled females regularly consumes internet porn. Large, nationally representative data are scarce, but the General Social Survey reported that only 2.6% of all US women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month. The question was only asked in 2002 and 2004 (see Pornography and Marriage, 2014). While rates of porn use by some age groups of adult women have increased since 2004, be careful when comparing rates from other studies. Very few studies are nationally representative (all age groups), and often ask if the subject has seen pornography in the last 12 months. The takeaway is that studies reporting positive or neutral effects on relationship or sexual satisfaction for female porn users are generally taking their data from a small percentage of regular porn users who are not representative of women generally.

Also, It may be that coupled use is less detrimental to users, and coupled use of porn is more common in women (as compared with men).

In any case, in contrast with the few studies reporting no decreased sexual/relationship dissatisfaction in female porn users, below are the many studies linking porn use in women to poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction outcomes in women.

Studies on relationships and sexual satisfaction


Associative pathways between pornography consumption and reduced sexual satisfaction (2017) – While it links porn use to lower sexual satisfaction, it also reported that frequency of porn use was related to a preference (or need?) for porn over people to achieve sexual arousal. An excerpt:

Guided by sexual script theory, social comparison theory, and informed by prior research on pornography, socialization, and sexual satisfaction, the present survey study of heterosexual adults tested a conceptual model linking more frequent pornography consumption to reduced sexual satisfaction via the perception that pornography is a primary source of sexual information, a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement, and the devaluation of sexual communication. The model was supported by the data for both men and women.

Pornography consumption frequency was associated with perceiving pornography as a primary source of sexual information, which was associated with a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement and the devaluation of sexual communication. Preferring pornographic to partnered sexual excitement and devaluing sexual communication were both associated with less sexual satisfaction.

Finally, we found that frequency of pornography consumption was also directly related to a relative preference for pornographic rather than partnered sexual excitement. Participants in the present study primarily consumed pornography for masturbation. Thus, this finding could be indicative of a masturbatory conditioning effect (Cline, 1994; Malamuth, 1981; Wright, 2011). The more frequently pornography is used as an arousal tool for masturbation, the more an individual may become conditioned to pornographic as opposed to other sources of sexual arousal.


Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce (2017) – This longitudinal study used nationally representative General Social Survey panel data collected from thousands of American adults. Respondents were interviewed three times about their pornography use and marital status — every two years from 2006-2010, 2008-2012, or 2010-2014. Excerpts:

Our study is the first to examine how viewing pornography could be associated with marital stability using data that are nationally representative and longitudinal. Using a doubly robust approach that allows us to isolate the longitudinal association between viewing pornography and likelihood of divorce, we find that the likelihood of divorce roughly doubles for those who begin pornography use between waves. While this association looks slightly stronger for women in terms of predicted probabilities, men and women did not differ significantly from one another. Conversely, we found that ending porn use was associated with a lower likelihood of divorce, but only for women

Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one’s likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from 6 percent to 11 percent, and nearly tripled it for women, from 6 percent to 16 percent. Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability. Conversely, discontinuing pornography use between survey waves was associated with a lower probability of divorce, but only for women.

Additional analyses also showed that the association between beginning pornography use and the probability of divorce was particularly strong among younger Americans, those who were less religious, and those who reported greater initial marital happiness


Are Pornography Users More Likely to Experience A Romantic Breakup? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2017)Excerpt:

This study examined whether Americans who use pornography, either at all or more frequently, are more prone to report experiencing a romantic breakup over time. Longitudinal data were taken from the 2006 and 2012 waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study. Binary logistic regression analyses demonstrated that Americans who viewed pornography at all in 2006 were nearly twice as likely as those who never viewed pornography to report experiencing a romantic breakup by 2012, even after controlling for relevant factors such as 2006 relationship status and other sociodemographic correlates. This association was considerably stronger for men than for women and for unmarried Americans than for married Americans. Analyses also showed a linear relationship between how frequently Americans viewed pornography in 2006 and their odds of experiencing a breakup by 2012.

While the likelihood of women experiencing a breakup only rose about 34 percent with earlier porn viewing (from 15.4 percent to 23.5 percent), the likelihood of male porn users experiencing a breakup was over 3.5 times that of non-porn users (22.5 percent compared to 6.3 percent).


The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS) (2017) – This paper’s goal was the creation of a problematic porn use questionnaire. In the process of validating the instruments, the researchers found that higher scores on the porn use questionnaire were related to lower sexual satisfaction. Gender differences in relationship satisfaction were not mentioned. An excerpt:

Therefore, a total of 772 participants (females = 390, 50.5%; males = 382, 45.5%) were retained for further analyses who were between ages 18 and 54

Satisfaction with sexual life was weakly and negatively correlated with PPCS scores


Relationship quality predicts online sexual activities among Chinese heterosexual men and women in committed relationships (2016) – An excerpt:

Three hundred and forty-four participants with steady partners (i.e., dating or married) in China volunteered to take part in the study, including 178 men and 166 women from 29 provinces/regions in China. In this study, we examined the online sexual activities (OSAs) of Chinese men and women in committed relationships, with a focus on the characteristics of OSAs and the factors prompting men and women with steady partners to engage in OSAs. Almost 89% of the participants reported OSA experiences in the past 12 months even when they had a real-life partner.

As predicted, individuals with lower relationship quality in real life, including low relationship satisfaction, insecure attachment, and negative communication patterns, engaged in OSAs more frequently. Additionally, dyadic satisfaction significantly predicted OSAs among both men and women. Overall, our results suggest that variables influencing offline infidelity may also influence online infidelity.


Sexually explicit media use and relationship satisfaction a moderating role of emotional intimacy? (2016) – The authors attempt to obfuscate their findings in the abstract by stating that once sexual and relationship variables were “controlled for”, they found no link between between porn use and relationship satisfaction. Reality: The study found significant correlations between porn use and poorer relationship & sexual satisfaction in both males and females. Excerpt from discussion section:

For both men and women, significant, yet modest negative zero-order correlations between SEM use and relationship satisfaction were found, indicating that increased SEM use was associated with lower relationship satisfaction across gender.


Effect of soft core pornography on female sexuality (2016) – Excerpt:

This is a cross-sectional study in which 200 sexually active married women were administered a self-filling questionnaire covering different aspects of female sexuality. All participants were free from any disease known to affect sexual function. In total 52% of the participants and 59.5% of their husbands were positive watchers.

An overall 51.6% of participants who were aware that their husbands were positive watchers reported experiencing negative emotions (depression, jealous), whereas 77% reported changes in their husbands’ attitude. Non-watchers watchers were more satisfied with their sexual life compared with their counterparts. Although watching soft-core pornography had a statistically significant effect on sexual desire, vaginal lubrication, ability to reach orgasm, and masturbation, it had no statistically significant effect on coital frequency. Watching soft-core pornography affects female sexual life by increasing sexual boredom in both men and women, causing relational difficulties.


Internet Pornography Consumption and Relationship Commitment of Filipino Married Individuals (2016) – Excerpt:

A self-administered survey was distributed to 400 selected Filipino married individuals who were married individuals that are watching pornography on the Internet who are living in Quezon City.

Internet pornography has many adverse effects, especially to the relationship commitment. The use of pornography directly correlates to a decrease in sexual intimacy. Hence, this might lead to weakening of the relationship of their partner. To find out the relevance of the claim, the researchers aimed to explore the relationship of Internet pornography consumption to the relationship commitment of married individuals in the Philippines. It is revealed that Internet pornography consumption has an adverse effect on the relationship commitment of married Filipino couples. Furthermore, watching porn online weakened the relationship commitment that leads to an unstable relationship. This investigation found out that internet pornography consumption has a nominal negative effect on the relationship commitment of Filipino married individuals.


Cyberpornography: Time Use, Perceived Addiction, Sexual Functioning, and Sexual Satisfaction (2016) – Excerpt:

First, even when controlling for perceived addiction to cyberpornography and overall sexual functioning, cyberpornography use remained directly associated with sexual dissatisfaction. Even though this negative direct association was of small magnitude, time spent viewing cyberpornography seems to be a robust predictor of lower sexual satisfaction.

Our results highlight that psychosexual outcomes are similar for men and women. Thus, we observed negative psychosexual functioning in both women and men.


The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics (2016) – Excerpts:

Participants included 75 males (25%) and 221 females (75%) aged 18–87 years

More specifically, couples, where no one used, reported more relationship satisfaction than those couples that had individual users. This is consistent with the previous research (Cooper et al., 1999; Manning, 2006), demonstrating that the solitary use of sexually explicit material results in negative consequences.

With gender effects held constant, individual users reported significantly less intimacy and commitment in their relationships than non-users and shared users.

Overall, how frequently someone views sexually explicit material can have an impact on users’ consequences. Our study found that high frequency users are more likely to have lower relationship satisfaction and intimacy in their romantic relationships.


Factors Predicting Cybersex Use and Difficulties in Forming Intimate Relationships among Male and Female Users of Cybersex (2015)Excerpt:

This study used the Cybersex addiction test, Craving for pornography questionnaire, and a Questionnaire on intimacy among 267 participants (192 males and 75 females) mean age for males 28 and for females 25, who were recruited from special sites that are dedicated to pornography and cybersex on the Internet. Results of regression analysis indicated that pornography, gender, and cybersex significantly predicted difficulties in intimacy and it accounted for 66.1% of the variance of rating on the intimacy questionnaire.

Second, regression analysis also indicated that craving for pornography, gender, and difficulties in forming intimate relationships significantly predicted frequency of cybersex use and it accounted for 83.7% of the variance in ratings of cybersex use.

Third, men had higher scores of frequency of using cybersex than women and higher scores of craving for pornography than women and no higher scores on the questionnaire measuring difficulties in forming intimate relationship than women.


Relationship of love and marital satisfaction with pornography among married university students in Birjand, Iran (2015) – Excerpts:

This descriptive-correlation study was conducted on 310 married students studying at private and public universities in Birjand, in 2012-2013 academic year using random quota sampling method.

Conclusion: It appears that pornography has a negative impact on love and marital satisfaction….. There was no significant gender-difference in overall mean scores of marital satisfaction.


Pornography and Marriage (2014) – All bad news, and it’s getting worse. Excerpts:

We used data on 20,000 ever-married adults in the General Social Survey to examine the relationship between watching pornographic films and various measures of marital well-being. We found that adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced, more likely to have had an extramarital affair, and less likely to report being happy with their marriage or happy overall. We also found that, for men, pornography use reduced the positive relationship between frequency of sex and happiness. Finally, we found that the negative relationship between pornography use and marital well-being has, if anything, grown stronger over time, during a period in which pornography has become both more explicit and more easily available.

Our results were similar when we control for gender, age, race, education, and number of children, and they shrank by about one third when we included controls for frequency of religious attendance.

For women, all of the coefficients have the same sign but were generally smaller in magnitude than those of men. Women who reported using pornography had 10% higher odds of being divorced, 95 % higher odds of having had an extramarital affair, 8% lower odds of reporting having a very happy marriage, and about 2% lower odds of being very happy with their life overall


Associations between relational sexual behaviour, pornography use, and pornography acceptance among US college students (2014) – Excerpt:

Using a sample of 792 emerging adults, the present study explored how the combined examination of pornography use, acceptance, and sexual behaviour within a relationship might offer insight into emerging adults’ development. Results suggested clear gender differences in both pornography use and acceptance patterns. High male pornography use tended to be associated with high engagement in sex within a relationship and was associated with elevated risk-taking behaviours. High female pornography use was not associated with engagement in sexual behaviours within a relationship and was general associated with negative mental health outcomes.


Internet Pornography Exposure and Women’s Attitude Towards Extramarital Sex: An Exploratory Study (2013) – Excerpt:

This exploratory study assessed the association between adult U.S. women’s exposure to Internet pornography and attitude towards extramarital sex using data provided by the General Social Survey (GSS). A positive association between Internet pornography viewing and more positive extramarital sex attitudes was found.


Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction (2012) – Excerpt:

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between men’s pornography use, both frequency and problematic use, on their heterosexual female partner’s psychological and relational well-being among 308 young adult college women. Results revealed women’s reports of their male partner’s frequency of pornography use were negatively associated with their relationship quality. More perceptions of problematic use of pornography was negatively correlated with self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.


A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner (2012) – The study had subjects try to abstain from porn use for 3 weeks. Upon comparing the two groups, those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than those who tried to abstain. Excerpts:

Participants were 367 undergraduates (300 female) from a Southeastern university who participated in the study for partial course credit in a family development course. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 26 with a median age of 19 and reported being in a heterosexual, romantic relationship.

Study 1 found that higher pornography consumption was related to lower commitment

Study 3 participants were randomly assigned to either refrain from viewing pornography or to a self-control task. Those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than control participants.

Study 5 found that pornography consumption was positively related to infidelity and this association was mediated by commitment. Overall, a consistent pattern of results was found using a variety of approaches including cross-sectional (Study 1), observational (Study 2), experimental (Study 3), and behavioral (Studies 4 and 5) data.


Associations between young adults’ use of sexually explicit materials and their sexual preferences, behaviors, and satisfaction (2011) – Excerpts:

In this study, 92% of young men and 50% of young women reported having ever used a variety of types of SEM.

Higher frequencies of sexual explicit material (SEM) use were associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction. The frequency of SEM use and number of SEM types viewed were both associated with higher sexual preferences for the types of sexual practices typically presented in SEM. These findings suggest that SEM use can play a significant role in a variety of aspects of young adults’ sexual development processes. Specifically, higher viewing frequency was associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction when controlling for gender, religiosity, dating status and the number of SEM types viewed.

It appears as though SEM use is associated with specific sexual preferences in addition to being associated with earlier and greater sexual experiences, as well as lower sexual and relationship satisfaction. This combination reveals that, despite having a well-defined set of preferences and experiences, individuals frequently using SEM are nonetheless less satisfied with these experiences.

For women, SEM viewing frequency was not correlated with sexual satisfaction and was only marginally negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction.

Finally, regression analyses revealed that both SEM viewing frequency and the number of SEM types viewed uniquely predicted all three sexual preference variables. These robust relationships (particularly with the ‘‘kinky sex’’ subscale) indicate that heavy consumers of SEM hold similar sexual preferences to those frequently portrayed in SEM (e.g., Jensen & Dines, 1998; Krassas et al., 2003; Menard & Kleinplatz, 2008).


Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality (2011) – Excerpts:

This study investigated associations between viewing sexually-explicit material (SEM) and relationship functioning in a random sample of 1291 unmarried individuals in romantic relationships. 

Those who viewed SEM only with their partners reported more dedication and higher sexual satisfaction than those who viewed SEM alone. Individuals who never viewed SEM reported higher relationship quality on all indices than those who viewed SEM alone. The only difference between those who never viewed SEM and those who viewed it only with their partners was that those who never viewed it had lower rates of infidelity.


Exploring actor and partner correlates of sexual satisfaction among married couples (2010) – Excerpt:

Using the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction, we consider how infidelity, pornography consumption, marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, premarital sex, and cohabitation are associated with married couples’ sexual satisfaction. Data from 433 couples are analyzed with structural equation models to determine the contributions. Finally, some evidence suggests that pornography consumption is costly for own and spouse’s sexual satisfaction, especially when pornography is used by only one spouse.


Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Internet Material and Sexual Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study (2009) – Excerpt:

Between May 2006 and May 2007, we conducted a three-wave panel survey among 1,052 Dutch adolescents aged 13–20. Structural equation modeling revealed that exposure to SEIM consistently reduced adolescents’ sexual satisfaction. Lower sexual satisfaction (in Wave 2) also increased the use of SEIM (in Wave 3). The effect of exposure to SEIM on sexual satisfaction did not differ among male and female adolescents.


Use of pornography in a random sample of Norwegian heterosexual couples (2009) – Porn use was correlated with more sexual dysfunctions in the man and negative self perception in the female. The couples who did not use porn had no sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts from the study:

In couples where only one partner used pornography, we found more problems related to arousal (male) and negative (female) self-perception.

In those couples where one partner used pornography there was a permissive erotic climate. At the same time, these couples seemed to have more dysfunctions.

The couples who did not use pornography... may be considered more traditional in relation to the theory of sexual scripts. At the same time, they did not seem to have any dysfunctions.

Couples who both reported pornography use grouped to the positive pole on the ‘‘Erotic climate’’ function and somewhat to the negative pole on the ‘‘Dysfunctions’’ function.


Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sex Seeking and Its Impacts (2008) – Excerpt:

This was an exploratory study of sex and relationship seeking on the Internet, based on a survey of 15,246 respondents in the United States Seventy-five percent of men and 41% of women had intentionally viewed or downloaded porn. Men and gays/lesbians were more likely to access porn or engage in other sex-seeking behaviors online compared with straights or women. A symmetrical relationship was revealed between men and women as a result of viewing pornography, with women reporting more negative consequences, including lowered body image, partner critical of their body, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex.


Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography (2004) – (did not differentiate between men and women) Excerpt:

Complete data on 531 Internet users are taken from the General Social Surveys for 2000. Social bonds measures include religious, marital, and political ties. Measures of participation in sexual and drug-related deviant lifestyles, and demographic controls are included. The results of a logistic regression analysis found that among the strongest predictors of use of cyberporn were weak ties to religion and lack of a happy marriage.


Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction (1988) – Excerpt:

Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. [Porn use] strongly impacted self-assessment of sexual experience. After consumption of pornography, subjects reported less satisfaction with their intimate partners—specifically, with these partners’ affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper. In addition, subjects assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement. These effects were uniform across gender and populations.


Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography on Family Values (1988) – Excerpts:

Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. Marriage, cohabitational relationships, and related issues were judged on an especially created Value-of-Marriage questionnaire. The findings showed a consistent impact of pornography consumption. Exposure prompted, among other things, greater acceptance of pre- and extramarital sex and greater tolerance of nonexclusive sexual access to intimate partners. It enhanced the belief that male and female promiscuity are natural and that the repression of sexual inclinations poses a health risk. Exposure lowered the evaluation of marriage, making this institution appear less significant and less viable in the future. Exposure also reduced the desire to have children and promoted the acceptance of male dominance and female servitude. With few exceptions, these effects were uniform for male and female respondents as well as for students and nonstudents.


Landripet, Ivan; Štulhofer, Aleksandar; Jurin, Tanja

IASR Fortieth Annual Meeting Book of AbstractsDubrovnik

Pornography Use; Pornography Addiction; Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions; Hypoactive Sexual Desire; Erectile Dysfunction

Dubrovnik, Hrvatska, 25.-28. lipnja 2014.

A couple of recent large-scale epidemiological studies pointed to a surprisingly high prevalence of erectile dysfunction among young men (Mialon et al., 2012 ; Martins, 2010). It has been suggested that this “epidemic” is explained by excessive online pornography use. Similar concerns have been raised in response to anecdotal evidence of partnered sexual desire deficit. To empirically assess these claims, which reverberate in recent calls for systematic regulation of pornography, we explored: if pornography use is associated with male and female sexual dysfunctions (SD) ; if an increased frequency of pornography use is associated with SD ; and if the association between pornography use and sexual functioning is moderated by pornography genre (mainstream vs. specific/paraphilic contents).

Participants were recruited through Facebook and banners posted on several news and dating websites. In total, 4, 597 were included in the analyses (18-60 yrs ; mean age=31.1 ; 56.5% women). 56.3% reported college education and 38.4% were married/cohabitating.  Frequency of pornography use in the past 12 months, the time spent on pornography use in a typical day within that period, and their interaction indicated the intensity of pornography use.

Finding related to females:

However, increased pornography use was slightly but significantly associated with decreased interest for partnered sex (and more prevalent sexual dysfunction) among women.


The Survey of Sexual Health and Pornography among Divorce-Asking Women in West Azerbaijan-Iran: A Cross-Sectional Study (2017) – Excerpts:

One of the factors affecting the incidence of divorce and relationship problems between couples is the sexual and marital behaviors. There are several different reasons to suspect that pornography might affect divorce in either a positive or a negative way. Therefore this study evaluated the sexual health of divorce-asking in Urmia, Iran.

Conclusions: The results of the study indicated that who had low sexual satisfaction score, had higher rate of watching pornography clips. Based on current study, paying attention to family education and counseling programs especially in the sexual field will be more fruitful.


Personal Pornography Viewing and Sexual Satisfaction: A Quadratic Analysis (2017) – Excerpts:

This article presents results from a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. adults. Quadratic analyses indicated a curvilinear relationship between personal pornography viewing and sexual satisfaction in the form of a predominately negative, concave downward curve. The nature of the curvilinearity did not differ as a function of participants’ gender, relationship status, or religiosity.

For all groups, negative simple slopes were present when viewing reached once a month or more. These results are correlational only. However, if an effects perspective were adopted, they would suggest that consuming pornography less than once a month has little or no impact on satisfaction, that reductions in satisfaction tend to initiate once viewing reaches once a month, and that additional increases in the frequency of viewing lead to disproportionately larger decrements in satisfaction.


Neurological studies involving female porn users

Cybersex addiction in heterosexual female users of internet pornography can be explained by gratification hypothesis (2014) – An excerpt:

In the context of Internet addiction, cybersex is considered to be an Internet application in which users are at risk for developing addictive usage behavior. Regarding males, experimental research has shown that indicators of sexual arousal and craving in response to Internet pornographic cues are related to severity of cybersex addiction in Internet pornography users (IPU). Since comparable investigations on females do not exist, the aim of this study is to investigate predictors of cybersex addiction in heterosexual women.

We examined 51 female IPU and 51 female non-Internet pornography users (NIPU). Using questionnaires, we assessed the severity of cybersex addiction in general, as well as propensity for sexual excitation, general problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms. Additionally, an experimental paradigm, including a subjective arousal rating of 100 pornographic pictures, as well as indicators of craving, was conducted.

Results indicated that IPU rated pornographic pictures as more arousing and reported greater craving due to pornographic picture presentation compared with NIPU. Moreover, craving, sexual arousal rating of pictures, sensitivity to sexual excitation, problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms predicted tendencies toward cybersex addiction in IPU. Being in a relationship, number of sexual contacts, satisfaction with sexual contacts, and use of interactive cybersex were not associated with cybersex addiction. These results are in line with those reported for heterosexual males in previous studies.

Findings regarding the reinforcing nature of sexual arousal, the mechanisms of learning, and the role of cue reactivity and craving in the development of cybersex addiction in IPU need to be discussed.


Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals (2016) – Fifty-five participants who identified themselves as ‘sexually active’ and ‘heterosexual’ (28 male, 27 female; mean age 28.4, SD 10.4, range 20–69) took part in the study.

This study replicates the findings of this 2014 Cambridge University study that compared the attentional bias of porn addicts to healthy controls. The new study differs: rather than comparing porn addicts to controls, the new study correlated scores on a sex addiction questionnaire to the results of a task assessing attentional bias (explanation of attentional bias). The study described two key results:

  1. Higher sexual compulsivity scores correlated with greater interference (increased distraction) during the attentional bias task. This aligns with substance abuse studies.
  2. Among those scoring high on sexual addiction, fewer years of sexual experience were related to greater attentional bias.

The authors concluded that this result could indicate that more years of “compulsive sexual activity” lead to greater habituation or a general numbing of the pleasure response (desensitization). An excerpt from the conclusion section:

“One possible explanation for these results is that as a sexually compulsive individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, an associated arousal template develops and that over time, more extreme behaviour is required for the same level of arousal to be realised. It is further argued that as an individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, neuropathways become desensitized to more ‘normalised’ sexual stimuli or images and individuals turn to more ‘extreme’ stimuli to realise the arousal desired.”

No differences seen between male and female participants:

No effects of age or gender (males: M = 20.75, SD 46.61; females: M = 19.30, SD 52.46) on interference scores were shown and are not considered in subsequent analyses.


Problematic sexual behavior in young adults: Associations across clinical, behavioral, and neurocognitive variables (2016) – Subjects included males & females. Individuals with Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) exhibited several neuro-cognitive deficits. These findings indicate poorer executive functioning (hypofrontality) which is a key brain feature occurring in drug addicts. A few excerpts:

From this characterization, it is be possible to trace the problems evident in PSB and additional clinical features, such as emotional dysregulation, to particular cognitive deficits…. If the cognitive problems identified in this analysis are actually the core feature of PSB, this may have notable clinical implications.


Sexual Desire, not Hypersexuality, is Related to Neurophysiological Responses Elicited by Sexual Images (2013) – Subjects included males & females. EEG study was touted in the media as evidence against the existence of porn/sex addiction. Not so. This SPAN Lab study, like the one below, actually lends support to the existence of both porn addiction and porn use down-regulating sexual desire. In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, this EEG study also reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlating with less desire for partnered sex. To put another way – individuals with greater brain activation to porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Shockingly, study spokesman Nicole Prause claimed that porn users merely had “high libido”, yet the results of the study say something quite different .Five peer-reviewed papers expose the truth: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Also see the extensive YBOP critique.


Modulation of Late Positive Potentials by Sexual Images in Problem Users and Controls Inconsistent with “Porn Addiction” (2015) – Subjects included males & females. Another SPAN Lab EEG (brain-wave) study comparing the 2013 subjects from the above study to an actual control group (yet it suffered from the same methodological flaws named above). The results: compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The lead author, Nicole Prause, claims these results “debunk porn addiction”.

In reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn. Prause’s findings also align with Banca et al. 2015. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn. They were bored (habituated or desensitized). These findings are consistent with tolerance, a sign of addiction. Tolerance is defined as a person’s diminished response to a drug or stimulus that is the result of repeated use. See this extensive YBOP critique. Five peer-reviewed papers agree that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Nicole Prause’s Harassment, Defamation, and “Astroturf” Campaign

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This page was created to counter the ongoing harassment and false claims made by former UCLA researcher Nicole Prause as part of an ongoing “astroturf” campaign to persuade people that anyone who disagrees with her conclusions deserves to be reviled. Watch this short, excellent TEDx talk, “Astroturf and manipulation of media messages” | Sharyl Attkisson – YouTube if you aren’t familiar with the astroturf phenomenon. The speaker explains which terms give away astroturf campaigns such as, “debunking myths (that aren’t myths),” claims of “pseudoscience,” disregard/disparagement of opposing scientific findings, and all personal attacks that do not address substance. Count how many of them appear below! (Prause has also falsely, publicly, repeatedly claimed to have a court restraining order against Wilson:See details.)

Since this page was first created Prause has targeted others, including researchers, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, former UCLA colleagues, a UK charity, men in recovery, a TIME magazine editor, several professors, IITAP, SASH, Fight The New Drug, the academic journal Behavioral Sciences, and the head of the academic journal CUREUS. These incidents are in the “OTHERS” sections. Several additional incidents have occurred that we are not at liberty to divulge. This page is arranged roughly in chronological order.

Important point: While Prause continues to falsely claim she is “the victim,” it is Prause who initiated all contact and harassment towards the individuals and organizations listed on this page. No one on this list has harassed Nicole Prause. Her fabricated claims about being a victim of “stalking” or misogyny from “anti-porn activists” lack one iota of documentation. Put simply, Prause has created a mythology with zero verifiable evidence, while being closely allied with the porn industry. All the evidence she provides is self-generated: a sing

Table of Contents:

  1. March & April, 2013: The beginning of Nicole Prause’s harassment, false claims and threats
  2. July, 2013: Prause publishes her first EEG study. Wilson critiques it. Prause employs multiple usernames to post lies around the Web
  3. November 2013: Prause places a libelous PDF on her SPAN Lab website. Content mirrors “anonymous” comments around the Web
  4. December 2013: Prause’s initial tweet is about Wilson & the CBC. “RealScience” posts same false claims on same day
  5. Fall 2014: Documentation of Prause lying to film producers about Gary Wilson and Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD
  6. May 2014: Dozens of Prause sock puppets post information on porn recovery forums that only Prause would know or care about
  7. Others – Summer 2014: Prause urges patients to report sex addiction therapists to state boards
  8. January, 2015: “The Prause Chapter” described 9 months earlier by a YourBrainRebalanced.com troll is finally published
  9. Others – 2015 & 2016: Prause falsely accuses sex addiction therapists of reparative therapy
  10. Others – March, 2015 (ongoing): Prause and her sock puppets (including “PornHelps”) go after Gabe Deem
  11. Others – October 2015: Prause’s original Twitter account is permanently suspended for harassment
  12. Others – November, 2015: Cureus Journal founder John Adler MD blogs about Prause & David Ley harassment
  13. Others – March, 2016: Prause (falsely) tells TIME Magazine that Gabe Deem impersonated a doctor to write a formal critique of her study (letter to the editor) in an academic journal (and the letter was traced to Gabe’s computer)
  14. Others – June, 2016: Prause and her sock puppet PornHelps claim that respected neuroscientists are members of “anti-porn groups” and “their science is bad”
  15. Others – July, 2016: Prause & David Ley attack NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes
  16. Others – July, 2016: Prause falsely accuses @PornHelp.org of harassment, libel, and promoting hate
  17. Others – July, 2016: Prause & sock puppet “PornHelps” attack Alexander Rhodes, falsely claiming he faked porn-induced sexual problems
  18. Others – July, 2016: Nicole Prause & “PornHelps” falsely accuse TIME editor Belinda Luscombe of lying and misquoting
  19. Others – April, 2016: A Nicole Prause sock puppet edits the Belinda Luscombe Wikipedia page
  20. Others – September 2016: Prause attacks and libels former UCLA colleague Rory C. Reid PhD. 2 years earlier “TellTheTruth” posted the exact same claims & documents on a porn recovery site frequented by Prause’s many sock puppets
  21. September, 2016: Prause libels Gary Wilson and others with AmazonAWS documents & infographic (which Prause tweeted dozens of times)
  22. Others – Prause falsely accuses Donald Hilton, MD
  23. Others – September 25, 2016: Prause attacks therapist Paula Hall
  24. Others – October, 2016: Prause commits perjury attempting to silence Alexander Rhodes
  25. 2015 & 2016: Prause violates COPE’s code of conduct to harass Gary Wilson and a Scottish charity
  26. October, 2016 – Prause publishes her spurious October, 2015 “cease and desist” letter. Wilson responds by publishing his letter to Prause’s lawyer.
  27. October, 2016 – Prause had co-presenter Susan Stiritz “warn campus police” that Gary Wilson might fly 2000 miles to listen to Prause say porn addiction isn’t real
  28. Others – October, 2016: Prause falsely states that SASH and IITAP “board members and practitioners are openly sexist and assaultive to scientists
  29. Others – November, 2016: Prause asks VICE magazine to fire infectious disease specialist Keren Landman, MD for supporting Prop 60 (condoms in porn)
  30. Others – November, 2016: Prause falsely claims to have sent cease & desist letters to panelists on the Mormon Matters podcast
  31. Others – December, 2016: In a Quora answer Prause tells a porn addict to visit a prostitute (a violation of APA ethics and California law)
  32. Others – December, 2016: Prause reports Fight the New Drug to the State of Utah (tweets over 30 times about FTND)
  33. Others – January, 2017: Nicole Prause tweets that Noah B. Church is a scientifically inaccurate non-expert and religious profiteer
  34. Others – January, 2017: Prause smears professor Frederick M. Toates with a laughable claim
  35. Others – January, 2017: Prause defames publisher MDPI calling Behavioral Sciences a “fake journal” (harasses several journal contributors)
  36. Others – January, 2017 (and earlier): Prause employs multiple user accounts (including “NotGaryWilson”) to edit Wikipedia
  37. Others – April, 2017: Prause insults Professor Gail Dines, PhD, perhaps for joining the “Op-ed: Who exactly is misrepresenting the science on pornography?”
  38. Others – May, 2017: Prause attacks SASH (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health)
  39. Others – September, 2017: Prause claims all who believe porn can be harmful and addictive are “science-illiterate & misogynistic”
  40. Others – January 24, 2018: Prause files groundless complaint against therapist Staci Sprout
  41. Others – January 29, 2018: Prause threatens therapists who would diagnose sexual behavior addicts using the upcoming “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder” diagnosis in the ICD-11
  42. March, 2018 – Libelous Claim that Gary Wilson Was Fired
  43. March 5, 2018 – Prause banned from Quora for harassing Gary Wilson
  44. March 12, 2018 – Prause’s Liberos Twitter account suspended for posting Gary Wilson’s private information in violation of Twitter Rules
  45. March and April, 2018 – Prause files bogus DMCA takedown requests in an attempt to hide her harassment and defamation
  46. Others – April 11, 2018: Prause falsely claims medical journal Cureus engages in fraud and is predatory
  47. Prause’s history of intentionally mischaracterizing porn related research (including her own)

In The Beginning – March & April 2013: The beginning of Nicole Prause’s libel, threats and harassment

  • Key point: Prause initiated all direct contacts with Gary Wilson. Prause continues to publicly harass and libel Wilson while simultaneously (falsely) claiming he is under a court’s “no contact” order. This is like punching an innocent person in the face while simultaneously screaming “Stop hitting me!”

March 5, 2013

Author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction,” David Ley, and Nicole Prause team up to write a Psychology Today blog post with the strategic title: “Your Brain on Porn – It’s NOT Addictive.” (Your Brain On Porn is a website founded by Wilson.) It was about Nicole Prause’s unpublished, yet to be peer-reviewed EEG study (“Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images”).

It’s important to note that only Ley received access to Prause’s unpublished study (it was published 5 months later). The blog post linked to Wilson’s ‘Your Brain on Porn’ website and suggested that YBOP was in favor of banning porn (untrue).

  • Second key point: Five months before Prause’s EEG study (Steele et al., 2013) was published, both Prause and Ley were targeting Gary Wilson and his website.

March 7, 2013

Wilson published a Psychology Today blog post responding to the content in the David Ley post. Ley’s blog post and Wilson’s response were eventually removed by Psychology Today editors, as the underlying study wasn’t yet available. You can find the original Ley and Wilson blog posts archived here. It’s important to note that Wilson’s blog post clearly states it was only responding to Ley’s description of the Prause study. Later Nicole Prause would falsely accuse Wilson of misrepresenting her study (that only she and Ley had seen, and were making public claims about – which were later shown to be unfounded).

March 7, 2013

Wilson posts under David Ley’s article requesting the study:

“Hey David – I’m wondering how you got your hands on a study that has yet to published, or mentioned anywhere else. Are you willing to send me a copy?”

David Ley did not respond.

April 10, 2013

In response to the above comment, Prause contacted the Psychology Today editors, commented under my PT article, and emailed Wilson the following. In the email, Prause attacks Wilson personally, and mistakenly states that he did not ask for the study. He had, in fact, asked David Ley for it. The email:

Psychology Today (no-reply@psychologytoday.com)
4/10/13
To: _______@hotmail.com

From: Nicole Prause <nprause@________>
Dear Mr. Wilson,

It is illegal for you to misrepresent our science having never even requested a copy of the manuscript. It will be treated as such. Our article actually is very balanced. Unlike you, I have peer-reviewed publications on both sides of this issue. You have attempted to discredit it by describing things that were not done. I am pursuing this with Psychology Today now, but I would advise  you to remove the post yourself before I am forced to pursue further action.

You also do not have permission to quote any portion of this email. It is private communication.

Sell your books on your own merit. Don’t try to make money off the backs of scientists doing their jobs. I can tell this study clearly panics you because  the design and data are strong, but it is egregious to have not even asked  for a copy of the manuscript and just make up content. Shame on you.

Nicole Prause, PhD
Research faculty
UCLA

In addition, Psychology Today editors forwarded a second email from Prause:

Date: April 10, 2013 5:13:30 PM EDT
Topic: Comment on the Blogs

From: Nicole Prause, PhD <nprause@_____________

To whom it may concern:

I was surprised to see an article written about a study of mine by Gary Wilson on Psychology Today.

I have no problem with him representing his own views and interpretations of studies, but he does not and could not have had access to mine. It is under review and he never requested a copy from any of the authors. I notified him that it should be removed. He has not yet done so. Of course, once it is public record, he will have access to it and be able to represent it (hopefully) more accurately.

Of course, knowingly misrepresenting a person to denigrate them is illegal. I hope Psychology Today will take this matter seriously. I will contact other board members as well, in case your cue is full and may take longer to respond.

Thank you for your help in resolving this matter.

sincerely,
Nicole Prause, PhD

At the same time, Prause posted this comment under Gary Wilson’s Psychology Today post:

Study not requested nor reviewed

Submitted by Nicole Prause, PhD on April 10, 2013 – 1:54pm.

Unfortunately, these authors never requested access to our manuscript, so they actually did not review it. They have made a number of egregious errors misrepresenting the science in this article. I am investigating who to contact to remove this article given the lack of due diligence by the authors.

We are now using this as our course example of the misrepresentation of science in the media now, though, so thank you for that opportunity.

The groundless legal threats, false claims, and playing the victim begin in her very first contact with Wilson. Nothing Prause says is true:

  1. Wilson did not describe Prause’s study or misrepresent it in any way. He only responded to Ley’s description of the study. Read Ley’s and Wilson’s blog posts and judge for yourself.
  2. To this day Prause has yet to refute a single word in Wilson’s March, 2013 Psychology Today post, or the analysis Wilson wrote in July after her EEG study finally was published. Nor has Prause refuted a single word in five peer-reviewed critiques of her 2013 EEG: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
  3. Wilson makes no money off of this endeavor.
  4. Wilson asked for a copy of the study (Prause refused to supply it).
  5. Prause initiated all contact with Wilson.

Wilson’s email response to Nicole Prause:

On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 3:14 PM, gary wilson <> wrote:

Hi Nicole,

I commented under your comment. Have a look.

We make no money on this. My website has no advertising and we accept no donations. We have no services to sell. I have no book to sell. My wife’s book, which appears on PT, is not about porn.

If you want to be truly fair, please send us the full study and give us permission to blog about it – as you did with Dr. Ley.

I’ll be anticipating your study,

Gary Wilson

April 12, 2013

Two days later Prause contacted Wilson again threatening further legal action. She somehow tracked down one of Wilson’s comments on the porn-recovery site Your Brain Rebalanced. It was posted on a long thread about David Ley’s original blog post. Wilson’s comment was meant to explain why both Ley’s and Wilson’s Psychology Today posts had been removed by Psychology Today. This signaled Prause’s pattern of cyberstalking, as a not even a Google search could locate that post. How did Prause know about this thread on a porn recovery forum?

The Prause email:

Nicole Prause (nprause@_______)
4/12/13

Dear Mr. Wilson,

In your post: http://yourbrainrebalanced.com/index.php?topic=7522.50
You falsely claim: “I responded to her rather nasty emails with a request to see her study, and she refused.”

This is libel. Please remove this post or I will follow up with legal action.

Nicole Prause

Wilson responds:

On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM, gary wilson <> wrote:

Dear Nicole Prause,

Maybe you didn’t know that my wife is a graduate of Yale law school.  I said nothing libelous. In fact, my statements are quite accurate.

1) You have refused to hand over your unpublished study.

2) You were nasty and threatening, as you are now.

3) In addition, you falsely stated that I make money from guys struggling to recover from porn addiction.

4) You also mischaracterized my PT post, as it was a clear response to David Ley’s description of your unpublished study. You chose not correct Ley’s description or make the full study available to me, even when I asked about it in the comment section one month ago.

You have yet to answer my original questions (posed in the comments section):

1) Why did you release your study to only David Ley? As the author of the “Myth of Sex Addiction,” and someone who claims porn addiction cannot exist, why was only he the only Chosen One?

2) Why haven’t you corrected David Ley’s interpretation of your study? It has been up for over a month, and you’ve commented twice on it in the last month.

3) You commented under Ley’s post one month ago. I immediately posted a comment under you comment, with several specific questions directed to you about your study. That was your chance to both respond and offer the study. You did neither. Why?

I’m fine with making our exchange public. Won’t it be interesting when you file a lawsuit against a couple of PT bloggers who dare to take on your research?

Best,
Gary Wilson

Prause emails again with more crazy claims & legal threats [Note: Neither Wilson nor his wife ever initiated contact with Prause. She is the one who repeatedly contacted them and threatened them with groundless legal action.]

From: nprause@_________ Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 15:01:09 -0700
Subject: Re: [PT] Inquiry via Psychology Today

Dear Gary,

This is to notify both you and your wife that your (both you and your wife’s) contact is unwanted. Per stalking statutes in your home state (http://courts.oregon.gov/Lane/Restraining.page), any additional harassing contact will be interpreted as actionable harassment.

You do not have my permission to share this private communication in any forum.

Nicole Prause

Wilson sends his final email to Prause, to set the record straight: that she is the one initiating all contact and the only person making threats (and false claims):

From: ______@hotmail.com

To: nprause Subject: RE: [PT] Inquiry via Psychology Today

Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 15:44:12 -0700

Dear Nicole Prause,

Harassment? I have not initiated one email exchange with you, including this one.
The first, initiated by you on 4/10/13, where you had the last email. And the one below, where you are trying to create a false impression that someone is harassing you, when in fact you are threatening me for the second time.

You are also the one who contacted Psychology Today’s editor to interfere with my blog post. My wife has had no contact with you whatsover.

We do not need your permission.

Gary Wilson

The end of the beginning with Nicole Prause.


Late July, 2013: Prause publishes her EEG study. Wilson critiques it. Prause employs multiple usernames to post lies around the Web

In late July 2013 Prause’s EEG study (Steele et al., 2013) was finally published. It arrived with much press coverage, including this Prause Interview by a Psychology Today blogger: New Brain Study Questions Existence of “Sexual Addiction.” A few days later Gary Wilson published his detailed analysis of Steele et al., 2013 and Prause’s claims put forth in the above interview and elsewhere. Wilson posted it on his Psychology Today blog as Nothing Correlates With Nothing In SPAN Lab’s New Porn Study. Incidentally, Psychology Today, apparently in response to Prause’s threats, ultimately unpublished not only Wilson’s critique of this study, but also the critiques of two professional experts in the field who wrote about the study’s weaknesses.

Ultimately, Prause’s findings and claims in the media were re-analyzed and critiqued repeatedly by various other experts and by five peer-reviewed papers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. All five papers agree with Gary Wilson’s analysis that Steele et al. actually supports the porn addiction model, and that Prause misrepresented her findings to the press. Prause’s two claims versus the study’s actual findings:

1) Prause claimed that subjects “brains did not respond like other addicts”.

Reality: The study had no control group for comparison. More importantly, the study reported higher EEG readings (relative to neutral pictures) when subjects were briefly exposed to pornographic photos. Studies consistently show that an elevated P300 occurs when addicts are exposed to cues (such as images) related to their addiction (see more).

2) Prause suggested that her subjects simply had “high sexual desire”.

Reality: In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, Steele et al. reported greater cue-reactivity (higher EEG readings) to porn correlating with less desire for partnered sex. To put another way – individuals with greater brain activation to porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Prause claimed that porn users merely had “high libido”, yet the results of the study say the exact opposite: their desire for partnered sex was dropping in relation to their porn use (see more).

With her unsupported claims exposed by Gary Wilson, John A. Johnson PhD and Don Hilton MD, Prause then resorted to behind the scenes maneuvering at Psychology Today, cyberstalking, and various forms of intimidation. To this day Prause and others continue to cite her work as “debunking the field,” without mentioning or offering any response to any of the formal criticism apart from ad hominem attacks on some of the authors.

Within a few days of publishing Wilson’s critique, various usernames began posting comments wherever Gary Wilson’s name appeared. The comments were all very similar in content and tone, falsely claiming that 1) Wilson had never taught anatomy & physiology or attended college, 2) Wilson stole a woman’s pictures and placed them on a porn site, 3) Wilson has a police report filed on him. In the beginning many comments posts were written by GaryWilson Stalker, GaryWilson IsAFraud, and a few other sock puppets. An example from under Wilson’s TEDx talk:

Of course the above is ludicrous, but the false claims about stolen “pictures on a porn site” and “a police report has been filed” incriminate Prause as the cyberstalker posting these and future comments. (A call to the Los Angeles police and the UCLA campus police revealed no such report in their systems.) Below is an example taken from Wilson’s YouTube inbox (7/26/13):

Key point: Both the cyberstalker and Nicole Prause have stated that Wilson “stole photos of a woman” and “had a police report on file for stealing these photos.”

1) “Photos stolen” “on a porn site”

Here’s the reality: Gary Wilson wrote this Psychology Today blog post about this Nicole Prause Psychology Today Interview (which contains a picture of Prause). Psychology Today required at least one picture (all of Wilson’s Psychology Today articles contained several pictures). Since this blog post was about Nicole Prause’s interview and her EEG study, it seemed appropriate to use a picture of Prause from a UCLA website. The picture that accompanied Wilson’s Psychology Today blog post was also used with this same article on YBOP.

