For all the jokes, pornography addiction
is a real and actual addiction. Really. Stop laughing. I'm serious. No, it's— Look. Porn works like any other addictive substance: It re-wires your brain in ways that make you need it, and probably proves harmful to the rest of your life. (See update below)
Basically, the visual images of pornography associate themselves with the dopamine release you receive from pleasure. And in turn, you become less sensitive to sexual images, meaning it can become harder for you to be turned on by reality. You'll also be compelled to seek out porn more and more often, of course. Like any other addiction, you can shake porn addiction through prolonged avoidance of the material, but you're going to go through withdrawal symptoms along the way. It's a pretty har— Tough. It's a tough one to shake. [YouTube]
Update: Sex researcher and friend of Gizmodo Debby Herbenick writes in to tell us that all of this is simply not true, and that "many of the professional who think it can be treated are selling treatment programs for porn/sex addiction." She writes:
Most sex researchers don't recognize "porn addiction" as a true addiction (nor do most of us recognize "sex addiction" as a true addiction). This is a common topic of conversation among scientists in my field. The video is mostly speculation; empirical data to back up the statements in the video are enormously lacking.
If you'd like to discuss with anyone who studies this area, I'd be happy to refer you to colleagues who study related issues. I wouldn't have written if I didn't think it was important to set the record straight, but I've seen far too many people hurt personally or relationally by these unsupported claims.
You should take her opinion over most, for what it's worth.