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Internet Porn Fuels Sex Addiction: Study

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The endless choice and availability of sexual images from internet porn fuel sex addiction, a new study confirms. Individuals with compulsive sexual behaviour or sex addiction are driven to satisfy their desire for sexual images in the internet than other sources.

Sex addiction is a condition characterized by persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behaviour amid negative consequences to oneself and others. In a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the researchers at the Cambridge University found that the endless availability of sexual images for those people suffering from sex addiction could worsen the condition.

Nearly 12 million people suffer from sexual addiction in the United States. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, with the accessibility of sexual material available on the internet, the number of people with sexual addiction is increasing.

The study was funded by Wellcome Trust and led by Dr. Valerie Voon of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. The team studied the behaviour of 62 male volunteers (22 men with sexual addiction and 40 healthy men).

To reach their findings, the researchers showed naked photos of women to a group of male volunteers. They were shown photos of paired images containing naked women, women with clothes and with furniture.

In another task, they were shown pairs of photos of familiar images, along with new ones. They were asked to choose a photo to win $1.5 wherein there is 50 percent chance of choosing the right image and winning the prize.

The findings show that sex addicts were more likely to choose new or novel images than familiar sexual images. In the last test, the volunteers underwent brain scans while photos of a nude woman, coin or a gray box was shown.

Sex addicts were discovered to have a marked reduction in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex when the same sexual image was shown over and over again. Hence, the authors conclude that in the same sense, sex addicts may be less interested in familiar photos and might search for new images to feed their addiction.

"Our findings are particularly relevant in the context of online pornography," said Dr Voon in a press release.

"It's not clear what triggers sex addiction in the first place and it is likely that some people are more pre-disposed to the addiction than others, but the seemingly endless supply of novel sexual images available online helps feed their addiction, making it more and more difficult to escape," she added.

Photo: Elvert Barnes | Flickr 

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