The photo of Prause came from what Wilson reasonably assumed was a UCLA website – SPAN Lab – and it was apparently the photo Prause had chosen to represent herself. Everything about SPAN Lab’s website gave the impression it was owned and run by UCLA. At the bottom each SPAN Lab page was the following (Prause has recently forbidden the “Internet WayBack Machine” from showing SPAN Lab’s archive pages, so as to conceal this fact):

Copyright © 2007-2013 SPAN Lab, All Rights Reserved University of California, Department of Psychiatry, Los Angeles, CA 90024

A screenshot of the SPAN Lab front page from August, 2013:

It was unclear how Prause could be claiming copyright to a photo that was on a website that claimed its copyright was owned by UCLA. UCLA is a California state school answering to taxpayers. Presumably, its images are public. Many months later when Wilson wrote UCLA concerning Prause’s libelous PDF (below), UCLA stated that SPAN Lab was Prause’s site, and not on UCLA servers(!). Why did Prause misrepresent her website as being owned by UCLA? That was the first time Wilson learned this. Undisputed fact: Prause never contacted Wilson to request that her picture be removed from the blog post. Wilson knew nothing until Prause filed a DMCA request (below) and Wilson found the picture missing from the article critiquing Prause’s interview and study.

So, that’s the “stolen photo’s” claim: A single picture, selected by Prause herself, from (what appeared to be) a UCLA lab website was used in an article about a study published and promoted by UCLA & Nicole Prause. The “porn site” was YBOP, a claim that is laughable, as it is a porn recovery support website without x-rated content.

Addendum: Prause is now claiming in an AmazonAWS PDF that Wilson migrated the picture of Prause (and the associated article) to other servers. This is completely false. The picture of Prause accompanied a single critique that appeared on two separate websites, PornStudySkeptics and YourBrainOnPorn.com. These two identical articles have remained on those two websites since July, 2013: Article 1, Article 2. In her PDF Prause also claims that Wilson’s ISP told him that they would “close his website if he did it a fourth time.” This is fabricated nonsense.

2) “police report filed”

It’s been about 4 years and Wilson has never been contacted by the police (a call to the Los Angeles police department and the UCLA campus police revealed no such report in their systems). Although Prause has repeated this undocumented claim dozens of times, she has also failed to divulge what law Wilson supposedly violated.

Evidence directly connecting Prause to these many groundless comments about “stolen pictures” and “a police report.”

  1. Prause filed a DMCA take down of her SPAN Lab picture on July 21, 2013 – http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512c/notice.cgi?NoticeID=1091617 and the server removed it before Wilson saw the related email notices. Wilson removed the photo from its other location when asked via a second DMCA filing, even though UCLA, not Prause, appeared (as far as he could tell) to be the copyright owner.
  2. Prause has tweeted that she filed a police report on Wilson (see details below under “Prause & Ley attack NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes“). A call to the LAPD and UCLA campus police revealed no such report in their system.
  3. Nicole Prause published a PDF on her SPAN Lab website (more on this in the next section) with all the usual claims and lies echoing all the preceding comments. It also lied that:

“Wilson has been found guilty of stealing other people’s images”

Again, this was apparently a reference to the same picture that accompanied the Psychology Today post, and the Psychology Today post was about Prause’s interview on Psychology Today. It was the same picture she had chosen for the top of her SPAN Lab website (which falsely proclaimed it was a UCLA site).

To summarize July 2013:

  1. Dozens of comments containing false statements arrived a few days after Wilson published Nothing Correlates With Nothing In SPAN Lab’s New Porn Study.
  2. Most of these comments claimed that Wilson “stole” and placed Prause’s picture on a pornographic website.
  3. Prause never contacted Wilson about the picture.
  4. Prause filed a DMCA take down of her picture, which forced the company hosting YBOP to remove the picture without first contacting Gary Wilson.
  5. Similar groundless comments continue to be posted to this day (more below).

November 2013: Prause places a libelous PDF on her SPAN Lab website. Content mirrors “anonymous” comments around the Web

In November 2013, Nicole Prause placed a PDF on her SPAN Lab website attacking Gary Wilson (screenshot below). It contained several instances of libel. The PDF’s contents are very similar to hundreds of other comments that were posted by various usernames. Posts were written by GaryWilson Stalker, GaryWilson IsAFraud and other sock puppets. Such comments continue to this day on various recovery forums and other venues, posted with other usernames.

If there was ever any doubt as to who was actually behind these comments, the PDF puts an end to it. Gary Wilson contacted UCLA to report the PDF’s defamatory statements, as he still believed SPAN Lab was a UCLA website (at the time, SPAN Lab’s copyright was owned by UCLA and its address was within a UCLA building). UCLA acknowledged the existence of the PDF, and its subsequent removal in a letter. Its URL was – http://www.span-lab.com/WilsonIsAFraud.pdf.

How did Gary Wilson discover the above PDF? His Internet browser was redirected to the PDF when he visited the SPAN lab website (representing itself as a UCLA website). Knowing Wilson’s IP address, Prause made a habit of redirecting Wilson’s Internet browser to other URLs, such as porn sites or pictures of mutilated penises. This started before the PDF appeared, and continued after the PDF was removed. More evidence that Prause is likely the one responsible for cyberstalking events (only a small portion of which are detailed on this page). For example, two PDFs containing material nearly identical to Prause’s libelous PDF were uploaded onto DocStoc a few days after Wilson published his critique of Prause’s 2013 EEG study:

Contrary to claims the “documents” show nothing, except that Prause is the person who published both PDFs.


December 2013: Prause’s initial tweet is about Wilson & the CBC: “RealScience” posts same false claims on same day

On December 18. 2013 Nicole Prause’s maiden tweet for her new Twitter account was about Gary Wilson and a CBC interview. We can’t link to the tweet as Prause’s original Twitter account was permanently suspended for harassing Todd Love, PsyD, JD, whose review of the literature dared to criticize her work (more below). Prause’s original Twitter URL was https://twitter.com/NicolePrause/. If interested you can read Wilson’s response to the CBC here.

On December 18th & 19th “RealScience” posted several similar, equally misleading comments as the one below on sites that mentioned Gary Wilson (see several more posts on December 18th & 19th by “RealScience” or “Real Scientist”). Who else but Prause could be responsible for these posts, which entirely misrepresent the exchange with the CBC and its response to Wilson?


May 2014: Multiple sock puppets post information on YourBrainRebalanced.com that only Prause would know (many more examples)

The day the Max Planck study on porn users was published (suggesting that porn use may have measurable effects on the brain), four aliases including “touif” and TrickyPaladin posted approximately 100 comments on YourBrainRebalanced.com. What’s left of their comments is here, as the troll deleted her comments within a few hours. Most of the touif and TrickyPaladin comments were either attacks on Wilson or meticulously detailed defenses of Prause’s 2013 EEG study. Below are few examples caught by a YBR member’s cell phone where TrickyPaladin and touif make detailed assertions about Steele et al., 2013 that only a handful of people could produce (and only Prause would care about):

——————-

I’ll ask, who (other than Prause herself) know details of a complex EEG study enough to attempt defense of it, or want to post 100 times on a porn recovery forum to defend it? (If you bothered to read the above comments, know that any and all such claims have been dismantled by this extensive critique, and five peer-reviewed papers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

While Tricky (and other sock puppets) deleted most of her comments, she left a few describing a “yet to be published chapter by Prause” supposedly chronicling Gary Wilson’s evil deeds:

Who but Prause would know details of an unpublished chapter by Prause? The above comment is from May, 2014. The “upcoming” Prause chapter was in fact published 8 months later in this book – “New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law. Of course, Prause did not identify Wilson in the chapter, as her claims of “horrible things” are fabricated nonsense.

As mentioned, sock puppets posting Prause-like comments continue to this day on porn recovery sites such as reddit/pornfree and reddit/nofap. Right from the beginning Prause had an odd habit of frequently creating usernames from 2-4 capitalized words (i.e. GaryWilsonStalker). The following reddit usernames were all created the day the comments appeared on r/pornfree and r/nofap. While the usernames and comments are often deleted by the sock puppet, a few examples with content remain:

Just a few examples of deleted reddit usernames who posted Prause-like comments:

And these are just the ones we happen to see when visiting r/pornfree and r/nofap to gather recovery accounts. In addition, many more such usernames and comments appeared on YourBrainRebalanced.com, but were deleted by the moderators.


OTHERS – Summer 2014: Prause urges patients to report sex addiction therapists to state boards

Prause makes it no secret that she vehemently opposes the concepts of sex and porn addiction. In the summer of 2014 Prause placed the following notice on her SPAN Lab website. You can read for yourself that Prause is encouraging all individuals being treated for sex addiction to report their therapists to the state board (it contains a handy hyperlink):

This is unprofessional, and also unethical as both the DSM and the ICD permit reimbursable diagnoses for the disorder. In case anyone missed this, Prause followed it up with this tweet:

A month later Prause reminds us all again to report our local sex addiction therapist. It’s free and easy!

Prause doesn’t stop with tweets directed at a profession. She ups her game, falsely accusing psychotherapists of fraudulent therapy. Isn’t this rather reckless for a psychologist, especially given that (1) diagnoses of compulsive sexual behavior can be made using the World Health Organization’s ICD-10 and (2) Section F52.8 of the DSM itself recognizes the diagnostic validity of excessive sex drive as a valid, reimbursable disorder? In short, Prause is mistaken and behaving unethically.


Fall 2014: Documentation of Prause lying to film producers about Gary Wilson and Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD

Documentary producers forwarded the following email to Gary Wilson:

Re: Documentary on porn

Hi **********

I am open to chatting with you, but I should probably clarify two items.

First, I do believe, and have published, some negative effects of sex films. It is fair to say that I do not believe it is addicting. If it is useful to you to have a scientist who can talk about both the benefits and possible problems with sex films, I am probably best-suited to that type of role.

Second, I am not willing to be placed in opposition to Gary Wilson, Marnia Robinson, or Don Hilton. None of these individuals are scientists, and all have attacked me personally, making it unsafe for me to be put in a direct confrontation with them. For example, they claimed that I was secretly funded by pornography, falsified my data, and wrote me and my university chancellor many times trying to harass me at home and work. If you were considering these individuals, I would be happy to get you in touch with some actual scientists who support that sex films can lead to addiction. These individuals, in my opinion, would be scraping the bottom of the barrel for a film.

I realize this information may be in direct opposition to your desire to have free artistic reign, so I understand if I might not be useful to your film given this information. Regardless, best of luck with your project!

Nikky

Nicole Prause, Ph.D.

Associate Research Scientist

University of California, Los Angeles

www.span-lab.com

Prause is once again lying. As addressed below, Wilson never said that Prause had “falsified her data” or that she was “funded by the pornography.” While Gary Wilson wrote UCLA chronicling Prause’s harassment and cyberbullying (see below), he never attempted to contact Prause directly at home or at work. (In reality, it is Prause who initiated all direct contact with Gary Wilson as documented in the first section.) Donald Hilton Jr. MD confirmed that he has never attempted to contact Nicole Prause or UCLA, nor did he say what Prause claims in the above email.

Key point: There is reason to believe that this behind-the-scenes defamation of Wilson and others is standard procedure for Prause. See further example relating to TIME magazine and Gabe Deem below. Note how Prause tries to control who is being interviewed by stating that she is not willing “to be placed in opposition to Gary Wilson or Don Hilton”.


January, 2015: “The Prause Chapter” described 9 months earlier by a YourBrainRebalanced.com troll is finally published

[To recap, a YourBrainRebalanced troll (TrickyPaladin) posted 50 comments or more on the same day the JAMA fMRI study on porn users was published (affirming that porn users’ brains show measurable changes correlating with time/years of use). Most of TrickyPaladin’s comments were either attacks on Wilson or meticulously detailed (attempted) defenses of Prause’s 2013 EEG study. While Tricky deleted most of her comments, she left a few saying a chapter in an upcoming book would detail horrible things done by Wilson.]

The book and chapter now arrive: “New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law.The chapter in question (“The Science and Politics of Sex Addiction Research.”) is authored by Nicole Prause and Timothy Fong. It consists mostly of a discussion of the appropriate “model” for understanding compulsive pornography use. Only two paragraphs are devoted to Prause’s undocumented and unsupported claims of being harassed. The most outlandish claim is that “individuals mapped routes to the laboratory address.” In other words, Prause is claiming that Google maps told her when people were searching for her lab’s address. Of course Prause did not name Wilson or anyone else in her chapter.

  • Key point: Knowing the details of an unpublished chapter 9 months before it is published incriminates Prause as TrickyPaladin. As do the meticulously detailed comments defending Prause’s flawed 2013 EEG study.

The chapter also implicates Prause as GaryWilson Stalker, GaryWilson IsAFraud and the many other aliases posting diatribes right after Wilson’s critique was published. The claims in those posts and the PDF are identical to these two found in Prause’s chapter:

  1. Prause had “photographs stolen
  2. Some individuals repeatedly emailed her after we had requested contact to stop… resulting in a police report”

Both claims are aimed at Wilson, and both are false.

[As explained above, here’s the reality behind each claim:

1) “Photos stolen”

A single picture, selected by Prause herself, from (what appeared to be) a UCLA lab website was used in an article about a study published and promoted by UCLA & Nicole Prause. The “porn site” was YBOP, a preposterous claim, as it is a porn recovery support website without x-rated content.

2) “Individuals repeatedly emailing me….police report filed”

Police Report: Wilson has never been contacted by the police. A call to the Los Angeles police department and UCLA campus police revealed no such report in their system.

Email Claim: It was Prause who initiated all contact with Wilson after he wrote a Psychology Today blog post. Prause’s harassing emails contained threats and false statements, and it was Prause who continued to harass Wilson. See above.]

In the chapter Prause also stated:

“Noticeably absent from these attacks are published critiques from any scientist.”

Contrary to Prause’s claim 12 peer-reviewed critiques of her studies have been published:

In the chapter Prause made this pronouncement:

“The research was never stopped by these attempts.”

As for Prause’s research at UCLA never stopping, it’s important to note that UCLA chose not to renew Prause’s employment contract (although she continued to claim publicly that she was still a UCLA researcher employed at the medical school). Prause hasn’t been employed by UCLA or any other university since late 2014 or early 2015.


OTHERS – 2015 & 2016: Prause falsely accuses sex addiction therapists of reparative therapy

David Ley and Nicole Prause team up again. This time falsely accusing sex addiction therapists of practicing reparative therapy or conversion therapy. It started with Ley publishing “Homosexuality is Not an Addiction” which not so subtly, falsely accused members of IITAP and SASH of trying to turn their gay clients straight. (In response to complaints, Ley was later forced to alter the post and Psychology Today eventually deleted the comments.)

Prause tweeted the Ley post:

Prause was the first to comment, falsely accusing IITAP of harboring reparative therapists, and claiming to have emailed IITAP the names of the accused. While Prause’s comments were later deleted, she commented a few weeks later groundlessly accusing (gay!!) therapist Michael J. Salas of practicing reparative therapy as follows:

Having received no response to her groundless accusations, Prause “outed” Salas as a reparative therapist. She took a sentence out of context, hoping no one would actually visit his website. On his website, however, readers discover that Salas specializes in therapy for the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender community. He is a member the “Texas Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling”, Salas also states:

“For clients who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, I provide LGBT Affirming Therapy. There is no such thing as changing someone’s sexual orientation”

It doesn’t end there. On November 22, 2015 Psychology Today blogger Joe Kort published “Why I Am No Longer a Sex-Addiction Therapist,” which created a brouhaha on all fronts. Nicole Prause immediately commented about her email exchanges with IITAP (Prause mistakenly called the organization CSAT, which is IITAP’s certification):

We did report and they refused to investigate

Submitted by Nicole prause on November 23, 2015 – 6:21pm

On submitting specific names and concerns, CSAT did not respond. After pressed with three queries and by other professionals they responded that te allegations were false. They provided no investigative process. For this writer to inquire would change nothing and make him yet another target of that community. I would discourage anyone from tangling with a group with no intention of addressing its problems.

I am happy to share the emails with you privately. They were disgusting to me as a licensed psychologist too.

Actually, any investigation shows her claims were completely false. Click on the link to Prause’s comment and you see no replies. That’s because Joe Kort deleted all comments challenging Prause, leaving her fabrications unchallenged. We have reproduced those (now) deleted comments below. The first 2 comments have CSAT Michelle Saffier asking Prause for data, and Prause responding:

The 3 Prause “complaints” were nothing more than cyberstalking. Michelle Saffier received no data or emails from Prause. The next comment challenging Prause was posted by anonymous:

Again, Joe Kort deleted the comments challenging Prause, while allowing Prause’s defamatory claims to remain. Kort’s actions drew a Twitter response, and an unsatisfactory response (Joe Kort later deleted his Twitter replies to Michelle and others). Joe Kort’s deletion of comments drew yet another comment under his blog post (since deleted).

Joe Kort closed all comments and deleted the above comment. Prause’s comment remains unchallenged to this day. Prause continues her unsupported and libelous claims concerning CSAT therapists. For example, this March, 2016 Tweet with compatriot David Ley.

Another CSAT therapist using “sex addiction” as a justification for reparative therapy. #IITAP stop supporting now.

It is, predictably, entirely untrue.


OTHERS – March, 2015 (ongoing): Prause and her sock puppets (including “PornHelps”) go after Gabe Deem

Gabe Deem recovered from severe porn-induced ED by quitting internet porn use. He now runs Reboot Nation and occasionally appears on TV and radio to discuss his and other men’s experiences with porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. In May, 2015 Gabe published a detailed critique of the Nicole Prause and Jim Pfaus paper, “Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction.” Everything in Gabe’s page is accurate, documented, and unassailable. Gabe’s critique aligns with a Letter to the Editor of the journal where the paper appeared, by Richard A. Isenberg MD, though it provides more details about the Prause paper’s glaring discrepancies and unsupported statements.

A long debate ensued when user “FapSlap” posted the Prause & Pfaus paper on reddit/nofap. Prause-apologist “FapSlap” (who appears to be a researcher) eventually claimed to contact Nicole Prause looking for ammunition to defend the Prause paper. Here’s FapSlap’s comment confirming not only his/her email exchanges with Prause, but a future response to her critics:

Really don’t care if you believe me or not. You can email her yourself. http://i.imgur.com/3xjtBph.png

Of course you will probably say ‘fake is fake.’ But believe me it’s not. Out of respect I am not posting the conversation. You will have proof soon enough for the journal, trust me :) And I will be quite happy to see your ‘bullet in the barrel’ critique be thrown out the window.

FapSlap was indeed prescient, as “the real” Nicole Prause soon commented with the username “DataScienceLA” (notice her claims, in bold):

Actually, he did just write me and he is correct. We collected the full IIEF in many studies in which we do not ultimately publish the data. Sometimes we choose not to, sometimes reviewers tell us to remove them because they are not relevant.

We are publishing a follow-up letter in the journal to show all the counts remain correct. All the analyses remain correct. The conclusions stand.

I will not be responding to any follow-up posts. I posted here only out of compassion, because you are lying to this poor person. Wait for the letter. It is to appear in April and will dispel all the myths RebootNation is propagating to the poor people they are using to fund their speaking travel and fees and false “counselor” titles.

The promised response did not address any of Isenberg’s concerns (as pointed out subsequently by Deem) and merely added new unsupported claims and untrue statements. Prause also falsely states that Gabe (RebootNation) is lying and that he makes money from RebootNation and speaking fees. While none of this is true, these same exact claims soon appear again via “PornHelps” and several r/pornfree sock puppet user names.

On March 31, 2016, the TIME cover story featuring Gabe, and other men who had recovered from porn-induced sexual problems, was published. On April 1 the following post by TruthWithOut appeared on reddit/pornfree: Gabe Deem admits profiting of NoFAP Reboot Nation. The original post, the “TruthWithOut” username, and a few of her comments, were later deleted (though most of her comments remained). The original post, claiming TIME had “outed” the nefarious Deem:

The reddit/pornfree moderator “Iguanaforhire” recognizes the sock puppet has previously posted the same false content:

It doesn’t. Person made a new account just to bother us. Again.

You can read TruthWithOut’s remaining comments and see the same false claims repeated over and over: 1) Gabe is lying about everything, 2) he never had ED, 3) he makes money from both RebootNation and speaking fees, and, 4) he’s unemployed. All untrue. One example:

And I’m waiting on that evidence Gabe. ANY shred of evidence that you are not just lying. No one has seen anything validating any part of your story. Not your supposed girlfriend, no doctor, no one. You could easily provide it, but you haven’t.

You are just taking trips and money from guys you stir into a panic with your made up tales.

The facts? The TIME Magazine article incorrectly stated that Gabe Deem made money through speaking fees. While this is not true (and was later publicly corrected by TIME), TruthWithOut used this journalistic error to launch an attack, claiming a series of lies. A few days later Deem tweeted the correction from the print version of TIME Magazine. (TIME formally acknowledged that it had erred in saying that Deem makes money from his activities connected with RebootNation.) End of story. Nonetheless, several other Prause sock puppets posted similar allegations (that “Deem lied about everything“) on Reddit/pornfree and elsewhere. A few examples:

It seems SoManyMalts is upset. We have yet another Prause sock puppet (AskingForProof) posting this:

On yet another r/pornfree thread started by Prause sock puppet DontDoDallas (Deem resides in Dallas):

Speaking of lies, the above Newsweek article never mentioned Gary Wilson or YBOP.

As outlined later, evidence suggests that Prause shares the @pornhelps twitter account with others and created the PornHelps Disqus username.(@pornhelps later deleted their twitter account when outed as Prause) Below is a PornHelps Disqus comment published around the same time as the r/pornfree lie “Gabe Deem admits profiting”:

Look everybody! It’s Gabe Deem back again reposting anti-sex rants again and puppeting his own upvoted post! You might remember him from the Reason post where he was shredded for posting this anti-science message with links back to his own website. He has no college degree, no job, and is paid (see Time article) for speaking about his erectile problems he claims (with no doctors’ evidence) were “due” to porn.

I know I know, you are going to repost a long list of links hoping no one actually follows them and knows the truth, but this is it. And I’m not engaging further. Hopefully the folks form the previous time you did this will find your posts again Gabe Deem.

PornHelps references the TIME article, making the same false claims as the many Reddit sock puppets. This is no coincidence. Below you will see that Prause as Prause (i.e., using her own name) called TIME journalist Luscombe and NoFap.com founder Alexander Rhodes ‘liars’ and ‘fakers’.


OTHERS – September, October 2015: Prause’s original Twitter account permanently suspended for harassment

Nicole Prause’s Twitter account – https://twitter.com/NicolePrause – was permanently suspended shortly after she violated Twitter’s rules by (twice) posting the personal information of one of the authors of this paper “Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update” (2015). The paper critiqued Prause’s two EEG studies on porn users: Critique 1, Critique 2.

Immediately after Prause’s Twitter account was suspended, this defamatory post appeared on reddit/pornfree, attacking Gary Wilson, Gabe Deem, the author of the above paper, and others. Three newly created usernames commented most. Two usernames were later deleted, but EvidenceForYouremained. Several comments suggest Nicole Prause is the author of these comments – most notably by stating that lawyers are now involved, or that Wilson is about to be sued:

Link – Gary Wilson, they have your IP and all the records courtesy of a subpoena. We’re not chasing these new lies too, just going to stop the one’s you have already been telling. Prepare to file for bankruptcy again.

Link – When they cannot fight the science, they fight the person. They fail, so they spread false rumors that are currently the subject of a lawsuit. This proves it.

Link – For example, in reviewing a (non-existent) critique, they claim the scientist is no longer employed: http://yourbrainonporn.com/our-response-rory-reids-critique-nicole-prause-study This, by the way, is a recent update (seeing these posts and panicking Gary? Too late, we already sent her attorney the screen shots.) watered down from the earlier “fired”.

A week or two later (October 15, 2015) Gary Wilson received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from a lawyer representing Nicole Prause. It stated that Gary Wilson had made four false and misleading statements about Prause. Of course, all four were untrue (such as Wilson saying that “Prause starred in porn films”….unbelievable!). Wilson responded with a letter stating all were false, and asked for proof of these claims (reproduced later on this page). There was no response by the lawyer or by Prause. Just another example of Prause’s continued pattern of harassment while simultaneously playing the victim.


OTHERS – November, 2015: John Adler MD blogs about Nicole Prause & David Ley harassment

John Adler MD, who is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Cureus, wrote a blog post about his harassment at the hands of Nicole Prause and David Ley and their cronies: Intellectual Fascism. In it Adler describes behaviors we have come to expect from Prause & Ley:

Two individuals, whose specialty overlapped the erroneous article [Prause and Ley], attacked the article for its political misstatement, and by extension, Cureus’ journalistic integrity for missing this error during our pre-publication review process.

I immediately invited these critics to set the record straight via our liberal comment and scoring processes, but in a series of personal (and necessarily confidential) emails, the critics refused, insisting on remaining anonymous. Over the next several days they recruited a chorus of similarly-minded colleagues who insisted that the article in question represented serious scientific misconduct and demanded it be retracted… period!

… In parallel, I stumbled upon the existence of a listserv community of likeminded researchers including the two critics, whose major modus operandi is to fiercely act en-mass, hyena-like, oftentimes via social media, when certain partisan political issues arise, such as the article Cureus had unwittingly published.

If ever I witnessed intellectual fascism, this was it; the only thing missing was a goose-stepping mustached man….

By the way, we know he is talking about Ley and Prause because 1) both Ley and Prause engaged in a Twitter storm against Adler prior to his post appearing (we have tweets by Adler, but Prause’s tweets are unavailable because her account was eventually permanently suspended due to her misconduct). 2) David Ley posted all about this on a sexology listserve.

As part of the storm Adler wrote about, former porn star and current radio show host Melissa Hill, tweeted that Dr. Adlers son “managed to get @NicolePrause PhD’s account suspended!”:

The above is entirely false as Prause’s Twitter account was permanently suspended for posting the personal information of one of the authors of this paper “Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update” (2015). Trip Adler had nothing to do with it, as Prause caused it herself. The logical conclusion is that Prause fed Melissa Hill this false story. It seems they are friends. Prause has appeared on Melissa Hill’s radio show several times, and Prause re-tweeted a photo of her and Hill together on the red carpet of the Adult Video awards. A few weeks later Prause’s new Twitter account promised an upcoming news story about her permanent suspension.

The promised story has yet to appear, and Prause has given no formal explanation for her permanent Twitter suspension.


OTHERS – March, 2016: Prause (falsely) tells TIME Magazine that Gabe Deem impersonated a doctor to write a formal critique of her study (letter to the editor) in an academic journal (and the letter was traced to Gabe’s computer).

On March 31, 2016, the TIME cover story (“Porn and the Threat to Virility”), by Belinda Luscombe, featuring Gabe Deem, Nicole Prause and many others, was published. It was a year in the making and TIME had the author and other TIME employees (fact checkers) follow-up on claims made by each person interviewed. In the process, TIME fact-checkers presented Gabe Deem with a final set of questions for him to confirm or to deny.

One fact to confirm or to deny was an allegation put forth by Nicole Prause. Prause had told TIME that Gabe Deem had impersonated a medical doctor to write the above letter to the editor of an academic journal (described above) critiquing a paper the journal had published by Prause & Pfaus. Below are snapshots from TIME‘s email to Gabe. They include the email intro and the allegation from Prause, but omit other, unrelated questions:

The Intro to the email:

The last of many questions in the email:

——-

Richard A. Isenberg, a medical doctor and author of multiple academic papers, specializing in Uro-Gynecology, is the one who wrote the critique (A letter to the editor), which was published in “Sexual Medicine Open Access,” the same journal that published Nicole Prause and Jim Pfaus’s paper, “Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction.” Since Gabe also wrote a critique of the same paper, Prause appears to be accusing Gabe of writing Isenberg’s critique as well! More astonishing still, Prause claimed that UCLA had traced the Isenberg critique to Gabe Deem’s computer. Of course, no evidence was supplied to back up any of these unbelievable assertions.

How likely is it that UCLA would hack the computers of men recovering from porn-induced ED? The thing that makes Prause’s claim about UCLA particularly unstable is that Isenberg’s Letter to the Editor was published 6 months after UCLA did not renew Prause’s employment contract – and yet she claims UCLA was engaging in cyber-espionage on her behalf! All this reveals just how far Prause is willing to go. And unlike much of her unscrupulous behavior this attempt at defamation is documented by a third party (TIME magazine’s staff).


OTHERS – June, 2016: Prause and her sock puppet PornHelps claim respected neuroscientists are members of “anti-porn groups” and “their science is bad”

Nicole Prause, a Kinsey grad, in a tweet about this study posted for commentary (since published in Neuropsychopharmacology), falsely claimed that its 9 researchers (including top researchers in the addiction neuroscience field) were members of “anti-porn groups,” and that their new study was “bad science.” Prause’s tweet (pictured here) appeared on the same page as the study (Can pornography be addictive? An fMRI study of men seeking treatment for problematic pornography use), but was later deleted.

As usual her claims are preposterous. First, it’s an excellent study, now formally published despite all the incomprehensible resistance. Second, its authors received first prize for this very research at the European Society for Sexual Medicine conference in 2016. Third, the authors have no affiliation with Prause’s imaginary “anti-porn groups” (which Prause never names).

For example, the lead author is Dr. Mateusz Gola, who is visiting scholar at UC San Diego, and has 39 publications to his name. Another author is Marc Potenza MD, PhD, of Yale University, who is considered by many to be one of the world’s preeminent addiction researchers (way out of Prause’s league). A PubMed search returns over 350 studies by Dr. Potenza.

As Matuesz Gola explained to “PornHelps” in the comments section, BioRxiv (where Prause found it) exists for pre-publication papers, and functions to elicit feedback from researchers in order to improve papers. It should be noted that “PornHelps’s” comments and Prause’s tweet appeared at the same time. Coincidence?

It’s clear that Prause is disturbed by any neurological study lending scientific support to the porn addiction model (all do). But there’s more to this story. Matuesz Gola also published a formal critique of Prause et al., 2015, which explained that Prause’s findings align with two established addiction models (3 reviews of the literature agree with Gola) – contradicting Prause’s claim (that she had disproved (or, as she likes to say publicly, “falsified”) the addiction model with her single paper).

Marc Potenza was coauthor of the 2014 Cambridge University study that analyzed Prause’s flawed 2013 EEG study. In interviews Prause incorrectly claimed her findings didn’t align with the addiction model. In the Cambridge fMRI study, Potenza and 10 other neuroscientists explained why Prause was mistaken. Perhaps her attack on Gola & Potenza study was attempted pay-back for daring to point out the flaws in her conclusions.

Addendum: Is Prause tweeting for Porn Helps? Porn Helps later tweets that she has “15 years studying as neuroscientist”:

Perhaps. Prause, a Kinsey grad, calls herself a neuroscientist, and appears to have started college about 15 years ago. More on @pornhelps below. (Update – @pornhelps later deleted their twitter account and website when it became apparent to others that Prause often tweeted with this account and helped with the website)


OTHERS – July, 2016: Prause & David Ley attack NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes.

Upset that Alexander Rhodes’s story was published in the NY Times, Ley and Prause attack Rhodes on Twitter. How ethical is it for psychologists to personally attack individuals trying to remove porn from their lives and recover? Ley has a history of attacking Rhodes and NoFap, and harrassing young men trying to quit porn. Rhodes eventually responded with this tweet:

@NicoleRPrause@DrDavidLey Maybe you should stick to your “science” rather than personal attacks against a person trying to help people?

Instead of apologizing, Prause accuses Rhodes of fabricating his porn-induced sexual problems.

@AlexanderRhodes@DrDavidLey I’ve welcomed any evidence of your proclaimed problem, but no one has ever furnished any. I stand by science.

Not sure what science Prause is “standing by,” but Rhodes responded with Wilson’s YBOP page containing 28 studies linking porn use to sexual problems and lower sexual satisfaction. Unable to address the science, Prause tweeted:

You mean the unemployed blogger who has a police report threatening my lab and no-contact order for harassment?

Prause did not name Wilson, so she may be off the hook, legally speaking. All claims are false as Wilson has 1) never been contacted by the police, 2) never threatened her lab, 3) is not under any “no-contact order” except threats from Prause herself after Prause harassed him. This tweet once again incriminates Prause as the individual responsible for the many defamatory comments described in the first section.

Prause ended it all as she usually does: citing no evidence and tweeting Rhodes “I sent you documentation. Do not contact me again.” That’s Nicole Prause’s MO: Initiate a personal attack, follow it up with lies, then end it all by playing the victim. By the way, Prause sent no such documentation. Yet another lie.

Others were watching the Twitter storm, which led to an article detailing it, and more Prause tweets attacking yet another person (below). Meanwhile, consider the fact that it is a violation of APA (American Psychological Association) principles for psychologists to attack those trying to recover.


OTHERS – July, 2016: Prause falsely accuses @PornHelp.org of harassment, libel, and promoting hate

The day after the above Alexander Rhodes/Nicole Prause dustup, @PornHelpdotorg published a blog post detailing the events: “Reflections on a Twitter Skirmish,” and tweeted it to Rhodes, Prause, and David Ley. This set off another Twitter conversation, which you can read in entirety here. Prause’s first response once again claims documentation:

@PornHelpdotorg @DrDavidLey – threatening the personal safety of scientists is no debate, & I have all the documentation. You now promote it.

Prause has never provided documentation of any threats to scientists’s personal safety. @PornHelpdotorgresponded:

@NicoleRPrause – Examining the public comments you made on Twitter is not promotion of any such thing. Our blog post makes that very clear

Prause calls him “the harasser,” and says his post is false, libelous, and promotes hate:

@PornHelpdotorg – The harasser clearly disagrees. Your post is false, libelous, and not researched. Promotes hate

Prause is asked to explain what about the article is false and libelous:

@NicoleRPrause – Please explain what you find false and libelous about our post. We take accusations like that seriously.

Of course Prause cannot, and falls back on her usual – legal threats:

@PornHelpdotorg – apparently you don’t. I’ll have my attorney get in touch.

(This did not happen.) PornHelp asks again for specifics. Even offers an offline conversation:

@NicoleRPrause – Are you refusing to explain what you find false and libelous? We would be happy to communicate with you offline about this.

Prause responds as she often does:

@PornHelpdotorg – do not contact me again by any means.

Once again Prause performs her usual dance: Start with false unsupported claims. When asked to support the claims, she cannot. Finally, Prause resorts to legal threats, instead of the requested documentation or examples.


OTHERS – July, 2016: Prause & PornHelps attack Alexander Rhodes, falsely claiming he faked porn-induced sexual problems

Evidence points to Prause sharing the @pornhelps twitter account and using the PornHelps disqus username. As described above, Prause published (then deleted) a bizarre tweet about this Matuesz Gola study. PornHelps simultaneously commented under the Gola study using the jargon of a researcher. In addition, the following @pornhelps tweets arise from Los Angeles, where Prause lives. (Update – @pornhelps later deleted their twitter account and website as it became apparent that Prause often tweeted with this account)

We start with a tweet  by the author of the TIME cover story, “Porn and the Threat to Virility“, Belinda Luscombe:

This was followed by @pornhelps calling both Alexander and Belinda liars. @NicoleRPrause eventually chimed in to call TIME journalist Luscombe a liar (more in the next section). The back and forth contains too many tweets to post here, but most can be found in these threads: Thread 1, Thread 2, Thread 3. Below is a sampling of @pornhelps’s unstable-sounding tweets falsely claiming that Alexander faked his story of porn-induced sexual problems:

  • @luscombeland @nytimes “Brave”? Faking a problem to promote his business? You failed to verify any part of his story
  • @GoodGuypervert @luscombeland exaggerating makes them money, esp in his case. These guys are mostly unemployed, no college…got $$$ somehow
  • @AlexanderRhodes & @luscombeland are creating fake panic to sell their wares. Disgusting.
  • @AlexanderRhodes @luscombeland @GoodGuypervert  uh-oh, he’s gone full ad-hominem BC he got caught faking to make money off young scared men.
  • @AlexanderRhodes @luscombeland @GoodGuypervert then I await your proof that any of your claims actually happened to you, fake profiteer.

Alexander answered several times, with no resolution. Eventually Belinda tweeted the following:

Pornhelps responds, seeing if a lie will stick:

@luscombeland @GoodGuypervert – I heard you got blackballed for false reporting

Belinda responds:

@pornhelps @GoodGuypervert – news to me. My balls still the same old color, last I checked.

Pornhelps tries again:

@luscombeland @GoodGuypervert – at the risk of going full-Trump, let’s see how easy it is for U to get gold scientists to talk to u

Belinda, who has been a senior editor at TIME for 20 years, sets Pornhelps straight:

@pornhelps @GoodGuypervert – Well, one did yesterday, I guess because shutting down debate isn’t helpful, esp. when intelligent minds disagree

Eventually Prause’s “NicoleRPrause” Twitter account chimes in calling Luscombe a liar (below). Hmm…how did @NicoleRPrause know about this Twitter thread? Another bit of evidence suggesting Nicole Prause masquerades as @pornhelps.

In this same Twitter thread Pornhelps tweeted about a just published David Ley interview of Nicole Prause.

In the Ley interview Prause claims to have unpublished data falsifying any connection between “porn addiction” and penile injures (Prause also said she will never publish the data). It’s important to know that both Prause and Pornhelps had been saying that Alexander lied about his masturbation-induced penile injury and porn-induced sexual problems.

Is it any coincidence that 3 days after multiple @pornhelps tweets called Alexander a liar, Ley and Prause publish a Psychology Today blog post directed at one of Alexander’s complaints (that he injured his penis from excessive masturbation)? Interestingly, their own data apparently showed that a fifth of those surveyed had experienced similar injuries. But again, Prause refuses to publish the data, while claiming her data somehow (inexplicably) prove that Alexander must be a liar. In any case Prause’s blog claims remain unsupported as she did not assess “porn addiction” or compulsive porn use in her subjects (read the comments section of Ley’s post).

UPDATE: September, 2016. Prause tweets, calling Alexander Rhodes a liar

@newscientist calls out fake: “The site has been criticised for exaggerating–front page promises people superpowers”

UPDATE 2: September, 2016.Prause tweets, calling Rhodes goofy and falsely claims he is profiting

Elated to have @Neuro_Skeptic call out this goofiness/profiteering

UPDATE 3: December 12, 2016. Prause falsely claims that @Nofap drove gay teen to suicidal feelings (also calls Alexander Rhodes an “anti-porn profiteer”). Prause’s tweet linked to a radio show about Jehovah Witnesses and sex abuse, which contained a segment about a 14-year old gay teen whose mom found his stash of porn magazines. Since being gay is against JW doctrine, the church insisted the gay teen no longer masturbate to images of men. The gay teen was driven to thoughts of suicide because he was a homosexual stuck in the JW facing the very real prospect of being tossed out of the church and shunned by his family and friends. The radio segment did not mention NoFap. Here’s Prause’s tweet (notice that only David Ley liked it):

Prause’s twisted and libelous tweet attempting to smear NoFap in connection with an entirely unrelated event demonstrates just how far she is willing to stretch the truth in pursuit of her agenda. The NoFapTeam responded with 3 tweets:

Not so coincidentally, a rambling hit piece about NoFap, featuring Nicole Prause, was published a few days later by Medical Daily. Of course Prause tweeted it, saying “claims busted by scientists.” By “scientists” Prause means herself. This goes to show that Prause has many contacts in the media, and uses them to her advantage. Prause also called NoFap “woo woo and cult-like.” Medical Daily author Lizette Borreli went so far as to label NoFap an “anti-sex group.” Anyone who has visited Nofap knows that nothing could be further from the truth. Many experiment with NoFap to regain their sexual function. NoFap decided to set the record straight with a few tweets of its own (1, 2, 3, 4), including this one:

It sure seems that Prause tweets more about NoFap and Alexander Rhodes than she does about her own research. Prause claims to be licensed psychologist. What ethical psychologist would go out of the way to call a young man recovering from compulsive porn use a liar, especially without evidence? Ethics violation? Violation of APA principles?


OTHERS – July, 2016: Nicole Prause & PornHelps falsely accuse TIME editor Belinda Luscombe of lying and misquoting

Luscombe has been with TIME Magazine since 1995, becoming a senior editor in 1999. (See her Wikipedia page and her TIME page.) Luscombe spent a year investigating porn-induced sexual problems in young men, which resulted in the March, 31, 2016 TIME cover story “Porn and the Threat to Virility.” Both Prause and Ley have attacked the TIME article, even though both were featured in it and quoted (minimally).

Unfortunately for the public, usually Prause and Ley are the only “experts” featured in most mainstream porn-addiction articles, while the true addiction neuroscientists and their work are not even acknowledged to exist. Not this time. Two world renowned neuroscientists, who have published fMRI studies on porn users, were interviewed for the TIME article. So was a urologist, as well as several young men who have recovered from porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Put simply, the TIME article was more carefully researched than any other article on this subject, and its content reflected both reality and the (then) current state of the science. Since then, even more support for the possible link between internet porn use and sexual dysfunctions has come out in the peer-reviewed literature.

In response to Belinda’s earlier tweet (pictured above) about working the story for a year, we have @pornhelps, tweeting the following:

Pornhelps is psychic: she knows “for fact” how long Belinda worked on the story. Ten minutes later Prause tweets claiming Belinda misquoted her and “lied about her sources”:

As always, Prause provides no examples and no documentation. Not being tagged, how did Prause know about Belinda’s tweet or @pornhelp’s reply? Maybe Prause is psychic too?

Reality Check: It is Prause and @Pornhelps who are lying. As many can verify, Luscombe contacted Gary Wilson, Gabe Deem, Alexander Rhodes, Noah Church, David Ley, and others, during the year before the TIME cover story was published. In addition, Luscombe and several TIME Magazine fact-checkers contacted each individual several times to corroborate each interviewee’s claims.

We know that Wilson’s former employers were contacted, as were the girlfriends of the men with porn-induced sexual problems. Interviewees were also asked to deny or confirm claims given to TIME by David Ley and Nicole Prause. This was done in writing, often 2-3 times for each claim.

For example, Nicole Prause falsely claimed to TIME magazine that Gabe Deem masqueraded as a medical doctor to write this peer-reviewed critique of Prause & Pfaus 2015 (in fact written by a medical doctor/researcher). Even more astonishingly, Prause told TIME that UCLA had traced the “Richard A. Isenberg MD” critique (Letter to the Editor) to the young man’s computer. This outlandish attempt to defame Deem is all documented above.

In an attempt to end the conversation Belinda tweets the following on July 25:

“PornHelps” tweets two more unstable responses (Update – @pornhelps later deleted their twitter account as it became apparent that Prause often tweeted with this account):

  • @ kinda like the reporter who didn’t report all the money they made off the men by faking it
  • @so check who Ur friend R now…all unemployed ppl benefiting financially, no proof of any personal claims. Sounds like !

No one responds to feed the troll.


OTHERS – April, 2016: A Nicole Prause sock puppet edits the Belinda Luscombe Wikpedia page

On March, 31, 2016 TIME published Belina Luscombe’s cover story “Porn and the Threat to Virility.” The very next day, a Wikipedia user appeared, indentified only by an IP address, and added the following to the Belinda Luscombe Wikipedia page:

Despite claiming that she is “not a science writer,” she continues to try to cover scientific topics. This often results in required retractions by the scientists then forced to clean up her poor writing.

The above comment was reversed the next day by another Wikipedia editor. Without checking this user’s other comments, it’s evident that this was likely done by Nicole Prause. Moreover, an investigation of this user’s only other 3 Wikipedia edits erases all doubt that this is Prause’s handiwork:

Only Nicole Prause would have made theses edits, especially the last 3:

  • Largest neuro study mysteriously left off previous edits.” This is referring to Prause et al., 2015, which is the study that only Prause boasts (inaccurately) is the largest neurological study on porn addicts. No one else calls her EEG study the “largest study” because: 1) Many of Prause’s subjects were not really porn addicts; 2) two other neurological studies assessed greater numbers of subjects.
  • Removing pseudoscience by Gary Wilson.” Who else would (falsely) accuse Gary Wilson in a Wikipedia edit? In the section below we reveal other Prause Wikipedia sock puppets who attack Gary Wilson, including a sock puppet with the user name “NotGaryWilson.”
  • inaccuracies in writing”: This is Prause lashing out in impulsive frustration at the TIME article, as she did months later as both @PornHelps and @NicoleRPrause.

