Posted on April 1, 2015 in Addiction

Is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Path to Porn Addiction?

With the blockbuster success of the erotic movie “Fifty Shade of Grey,” many groups, particularly conservative Christian groups, are decrying the possible link to pornography and porn addiction. Based on the runaway bestselling books by E.L. James, the movie is controversial for many reasons. Some claim it is anti-feminist and degrading to women, while others simply disparage it as terrible literature. Is there any truth to the claim that the movie could set off a tidal wave of porn addiction?

Christians Against Christian Grey

In the story, a billionaire playboy named Christian Grey develops an unorthodox sexual relationship with innocent college student Anastasia Steele. His sexual appetites are along the lines of pain and submission, and while there is a love story in there somewhere, the main point of the book and the movie is the erotic sex. This is what many conservative Christian groups oppose, including the outspoken Proven Men Ministries.

The leader of Proven Men, Liberty University law professor Joel Hesch, released a statement warning against the damage that the movie could do to viewers. In his statement, Hesch claimed that even light pornography and occasional viewing of it can lead to an obsessive addiction. He even admitted to having been a compulsive user of porn himself and that God led him away from porn and inspired him to create and lead the Proven Men Ministries to help men struggling with sex and porn addictions.

Is Porn Addiction Real?

Hesch may have personal experience on his side, but are his opinions about porn addiction and “Fifty Shades of Grey” just that? Or is there some basis to his belief that the movie could spark an outburst of unhealthy sexual obsessions? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), pornography use is common and does not become a problem for most people. It can even be a useful outlet for fantasy and a tool for the development of a healthy sex life.

On the other hand, the APA also cites research that indicates obsession with pornography can become a real problem for some people. In one study, 9 percent of porn users admitted to being unable to stop using it, a problem that drug addicts and alcoholics have with substance abuse. This obsession with porn can lead to relationship problems, including loss of intimacy. The real problem, research shows, is when one partner uses porn more often than the other. When two partners use pornography together, it can enhance their sex lives.

Experts still struggle with how to classify porn obsession and whether it should be labeled as an addiction. What is not up for debate, though, are the very real symptoms of porn obsession and how similar they are to drug or alcohol addiction. Some people become so obsessed with using porn that they ruin relationships, lose their jobs, or experience financial difficulties. Continuing to use porn in spite of the harm it causes is similar to using drugs in spite of the negative ways in which it impacts all aspects of an addict’s life.

Many experts, as well as individuals with personal experience, would agree that porn addiction is a real and serious problem with devastating consequences. What is not clear is whether a movie like “Fifty Shades of Grey” will lead people down a dangerous path to an obsession with pornographic materials. It is important to question controversial movies and books and to be aware of the risks of using pornographic materials, as well as the ways in which they can be satisfying and healthy to use.

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