pornography in the clinic and the consulting room
Sunday, September 9th 9:00 am - 10:45 am
The Lodge Santa Fe, NM
This paper examines the case of a 20-year-old emerging adult who was
introduced to pornography by his guitar teacher at the age of 10 years. The
emotional turmoil that came to characterize his life demonstrates the
negative impacts that can follow from premature and excessive exposure to
pornography. His story is contrasted with that of a 14-year-old male
survivor of child sexual abuse who discovered through pornography that sex
need not be harmful. Psychoanalytic Complexity Theory, understood through
the lenses of process philosophy and the new science of complexity theory,
challenges absolutist positions that either support or oppose the use of
pornography while highlighting the unpredictability of its multiple impacts.
While pornography can be used to disconnect from real engagement with others, we should not reflexively assume that that's always or necessarily the case. Not all engagement with pornography issues from dessicated object relations or aims to deaden connection. In some instances, it may even be a path towards seeking to connect in new ways, to generate fresh pathways to being and to becoming. Depending on how porn is deployed by the subject and on how the particular use to which it is put is taken up in the treatment, porn may offer possibilities towards expanding one's relationship to one's gender, embodiment and sexuality.
Pornography use plays a complex role in the psychology of individuals and couples. Many people struggle to manage their use of pornography, and current research identifies that these people are predominantly struggling with managing the moral conflict between their sexual desires and the values they were taught. Able to access porn and sexuality in a moment’s notice, many people have been inadequately prepared to understand and self- regulate their sexual urges. While shared porn use is positive for couples, solo, secret and discrepant porn use within a couple predicts negative outcomes, particularly where there is sexual dissatisfaction or moral conflict about sexuality. Understanding these complexities is critical for clinicians to be able to effectively understand and support these individuals and couples, in learning how to make healthy decisions about the role of pornography in their lives.