This vicious failed attack on veteran TIME editor Belinda Luscombe for doing her job well (and giving short shrift to Prause’s “alternative facts”) is classic Prause vindictiveness.


OTHERS – September 2016: Prause attacks and libels former UCLA colleague Rory C. Reid PhD. 2 years earlier “TellTheTruth” posted the exact same claims & documents on a porn recovery site frequented by Prause’s sock puppets.

On September 15th, 2016 Nicole Prause posted a fake press release on the website PROLOG. Prause’s “press release” attacked and libeled several individuals including Gary Wilson, Donald Hilton MD, Utah state senator Todd Weiler, and Dr. Todd Love. This is what remains of the press release, as ProLog removed the content 2 days later because it violated their policies. Not to be denied, Prause placed the press release’s content on her AmazonAWS account. Here we examine her comments about UCLA researcher and former colleague Rory Reid PhD. Excerpt from Prause’s rant:

“Psychologist” and “LCSW” are both regulated titles licensed with the state of California that Rory Reid was using to advertise his services to patients but did not actually possess. Rory Reid also has falsely described that he attended and is on faculty at Harvard University and is an “assistant professor” at UCLA. Reid was never faculty at Harvard University and is an adjunct, not tenure track faculty, at UCLA. Reid is listed as a full-time employee of the State of California’s Office of Problem Gambling at UCLA, so it is unclear how Reid would be able to study sex films and contact politicians about sex films without violating his state contract.

A little background on Rory Reid and former UCLA researcher Nicole Prause is useful here. Rory Reid has been a research psychologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA since before Nicole Prause’s brief stint at UCLA began in 2013. Reid’s research areas are hypersexuality and gambling addiction.

Reid, like Prause, has often argued against the existence of “sex addiction.” Reid stated in a 2013 article that his office was right next door to Prause’s at UCLA. In 2013 Nicole Prause listed Rory Reid as a member of her “SPAN Lab.” As stated, Prause’s UCLA contract was not renewed while Reid remains a researcher at UCLA. Whatever he did to displease her, Prause is now attacking a former colleague publicly and brutally.

But there’s more to the story. Months earlier, in December 5th, 2014 several comments mirroring Prause’s “press release” (urging readers to report Rory Reid to California authorities) were posted on the porn recovery site YourBrainRebalanced by a brand new member. As we saw above, Prause made a habit of commenting on YBR using various aliases. The first of these comments, by TellTheTruth, contained 2 links. One link went to a PDF on Scribd with supposed evidence supporting TellTheTruth’s claims (Prause regularly use aliases with 2-4 capitalized words as usernames).

Two more comments by TellTheTruth that mirror Nicole Prause’s “press release” (now) published nearly 2 years later.

—-

The TellTheTruth comments and PDF from December, 2014 along with the Prause’s press release incriminate Nicole Prause as cyberstalking Rory Reid at about the time she was leaving UCLA. Key point: The documents that Prause placed on her AmazonAWS account about Reid are the same documents that TellTheTruth placed on YourBrainRebalanced 2 years earlier. Note the same “2013 copyright State of California” for Prause’s current screenshot and TellTheTruth’s 2-year old screenshot:

Prause’s current document: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/weilerdefamation/NoLicenseInCaliforni… (note the URL in this screenshot & the 2013 copyright)

TellTheTruth’s document she posted 2 years earlier on the porn recovery forum YourBrainRebalanced. Notice the 2013 copyright and how TellThe Truth pasted Reid’s picture into her PDF:

 

Here’s why we know TellTheTruth was Nicole Prause: The current license search has a 2016 copyright notice! Prause was harassing and cyberbullying her UCLA colleague Rory Reid in December, 2014 (about the time she was leaving UCLA), and she’s still using the same screen shots to do it.

Here’s another another example of duplicate documents by Prause-2016 and TellTheTruth-2014. Prause’s current AmazonAWS document – https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/weilerdefamation/BevHillsClinicalPrac…

Incidentally, it looks like Nicole Prause “stole” Rory Reid’s picture and placed on a website without his permission. Should he file a police report? And here’s TellTheTruth’s document from December, 2014. You can see from the URL stamp and heading that this was a PDF on SCRIBD:

Same documents, same claims, same spinning of the truth by both Prause and TellTheTruth. Here’s the Key point: Rory Reid is still a researcher at UCLA while Prause’s contract at UCLA was not renewed.

One has to ask why UCLA would willingly part with an up-and-coming researcher able to (1) debunk entire fields of science with a single study (in this case, the field of porn addiction research), and (2) persuade the media she has done so. Things are not always what they seem.


September, 2016: Prause libels Gary Wilson and others with Amazon AWS documents (which Prause tweeted dozens of times)

Back to the September 15th, 2016 fake press release Nicole Prause posted on the website PROLOG. Prause’s “press release” also attacked and libeled several individuals including Gary Wilson, Donald Hilton MD, Utah state senator Todd Weiler, and Dr. Todd Love. Again, this is what remains of the press release, as ProLog removed the content 2 days later because it violated their policies. Not to be denied, Prause placed the press release’s content on her AmazonAWS account (Amazon refuses to arbitrate content disputes). Since September 15, Prause has tweeted dozens of times about her document. Here we examine Prause’s comments about Gary Wilson.

Prause: Dr. Prause had to file a police report and close and hide her UCLA laboratory under threat from this blogger and now requires physical protection at all her public talks from him. He has since been spotted in Los Angeles near the scientist’s home and LAPD threat management has been alerted.

Closed her Lab? Armed guards? Spotted near her home? All this because YBOP critiqued her 2013 EEG study? All these claims are untrue, and the claim that “Wilson has been spotted seen near the scientist’s home” is also fiction. Wilson hasn’t been to LA in years. A call to the Los Angeles police and the UCLA campus police revealed no police report about Wilson in either system. That is the only fact here.

Prause: He wrote the UCLA chancellor over a dozen times claiming Prause had faked her data, faked her title, and more, all of which UCLA refuted.

False. Wilson wrote (or copied) the chancellor 3 times in late 2013 and early 2014 to complain about Prause’s ongoing harassment. The first letter informed UCLA about Prause’s multiple instances of harassment, frivolous legal threats and libel targeting Wilson and two others. This letter also documented Prause’s intimidation of Psychology Today editors (who acquiesced and removed Wilson’s critique and a critique by two other Psychology Today bloggers (both experts)). In one paragraph Wilson described how Prause misrepresented the finding of Steele et al., 2013 to the press. Five peer-reviewed papers have since supported Wilson’s assertion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) Nowhere did Wilson say that Prause had “faked her data” or “faked her title.” Both Wilson and UCLA possess the original letters. Their content proves that Prause is libeling Wilson.

Wilson sent a second letter to UCLA (December 2, 2013) to complain about Prause placing a document libeling Wilson on the SPAN lab website (as described above). It was assumed that UCLA controlled the content as each SPAN Lab page contained the following:

Copyright © 2007-2013 SPAN Lab, All Rights Reserved University of California, Department of Psychiatry, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Reproduced below are the first several paragraphs of Wilson’s letter to UCLA Chancellor Block:

Two weeks later a letter was sent to Vice Dean Jonathan R. Hiatt to inform him that Prause’s libelous PDF remained. Shortly thereafter the PDF was removed, although no official response was received until March, 2014. The Vice Dean informed Wilson that the SPAN Lab website was Prause’s own site, and not a UCLA website at all(!). Reproduced below is a portion of UCLA’s response to Gary Wilson’s letter:

So Wilson did not “write the UCLA chancellor over a dozen times.” This can be confirmed by UCLA. We must state again that Prause not only personally attacked Wilson, but attacked UCLA colleague Rory Reid PhD (see above section). UCLA did not renew Prause’s contract.

Prause: He also broke into her private online account to stalk her after receiving a no-contact order. He stole her personal photos from that account, posted them to his porn website, then migrated them to try to evade DMCA take downs until his ISP threatened to shutter his website.

All false. The “stolen photos” claim was addressed above. To recap, Wilson wrote this Psychology Today blog post about this Nicole Prause Psychology Today Interview (which contains a picture of Prause). Psychology Today required at least one picture (all of Wilson’s PT articles contained several pictures). Since this blog post was about Nicole Prause’s interview and her study, it contained a picture of Prause. The picture that accompanied Wilson’s Psychology Today blog post was also used with this same article on YBOP. The photo of Prause was chosen by her, and appeared on a site she falsely claimed was run by UCLA, with this notice on each page: “Copyright © 2007-2013 SPAN Lab, All Rights Reserved University of California, Department of Psychiatry, Los Angeles, CA 90024.”

Addendum: Prause is now claiming in an AmazonAWS PDF that Wilson migrated the picture of Prause (and the associated article) to other servers. This is false. The picture of Prause accompanied a single critique that appeared on two separate websites, PornStudySkeptics and YourBrainOnPorn.com. These two identical articles have remained on those two websites since July, 2013: Article 1, Article 2. In her PDF Prause also claims that Wilson’s ISP told him that they “would close his website if he did it a fourth time”. This did not occur.

Prause: Her name appears over 1,350 times on one website alone of an obsessed blogger.

This claim may actually be true. The website Prause is referring to is this one: YourBrainOnPorn.com. Approximately 700 of the 1,350 mentions are on this page alone. Why would YourBrainOnPorn.com contain an alleged additional 650 instances of “Prause”? YBOP contains about 9,000 pages, and it’s a clearinghouse for nearly everything associated with Internet porn use and its effects on the user. Nicole Prause has published multiple studies about porn use and hypersexuality, and by her own admission, is a professional debunker of porn addiction and porn-induced sexual problems.

A Google search for “Nicole Prause” + pornography returns about 9,000 pages. She’s quoted in hundreds of journalistic articles about porn use and porn addiction. She has published several papers related to pornography use. She’s on TV, radio, podcasts, and YouTube channels claiming to have debunked porn addiction with a single (heavily criticized) study. So Prause’s name inevitably shows up a lot on a site functioning as a clearinghouse for research and news associated with Internet porn’s effects.

Not only are Prause’s studies on YBOP, so are hundreds of other studies, many of which cite Prause in their reference sections. YBOP also has publsihed very long critiques of six Prause papers. YBOP contains at least 12 peer-reviewed critiques of Prause’s studies. YBOP contains at least a dozen lay critiques of Prause’s work. YBOP contains many journalistic articles that quote Nicole Prause, and YBOP often responds to Prause’s claims in these articles. YBOP also debunks many of the talking points put forth by Prause and her close ally David Ley. Finally, YBOP members comment here asking about Prause’s studies or her claims in the media. However, YBOP also critiques other questionable research on porn and related subjects. These critiques are not personal, but rather substantive.

Prause plays the misogyny card

Over the last few years, Dr. Prause appears to have taken great pains to position herself as a “woman being subjected to misogynistic oppression when she tells truth to power.” She frequently tweets this infographic that she apparently also shares at her public lectures, suggesting she is being victimized “as a woman scientist,” and painting herself as a trailblazer forging ahead to prove porn’s harmlessness despite prejudiced attacks. She has even been known to tweet combinations of misogyny claims and claims that (legitimate, peer-reviewed) science with which she disagrees is “fake.” Any suggestion that Wilson, Deem or Rhodes are motivated by misogyny is fabricated, as their objections have nothing to do with Dr. Prause as a person or as a woman, and only to do with her untrue statements and inadequately supported claims about her research.

As for the Infographic, Prause’s only evidence of misogyny is that Wilson supposedly once wrote “Miss Prause” and once incorrectly spelled her first name as “nicki.” That’s it. Neither of these examples are on YourBrainOnPorn.com, and Prause provides no documentation as to where either supposedly appear. Misspellings/autocorrects occur in the digital age.

The info-graphic also claims that Alexander Rhodes is sexist because he defended Wilson against Prause’s libelous claims that “Wilson was recently seen outside Prause’s residence.” When did the refutation of lies become misogyny?

If YBOP is truly sexist why are the majority of the authors we critique men? This page lists the studies and papers YBOP has critiqued.

  • The total number of authors listed on all the papers: 56
    • Male authors: 42
    • Female authors: 14

Once again, facts debunk propaganda.

Finally, no one named on this page – whom Prause has accused of sexism and misogyny  – endorses, or encourages, either. Speak with them and you will discover that the very opposite is true. All support the respectful treatment of women. Their issue with Prause is with her tactics and her unsupported claims about her research, not with her as a woman or a woman scientist.


Others – Prause falsely accuses Donald Hilton Jr., MD

Curious about Prause’s claim that Don Hilton, MD, “called her a child molester,” we contacted Dr. Hilton. Here is his response:

With regard to Prause’s claim, the facts are presented here. I did not call her a child molester.

About 6 or 7 years ago I spoke in 3 Idaho cities in one day for a group called Citizens for Decency. I spoke on evidence supporting an addictive model related to problematic porn use, which was mainly molecular biology at that point. This model has since been substantiated by structural and functional MRI studies.

At the end of my talk a young woman came up and basically said that she did not think there was any evidence supporting the addiction model. I only learned later that it was Nicole Prause, who was then employed in Idaho. Next, she said she had trained at the Kinsey Institute, implying that she was an expert on sexuality.

I asked her if she supported the research and methodology of the namesake of her institution, Alfred Kinsey. I explained to her that Kinsey had collaborated with pedophiles, and trained and instructed them to time with stopwatches how long it took children they molested to reach orgasm. I asked her if she supported Kinsey and his methodology. At that point she became hostile.

Her claim that I said she was a child molester is untrue; I didn’t know her, her name, or anything about her other than that she admired Kinsey. My point was that the person she considered her philosophical mentor had knowingly collaborated with child molesters. This is perfectly true. Attached is attached a copy of Table 34 from the Kinsey book on male sexuality published in 1948 [reproduced below]. The youngest child is 5 months old, and is described as having 3 orgasms. Note that most sessions are timed.

Incidentally, Paul Gebhard (coauthor of Kinsey’s female sexuality book published a few years after the male book), was interviewed by J.Gordon Muir years later. This is an excerpt from the interview:

Muir: “So, do pedophiles normally go around with stopwatches?”

Gebhard: “Ah, they do if we tell them we’re interested in it!”

Kinsey, Pomeroy (an early president of AASECT), Gebhard, and others worked with 2 child molesters, Rex King and a Nazi named Fritz Ballusek. Ballusek’s trial is well documented, but King was never caught. An example of the collaboration is from a letter on Nov 24, 1944 from Kinsey to King:

“I rejoice at everything you send, for I am then assured that that much more of your material is saved for scientific publication.”

Kinsey also warned his pedophiles to be careful not to be caught. For documentation, see Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences, whose author confirmed to me that she has the original tapes of the phone interview in her archives.

Although I did not call Nicole Prause a child molester, I did ask her then, and I ask her now, if she condones or refutes the collaboration of Kinsey, his coauthors, and the Kinsey Institute with child molesters. I am still waiting for her answer.

Once again Nicole Prause is caught in a lie.


Others – September 25, 2016: Prause attacks therapist Paula Hall

Prause calls Hall a “pseudoscientist” and misrepresents Hall’s views on a study:

Known “pseudoscientist”? That’s not even a real word. A month after Prause’s tweet Paula Hall was listed as a coauthor on this Cambridge University brain scan study of porn addicts (published in the journal Human Brain Mapping): Compulsive sexual behavior: Prefrontal and limbic volume and interactions, 2016.


Others – October, 2016: Prause commits perjury attempting to silence Alexander Rhodes of NoFap

As described above Prause has a history of personally attacking Alexander Rhodes (it is always Prause who initiates the harssment with her tweets). For example, (again) here’s Prause (on a thread she initiated) claiming that Alexander Rhodes lied about experiencing porn-induced sexual problems:

@AlexanderRhodes and @NoFap follow Gary Wilson on Twitter. On October 1st Wilson responded to James Guay LMFT (who had tagged him with this libelous and harassing tweet). James Guay appears to be a friend of Prause. Guay also re-tweeted Prause’s libelous AmazonAWS document. Wilson and Guay exchanged tweets, with Wilson asking for any documentation to support Prause’s claims.

So you did not read all that we have documented here: Provide documentation for your defamatory claim.

James Guay provided no documentation, yet continued to harass Wilson with several more tweets. It must be noted that Wilson has never engaged Prause or her Twitter allies directly about her string of false accusations. It was James Guay who directly engaged Wilson on Twitter. Alexander Rhodes joined in posting a humorous tweet to Guay concerning Prause’s ridiculous claim that Wilson “has been seen outside Prause’s residence.” It contained a picture of a guy lurking in the bushes:

How did you get to another state so quickly to stalk? You also behind all of the mysterious clown sightings?

Key point: The above tweet no longer contains this picture of a man hiding in the bushes, which was used under the copyright “fair use” exclusion because it is evident the image’s purpose was for meme/parody:

As Alexander Rhodes describes in subsequent tweets, Nicole Prause falsely claimed ownership of the “man in the bush” picture and filed a bogus DMCA takedown request via Twitter. In doing so Prause committed perjury.Rhodes tweets the evidence:

Tweet #1 documenting of Prause’s perjury:

 

One must keep in mind that Prause is always the initiator of harassment, and her claims about Wilson constitute both libel and harassment.

Tweet #2 by Alexander explaining that calling out slander is not harassment:

 

Finally Alexander complains about having to reveal his personal information to Prause:

Libel, perjury, and harssment – all documented. Rhodes has alerted Your Brain on Porn that he has submitted a counter-notice to the fraudulent DMCA notice that Nicole Prause used to
censor his criticism on Twitter.


2015 & 2016: Prause violates COPE’s code of conduct to harass Gary Wilson and a Scottish charity

On August 5, 2016 the academic journal Behavioral Sciences published the following paper: Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016). Seven US Navy doctors and Gary Wilson are listed as the authors of this academic review of the literature. All authors are required to list their affiliations.

  • Key point: Gary Wilson’s affiliation was accurately listed as “The Reward Foundation” (a registered Scottish charity).

An earlier and significantly different version of this paper was first submitted in March, 2015 to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine as part of their “Addiction” issue. Normal procedure is for the journal to have two academics review a paper to provide commentary and criticism.

  • Key point: This paper was the only place Wilson’s affiliation with the Reward Foundation could be found outside of Foundation personnel. In other words, only the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine editor and the two reviewers knew about this affiliation.

In April, 2015 an email by someone using a fake name was sent to The Reward Foundation and to the organization housing several charities, including The Reward Foundation:

On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM, _____________ <++++++++++++++@gmail.com> wrote:

I now have documentation that Gary Wilson himself is claiming to be a member of the Reward Foundation. While he is not listed on the new website page, this represents a rather worse transgression…. [Reward Foundation personnel] may not even be aware he is making these claims, I am not sure, but he has now made them publicly.

  • Key Point: Only one of two reviewers of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine submission could have sent this email (Prause later self-identified as one of the two reviewers). The information was not public, but only made available to the journal.

Several more Prause-like emails were sent by this same anonymous troll to the organization housing the Reward Foundation, the Scottish Charity Regulator, and the publisher of Gary Wilson’s book. They contained the now familiar personal attacks on Wilson (described above), and even threats of legal action. No one took the bizarre rantings and unsupported claims seriously.

The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine was informed of this behavior (engaged in by one of their two reviewers). When it was suggested that Prause might be behind these bizarre emails and the paper’s initial rejection, the editor didn’t deny it. The paper was promptly accepted…and then not published after all, based on a claim that it was too late to meet the print deadline for YJBM’s “Addiction” issue.

A different, substantially updated version of the paper was then submitted to the journal Behavioral Sciences. After a few rounds of reviews and rewriting it was accepted as a review of the literature. Its final form was quite different from the original YJBM submission. At a much later date, Prause submitted the original YJBM version to a regulatory board (in an effort to have the published paper retracted), thus confirming she was quite likely the person behind the many harassing emails.

Nicole Prause has violated the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) code of ethics for academic reviewers. Section 5, in the “Guidelines on Good Publication Practice” PDF (on this page) outlines eight rules for peer reviewers. Nicole Prause has violated at least three COPE’s rules:

(2) The duty of confidentiality in the assessment of a manuscript must be maintained by expert reviewers, and this extends to reviewers’ colleagues who may be asked (with the editor’s permission) to give opinions on specific sections.

  • Prause broke confidentiality. She used Wilson’s affiliation with The Reward Foundation to harass the officers of the Reward Foundation and to pepper the Scottish Charity Register with false allegations about Wilson.

(3) The submitted manuscript should not be retained or copied.

  • Prause kept the manuscript and later submitted it to regulatory boards as part of a frivolous demand for retraction.

(4) Reviewers and editors should not make any use of the data, arguments, or interpretations, unless they have the authors’ permission.

  • Prause used specific content of the YJBM submission as a part her bogus claim to regulatory boards without the authors’ permission.

October, 2016 – Prause publishes her spurious October, 2015 “cease and desist” letter. Wilson responds by publishing his letter to Prause’s lawyer.

On October 15, 2015 Gary Wilson received a cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing Nicole Prause. A year later Prause published her cease and desist letter on AmazonAWS, and linked to it under a petition to Psychology Today (asking the organization to reconsider its editorial policy). Prause commented under the petition multiple times saying that members of two organizations (IITAP & SASH) were all “openly sexist and assaultive to scientists.” In a strange disconnect, the main evidence Prause supplied for this blanket statement was the cease and desist letter sent only to Wilson, reproduced below. Wilson is not a member of SASH or IITAP.

There is no other way to say this: All four claims in the above cease & desist letter are bogus. The most absurd claim is that Wilson said that Prause appeared in porn. Gary Wilson wrote the following letter asking both Prause and the lawyer to provide evidence to support their allegations. Wilson’s letter in full:

In the intervening 22 months neither Prause nor the lawyer have responded. Neither has provided any evidence to support Prause’s allegations – because the allegations are false. It’s clear that Prause’s motivation was threefold:

  1. to intimidate Wilson so that he might remove his critiques of Prause’s studies,
  2. to create a letter she could show her allies as “proof positive” that Wilson is harassing her (even though it is proof of nothing and merely made up),
  3. to produce an “official letter” to show journalists so as to discourage them from contacting Wilson.

October, 2016 – Prause had co-presenter Susan Stiritz “warn campus police” that Gary Wilson might fly 2000 miles to listen to Prause say porn addiction isn’t real

Prause continues to spin a fable that Gary Wilson has threatened to “show up” at one of her talks. This is poppycock. Prause has provided no evidence to support this claim, and Wilson has no desire to hear Prause speak (let alone pay to hear her speak). In mid-October, 2016 Nicole Prause placed the following PDF on AmazonAWS. Prause posted a link to the PDF under a petition to Psychology Today (which was gathering support to ask the organization to reconsider its editorial policy).

While nothing in this message (below) can be verified, it appears to be written by Susan Stiritz. It also appears to be describing Stiritz relaying Prause’s fabricated claim to a campus policeman to the effect that Gary Wilson was planning to attend the AASECT summer institute. Put simply, Wilson was claimed to be planning to fly 2000 miles, pay for 4 nights in a St Louis hotel, and pay over $1000 to AASECT, just to hear Prause and David Ley explain how porn addiction has been “debunked.” Prause even provided a picture of Wilson, which she must have “stolen,” because he didn’t send it to her (reproduced below).

So this is the “proof” that Gary Wilson is dangerous: a made-up tale by Prause, told to a friend, who relayed it to a campus cop 2000 miles from where Wilson lives via message, which Prause now offers as “proof” of Wilson’s evil actions. What’s missing from all of this claptrap is one iota of evidence that hints that Wilson ever indicated that he intended to attend a Prause lecture – or threaten her in any way whatsoever.

While Prause claims Wilson is “dangerous,” the only danger of having Wilson in the audience is that he might, with awkward questions, debunk Prause’s claims by citing 37 neurological papers that support the porn addiction model, and 80 studies that link porn use to sexual dysfunctions and lower sexual & relationship satisfaction. That’s the real reason she doesn’t want Wilson attending her lectures.


OTHERS – October, 2016: Prause states falsely that SASH and IITAPboard members and practitioners are openly sexist and assaultive to scientists

On October 12, 2016 a petition to Psychology Today (asking the organization to reconsider its editorial policy) was published on “petitionbuzz.com” The next day Nicole Prause & Jim Pfaus posted four comments under the petition. Prause & Pfaus co-authored this paper (it’s not an actual study), that they claim debunked porn-induced ED. Two peer-reviewed papers (paper 1, paper 2) and three lay critiques say otherwise (1, 2, 3). As do 19 studies linking porn use to sexual problems. Under the petition, Jim Pfaus calls SASH and IITAP “addiction cults” and “snake oil salesmen” (Pfaus is not a therapist). He also falsely claims that there’s “no empirically-based clinical or biological science supporting porn addiction or the negative effects of porn use.”

Pfaus is not telling the truth: 37 neurological studies & 12 reviews of the literature support the porn addiction model, and 80 studies link porn use to sexual dysfunctions and lower sexual & relationship satisfaction. Not a single neurological study falsifies the porn addiction model, including this one. And there are codes in both the ICD and DSM that allow reimbursable diagnoses of the disorders, and the “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” is being considered for ICD-11. (Note: Like Prause, Jim Pfaus has a history of misrepresnting the reserach, and even making false statements – as he did here about Prause & Pfaus 2015)

In a reply comment, Prause echoed fellow troll Pfaus calling “IITAP/CSAT’s” snake oil salesmen. Now that’s an unbiased researcher.

Nicole Prause posted 3 more comments, including this one where she claims that all members of IITAP and SASH are “openly sexist” and “assaultive to scientists”:

What evidence does Prause provide to incriminate all the members in these two very large and diverse organizations, accusing them all of “sexism and assaults on scientists?” Prause posts links to her fabricated claims about Gary Wilson (described above).

Since Wilson is not a member of either organization, it’s baffling how Prause’s ramblings about Wilson incriminate over a thousand therapists, PhDs, medical doctors and psychologists belonging to these two organizations. Once again, we have inflammatory and defamatory claims without a shred of evidence.


OTHERS – November, 2016: Prause asks VICE magazine to fire infectious disease specialist Keren Landman, MD for supporting Prop 60 (condoms in porn)

California Proposition 60 would have mandated condom use in porn films. It was supported by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit HIV/AIDS care and advocacy organization, and vehemently opposed by porn producers and interestingly enough, Nicole Prause and colleague David Ley. In the run up to the 2016 election, Prause and Ley seemed obsessed with defeating Prop 60, while relatively unconcerned about graver issues such as health care, immigration, or jobs. Both Prause and Ley spent considerable effort tweeting and re-tweeting attacks on Prop 60, and support for the Free Speech Coalition, the lobbying arm for the porn industry (tweet1, tweet2, tweet3, tweet4, tweet5, tweet6, tweet7, tweet8, tweet9, tweet10, tweet11). One such example:

David Ley even wrote a Psychology Today article denouncing Proposition 60: Condoms in Porn: A Solution in Search of a Problem. In the most astonishing series of tweets, Prause joins an “adult actor” in attacking a medical doctor specializing in infectious disease. In Prause’s esteemed opinion, VICE magazine should have fired expert Dr. Landman for writing an article supporting Prop 60:

Freelancer? While Prause’s degree is in statistics, Keren Landman MD is a researcher, medical epidemiologist, and infectious disease specialist who once worked for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV infection is one of her specialties, having published several papers in the field. Once again, we have Prause personally attacking experts in a field, while simultaneously failing to support her position with empirical evidence. (Does anyone believe Prause’s claim that “every independent scientist supports prop 60″?) Whatever anyone thinks about Prop 60, Dr. Landman’s position is supported by research, and Nicole Prause’s is not.

The question remains: Why are both Prause and Ley such outspoken supporters of the porn industry, and so eager to attack anyone and everyone who suggests porn use or sex without a condom may pose problems?


OTHERS – November, 2016: Prause falsely claims to have sent cease & desist letters to panelists on the Mormon Matters podcast

On November 10, 2016 “Mormon Matters” published the following podcast: 353–354: Championing the “Addiction” Paradigm with Regard to Pornography/Sex Addiction. It was a response to an earlier Mormon Matters podcast (episodes 347–348) where Prause and three therapists tried their very best to debunk porn addiction and sex addiction. In Podcast 353–354, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon was joined by four panelists: Jackie Pack (LCSW, CSAT–S, CMAT), Alexandra Katehakis (MFT, CSAT-S, CST-S), Stefanie Carnes (Ph.D., CSAT-S), and Donald Hilton (M.D.).

Within a few minutes of the podcast going live, Nicole Prause and, apparently, her sock puppets (“Skeptic”, “Lack of expertise on panel”, “Danny”) posted a dozen comments attacking the four panelists. Prause & sock puppets was joined in her ad hominem fest by Jay Blevins and Natasha Helfer-Parker (two of the therapists who collaborated with Prause on episodes 347-348). Over the next few days, Prause, Jay Blevins, and Natasha Helfer-Parker posted dozens more ad hominem comments. Nicole Prause posted her typical lies about Gary Wilson stealing photos, having to lock down her lab, and “fortifying her home” (maybe she installed a bomb-shelter to protect her from unfavorable blog posts). Also, in one of her numerous comments, Prause claimed that:

  1. She had sent Cease & Desist letters to members of the panel
  2. Two of the panelists are currently under APA investigation

Prause’s comment:

We contacted the panelists, and it was confirmed that:

  1. No panelist has received a cease and desist letter from Dr. Prause, and
  2. No panelist has been contacted by the APA (the American Psychological Association).

Once again, we have evidence that Nicole Prause is making false statements. And suppose Prause had actually sent cease and desist letters? It would be evidence of nothing, as anyone can pay a lawyer to send a spurious cease and desist letter (as Prause is wont to do).


OTHERS – December, 2016: In a Quora answer Prause tells a porn addict to visit a prostitute (a violation of APA ethics and California law)

Below is a screenshot of Prause’s original answer posted in response to this Quora question: How can I overcome masturbation and/or porn addiction? What are the best methods? While Prause’s post was written in September, 2016, its existence was further publicized in this December 14th IITAP blog post that responded to AASECT’s proclamation that porn and sex addiction are myths. (Thereafter the original Prause response was deleted.)

Here is the paragraph from IITAP’s response that linked to the Prause Quora post. (Keep in mind that Prause was an instrumental figure in misleading a small band of AASECT therapists that porn and sex addiction had been debunked – not the case).

On the other side, many clinicians are expressing worry that people who truly are sexual addicts are harmed by well-meaning sex therapists who without insight or full understanding of these issues discount the problematic nature of these symptoms, thus writing off a client’s compulsive sexual behavior patterns as normal and non-consequential, even suggesting that clients’ issues are related more to their attitude about sex than the sex itself. This stance is clearly harmful to those clients who are getting and sharing STD’s with unwitting partners and/or losing marriages, jobs and educational opportunities due to self-described excessive porn use, online hook-ups and the like. Consider, for instance, the recently published blog from a well-known researcher, and AASECT faculty member that recommended that someone with a porn addiction should go see a sex worker instead of masturbating to porn (since the posting of this article this blog has been removed). From the IITAP educational perspective, such blatant disregard of compulsive behavior can without question be harmful to the client and those close to him or her.

Prause’s suggestion to visit a prostitute is in the last paragraph:

While this is not harassment, it’s relevant because it shows a complete disregard for professional ethics, ethical and social norms, and the rule of law. This theme permeates everything revealed about Nicole Prause on this page.


OTHERS – December, 2016: Prause reports Fight the New Drug to the State of Utah

Nicole Prause seems to tweet more about Fight The New Drug (FTND) than she does about her or others’ research. A quick look reveals that Prause tweeted 35 times about FTND in November & December 2016.

On December 19, 2016, Prause wrote an e-mail to the Utah State Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), in which she accused Fight the New Drug in its online Fortify program (an online educational curriculum for teens and adults seeking to overcome compulsive pornography use) of  both “soliciting sexual stories from children” without parental consent and “coercing” children to provide these stories. While underscoring that she was a “licensed psychologist in California (CA #27778)” and a “mandated reporter” the single reference she provided to support her initial claim was a hit-piece from an online website called “Harlot Magazine.”

Nicole CC’d the CEO of Fight the New Drug (FTND), Clay Olsen, on her complaint to DCFS. Subsequent phone calls from FTND to DCFS revealed that (while they could officially neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation was taking place) (1) the accusation from Prause meets none of the criteria for something DCFS investigates, and (2) it was not necessary for FTND to meet with DCFS since there was “nothing to investigate” and “nothing to explain.”

Despite all this, Prause continued publicly tweeting her concerns about “@FightTheNewDrug child victims” and posted the following request to all her twitter followers, “if your child completed @FightTheNewDrug Fortify program, asking sexual hx, Utah DCFS wants to talk to you. This how to get heard.”

Thus Prause continues her pattern of misusing regulatory bodies for unwarranted complaints – partly as a way to intimidate individuals and organizations and partly as a way for her to subsequently use her own specious and defamatory accusations in broader media opportunities.


OTHERS – January, 2017: Nicole Prause tweets that Noah B. Church is a scientifically inaccurate non-expert and religious profiteer

Once again, Prause launches an unprovoked, defamatory twitter attack on a man who recovered from porn-induced ED. The following Prause tweet seems to be related to Noah’s appearance on the DearSugarRadio segment “My Fiancé Is Addicted To Porn“.

Was Noah scientifically inaccurate? Nope. As is usual, Prause fails to describe the supposed inaccuracies.

Is Noah an expert? Yes indeed, as Noah has:

Is Noah religious? Nope. He is an atheist, which he has stated many times in past.

Is Noah a profiteer? His book, videos and website are all given freely. Noah only charges for one-on-one coaching because it’s so time-consuming.

We assume that Dr. Prause doesn’t treat clients for free (if she sees clients). We know that Prause offered (for a fee) her “expert” testimony against sex addiction and porn addiction. She also receives payment for speaking engagements where she debunks porn and sex addiction.

Finally, consider the fact that it is a violation of APA (American Psychological Association) principles for psychologists to attack those trying to recover.


OTHERS – Janurary, 2017: Prause smears professor Frederick M. Toates with a bogus claim

Prior to the publication “The Routledge International Handbook of Sexual AddictionPrause tweets that the book’s “only neuroscience chapter was written by a person with no neuroscience training”:

The chapter in question is 3.2 – “The Neuroscience of Sexual Addiction” and was written by Frederick M. Toates DPhil DSc.

The 73-year old Toates is Emeritus Professor of Biological Psychology at The Open University and Vice-President of the Open University Psychology Society. He is not only trained in neuroscience, he is a professor of biological psychology (neuroscience).

With two doctoral degrees, Frederick Toates is a pioneer in the study of motivational systems (the reward system), especially in relationship to sexual desire and motivation. His latest book: How Sexual Desire Works: The Enigmatic Urge. Professor Toates was publishing biological research and authoring neuroscience books before Nikky Prause was a gleam in her parents’ eyes. While Professor Toates is still actively publishing and working in academia, non-academic Prause hasn’t been associated with a university for over 2 years.

With Prause’s targets expanding, it appears that there is no lie too outrageous to tell nor target too unassailable to smear. Welcome to the club, Professor Toates.


OTHERS – Janurary, 2017: Prause defames publisher MDPI calling Behavioral Sciences a “fake journal”

In August, 2016 the academic journal Behavioral Sciences published this literature review by 7 US navy doctors and Gary Wilson: Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports). Since its publication Prause has been trying every trick in her arsenal to have the paper retracted (more will be revealed at a later date). Her emails to MDPI officials, filled with spurious claims and easily debunked allegations, have failed to achieve her goal. No one on the receiving end of her invective had ever witnessed such bizarre behavior by a researcher. MDPI officials offered Prause the opportunity to publish a formal critique of the US Navy paper in Behavioral Sciences. Prause declined the offer and demanded (unwarranted) retraction instead. Then, she went to Twitter to wage her battle, and lied in the following tweet:

Prause is claiming that publisher MDPI is on predatory journal list cataloged by librarian Jeffrey Beall. This assertion is false, and there’s no list associated with the link Prause tweeted.

By the way, Jeffrey Beall created the phrase predatory journal, and was the sole arbiter of which publishers were or were not “predatory”. Beall has since removed all the text from his website.


January, 2017 (and earlier): Prause employs multiple sock puppets (including “NotGaryWilson“) to edit Wikipedia pages

The use of multiple user accounts to edit Wikipedia pages violates Wikipedia rules and is referred to as “sock puppetry” (or simply “socking”). We have already revealed one of Prause’s sock puppets, who edited the Belinda Luscombe Wikipedia page that day after TIME published Luscombe’s cover story, “Porn and the Threat to Virility,” which Prause disapproved of. It’s clear from the comments, content, and usernames that Nicole Prause has created several more accounts to edit Wikipedia articles, such as “pornography addiction,” “sex addiction” and “effects of pornography.”

First, here’s a list of edits done by a Prause sock puppet identified only by an IP address (75.82.147.215). Note the comment associated with this one particular edit:

·  19:06, 19 January 2015 (diff | hist) . . (-9,453)‎ . . Pornography addiction ‎ (This section talked only about delta fos-B, which has never been investigated with respect to erotica. Gary Wilson, a known porn blogger who makes money from porn “addiction” added this section, as he is the only one promoting it. It should be removed.) (Tag: section blanking)

Naming “Gary Wilson” is a dead give-away that the above user account is Nicole Prause. Reality Check: Gary Wilson makes no money related to this endeavor, and he did not add the DeltaFosB section to the “Pornography Addiction” Wiki page. As time passed, Prause fell back into her usual pattern of creating usernames with 3-4 capitalized words. For example:

While the above edits suggest that all 3 are Prause as they consistently attack IITAP, Carnes, the addiction model, and falsely claim there’s no science supporting either porn or sex addiction. If there was any doubt, two of them once again comment about Gary Wilson and DeltaFosB. First, a telling “PatriotsAllTheWay” comment:

04:55, 21 January 2015 (diff | hist) . . (-9,433)‎ . . Pornography addiction ‎ (Delata fos B has never been linked to sexual behaviors in humans, not once. This section was added by Gary Wilson, promoting his book for profit of the same idea.) (Tag: section blanking)

A few comments: 1) All of Gary Wilson’s profits from the sales of his book go to charity, and his website is otherwise entirely non-commercial; 2) Contrary to Prause’s claim, DeltaFosB is present in humans and all neuroscientists studying its mechanisms agree that DeltaFosb is involved with multiple physiological functions, including sensitization to sexual activity and addiction.

A Wikipedia “user-page” is automatically created for every username that edits a Wikipedia article. “NotGaryWilson” is the only Prause sock puppet to have made a comment on its user page. Here’s what “NotGaryWilson” wrote about the “Sex Addiction” article:

As you are probably aware, anti-porn groups repeatedly sabatoge these pages for profit. Delta FOSb has no direct support, but is a pet idea from Gary Wilson, paid anti-porn activist. So, yes, I did mean to remove the text and will go ahead and remove it again. I will add the justification back. There is no evidence supporting the connections Wilson makes, which is why it is so easy to spot his writing.

As with the “Pornography Addiction” Wikipedia page, Gary Wilson in fact added none of the DeltaFosB material to the “Sexual Addiction” Wikipedia page. As stated, Wilson is paid by no one, and makes no money on this endeavor. Finally, only non-academics David Ley and Nicole Prause ever assert that DeltaFosB is not involved with initiating addiction-related brain changes. (Prause is particularly obsessed discrediting with DeltaFosB.) Contrary to their unsupported rantings, DeltaFosB’s role in addiction and sensitization is well established in both animal and human studies (see list 1 and list 2 for DeltaFosB studies). A veteran Wikipedia editor responds to the above comments by “NotGaryWilson”:

I’m C.Fred. I noticed that you recently removed some content from Sexual addiction without adequately explaining why. In the future, it would be helpful to others if you described your changes to Wikipedia with an accurate edit summary. If this was a mistake, don’t worry; the removed content has been restored.

And,

It’s pretty clear from your username that you have an axe to grind with the topic. Chopping broad sections from the article is not a constructive way to go about this. You need to discuss your changes on the talk page and get broad support for them.C.Fred (talk) 00:48, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

Don’t hold your breath for broad (legitimate) support for unsupported claims about Wilson or DeltaFosB. Enough said.

It appears that Nicole Prause employed two additional usernames to edit the Fight The New Drug Wikipedia page (FTND is one of Prause’s favorites targets):

What makes us suspect that both usernames are Nicole Prause? Not only did both usernames edit only the FTND Wikipedia page, both created the section featuring Prause’s often-tweeted op-ed that appeared in the Salt Lake City Tribune. Prause wrote the critique of Fight the New Drug’s previous op-ed, then persuaded 7 of her PhD buddies to sign off on it. Prause’s op-ed cited only a few irrelevant citations, while offering no neuroscience-based studies. It also made several false statements about the cotnent and references in the earlier FTND op-ed. Several experts responded with this dismantling of the Prause op-ed: Op-ed: Who exactly is misrepresenting the science on pornography? (2016).

In late November, 2017 Prause once again asked the ICD-11 to delete the proposed diagnosis of “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder” (sex addiction, porn addiction). Her entire argument on the ICD rested upon a press release by 3 non-profit kink organizations (Center for Positive Sexuality, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance), and AASECT’s  2016 proclamation. (In addition, she falsely claimed that ATSA supported her views.) YBOP wrote an article dismantling the “group position” paper opposing porn and sex addiction (November, 2017). A few days later Prause used two new usernames to edit the Sex Addiction Wikipedia page adding content that mirrors her ICD-11 request to abolish “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder”:


OTHERS – April, 2017: Prause insults Professor Gail Dines, PhD, perhaps for joining the Op-ed: Who exactly is misrepresenting the science on pornography?

Prause, who has not been affiliated with any academic institution for more than 2 years, attacks Professor Dines in a Tweet:

This public insult was part of a thread where Prause scathingly assailed a university student in Sweden for endeavoring to study abuse of porn performers.


OTHERS – May, 2017: Prause attacks SASH (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health)

Background: Prause has asserted that she has “debunked” and “falsified” the work of dozens of expert addiction neuroscientists with a single flawed study. That study has been formally critiqued repeatedly in the academic literature, as explained below.

Perhaps upset that SASH’s new Position Paper dared to look to the preponderance of neuroscientific evidence on the subject of sexual behavior addiction instead of looking to Prause’s assertions, Prause tweeted the following unjustifed, retaliatory claims. SASH has never commented on Prause.

Tweet #1 to SASH:

Tweet #2 to SASH:


OTHERS – September 14, 2017: Prause claims all who believe porn can be harmful and addictive are “science-illiterate & misogynistic”

Link to twitter thread


OTHERS – January 24, 2018: Prause files groundless complaint against therapist Staci Sprout

Continuing her behind-the-scenes pattern of filing baseless, harassing complaints against anyone whose views Prause disagrees with, Prause filed a complaint against therapist Staci Sprout, accusing Sprout of “conspiracy theories.” This was after falsely accusing her on a Facebook post comment of practicing without a license. Note that Prause tried to persuade the State of Washington to hide her attack from Sprout. Because the complaint was baseless, Prause was not considered a whistleblower, and identity was not protected.

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According to the records, Washington received Prause’s complaint on January 24th, and the case was opened on January 30th. Two days later (February 1st) the State of Washington dismissed the empty complaint (without an investigation) and closed the case, declaring that even if the allegations were true, no violation of law would have occurred.

To understand Prause’s dishonesty and irrational action look at her “complaint” to the State of Washington. Prause targeted the following Sprout post, which is found on the Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder section (CSBD) of the ICD-11 (you can’t read the comments unless you create a username):

Again let us not neglect to consider the financial interests of those who benefit by the billions from unidentified, untreated compulsive sexual behavior. Two easy examples: “free” pornography sites who are paid for advertising, and drug manufacturers of ED drugs. They might even have lobbyists.

Context: The above comment was made in a general response to dozens of Nicole Prause comments where Prause personally attacked therapists and organizations (IITAP, SASH, ASAM) for supposedly “profiting from sex and porn addiction.” Prause has spent the last 2 years obsessively posting on the ICD-11 beta draft, doing her best to prevent the CSBD diagnosis from making it into the final manual. In fact, Prause has posted more comments than everyone else combined.

When Sprout dared to point out the more likely profiteers, Prause reported her to Washington State! Here’s Prause complaint to the Board:

Violation: Stated that we had “lobbyists” and that “pornography sites who are paid for advertising, and drug manufactures of ED drugs”. None of this is true. Neither I nor any of my colleagues who publish peer-reviewed science have any “lobbyist” efforts. These conspiracy theories appear promoted to support her own books and profit her therapy practice.

