102: Professionals Weigh in on Problems w/ “Porn Addiction” Model – Part 2

After the recent podcasts where Ryan Flake shares his story about having been treated as a “porn addict,” it is perfect timing to release a podcast Mormon Mental Health partnered with Mormon Matters on last fall. Natasha Helfer Parker teams with Dan Wotherspoon to provide a panel discussion, including leading national experts, on the issues with treating sexual and relational problems through the lens of addiction treatment.

Natasha Helfer Parker and Kristin Hodson, two of the panelists, helped author an Op-Eds in the Salt Lake Tribune focusing on the issue of pornography, and especially if an “addiction” model is appropriate to be taught in high school settings. The impetus for the initial opinion piece was the propriety of allowing the group “Fight the New Drug” (FTND) to offer presentations in public school assemblies or other gathering types, especially since the science behind the claims FTND makes about pornography as “addicting” is not credible. There are major divisions within helping communities with regard to the effects of pornography upon the human brain and body, and the best approach(es) to take when someone comes to a therapist for help with a level of pornography usage they feel is is problematic.

Natasha notes that Mormon Matters went on to interview some clinicians who take the opposing stance to this podcast. However, Mormon Mental Health Podcast is purposefully not including those on its website due to the concern of spreading misinformation that continues to confuse the public. The information found on the episodes that are shared by MMH are supported by the position statements of the national body of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

AASECT Position Statement on Sex Addition (released 29 November 2016)

Founded in 1967, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual education, counseling and therapy. With this mission, AASECT accepts the responsibility of training, certifying and advancing high standards in the practice of sexuality education services, counseling and therapy. When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexual education and health care, AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights.

AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual problems. AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge. Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.

AASECT advocates for a collaborative movement to establish standards of care supported by science, public health consensus and the rigorous protection of sexual rights for consumers seeking treatment for problems related to consensual sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors.

Links to topics discussed:

Op-Ed: “Utah Students Need Real Sex-Ed, not ‘Fight the New Drug’,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 October 2016

Prause, N., Steele, V. R., Staley, C., Sabatinelli, D., & Proudfit, G. H. (2015). Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with “porn addiction.” Biological Psychology, 109, 192–199. 

* The largest neuroscience study of cue-reactivity EEG, often called the “biomarker” of addiction, shows sex films do not behave like any known substance or behavioral addiction

Prause, N., Steele, V. R., Staley, C., Sabatinelli, D., & Hajcak, G. (2016). Prause et al.(2015) the latest falsification of addiction predictions. Biological Psychology.

* The most succinct publication describing the many predictions, not just neuroscience, of the addiction model that have been falsified.

Balzarini, R. N., Dobson, K., Chin, K., & Campbell, L. Does exposure to erotica reduce attraction and love for romantic partners in men? Independent replications of Kenrick, Gutierres, and Goldberg (1989) study 2. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.11.003

*The largest study to date on the effects of sex films on relationships finding they either increase desire and love for the partner or do not change it.

Klein, M. (2016). His Porn, Her Pain: Confronting America’s PornPanic with Honest Talk About Sex. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

* Building on decades of psychotherapy practice, the text reviews how sex films are often demonized to avoid addressing real, and more challenging, problems in relationships. Appropriate for lay audience, but also helpful for clinicians with case examples.

Natasha Helfer Parker, Mormon Sex Info website

Kristin Hodson’s therapy practice website: The Healing Group

Kristin Hodson, et al, Real Intimacy: A Couple’s Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality (Cedar Fort, 2012)

“Sex-Positivity in Mormonism,” Mormon Matters podcast episode, Nos. 314-315. December 17, 2015.

Dallin H. Oaks, “Recovering from the Trap of Pornography,” Ensign, Ocober 2015

AASECT: American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists website

How Concepts of Sex Addiction and Porn Addiction are Failing Clients

 

Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith, runs Mormon Sex Info and is the current president for the Mormon Mental Health Association.

1 comment for “102: Professionals Weigh in on Problems w/ “Porn Addiction” Model – Part 2

  1. Patrick
    August 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for calling out Sons of Helaman!! They’re so awful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *