Pornography addiction or just a good time?

Death by pornography isn’t a myth anymore after word spread of a 16-year-old Korean teenager who committed suicide after receiving a monthly cell phone bill for over $4,000 due to his paying to look at pornographic material, according to the Joonjang Daily in Korea.

The case is sad, but brings up an important subject of how much porn is too much for one person.

There are some who would say all pornography is bad and nobody should look at it or own it. William Struthers, a professor of psychology at Wheaton University in Illinois, is one of them.

He gave a speech Friday at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, according to The Daily News Record out of Harrisonburg, and made his feelings clear on the subject of pornography addiction.

“Pornography is crack for the eyes. Porn is just as addicting, or more so, than drugs,” claimed Struthers.

If that’s true, why has the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders failed to recognize it?

The DSM-IV is the Bible of the psychology profession, and, as a psychology professor, I’m sure Struthers has a way to back up his claims, right?

So I went through this monster of a book and came up empty.

I started with Sexual Disorders and found fetishism, but this involves an inanimate object. Even if porn qualified, the manual states it can’t be diagnosed unless it causes “significant distress in the individual or [is] disruptive to his or her everyday functioning.”

On to Sexual Dysfunctions to find a problem with staying away from sex, but nothing about needing too much porn.

I wasn’t giving up. I couldn’t believe someone as revered as Struthers could be talking out his ear, so I dug into Impulse Control Disorders. What do you know? I found gambling addiction! Still no pornography, though.

My last attempt at proving Struthers correct almost panned out. Substance Disorders beckoned me and I was nearly convinced, but no dice.

First I checked the definition of ‘substance’.

“A substance can be anything that is ingested in order to produce a high, alter one’s senses, or otherwise affect functioning,” according to the DSM-IV.

Okay, except for the “ingested” part, I could make a case for equating pornography with “substance”. That’s where it ends, though.

To break it down, to qualify as an addiction, the manual claims there has to be “a pattern of substance use leading to significant impairment in functioning”.

So much for that unless the person is missing work, missing classes, driving while watching “Debbie Does Dallas” or New York or wherever she’s traveling nowadays, being arrested for downloading porn on the Best Buy model for the newest computer or other crazy things that could cause you to never have a date again.

Of course it could become addictive. Almost anything can, but we don’t need to walk around condemning people for just enjoying a video once in awhile or reading erotica on a lonely night.

Addiction to pornography is real and can be deadly as evidenced by the Joonjang Daily, but it isn’t the root of all evil and it’s not a reason to panic if your significant other has it sitting around their dorm room.

If you’re dating someone and you go to their dorm or get in their car and there is a magazine or a movie there you can surmise they’re not very bright since they didn’t bother to put it away, but you can’t jump to the conclusion they’re pornography addicts.

You also need to figure out what you think pornography is. Is it the Maxim on the end table or the Playboy under the mattress? Maybe the Victoria’s Secret catalog is the guilty culprit. The DVD proudly stamped with the title, Sperms of Endearment (Yes, it’s real and a ‘chick flick’ of a different nature.), is probably a dead giveaway.

Is there anything really wrong with it, though? If you tell your date it’s you or the porn and they need to choose, I hope you get thrown out.

Don’t ever make someone ashamed of their collection if it’s not their entire existence.

My husband used to watch pornography. Now, while we’re in bed, I’m extremely grateful for the things he learned from Linda Lovelace or whoever it was and would much rather think he got his techniques from a variety of naughty films than from a variety of naughty women.

He doesn’t watch pornography anymore unless I’m with him. And usually we just laugh at it. The day we watched a woman pleasure herself in a plastic bubble underwater was the last time we even tried to get through a film, though. It’s just gotten way too abstract for our tastes.

Some men continue to watch pornography, but they learn from it, too. Thanks to Naked News, a bare-it-all news network out of Canada, Scott Ainsworth manages to focus on current events while enjoying the view of women stripping while giving their reports. They don’t teach that in journalism class.

Ainsworth is happily married, though, and doesn’t seem to plan on stopping his news watching anytime soon, and why should he? It hasn’t hurt him or his wife with daily functioning, high cell phone bills or any of the things Struthers said would happen to people who dabbled in pornography.

As for Ainsworth’s relationship with his wife and whether he thinks he’s a hopeless addict, he uses the logical approach to judge that.

“She’s still in bed with me so I guess I’m doing alright.”

Send comments, questions and ideas to Chandra Niklewski at [email protected]