Notice how Prause lied, saying that Sprout’s comment was about Prause and unnamed colleagues – and not, as Sprout actually wrote, about the billions made by “free pornography sites” (most owned by wealthy Mindgeek) and “drug manufacturers of ED drugs”. In short, this is not a legitimate complaint; it’s simply harassment.


OTHERS – January 29, 2018: Prause threatens therapists who would diagnose sexual behavior addicts using the upcoming “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder” diagnosis in the ICD-11

Her aggression is absurd given the fact that experts who serve on the ICD-11 wrote, in the world’s top psychiatry journal that,

Currently, there is an active scientific discussion about whether compulsive sexual behaviour disorder can constitute the manifestation of a behavioural addiction[5]. For ICD-11, a relatively conservative position has  been recommended, recognizing that we do not yet have definitive information on whether the processes involved in the development and maintenance of the disorder are equivalent to those observed in substance  use disorders, gambling and gaming[6]. For this reason, compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is not included in the ICD-11 grouping of disorders due to substance use and addictive behaviours, but rather in that of  impulse control disorders. The understanding of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder will evolve as research elucidates the phenomenology and neurobiological underpinnings of the condition[7].

Anyone who considers the proposed disorder itself can see that it is intended to encompass sexual behavior addicts by whatever label.


March, 2018 – Libelous Claim that Gary Wilson Was Fired

Dr. Nicole Prause prepared a libelous blog piece, which she posted on an adult industry website. It was removed after Wilson tweeted this. (original url: http://mikesouth.com/scumbags/dr-nicole-prause-destroys-yourbrainonporn-…)

Note: Prause often flaunts her close ties to the adult industry. The site describes itself as follows:

Mike South adult industry blog, the premier destination for adult industry news since 1998. Mike South was a small-time porn producer, who won two AVN awards, turned adult news blog pioneer. South was cited on a host of major news sites, and Gawker.com acknowledged him as “the gonzo king of porn gossip”.

In her defamatory piece, she knowingly, falsely stated that,

[Gary Wilson] claims to have been a “professor in Biology”. In reality, he was supposed to be an undergrad instructor, not a professor, for a lab section at Southern Oregon University. He was fired  without pay immediately before completing even a quarter.

In truth, Gary was an Adjunct Instructor at Southern Oregon University and has never claimed to be a professor (although careless journalists and websites – including a now-defunct website that pirated many TEDx talks and described the speakers carelessly without contacting them – have assigned him an array of titles in error).

He taught at Southern Oregon University on two occasions. He was never “fired,” as can be seen from the employment documents beneath this paragraph. Gary also taught anatomy, physiology and pathology at a number of other schools over a period of two decades, and was certified to teach these subjects by the education departments of both Oregon and California.

——————————————————-

Below is the “un-redacted” copy of the document Prause posted on several websites. Prause claimed it meant that Gary was terminated, when it actually meant “terminate paychecks” as Gary had to resign due to a medical emergency. The Prause versions redacted the COMMENTS section, where SOU stated that Gary resigned due to a health issue.

Furthermore, Gary receives no compensation from the charity to which his proceeds from his book go. His position as Research Officer is an honorary (volunteer) one. Nor does he serve on the Board of the charity or otherwise determine how it disburses its funds.

He hopes that one day TED will remove the unmerited warning that his critics lobbied (long and hard) to have placed on his very popular TEDx talk.

In addition to placing the redacted employment document and associated libelous statements on a porn industry site, Prause used Quora and Twitter to spread her lies. In doing so, Prause was banned from Quora, and suspend by Twitter. See these two sections from the “Prause page”:

Gary also hopes that Dr. Prause will quit libeling and harassing him and others. Although this new instance of libel (her false claim that Gary was fired) isn’t as shocking as her libelous claim that she has a no-contact court order against him, it is equally untrue.

Perhaps it is time for Dr. Prause to grow up and behave like the professional she claims to be.

PS: Southern Oregon University confirmed that Nicole Prause was the only one who sought these records. Email below:


March 5, 2018 – Prause banned from Quora for harassing Gary Wilson

Email to Gary Wilson confrming Prause’s harassment and violation of quora rules (not the first violation for harassing Gary Wilson)

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Quora Bans Nicole Prause for harassment:


March 12, 2018 – Prause’s Liberos Twitter account suspended for posting Gary Wilson’s private information in violation of Twitter Rules


March and April, 2018 – Prause files bogus DMCA takedown requests in an attempt to hide her harassment and defamation

As you can see in the 3 preceding sections, Prause posted Gary Wilson’s Southern Oregon University employment records on Twitter, Quora, and an adult website. In her defamatory posts, Prause knowingly and falsely stated that Gary Wilson was fired and had never previously taught at Southern Oregon University. Wilson was not fired and had previously taught at SOU. These violations resulted in Prause being permanently banned from Quora and suspended from Twitter, with a warning. Wilson sent the adult website (MikeSouth) a DMCA takedown notice, which resulted in the Prause “article” being deleted. (deleted url: http://mikesouth.com/scumbags/dr-nicole-prause-destroys-yourbrainonporn-…).

In a clear reprisal for foiling her impulsive plans, Prause filed her first DMCA takedown request with my website host on 3/29/2018. For those who may not know, DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A DMCA takedown notice is used to have copyrighted materials removed from a website. Prause filed a DMCA takedown as a backdoor way to have this page chronicling her harassment and defamation removed or gutted. Prause is claiming that screenshots of her tweets are copyrighted material. Tweets are generally not copyrightable, and hers are not. Every day thousands of websites and countless Twitter users post screenshots of tweets. A portion of Prause’s first DMCA complaint:

Identification of material that is infringing and which you wish to have taken down or blocked and enough information to allow the OSP to locate the material, e.g., an URL to the offending page;
URL: www.yourbrainonporn.com containing 3,040 references to me. Examples are attached and include pages like: https://yourbrainonporn.com/nicole-prauses-pdf-her-span-lab-website

A portion of Gary Wilson’s response to Prause’s DMCA takedown request:

It’s disturbing that Prause claims to be a victim here, as I have documented multiple instances of her harassing myself and others – including researchers, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, former UCLA colleagues, a UK charity, men in recovery, a TIME magazine editor, several professors, IITAP, SASH, Fight The New Drug, the academic journal Behavioral Sciences, and the head of the academic journal CUREUS: https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/nicole-prauses-pdf-her-span-lab-website

No one appears to be stalking Prause. It is she who stalks and harasses others. Most of my site’s references to Prause are on this very long page that chronicles 5 years of Prause harassing and libeling me and others.

As for other places where Prause name appears, YBOP contains about 10,000 pages, and it’s a clearinghouse for nearly everything associated with Internet porn use and its effects on the user. Nicole Prause has published multiple studies about porn use and hypersexuality, and by her own admission, is a professional “debunker” of porn addiction and porn-induced sexual problems.

A Google search for “Nicole Prause” + pornography” returns about 11,000 pages. She’s quoted in hundreds of journalistic articles about porn use and porn addiction, in addition to her research related to pornography use. She’s on TV, radio, podcasts, and YouTube channels claiming to have debunked porn addiction with a single (heavily criticized) study. So Prause’s name is inevitable on a site like mine, which functions as a clearinghouse for research and news associated with Internet porn’s effects. YBOP also critiques other questionable research on porn and related subjects. These critiques are not personal, but rather substantive.

This DMCA take-down request is just the latest in a long string of harassment incidents by Prause. Dr. Prause has tweeted about me nearly 100 times, while I never tweet about her (other than correcting a few of her lies). Prause has used dozens of fake usernames to post comments about me on porn recovery forums (https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/nicole-prauses-pdf-her-span-lab-website#ybr). Prause has created an amazon AWS page to libel and harass me and many others (https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/weilerdefamation/PressRelease_DefamationBySenatorWeiler.txt).

Thank you for your attention.

Gary Wilson

After a few back and forths with Wilson the website host suggested, “that the two of you can work out whatever it is that is going on here“.  Gary Wilson responded:

Dear ______

Thank you for your message. Dr. Prause already has my contact information, which you are welcome to provide her again. However, she has demanded that I not contact her directly (even though I have never initiated direct contact with her). Unfortunately, therefore, I’m not sure how it would be possible for us to exchange views or reach an accord in the way you propose.

My website is a clearing house for news related to claims about porn’s effects. It is my understanding, based on legal advice, that Tweets are generally not copyrightable, nor are images of them protected by the DMCA. There are no other images relating to Dr. Prause that I’m aware of on YBOP.

Dr. Prause’s behavior and biases, as documented by her Tweets, are essential reading for anyone trying to understand the politics currently influencing the study and reporting of internet porn’s effects. Thus, without solid reason for their removal, they need to remain on YBOP.

I regret that Dr. Prause has tried to involve [you] in her latest harassment efforts.

Best regards,

Gary

The YBOP hosting service responded by “closing the ticket”:

Greetings,

Thank you for the update on this issue. We’ll pass along your contact email address. I hope this leads to an amicable solution for both of you.

At this time we consider this Copyright Infringement matter resolved. I have set this ticket to automatically close in 96 hours while we continue to monitor for additional complaints.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Not to be deterred, Prause acquired the services of DMCA Defender.com, who filed a second DMCA takedown request on April 17th, 2018. Once again, DMCA Defender claimed that screenshots of tweets are somehow copyrighted. They provided no authority to support the assertion, but did provide the urls of each screenshot. Gary Wilson, once again, responded to Prause’s harassment:

Dear _______

In case you need details for your records, I see that my harasser, Nicole Prause, has now hired a company to assist her in spurious DMCA takedown requests. Prause is falsely claiming that screenshots of her tweets and Facebook comments are copyrighted material. Nearly all of the screenshots the company complains of can be found on the YBOP page that documents Prause’s harassment of myself and others – including researchers, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, former UCLA colleagues, a UK charity, men in recovery, a TIME magazine editor, several professors, IITAP, SASH, Fight The New Drug, the academic journal Behavioral Sciences, and the head of the academic journal CUREUS. See – https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/nicole-prauses-pdf-her-span-lab-website

As stated in response to Prause’s previous DMCA attempt, my website is a clearing house for news related to claims about porn’s effects. It is my understanding, based on legal advice, that Tweets are not copyrightable, nor are images of them protected by the DMCA. With this request, Prause is attempting to remove evidence of her harassment, cyber-stalking and defamation. Unless the law itself changes, the screenshots need to remain.

This DMCA take-down request appears to be the latest in a long string of harassment incidents. Dr. Prause has tweeted about me nearly 100 times, while I never tweet about her (other than correcting a few of her lies). In fact, Prause attacked me yet again on twitter yesterday.

Prause has used dozens of fake usernames to post comments about me on porn recovery forums

Prause has created (and linked to) an Amazon AWS page to libel and harass me and various others: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/weilerdefamation/PressRelease_DefamationBySenatorWeiler.txt. Prause has an additional 10 Amazon pages about me – all contain false allegations and faked ‘evidence.’

Just prior to Prause‘s first DMCA takedown attempt, she placed my employment records from Southern Oregon University on several venues, including Twitter, Quora, and an adult industry website. Prause falsely claimed that I was fired (I wasn’t), and that I had never before taught at SOU (I had). All explained here:

The outcome was that Prause was permanently banned from Quora, was temporarily banned from Twitter. In response to my request, the adult industry website (http://mikesouth.com/scumbags/dr-nicole-prause-destroys-yourbrainonporn-dont-fall-22064/) subsequently deleted Prause’s libelous “article.” This incident apparently spurred Prause to attempt to her two specious DMCA takedown requests.

Again, I regret that she is wasting your time in this way.

Gary Wilson


OTHERS – April 11, 2018: Prause falsely claims medical journal Cureus is a predatory journal and engages in fraud

Nicole Prause attacked Cureus on Twitter over a paper that it had merely corrected (slightly). Prause claimed that Cureus is a predatory journal which engages in fraud. Both claims are false as predatory journals always charge for publication and are not PubMed indexed. Cureus does not charge authors for publishing, and it is PubMed indexed. Prause, as expected, provided no examples of Cureus engaging in fraud.

First, the Journal’s twitter acount debunked Prause’s lies:

Next, John Adler, MD stepped in to refute Prause’s claims. She then falsely accused him of violating a non-existent no-contact order, blocked him on Twitter, and phoned in a spurious complaint of harassment to the Stanford’s Dean’s Office.

John Adler’s final reponse, before being blocked by Prause:


Prause’s history of intentionally mischaracterizing porn related research (including her own)

Over the last few years Nicole Prause has not only mischaracterized the current state of porn research, she has misrepresented the findings of her own studies. What’s going on here? By her own admission, rejects the concept of porn addiction. For example, a quote from this recent Martin Daubney article about sex/porn addictions:

Dr Nicole Prause, principal investigator at the Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience (Span) Laboratory in Los Angeles, calls herself a “professional debunker” of sex addiction.

In addition, Nicole Prause’s former Twitter slogan suggests she may lack the impartiality required for scientific research:

“Studying why people choose to engage in sexual behaviors without invoking addiction nonsense”

We will start with Prause’s consistent claims to the media that no studies have been published that support either porn addiction or porn-induced sexual problems. Prause said this in the Congressional Quarterly Researcher (2016, October 21):

Moreover, says Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist and CEO of Liberos, a company that researches sexuality in Los Angeles, there is no proof that pornography is causing a rising rate of erectile dysfunction nor that it is addictive.

The facts:

This Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed (debunking an earlier Op-Ed) contained 80 peer-reviewed studies found on these two lists: 1, 2. Within a few days Nicole Prause and 3 therapists appeared on a Mormon Matters podcast to offer a “rebuttal” to the Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed. When the show’s host asked Prause to address the many studies cited in support of the Op-Ed, Prause said the following:

“Not one of the studies the cited asked about the positive effects of sex films”

False. Most of these 85 studies simply correlated porn use with sexual or relationship satisfaction. A few even reported porn use sexual satisfaction. She also said,

“They were probably not peer-reviewed.”

False. All were peer-reviewed.

“A lot of the studies they cited were in predatory journals.”

False. None were in predatory journals. Many of the papers were authored by some of the top neuroscientists at Yale University, Cambridge University, University of Duisburg-Essen, and the Max Planck Institute.

“So what they are citing is not respected by any scientist.”

False. No scientist has come forth to officially critique any of the papers in those lists of peer-reviewed literature.

It’s telling that Prause failed to provide the name of a single study from those lists that was not peer-reviewed, or that was published in a predatory journal. Once again Prause makes outlandish claims, yet never provides an iota of evidence to support them. It seems as though Dr. Prause is unaware of the Americal Psychological Association’s “General Principles,” one of which is “Integrity.” Excerpt:

Psychologists do not steal, cheat or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional misrepresentation of fact.

Prause has also misrepresented the findings of her own studies to the media (which is the primary reason this website has been obliged to critique Prause’s studies/claims). As examples, we examine a few of the claims surrounding Prause’s three most publicized papers, which she repeatedly claims debunk either porn addiction or porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

1) Steele et al., 2013:

Prause, as the Steele et al. spoesperson, claimed that her subjects’ brain response differered from other types of addicts (cocaine was the example). A few interviews of Prause:

TV interview:

Reporter: “They were shown various erotic images, and their brain activity monitored.”

Prause: “If you think sexual problems are an addiction, we would have expected to see an enhanced response, maybe, to those sexual images. If you think it’s a problem of impulsivity, we would have expected to see decreased responses to those sexual images. And the fact that we didn’t see any of those relationships suggests that there’s not great support for looking at these problem sexual behaviors as an addiction.”

Psychology Today interview:

What was the purpose of the study?

Prause: Our study tested whether people who report such problems look like other addicts from their brain responses to sexual images. Studies of drug addictions, such as cocaine, have shown a consistent pattern of brain response to images of the drug of abuse, so we predicted that we should see the same pattern in people who report problems with sex if it was, in fact, an addiction.

Does this prove sex addiction is a myth?

Prause: If our study is replicated, these findings would represent a major challenge to existing theories of sex “addiction.” The reason these findings present a challenge is that it shows their brains did not respond to the images like other addicts to their drug of addiction.

The above claims that subjects’ “brains did not respond like other addicts” is without support, and is nowhere to be found in the actual study. It’s only found in Prause’s interviews. In Steele et al., 2013, the subjects had higher EEG (P300) readings when viewing sexual images, which is exactly what occurs when addicts view images related to their addiction (as in this study on cocaine addicts). Commenting under the Psychology Today interview of Prause, senior psychology professor emeritus John A. Johnson said:

“My mind still boggles at the Prause claim that her subjects’ brains did not respond to sexual images like drug addicts’ brains respond to their drug, given that she reports higher P300 readings for the sexual images. Just like addicts who show P300 spikes when presented with their drug of choice. How could she draw a conclusion that is the opposite of the actual results?

Dr. Johnson, who has no opinion on sex addiction, commented a second time under the Prause interview:

Mustanski asks, “What was the purpose of the study?” And Prause replies, “Our study tested whether people who report such problems [problems with regulating their viewing of online erotica] look like other addicts from their brain responses to sexual images.”

(Said Johnson) But the study did not compare brain recordings from persons having problems regulating their viewing of online erotica to brain recordings from drug addicts and brain recordings from a non-addict control group, which would have been the obvious way to see if brain responses from the troubled group look more like the brain responses of addicts or non-addicts…

Five peer-reviewed papers have since exposed the truth about the lack of support for Prause’s claims about her team’s work: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. For much more see this “debate” between Nicole Prause (as anonymous) and John A. Johnson in the comments section below Johnson’s 2013 Psychology Today article about the sex addiction controversy

2) Prause et al. 2015:

In the first unsupported claim Nicole Prause boldly publicized on her SPAN lab website, proclaiming that her solitary study “debunks porn addiction”:

What researcher would ever claim to debunk an entire field of research and to refute all previous studies with a single EEG study?

Nicole Prause also claimed her study contained 122 subjects (N). In reality, the study had only 55 “compulsive porn users.” The other 67 participants were controls.

In a third dubious claim, Prause, et al. stated in both the abstract and in the body of the study:

“These are the first functional physiological data of persons reporting VSS regulation problems.”

This is clearly not the case, as the Cambridge fMRI study was published nearly a year earlier.

Six peer-reviewed papers disagree with Nicole Prause’s interpretation of her study: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6. The author of the fourth critique, neuroscientist Mateusz Gola, summed up it up nicely:

“Unfortunately the bold title of Prause et al. (2015) article has already had an impact on mass media, thus popularizing a scientifically unjustified conclusion.”

Finally, for Prause’s claims of falsification and the resulting dubious headlines to be legitimate, all of Prause’s 55 subjects would have to have been actual porn addicts. Not some, not most, but every single subject. All signs point to a good number of the 55 Prause subjects being non-addicts.

The subjects were recruited from Pocatello Idaho via online advertisements requesting people who were “experiencing problems regulating their viewing of sexual images”. Pocatello Idaho is over 50% Mormon, so many of the subjects may feel that any amount of porn use is a serious problem. In a serious methodological flaw, none of the subjects were screened for porn addiction.

Make no mistake, neither Steele et al., 2013 nor Prause et al., 2015 described these 55 subjects as porn addicts or compulsive porn users. The subjects only admitted to feeling “distressed” by their porn use. Confirming the mixed nature of her subjects, Prause admitted in 2013 interview that some of the 55 subjects experienced only minor problems (which means they were not porn addicts):

“This study only included people who reported problems, ranging from relatively minor to overwhelming problems, controlling their viewing of visual sexual stimuli.”

Key point: How can you debunk the porn addiction model if many of your “porn addicts” are not really porn addicts?

3) Prause & Pfaus 2015:

This paper wasn’t a study at all. Instead, Prause claimed to have gathered data from four of her earlier studies, none of which had anything to do with erectile dysfunction.  None of the data from the Prause & Pfaus (2015) paper matched the four earlier studies. The discrepancies were not small and have not been explained. A comment by researcher Richard A. Isenberg MD, published in Sexual Medicine Open Access, points out several (but not all) of the discrepancies, errors, and unsupported claims (a lay critique describes more discrepancies). Prause made a number of false or unsupported claims associated with this paper:

Many of the articles about this study claimed that porn use lead to better erections, yet that’s not what the paper found. In recorded interviews both Prause and Pfaus falsely claimed that they had measured erections in the lab, and the men who used porn had better erections. The Jim Pfaus TV interview Jim Pfaus he states:

“We looked at the correlation of their ability to get an erection in the lab,”

We found a liner correlation with the amount of porn they viewed at home, and the latencies which for example they get an erection is faster.”

In this radio interview Nicole Prause claimed that erections were measured in the lab. The exact quote from the show:

“The more people watch erotica at home they have stronger erectile responses in the lab, not reduced.”

Yet this paper did not assess erection quality in the lab nor “speed of erections.” The paper only claimed to have asked guys to rate their “arousal” after briefly viewing porn (and it’s not clear from the underlying papers that even that actually happened in the case of all subjects). In any case, an excerpt from the paper itself admitted that:

“No physiological genital response data were included to support men’s self-reported experience.”

In a second unsupported claim, lead author Prause tweeted several times about the study, letting the world know that 280 subjects were involved, and that they had “no problems at home.” However, the four underlying studies contained only 234 male subjects, so “280” is way off.

A third unsuported claim: Dr. Isenberg wondered, how is it possible for Prause & Pfaus to have compared different subjects’ arousal levels when three different types of sexual stimuli were used in the 4 underlying studies? Two studies used a 3-minute film, one study used a 20-second film, and one study used still images. It’s well established that films are far more arousing than photos, so no legitimate research would group these subjects together to make claims about their responses. What’s shocking is that in this paper Prause & Pfaus unaccountably claim that all 4 studies used sexual films:

“The VSS presented in the studies were all films.”

This statement is absoluely false and clearly shown in Prause’s own underlying studies.

A fourth unsupported claim: Dr. Isenberg also asked how Prause & Pfaus compared different subjects’ arousal levels when only 1 of the 4 underlying studies used a 1 to 9 scale. One used a 0 to 7 scale, one used a 1 to 7 scale, and one study did not report sexual arousal ratings. Once again Prause & Pfaus inexplicably claim that:

“men were asked to indicate their level of “sexual arousal” ranging from 1 “not at all” to 9 “extremely.”

This too is false as the underlying papers prove.

In summary, all the Prause-generated headlines about porn improving erections or arousal, or anything else, are completely unsupported. Claims in the Prause & Pfaus paper are falsified by Prause’s own studies underlying the paper.


Relevant Material

Article: “When Scientists Lie.”

This article aligns perfectly with what we have seen and experienced. A few excerpts:

Often individuals who engage in scientific fraud are high achievers. They are prominent in their disciplines but seek to be even more recognised for the pre-eminence of their scholarly contributions. Along with their drive for recognition can come charisma and grandiosity, as well as a craving for the limelight. Their productivity can border on the manic. Their narcissism will often result in a refusal to accept the manifest dishonesty and culpability of their conduct. The rationalising and self-justifying books of Stapel and Obokata are examples of this phenomenon.

When criticism is made or doubts are expressed about their work, these scientists often react aggressively. They may threaten whistleblowers or attempt to displace responsibility for their conduct onto others. Such cases can generate persistent challenges in the courts, as the scientists in question deny any form of impropriety.

These fraudulent scientists often use the collaboration of others, including across institutions, to blur the lines of responsibility and make it difficult to identify who has generated particular components of research and whether there has been proper authorisation by relevant ethics committees….

Research misconduct often has multiple elements: data fraud, plagiarism and the exploitation of the work of others. People rarely engage in such conduct as a one-off and frequently engage in multiple forms of such dishonesty, until finally they are exposed.

This intellectual dishonesty damages colleagues, institutions, patients who receive suspect treatments, trajectories of research and confidence in scholarship.

It challenges institutions because those responsible for scientific fraud are often stars in the scholarly firmament and high earners of research funding. They put institutions, be they university departments or research laboratories, on the scholarly map and keep them there.

Exposing their misconduct risks the status of the whole institution and its commercial viability. It’s hardly surprising then that accusations and revelations of such misconduct are often unwelcome, and that too many times the blowtorch of scrutiny is turned on the whistleblower rather than the perpetrator.

Research misconduct generally matters most when it reaches the point of publication. Multiple instances of research fraud have been revealed in recent years, resulting in an unparalleled number of retractions in high profile and reputable journals.

The unpalatable truth is that the check and balance of peer review has repeatedly been shown to be ineffectual, and has been subverted and circumvented. We need to do better if we are to reduce the extent of the phenomenon of fraudulent research.

A second very relevant article: “Blame Bad Incentives For Bad Science.”

A single scientist might be publishing papers, peer-reviewing other peoples’ papers, submitting grants, serving on review committees for other peoples’ grants, editing a journal, applying for a job and serving on a hiring committee — all at the same time. And so the standards for scientific integrity, for rigorous methods, do not reside with the institutions or the funders or the journals. Those standards are within the scientists themselves. The inmates really do run the scientific asylum.

A relevant study: “Need for Drama” is a maladaptive personality trait.

Scientists have begun to investigate a personality trait in which, “people impulsively manipulate others from a position of perceived victimhood.” They have confirmed a three factor model of “Need For Drama” (NFD) consisting of, “interpersonal manipulation, impulsive outspokenness, and persistent perceived victimhood.”

The Need for Drama (NFD) personality can be defined as a compound personality trait in which individuals impulsively manipulate others from a position of perceived victimization. …

We expect individuals with greater NFD to share some characteristics with those who exhibit BPD and HPD features, namely susceptibility to interpersonal conflict, manipulative behaviors, impulsive decision-making, and pervasive perceived victimization. …

For more, see Frankowski, S., Lupo, A. K., Smith, B. A., Dane’El, M., Ramos, C., & Morera, O. F. (2016). “Developing and Testing a Scale to Measure Need for Drama.” Personality and Individual Differences, 89, 192-201.

Religious People Use Less Porn and Are No More Likely to Believe They Are Addicted

Have you heard these claims a lot recently? Or perhaps even believed they are true?

  1. Religious populations have higher rates of porn use than their secular brethren, and lie about it.
  2. Religious porn users are not really addicted to porn; they only believe they are addicted because they are ashamed.
  3. Believing in porn addiction is the source of any problems, not porn use itself.

Articles about a handful of highly publicized studies on porn use and religion have spread these claims, which many people, both religious and non-religious, have mistakenly begun to accept as fact. However, several air-tight new studies (some by the very researchers whose work has been most represented in such articles) dismantle the above 3 memes.

Meme #1 arises from a few studies that found higher rates of Google searches for sexual terms in “red states” (more religious and conservative), although multiple surveys of porn users almost always find that religious individuals use less porn than secular users. Memes 2 and 3 arise from articles spinning the results of several “perceived pornography addiction” studies by Dr. Joshua Grubbs.

First study: Religious people tell the truth about their porn use

In Social Desirability Bias in Pornography-Related Self-Reports: The Role of Religion, reserachers tested the hypothesis that religious individuals are more likely to lie about their porn use to researchers and in anonymous survey studies.

First, a backward glance. The “lying” hypothesis rested on a few studies analyzing all state-by-state frequency of Google searches for term such as “sex,” “porn,” “XXX,” and the like. These state-level studies reported that conservative or religious (“red”) states search frequently more porn-related terms. The authors of these studies suggested that their findings meant that (1) religious individuals watch more porn than the non-religious, and (2) religious porn users must therefore be lying about their porn use to researchers and in anonymous surveys.

But could lying really explain why nearly every study that employed anonymous surveys had found lower rates of porn use in religious individuals (study 1, study 2, study 3, study 4, study 5, study 6, study 7, study 8, study 9, study 10, study 11, study 12, study 13, study 14, study 15, study 16, study 17, study 18, study 19, study 20)? Should we believe the many anonymous surveys? Or only the two state-level Google search trend studies (MacInnis & Hodson, 2015; Whitehead & Perry, 2017)?

When researchers tested the hypothesis that, “religious people are lying about their porn use,” they found no evidence supporting that assumption. In fact, their results suggested that religious people may be more honest than secular individuals about porn use. In short, the state-wide comparison approach is clearly a flawed way of researching this topic. It’s not as reliable as anonymous surveys in which each subject’s level of religiosity is identified.

From the abstract:

However, contrary to popular sentiment-and our own hypotheses-we found no evidence for and much evidence against the suggestion that religious individuals have a more pronounced social desirability bias against the reporting of pornography consumption than the irreligious. Interaction terms assessing that possibility were either nonsignificant or significant in the reverse direction.

From the conclusion:

These results do not fit the narrative that religious individuals are underreporting consumption or overstating their opposition to pornography to a degree greater than the less religious and suggest that, if anything, researchers have been underestimating religious opposition to and avoidance of consuming pornography.

Thus, rather than causing a shame-based self-labeling of normative porn use as “porn addiction,” religion appears to be protective against porn use (and thus problematic porn use).

So, what might explain increased searching for sex-related terms in “red states?” It’s highly unlikely that regular porn users enjoying an hour-long session use Google to search for the relatively innocuous terms (“XXX”, “sex”, “porn”) that the researchers investigated. They would head directly to their favorite tube sites (probably bookmarked).

On the other hand, young people who are curious about sex or porn might employ such Google search terms. Guess what? The 15 states with the highest proportion of adolescents are “red states.” For more analysis concerning religion and porn use see this article: Is Utah #1 in Porn Use?

An aside: Before leaving the topic of religiosity and porn, it’s worth noting that some researchers have been embarrassingly eager to hammer home their own biases about religious people. Take “Surfing for Sexual Sin” by MacInnis and Hodson. These researchers’ dubious conclusions that religious people watch more porn (based on comparing state-level religiosity and volume of sex-related Google search terms) were inconsistent with the overwhelming majority of research results in the field. Nevertheless, MacInnis and Hodson took matters a step farther. They shared their conclusions with religious participants and found that,

those higher (vs. lower) in religiosity or religious fundamentalism considered the findings more inconsistent with personal knowledge of religious states and individuals, considered the findings less true, and considered the authors politically motivated.

In view of the research above, the religious participants were right to rely on their personal knowledge rather than the researchers’ faulty methodology and conclusions.

Second study: “Believing yourself addicted to porn” strongly correlated with use, but not with religiosity

In the last few years Dr. Joshua Grubbs has authored a rash of studies correlating porn users’ religiosity, hours of porn use, moral disapproval, and other variables with scores on his 9-item questionnaire “The Cyber Pornography Use Inventory” (CPUI-9). In an odd decision that has lead to much confusion, Grubbs refers to a subject’s total CPUI-9 score as “perceived pornography addiction.” This gives the false impression that the instrument somehow indicates the degree to which a subject merely “perceives” he is addicted (rather than being actually addicted). But no instrument can do that, and certainly not this one.

To say it another way, the phrase “perceived pornography addiction” indicates nothing more than a number: the total score on the following 9-item pornography-use questionnaire with its three extraneous questions about guilt and shame. It doesn’t sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of perceived vs. genuine addiction.

Perceived Compulsivity Section

  1. I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography.
  2. I feel unable to stop my use of online pornography.
  3. Even when I do not want to view pornography online, I feel drawn to it

Access Efforts Section

  1. At times, I try to arrange my schedule so that I will be able to be alone in order to view pornography.
  2. I have refused to go out with friends or attend certain social functions to have the opportunity to view pornography.
  3. I have put off important priorities to view pornography.

Emotional Distress Section

  1. I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online.
  2. I feel depressed after viewing pornography online.
  3. I feel sick after viewing pornography online.

As you can see, the CPUI-9 cannot distinguish between actual porn addiction and “belief” in porn addiction. Subjects never “labeled themselves as porn addicts” in any Grubbs study. They simply answered the 9 questions above, and earned a total score.

What correlations did the Grubbs studies actually report? Total CPUI-9 scores were related to religiosity (see next section as to why that is), but also related to “hours of porn viewed per week.” In some Grubbs studies a slightly stronger correlation occurred with religiosity, in others a stronger correlation occured with hours of porn use.

The media grabbed onto the correlation between religiosity and total CPUI-9 scores (now misleadingly labeled “perceived addiction”), and in the process journalists morphed the finding into “religious people only believe they’re addicted to porn.” The media ignored the just-as-strong correlation between CPUI-9 scores and hours of porn use, and pumped out hundreds of inaccurate articles like this blog post by David Ley: Your Belief in Porn Addiction Makes Things Worse: The label of “porn addict” causes depression but porn watching doesn’t. Here is Ley’s inaccurate description of a Joshua Grubbs study:

“If someone believed they were a sex addict, this belief predicted downstream psychological suffering, no matter how much, or how little, porn they were actually using.”

Removing Ley’s misrepresentations, the above sentence would accurately read: “Higher scores on the CPUI-9 correlated with scores on a psychological distress questionnaire (anxiety, depression, anger).” Put simply – porn addiction was associated with psychological distress (as was hours of porn use). This was a longitudinal study, and it found that this association between porn use and pyschological distress held steady for a year.

No matter how misleading, “perceived pornography addiction” appealed to the mainstream and spread across the media. Everyone assumed Grubbs had figured out a way to distinguish “addiction” and “belief in addiction.” But he hadn’t. He had just given a misleading title to his porn use inventory, the CPUI-9. Nevertheless, articles based on various CPUI-9 studies summed up these findings as:

  • Believing in porn addiction is the source of your problems, not porn use itself.
  • Religious porn users are not really addicted to porn (even if they score high on the Grubbs CPUI-9) – they just have shame.

Even practitioners were easily misled, because some clients really do believe their porn use is more destructive and pathological than their therapists think it is. These therapists assumed the Grubbs test somehow isolated these mistaken clients when it didn’t.

As the saying goes, “The only cure for bad science is more science.” Faced with thoughtful skepticism about his assumptions, and reservations about the unfounded claims that his CPUI-9 instrument could indeed distinguish “perceived pornography addiction” from genuine problematic porn use, Dr. Grubbs did the right thing as a scientist. He pre-registered a study to test his hypotheses/assumptions directly. Pre-registration is a sound scientific practice that prevents researchers from changing hypotheses after collecting data.

The results contradicted both his earlier conclusions and the meme (“porn addiction is just shame”) that the press helped to popularize.

Dr. Grubbs set out to prove that religiosity was the main predictor of “believing yourself addicted to porn.” He and his team of researchers surveyed 3 rather large, diverse samples (male, female, etc.): Who’s a Porn Addict? Examining the Roles of Pornography Use, Religiousness, and Moral Incongruence. (He posted the results online, although his team’s paper has not yet been formally published).

This time, however, he didn’t rely on his CPUI-9 instrument. (The CPUI-9 includes 3 “guilt and shame/emotional distress” questions not normally found in addiction instruments – and which skew its results, causing religious porn users to score higher and non-religious users to score lower than subjects do on standard addiction-assessment instruments.) Instead, the Grubbs team asked 2 direct yes/no questions of porn users (“I believe that I am addicted to internet pornography.” “I would call myself an internet pornography addict.”), and compared results with scores on a “moral disapproval” questionnaire.

Directly contradicting his earlier claims, Dr. Grubbs and his research team found that believing you are addicted to porn correlates most strongly with daily hours of porn use, not with religiousness. As noted above, some of Grubbs studies also found that hours of use was a stronger predictor of “perceived addiction” than religiosity. From the new study’s abstract:

In contrast to prior literature indicating that moral incongruence and religiousness are the best predictors of perceived addiction [using the CPUI-9], results from all three samples indicated that male gender and pornography use behaviors were the most strongly associated with self-identification as a pornography addict.

Being male is also strongly predictive of self-labeling as “addicted.” Rates of male porn users who answered “yes” to one of the “addicted” questions ranged from 8-20% in the new study’s samples. These rates are consistent with other 2017 research (19% of college males addicted). Indidentally, this study on male porn users reported problematic use rates of 27.6%, and this study reported that 28% of male porn users evaluated met the threshold for problematic use.

In short, there is widespread distress among some of today’s porn users. High rates of problematic use suggest that the World Health Organization’s proposed diagnosis of “Compulsive sexual behavior disorder” (in the ICD-11 beta draft) is genuinely needed.

Based on their results, Dr. Grubbs and his co-authors advise that, “mental and sexual health professionals should take the concerns of clients identifying as pornography addicts seriously.”

A non-Grubbs study questions the CPUI-9 as instrument to assess either perceived or actual porn addiction

The above studies are not the only ones to cast doubt on Grubbs’s earlier conclusions and the press about them. Just a couple of months ago, in September, 2017, another study came out, which tested one of Grubbs’s hypotheses: Do Cyber Pornography Use Inventory-9 Scores Reflect Actual Compulsivity in Internet Pornography Use? Exploring the Role of Abstinence Effort.

The researchers measured actual compulsivity by asking participants to abstain from internet porn for 14 days. (Only a handful of studies have asked participants to abstain from porn use, which is one of the most unambiguous ways to reveal its effects.)

Study participants took the CPUI-9 before and after their 14-day attempt at porn abstinence. (Note: They did not abstain from masturbation or sex, only internet porn.) The researchers’ main objective was to compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ scores of the 3 sections of the CPUI-9 to several variables.

Among other findings (discussed in depth here), the inability to control use (failed abstinence attempts) correlated with the CPUI-9’s actual addiction questions 1-6, but not with the CPUI-9’s guilt and shame (emotional distress) questions 7-9. Similarly, “moral disapproval” of pornography use was only slightly related to CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” scores. These results suggest that the CPUI-9 guilt and shame questions (7-9) shouldn’t be part of a porn addiction (or even “perceived porn addiction”) assessment because they are unrelated to frequency of porn use.

To say it differently, the most addicted subjects did not score higher on religiosity. Moreover, no matter how it is measured, actual porn addiction/compulsivity is strongly correlated with higher levels of porn use, rather than with “emotional distress” questions (guilt and shame).

In summary the three new religion and pornography studies support the following:

  1. Religiousness does not “cause” porn addiction. Religiosity is not related to believing you are addicted to porn.
  2. The amount of porn viewed is the strongest predictor (by far) of actual porn addiction or belief that someone is addicted to porn.
  3. The Grubbs studies (or any study that used the CPUI-9) did not, in fact, assess”perceived porn addiction” or “belief in porn addiction” or “self-labeling as an addict,” let alone distinguish it from actual addiction.

Study invalidates the CPUI-9 as an instrument to assess either “perceived pornography addiction” or actual pornography addiction (2017)

SECTION 1: Introduction

A new study (Fernandez et al., 2017) tested and analyzed the CPUI-9, a purported “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire developed by Joshua Grubbs, and found that it couldn’t accurately assess “actual porn addiction” or “perceived porn addiction” (Do Cyber Pornography Use Inventory-9 Scores Reflect Actual Compulsivity in Internet Pornography Use? Exploring the Role of Abstinence Effort). It also found that 1/3 of the CPUI-9 questions should be omitted to return valid results related to “moral disapproval”, “religiosity”, and “hours of porn use.” The findings raise significant doubts about conclusions drawn from any study that has employed the CPUI-9 or relied on studies that employed it. Many of the new study’s concerns and criticisms mirror those outlined in this extensive YBOP critique.

In simple terms the CPUI-9 studies and the headlines they spawned contributed to the following questionable assertions:

  1. “Belief in porn addiction” or “perceived pornography addiction” can be distinguished from “actual pornography addiction” by the CPUI-9.
  2. “Current levels of porn use” is the one valid proxy for actual porn addiction, not scores on porn addiction assessment questionnaires.
  3. In some subjects “current levels of porn use” did not correlate linearly with total CPUI-9 scores. Grubbs asserts these individuals falsely “believe” they are addicted to porn.
  4. In the CPUI-9 studies, “religiosity” correlates with Total CPUI-9 scores. Because of this Grubbs suggests that most religious porn users only believe they are addicted, and do not have an actual porn addiction.
  5. In some of these studies both “religiosity” & “moral disapproval” correlate with Total CPUI-9 scores. Because of this Grubbs and his teams claim that religious porn users have shame-induced “belief in pornography addiction,” not actual pornography addiction.

Articles based on various CPUI-9 studies sum up these findings as:

  • Believing in porn addiction is the source of your problems, not porn use itself.
  • Religious porn users are not really addicted to porn (even if they score high on the CPUI-9) – they are simply experiencing shame & guilt surrounding their porn use.

In this extraordinary 2016 Psychology Today article, Joshua Grubbs sums up his views, claiming that porn addiction is nothing more than religious shame:

Being labeled “porn addict” by a partner, or even by oneself, has nothing to do with the amount of porn a man views, says Joshua Grubbs, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green University. Instead, it has everything to do with religiosity and moral attitudes toward sex. In short, he says, “It’s shame-motivated.”

Contrary to Grubbs’s above statement, his studies actually found that “the amount of porn a man views” is very much related to porn addiction (scores on the CPUI-9).

Grubbs continues:

….Grubbs calls it “perceived pornography addiction.” “It functions very differently from other addictions.”

As Fernandez et al., 2017 reveals, the CPUI-9 has, in fact, failed to assess “perceived porn addiction.” And actual porn addiction functions very much like other addictions.

Bottom line: The results of Fernandez et al., 2017 place all assertions based on CPUI-9 results, and all of the resulting headlines, in serious doubt.

The problems with the “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire (CPUI-9)

To understand the new study’s importance we need to first examine the Cyber Pornography Use Inventory (CPUI-9). Important to note:

  • The CPUI-9 is divided into 3 named sections with 3 questions each (take special note of the “Emotional Distress” questions).
  • Each question is scored using a Likert scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “not at all,” and 7 being “extremely.”
  • Whenever Grubbs uses the phrase “perceived addiction” he really means nothing more than the total score on his CPUI-9 test, yet the test cannot actually distinguish “perceived” addiction from real addiction.

Perceived Compulsivity Section

  1. I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography.
  2. I feel unable to stop my use of online pornography.
  3. Even when I do not want to view pornography online, I feel drawn to it

Access Efforts Section

  1. At times, I try to arrange my schedule so that I will be able to be alone in order to view pornography.
  2. I have refused to go out with friends or attend certain social functions to have the opportunity to view pornography.
  3. I have put off important priorities to view pornography.

Emotional Distress Section

  1. I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online.
  2. I feel depressed after viewing pornography online.
  3. I feel sick after viewing pornography online.

Examining the CPUI-9 reveals three glaring truths exposed by the authors of Fernandez et al., 2017 (and in the YBOP critique):

  • The CPUI-9 cannot differentiate between an actual porn addiction and a mere belief in porn addiction (“perceived addiction”).
  • The first two sections (questions 1-6) assess the signs and symptoms of an actual pornography addiction (not “perceived pornography addiction”).
  • The “Emotional Distress” questions (7-9) assess levels of shame and guilt, and are not found in any other type of addiction assessment (i.e., they don’t belong).

We will first provide a brief summary of Fernandez et al., 2017 followed by excerpts from its findings with our comments.

SECTION 2: Fernandez et al., 2017 – Design & Findings

A brief description of Fernandez et al., 2017:

This was a unique study in that it asked participants to abstain from internet porn for 14 days. (Only a handful of studies have asked participants to abstain from porn, which is one of the most unambiguous ways to reveal its effects.) Participants took the CPUI-9 before and after their 14-day attempt at porn abstinence. (Note: They did not abstain from masturbation or sex, only porn.) The researchers’ main objective was to compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ scores of the 3 sections of the CPUI-9 to the following 3 variables:

1) Actual compulsivity. The fact that the participants were attempting to quit porn allowed the researchers to measure actual compulsivity (with respect to porn use). The researchers used a formula of “failed abstinence attempts X abstinence effort” to measure actual compulsivity. This is the first study to compare actual compulsivity to subjects’ scores on a porn addiction questionnaire (the CPUI-9).

2) Frequency of Internet porn use. Subjects’ frequency of internet porn use prior to the study.

3) Moral Disapproval questionnaire. In addition to taking the CPUI-9, Fernandez’s subjects took a Moral Disapproval questionnaire, so researchers could correlate its results with CPUI-9 questions. Moral disapproval of pornography was measured by four items rated on a 7-point Likert scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely):

  • “Viewing pornography online troubles my conscience,”
  • “Viewing pornography violates my religious beliefs,”
  • “I believe that viewing pornography is morally wrong,” and
  • “I believe that viewing pornography is a sin.”

Note that 3 of the 4 “moral disapproval” questions involve religiosity.

Let’s explore what Fernandez et al., 2017 reported and what it had to say about the CPUI-9 and the conclusions put forth in studies employing the CPUI-9.

What did Fernandez et al., 2017 report?

Findings #1: Higher frequency of porn use was related to: 1) Total CPUI-9 scores, 2) “Perceived Compulsivity” questions, and 3) actual compulsivity (failed abstinence attempts X abstinence effort). However, frequency of porn use was unrelated to scores on “Emotional Distress” questions 7-9 (which assess guilt & shame).

