Experts say the number of cases involving pornography addiction ending up as a matrimonial dispute in courts is small, but they are quite familiar with the phenomenon and acknowledge its effect on conjugal relationships.

Speaking of the trend, eminent sexologist Dr. Narayana Reddy said the number of people approaching the court on this aspect may be very small.

“But there are many women silently suffering continuously due to societal or parental pressure. I have seen a number of cases where the marriage could not be consummated because the husband was addicted to internet pornography. He will watch pornography alone and will not have any sexual relationship. It requires intensive treatment and the family must extend assistance.

“Extended exposure to pornography can have a whole raft of effects. It dehumanises the other person, the relationship and any intimacy. Mirror neurons are powerfully activated by pornography,” says Dr. Reddy.

Addiction to pornography could lead to loss of concentration at work, withdrawal from close circles, loss of self-esteem and even sleep.

What are the symptoms of porn addiction? Says Dr. Reddy : surreptitious browsing, getting irritated at suggestions that they should spend less time on the computer, withdrawing from family circles, committing mistakes at work and over-spending.”

Psychiatrists say the advent of internet has added elements like accessibility (at minimal or no cost), anonymity and interactivity (in some cases) to pornography, constituting a heady cocktail that has led to widespread addiction.

Dr. Bhasi Sukumaran, Clinical Psychologist, says: “Influential minds of adolescents and others form a false perception of the nature of sexual intercourse and gratification. Many viewers fail to realise that the performers are being paid to enact these activities and that it is far removed from reality.

It is akin to watching superheroes fell several villains with a single blow or leap over insurmountable hurdles. This leads to unrealistic expectations and proclivities for certain acts that may not be shared by partners. Moreover, pornography addiction is mediated by affective feelings of gratification and rarely gets translated to reality. It does not lead to better sexual performance but rather to the contrary.”

Explaining further, Dr. Bhasi says, “It is obvious that such unrealistic expectations are rarely met in matrimony leading to dissatisfaction with one’s partner. Furthermore, sexual performance of individuals addicted to pornography is largely unsatisfactory as they are accustomed to obtaining pleasure at the affective level and not at the level of activity involving an actual partner.”

According to psychiatrist, Dr. Shalini, “The mental health ill-effects are similar to that of all addictions involving lack of fulfilment of social roles, underperformance in academics and work, restriction of repertoire of activities to those directly related to addiction, neglect of other activities resulting in strained interpersonal relationships. It is this combination that largely contributes to the rate of divorce due to pornography addiction.”

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