Recovery Workshop

Assessing Compulsive Pornography

What is it?

Pornography, in the context of this workshop, is to be considered the act of viewing any recorded sexually graphic material for the purpose of sexual and/or romantic stimulation. It should be noted that the presence of genitalia or sexual activity is not necessary for the visual stimulation to be classified as pornography (again, in the context of this workshop only) as our primary goal is to identify the underlying patterns of behavior, rather than to learn the technical classifications of each behavior.

Like masturbation, but in a much more limited scope, pornography can actually be used to promote intimacy and sexual health within a relationship. The scope of this, however, is so small that it is not recommended for anyone struggling with any sexually-compulsive behaviors until they have made the transition from recovery to health. One of the biggest consequences that pornography brings to the equation is its ability to zap the person of their emotional energy. This makes relationships (especially when those relationships involve intimacy) extremely difficult to maintain. It also effects their ability to produce the energy and strength needed to make the changes that need to be made in recovery.

Pornography is an exceptionally difficult behavior to deal with, due to its ease of access (both overtly and subtly). Additionally, one's ability to remember the images viewed (and the emotional connections that were associated with those images) create an instant "porn library" inside their head that is available for fantasy and masturbation...even when those images are no longer physically available.

Common Behaviors Associated with Pornography:

I. Stimulation by the use of pictures
  • explicit pictures found in magazines such as Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, trading cards, Internet, etc., involving sexual genitalia or sexual acts
  • pictures found in books, catalogs, magazines, comics, newspapers, etc., which are not necessarily created to be sexually enticing, but nevertheless are perceived by the viewer as such (including computer-generated images)
  • pictures of yourself, your partner or other people/animals engaged in sexual acts
II. Stimulation by the use of sexually explicit video
  • erotic movies produced for public viewing (e.g. theaters, television, CD, streaming video)
  • home movies produced by self or other private citizens that involve sexual acts or nude modeling
  • replaying, freeze-framing or putting into slow-motion those scenes which are found to be erotically stimulating
  • stringing multiple pictures together to simulate sexual action or movement
III. Stimulation by the use of sexually explicit art
  • cartoons, comic strips, doodles
  • drawings, paintings
  • sculptures

Elements Frequently Associated with Pornography (from the Wheel of Sexual Compulsion):

  • Sensory (visual)
  • Accomplishment (in the attempts to find the most stimulating images)
  • Orgasm

Other Behaviors Commonly Found in a Ritualistic Chain where Pornography is the Primary Behavior:

  • Fantasy
  • Masturbation
  • Romantic Delusions

Frequent Cues/Triggers Often Associated With Pornography:

  • Life Stressors
  • Emotional imbalance (especially depression, anger, anxiety)
  • Boredom
  • Curiosity
  • Masturbation (when orgasm cannot be achieved without additional stimulation)

Boundaries Frequently Violated By Pornography:

  • Self-respect (when behavior is followed by guilt/shame)
  • Intimacy (in the objectification of the people involved)
  • Autonomy (when behavior is compulsive, feeling like life is outside of own control)
  • Order (when time spent engaged in pornography interferes with the completion of life goals, time management)
  • Integrity (when family members, coworkers discover your behavior)

If you have experienced similar behaviors as described above (or have experienced additional behaviors that were not mentioned, but fall under the category of Pornography), please describe them below.

My History with Pornography

First Name and Last Initial:

E-mail address:

Describe your most common patterns related to your use of pornography:

Think for a few minutes, then list all of your most common triggers for this type of behavior:

List any concerns, unusual circumstances that you currently have regarding this behavior. For instance, any bizarre rituals that you perform, dangerous objects that you use, frequency issues, etc.

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