Translation: No matter how you measure it, actual porn addiction is strongly correlated with higher levels of porn use. However, guilt & shame questions 7-9 shouldn’t be part of a porn addiction (or even “perceived porn addiction”) assessment because they are unrelated to frequency of porn use. The 3 “Emotional Distress” questions do not belong. In fact, they skew CPUI-9 results.

Take away 1: The Grubbs studies (or any study that used the CPUI-9) did not assess “perceived porn addiction” or “belief in porn addiction” or “labeling themselves as addicted. It’s important to keep in mind that “perceived pornography addiction” indicates nothing more than the total score on the CPUI-9. A headline such as “Believing You Have Porn Addiction Is the Cause of Your Porn Problem, Study Finds” should now be re-interpreted as “Having a Porn Addiction Is the Cause of Your Porn Problem, Study Finds.” It’s important to note that there’s no scientific precedent for a “perceived addiction” assessment test, and the CPUI-9 has not been validated as such.

Take away 2: Guilt & shame questions 7-9 have no place in a porn addiction questionnaire because they skew Total CPUI-9 scores far lower for non-religious porn users, while elevating scores for religious porn users. For example, if an atheist and devout Christian have identical scores on CPUI-9 questions 1-6, it’s almost certain that the Christian will end up with far higher CPUI-9 scores, after questions 7-9 are added – regardless of the degree of addiction in either subject.

Take away 3: Omitting guilt & shame questions 7-9 results in “hours of porn use” (not religion) being the strongest predictor of porn addiction. To say it another way, “Emotional Distress” questions correlate strongly with “religiosity” but not with “hours of porn use.” Contrary to misleading articles, the CPUI-9 studies found that higher levels of porn use correlated with so-called “perceived pornography addiction.”

Findings #2: Failed abstinence attempts correlated with the 1) Total CPUI-9 scores, and 2) “Perceived Compulsivity” questions – but not with “Emotional Distress” questions 7-9.

Translation: The inability to control use correlated with CPUI-9 actual addiction questions 1-6, but not with the guilt & shame questions 7-9.

Take away: Once again, CPUI-9 questions 1-6 assess actual porn addiction, while guilt & shame questions 7-9 do not. Inclusion of the “Emotional Distress” questions leads to far lower CPUI-9 scores for porn addicts and far higher CPUI-9 scores for religious individuals, or just about anyone who would prefer not to be using porn.

Findings #3: “Moral disapproval” of pornography use was strongly correlated with 1) Total CPUI-9 scores, and 2) “Emotional Distress” questions. However, “moral disapproval” was only slightly related to CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” scores. In other words, the most addicted subjects did not score higher on religiosity.

Translation: “Moral disapproval” of porn correlated strongly with the CPUI-9 guilt & shame questions 7-9. Most importantly, questions 7-9 are the only reason “moral disapproval” correlated with Total CPUI-9 (“perceived porn addiction”). Inclusion of the “Emotional Distress” questions is what generates the misleading claim that “belief in porn addiction” is driven by moral disapproval.

Take away 1: Omitting the guilt & shame questions (7-9) results in “moral disapproval” having nothing to do with porn addiction. The “Emotional Distress” questions assessing guilt and shame cause just about anyone who would prefer not to be using porn (especially religious individuals) to have much higher CPUI-9 scores.

Take away 2: Inclusion of guilt & shame questions 7-9 leads to artificially strong correlations between “moral disapproval” and the Total CPUI-9 (perceived addiction). The fact that religious individuals score very high on both “moral disapproval” and the “Emotional Distress” questions has led to unsupported claims that religious people are far more likely to “perceive” themselves addicted to porn (remember “perceived addiction” is shorthand for “total CPUI-9 score”). However, this is simply not true, because the “extra” points religious people earn on questions 7-9 do not measure addiction, or even “perception” of addiction. They measure nothing but emotional distress due to conflicted values.

Take away 3: Religious individuals score very high on both the “moral disapproval” questions and the “Emotional Distress” questions. CPUI-9 based studies have adopted the correlation between “moral disapproval” and the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions to create a mythology that religious individuals only believe they are addicted to porn. However, these questions assess neither porn addiction nor “belief” nor “perception” of addiction, so they are out of place in this instrument.

In summary, the conclusions and claims spawned by the CPUI-9 are simply invalid. Joshua Grubbs created a questionnaire that cannot, and was never validated for, sorting “perceived” from actual addiction: the CPUI-9. With zero scientific justification he re-labeled his CPUI-9 as a “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire.

Because the CPUI-9 included 3 extraneous questions assessing guilt and shame, religious porn users’ CPUI scores tend to be skewed upward. The existence of higher CPUI-9 scores for religious porn users was then fed to the media as a claim that, “religious people falsely believe they are addicted to porn.” This was followed by several studies correlating moral disapproval with CPUI-9 scores. Since religious people as a group score higher on moral disapproval, and (thus) the total CPUI-9, it was pronounced (without actual support) that religious-based moral disapproval is the true cause of pornography addiction. That’s quite a leap, and unjustified as a matter of science.

We will now present excerpts from Fernandez et al., 2017 accompanied by comments and clarifying images.


SECTION 3: Excerpts of Fernandez et al., 2017 (with comments)

The discussion section of Fernandez et al., 2017 contained three main findings, three theoretical implications, and two clinical implications. They follow.

First main finding: The CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions assess actual compulsivity not “belief” in porn addiction

Fernandez et al., 2017 discuss how the actual compulsivity scores align with scores on the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions, but not with the “Emotional Distress” questions.

We found partial support for our second hypothesis, that failed abstinence attempts would interact with abstinence effort to predict higher CPUI-9 scores, controlling for moral disapproval. However, this relationship was limited to Perceived Compulsivity scores, and not Emotional Distress scores and CPUI-9 full scale scores. Specifically, when failed abstinence attempts are high and abstinence effort is high, higher scores on the Perceived Compulsivity subscale are predicted. This finding is consistent with our proposition that it is not merely frequency of pornography use which contributes to perceptions of compulsivity, but that this would also depend on an equally important variable, abstinence effort. Previously, studies have demonstrated that frequency of pornography use accounts for some variance in the CPUI-9 (Grubbs et al., 2015a; Grubbs et al., 2015c), but frequency of pornography use alone is not sufficient to infer the presence of compulsivity (Kor et al., 2014). The present study posits that some individuals may view IP frequently, but may not be exerting substantial effort in abstaining from IP. As such, they might have never felt that their use was compulsive in any way, because there was no intention to abstain. Accordingly, the present study’s introduction of abstinence effort as a new variable is an important contribution. As predicted, when individuals tried hard to abstain from pornography (i.e., high abstinence effort) but experienced many failures (i.e., high failed abstinence attempts), this aligned with greater scores on the Perceived Compulsivity subscale.

SUMMARY: First, frequency of porn use was strongly related to the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions and actual compulsivity (“failed abstinence attempts X abstinence effort”).

Second, porn users who tried really hard to stop, yet repeatedly failed, had the highest scores on the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions. Put simply, CPUI-9 questions 1-3 assess actual compulsivity (cravings and inability to control use) rather than “belief in addiction.” That means they offer no support for the concept of “perceived addiction.”

Third, the “Emotional Distress” questions (assessing guilt & shame) are immaterial in assessing actual porn addiction, and only function to skew Total CPUI-9 scores higher for religious individuals and those who disapprove of porn use.

Let’s do visual stats. Here are some tips for understanding the numbers in the following tables and images: Zero means no correlation between two variables; 1.00 means a complete correlation between two variables. The bigger the number the stronger the correlation between the 2 variables. If a number has a minus sign, it means there’s a negative correlation between two things. (For example, there’s a negative correlation between exercise and heart disease. Thus, in normal language, exercise reduces the chances of heart disease. On the other hand, obesity has a positive correlation with heart disease.)

We start with the table of correlations from Fernandez et al., 2017. Number 1 is “frequency of internet porn use”, which correlates strongly the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions (0.47), Abstinence Effort (0.28), and Failed Abstinence Attempts (0.47). Frequency of porn use was unrelated to “Emotional Distress” questions (0.05) and negatively correlated with “moral disapproval” (0.14).

The results without the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions skewing the results: “Frequency of porn use” is by far the strongest predictor of actual porn addiction – not religiosity! As Fernandez et al. pointed out, the above correlations are similar for all the CPUI-9 studies conducted by Grubbs’s teams.

The core premise of the “perceived porn addiction” studies rests upon the unfounded assertion that Total CPUI-9 scores should correlate perfectly with “current hours of porn use”. The researchers presume that – if a person’s CPUI-9 scores are relatively high, yet their “hours of porn use” only moderately high – the individual falsely “believes” they are addicted to porn. A graphic representation of this assertion:

However, as Fernandez et al. and many other studies point out, current level of porn use is an unreliable measure of addiction. More importantly, the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions greatly weaken correlations between frequency of use and the Total CPUI-9 scores.

Bottom line: There is no such thing as “perceived compulsivity” or “perceived porn addiction.” If a porn user scores high on a porn addiction test, it means he is experiencing the signs and symptoms of an actual addiction. In addition, it is scientifically unsound to presume that current levels of porn consumption can be used as a proxy for actual porn addiction (as many studies have concluded).


Second main finding: Needing greater effort to abstain correlated with CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions

Fernandez et al., 2017 point out that needing greater effort to abstain correlated strongly with the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions and frequency of porn use, but not with the “Emotional Distress” questions:

Interestingly, abstinence effort as an individual predictor also demonstrated a significant positive predictive relationship with the Perceived Compulsivity subscale (but not the Emotional Distress subscale and the CPUI-9 full scale), controlling for failed abstinence attempts and moral disapproval, although this relationship was not hypothesized a priori. We predicted in the present study that only individuals who actually experienced failed abstinence attempts might infer compulsivity from their own behavior, leading to perceptions of compulsivity. However, we found that greater abstinence effort predicted higher scores on the Perceived Compulsivity subscale, and that this relationship was seen even independent of failed abstinence attempts. This finding has the important implication that trying to abstain from pornography in and of itself is related to perceptions of compulsivity in some individuals.

SUMMARY: Similar to the first finding, higher scores on the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions strongly correlated with features of actual compulsivity (needing high levels of effort to abstain from porn). Put simply, the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions assess actual compulsivity. However, needing greater effort to abstain from porn had little to do with guilt, shame or remorse (“Emotional Distress” questions). Guilt & shame surrounding porn use has little to do with actual porn addiction, let alone a “belief” in porn addiction.

Bottom line: There is no such thing as “perceived compulsivity” or “perceived porn addiction.” The “Emotional Distress” questions have no place in the CPUI-9, except to skew scores higher for religious porn users and create unsupported conclusions and headlines.


Third main finding: Moral Disapproval was related to the “Emotional Distress” questions, but not to actual compulsivity or the CPUI-9 addiction questions (1-6)

Keep in mind that “moral disapproval of pornography” is the sum of 4 non-CPUI-9 questions, while the 3 CPUI-9 “Emotional Distress” questions assess guilt and shame. Fernandez et al., 2017 (and the other CPUI-9 studies) found that “moral disapproval of pornography” had little to do with actual porn addiction. The excerpt:

We found that when the CPUI-9 was taken as a whole, moral disapproval was the only significant predictor. However, when broken down, moral disapproval predicted only a specific domain of the CPUI-9, the Emotional Distress subscale (e.g., “I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online”) and had no influence on the Perceived Compulsivity subscale. This is consistent with previous research showing moral disapproval of pornography to be related only to the Emotional Distress subscale and not the Perceived Compulsivity or Access Efforts subscales (Wilt et al., 2016). This also lends support to Wilt and colleagues’ finding that moral disapproval accounts for a unique aspect of the CPUI-9, which is the emotional aspect (Emotional Distress), rather than the cognitive aspect (Perceived Compulsivity). Thus, although the Emotional Distress and Perceived Compulsivity subscales are related, our findings suggest that they need to be treated separately as they seem to be formed via different underlying psychological processes.

SUMMARY: Moral disapproval was strongly related to the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions, but only slightly related to the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions. This means that “moral disapproval” is not related to porn addiction, but only to guilt & shame. Below are the correlations from the study cited in the excerpt (Wilt et al., 2016). Correlations between “moral disapproval” and the three CPUI-9 sections are highlighted:

As with the other CPUI-9 studies, believing porn is morally wrong or sinful correlated strongly with the CPUI-9 “Emotional Distress” section (#4). Yet there’s very little (or a negative) correlation between “moral disapproval” and the legitimate CPUI-9 porn addiction questions (“Access Efforts”, “Perceived Compulsivity”). Fernandez et al. says shame & guilt (questions 7-9) needs to be examined separately from actual porn addiction (questions 1-6). They do not assess addiction or “perceived” addiction.

Bottom line: The “Emotional Distress” questions have no place in the CPUI-9, except to skew scores higher for religious porn users. Researchers have exploited the natural correlation between “moral disapproval of porn” and the “Emotional Distress” questions to claim that moral objections causes the “belief in porn addiction” (Total CPUI-9 score). Since religious individuals score high on both “moral disapproval” and “Emotional Distress,” researchers incorrectly claim religion causes porn addiction, but study results supply little evidence that this is so.


Theoretical implications #1: “Perceived” pornography addiction is a myth. Moral disapproval plays no part in actual porn addiction.

Fernandez et al., 2017 found that the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions assess actual compulsivity, and that moral disapproval plays no role in actual porn addiction.

Our findings have three important theoretical implications. First, the present study elucidates the previously unexplored relationship between perceived addiction to IP, as measured by the CPUI-9, and actual compulsivity. In our sample, we found that perceptions of compulsivity were indeed reflective of reality. It appears that an actual compulsive pattern (failed abstinence attempts x abstinence effort), and abstinence effort on its own, predict scores on the CPUI-9 Perceived Compulsivity subscale. We found that this relationship held even after holding moral disapproval constant. Thus, our findings suggest that regardless of whether an individual morally disapproves of pornography, the individual’s Perceived Compulsivity scores may be reflective of actual compulsivity, or the experience of difficulty in abstaining from IP. We propose that while actual compulsivity does not equate to actual addiction, compulsivity is a key component of addiction and its presence in an IP user might be an indication of actual addiction to IP. Therefore, the current study’s findings raise questions about whether research on the CPUI-9 to date can to some extent be accounted for by actual addiction, beyond mere perception of addiction.

SUMMARY: When Fernandez et al. says “perceptions of compulsivity” it means the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” questions. Scores on “Perceived Compulsivity” aligned with actual compulsivity (failed abstinence attempts x abstinence effort). Put simply, CPUI-9 questions 1-3 assess actual compulsivity (cravings and inability to control use) rather than “belief in porn addiction.” The authors express serious reservations about using the phrase “perceived addiction” interchangeably with CPUI-9 test scores. Finally, assessing moral disapproval tells us nothing about actual porn addiction.

Next we use the data from another CPUI-9 paper co-authored by Grubbs (“Transgression as Addiction: Religiosity and Moral Disapproval as Predictors of Perceived Addiction to Pornography“), as its provocative title suggests that religious-based moral disapproval causes porn addiction.

Note that the “Emotional Distress” questions produce the strong correlations between “moral disapproval” and Total CPUI-9 scores. Note: “Access Efforts” questions 4-6 assess core addiction behaviors (inability to control use despite severe negative consequences), yet are largely unrelated to moral disapproval and religiosity.

Bottom line: There is no such thing as “perceived porn addiction.” If a porn user scores high on a valid porn addiction test, it means he is experiencing the signs and symptoms of an actual addiction. If you believe you are addicted, you are addicted. How one feels morally about pornography has virtually nothing to do with actual pornography addiction. To be accurate, spin laden phrases such as “perceived pornography addiction” or “belief in porn addiction” should more accurately be replaced with “pornography addiction.”


Theoretical implications #2: The 3 “Emotional Distress” questions inflate Total CPUI-9 scores for religious individuals while deflating Total CPUI-9 scores for actual porn addicts.

Fernandez et al., 2017 discuss how the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions skew all results from any study that employed the CPUI-9.

Second, our findings cast doubts on the suitability of the inclusion of the Emotional Distress subscale as part of the CPUI-9. As consistently found across multiple studies (e.g., Grubbs et al., 2015a,c), our findings also showed that frequency of IP use had no relationship with Emotional Distress scores. More importantly, actual compulsivity as conceptualized in the present study (failed abstinence attempts x abstinence effort) had no relationship with Emotional Distress scores. This suggests that individuals who experience actual compulsivity in their pornography use do not necessarily experience emotional distress associated with their pornography use.

Rather, Emotional Distress scores were significantly predicted by moral disapproval, in line with previous studies which also found a substantial overlap between the two (Grubbs et al., 2015a; Wilt et al., 2016). This indicates that emotional distress as measured by the CPUI-9 is accounted for mainly by dissonance felt due to engaging in a behavior that one morally disapproves of, and is unrelated to actual compulsivity. As such, the inclusion of the Emotional Distress subscale as part of the CPUI-9 might skew results in such a way that it inflates the total perceived addiction scores of IP users who morally disapprove of pornography, and deflates the total perceived addiction scores of IP users who have high Perceived Compulsivity scores, but low moral disapproval of pornography.

This may be because the Emotional Distress subscale was based on an original “Guilt” scale which was developed for use particularly with religious populations (Grubbs et al., 2010), and its utility with non-religious populations remains uncertain in light of subsequent findings related to this scale. “Clinically significant distress” is an important component in the diagnostic criteria proposed for Hypersexual Disorder for the DSM-5, where diagnostic criterion B states that “there is clinically significant personal distress … associated with the frequency and intensity of these sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors” (Kafka 2010, p. 379). It is doubtful that the Emotional Distress subscale taps into this particular sort of clinically significant distress. The way the items are phrased (i.e., “I feel ashamed/depressed/sick after viewing pornography online”) suggests that distress need not be associated with the frequency and intensity of the sexual fantasies, urges, or behavior, but could be brought about merely from engaging in the behavior even in a non-compulsive way.

SUMMARY: This is the core finding: The 3 “Emotional Distress” questions have no place in the CPUI-9, or any porn addiction questionnaire. These guilt & shame questions do not assess distress surrounding addictive porn use or “perception of addiction.” These 3 questions artificially inflate Total CPUI-9 scores for religious individuals while deflating Total CPUI-9 scores for nonreligious porn addicts.

It’s important to note that assessment questionnaires for other types of addiction typically do not have questions about guilt & shame. Certainly, none make one third of their questionnaires about guilt and shame. For example, the DSM-5 criteria from Alcohol Use Disorder contain 11 questions. Yet none of the questions assess remorse or guilt after a drinking binge. Nor does the DSM-5 Gambling Addiction questionnaire contain a single question about remorse, guilt or shame.

Bottom line: Eliminate the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions and all the claims and correlations they were based upon disappear. Let’s examine how the  3 “Emotional Distress” questions skew CPUI-9 results.

Claim #1: First, it has been claimed over and over that “hours of porn use” were unrelated to “perceived porn addiction” (Total CPUI-9 scores). That’s not true as correlations taken from Grubbs’s “Transgression” study reveal:

In fact, hours of porn use is a stronger predictor of porn addiction (Total CPUI-9) than is religiosity. This alone debunks most of the headlines spawned by the the CPUI-9 “perceived addiction” studies.

While there’s still a correlation between religiosity and Total CPUI-9 scores, it’s largely produced by the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions. This data (taken from Grubbs’s “Transgression” study #2) reveals how the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions drastically lower correlations between hours of porn use and Total CPUI-9 scores:

As you can see actual porn addiction (as assessed by questions 1-6) is powerfully related to levels of porn use.

So, using Total CPUI-9 incorrectly leads to Claim #2: that being religious is strongly related to “perceived pornography addiction.” This correlation is reinterpreted as “religious people falsely believe they are addicted to porn.” Nether is true as actual porn addiction is, in fact, powerfully related to levels of porn use, and not related to religiosity. Comparing correlations between the CPUI-9 core addiction behaviors (“Access Efforts’) and Religiosity or Hours of porn use shows that religion has nothing to do with porn addiction:

The above correlation is the most important take away from this entire article: Religiosity has virtually nothing to do with actual porn addiction! Again, “Access Efforts” questions 4-6 assess core addiction behaviors (the inability to control despite severe negative consequences). In this section we provide four possible reasons why religious porn users may score higher on CPUI-9 actual addiction questions 1-6.

If religious subjects were more likely to “feel addicted” to porn, religiosity should correlate very strongly with actual porn addiction. It doesn’t. To say it another way, those subjects who are most addicted do not score higher in religiosity.


Theoretical implications #3: Actual compulsivity (failed abstinence attempts x abstinence effort) aligns with so-called “perceived compulsivity”

Fernandez et al., 2017 points out what is obvious to porn addicts: trying really hard to quit, yet continually failing, reveals the depth of your compulsion.

Third, this study introduced abstinence effort as an important variable in relation to understanding how perceptions of compulsivity might develop. It is noted that in the literature, frequency of IP use has been investigated without taking into account participants’ varying levels of abstinence effort. The present study’s findings demonstrate that abstinence effort on its own, and when interacting with failed abstinence attempts, predicts greater perceived compulsivity. We have discussed the experience of difficulty at abstaining or craving for pornography as a possible explanation of how the abstinence effort on its own may predict greater perceived compulsivity, in that the difficulty experienced may reveal to the individual that there may be compulsivity in their pornography use. However, at present, the exact mechanism by which abstinence effort relates to perceived compulsivity remains uncertain and is an avenue for further research.

SUMMARY: higher scores on the CPUI-9 “Perceived Compulsivity” were strongly related to features of actual compulsivity (needing greater effort to abstain from porn, yet being unable to do so). Put simply, so-called “perceived compulsivity” equates with actual compulsivity.

Bottom line: If you believe you are addicted to porn (because you are using it compulsively), you are addicted. All future studies should stop employing inaccurate and spin laden phrases such as “perceived pornography addiction” or “belief in porn addiction” as a proxy for CPUI-9 scores.

As an exercise in accuracy we remove the spin laden terms from a few “perceived addiction” studies, so the reader can understand the findings accurately:

Leonhardt et al., 2017 said:

“it appears that pornography users feel relationship anxiety surrounding their use only insofar as they believe themselves to have a compulsive, distressing pattern of use.”

Leonhardt et al., 2017 with accurate terminology:

Pornography addicts feel relationship anxiety surrounding their porn use.

Grubbs et al., 2015 said:

“These findings strongly underscore the claim that perceived addiction to Internet pornography likely contributes to the experience of  psychological distress for some individuals.”

Grubbs et al., 2015 with accurate terminology:

Addiction to Internet pornography is correlated with psychological distress.


Clinical implications #1:

Fernandez et al., 2017 suggests that clinicians can believe patients when they say they are addicted to pornography.

Finally, our findings provide important implications for the treatment of individuals who report being addicted to Internet pornography. There has been evidence in the literature to suggest that there have been an increasing number of individuals reporting being addicted to pornography (Cavaglion, 2008, 2009; Kalman, 2008; Mitchell, Becker-Blease, & Finkelhor, 2005; Mitchell & Wells, 2007). Clinicians working with individuals who report being addicted to pornography need to take these self-perceptions seriously, instead of being skeptical about the accuracy of these self-perceptions. Our findings suggest that if an individual perceives compulsivity in their own IP use, it is likely that these perceptions might be indeed reflective of reality.

In the same way, clinicians should realize that “perceived compulsivity” could be seen as a useful perception to have, if the perception is reflective of reality. Individuals who experience compulsivity in their IP use might benefit from gaining self-awareness that they are compulsive, and can use this insight into their own behavior to decide whether they need to take steps toward changing their behavior. Individuals who are unsure about whether their IP use is compulsive or not can subject themselves to a behavioral experiment such as the one employed in this study, with abstinence as the goal (for a 14-day period or otherwise). Such behavioral experiments might offer a useful way to ensure that perceptions are grounded in reality, through experiential learning.

SUMMARY: Since so-called “perceived compulsivity” equates with actual compulsivity in Fernandez et al., 2017, patients who claim to be addicted to porn, are in fact likely to be addicted to porn. If there is any doubt about the presence of actual addiction, clinicians should have the client try to abstain from porn for an extended period of time.

Bottom line: “Perceived addiction” doesn’t exist and its use should not be tolerated in scientific circles. Patients should be believed, regardless of the clinician’s personal bias or CPUI-9 score. Organizations such as AASECT, which has officially proclaimed that porn addiction doesn’t exist, may be causing harm to patients and the public.


Clinical implications #2:

From the Fernandez et al., 2017 discussion:

Importantly, our findings suggest that cognitive self-evaluations of compulsivity are likely to be accurate even if the individual morally disapproves of pornography. Clinicians should not be too quick to dismiss cognitive self-evaluations of individuals who morally disapprove of pornography as overly pathological interpretations due to their moralistic beliefs.

On the other hand, clinicians need to keep in mind that the emotional distress associated with pornography use experienced by clients, especially ones who morally disapprove of pornography, appears to be separate from the cognitive self-evaluation of compulsivity. Emotional distress, at least in the way it is measured by the CPUI-9, is not necessarily the result of compulsive IP use, and needs to be treated as a separate issue.

Conversely, clinicians need to also be aware that an individual could be experiencing actual compulsivity in their IP use without necessarily feeling emotions such as shame or depression associated with their IP use.

SUMMARY: First, clinicians should respect (even religious) patients’ self assessments when they feel addicted to porn in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary. Clinicians shouldn’t allow their own biases or a patient’s moral views to influence their assessments. Second, the “emotional distress” assessed by the three CPUI-9 guilt & shame questions have nothing to do with actual porn, or perceived, addiction. Clinicians are urged to avoid conflating actual or perceived porn addiction with guilt & shame – as the CPUI-9 studies have done.

Bottom line: Moral disapproval has nothing to with actual or perceived porn addiction. Claims that morality plays a role porn addiction arise from the CPUI-9’s use of inappropriate shame & guilt questions (“Emotional Distress”) to assess addiction. Clinicians harm patients by suggesting their porn-related difficulties arise from moral disapproval, shame or guilt when they in fact arise from actual compulsion.


SECTION 4: Final Thoughts

It is important to ponder how a flawed instrument like the CPUI-9 became elevated to such a position of influence in the sexology field and related articles in the mainstream. As Fernandez et al. shows, the CPUI-9 body of research is not solid science. Nor was the CPUI-9 ever validated as being able to distinguish real from “perceived” addiction. Yet the claims based on CPUI-9 findings have been enshrined as infallible, influential truths in some circles (whose preconceptions these claims appear to support).

What is really going on? As Fernandez et al. points out, the CPUI-9 appears to be aimed at producing claims about religious people – specifically, aimed at distorting “perceived addiction” results with respect to religious subjects and drawing far-reaching conclusions. Whether or not the teams employing the CPUI-9 intended this result, the “perceived addiction” claims have very effectively achieved this end, and it is not surprising that those who delight in such an outcome find the conclusions appealing and worthy of ongoing publicity.

The developer of the CPUI-9 is ex-religious, and it is not inconceivable that he has set out, consciously or unconsciously, to bring into disrepute strict religious upbringings like his own by means of his research. Some mainstream accounts, quoting him extensively, have gone even further, suggesting that his “perceived addiction” findings are evidence that any concern about porn use contributes to (or even generates) a belief in porn addiction. This unsupported assertion does a great disservice to porn users (whether religious or nonreligious) who are suffering from a wide range of severe symptoms, and trying to understand porn’s effects. Many of today’s nonreligious users have no shame whatsoever about their porn use, apart from their distress about their inability to control their porn use when they attempt to do so.

Sadly, few critics seem willing to examine the premises on which CPUI-9 study claims and mainstream interpretations are based. Instead, most psychologists and journalists take at face value assertions that scores on this highly distorted instrument are, in fact, evidence of shame-based “perceived addiction.” Yet upon even the slightest reflection, it becomes evident that no single score (and certainly not the score on a profoundly distorted questionnaire like the CPUI-9) could possibly reveal a distinction between “perceived” and actual addiction, let alone justify the far-reaching claims for which it is being cited.

All of this means that work such as Fernandez et al. is vital. Highly publicized claims like those about CPUI-9 data are unwarranted unless the validity of the instrument on which they rest is tested and results carefully evaluated for other, more plausible explanations. Thanks to Fernandez et al. it is now evident that, as a research instrument, the CPUI-9 is flawed and unreliable. As a responsible scientist and academic, its creator himself no doubt sees this.

Studies linking porn use to “un-egalitarian attitudes” toward women

This page collects findings that falsify the popular sexology claim that porn use promotes egalitarian attitudes toward women.

Let’s begin with the 2016 study that inspired the creation of this page -“Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to Women”? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample“. It has been heavily cited as strong evidence that porn use leads to greater egalitarianism and less sexist attitudes. Actually, this Taylor Kohut study (like a second 2016 Kohut paper) provides an instructive example of how to twist methodology to achieve a desired result. Namely, that porn use is only beneficial.

The authors of this study framed egalitarianism as support for the following: Feminist identification, Women holding positions of power, Women working outside home, Abortion.

Secular populations, which tend to be more liberal, have far higher rates of porn use than religious populations. By choosing these criteria and ignoring endless other relevant variables, lead author Taylor Kohut knew he would end up with porn users scoring higher on his study’s carefully chosen selection of what constitutes “egalitarianism.” Then he chose a title that spun it all.

Kohut has a history of publishing ‘creative’ studies designed to find little or no problems arising from the use of porn. In this 2016 study, Kohut appears to have skewed the sample to produce the results he was seeking. Whereas most studies show that a tiny minority of porn users’ female partners use porn, in this study 95% of the women used porn on their own (85% of the women had used porn since the beginning of the relationship)! Reality: Cross-sectional data from the largest US survey (General Social Survey) reported that only 2.6% of women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month (data from 2000, 2002, 2004: Pornography and Marriage, 2014)

Kohut’s new website and his attempt at fundraising suggest that he just may have an agenda. By the way, over 50 studies report links between porn use and poorer sexual and relationship satisfaction.

The reality is that nearly every study assessing porn use and egalitarianism (sexual attitudes) has reported that porn use is associated with attitudes toward women that both liberals and conservatives regard as extremely problematic. (Please note that these studies all reported findings about attitude. Studies that did not report attitude correlations are not included, even if they did report a link between porn consumption and actual aggression.) Some examples:

Media and Sexualization: State of Empirical Research, 1995–2015. (2016)  – A review of the literature. Excerpt:

Sexually objectifying portrayals of women are a frequent occurrence in mainstream media, raising questions about the potential impact of exposure to this content on others’ impressions of women and on women’s views of themselves. The goal of this review was to synthesize empirical investigations testing effects of media sexualization. The focus was on research published in peer-reviewed, English-language journals between 1995 and 2015. A total of 109 publications that contained 135 studies were reviewed. The findings provided consistent evidence that both laboratory exposure and regular, everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.

Pornography and Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting the Relationship in Nonexperimental Studies (2010)A review of the literature. An excerpt:

A meta-analysis was conducted to determine whether nonexperimental studies revealed an association between men’s pornography consumption and their attitudes supporting violence against women. The meta-analysis corrected problems with a previously published meta-analysis and added more recent findings. In contrast to the earlier meta-analysis, the current results showed an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women in nonexperimental studies. In addition, such attitudes were found to correlate significantly higher with the use of sexually violent pornography than with the use of nonviolent pornography, although the latter relationship was also found to be significant.

Pornography and Sexual Callousness and the Trivialization of Rape (1982) – Excerpt:

Explored the consequences of continued exposure to pornography on beliefs about sexuality in general and on dispositions toward women in particular. Found that massive exposure to pornography resulted in a loss of compassion toward women as rape victims and toward women in general.

Exposure to pornography and attitudes about women and rape: A correlational study (1986) – Excerpt:

Compared to a group that had watched a control film, male subjects who were shown the violent film agreed more with items endorsing interpersonal violence against women than did the control subjects. However, contrary to predictions, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in their acceptance of rape myths, although there was a trend in the predicted direction.

Use of pornography and self-reported engagement in sexual violence among adolescents (2005)

This cross-sectional study examined 804 adolescents, boys and girls, aged from 14 to 19 years, attending different types of high schools in the northwest of Italy. The main goals were: (i) to investigate the relationship between active and passive forms of sexual harassment and violence and the relationship between pornography (reading magazines and viewing films or videos) and unwanted sex among adolescents; (ii) to explore the differences in these relationships with respect to gender and age; and (iii) to investigate the factors (pornography, gender and age) that are most likely to promote unwanted sex. The findings showed that active and passive sexual violence and unwanted sex and pornography were correlated.

Relationships among cybersex addiction, gender egalitarianism, sexual attitude and the allowance of sexual violence in adolescents (2007)

This study was done to investigate cybersex addiction, gender egalitarianism, sexual attitude and the allowance of sexual violence in adolescents, and to identify the relationships among these variables. The participants were 690 students from two middle schools and three high schools in Seoul. Cybersex addiction, gender egalitarianism, sexual attitude and the allowance of sexual violence in adolescents were different according to general characteristics. Gender egalitarianism, sexual attitude and the allowance of sexual violence in adolescents were influenced by cybersex addiction.

Adolescents’ Exposure to a Sexualized Media Environment and Their Notions of Women as Sex Objects (2007) – Excerpt:

This study was designed to investigate whether adolescents’ exposure to a sexualized media environment is associated with stronger beliefs that women are sex objects [on-line survey of 745 Dutch adolescents aged 13 to 18]. More specifically, we studied whether the association between notions of women as sex objects and exposure to sexual content of varied explicitness (i.e., sexually non-explicit, semi-explicit, or explicit) and in different formats (i.e., visual and audio-visual) can be better described as cumulative or as hierarchical. Exposure to sexually explicit material in on-line movies was the only exposure measure significantly related to beliefs that women are sex objects in the final regression model, in which exposure to other forms of sexual content was controlled. The relationship between exposure to a sexualized media environment and notions of women as sex objects did not differ for girls and boys

The use of cyberpornography by young men in Hong Kong some psychosocial correlates (2007) – Excerpt:

This study examined the prevalence of online pornography viewing and its psychosocial correlates among a sample of young Chinese men in Hong Kong. Moreover, participants who reported to have more online pornography viewing were found to score higher on measures of premarital sexual permissiveness and proclivities toward sexual harassment.

X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media (2009) – Excerpt:

Correlates of use and subsequent sexual attitudes and behaviors predicted by exposure to sexually explicit content in adult magazines, X-rated movies, and the Internet were examined in a prospective survey of a diverse sample of early adolescents (average age at baseline = 13.6 years; N = 967).

Longitudinal analyses showed that early exposure for males predicted less progressive gender role attitudes, more permissive sexual norms, sexual harassment perpetration, and having oral sex and sexual intercourse two years later. Early exposure for females predicted subsequently less progressive gender role attitudes, and having oral sex and sexual intercourse.

Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Internet Material and Notions of Women as Sex Objects: Assessing Causality and Underlying Processes (2009) – Excerpt:

The aim of this study was to clarify causality in the previously established link between adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit Internet material (SEIM) and notions of women as sex objects. On the basis of data from a three-wave panel survey among 962 Dutch adolescents, structural equation modeling initially showed that exposure to SEIM and notions of women as sex objects had a reciprocal direct influence on each other. The direct impact of SEIM on notions of women as sex objects did not vary by gender. However, the direct influence of notions of women as sex objects on exposure to SEIM was only significant for male adolescents. Further analyses showed that, regardless of adolescents’ gender, liking of SEIM mediated the influence of exposure to SEIM on their beliefs that women are sex objects, as well as the impact of these beliefs on exposure to SEIM.

Japanese College Students’ Media Exposure to Sexually Explicit Materials, Perceptions of Women, and Sexually Permissive Attitudes (2011) – Excerpt:

The present study examined Japanese college students’ (N  = 476) use of sexually explicit material (SEM) and associations with perceptions of women as sex objects and sexually permissive attitudes. Results indicate that Japanese college students used print media most frequently as a source for SEM followed by the Internet and the television/video/DVD. Male participants used SEM significantly more than females. In addition, sexual preoccupancy mediated the relationship between exposure to SEM and perceptions of women as sex objects, whereas exposure to SEM in mass media had a direct association with Japanese participants’ sexually permissive attitudes.

The influence of sexually explicit Internet material and peers on stereotypical beliefs about women’s sexual roles: similarities and differences between adolescents and adults (2011) – Excerpt:

We used data from two nationally representative two-wave panel surveys among 1,445 Dutch adolescents and 833 Dutch adults, focusing on the stereotypical belief that women engage in token resistance to sex (i.e., the notion that women say “no” when they actually intend to have sex). Finally, adults, but not adolescents, were susceptible to the impact of SEIM on beliefs that women engage in token resistance to sex.

Pornography Viewing among Fraternity Men: Effects on Bystander Intervention, Rape Myth Acceptance and Behavioral Intent to Commit Sexual Assault (2011) – Excerpt:

The present study surveyed 62% of the fraternity population at a Midwestern public university on their pornography viewing habits, bystander efficacy, and bystander willingness to help in potential rape situations. Results showed that men who view pornography are significantly less likely to intervene as a bystander, report an increased behavioral intent to rape, and are more likely to believe rape myths.

Pornography and Sexist Attitudes Among Heterosexuals (2013) – Excerpt:

Using a probability-based sample of young Danish adults and a randomized experimental design, this study investigated effects of past pornography consumption, experimental exposure to nonviolent pornography, perceived realism of pornography, and personality (i.e., agreeableness) on sexist attitudes (i.e., attitudes toward women, hostile and benevolent sexism). Further, sexual arousal mediation was assessed. Results showed that, among men, an increased past pornography consumption was significantly associated with less egalitarian attitudes toward women and more hostile sexism. Further, lower agreeableness was found to significantly predict higher sexist attitudes. Significant effects of experimental exposure to pornography were found for hostile sexism among low in agreeableness participants and for benevolent sexism among women.

Activating the Centerfold Syndrome: Recency of Exposure, Sexual Explicitness, Past Exposure to Objectifying Media (2013) – Excerpt:

This experimental study tested whether exposure to female centerfold images causes young adult males to believe more strongly in a set of beliefs clinical psychologist Gary Brooks terms “the centerfold syndrome.” The centerfold syndrome consists of five beliefs: voyeurism, sexual reductionism, masculinity validation, trophyism, and nonrelational sex. Past exposure to objectifying media was positively correlated with all five centerfold syndrome beliefs. Recent exposure to centerfolds had immediate strengthening effects on the sexual reductionism, masculinity validation, and nonrelational sex beliefs of males who view objectifying media less frequently. These effects persisted for approximately 48 hours.

Pornography Consumption and Opposition to Affirmative Action for Women: A Prospective Study (2013) – Excerpt:

Our study investigated a potential source of social influence that has often been hypothesized to reduce compassion and sympathy for women: pornography. National panel data were employed. Data were gathered in 2006, 2008, and 2010 from 190 adults ranging in age from 19 to 88 at baseline. Pornography viewing was indexed via reported consumption of pornographic movies. Attitudes toward affirmative action were indexed via opposition to hiring and promotion practices that favor women. Consistent with a social learning perspective on media effects, prior pornography viewing predicted subsequent opposition to affirmative action even after controlling for prior affirmative action attitudes and a number of other potential confounds. Gender did not moderate this association. Practically, these results suggest that pornography may be a social influence that undermines support for affirmative action programs for women.

Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Correlates of Pornography Use on Young Adult Heterosexual Men in Romantic Relationships (2014) – Excerpt:

The purpose of this study was to examine theorized antecedents (i.e., gender role conflict and attachment styles) and consequences (i.e., poorer relationship quality and sexual satisfaction) of men’s pornography use among 373 young adult heterosexual men. Findings revealed that both frequency of pornography use and problematic pornography use were related to greater gender role conflict, more avoidant and anxious attachment styles, poorer relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction. In addition, the findings provided support for a theorized mediated model in which gender role conflict was linked to relational outcomes both directly and indirectly via attachment styles and pornography use.

A National Prospective Study of Pornography Consumption and Gendered Attitudes Toward Women (2015) – Excerpt:

The present study explored associations between pornography consumption and nonsexual gender-role attitudes in a national, two-wave panel sample of US adults. Pornography consumption interacted with age to predict gender-role attitudes. Specifically, pornography consumption at wave one predicted more gendered attitudes at wave two for older—but not for younger—adults.

Antecedents of adolescents’ exposure to different types of sexually explicit Internet material: A longitudinal study (2015) – Shows correlation between violent porn use and assessment of hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine attitudes. An Excerpt:

The present two-wave panel survey among 1557 Dutch adolescents addressed these lacunae by studying exposure to affection-themed, dominance-themed and violence-themed SEIM. Younger adolescents were more often exposed to affection-themed SEIM, while older adolescents and adolescents with higher levels of academic achievement were more frequently exposed to dominance-themed SEIM. Hyper masculine boys and hyper feminine girls were more frequently exposed to violence-themed SEIM.

‘It’s always just there in your face’: young people’s views on porn (2015) – Excerpt:

Findings highlight that many young people are exposed to porn both intentionally and unintentionally. Furthermore, they are concerned about gendered norms that reinforce men’s power and subordination over women. A link between porn exposure, young men’s sexual expectations and young women’s pressure to conform to what is being viewed, has been exposed.

What Is the Attraction? Pornography Use Motives in Relation to Bystander Intervention (2015) – Excerpt:

We found that several motivations to view pornography were associated with suppression of willingness to intervene as a bystander, even after controlling for frequency of pornography use. This study joins others in suggesting an association between pornography use and callousness toward sexual violence.

An experimental analysis of young women’s attitude toward the male gaze following exposure to centerfold images of varying explicitness (2015) – Women exposed to explicit centerfolds had greater acceptance of men staring at them sexually.

This study measured young women’s attitude toward the male gaze following exposure to centerfolds of varying explicitness. Explicitness was operationalized as degree of undress. Women exposed to more explicit centerfolds expressed greater acceptance of the male gaze than women exposed to less explicit centerfolds immediately after exposure and at a 48 hour follow-up. These results support the view that the more media depictions of women display women’s bodies, the stronger the message they send that women are sights to be observed by others. They also suggest that even brief exposure to explicit centerfolds can have a nontransitory effect on women’s sociosexual attitudes.

Men’s Objectifying Media Consumption, Objectification of Women, and Attitudes Supportive of Violence Against Women (2016) – Excerpt:

Guided by the concepts of specific and abstract sexual scripting in Wright’s sexual script acquisition, activation, application model of sexual media socialization, this study proposed that the more men are exposed to objectifying depictions, the more they will think of women as entities that exist for men’s sexual gratification (specific sexual scripting), and that this dehumanized perspective on women may then be used to inform attitudes regarding sexual violence against women (abstract sexual scripting).

Data were gathered from collegiate men sexually attracted to women (N = 187). Consistent with expectations, associations between men’s exposure to objectifying media and attitudes supportive of violence against women were mediated by their notions of women as sex objects. Specifically, frequency of exposure to men’s lifestyle magazines that objectify women, reality TV programs that objectify women, and pornography predicted more objectified cognitions about women, which, in turn, predicted stronger attitudes supportive of violence against women.

Soft-core pornography viewers ‘unlikely to hold positive attitudes towards women’ (2016) – Excerpt:

Frequent viewers of soft-core pornography, such as photographs of naked and semi-naked female models, are unlikely to think positively about women and are likely to have become desensitised to soft-core pornography common in newspapers, advertising and the media. The results indicated that people who frequently viewed soft-core pornographic images were less likely to describe these as pornographic than people who had low levels of exposure to these images.  People who were desensitised to these images were more likely than others to endorse rape myths. Furthermore, people who frequently viewed these images were less likely to have positive attitudes to women.

Pornography, Sexual Coercion and Abuse and Sexting in Young People’s Intimate Relationships: A European Study (2016) – Excerpt:

New technology has made pornography increasingly accessible to young people, and a growing evidence base has identified a relationship between viewing pornography and violent or abusive behavior in young men. This article reports findings from a large survey of 4,564 young people aged 14 to 17 in five European countries which illuminate the relationship between regular viewing of online pornography, sexual coercion and abuse and the sending and receiving of sexual images and messages, known as “sexting.” In addition to the survey, which was completed in schools, 91 interviews were undertaken with young people who had direct experience of interpersonal violence and abuse in their own relationships.

