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New Study Claims Porn Not as Bad as You Think, But Not Everyone Agrees

May 7, 2013|5:04 pm

A new study conducted in the Netherlands has concluded that pornography consumption has only a small influence on risky, adventurous sexual behavior, but some U.S. experts disagree.

The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine two weeks ago and highlighted in a recent report, looked at 4,600 young men and women between ages 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands. The volunteers discussed the amount and type of pornography they used as well as risky adventurous sexual experiences, like paying for sex and homosexual acts.

Only 0.3 to 4 percent of the sexual behavior of participants in the study was linked to their pornography use.

"Pornography is not as big and bad a wolf as we thought it was, and maybe we should focus on other factors," said author of the study Gert Martin Hald, a clinical psychologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, HealthDay News reported. "It does explain a portion of sexual behavior, but it is modest."

Hald highlighted in the study that participants who had sensation-seeking personalities, who liked wild sex and exciting sexual experiences, were more likely to indulge in risky, adventurous sex.

While he admitted that pornography use might lead people to have more sexual experiences, his study could not determine whether the relationship between pornography use and sexual behavior was a result of other factors.

Social influences, such as how an individual was raised, as well as genetics, he said, bear some influence on the response to pornography. "Each variable only contributes modestly, but it's the interaction of factors that is really interesting and important," said Hald.

The study noted a link between using porn and having more sexual partners, adventurous sex and transactional sex for male and female participants. It did not, however, establish a cause-and-effect link.

Religiosity or a participant's relationship status did not appear to influence pornography use as well. The study noted, however, that there was a much more modest connection between pornography and the number of sexual partners of religious women.

And while experts like Susan Tortolero, an associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences and epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, thinks the findings would be similar in the U.S., others disagree.

In a recent op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, writer Holly Finn challenged Hald's findings.

"Of course, to the study's author, who said 'previous studies could have overestimated the association between pornography and sexual behaviors,' there is a better response: Sure, fella. The same way we overestimated the association between alcohol and reckless driving. Let me take you for a spin," she wrote.

She pointed out that some 12 percent of websites today are pornographic and 40 million Americans visit them regularly. "Fully 94% of therapists in another survey reported seeing an increase in people addicted to porn. It has become a whole generation's sex education and could be the same for the next – they are fumbling around online, not in the back seat," noted Finn.

She noted that many studies have connected pornography with a "new and negative attitude to intimate relationships."

"Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people. The new DSM-5 will add the diagnosis 'Hypersexual Disorder,' which includes compulsive pornography use," wrote Finn.

Finn also pointed to the work of psychiatrist Norman Doidge, who in "The Brain That Changes Itself," writes about patients who overused porn and created new neural pathways in their brains effectively changing the way they responded. The men, according to Doidge's writings, were able to quit pornography cold turkey, and change their brains back. "They just had to stop watching it. Completely," she said.

"None of the men were addictive types, or kooks," Dr. Doidge points out. But "because plasticity is competitive, the brain maps for new, exciting images increased at the expense of what had previously attracted them – including girlfriends and wives," wrote Finn.

"When the doctor explained what was happening to them, they 'stopped using their computers for a period to weaken their problematic neuronal networks, and their appetite for porn withered away,'" she noted.

In his response to the study, Pastor Freddy Wyatt of the Gallery Church in Manhattan, N.Y., who helped remove a billboard with a half-naked woman across his church last year, said although he has not yet fully examined it, he would disagree with the minimal influence ascribed to pornography on sexual behavior.

"Pornography use only perpetuates selfishness and selfishness is poisonous to healthy relationships. It often leads to a great amount of guilt and shame. It leads people towards deeper isolation," he told The Christian Post on Tuesday.

"It deeply blinds people from reality and overtime it chips away from their ability to relate holistically to other individuals. The good news is that Jesus Christ can free anyone from pornography and he can bring healing and restoration mentally, emotionally, sexually to the individual," he added.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/new-study-claims-porn-not-as-bad-as-you-think-but-not-everyone-agrees-95447/