‘The Road to Porndiction’
(Part 2 of 3)
Health, as defined in the first part of this article, is not confined to man’s physiological state. It has a richer and broader sense that refers to the person’s well-being. Health also embraces other wonderful human realities such as emotional, psychological, spiritual, social, etc. These need to be constantly integrated to help the person achieve his perfection and ultimately allow personal donation.
Pornography becomes a real health issue when it contributes to the disruption and corruption of the integration of these qualities of man. The effects of this interruption –both in short and long term– have obvious social repercussions.
In her talk during the 2014 Summit of the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Cordelia Anderson said:
“For pornography to be a public health issue, it needs to be understood as a social issue. Clearly pornography is a social issue. And when something is a social issue, by its very nature, that means that the problem is so big that it is beyond what individuals or groups have the capacity to correct.”
This is the case of pornography that has gone mainstream in the Internet. “Pornography affects the user’s inner life (the relationship he has with himself) as well as the interactions he has with his partner and other family members. (Wendy and Larry Maltz, The Porn Trap)” It now invades every sector and fiber of society and infects the more intimate moments of family life and work. Whatever disrupts the inner harmony within man will likewise have external manifestations.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, expressed her deep concern about the number of children exposed to pornography.
“Only now are we beginning to understand its impact on ‘smartphone kids’ – the first generation to have been raised with technology that’s taken the internet from the front room, where parents can monitor use, to their bedrooms or the playground, where they can’t.
We know from the research that very many children are shocked, confused or disgusted by what they see, and it is our duty to help them to question, challenge and make sense of it.” (BBC, 16 June 2016).
The question on how pornography can become an addiction is already being tackled by sciences such as psychology and sociology. Our intention, however, is to view porn addiction from the anthropological angle; our personal harmony and integration.
Studies show children developing “an unrealistic view of sexual relationships” (E. Martellozzo), becoming “shocked, confused or disgusted’ (A. Longfield) and “desensitized” to porn itself (K. Sellgren). These findings reveal the personal disequilibrium from which addiction sprouts.
Addiction, a bad habit that one can no longer easily reject or do without develops through the inner imbalance caused by the concepts of “reductionism” and “disintegration.”
Reductionism is the error of impoverishing man’s identity to a particular feature or function in his make-up. It then neglects or disregards the rest of his gifts and potencies.
For example, one can reduce man to a biological or chemical machine. Although these are essential realities about him, they cannot be the only definition of man. It would be like saying that man is only his “mouth” that eats or a “stomach” that digests. In pornography’s case; Man is only a sex machine!
Disintegration, although more of a consequence of an action, can however be considered as a corrupting process. The integration of man’s many features is not possible when their harmonious interaction is prevented by an overriding feature such as the sexual drive. Disintegration gradually corrodes the wholeness of man’s inner core.
This more evident in man’s pleasurable appetites. The lack of moderation in alcohol intake, for example, makes it hard for his other senses to properly coordinate and may impede him from safely driving.
Reduction and the consequent disintegration may eventually lead to addiction as one is slowly snared within a mentality that only seeks “relief” and “satisfaction” in just one faculty in man (e.g. sexual or psychological). The state of disintegration, lacking an inner core for the self and stability, produces discouragement and lack of self-esteem, discouragement and sadness.
To counteract this negative condition, one ends up shifting back to an effortless and gratifying faculty because he is too weak to resort to something else as his other functions are paralyzed. The cycle of addiction is completed!
Naturally, individual responses to pornography vary according the states of inner personal maturity. Unfortunately, young children are not yet capable of properly contextualizing what they are exposed to. Instead, untimely sexual stimuli often create confusion, anxiety and also the beginnings of an unhealthy curiosity to watch it again.
As every addiction has some form of cure, pornography also its own. It is focusing more, not on pornography itself but on helping the person to discover the more wonderful consequences of personal integrity. Thus, Wendy and Larry Maltz believe that:
“Dealing with pornography is not solely about stopping a behavior or overcoming an addiction. It also involves reclaiming a sense of personal integrity and manifesting attitudes and behaviors that promote healthy sexual intimacy.” (Ibid.)
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