Rates for regularly viewing online pornography were very much higher among boys and most had chosen to watch pornography. Boys’ perpetration of sexual coercion and abuse was significantly associated with regular viewing of online pornography. In addition, boys who regularly watched online pornography were significantly more likely to hold negative gender attitudes. The qualitative interviews illustrated that, although sexting is normalized and perceived positively by most young people, it has the potential to reproduce sexist features of pornography such as control and humiliation.

Age of first exposure to pornography shapes men’s attitudes toward women (2017) – Excerpt:

Participants (N = 330) were undergraduate men at a large, Midwestern university, ranging in age from 17-54 years (M = 20.65, SD = 3.06). Participants predominantly identified as White (84.9%) and heterosexual (92.6). After providing informed consent, participants completed the study online.

Results indicated that lower age of first exposure to pornography predicted higher adherence to both the Power over Women and the Playboy masculine norms. Additionally, regardless of the nature of the men’s first exposure to pornography (i.e., intentional, accidental, or forced), participants adhered equally to the Power over Women and the Playboy masculine norm. Various explanations may exist to understand these relationships, but the results show the importance of discussing age of exposure in clinical settings with men.

Studies linking porn use to poorer mental-emotional health & poorer cognitive outcomes

Many individuals who cease using porn for an extended period of time report mental and cognitive benefits, such as improved concentration and focus, better grades, increased energy and motivation, social anxiety improved or gone, increased confidence, improved mood, depression reduced or gone, greater desire to be social, more intense or vibrant emotions, and increased desire to be in a loving relationship.

Here are relevant FAQs with hundreds of first-person accounts:

Some studies have looked at (1) porn use and mental health, and (2) porn use and cognitive functioning. Below are the two lists of these studies.


Studies finding links between porn use and poorer mental and emotional health:

Variations in internet-related problems and psychosocial functioning in online sexual activities: implications for social and sexual development of young adults (2004) – Excerpts:

Students who did not participate in either online sexual activity were more satisfied with their offline life and more connected to friends and family. Those who engaged in both online sexual activities were more dependent on the Internet and reported lower offline functioning.

Despite students’ common participation in online sexual activities (OSA) as a venue for social and sexual development, those relying on the Internet and the affiliations it provides appear at risk of decreased social integration.

Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? (2005) – Excerpt:

Results showed a significant association between Internet pornography usage and loneliness as evidenced by the data analysis.

Use of Internet Pornography and Men’s Well-Being (2005) – Excerpt:

Although most individuals utilize the Internet for occupational, educational, recreational, and shopping purposes, a sizable male minority exists, known as Cybersex compulsives and at-risk users, who invest an inordinate amount of their time, money, and energy in the pursuit of Cybersex experiences with negative intrapersonal ramifications in terms of depression, anxiety, and problems with felt intimacy with their real-life partners.

Adolescent pornographic internet site use: a multivariate regression analysis of the predictive factors of use and psychosocial implications (2009) – Excerpt:

Compared to non-pornographic Internet site users, infrequent pornographic Internet site users users were twice as likely to have abnormal conduct problems; frequent pornographic Internet site users were significantly more likely to have abnormal conduct problems. Thus, both infrequent and frequent pornographic Internet site use are prevalent and significantly associated with social maladjustment among Greek adolescents.

Social bonds and Internet pornographic exposure among adolescents (2009) – A summary from a review:

The study found that adolescents with higher degrees of social interaction and bonding were not as likely to consume sexually explicit material as were their less social peers (Mesch, 2009). Additionally, Mesch found that greater quantities of pornography consumption were significantly correlated with lower degrees of social integration, specifically related to religion, school, society, and family. The study also found a statistically significant relationship between pornography consumption and aggressiveness in school, with higher degrees.

“I believe it is wrong but I still do it”: A comparison of religious young men who do versus do not use pornography (2010) – Excerpt:

Participants were 192 emerging-adult men ages 18–27 attending a religious university in the Western United States. While they all believed pornography to be unacceptable, those who did not use pornography (compared to those who did) reported (a) higher levels of past and recent individual religious practices, (b) past family religious practices, (c) higher levels of self-worth and identity development regarding dating and family, and (d) lower levels of depression.

Frequent users of pornography. A population based epidemiological study of Swedish male adolescents (2010) – Excerpts

Frequent use was also associated with many problem behaviours. High frequent viewing of pornography may be seen as a problematic behaviour that needs more attention from both parents and teachers and also to be addressed in clinical interviews.

Mental-and physical-health indicators and sexually explicit media use behavior by adults (2011) – Excerpt:

After adjusting for demographics, Pornography (SEMB) users, compared to nonusers, reported greater depressive symptoms, poorer quality of life, more mental- and physical-health diminished days, and lower health status.

Watching Pornographic Pictures on the Internet: Role of Sexual Arousal Ratings and Psychological-Psychiatric Symptoms for Using Internet Sex Sites Excessively (2011)Scores on a porn addiction questionnaire (IATsex) correlated with higher levels of psychological problems such as: interpersonal sensitivity, depression, paranoid thinking and psychoticism. Excerpts:

We found a positive relationship between subjective sexual arousal when watching Internet pornographic pictures and the self-reported problems in daily life due to the excessiveness of cybersex as measured by the IATsex. Subjective arousal ratings, the global severity of psychological symptoms, and the number of sex applications used were significant predictors of the IATsex score, while the time spent on Internet sex sites did not significantly contribute to explanation of variance in the IATsex score.

In our sample, the global symptom severity (SCL GSI), as well as interpersonal sensitivity, depression, paranoid thinking and psychoticism, were correlated particularly with the IATsex score.

When is Online Pornography Viewing Problematic Among College Males? Examining the Moderating Role of Experiential Avoidance (2012) – Excerpt:

The current study examined the relationship of Internet pornography viewing and experiential avoidance to a range of psychosocial problems (depression, anxiety, stress, social functioning, and problems related to viewing) through a cross-sectional online survey conducted with a non-clinical sample of 157 undergraduate college males. Results indicated that frequency of viewing was significantly related to each psychosocial variable, such that more viewing was related to greater problems.

Women, Female Sex and Love Addicts, and Use of the Internet (2012) – This study compared female cybersex addicts to female sex addicts, and female non-addicts. The cybersex addicts experienced higher levels of depression. An excerpt:

For each of these variables, the pattern was that participants in the cybersex group and participants in the addicted/no cybersex group were more likely to experience depression, attempt suicide, or have withdrawal symptoms than participants in the non-addicted/no cybersex group. Participants in the cybersex group were more likely to report being depressed than participants in the addicted/no cybersex group.

Consumption of Pornographic Materials among Hong Kong Early Adolescents: A Replication (2012) – Excerpts:

In general, higher levels of positive youth development and better family functioning were related to a lower level of pornography consumption. The relative contribution of positive youth development and family factors to consumption of pornographic materials was also explored.

The present study attempted to explore the linkage between family functioning and pornography consumption.Three features of family functioning, mutuality, communication and harmony were negatively related to pornography consumption.

Emerging Adult Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors: Does Shyness Matter? (2013) – Excerpt:

Shyness was positively associated with solitary sexual behaviors of masturbation and pornography use for men.

Narcissism & Internet Pornography Use (2014) – Excerpt:

The hours spent viewing Internet pornography use was positively correlated to participant’s narcissism level. Additionally, those who have ever used Internet pornography endorsed higher levels of all three measures of narcissism than those who have never used Internet pornography.

Pornography and Marriage (2014) – Porn use correlated with less overall happiness. An excerpt:

We found that adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced, more likely to have had an extramarital affair, and less likely to report being happy with their marriage or happy overall. We also found that, for men, pornography use reduced the positive relationship between frequency of sex and happiness.

Use of Pornography and its Associations with Sexual Experiences, Lifestyles and Health among Adolescents (2014) – Excerpts:

In the longitudinal analyses frequent use of pornography was more associated to psychosomatic symptoms compared with depressive symptoms.

Male frequent users of pornography more often reported peer-relationship problems than their peers.

Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Correlates of Pornography Use on Young Adult Heterosexual Men in Romantic Relationships (2014) – Higher porn use and problematic porn use was linked to more avoidant and anxious attachment styles. Excerpt:

Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine theorized antecedents (i.e., gender role conflict and attachment styles) and consequences (i.e., poorer relationship quality and sexual satisfaction) of men’s pornography use among 373 young adult heterosexual men. Findings revealed that both frequency of pornography use and problematic pornography use were related to greater gender role conflict, more avoidant and anxious attachment styles, poorer relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction.

Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours (2014) – Even though Voon et al., 2014 excluded individuals with major psychiatric conditions, the porn addicted subjects scores higher on depression and anxiety assessments. Excerpt:

CSB subjects [porn addicts] had higher depression and anxiety scores (Table S2 in File S1) but no current diagnoses of major depression

No Harm in Looking, Right? Men’s Pornography Consumption, Body Image, and Well-Being (2014) – Excerpt:

Path analyses revealed that men’s frequency of pornography use was (a) positively linked to muscularity and body fat dissatisfaction indirectly through internalization of the mesomorphic ideal, (b) negatively linked to body appreciation directly and indirectly through body monitoring, (c) positively linked to negative affect indirectly through romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance, and (d) negatively linked to positive affect indirectly through relationship attachment anxiety and avoidance.

Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases (2015) – Study placed “hypersexuals” into 2 categories: “chronic adulterers” and “avoidant masturbators” (who were chronic porn users).

The avoidant masturbator subtype was operationalized as those cases who reported more than 1 hr (or one episode) of masturbation per day or more than 1 hr of pornography viewing per day, or more than 7 hr (or episodes) per week.

With respect to the mental health and sexological variables, the avoidant masturbator subtype [compulsive porn users] was significantly more likely to report a history of anxiety problems and of sexual functioning problems (71% vs. 31%) with delayed ejaculation being the most commonly reported sexual functioning problem.

Perceived Addiction to Internet Pornography and Psychological Distress: Examining Relationships Concurrently and Over Time (2015) – Ignore the phrase “perceived addiction, as it really means the total score on the Grubbs’s CPUI-9, which is an actual porn addiction questionnaire (see YBOP full critique of the perceived porn addiction nonsense). Put simply, porn addiction is correlated with psychological distress (anger, depression, anxiety, stress). An excerpt:

At the outset of this study, we hypothesized that “perceived addiction” to Internet pornography would be positively associated with psychological distress. Using a large cross-sectional sample of adult web users and a large cross-sectional sample of undergraduate web users, we found consistent support for this hypothesis. Additionally, in a 1-year longitudinal analysis of undergraduate pornography users, we found links between perceived addiction and psychological distress over time. Collectively, these findings strongly underscore the claim that “perceived addiction” to Internet pornography likely contributes to the experience of psychological distress for some individuals.

An Online Assessment of Personality, Psychological, and Sexuality Trait Variables Associated with Self-Reported Hypersexual Behavior (2015) Porn/sex addiction was not only related to fear of experiencing erectile dysfunction, it was also linked to depression and anxiety. An excerpt:

Hypersexual” behavior represents a perceived inability to control one’s sexual behavior. To investigate hypersexual behavior, an international sample of 510 self-identified heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women completed an anonymous online self-report questionnaire battery. In addition to age and sex (male), hypersexual behavior was related to higher scores on measures of sexual excitation, sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance failure, trait impulsivity, and both depressed mood and anxiety.

Lower Psychological Well-Being and Excessive Sexual Interest Predict Symptoms of Compulsive Use of Sexually Explicit Internet Material Among Adolescent Boys (2015) – Excerpt:

This study investigated whether factors from three distinct psychosocial domains (i.e., psychological well-being, sexual interests/behaviors, and impulsive-psychopathic personality) predicted symptoms of compulsive use of sexually explicit Internet material among adolescent boys. Longitudinally, higher levels of depressive feelings and, again, excessive sexual interest predicted relative increases in compulsive use symptoms 6 months later.

Psychological, Relational, and Biological Correlates of Ego-Dystonic Masturbation in a Clinical Setting (2016) – The original paper (here) used the phrase “Compulsive Masturbation” to describe the subject’s activity. The paper’s publisher (Sexual Medicine Open) changed “Compulsive Masturbation” to “Ego-Dystonic Masturbation”. In 2016 compulsive masturbation, in a clinical setting, is synonymous with compulsive porn use. An excerpt:

Our data confirm previous observations that psychiatric comorbidities, especially mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, are the rule rather the exception for people with compulsive sexual behaviors. 21, 22, 23, 24 However, EM could be associated with a non-specific anxious activation.

Men’s pornography consumption in the UK: prevalence and associated problem behaviour (2016) – Excerpt:

Those who reported pornography addiction were much more likely to engage in a variety of risky antisocial behaviours, including heavy drinking, fighting, and weapon use, using illegal drugs gambling and viewing illegal images to name but a few. They also reported poorer physical and psychological health.

Mood changes after watching pornography on the Internet are linked to symptoms of Internet-pornography-viewing disorder (2016) – Excerpt:

Internet-pornography-viewing disorder (IPD) is considered one type of Internet-use disorder. For IPD’s development, it was assumed theoretically that a dysfunctional use of Internet pornography to cope with depressive mood or stress might be considered as a risk factor. Data showed that tendencies towards IPD were associated negatively with feeling generally good, awake, and calm and positively with perceived stress in daily life and using Internet pornography for excitation seeking and emotional avoidance. Moreover, tendencies towards IPD were negatively related to mood before and after Internet-pornography use.

Problematic sexual behavior in young adults: Associations across clinical, behavioral, and neurocognitive variables (2016) – Individuals with Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) exhibited several neuro-cognitive deficits and psychological problems. A few excerpts:

This analysis also indicated that PSB was associated with worse quality of life, lower self-esteem, and higher rates of comorbidities across several disorders. Furthermore, the PSB group showed deficits across several neurocognitive domains, including motor inhibition, spatial working memory, and an aspect of decision making. Thus, it is possible that PSB gives rise to a host of secondary problems, ranging from alcohol dependence and depression to deteriorations in quality of life and self-esteem.

Problematic internet pornography use: The role of craving, desire thinking, and metacognition (2017) – While not so clear in the text, this study found correlations between cravings for pornography and scores on depression & anxiety questionnaires (negative affect). An excerpt:

The present study tested the metacognitive model of desire thinking and craving for problematic pornography use, and expanded upon the same model to include negative affect related to desire thinking.

Effect of internet on the psychosomatic health of adolescent school children in Rourkela – A cross-sectional study (2017) – Excerpts:

Visiting porn sites were associated with interest in sex, low mood, lack of concentration, and unexplained anxiety.

Pornography was significantly associated with several psychological problems in adolescents. Due to the structural immaturity of the adolescent brain and relative inexperience, they are unable to process the myriad nature of sexual content online which may lead to attention problems, anxiety, and depression.

Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bi-Directional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation (2017) – Excerpt:

Theoretically and empirically, we examine loneliness as it relates to pornography use in terms of pornography’s relational scripting and its addictive potential. Results from our analyses revealed significant and positive associations between pornography use and loneliness for all three models. Findings provide grounds for possible future bidirectional, recursive modeling of the relation between pornography use and loneliness.

How Abstinence Affects Preferences (2016) [preliminary results] – Excerpts from the article:

Results of the First Wave – Main Findings

  1. The length of the longest streak participants performed before taking part in the survey correlates with time preferences. The second survey will answer the question if longer periods of abstinence render participants more able to delay rewards, or if more patient participants are more likely to perform longer streaks.
  2. Longer periods of abstinence most likely cause less risk aversion (which is good). The second survey will provide the final proof.
  3. Personality correlates with length of streaks. The second wave will reveal if abstinence influences personality or if personality can explain variation in the length of streaks.

Results of the Second Wave – Main Findings

  1. Abstaining from pornography and masturbation increases the ability to delay rewards
  2. Participating in a period of abstinence renders people more willing to take risks
  3. Abstinence renders people more altruistic
  4. Abstinence renders people more extroverted, more conscientious, and less neurotic

Viewing Sexually Explicit Media and Its Association with Mental Health Among Gay and Bisexual Men Across the U.S. (2017) – Excerpts

Gay and bisexual men (GBM) have reported viewing significantly more sexually explicit media (SEM) than heterosexual men. There is evidence that viewing greater amounts of SEM may result in more negative body attitude and negative affect. However, no studies have examined these variables within the same model.

Greater consumption of SEM was directly related to more negative body attitude and both depressive and anxious symptomology. There was also a significant indirect effect of SEM consumption on depressive and anxious symptomology through body attitude. These findings highlight the relevance of both SEM on body image and negative affect along with the role body image plays in anxiety and depression outcomes for GBM.

Pornography use in sexual minority males: Associations with body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms, thoughts about using anabolic steroids and quality of life (2017) – Excerpts:

A sample of 2733 sexual minority males living in Australia and New Zealand completed an online survey that contained measures of pornography use, body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms, thoughts about using anabolic steroids and quality of life.

Almost all (98.2%) participants reported pornography use with a median use of 5.33 hours per month. Multivariate analyses revealed that increased pornography use was associated with greater dissatisfaction with muscularity, body fat and height; greater eating disorder symptoms; more frequent thoughts about using anabolic steroids; and lower quality of life.

Young Australians’ use of pornography and associations with sexual risk behaviours (2017) – Excerpt:

Younger age at first pornography viewing was associated with … recent mental health problems.

Understanding and predicting classes of college students who use pornography (2017) – Porn use is related to poorer self-esteem. Excerpt:

As expected, results indicated participants that reported higher self-esteem scores had lower odds being placed in the Complex or Auto-Erotic Porn User Classes compared with the class of Porn Abstainers. In one notable study, Nelson et al. (2010) suggested that higher levels of self-worth were related to lower pornography use patterns. The present study’s findings reinforce the negative correlation of self-esteem and pornography use. Due to the present study only offering statistical associations we cannot state cause and effect, however, our results corroborate that they are linked in some capacity.

Gender difference, class level and the role of internet addiction and loneliness on sexual compulsivity among secondary school students (2017) – Compulsive porn use strongly linked to loneliness. Excerpts:

Correlational analyses revealed significant direct relationships between internet addiction and sexual compulsivity. This suggests that the more secondary school children are addicted to internet use, the more they are predisposed to sexual compulsive behaviours

It was further revealed that a significant direct relationship between loneliness and sexual compulsivity exists. This means that the more secondary school students feel lonely or isolated, the more they are preoccupied with sexual thoughts that could predispose them to sexual compulsive behaviours.

Relationships between Exposure to Online Pornography, Psychological Well-Being and Sexual Permissiveness among Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents: a Three-Wave Longitudinal Study (2018) – Longitudinal study found that porn use was related to depression, lower life satisfaction and permissive sexual attitudes.

As hypothesized, adolescents’ exposure to online pornography was associated with depressive symptoms, and was in line with previous studies (e.g., Ma et al. 2018; Wolak et al. 2007). Adolescents, who were intentionally exposed to online pornography, reported a higher level of depressive symptom. These results are in line with past studies on the negative impact of internet usage on psychological well-being, such as depressive symptoms (Nesi and Prinstein 2015; Primack et al. 2017; Zhao et al. 2017), self-esteem (Apaolaza et al. 2013; Valkenburg et al. 2017), and loneliness (Bonetti et al. 2010; Ma 2017). Additionally, this study provides empirical support for the long-term effects of intentional exposure to online pornography on depression over time. This suggests that early intentional exposure to online pornography might lead to later depressive symptoms during adolescence…..

The negative relationship between life satisfaction and exposure to online pornography was in line with earlier studies (Peter and Valkenburg 2006; Ma et al. 2018; Wolak et al. 2007). The present study shows that adolescents who are less satisfied in their lives at Wave 2 may lead them to be exposed to both types of pornographic exposure at Wave 3.

The present study shows the concurrent and longitudinal effects of permissive sexual attitudes on both types of exposure to online pornography. As expected from previous research (Lo and Wei 2006; Brown and L’Engle 2009; Peter and Valkenburg 2006), sexually permissive adolescents reported higher levels of exposure to both types of online pornography.

Gender Differences in Escapist Uses of Sexually Explicit Internet Material: Results from a German Probability Sample (2018) – Excerpts:

Drawing on a representative survey of German internet users, we therefore analyze how women and men use SEIM to satisfy escapist needs. Lower life satisfaction, the lack of a committed relationship, and feelings of loneliness contribute to predicting the frequency of using SEIM among men. Loneliness likewise fosters the consumption of SEIM among women, yet the effect is less pronounced. For female internet users, consumption of SEIM even increases in committed relationships and rather indicates a comparably high level of life satisfaction than dissatisfaction with life circumstances. Gender hence substantially moderates the connection between need structures and the consumption of SEIM.

The above study said that higher porn use in women is related to both greater loneliness and greater life satisfaction. Very odd finding. When evaluating the research, it’s important to know that a relatively small percentage of all coupled females regularly consumes internet porn. Large, nationally representative data are scarce, but the General Social Survey reported that only 2.6% of married women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month. The question was only asked in 2002 & 2004 (see Pornography and Marriage, 2014). The takeaway is that studies reporting positive or neutral effects on relationship satisfaction (or other variables) are deriving this correlation from the small percentage of females who are: (1) regular porn users, and, (2) in long-term relationships (perhaps 3-5% of adult females). With small samples inconsistent findings are bound to occur.



Studies finding links between porn use and poorer cognitive outcomes:

Exposure to Sexual Stimuli Induces Greater Discounting Leading to Increased Involvement in Cyber Delinquency Among Men (2017) – In two studies exposure to visual sexual stimuli resulted in: 1) greater delayed discounting (inability to delay gratification), 2) greater inclination to engage in cyber-deliquency, 3) greater inclination to purchase counterfeit goods & hack someone’s Facebook account. Taken together this indicates that porn use increases impulsivity and may reduce certain executive functions (self-control, judgment, foreseeing consequences, impulse control). Excerpt:

These findings provide insight into a strategy for reducing men’s involvement in cyber delinquency; that is, through less exposure to sexual stimuli and promotion of delayed gratification. The current results suggest that the high availability of sexual stimuli in cyberspace may be more closely associated with men’s cyber-delinquent behavior than previously thought.

Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting (2015) The more pornography that participants consumed, the less able they were to delay gratification. This unique study also had porn users reduce porn use for 3 weeks. The study found that continued porn use was causally related to greater inability to delay gratification (note that the ability to delay gratification is a function of the prefrontal cortex). Excerpt from the first study (median subject age 20) correlated subjects’ pornography use with their scores on a delayed gratification task:

“The more pornography that participants consumed, the more they saw the future rewards as worth less than the immediate rewards, even though the future rewards were objectively worth more.”

Put simply, more porn use correlated with less ability to delay gratification for larger future rewards. In the second part of this study researchers assessed the subjects’ delayed discounting 4 weeks later and correlated with their porn use.

“These results indicate that continued exposure to the immediate gratification of pornography is related to higher delay discounting over time.”

A second study (median age 19) was performed to assess if porn use causes delayed discounting, or the inability to delay gratification. Researchers divided current porn users into two groups:

  1. One group abstained from porn use for 3 weeks,
  2. A second group abstained from their favorite food for 3 weeks.

All participants were told the study was about self-control, and they were randomly chosen to abstain from their assigned activity. The clever part was that the researchers had the second group of porn users abstain from eating their favorite food. This ensured that 1) all subjects engaged in a self-control task, and 2) the second group’s porn use was unaffected. At the end of the 3 weeks, participants were involved in a task to assess delay discounting. Important note: While the “porn abstinence group” viewed significantly less porn than the “favorite food abstainers,” most did not completely abstain from porn viewing. The results:

“As predicted, participants who exerted self-control over their desire to consume pornography chose a higher percentage of larger, later rewards compared to participants who exerted self-control over their food consumption but continued consuming pornography.”

The group that cut back on their porn viewing for 3 weeks displayed less delay discounting than the group that simply abstained from their favorite food. Put simply, abstaining from internet porn increases porn users’ ability to delay gratification. From the study:

Thus, building on the longitudinal findings of Study 1, we demonstrated that continued pornography consumption was causally related to a higher rate of delay discounting. Exercising self-control in the sexual domain had a stronger effect on delay discounting than exercising self-control over another rewarding physical appetite (e.g., eating one’s favorite food).

The take-aways:

  1. It wasn’t exercising self-control that increased the ability to delay gratification. Reducing porn use was the key factor.
  2. Internet porn is a unique stimulus.
  3. Internet porn use, even in non-addicts, has long-term effects.

[This one also appears above in first section of this page, and is repeated here due to its “delayed discounting” finding.] How Abstinence Affects Preferences (2016) [preliminary results] – Excerpts from the article:

Results of the First Wave – Main Findings

  1. The length of the longest streak participants performed before taking part in the survey correlates with time preferences. The second survey will answer the question if longer periods of abstinence render participants more able to delay rewards, or if more patient participants are more likely to perform longer streaks.
  2. Longer periods of abstinence most likely cause less risk aversion (which is good). The second survey will provide the final proof.
  3. Personality correlates with length of streaks. The second wave will reveal if abstinence influences personality or if personality can explain variation in the length of streaks.

Results of the Second Wave – Main Findings

  1. Abstaining from pornography and masturbation increases the ability to delay rewards
  2. Participating in a period of abstinence renders people more willing to take risks
  3. Abstinence renders people more altruistic
  4. Abstinence renders people more extroverted, more conscientious, and less neurotic

Self-reported differences on measures of executive function and hypersexual behavior in a patient and community sample of men (2010) – “Hypersexual behavior” was correlated with poorer executive function (arisng primarily from the prefrontal cortex). An excerpt:

Patients seeking help for hypersexual behavior often exhibit features of impulsivity, cognitive rigidity, poor judgment, deficits in emotion regulation, and excessive preoccupation with sex. Some of these characteristics are also common among patients presenting with neurological pathology associated with executive dysfunction. These observations led to the current investigation of differences between a group of hypersexual patients (n = 87) and a non-hypersexual community sample (n = 92) of men using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version  Hypersexual behavior was positively correlated with global indices of executive dysfunction and several subscales of the BRIEF-A. These findings provide preliminary evidence supporting the hypothesis that executive dysfunction may be implicated in hypersexual behavior.

Pornographic picture processing interferes with working memory performance (2013) – German scientists have discovered that Internet erotica can diminish working memory. In this porn-imagery experiment, 28 healthy individuals performed working-memory tasks using 4 different sets of pictures, one of which was pornographic. Participants also rated the pornographic pictures with respect to sexual arousal and masturbation urges prior to, and after, pornographic picture presentation. Results showed that working memory was worst during the porn viewing and that greater arousal augmented the drop. An excerpt:

Results contribute to the view that indicators of sexual arousal due to pornographic picture processing interfere with working memory performance. Findings are discussed with respect to Internet sex addiction because working memory interference by addiction-related cues is well known from substance dependencies.

Working memory is the ability to keep information in mind while using it to complete a task or deal with a challenge. It helps people hold their goals in mind, resist distractions and inhibit impulsive choices, so it’s critical to learning and planning. A consistent research finding is that addiction-related cues hinder working memory, which is a function of the prefrontal cortex.

Sexual Picture Processing Interferes with Decision-Making Under Ambiguity (2013) – Study found that viewing pornographic imagery interfered with decision making during a standardized cognitive test. This suggests porn use might affect executive functioning, which is a set of mental skills that help with meeting goals. These skills are controlled by an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.

Decision-making performance was worse when sexual pictures were associated with disadvantageous card decks compared to performance when the sexual pictures were linked to the advantageous decks. Subjective sexual arousal moderated the relationship between task condition and decision-making performance. This study emphasized that sexual arousal interfered with decision-making, which may explain why some individuals experience negative consequences in the context of cybersex use.

Arousal, working memory capacity, and sexual decision-making in men (2014) – Excerpts:

This study investigated whether working memory capacity (WMC) moderated the relationship between physiological arousal and sexual decision making. A total of 59 men viewed 20 consensual and 20 non-consensual images of heterosexual interaction while their physiological arousal levels were recorded using skin conductance response. Participants also completed an assessment of WMC and a date-rape analogue task for which they had to identify the point at which an average Australian male would cease all sexual advances in response to verbal and/or physical resistance from a female partner. Participants who were more physiologically aroused by and spent more time viewing the non-consensual sexual imagery nominated significantly later stopping points on the date-rape analogue task. Consistent with our predictions, the relationship between physiological arousal and nominated stopping point was strongest for participants with lower levels of WMC. For participants with high WMC, physiological arousal was unrelated to nominated stopping point. Thus, executive functioning ability (and WMC in particular) appears to play an important role in moderating men’s decision making with regard to sexually aggressive behavior.

Early Adolescent Boys’ exposure to Internet pornography: Relationships to pubertal timing, sensation seeking, and academic performance (2015) – This rare longitudinal study (over a six-month period) suggests that porn use decreases academic performance. Excerpt:

Moreover, an increased use of Internet pornography decreased boys’ academic performance six months later.

Getting stuck with pornography? Overuse or neglect of cybersex cues in a multitasking situation is related to symptoms of cybersex addiction (2015) – Subjects with a higher tendency towards porn addiction performed more poorly of executive functioning tasks (which are under the auspices of the prefrontal cortex). A few excerpts:

We investigated whether a tendency towards cybersex addiction is associated with problems in exerting cognitive control over a multitasking situation that involves pornographic pictures. We used a multitasking paradigm in which the participants had the explicit goal to work to equal amounts on neutral and pornographic material. We found that participants who reported tendencies towards cybersex addiction deviated stronger from this goal.

The results of the current study point towards a role of executive control functions, i.e. functions mediated by the prefrontal cortex, for the development and maintenance of problematic cybersex use (as suggested by Brand et al., 2014). Particularly a reduced ability to monitor consumption and to switch between pornographic material and other contents in a goal adequate manner may be one mechanism in the development and maintenance of cybersex addiction

Problematic sexual behavior in young adults: Associations across clinical, behavioral, and neurocognitive variables (2016) – Individuals with Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) exhibited several neuro-cognitive deficits. These findings indicate poorer executive functioning (hypofrontality) which is a key brain feature occurring in drug addicts. A few excerpts:

From this characterization, it is be possible to trace the problems evident in PSB and additional clinical features, such as emotional dysregulation, to particular cognitive deficits…. If the cognitive problems identified in this analysis are actually the core feature of PSB, this may have notable clinical implications.

Effects of Pornography on Senior High School Students, Ghana. (2016) – Excerpt:

The study revealed that majority of the students admitted to watching pornography before. Furthermore, it was observed that majority of them agreed that pornography affects students’ academic performance negatively…

Executive Functioning of Sexually Compulsive and Non-Sexually Compulsive Men Before and After Watching an Erotic Video (2017) – Exposure to porn affected executive functioning in men with “compulsive sexual behaviors,” but not healthy controls. Poorer executive functioning when exposed to addiction-related cues is a hallmark of substance disorders (indicating both altered prefrontal circuits and sensitization). Excerpts:

This finding indicates better cognitive flexibility after sexual stimulation by controls compared with sexually compulsive participants. These data support the idea that sexually compulsive men do not to take advantage of the possible learning effect from experience, which could result in better behavior modification. This also could be understood as a lack of a learning effect by the sexually compulsive group when they were sexually stimulated, similar to what happens in the cycle of sexual addiction, which starts with an increasing amount of sexual cognition, followed by the activation of sexual scripts and then orgasm, very often involving exposure to risky situations.


 

“Conscious and Non-Conscious Measures of Emotion: Do They Vary with Frequency of Pornography Use?” – Excerpts analyzing Steele et al., 2013

Comments: This 2017 EEG study on porn users cited 3 Nicole Prause EEG studies. The authors believe that all 3 Prause EEG studies actually found desensitization or habituation in frequent porn users (which often occurs with addiction). This is exactly what YBOP has always claimed (explained in this critique: Critique of: Letter to the editor “Prause et al. (2015) the latest falsification of addiction predictions” 2016). Steele et al., 2013 was touted in the media  by spokesperson Nicole Prause as evidence against the existence of porn/sex addiction. Contrary to claims, this study actually lends support to the existence of both porn addiction and porn use down-regulating sexual desire. How so? The study reported higher EEG readings (relative to neutral pictures) when subjects were briefly exposed to pornographic photos. Studies consistently show that an elevated P300 occurs when addicts are exposed to cues (such as images) related to their addiction. In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, this EEG study also reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlating with less desire for partnered sex. To put another way – individuals with greater brain activation to porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Shockingly, study spokesman Nicole Prause claimed that porn users merely had “high libido”, yet the results of the study say something quite different – as this new study points out in the excerpts. Four peer-reviewed papers expose the truth: 1, 2, 3, 4. (Read an extensive critique here)

In the excerpts below these 3 citations indicate the following Nicole Prause EEG studies (#14 is Steele et al., 2013):

  • 7 Prause, N.; Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Sabatinelli, D. Late positive potential to explicit sexual images associated with the number of sexual intercourse partners. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosc. 2015, 10, 93–100.
  • 8 Prause, N.; Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Sabatinelli, D.; Hajcak, G. Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with “porn addiction”. Biol. Psychol. 2015, 109, 192–199.
  • 14 – Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Fong, T.; Prause, N. Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images. Socioaffect. Neurosci. Psychol. 2013, 3, 20770

Excerpts describing Steele et al., 2013:


Event-related potentials (ERPs) have often been used as a physiological measure of reactions to emotional cues, e.g., [24]. Studies utilizing ERP data tend to focus on later ERP effects such as the P300 [14] and Late-Positive Potential (LPP) [7, 8] when investigating individuals who view pornography. These later aspects of the ERP waveform have been attributed to cognitive processes such as attention and working memory (P300) [25] as well as sustained processing of emotionally-relevant stimuli (LPP) [26]. Steele et al. [14] showed that the large P300 differences seen between viewing of sexually explicit images relative to neutral images was negatively related to measures of sexual desire, and had no effect on participants’ hypersexuality. The authors suggested that this negative finding was most probably due to the images shown not having any novel significance to the participant pool, as participants all reported viewing high volumes of pornographic material, consequently leading to the suppression of the P300 component. The authors went on to suggest that perhaps looking at the later occurring LPP may provide a more useful tool, as it has been shown to index motivation processes. Studies investigating the effect pornography use has on the LPP have shown the LPP amplitude to be generally smaller in participants who report having higher sexual desire and problems regulating their viewing of pornographic material [7, 8]. This result is unexpected, as numerous other addiction-related studies have shown that when presented with a cue-related emotion task, individuals who report having problems negotiating their addictions commonly exhibit larger LPP waveforms when presented images of their specific addiction-inducing substance [27]. Prause et al. [7, 8] offer suggestions as to why the use of pornography may result in smaller LPP effects by suggesting that it may be due to a habituation effect, as those participants in the study reporting overuse of pornographic material scored significantly higher in the amount of hours spent viewing pornographic material.

———–

Studies have consistently shown a physiological downregulation in processing of appetitive content due to habituation effects in individuals who frequently seek out pornographic material [3, 7, 8]. It is the authors’ contention that this effect may account for the results observed.

————

Future studies may need to utilise a more up-to-date standardised image database to account for changing cultures. Also, maybe high porn users downregulated their sexual responses during the study. This explanation was at least used by [7, 8] to describe their results which showed a weaker approach motivation indexed by smaller LPP (late positive potential) amplitude to erotic images by individuals reporting uncontrollable pornography use. LPP amplitudes have been shown to decrease upon intentional downregulation [62, 63]. Therefore, an inhibited LPP to erotic images may account for lack of significant effects found in the present study across groups for the “erotic” condition.

———–

 

“Conscious and Non-Conscious Measures of Emotion: Do They Vary with Frequency of Pornography Use?” – Excerpts analyzing Prause et al., 2015

Comments: This EEG study on porn users cited 3 Nicole Prause EEG studies. The authors believe that all 3 Prause EEG studies actually found desensitization or habituation in frequent porn users (which often occurs with addiction). This is exactly what YBOP has always claimed (explained in this critique: Critique of: Letter to the editor “Prause et al. (2015) the latest falsification of addiction predictions” 2016). Five other peer-reviewed papers agree that Prause et al., 2015 actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5.

In the following excerpts these 3 citations indicate the following Nicole Prause EEG studies:

  • 7 – Prause, N.; Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Sabatinelli, D. Late positive potential to explicit sexual images associated with the number of sexual intercourse partners. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosc. 2015, 10, 93–100.
  • 8 – Prause, N.; Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Sabatinelli, D.; Hajcak, G. Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with “porn addiction”. Biol. Psychol. 2015, 109, 192–199.
  • 14 – Steele, V.R.; Staley, C.; Fong, T.; Prause, N. Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images. Socioaffect. Neurosci. Psychol. 2013, 3, 20770

Excerpts describing Prause et al., 2015:


Event-related potentials (ERPs) have often been used as a physiological measure of reactions to emotional cues, e.g., [24]. Studies utilizing ERP data tend to focus on later ERP effects such as the P300 [14] and Late-Positive Potential (LPP) [7, 8] when investigating individuals who view pornography. These later aspects of the ERP waveform have been attributed to cognitive processes such as attention and working memory (P300) [25] as well as sustained processing of emotionally-relevant stimuli (LPP) [26]. Steele et al. [14] showed that the large P300 differences seen between viewing of sexually explicit images relative to neutral images was negatively related to measures of sexual desire, and had no effect on participants’ hypersexuality. The authors suggested that this negative finding was most probably due to the images shown not having any novel significance to the participant pool, as participants all reported viewing high volumes of pornographic material, consequently leading to the suppression of the P300 component. The authors went on to suggest that perhaps looking at the later occurring LPP may provide a more useful tool, as it has been shown to index motivation processes. Studies investigating the effect pornography use has on the LPP have shown the LPP amplitude to be generally smaller in participants who report having higher sexual desire and problems regulating their viewing of pornographic material [7, 8]. This result is unexpected, as numerous other addiction-related studies have shown that when presented with a cue-related emotion task, individuals who report having problems negotiating their addictions commonly exhibit larger LPP waveforms when presented images of their specific addiction-inducing substance [27]. Prause et al. [7, 8] offer suggestions as to why the use of pornography may result in smaller LPP effects by suggesting that it may be due to a habituation effect, as those participants in the study reporting overuse of pornographic material scored significantly higher in the amount of hours spent viewing pornographic material.

———–

Studies have consistently shown a physiological downregulation in processing of appetitive content due to habituation effects in individuals who frequently seek out pornographic material [3, 7, 8]. It is the authors’ contention that this effect may account for the results observed.

————

Future studies may need to utilise a more up-to-date standardised image database to account for changing cultures. Also, maybe high porn users downregulated their sexual responses during the study. This explanation was at least used by [7, 8] to describe their results which showed a weaker approach motivation indexed by smaller LPP (late positive potential) amplitude to erotic images by individuals reporting uncontrollable pornography use. LPP amplitudes have been shown to decrease upon intentional downregulation [62, 63]. Therefore, an inhibited LPP to erotic images may account for lack of significant effects found in the present study across groups for the “erotic” condition.

———–

Studies falsify the claim that sex & porn addicts “just have high sexual desire”

Porn addiction naysayers often claim that individuals with either sex addiction or porn addiction do not have addiction, they simply have high libidos. David Ley (author of The Myth of Sex Addiction), is one of the most vocal critics of porn addiction, and often claims that “high sexual desire” explains away porn addiction.

You may have seen Ley’s Psychology Today blog post with the catchy title: “Your Brain on Porn – It’s NOT Addictive”. The Ley blog post is not about the science behind YBOP. Instead, it’s about a single EEG study, whose lead author is Nicole Prause. Both Ley and Prause claim that the study’s (Steele et al., 2013) findings support the premise that porn/sex addiction is nothing more than “high sexual desire.”

Contrary to claims by Ley and study author Nicole Prause, Steele et al., 2013 reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlating with LESS desire for sex with a partner (but not lower desire to masturbate to porn). To put it another way – individuals with more brain activation and cravings for porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person.

Greater cue-reactivity to porn coupled with lower desire for sex with real partners aligns with the 2014 Cambridge University brain study on porn addicts. The actual findings of Steele et al., 2013  in no way match the concocted headlines or Ley’s blog post assertions. Five subsequent peer-reviewed papers say that the Steele et al. findings actually lend support to the porn addiction model (as opposed to the “high sexual desire” hypothesis): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. For more this extensive critique exposes unsupported claims put forth in the press and the study’s methodological flaws.

In 2015, Nicole Prause published a second EEG study (Prause et al., 2015), which found LESS neural response (with brief exposure to still images) for frequent porn users when compared to controls. This is evidence of abnormally reduced sexual desire in compulsive porn users. Put simply, chronic porn users were bored by static images of ho-hum porn (its findings parallel Kuhn & Gallinat., 2014). These findings are consistent with tolerance, a sign of addiction. Tolerance is defined as a person’s diminished response to a drug or stimulus that is the result of repeated use. Six peer-reviewed papers agree that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users (a sign of addiction): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The results of Prause’s second EEG study indicate LESS sexual arousal – not higher desire. In fact, Nicole Prause stated in this Quora post she no longer ascribes to the “high libido as sex addiction” hypothesis:

“I was partial to the high sex drive explanation, but this LPP study we just published is persuading me to be more open to sexual compulsivity.”

Since Prause has flip-flopped, where is Ley’s and others continued support for the “porn/sex addiction = high libido” claim? Below are several recent studies that tested and falsified the “high libido = sex/porn addiction” claim:

1) “Is High Sexual Desire a Facet of Male Hypersexuality? Results from an Online Study.” (2015) – Researchers found virtually no overlap between the men with hypersexuality and the men with “High Sexual Desire”. Excerpt from the paper:

“The study findings point to a distinct phenomenology of High Sexual Desire and Hypersexuality in men.

2) “Hypersexuality and High Sexual Desire: Exploring the Structure of Problematic Sexuality” (2015) – The study found little overlap between high sexual desire and hypersexuality. Excerpt from the paper:

“Our study supports the distinctiveness of hypersexuality and high sexual desire/activity.”

3) “Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours” (2014) – A Cambridge University fMRI study comparing porn addicts to healthy controls. The study found that porn addicts had lower sexual desire and greater difficulty achieving erections, yet had greater cue-reactivity to porn (similar to Steele et al. above). Excerpts from the paper:

“On an adapted version of the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale [43], CSB subjects compared to healthy volunteers had significantly more difficulty with sexual arousal and experienced more erectile difficulties in intimate sexual relationships but not to sexually explicit material (Table S3 in File S1).”

CSB subjects reported that as a result of excessive use of sexually explicit materials….. experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material)…

4) “Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases” (2015) – Study on men with hypersexuality disorders. 27 were classified as “avoidant masturbators,” meaning they masturbated to porn one or more hours per day or more than 7 hours per week. 71% of the compulsive porn users reported sexual functioning problems, with 33% reporting delayed ejaculation.

5) “Erectile Dysfunction, Boredom, and Hypersexuality among Coupled Men from Two European Countries” (2015) – This survey reported a strong correlation between erectile dysfunction and measures of hypersexuality. Excerpt:

Hypersexuality was significantly correlated with proneness to sexual boredom and more problems with erectile function.”

6) “Adolescents and web porn: a new era of sexuality (2015) – This Italian study analyzed the effects of Internet porn on high school seniors, co-authored by urology professor Carlo Foresta, president of the Italian Society of Reproductive Pathophysiology. The most interesting finding is that 16% of those who consume porn more than once a week report abnormally low sexual desire compared with 0% in non-consumers (and 6% for those who consume less than once a week). From the study:

“21.9% define it as habitual, 10% report that it reduces sexual interest towards potential real-life partners, and the remaining, 9.1% report a kind of addiction. In addition, 19% of overall pornography consumers report an abnormal sexual response, while the percentage rose to 25.1% among regular consumers.”

7) Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn” (2014) – A Max Planck study which found 3 significant addiction-related brain changes correlating with the amount of porn consumed. It also found that the more porn consumed the less reward circuit activity in response to brief exposure (.530 second) to vanilla porn. In a 2014 article lead author Simone Kühn said:

We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward. That could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system. That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation.”

A more technical description of this study from a review of the literature by Kuhn & Gallinat – Neurobiological Basis of Hypersexuality (2016).

“The more hours participants reported consuming pornography, the smaller the BOLD response in left putamen in response to sexual images. Moreover, we found that more hours spent watching pornography was associated with smaller gray matter volume in the striatum, more precisely in the right caudate reaching into the ventral putamen. We speculate that the brain structural volume deficit may reflect the results of tolerance after desensitization to sexual stimuli.”

8) “Unusual masturbatory practice as an etiological factor in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in young men” (2014) – One of the 4 case studies in this paper reports on a man with porn-induced sexual problems (low libido, fetishes, anorgasmia). The sexual intervention called for a 6-week abstinence from porn and masturbation. After 8 months the man reported increased sexual desire, successful sex and orgasm, and enjoying “good sexual practices.”

9) Pornography use: who uses it and how it is associated with couple outcomes” (2012) – While not a study on “hypersexuals”, it reported that 1) porn use was consistently correlated with low scores on sexual satisfaction, and 2) that there was no differences in sexual desire between the porn users and the non-users.

10) Sexual Desire, not Hypersexuality, is Related to Neurophysiological Responses Elicited by Sexual Images (2013) – This EEG study was touted in the media as evidence against the existence of porn addiction. Not so. In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, this EEG study reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlated with less desire for partnered sex. To put another way – individuals with more brain activation and cravings for porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Study spokesman Nicole Prause claimed that porn users merely had high libido, yet the results of the study say something quite different. Four peer-reviewed papers expose the truth: 1, 2, 3, 4. Also see the extensive YBOP critique.

11) Modulation of Late Positive Potentials by Sexual Images in Problem Users and Controls Inconsistent with “Porn Addiction” (2015) – Another SPAN Lab EEG (brain-wave) study comparing the 2013 subjects from the above study to an actual control group (yet it suffered from the same methodological flaws named above). The results: compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The lead author, Nicole Prause, claims these results “debunk porn addiction”. What legitimate scientist would claim that their lone anomalous study has debunked an entire field of study? In reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn. Prause’s findings also align with Banca et al. 2015 which is #4 in this list. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn. They were bored (habituated or desensitized). See this extensive YBOP critique. Five peer-reviewed papers agree with YBOP: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5.

12) Use of pornography in a random sample of Norwegian heterosexual couples (2009) – Porn use was correlated with more sexual dysfunctions in the man and negative self perception in the female. The couples who did not use porn had no sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts from the study:

In couples where only one partner used pornography, we found more problems related to arousal (male) and negative (female) self-perception.

The couples who did not use pornography... may be considered more traditional in relation to the theory of sexual scripts. At the same time, they did not seem to have any dysfunctions.

13) Masturbation and Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men With Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles of Masturbation? (2015) – Masturbating to porn was related with decreased sexual desire and low relationship intimacy. Excerpts:

“Among men who masturbated frequently, 70% used pornography at least once a week. A multivariate assessment showed that sexual boredom, frequent pornography use, and low relationship intimacy significantly increased the odds of reporting frequent masturbation among coupled men with decreased sexual desire.”

“Among men [with decreased sexual desire] who used pornography at least once a week [in 2011], 26.1% reported that they were unable to control their pornography use. In addition, 26.7% of men reported that their use of pornography negatively affected their partnered sex and 21.1% claimed to have attempted to stop using pornography.”

14) Men’s Sexual Life and Repeated Exposure to Pornography. A New Issue? (2015) – Excerpts:

Mental health specialists should take in consideration the possible effects of pornography consumption on men sexual behaviors, men sexual difficulties and other attitudes related to sexuality. In the long term pornography seems to create sexual dysfunctions, especially the individual’s inability to reach an orgasm with his partner. Someone who spends most of his sexual life masturbating while watching porn engages his brain in rewiring its natural sexual sets so that it will soon need visual stimulation to achieve an orgasm.

Many different symptoms of porn consumption, such as the need to involve a partner in watching porn, the difficulty in reaching orgasm, the need for porn images in order to ejaculate turn into sexual problems. These sexual behaviors may go on for months or years and it may be mentally and bodily associated with the erectile dysfunction, although it is not an organic dysfunction. Because of this confusion, which generates embarrassment, shame and denial, lots of men refuse to encounter a specialist

Pornography offers a very simple alternative to obtain pleasure without implying other factors that were involved in human’s sexuality along the history of mankind. The brain develops an alternative path for sexuality which excludes “the other real person” from the equation. Furthermore, pornography consumption in a long term makes men more prone to difficulties in obtaining an erection in a presence of their partners.

15) Understanding the Personality and Behavioral Mechanisms Defining Hypersexuality in Men Who Have Sex With Men (2016)

Further, we found no associations between the CSBI Control scale and the BIS-BAS. This would indicate that lack of sexual behavior control is related to specific sexual excitation and inhibitory mechanisms and not to more general behavioral activation and inhibitory mechanisms. This would seem to support conceptualizing hypersexuality as a dysfunction of sexuality as proposed by Kafka. Further, it does not appear that hypersexuality is a manifestation of high sex drive, but that it involves high excitation and a lack of inhibitory control, at least with respect to inhibition owing to expected negative outcomes.

16) Hypersexual, Sexually Compulsive, or Just Highly Sexually Active? Investigating Three Distinct Groups of Gay and Bisexual Men and Their Profiles of HIV-Related Sexual Risk (2016) – If high sexual desire and sex addiction were the same, there would only be one group of individuals per population. This study, like the ones above, reported several distinct sub-groups, yet all groups reported similar rates of sexual activity.

Emerging research supports the notion that sexual compulsivity (SC) and hypersexual disorder (HD) among gay and bisexual men (GBM) might be conceptualized as comprising three groups—Neither SC nor HD; SC only, and Both SC and HD—that capture distinct levels of severity across the SC/HD continuum.

Nearly half (48.9 %) of this highly sexually active sample was classified as Neither SC nor HD, 30 % as SC Only, and 21.1 % as Both SC and HD. While we found no significant differences between the three groups on reported number of male partners, anal sex acts, or anal sex acts

17) The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics (2016) – As with many other studies, solitary porn users report poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction. Employing the Pornography Consumption Effect Scale (PCES), the study found that higher porn use was related to poorer sexual function, more sexual problems, and a “worse sex life”. An excerpt describing the correlation between the PCES “Negative Effects” on “Sex Life” questions and frequency of porn use:

There were no significant differences for the Negative Effect Dimension PCES across the frequency of sexually explicit material use; however, there were significant differences on the Sex Life subscale where High Frequency Porn Users reported greater negative effects than Low Frequency Porn Users.

18) Male masturbation habits and sexual dysfunctions (2016)It’s by a French psychiatrist who is the current president of the European Federation of Sexology. While the abstract shifts back and forth between Internet pornography use and masturbation, it’s clear that he’s mostly referring to porn-induced sexual dysfunctions (erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia). The paper revolves around his clinical experience with 35 men who developed erectile dysfunction and/or anorgasmia, and his therapeutic approaches to help them. The author states that most of his patients used porn, with several being addicted to porn. The abstract points to internet porn as the primary cause of the problems (keep in mind that masturbation does not cause chronic ED, and it is never given as a cause of ED). Excerpts:

Intro: Harmless and even helpful in his usual form widely practiced, masturbation in its excessive and pre-eminent form, generally associated today to pornographic addiction, is too often overlooked in the clinical assessment of sexual dysfunction it can induce.

Results: Initial results for these patients, after treatment to “unlearn” their masturbatory habits and their often associated addiction to pornography, are encouraging and promising. A reduction in symptoms was obtained in 19 patients out of 35. The dysfunctions regressed and these patients were able to enjoy satisfactory sexual activity.

Conclusion: Addictive masturbation, often accompanied by a dependency on cyber-pornography, has been seen to play a role in the etiology of certain types of erectile dysfunction or coital anejaculation. It is important to systematically identify the presence of these habits rather than conduct a diagnosis by elimination, in order to include habit-breaking deconditioning techniques in managing these dysfunctions.

19) The Dual Control Model – The Role Of Sexual Inhibition & Excitation In Sexual Arousal And Behavior (2007) – Newly rediscovered and very convincing. In an experiment employing video porn, 50% of the young men couldn’t become aroused or achieve erections with porn (average age was 29). The shocked researchers discovered that the men’s erectile dysfunction was,

related to high levels of exposure to and experience with sexually explicit materials.

The men experiencing erectile dysfunction had spent a considerable amount of time in bars and bathhouses where porn was “omnipresent,” and “continuously playing“. The researchers stated:

“Conversations with the subjects reinforced our idea that in some of them a high exposure to erotica seemed to have resulted in a lower responsivity to “vanilla sex” erotica and an increased need for novelty and variation, in some cases combined with a need for very specific types of stimuli in order to get aroused.”

20) Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men (2016) – This Belgian study from a leading research university found problematic Internet porn use was associated with reduced erectile function and reduced overall sexual satisfaction. Yet problematic porn users experienced greater cravings. The study appears to report escalation, as 49% of the men viewed porn that “was not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting.” (See studies reporting habituation/desensitization to porn and escalation of porn use) Excerpts:

This study is the first to directly investigate the relationships between sexual dysfunctions and problematic involvement in OSAs. Results indicated that higher sexual desire, lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function were associated with problematic OSAs (online sexual activities). These results can be linked to those of previous studies reporting a high level of arousability in association with sexual addiction symptoms (Bancroft & Vukadinovic, 2004; Laier et al., 2013; Muise et al., 2013).”

In addition, we finally have a study that asks porn users about possible escalation to new or disturbing porn genres. Guess what it found?

Forty-nine percent mentioned at least sometimes searching for sexual content or being involved in OSAs that were not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting, and 61.7% reported that at least sometimes OSAs were associated with shame or guilty feelings.”

Note – This is the first study to directly investigate the relationships between sexual dysfunctions and problematic porn use. Two other studies claiming to have investigated correlations between porn use and erectile functioning cobbled together data from earlier studies in an unsuccessful attempt to debunk porn-induced ED. Both were criticized in the peer-reviewed literature: paper 1 was not an authentic study, and has been thoroughly discredited; paper 2 actually found correlations that support porn-induced ED. Moreover, paper 2 was only a “brief communication” that did not report important data.

21) Altered Appetitive Conditioning and Neural Connectivity in Subjects With Compulsive Sexual Behavior (2016) – “Compulsive Sexual Behaviors” (CSB) means the men were porn addicts, because CSB subjects averaged nearly 20 hours of porn use per week. The controls averaged 29 minutes per week. Interestingly, 3 of the 20 CSB subjects mentioned to interviewers that they suffered from “orgasmic-erection disorder,” while none of the control subjects reported sexual problems.

22) Study sees link between porn and sexual dysfunction (2017) – The findings of an upcoming study presented at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting. A few excerpts:

Young men who prefer pornography to real-world sexual encounters might find themselves caught in a trap, unable to perform sexually with other people when the opportunity presents itself, a new study reports. Porn-addicted men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and are less likely to be satisfied with sexual intercourse, according to survey findings presented Friday at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, in Boston.

23) Exploring the Relationship Between Erotic Disruption During the Latency Period and the Use of Sexually Explicit Material, Online Sexual Behaviors, and Sexual Dysfunctions in Young Adulthood (2009) – Study examined correlations between current porn use (sexually explicit material – SEM) and sexual dysfunctions, and porn use during “latency period” (ages 6-12) and sexual dysfunctions. The average age of participants was 22. While current porn use correlated with sexual dysfunctions, porn use during latency (ages 6-12) had an even stronger correlation with sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts:

Findings suggested that latency erotic disruption by way of sexually explicit material (SEM) and/or child sexual abuse may be associated to adult online sexual behaviors.

Furthermore, results demonstrated that latency SEM exposure was a significant predictor of adult sexual dysfunctions.

We hypothesized that exposure to latency SEM exposure would predict adult use of SEM. Study findings supported our hypothesis, and demonstrated that latency SEM exposure was a statistically significant predictor of adult SEM use. This suggested that individuals who were exposed to SEM during latency, may continue this behavior into adulthood. Study findings also indicated that latency SEM exposure was a significant predictor of adult online sexual behaviors.

24) “I think it has been a negative influence in many ways but at the same time I can’t stop using it”: Self-identified problematic pornography use among a sample of young Australians (2017) – Online survey of Australians, aged 15-29.  Those who had ever viewed pornography (n=856) were asked in an open-ended question: ‘How has pornography influenced your life?’.

Among participants who responded to the open-ended question (n=718), problematic usage was self-identified by 88 respondents. Male participants who reported problematic usage of pornography highlighted effects in three areas: on sexual function, arousal and relationships. Responses included “I think it has been a negative influence in many ways but at the same time I can’t stop using it” (Male, Aged 18–19).

In short, the evidence is piling up that internet porn erodes normal sexual desire, leaving users less responsive to pleasure. They may crave porn, but that is more likely evidence of an addiction-related brain change known as “sensitization” (hyper-reactivity to addiction-related cues). Cravings certainly cannot be assumed to be evidence of greater libido.

Critique of: “Damaged Goods: Perception of Pornography Addiction as a Mediator Between Religiosity and Relationship Anxiety Surrounding Pornography Use” (Leonhardt, Willoughby, & Young-Petersen, 2017)

The “perceived pornography addiction” meme continues to infect the peer-reviewed literature, this time in a new study: “Damaged Goods: Perception of Pornography Addiction as a Mediator Between Religiosity and Relationship Anxiety Surrounding Pornography Use“, 2017 (Leonhardt, et al.). The phrase “perceived pornography addiction” was promoted by Joshua Grubbs, and first used in his 2013 study. It’s abundantly clear that the present study’s support for invoking “perceived porn addiction” or “belief in porn addiction” rests upon Joshua Grubbs’s continued promotion of the concept. Leonhardt, et al. cites 3 Grubbs studies a whopping 36 times in the body of the paper.

Before we examine the Leonhardt, et al. 5-item “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire, let’s briefly revisit the Grubbs studies. Here is an extensive critique of the claims made in the Grubbs “perceived addiction” studies and in related misleading press.)


Section 1: The reality behind Joshua Grubbs’s phrase “perceived pornography addiction

Reality Check #1: When the Grubbs studies use the phrase “perceived pornography addiction,” it actually denotes the total score on the Grubbs “Cyber Pornography Use Inventory” (CPUI-9) – a questionnaire that cannot, and was never validated for, sorting “perceived” from actual addiction. That’s right, “perceived pornography addiction” indicates nothing more than a number: the total score on 9-item porn addiction questionnaire. This fact is lost in translation in the Grubbs studies due to the frequent repetition of the misleading descriptor “perceived addiction” instead of the accurate, spin-free label: “the Cyber Pornography Use Inventory score.”

Reality Check #2: The Grubbs CPUI-9 assesses actual porn addiction, not belief in porn addiction. It was developed using substance addiction tests. Don’t take our word for it. Here is the CPUI-9. (Each question is scored using a Likert scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “not at all,” and 7 being “extremely.”)

Compulsivity Section

  1. I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography.
  2. I feel unable to stop my use of online pornography.
  3. Even when I do not want to view pornography online, I feel drawn to it

Access Efforts Section

  1. At times, I try to arrange my schedule so that I will be able to be alone in order to view pornography.
  2. I have refused to go out with friends or attend certain social functions to have the opportunity to view pornography.
  3. I have put off important priorities to view pornography.

Emotional Distress Section

  1. I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online.
  2. I feel depressed after viewing pornography online.
  3. I feel sick after viewing pornography online.

Upon closer examination, questions 1-6 of the CPUI-9 assess the signs and symptoms common to all addictions, while questions 7-9 (Emotional Distress) assess guilt, shame and remorse. As a result, “actual addiction” closely aligns with questions 1-6 (Compulsivity & Access Efforts). Removing the 3 “Emotional Distress” questions (which assess shame and guilt) leads to very different results for the Grubbs studies: 1) A much weaker relationship between religiosity and actual porn addiction. 2) A much stronger relationship between “[Porn] Use In Hours” and actual porn addiction. In other words hours of porn use strongly predict porn addiction, while religiosity’s relationship to porn addiction is far weaker. If we drill down we find that religiosity has virtually no relationship to the core addiction behaviors as assessed by questions 4-6.

Put simply – actual porn addiction has very little correlation to religiosity. One may well ask if it is sound methodology to blend apples and oranges in an assessment instrument, thereby confounding correlations with addiction on the one hand and correlations with shame guilt on the other. One may also ask whether it is appropriate to then choose a descriptor (“perceived”) that implies, wrongly, that an assessment instrument can sort genuine from perceived addiction.

Reality Check #3: You can also take Joshua Grubbs’s word that the CPUI is an actual pornography addiction questionnaire. In Grubbs’s initial 2010 paper he validated the Cyber-Pornography Use Inventory (CPUI) as a questionnaire assessing actual porn addiction (see this section for more). The phrases “perceived addiction” and “perceived porn addiction” do not appear in his 2010 paper. To the contrary, Grubbs et al., 2010 clearly states in several places that the CPUI assesses genuine porn addiction:

“The CPUI design was based on the principle that addictive behavior is characterized by an inability to stop the behavior, significant negative effects as a result of the behavior, and a generalized obsession with the behavior (Delmonico & Miller, 2003)…. The CPUI does indeed show promise as an instrument assessing Internet pornography addiction.”

Reality Check #4: Later, in a 2013 study, Grubbs reduced the number of CPUI questions from 32 (or 39 or 41) to the current 9, and (astonishingly) re-labeled his actual, validated porn addiction test as a questionnaire assessing “perceived pornography addiction.” While Grubbs himself didn’t claim his test could sort perceived from actual addiction, his employment of the misleading term (“perceived addiction”) for scores on his CPUI-9 instrument have led others to assume his instrument has the magical property of being able to discriminate between “perceived” and “real” addiction. This has done enormous damage to the field of porn addiction assessment because others rely on his papers as evidence of something they do not, and cannot, deliver. No test exists that can distinguish “real” from “perceived” addiction. Merely labeling it as such cannot make it so.

Why did Joshua Grubbs re-label the CPUI a “perceived” porn addiction test?

While Grubbs himself didn’t claim his test could sort perceived from actual addiction, his employment of the misleading term (“perceived addiction”) for scores on his CPUI-9 instrument have led others to assume his instrument has the magical property of being able to discriminate between “perceived” and “real” addiction. This has done enormous damage to the field of porn addiction assessment because others rely on his papers as evidence of something they do not, and cannot, deliver. No test exists that can distinguish “real” from “perceived” addiction. Merely labeling it as such cannot make it so.

Joshua Grubbs said in an email that a reviewer of his second CPUI-9 study caused him and his co-authors of the 2013 study to alter the “porn addiction” terminology of the CPUI-9 (because the reviewer sneered at the “construct” of porn addiction). This is why Grubbs changed his description of the test to a “perceived pornography addiction” questionnaire. In essence an anonymous reviewer/editor at this single journal initiated the unsupported, misleading label of “perceived pornography addiction.” The CPUI has never been validated as an assessment test differentiating actual porn addiction from “perceived porn addiction.” Here’s Grubbs tweeting about this process, including the reviewer’s comments:

Josh Grubbs‏ @JoshuaGrubbsPhD

On my 1st paper on compulsive porn use: “This construct [porn addiction] is as meaningful to measure as experiences of alien abduction: it’s meaningless.”

Nicole R Prause, PhD‏ @NicoleRPrause

You or reviewer?

Josh Grubbs‏ @JoshuaGrubbsPhD

Reviewer said it to me

Josh Grubbs‏ @JoshuaGrubbsPhD  Jul 14

Actually what led to my perceived addiction work, I thought about the comments as revised the focus.

Even though Grubbs used the phrase “perceived addiction” 80 times in his 2013 paper, he hinted at the true natiure of the CPUI-9 in this excerpt:

“Last, we found that the CPUI-9 was strongly positively associated with general hypersexual tendencies, as measured by the Kalichman Sexual Compulsivity Scale. This points to the high degree of interrelatedness between compulsive pornography use and hypersexuality more generally.”

Notice how the above excerpt states that the CPUI-9 assesses “compulsive pornography use.”

Reality Check #5: There is no questionnaire that assesses “perceived addiction” to anything – substance or behavior – including pornography use. This why a ‘Google Scholar’ search returns zero results for the following “perceived addictions”:

Reality Check #6: There is no set of questions that can differentiate between “belief in porn addiction” and the signs and symptoms of actual porn addiction. Like other addiction tests, the CPUI assesses behaviors and symptoms common to all addictions (and all addiction tests), such as the inability to control use, compulsion to use, cravings to use, negative psychological, social and emotional effects, and preoccupation with using. In fact, only question #1 of the CPUI-9 even hints at “perceived” addiction: I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography.

In summary, the phrase “perceived pornography addiction” means nothing more than the total score on the CPUI-9, an adaptation of a questionnaire originally validated in 2010 as an actual porn addiction test. Three years later, Grubbs was strongly “encouraged” by the publishing journal to re-label the CPUI-9 a “perceived” pornography addiction test – with no scientific basis, or formal validation whatsoever. That 2013 paper, and all subsequent Grubbs studies, replaced “total score on the CPUI-9” with the phrase “perceived pornography addiction.” If you ever see articles saying things such as:

  • “its your belief in porn addiction that causes psychological distress”

or a study saying that:

  • subjects’ anxiety was related to their perception of porn addiction

Know that the more accurate way to read them is as follows:

  • “porn addiction causes psychological distress”
  • subjects’ anxiety was related to scores on a porn addiction test

Not only did the Grubbs studies strongly, and misleadingly, imply that they assessed “the perception of porn addiction,” two other claims in the study also fall apart:

  • Claim #1) “Porn addiction is strongly related to religiosity.”

Not really. This section reveals that religiosity is only weakly related to actual porn addiction; while this section unravels the religiosity and porn addiction claims.

  • Claim #2) “Porn addiction is unrelated to hours of porn use.”

Not true. This section debunks this claim.

Reality Check #7: Studies recognize that amount of porn use is not linearly related to porn addiction (more below in section 5)

Where’s the evidence on which Leonhardt, et al. and the Grubbs papers are built, namely that amount of porn use is a reliable proxy for genuine addiction – with those using more being more “addicted” than those using less? Leonhardt, et al. asked about frequency, while Grubbs used hours of use, but the point is that neither test is synonymous with “degree of genuine addiction.” The fact is, established addiction assessment tools never use “amount of use” as the sole proxy for addiction.

Given that the amount of porn use is an unreliable measure of addiction, any suggestion that porn addiction is a “religious problem” based on slight discrepancies (between hours of use and scores on the 5-item test) when comparing religious and nonreligious users is thus far unsupportable, and certainly premature.

Moreover, last time I checked neither religious shame or guilt induces brain changes that mirror those found in drug addicts. Yet there are some 32 neurological studies reporting addiction-related brain changes in compulsive porn users/sex addicts. These furnish strong evidence of genuine addiction in some porn users.


Section 2: The Leonhardt, et al. 5-item questionnaire assesses only actual porn addiction

Now, back to the current BYU study: Leonhardt, Willoughby, & Young-Petersen, 2017 (Leonhardt, et al.). To assess “perceived pornography addiction” the authors adapted 5 questions taken from the 10-question “Sexual Compulsivity Scale.” The “Sexual Compulsivity Scale” was created in 1995 and designed with uncontrolled sexual relations in mind (in connection with investigating the AIDS epidemic).

By replacing “sex” or “sexual” with “pornography,” the Leonhardt, et al. authors created a questionnaire they labeled as assessing “perception of pornography addiction.” They used both that phrase and “belief in pornography addiction” throughout their study, as opposed to the more accurate “total score on our 5-item questionnaire.”

Ask yourself, do the following 5 questions measure the “belief in pornography addiction or do they assess signs, symptoms and behaviors fairly common in most addictions?

  1. “My thoughts about pornography are causing problems in my life,”
  2. ”My desires to view pornography disrupt my daily life,”
  3. “I sometimes fail to meet my commitments and responsibilities because of my pornography use,”
  4. “Sometimes my desire to view pornography is so great I lose control,”
  5. “I have to struggle to not view pornography.”

Still not sure? How about we adapt these five questions to create a substance addiction questionnaire:

  1. “My thoughts about using alcohol are causing problems in my life,”
  2. ”My desire to use alcohol disrupts my daily life,”
  3. “I sometimes fail to meet my commitments and responsibilities because of my alcohol use,”
  4. “Sometimes my desire to drink alcohol is so great I lose control,”
  5. “I have to struggle to not use alcohol.”

So, do the above 5 questions assess a “belief in alcohol addiction” or do they assess “actual alcohol addiction?” As anyone can see, these 5 questions assess actual alcohol addiction, just as they assessed actual porn addiction in Leonhardt, et al.

Yet we are told that a person’s total score for all 5 questions is synonymous with “belief in addiction” rather than addiction itself! Very misleading, and without any scientific basis, as these 5 questions were not validated as distinguishing an individual’s “belief in pornography addiction” from an actual addiction.

Note that decades of established addiction assessment tests for both chemical and behavioral addictions rely on similar questions as those above to assess actual, not “merely perceived,” addiction. For example, the Leonhardt, et al. questions assess the core addiction behaviors as outlined by the commonly used assessment tool known as the “4 Cs.” Let’s compare them. Here’s how the Leonhardt, et al questions correlate with the four Cs:

  • Compulsion to use (2, 3)
  • Inability to Control use (2, 3, 4)
  • Cravings to use (1, 2, 3, 4 )
  • Continued use despite negative consequences (2, 3)

In short, Leonhardt, et al. assessed the signs, symptoms and behaviors of an actual porn addiction, not belief in addiction. There is nothing in these 5 questions that hints at “mere belief in addiction.” Not only did the Leonhardt, et al. authors improperly apply the phrase “perceived pornography addiction” throughout their paper, they took it a step further by insinuating that both the Grubbs CPUI-9 and their 5-item questionnaire can actually assess a person’s mere “belief in porn addiction.” It should be noted that Grubbs himself never used the phrase “belief in addiction.”

If these authors were correct that their 5 items assess “perceived addiction,” then no existing addiction test could ever assess true addiction. This would be groundbreaking news indeed to the thousands of addiction experts worldwide who use such tests to assess a wide range of addicts every day.

Bottom line: Every time you read an article or a study using the phase “perceived pornography addiction” or “belief in porn addiction,” just know that all such misleading terms mean only one thing: “the total score on some porn addiction test.” To reveal the true significance of the findings in such articles and studies, simply omit words such as “perceived” or “belief,” and replace them with “porn addiction.” Let’s do this with few of the over 100 instances where Leonhardt, et al. inserted either “perceived” or “belief” into their paper:

Leonhardt, et al. said:

However, it appears that pornography users feel relationship anxiety surrounding their use only insofar as they believe themselves to have a compulsive, distressing pattern of use.

Without the inaccurate terms:

Pornography users who score high on our 5-item porn addiction questionnaire experience relationship anxiety surrounding their compulsive porn use.

Leonhardt, et al. said:

According to these results, those who use pornography are unlikely to feel anxious in their relationships because of their use, unless they believe themselves to have a compulsive, distressing pattern of use.

Without the inaccurate terms:

According to these results those who are addicted to pornography feel anxious in their relationships.

Leonhardt, et al. said:

Considering that dating discomfort was a subsidiary construct to relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, individuals who believe themselves to have compulsive, distressing pornography use may be particularly reluctant to seek out dating partners.

Without the inaccurate terms:

Considering that dating discomfort was a subsidiary construct to relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, individuals who are addicted to pornography may be particularly reluctant to seek out dating partners.

In essence the study found that porn addicts experienced anxiety surrounding their compulsive pornography use and its resulting negative consequences, such as inability control use, the disruption of their daily lives, and their inability to meet social and work commitments and responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, their porn addiction affected various aspects of romantic relationships as well.

While it is helpful for caregivers to be aware that some porn users may need to work on their self-esteem as well as any problematic porn use, it is not helpful for the public to be misled that tests can distinguish between “perceived” and actual addiction. And it is particularly unhelpful to confuse the two concepts and make unfounded claims based on such confusion.

UPDATE: On her podcast, Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Brian Willoughby about this study. In the interview Willoughby makes a startling claim that:

“We saw about 10-15% of our sample fitting into that category (actual porn addiction)…but when we looked at just the perception it was about 2-3 times larger than that number. So we saw this larger of people who self-labeling themselves as having a pornography addiction. The behavioral piece of that seemed that it didn’t line up.”

There is nothing in his study that hints at the above data. Let’s be clear: The only questions related to “perceived porn addiction” or “actual porn addiction” were the 5 questions listed above. These 5 questions cannot provide the information that Willoughby claims he possesses: the ability to distinguish who was actually addicted to porn and who only believed they were addicted to porn (but in fact were not).

These statements by Willoughby are entirely unsupported. Addiction can only be ascertained via a combination of client history taking, interviewing, and possibly assessment questionnaires (such as Cambridge University used with its subjects). No researcher is justified in simply labeling any subject as being “truly addicted” or “falsely believing they are addicted” by using a 5-item questionnaire filled out on Amazon M-turk.

Willoughby not only repeatedly uses the phrases “perceived addiction” and “internal perception of addiction”, he claims that subjects “labeled themselves as addicted”. I’ll repeat: the subject’s answered the 5-item questionnaire. The study and now Willoughby have re-labeled the total score on the 5 questions as all of the following: “perceived porn addiction”, “belief in porn addiction”, “internal perception of porn addiction”. “labeling themselves as addicted”.

Finally, both the study and Willoughby suggest that the relationship between religiosity and scores on the 5-item questionnaire must indicate that most religious porn users only experience shame and do not experience the signs and symptoms of an addiction. That’s quite a leap considering that their study did not assess shame, or any other emotion.


Section 3: Rewriting & reinterpreting the Leonhardt, et al. abstract

What would the Leonhardt, et al. abstract look like if belief and perception were eliminated? First, here’s the abstract as published:

Recent research on pornography suggests that perception of addiction predicts negative outcomes above and beyond pornography use. Research has also suggested that religious individuals are more likely to perceive themselves to be addicted to pornography, regardless of how often they are actually using pornography. Using a sample of 686 unmarried adults, this study reconciles and expands on previous research by testing perceived addiction to pornography as a mediator between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography. Results revealed that pornography use and religiosity were weakly associated with higher relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, whereas perception of pornography addiction was highly associated with relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use. However, when perception of pornography addiction was inserted as a mediator in a structural equation model, pornography use had a small indirect effect on relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, and perception of pornography addiction partially mediated the association between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use. By understanding how pornography use, religiosity, and perceived pornography addiction connect to relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use in the early relationship formation stages, we hope to improve the chances of couples successfully addressing the subject of pornography and mitigate difficulties in romantic relationships.

Be honest, wouldn’t any reader assume from the above that the mere belief in porn addiction is the sole cause of all porn-related problems examined?

Now, here’s the Leonhardt, et al. abstract written as we think it should have based on its findings, without inaccurate phrases such as “belief in,” “perception of,” and with added context relating to the Grubbs research the Leonhardt, et al. authors relied on:

Recent research on pornography suggests that pornography addiction predicts negative outcomes above and beyond pornography use. A few studies by the Grubbs team have found that “religious porn users” score slightly higher than non-religious porn users on the “Cyber Pornography Use Inventory” (CPUI-9). This finding must be viewed in the context that all cross-sectional studies report far lower rates of porn use in religious individuals. This means that fewer religious persons regularly use porn and thus there are lower rates of “actual porn addiction” among religious populations. Several possible factors have been suggested as to why a population of religious porn users might score higher on porn addiction questionnaires than the population of secular porn users.

Using a sample of 686 unmarried adults, this study expands on previous research by testing compulsive pornography use as a mediator between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography. Results revealed that pornography use and religiosity were weakly associated with higher relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, whereas pornography addiction was highly associated with relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use.

However, when pornography addiction was inserted as a mediator in a structural equation model, pornography use had a small indirect effect on relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, and pornography addiction partially mediated the association between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use. By understanding how pornography use, religiosity, and pornography addiction connect to relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use in the early relationship formation stages, we hope to improve the chances of couples successfully addressing the subject of pornography and mitigate difficulties in romantic relationships.

THE TAKE-AWAY: Being religious was only “weakly associated” with relationship anxiety surrounding one’s pornography use. On the other hand, pornography addiction (as assessed by the 5 questions) “was highly associated” with relationship anxiety surrounding one’s pornography use. In sum, being religious added a bit anxiety to the relationship and porn use mix – which makes sense. But it was being addicted to porn (whether religious or not) that played the major role in promoting anxiety surrounding porn use. And how did the relationship anxiety manifest in the compulsive pornography users? As study said:

“This relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use was manifest in greater reluctance seeking out dating partners and greater difficulty disclosing pornography use.”

The study’s two major revelations:

  1. Porn addicts don’t want to talk about their porn addiction…especially on the first few dates.
  2. Being addicted to porn has detrimental effects on your love life. Alternately, a porn addict might prefer porn to a real-life sexual partner.

Are these findings a surprise to anyone?


Section 4: Is religiosity really related to actual porn addiction?

Introduction: Anecdotal evidence from sex therapists suggests there are clients who feel addicted to porn, yet view it only occasionally. It’s possible that some of these clients are religious and experience guilt and shame surrounding their occasional porn use. Are these individuals suffering only from “perceived addiction” and not real porn addiction? Perhaps. That said, these individuals want to stop yet they continue to use porn. Whether or not these “occasional porn users” are truly addicted or just feeling guilt and shame, one thing is for sure: neither the Grubbs CPUI-9, nor the Leonhardt, et al. 5-item questionnaire can distinguish “perceived addiction” from actual addiction in these individuals or anyone else.

Religiosity does not correlate with porn use or porn addiction

Religiosity does not predict porn addiction. Quite the opposite. Religious individuals are less likely to use porn and thus less likely to become porn addicts.

Leonhardt, et al. and the Joshua Grubbs studies did not use a cross-section of religious individuals. Instead, only current porn users (religious or nonreligious) were questioned. Pretty much every study published reports far lower rates of porn use in religious individuals as compared with non-religious individuals (study 1, study 2, study 3, study 4, study 5, study 6, study 7, study 8, study 9, study 10, study 11, study 12, study 13, study 14, study 15, study 16, study 17, study 18, study 19, study 20, study 21).

Studies examining religious porn users end up with a much smaller percentage of all religious persons when compared to secular porn users (among whom porn use is fairly universal in young males). The two take-aways: 1) religiosity is protective against porn addiction; 2) the sample of religious porn users is skewed toward atypical religious people.

As an example, this 2011 study (The Cyber Pornography Use Inventory: Comparing a Religious and Secular Sample) reported the percentage of religious and secular college men who used porn at least once a week:

  • Secular: 54%
  • Religious: 19%

Another study on college aged religious men (I believe it is wrong but I still do it – A comparison of religious young men who do versus do not use pornography, 2010) revealed that:

  • 65% of religious young men reported viewing no pornography in the past 12 months
  • 8.6% reported viewing two or three days per month
  • 8.6% reported viewing daily or every other day

In contrast, cross-sectional studies of college-age men report relatively high rates of porn viewing (US – 2008: 87%, China – 2012: 86%, Netherlands – 2013 (age 16): 73%).

Leonhardt, et al. disregards all other studies ever published on rates of porn use among religious users

In an astounding move the Leonhardt, et al. authors claim that all surveys and studies on rates of porn use among religious users are flat out wrong. In other words, Leonhardt, et al. suggests that a very large and consistent percentage of religious individuals have lied about their porn use on every anonymous survey on porn-use rates ever done. In fact, Leonhardt, et al go so far as to imply that religious individuals instead use porn at higher rates than non-religious individuals! The following excerpt offers their justification for this audacious assertion:

Likely due to these conservative sexual values, and possible anxiety surrounding the use of pornography, religious individuals consistently report lower levels of pornography use than secular populations (Carroll et al., 2008; Poulsen, Busby, & Galovan, 2013; Wright, 2013). However, other studies assessing search engines (MacInnis & Hodson, 2015) and online subscriptions (Edelman, 2009) suggest that individuals from religious, conservative populations may be more likely to search out pornography than their secular counterparts. This discrepancy between self-report data and objective measures hints at the stigma against pornography use in religious cultures, as religious individuals may be more likely to conceal their pornography use due to feelings of shame surrounding such use.

So, support for this Leonhardt, et al. claim comes from 2 studies on state-wide data: 1) MacInnis & Hodson, 2015 (Google searches for certain sex-related terms), and 2) Edelman, 2009 (Subscriptions to a single paid porn site in 2007).

The often-repeated meme that Utah has the highest level of porn use arose from Benjamin Edelman’s 2009 economics paper “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?” He relied entirely on subscription data from a single top-ten provider of pay-to-view content when he ranked states on porn consumption – ignoring hundreds of other such websites. Why did he choose that one to analyze?

We do know that Edelman’s analysis was conducted circa 2007, after free, streaming “tube sites” were operational, and porn viewers were increasingly turning to them. So, Edelman’s single data point out of thousands (of free and subscription sites) cannot be presumed to be representative of all US porn users. Turns out  his paper is misleading. (For more see – Is Utah #1 in Porn Use?) In fact, other studies and available data rank Utah porn use between 40th and 50th among the states. See:

  1. This peer-reviewed paper: “A review of pornography use research: Methodology and results from four sources (2015).Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace (2015).
  2. Or this easier to read 2014 article: Rethinking Mormons and Porn: Utah 40th in US in New Porn Data.
  3. Per capita page views, taken from Pornhub in 2014 (graph on YBOP).

The paper “A review of pornography use research: Methodology and results from four sources (2015)” also analyzes MacInnis & Hodson, 2015. An excerpt explaining what MacInnis & Hodson did:

MacInnis & Hodson, (2014) use Google Trends search term data as a proxy for pornography use and examine the relationship between state-level pornography use and measures of religiosity and conservatism. They find that states with more right-leaning ideological attitudes have higher rates of pornography-related Google searches.

The first problem with MacInnis & Hodson: Google Trend searches are not a proxy for pornography use. For example, self-reports suggest regular porn users visit their favorite tube sites via bookmarks or by typing the tube site’s name into the browser’s address field (while in incognito mode). Once on their favorite tube site, regular porn users often reach a new porn site via hyperlinks and ads, thus bypassing Google searches entirely.

The second weakness in MacInnis & Hodson: Google searches tells us nothing about the amount of time any particular user spends watching porn. For example, a state could have a high rate of first time porn seekers (young people, for instance) who only glance at a a few pictures, while other states could have higher rates of chronic porn users who never use Google, yet spend several hours watching porn.

A third weakness: MacInnis & Hodson failed to consider other possible reasons for higher rates of Google searches for sex and porn related words. It’s quite likely that young people searching for info about sex or sexual practices would use Google, while seasoned porn users would bypass search engines and go directly to porn sites. Moreover, surveys show that the highest rates of porn viewing occur in teen and young adult populations. As a result, we would expect states with higher populations of young people to have higher rates of Google searches for sexual content.

Check out the state by state population demographics. The 16 states with highest percentages of teen populations are considered “Red States” (more religious and politically conservative). On the other hand, all but one of the states with the lowest percentage of teens is a “Blue State” (less religious, more liberal). This one variable alone could explain the MacInnis & Hodson‘s findings.

And this is just one of many variables that must be factored in when affixing significance to correlations between state-level rankings in religiosity and a single highly questionable “proxy for porn use.” Especially when all surveys and studies report less porn use among religious populations.

The paper “A review of pornography use research: Methodology and results from four sources (2015).” says the following about MacInnis & Hodson:

The results in the first row of Table 3 show that we also find a statistically significant relationship between religiosity and conservatism in most cases when we use the Google Trends data. However, the other rows in Table 3 show that we get a much weaker statistical relationship when using any of the other three data sources. These results suggest that if MacInnis and Hodson (2014) had used any of the other three data sources, they probably would have come to a different conclusion in their paper about the strength of the relationship they were examining.

The fact that MacInnis and Hodson (2014) find a statistically significant relationship between state-level religiosity and state-level pornography use is interesting considering that past studies using individual level data find that individuals who regularly attend church are much less likely to use pornography.

Bottom line: We have Leonhardt, et al. disregarding multiple studies and cross-sectional surveys on religious individuals in favor of the conclusions of a methodologically questionable study correlating religious trends of state populations, with a very narrow representation of internet searches for sexual content. Unbelievable.

Internal inconsistency: The Leonhardt, et al. assertion is that a very large percentage of religious individuals lie about their use porn on anonymous surveys. And that they have lied in every survey ever published. If this is true, we must disregard Leonhardt, et al.’s own findings based on self-reports of religious porn users, just as Leonhardt, et al. repeatedly discounted and disregarded all other porn use surveys before theirs.

If Leonhardt, et al.’s religious subjects are consistently under-reporting their porn use (as they claim religious users have in other surveys), this means that the numerical value for “frequency of porn use” in their religious subjects needs to be adjusted upward. Raising (“correcting”) the religious group’s frequency of use brings their use into alignment with their scores on the 5-item questionnaire. Put simply, higher levels of porn use in religious subjects correlate nicely with higher scores on the porn addiction questionnaire. Or simpler yet: the amount of porn used = the levels of porn addiction – in both religious and nonreligious users. If this is so, there’s really nothing for Leonhardt, et al. to report. Null finding.

So, I ask the authors of Leonhardt, et al., which of the following 3 is accurate?

  1. All anonymous surveys on religious subjects are to be disregarded because a very large percentage of religious individuals consistently underreport their porn use. This must include all the Grubbs studies and Leonhardt, et al. 2017
  2. All anonymous surveys on religious subjects should be taken at face value, as all report similar findings: consistently lower rates of porn use among religious populations.
  3. Only the survey by Leonhardt, et al. is to be trusted. All other anonymous surveys on religious subjects are to be disregarded. This is the Leonhardt, et al., authors’ current stance.

Religious porn users are likely to have higher rates of pre-existing conditions

Given that a large majority of college-age, religious men rarely views porn, the Grubbs and Leonhardt, et al. targeted samples of “religious porn users” represented a small minority of the religious population. In contrast, samples of “secular porn users” tend to represent the majority of the non-religious population.

Most young religious porn users say they would rather not watch porn (100% in this study). So why do these particular users watch? It’s extremely likely that the non-representative sample of “religious porn users” contains a far higher percentage of the slice of the entire population that struggles with the pre-existing conditions or comorbidities. These conditions are often present in addicts (i.e. OCD, depression, anxiety, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, family histories of addiction, childhood trauma or sexual abuse, other addictions, etc.).

This factor alone could explain why religious porn users, as a group, score slightly higher on the Grubbs and Leonhardt, et al. porn addiction questionnaires. This hypothesis is supported by studies on treatment seeking porn /sex addicts (whom we could expect to hail disproportionately from that same disadvantaged slice). Treatment seekers reveal no relationship between religiosity and measurements of addiction and religiosity (2016 study 1, 2016 study 2). If Leonhardt, et al.‘s conclusions were valid, we’d surely see a disproportionate number of religious porn users seeking treatment.

At high levels of porn use religious individuals return to religious practices and religion becomes more important

This 2016 study on religious porn users reported an interesting finding that alone could explain a slight correlation between actual porn addiction and religiosity. The relationship between porn use and religiosity is curvilinear. As porn use increases, religious practice and the importance of religion decrease – up to point. Yet when a religious individual begins using porn once or twice a week this pattern reverses itself: The porn user starts attending church more often and the importance of religion in his life increases. An excerpt from the study:

“However, the effect of earlier pornography use on later religious service attendance and prayer was curvilinear: Religious service attendance and prayer decline to a point and then increase at higher levels of pornography viewing.”

This graph, taken from this study, compares religious service attendance with the amount of porn used:

It seems likely that as religious individuals’ porn use grows increasingly out of control, they return to religion as a tactic to address their problematic behavior. This is no surprise, as many addiction recovery groups based on the 12-steps include a spiritual or religious component. The author of the paper suggested this as a possible explanation:

…studies of addiction suggest that those who feel helpless in their addiction often elicit supernatural help. Indeed, twelve-step programs that seek to help persons struggling with addictions ubiquitously include teachings about surrendering to a higher power, and a rising number of conservative Christian twelve-step programs make this connection even more explicit.  It could very well be that persons who use pornography at the most extreme levels (i.e., use levels that might be characteristic of a compulsion or addiction) are actually pushed toward religion over time rather than pulled away from it.

This phenomenon of religious porn users returning to their faiths as addiction worsens could easily explain any correlation between actual porn addiction and religiosity.

In contrast to religious subjects, secular porn using subjects may not recognize porn’s effects because they never try to quit

Is it possible that religious porn users score higher on porn addiction questionnaires because they’ve actually tried to quit, unlike their secular brethren? In doing so they would be more likely to recognize the signs and symptoms of porn addiction as assessed by the Leonhardt, et al. 5-item questionnaire.

Based on years of monitoring porn recovery forums online, we suggest that researchers should segregate users who have experimented with quitting porn from those who haven’t, when asking them about porn’s self-perceived effects. It is generally the case that today’s porn users (both religious and nonreligious) have little understanding of internet porn’s effects on them until after they attempt to quit (and pass through any withdrawal symptoms).

In general, agnostic porn users believe porn use is harmless, so they have no motivation to quit…until they run into intolerable symptoms (perhaps, debilitating social anxiety, inability to have sex with a real partner or escalation to content they find confusing/disturbing or too risky). Prior to that turning point, if you ask them about their porn use, they will report that all is well. They naturally assume they are “casual users,” who could quit anytime, and that symptoms they have, if any, are due to something else. Shame? Nope.

In contrast, most religious porn users have been warned that porn use is risky. They are therefore more likely to have used less porn and to have experimented with giving it up, perhaps more than once. Such experiments with quitting internet porn are very enlightening, as that is when porn users (religious or not) discover:

  1. How difficult it is to quit (if they’re addicted)
  2. How porn use has affected them adversely, emotionally, sexually and otherwise (often because symptoms begin to recede after quitting)
  3. [In the case of such symptoms] How withdrawal can make symptoms worse for a while, before the brain returns to balance
  4. How bad it feels when they want to give something up and can’t (This is shame, but not necessarily “religious/sexual shame” – as researchers sometimes assume because religious users report it more often. Most all addicts unfortunately feel shame when they feel powerless to quit, whether or not they are religious.)
  5. That they experience strong cravings to use porn. Cravings often increase in severity with a week or longer break from using porn.

Such experiences make those who have tried quitting far more wary about porn use. Since more religious users will more frequently have made such experiments, psychological instruments will show that they are more concerned about their porn use than non-religious users – even though they are likely using less porn!

In other words, shouldn’t researchers also be investigating whether secular porn users sometimes misperceive porn use as harmless, rather than assuming it’s the religious people who are misperceiving the existence of porn-related problems even though they’re using less? Addiction, after all, is not assessed based on quantity or frequency of use, but rather debilitating effects.

In any case, the failure to segregate those who have experimented with quitting from those who have not, is a huge confound in research attempting to draw conclusions about the implications of the relationship between religiosity, shame and porn use. It’s easy to misinterpret data as evidence that “religion makes people concerned about porn even if they’re using less than others, and that if they weren’t religious they wouldn’t be concerned.”

The more valid conclusion may be that those who have tried to quit, and realized the points above are more concerned, and that religion is merely the cause of their making such experiments (and otherwise largely irrelevant). It’s disheartening to see psychologists make simplistic correlations with religion/spirituality and draw “shaming” conclusions, without realizing that they are comparing “apples” with “oranges” when they compare users who have tried to quit with users who haven’t. Again, only the former tend to see the risks and harms of porn use clearly, whether or not they are religious.

This confound is too often exploited by those who want to draw attention away from the severe symptoms that non-religious users frequently experience. Agnostic users tend to have more severe symptoms by the time they do quit, simply because they tend to quit at a lower point in the downward spiral of symptoms than religious porn users do. Why aren’t researchers studying this phenomenon?

In fact, we would wager that the lion’s share of those with porn-induced sexual dysfunctions are agnostics. Why? Because the non-religious tend to be so persuaded of the harmlessness of internet porn use that they continue using it well past the warning signs, such as increasing social anxiety, escalation to extreme material, apathy, difficulty achieving an erection without porn, difficulty using condoms or climaxing with a partner, and so forth.

The fact is, even casual, or relatively infrequent, porn use can condition some users’ sexuality such that it interferes with their sexual and relationship satisfaction. Here’s one man’s account. Escalation to porn content that was once uninteresting or repelling is common in half of internet porn users. In short, as discussed above, infrequent use is no panacea. Those who do not use frequently but are anxious about their porn use may have good reason to be concerned based on their own experiments, quite apart from what they hear about porn during religious services.

Might it be better to construct research that asks porn users (both religious and otherwise) to quit porn for a time and compare their experiences with controls? See Eliminate Chronic Internet Pornography Use to Reveal Its Effects for a possible study design.

The biological reasons why intermittent porn users might score higher on porn addiction questionnaires

Very frequent internet porn use has familiar risks for many of today’s users. These include escalation to more extreme material, poorer sexual and relationship satisfaction, addiction, and/or the gradual loss of attraction to real partners (as well as anorgasmia and unreliable erections).

Less well known is the fact that intermittent use (for example, 2 hours of porn bingeing followed by a few weeks of abstinence before another porn session) poses a substantial risk of addiction. The reasons are biological, and there is an entire body of addiction research on intermittent use in animals and humans elucidating the brain events responsible.

For example, both drug and junk food studies reveal that intermittent use can lead more quickly to addiction-related brain changes (whether or not the user slips into full blown addiction). The primary change is sensitization which blasts the brain’s reward center with signals that produce hard to ignore cravings. With sensitization, brain circuits involved in motivation and reward seeking become hyper-sensitive to memories or cues related to the addictive behavior. This deep pavlovian conditioning results in increased “wanting” or craving while liking or pleasure from the activity diminishes. Cues, such as turning on the computer, seeing a pop-up, or being alone, trigger intense cravings for porn. (Studies reporting sensitization or cue-reactivity in porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.)

Even more remarkable is that periods of abstinence (2-4 weeks) lead to neuroplastic changes that don’t occur in a user that doesn’t take such long breaks. These alterations in the brain increase cravings to use in response to triggers. Furthermore, the stress system changes such that even minor stress can cause cause cravings to use.

Intermittent consumption (especially in the form of a binge) can also produce severe withdrawal symptoms, such as lethargy, depression and cravings. In other words, when someone uses after an interim of abstinence, and binges, it can hit the user harder – perhaps because of the heightened intensity of the experience.

Based on this research, scientists have concluded that everyday consumption of say cocaine, alcohol, cigarettes, or junk food is not necessary to generate addiction-related brain changes. Intermittent bingeing can do the same thing as continuous use, and in some cases do more.

Now, let’s return to a comparison of religious and nonreligious porn users. Which group is likely to include more intermittent users? Given research showing that religious porn users prefer not to be using porn, there are probably more religious than secular users stuck in a binge-abstinence cycle. Religious users would tend to be “intermittent users.” Secular users generally report that they seldom take breaks of more than a few days – unless they become intermittent users because they are trying to quit porn use.

Another important effect of the binge-abstinence cycle is that intermittent porn users experience extended gaps (and often improvements). They can clearly see how their porn use has affected them, in contrast with frequent users. This alone might lead to higher scores on a porn addiction questionnaire. A second, more important result is that intermittent porn users will experience more frequent episodes of strong cravings. Third, when intermittent users do cave in, the science mentioned above predicts that they will often feel more out of control, and experience more of a letdown after the binge. In short, intermittent users can be quite addicted and score surprisingly high on porn addiction tests, even though they are using with less frequency than their secular brethren.

Under the circumstances, it is premature to conclude that shame accounts for the difference between religious and nonreligious users. Researchers must control for the impact of intermittent use. Said differently, if more of Leonhardt et al’s religious subjects included a higher percentage of intermittent users than their nonreligious subjects, one would expect the religious users to score higher on addiction tests despite using significantly less frequently.

Of course, the intermittent use addiction risk is not confined to religious porn users. This phenomenon shows up in animal models and secular porn users who are trying to quit but still bingeing occasionally. The point is that the phenomenon of intermittent use and porn addiction needs to be studied independently prior to drawing and publicizing assumptions about shame (or “perceived” pornography addiction) as the only possible explanation for why religious porn users report higher addiction scores in concert with less frequent use.

Summary of Religiosity and Porn Use:

  1. Religiosity does not predict porn addiction (perceived or otherwise). A far larger percentage of secular individuals use porn.
  2. Since a much smaller percentage of religious people use porn, religiosity is evidently protective against porn addiction.
  3. Grubbs and Leonhardt, et al. samples taken from the minority of “religious porn users” is skewed with respect to religious users, likely resulting in a much higher percentage of the religious sample having comorbidities. As a result religious porn users have slightly higher overall scores on porn-addiction instruments and report more difficulty controlling use.
  4. As porn use becomes frequent or compulsive, religious porn users return to their faiths. This means that those scoring highest on porn addiction tests will also score higher on religiosity.
  5. Most religious porn users have been warned that porn use is risky. They are therefore more likely to have used less porn and to have experimented with giving it up. In doing so they are more likely to recognize the signs and symptoms of porn addiction as assessed by the Leonhardt, et al. 5-item (and similar) questionnaire(s) – regardless of amount of porn use.
  6. Intermittent porn users can be quite addicted and score surprisingly high on porn addiction tests, even though they are using with less frequency than their secular brethren.

Section 5: Studies recognize that “levels of current porn use” is not linearly related to porn addiction

In the Grubbs studies and Leonhardt, et al. an insinuation pervades that hours of porn use is synonymous with “real porn addiction.” That is, that the extent of a “genuine porn addiction” is best indicated simply by “current hours of use” or “frequency of use,” rather than by standard porn addiction tests or by porn-induced symptoms. Addiction experts disagree.

The hole in these author’s underpinnings, which you could drive a truck through, is that research on internet porn and internet addictions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) has reported that internet addiction sub-types do not correlate linearly with hours of use. In fact, the variable ‘hours of use’ is an unreliable measure of addiction. Established addiction assessment tools evaluate addiction using multiple other, more reliable factors (such as those listed in the first two sections of the CPUI-9 or the Leonhardt, et al. questions). The following cybersex addiction studies report little relationship between hours and indications of addiction:

1) Watching Pornographic Pictures on the Internet: Role of Sexual Arousal Ratings and Psychological-Psychiatric Symptoms for Using Internet Sex Sites Excessively (2011)

“Results indicate that self-reported problems in daily life linked to online sexual activities were predicted by subjective sexual arousal ratings of the pornographic material, global severity of psychological symptoms, and the number of sex applications used when being on Internet sex sites in daily life, while the time spent on Internet sex sites (minutes per day) did not significantly contribute to explanation of variance in Internet Addiction Test sex score (IATsex). We see some parallels between cognitive and brain mechanisms potentially contributing to the maintenance of excessive cybersex and those described for individuals with substance dependence.”

2) Sexual Excitability and Dysfunctional Coping Determine Cybersex Addiction in Homosexual Males (2015)

“Recent findings have demonstrated an association between CyberSex Addiction (CA) severity and indicators of sexual excitability, and that coping by sexual behaviors mediated the relationship between sexual excitability and CA symptoms. Results showed strong correlations between CA symptoms and indicators of sexual arousal and sexual excitability, coping by sexual behaviors, and psychological symptoms. CyberSex Addiction was not associated with offline sexual behaviors and weekly cybersex use time.”

3) What Matters: Quantity or Quality of Pornography Use? Psychological and Behavioral Factors of Seeking Treatment for Problematic Pornography Use (2016)

According to our best knowledge this study is the first direct examination of associations between the frequency of porn use and actual behavior of treatment-seeking for problematic porn use (measured as visiting the psychologist, psychiatrist or sexologist for this purpose). Our results indicate that the future studies, and treatment, in this field should focus more on impact of porn use on the life of an individual (quality) rather than its mere frequency (quantity), as the negative symptoms associated with porn use (rather than porn use frequency ) are the most significant predictor of treatment-seeking behavior.

Relation between PU and negative symptoms was significant and mediated by self-reported, subjective religiosity (weak, partial mediation) among non-treatment seekers. Among treatment-seekers religiosity is not related to negative symptoms.

4) Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Student (2016)

Higher scores on addictive measures of internet porn use were correlated with daily or more frequent use of internet porn. However, the results indicate that there was no direct link between the amount and frequency of an individual’s pornography use and struggles with anxiety, depression, and life and relationship satisfaction. Significant correlations to high internet porn addiction scores included an early first exposure to internet porn, addiction to video games, and being male. While some positive effects of internet porn use have been documented in previous literature our results do not indicate that psychosocial functioning improves with moderate or casual use of internet porn.

5) Viewing Internet Pornography: For Whom is it Problematic, How, and Why? (2009)

This study investigated the prevalence of problematic Internet pornography viewing, how it is problematic, and the psychological processes that underlie the problem in a sample of 84 college-age males using an anonymous online survey. It was found that approximately 20%–60% of the sample who view pornography find it to be problematic depending on the domain of interest. In this study, the amount of viewing did not predict the level of problems experienced.

Imagine trying to assess the presence of addiction by simply asking, “How many hours do you currently spend eating (food addiction)?” or “How many hours do you spend gambling (gambling addition)?” or “How many hours do you spend drinking (alcoholism)?” You could get very misleading results. More important, “current porn use” questions fail to ask about key variables of porn use: age use began, years of use, whether the user escalated to novel genres of porn or developed unexpected porn fetishes, the ratio of ejaculation with porn to ejaculation without it, amount of sex with a real partner, and so forth. A combination of such questions would likely enlighten us more about who really has a problem with porn use than simply “current frequency/hours of use.”


Abstract

Damaged Goods: Perception of Pornography Addiction as a Mediator Between Religiosity and Relationship Anxiety Surrounding Pornography Use.

J Sex Res. 2017 Mar 13:1-12. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1295013.

Leonhardt ND1, Willoughby BJ1, Young-Petersen B1.

Recent research on pornography suggests that perception of addiction predicts negative outcomes above and beyond pornography use. Research has also suggested that religious individuals are more likely to perceive themselves to be addicted to pornography, regardless of how often they are actually using pornography. Using a sample of 686 unmarried adults, this study reconciles and expands on previous research by testing perceived addiction to pornography as a mediator between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography. Results revealed that pornography use and religiosity were weakly associated with higher relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, whereas perception of pornography addiction was highly associated with relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use. However, when perception of pornography addiction was inserted as a mediator in a structural equation model, pornography use had a small indirect effect on relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use, and perception of pornography addiction partially mediated the association between religiosity and relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use. By understanding how pornography use, religiosity, and perceived pornography addiction connect to relationship anxiety surrounding pornography use in the early relationship formation stages, we hope to improve the chances of couples successfully addressing the subject of pornography and mitigate difficulties in romantic relationships.

PMID: 28287845

DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1295013

Studies Report Escalation (and Habituation) in Porn Users

Introduction

Compulsive porn users often describe escalation in their porn use that takes the form of greater time viewing or seeking out new genres of porn. New genres that induce shock, surprise, violation of expectations or even anxiety can function to increase sexual arousal, and in porn users whose response to stimuli is growing blunted due to overuse, this phenomenon is extremely common.

Norman Doidge MD wrote about this in his  2007 book The Brain That Changes Itself:

The current porn epidemic gives a graphic demonstration that sexual tastes can be acquired. Pornography, delivered by high-speed Internet connections, satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change…. When pornographers boast that they are pushing the envelope by introducing new, harder themes, what they don’t say is that they must, because their customers are building up a tolerance to the content. The back pages of men’s risque magazines and Internet porn sites are filled with ads for Viagra-type drugs—medicine developed for older men with erectile problems related to aging and blocked blood vessels in the penis. Today young men who surf porn are tremendously fearful of impotence, or “erectile dysfunction” as it is euphemistically called. The misleading term implies that these men have a problem in their penises, but the problem is in their heads, in their sexual brain maps. The penis works fine when they use pornography. It rarely occurs to them that there may be a relationship between the pornography they are consuming and their impotence.

In 2012 reddit/nofap produced a member survey, which found that over 60% of its members’ sexual tastes experienced significant escalation, through multiple porn genres.

Q: Did your tastes in pornography change?

  • My tastes did not change significantly – 29%
  • My tastes became increasingly extreme or deviant and this caused me to feel shame or stress – 36%
  • My tastes became increasingly extreme or deviant and this did not cause me to feel shame or stress – 27%

And here’s the 2017 evidence from PornHub that real sex is decreasingly interesting to porn users. Porn isn’t enabling people to find their “real” tastes; it’s driving them beyond normal into extreme novelty and “unreal” genres:

It appears that the trend is moving more toward fantasy than reality. ‘Generic’ porn is being replaced with fantasy specific or scenario specific scenes.  Is this as a result of boredom or curiosity? One thing is certain; the typical ‘in-out, in-out’ no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different” notes Dr Laurie Betito.

The only support for the meme that porn users do not escalate comes Ogas and Gaddam’s highly criticized bookA Billion Wicked Thoughtsand their claim that porn viewing tastes remain stable throughout life. Ogas & Gaddam analyzed AOL searches from 2006, over a brief 3-month period. Here’s an excerpt from an Ogi Ogas blog post on Psychology Today:

There is no evidence that viewing porn activates some kind of neural mechanism leading one down a slippery slope of seeking more and more deviant material, and plenty of evidence suggesting that adult men’s sexual interests are stable.

As YBOP pointed out in two critiques (1, 2):

  1. Porn users must be tracked over years to pick up the kinds of changing tastes men are reporting. Three months is insufficient.
  2. Most regular porn users do not use Google to find porn. Instead, they head directly to their favorite tube site. Clicking onto a new genre (located in the sidebar) occurs while the user is masturbating.

If the studies listed below aren’t sufficiently convincing, this 2017 study destroys the meme that porn users sexual interests remain stable: Sexually Explicit Media Use by Sexual Identity: A Comparative Analysis of Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men in the United States. Excerpt from this recent study:

The findings also indicated that many men viewed SEM content inconsistent with their stated sexual identity. It was not uncommon for heterosexual-identified men to report viewing SEM containing male same-sex behavior (20.7%) and for gay-identified men to report viewing heterosexual behavior in SEM (55.0%). It was also not uncommon for gay men to report that they viewed vaginal sex with (13.9%) and without a condom (22.7%) during the past 6 months.

This study, taken together with others listed below, debunks the meme that today’s porn users eventually “discover their true sexuality” by surfing tube sites, and then stick to only one genre of porn for the rest of time. The evidence is mounting that streaming digital porn appears to alter sexual tastes in some users, and that this is due to the addiction-related brain change known as habituation or desensitization.

Employing various methodologies and approaches, the following diverse group of studies report habituation to “regular porn” along with escalation into more extreme and unusual genres. A few also report withdrawal symptoms.


FIRST STUDY: To date only one study has directly asked problematic porn users about escalation: “Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men” (2016). The study reports escalation, as 49% of the men reported viewing porn that was not previously interesting to them or that they once considered disgusting. An excerpt:

Forty-nine percent mentioned at least sometimes searching for sexual content or being involved in OSAs that were not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting.

This Belgian study also found problematic Internet porn use was associated with reduced erectile function and reduced overall sexual satisfaction. Yet problematic porn users experienced greater cravings (OSA’s = online sexual activity, which was porn for 99% of subjects). Interestingly, 20.3% of participants said that one motive for their porn use was “to maintain arousal with my partner.” An excerpt:

This study is the first to directly investigate the relationships between sexual dysfunctions and problematic involvement in OSAs. Results indicated that higher sexual desire, lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function were associated with problematic OSAs (online sexual activities). These results can be linked to those of previous studies reporting a high level of arousability in association with sexual addiction symptoms (Bancroft & Vukadinovic, 2004; Laier et al., 2013; Muise et al., 2013).


SECOND STUDY: The Dual Control Model: The Role Of Sexual Inhibition & Excitation In Sexual Arousal And Behavior,” 2007. Indiana University Press, Editor: Erick Janssen, pp.197-222.  In an experiment employing video porn, 50% of the young men couldn’t become aroused or achieve erections with porn (average age was 29). The shocked researchers discovered that the men’s erectile dysfunction was,

 related to high levels of exposure to and experience with sexually explicit materials.

The men experiencing erectile dysfunction had spent a considerable amount of time in bars and bathhouses where porn was “omnipresent,” and “continuously playing.” The researchers stated:

Conversations with the subjects reinforced our idea that in some of them a high exposure to erotica seemed to have resulted in a lower responsivity to “vanilla sex” erotica and an increased need for novelty and variation, in some cases combined with a need for very specific types of stimuli in order to get aroused.


THIRD & FOURTH STUDIES: Both found that deviant (i.e., bestiality or minor) pornography users reported a significantly younger onset of adult pornography use. These studies confirm that early porn use is related to escalation to more extreme material.

1) “Does deviant pornography use follow a Guttman-like progression?” (2013). An excerpt:

The findings of the current study suggest Internet pornography use may follow a Guttman-like progression. In other words, individuals who consume child pornography also consume other forms of pornography, both nondeviant and deviant. For this relationship to be a Guttman-like progression, child pornography use must be more likely to occur after other forms of pornography use. The current study attempted to assess this progression by measuring if the “age of onset” for adult pornography use facilitated the transition from adult-only to deviant pornography use. Based on the results, this progression to deviant pornography use may be affected by the individuals “age of onset” for engaging in adult pornography. As suggested by Quayle and Taylor (2003), child pornography use may be related to desensitization or appetite satiation to which offenders begin collecting more extreme and deviant pornography. The current study suggests individuals who engage in adult pornography use at a younger age may be at greater risk for engaging in other deviant forms of pornography.

2) “Deviant Pornography Use: The Role of Early-Onset Adult Pornography Use and Individual Differences” (2016). Excerpts:

Results indicated that adult + deviant pornography users scored significantly higher on openness to experience and reported a significantly younger age of onset for adult pornography use compared to adult-only pornography users.

Finally, the respondents’ self-reported age of onset for adult pornography significantly predicted adult-only vs. adult + deviant pornography use. That is to day, adult + deviant pornography users selfreported a younger age of onset for nondeviant (adult-only) pornography compared to the adult-only pornography users. Overall, these findings support the conclusion drawn by Seigfried-Spellar and Rogers (2013) that Internet pornography use may follow a Guttman-like progression in that deviant pornography use is more likely to occur after the use of nondeviant adult pornography.

 


FIFTH STUDY: “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn” (Kuhn & Gallinat, 2014) – This Max Planck Institute fMRI study found less grey matter in the reward system (dorsal striatum) correlating with the amount of porn consumed. It also found that more porn use correlated with less reward circuit activation while briefly viewing sexual photos. Researchers believe their findings indicated desensitization, and possibly tolerance, which is the need for greater stimulation to achieve the same level of arousal. Lead author Simone Kühn said the following about her study:

That could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system. We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward. That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation.

Furthermore, in May, 2016. Kuhn & Gallinat published this review – Neurobiological Basis of Hypersexuality. In the review Kuhn & Gallinat describe their 2014 fMRI study:

In a recent study by our group, we recruited healthy male participants and associated their self-reported hours spent with pornographic material with their fMRI response to sexual pictures as well as with their brain morphology (Kuhn & Gallinat, 2014). The more hours participants reported consuming pornography, the smaller the BOLD response in left putamen in response to sexual images. Moreover, we found that more hours spent watching pornography was associated with smaller gray matter volume in the striatum, more precisely in the right caudate reaching into the ventral putamen. We speculate that the brain structural volume deficit may reflect the results of tolerance after desensitization to sexual stimuli.


SIXTH STUDY:Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards” (2015). Cambridge University fMRI study reporting greater habituation to sexual stimuli in compulsive porn users. An excerpt:

Online explicit stimuli are vast and expanding, and this feature may promote escalation of use in some individuals. For instance, healthy males viewing repeatedly the same explicit film have been found to habituate to the stimulus and find the explicit stimulus as progressively less sexually arousing, less appetitive and less absorbing (Koukounas and Over, 2000). … We show experimentally what is observed clinically that Compulsive Sexual Behavior is characterized by novelty-seeking, conditioning and habituation to sexual stimuli in males.

FROM THE RELATED PRESS RELEASE:

The researchers found that sex addicts were more likely to choose the novel over the familiar choice for sexual images relative to neutral object images, whereas healthy volunteers were more likely to choose the novel choice for neutral human female images relative to neutral object images.

“We can all relate in some way to searching for novel stimuli online – it could be flitting from one news website to another, or jumping from Facebook to Amazon to YouTube and on,” explains Dr Voon. “For people who show compulsive sexual behaviour, though, this becomes a pattern of behaviour beyond their control, focused on pornographic images.”

In a second task, volunteers were shown pairs of images – an undressed woman and a neutral grey box – both of which were overlaid on different abstract patterns. They learned to associate these abstract images with the images, similar to how the dogs in Pavlov’s famous experiment learnt to associate a ringing bell with food. They were then asked to select between these abstract images and a new abstract image.

This time, the researchers showed that sex addicts where more likely to choose cues (in this case the abstract patterns) associated with sexual and monetary rewards. This supports the notion that apparently innocuous cues in an addict’s environment can ‘trigger’ them to seek out sexual images.

“Cues can be as simple as just opening up their internet browser,” explains Dr Voon. “They can trigger a chain of actions and before they know it, the addict is browsing through pornographic images. Breaking the link between these cues and the behaviour can be extremely challenging.”

The researchers carried out a further test where 20 sex addicts and 20 matched healthy volunteers underwent brain scans while being shown a series of repeated images – an undressed woman, a £1 coin or a neutral grey box.

They found that when the sex addicts viewed the same sexual image repeatedly, compared to the healthy volunteers they experienced a greater decrease of activity in the region of the brain known as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, known to be involved in anticipating rewards and responding to new events. This is consistent with ‘habituation’, where the addict finds the same stimulus less and less rewarding – for example, a coffee drinker may get a caffeine ‘buzz’ from their first cup, but over time the more they drink coffee, the smaller the buzz becomes.

This same habituation effect occurs in healthy males who are repeatedly shown the same porn video. But when they then view a new video, the level of interest and arousal goes back to the original level. This implies that, to prevent habituation, the sex addict would need to seek out a constant supply of new images. In other words, habituation could drive the search for novel images.

“Our findings are particularly relevant in the context of online pornography,” adds Dr Voon. “It’s not clear what triggers sex addiction in the first place and it is likely that some people are more pre-disposed to the addiction than others, but the seemingly endless supply of novel sexual images available online helps feed their addiction, making it more and more difficult to escape.” [emphasis added]


SEVENTH STUDY: Exploring the effect of sexually explicit material on the sexual beliefs, understanding and practices of young men: A qualitative survey. An excerpt:

Findings suggest that the key themes are: increased levels of availability of SEM, including an escalation in extreme content (Everywhere You Look) which are seen by young men in this study as having negative effects on sexual attitudes and behaviours (That’s Not Good). Family or sex education may offer some ‘protection’ (Buffers) to the norms young people see in SEM. Data suggests confused views (Real verses Fantasy) around adolescents’ expectations of a healthy sex life (Healthy Sex Life) and appropriate beliefs and behaviours (Knowing Right from Wrong). A potential causal  pathway is described and areas of intervention highlighted.


EIGHTH STUDY: Modulation of Late Positive Potentials by Sexual Images in Problem Users and Controls Inconsistent with “Porn Addiction” (2015)  (Prause et al., 2015.)

The results: compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The lead author, Nicole Prause, claims these results “debunk porn addiction.” If porn use had no effect on Prause et al’s. subjects, we would expect controls and the frequent porn users to have the same LPP amplitude in response to sexual photos. Instead, the more frequent porn users had less brain activation (lower LPP). In reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn.

Prause’s findings also align with Banca et al. 2015 which is #6 above. Moreover, another EEG study found that greater porn use in women correlated with less brain activation to porn. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn. They were bored (habituated or desensitized). Five peer-reviewed papers agree with this extensive critique that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


NINTH STUDY: Unusual masturbatory practice as an etiological factor in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in young men (2014). One of the 4 case studies in this paper reports on a man with porn-induced sexual problems (low libido, multiple porn fetishes, anorgasmia). The sexual intervention called for a 6-week abstinence from porn and masturbation. After 8 months the man reported increased sexual desire, successful sex and orgasm, and enjoying “good sexual practices. Excerpts from the paper documenting the patient’s habituation and escalation into what he described as more extreme porn genres:

When asked about masturbatory practices, he reported that in the past he had been masturbating vigorously and rapidly while watching pornography since adolescence. The pornography originally consisted mainly of zoophilia, and bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism, but he eventually got habituated to these materials and needed more hardcore pornography scenes, including transgender sex, orgies, and violent sex. He used to buy illegal pornographic movies on violent sex acts and rape and visualized those scenes in his imagination to function sexually with women. He gradually lost his desire and his ability to fantasize and decreased his masturbation frequency.

An excerpt from the paper documents the patient’s recovery from porn-induced sexual problems and fetishes:

In conjunction with weekly sessions with a sex therapist, the patient was instructed to avoid any exposure to sexually explicit material, including videos, newspapers, books, and internet pornography. After 8 months, the patient reported experiencing successful orgasm and ejaculation. He renewed his relationship with that woman, and they gradually succeeded in enjoying good sexual practices.


TENTH STUDY: Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016) is an extensive review of the literature related to porn-induced sexual problems. Authored by US Navy doctors, the review provides the latest data revealing a tremendous rise in youthful sexual problems. It also reviews the neurological studies related to porn addiction and sexual conditioning via Internet porn. The doctors include 3 clinical reports of servicemen who developed porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. Two of the three servicemen healed their sexual dysfunctions by eliminating porn use while the third man experienced little improvement as he was unable to abstain from porn use. Two of the three servicemen reported habituation to current porn and escalation of porn use. The first servicemen describes his habituation to “soft porn” followed by escalation into more graphic and fetish porn:

A 20-year old active duty enlisted Caucasian serviceman presented with difficulties achieving orgasm during intercourse for the previous six months. It first happened while he was deployed overseas. He was masturbating for about an hour without an orgasm, and his penis went flaccid. His difficulties maintaining erection and achieving orgasm continued throughout his deployment. Since his return, he had not been able to ejaculate during intercourse with his fiancée. He could achieve an erection but could not orgasm, and after 10–15 min he would lose his erection, which was not the case prior to his having ED issues.

Patient endorsed masturbating frequently for “years”, and once or twice almost daily for the past couple of years. He endorsed viewing Internet pornography for stimulation. Since he gained access to high-speed Internet, he relied solely on Internet pornography. Initially, “soft porn”, where the content does not necessarily involve actual intercourse, “did the trick”. However, gradually he needed more graphic or fetish material to orgasm. He reported opening multiple videos simultaneously and watching the most stimulating parts. [emphasis added]

The second servicemen describes increased porn use and escalation into more graphic porn. Soon thereafter sex with his wife “not as stimulating as before”:

A 40-year old African American enlisted serviceman with 17 years of continuous active duty presented with difficulty achieving erections for the previous three months. He reported that when he attempted to have sexual intercourse with his wife, he had difficulty achieving an erection and difficulty maintaining it long enough to orgasm. Ever since their youngest child left for college, six months earlier, he had found himself masturbating more often due to increased privacy. He formerly masturbated every other week on average, but that increased to two to three times per week. He had always used Internet pornography, but the more often he used it, the longer it took to orgasm with his usual material. This led to him using more graphic material. Soon thereafter, sex with his wife was “not as stimulating” as before and at times he found his wife “not as attractive”. He denied ever having these issues earlier in the seven years of their marriage. He was having marital issues because his wife suspected he was having an affair, which he adamantly denied. [emphasis added]


ELEVENTH STUDY: Shifting Preferences In Pornography Consumption (1986)  Six weeks of exposure to nonviolent pornography resulted in subjects having little interest in vanilla porn, electing to almost exclusively watch “uncommon pornography” (bondage, sadomasochism, bestiality). An excerpt:

Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to one hour of common, nonviolent pornography or to sexually and aggressively innocuous materials in each of six consecutive weeks. Two weeks after this treatment, they were provided with an opportunity to watch videotapes in a private situation. G-rated, R-rated, and X-rated programs were available. Subjects with considerable prior exposure to common, nonviolent pornography showed little interest in common, nonviolent pornography, electing to watch uncommon pornography (bondage, sadomasochism, bestiality) instead. Male nonstudents with prior exposure to common, nonviolent pornography consumed uncommon pornography almost exclusively. Male students exhibited the same pattern, although somewhat less extreme. This consumption preference was also in evidence in females, but was far less pronounced, especially among female students. [emphasis added]


TWELFTH STUDY: Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students (2016) Addictive use of internet porn, which is associated with poorer psychosocial functioning, emerges when people begin to use IP daily.

Age of first exposure to IP was found to be significantly correlated with frequent and addictive IP use (see Table 2). Participants who were exposed to IP at an earlier age were more likely to use IP more frequently, have longer IP sessions,and more likely to score higher on Adapted DSM-5 Internet Pornography Addiction Criteria and CPUI-COMP measures. Finally, total IP exposure was found to be significantly correlated with higher frequency of IP use. Participants who had longer total exposure to IP were also more likely to have more IP sessions per month.


THIRTEENTH STUDY: The Relationship between Frequent Pornography Consumption, Behaviors, and Sexual Preoccupancy among Male Adolescents in Sweden Porn use in 18-year old males was universal, and frequent porn users preferred hard-core porn. Does this indicate escalation of porn use?

Among frequent users, the most common type of pornography consumed was hard core pornography (71%) followed by lesbian pornography (64%), while soft core pornography was the most commonly selected genre for average (73%) and infrequent users (36%). There was also a difference between the groups in the proportion who watched hard core pornography (71%, 48%, 10%) and violent pornography (14%, 9%, 0%).

The authors suggest that frequent porn may ultimately lead to a preference for hard-core or violent pornography:

It is also noteworthy that a statistically significant relationship was found between fantasizing about pornography several times a week and watching hard core pornography. Since verbal and physical sexual aggression is so commonplace in pornography, what most adolescents considered hard core pornography could likely be defined as violent pornography. If this is the case, and in light of the suggested cyclical nature of sexual preoccupancy in Peter and Valkenburg,it may be that rather than ‘purging’ individuals of their fantasies and inclinations of sexual aggression, watching hard core pornography perpetuates them, thereby increasing the likelihood of manifested sexual aggression


FOURTEENTH STUDY: The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS) (2017) – This paper developed and tested a problematic porn use questionnaire that was modeled after substance addiction questionnaires. Unlike previous porn addiction tests, this 18-item questionnaire assessed tolerance and withdrawal with the following 6 questions:

———-

Each question was scored from one to seven on a likert scale: 1- Never, 2- Rarely, 3- Occasionally, 4- Sometimes, 5- Often, 6- Very Often, 7- All the Time. The graph below grouped porn users into 3 categories based on their total scores:  “Nonprobelmatic,” “Low risk,” and “At risk.” The yellow line indicates no problems, which means that the “Low risk” and “At risk” porn users reported both tolerance and withdrawal. Put simply, this study actually asked about escalation (tolerance) and withdrawal – and both are reported by some porn users. End of debate.


STUDY FIFTEEN: Out-of-control use of the internet for sexual purposes as behavioural addiction? An upcoming study (presented at the 4th International Conference on Behavioral Addictions February 20–22, 2017) which asked about tolerance and withdrawal. It found both in “porn addicts”.

Anna Ševčíková1, Lukas Blinka1 and Veronika Soukalová1

1Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Background and aims:

There is an ongoing debate whether excessive sexual behaviour should be understood as a form of behavioural addiction (Karila, Wéry, Weistein et al., 2014). The present qualitative study aimed at analysing the extent to which out-of-control use of the internet for sexual purposes (OUISP) may be framed by the concept of behavioural addiction among those individuals who were in treatment due to their OUISP.

Methods:

We conducted in-depth interviews with 21 participants aged 22–54 years (Mage = 34.24 years). Using a thematic analysis, the clinical symptoms of OUISP were analysed with the criteria of behavioural addiction, with the special focus on tolerance and withdrawal symptoms (Griffiths, 2001).

Results:

The dominant problematic behaviour was out-of-control online pornography use (OOPU). Building up tolerance to OOPU manifested itself as an increasing amount of time spent on pornographic websites as well as searching for new and more sexually explicit stimuli within the non-deviant spectrum. Withdrawal symptoms manifested themselves on a psychosomatic level and took the form of searching for alternative sexual objects. Fifteen participants fulfilled all of the addiction criteria.

Conclusions:

The study indicates a usefulness for the behavioural addiction framework


STUDY SIXTEEN (actually a review by UK psychiatrist): “Internet pornography and paedophilia” (2013)

Clinical experience and now research evidence are accumulating to suggest that the Internet is not simply drawing attention to those with existing paedophilic interests, but is contributing to the crystallisation of those interests in people with no explicit prior sexual interest in children.


STUDY SEVENTEEN: How difficult is it to treat delayed ejaculation within a short-term psychosexual model? A case study comparison (2017) – A report on two “composite cases” illustrating the causes and treatments for delayed ejaculation (anorgasmia). “Patient B” represented several young men treated by the therapist. Interestingly, the paper states that Patient B’s “porn use had escalated into harder material”, “as is often the case”. The paper says that porn-related delayed ejaculation is not uncommon, and on the rise. The author calls for more research on porn’s effects of sexual functioning. Patient B’s delayed ejaculation was healed after 10 weeks of no porn. Excerpts related to escalation:

The cases are composite cases taken from my work within the National Health Service in Croydon University Hospital, London. With the latter case (Patient B), it is important to note that the presentation reflects a number of young males who have been referred by their GPs with a similar diagnosis. Patient B is a 19-year-old who presented because he was unable to ejaculate via penetration. When he was 13, he was regularly accessing pornography sites either on his own through internet searches or via links that his friends sent him. He began masturbating every night while searching his phone for image…If he did not masturbate he was unable to sleep. The pornography he was using had escalated, as is often the case (see Hudson-Allez, 2010), into harder material (nothing illegal)…

Patient B was exposed to sexual imagery via pornography from the age of 12 and the pornography he was using had escalated to bondage and dominance by the age of 15.

We agreed that he would no longer use pornography to masturbate. This meant leaving his phone in a different room at night. We agreed that he would masturbate in a different way…. The article calls for research into pornography usage and its effect on masturbation and genital desensitisation.


STUDY EIGHTEEN: Conscious and Non-Conscious Measures of Emotion: Do They Vary with Frequency of Pornography Use? (2017) – The study assessed porn user’s responses (EEG readings & Startle Response) to various emotion-inducing images – including erotica. The authors believe two findings indicate habituation in the more frequent porn users.

4.1. Explicit Ratings

Interestingly, the high porn use group rated the erotic images as more unpleasant than the medium use group. The authors suggest this may be due to the relatively “soft-core” nature of the “erotic” images contained in the IAPS database not providing the level of stimulation that they may usually seek out, as it has been shown by Harper and Hodgins [58] that with frequent viewing of pornographic material, many individuals often escalate into viewing more intense material to maintain the same level of physiological arousal. The “pleasant” emotion category saw valence ratings by all three groups to be relatively similar with the high use group rating the images as slightly more unpleasant on average than the other groups. This may again be due to the “pleasant” images presented not being stimulating enough for the individuals in the high use group. Studies have consistently shown a physiological downregulation in processing of appetitive content due to habituation effects in individuals who frequently seek out pornographic material [3,7,8]. It is the authors’ contention that this effect may account for the results observed.

4.3. Startle Reflex Modulation (SRM)

The relative higher amplitude startle effect seen in the low and medium porn use groups may be explained by those in the group intentionally avoiding the use of pornography, as they may find it to be relatively more unpleasant. Alternatively, the results obtained also may be due to a habituation effect, whereby individuals in these groups do watch more pornography than they explicitly stated—possibly due to reasons of embarrassment among others, as habituation effects have been shown to increase startle eye blink responses [41,42].


STUDY NINETEEN: Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals (2017) – This study replicates the findings of this 2014 Cambridge University study that compared the attentional bias of porn addicts to healthy controls. Here’s what’s new: The study correlated the “years of sexual activity” with 1) the sex addiction scores and also 2) the results of the attentional bias task. Among those scoring high on sexual addiction, fewer years of sexual experience were related to greater attentional bias. So higher sexual compulsivity scores + fewer years of sexual experience = greater signs of addiction (greater attentional bias, or interference). But attentional bias declines sharply in the compulsive users, and disappears at the highest number of years of sexual experience. The authors concluded that this result could indicate that more years of “compulsive sexual activity” lead to greater habituation or a general numbing of the pleasure response (desensitization). An excerpt from the conclusion section:

One possible explanation for these results is that as a sexually compulsive individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, an associated arousal template develops [36–38] and that over time, more extreme behaviour is required for the same level of arousal to be realised. It is further argued that as an individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, neuropathways become desensitized to more ‘normalised’ sexual stimuli or images and individuals turn to more ‘extreme’ stimuli to realise the arousal desired. This is in accordance with work showing that ‘healthy’ males become habituated to explicit stimuli over time and that this habituation is characterised by decreased arousal and appetitive responses [39]. This suggests that more compulsive, sexually active participants have become ‘numb’ or more indifferent to the ‘normalised’ sex-related words used in the present study and as such display decreased attentional bias, while those with increased compulsivity and less experience still showed interference because the stimuli reflect more sensitised cognition.”


STUDY TWENTY: A qualitative study of cybersex participants: Gender differences, recovery issues, and implications for therapists (2000) – Excerpts:

Some respondents described a rapid progression of a previously existing compulsive sexual behavior problem, whereas others had no history of sexual addiction but became rapidly involved in an escalating pattern of compulsive cybersex use after they discovered Internet sex. Adverse consequences included depression and other emotional problems, social isolation, worsening of their sexual relationship with spouse or partner, harm done to their marriage or primary relationship, exposure of children to online pornography or masturbation, career loss or decreased job performance, other financial consequences, and in some cases, legal consequences.

One of the examples:

A 30-year-old man with a previous history of “porn, masturbation, and frequent sexual thoughts,” wrote about his cybersex experience: In the last couple of years, the more porn I’ve viewed, the less sensitive I am to certain porn that I used to find offensive. Now I get turned on by some of it (anal sex, women peeing, etc.) The sheer quantity of porn on the Net has done this. It’s so easy to click on certain things out of curiosity in the privacy of your home, and the more you see them, the less sensitized you are. I used to only be into softcore porn showing the beauty of the female form. Now I’m into explicit hardcore.


STUDY TWENTY ONE: Sexual Arousal and Sexually Explicit Media (SEM): Comparing Patterns of Sexual Arousal to SEM and Sexual Self-Evaluations and Satisfaction Across Gender and Sexual Orientation (2017).

In this study participants were asked about their sexual arousal related to 27 genres (themes) of porn. Why the researchers chose these 27 particular genres is known only to them. How they determined which genres were “mainstream” which were “non-mainstream” also remains a mystery, given their seemingly random categorization. (See the researchers’ arbitrary categorization porn genres.)

No matter, this study debunks the claim that porn users like only a narrow range of genres. While it doesn’t directly ask about escalation over time, the study found that subjects they categorized as “non-mainstream” porn viewers like many different types of porn . A few relevant excerpts:

The findings suggest that in classified non-mainstream Sexually Explicit Media [porn] groups, patterns of sexual arousal might be less fixated and category specific than previously assumed.

Particularly for heterosexual men and non-heterosexual women, who were characterized by substantial levels of sexual arousal to non-mainstream SEM themes, the findings suggest that patterns of sexual arousal induced by SEM in non-laboratory settings might be more versatile, less fixed, and less category specific than previously assumed. This supports a more generalized SEM arousability and indicates that non-mainstream SEM group participants also are aroused by more mainstream (“vanilla”) themes.

The study is saying that so-called “non-mainstream porn viewers” are aroused by all sorts of porn, whether it’s so-called “mainstream” (Bukkake, Orgy, Fist-fucking) or so-called “non-mainstream” (Sadomasochism, Latex). This finding debunks the often repeated meme that frequent porn users stick to one type of porn. (An example of the unfounded claim about “fixed” tastes is Ogas and Gaddam’s highly criticized book A Billion Wicked Thoughts.)


 

STUDY TWENTY TWO: The Development and Validation of the Bergen-Yale Sex Addiction Scale With a Large National Sample (2018). This paper developed and tested a “sex addiction” questionnaire that was modeled after substance addiction questionnaires. As the authors explained, previous questionnaires have omitted key elements of addiction:

Most previous studies have relied on small clinical samples. The present study presents a new method for assessing sex addiction—the Bergen–Yale Sex Addiction Scale (BYSAS)—based on established addiction components (i.e., salience/craving, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict/problems, and relapse/loss of control).

The authors expand on the six established addiction components assessed, including tolerance and withdrawal.

The BYSAS was developed utilizing the six addiction criteria emphasized by Brown (1993), Griffiths (2005), and American Psychiatric Association (2013) encompassing salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflicts and relapse/loss of control…. In relation to sex addiction, these symptoms would be: salience/craving—over-preoccupation with sex or wanting sex, mood modification—excessive sex causing changes in mood, tolerance—increasing amounts of sex over time, withdrawalunpleasant emotional/physical symptoms when not having sex, conflict—inter-/intrapersonal problems as a direct result of excessive sex, relapse—returning to previous patterns after periods with abstinence/control, and problems—impaired health and well-being arising from addictive sexual behavior.

The most prevalent “sex addiction” components seen in the subjects were salience/craving and tolerance, but the other components, including withdrawal, also showed up to a lesser degree:

Salience/craving and tol