Internet Pornography: Exposure And Confusion

I am becoming increasingly aware of the number of people, including young teenagers, who are sending us E. Mails about a very troubling problem. The problem is directly relatied to Internet pornography. The problem is the terror and confusion it creates.

First, adolescents are expressing terror that they that they could be "pedophiles" because they happened across some pornographic sites that depicted young, nude children. All of these youngsters are asking the same question: "Am I a Pedophile?"

Second, adult men or their wives, are expressing fears that these men could be homosexual. The reason for the fear is that they find themselves somewhat attracted to homosexual pornography.

Third, many people state that they are feeling paranoid that the government or police are tracking and recording their pursuit of pornography on the Internet.

What is especially interesting about these E. Mail concerns and questions is that they fly in the face of the research conclusions reached by a Post Doctoral Social Work Student at the University of Montreal. Louis Lajeunesse, post doctoral student and professor in the University's School of Social Work, studied the impact of pornography on male sexuality. He selected as his subjects, young men in their twenties who had never viewed pornography. Professor Lajeunesse claims that the young men showed no ill effects after they were exposed to pornographic material.

I find the conclusion somewhat surprising given the nature of the population he studied. A sample of men in their twenties who had no history of viewing pornography hardly qualifies as evidence of the effects that exposure can have. Second, the type of pornography viewed is not very clear not the amount of time spent viewing, where it was viewed, home or at the school, and the nature of the material.

What the people who are spontaneously sending E. Mail to Mental Help Net are reporting is great anxiety about their behavior. In addition, this anxiety become so pronounced that it causes them to question their sexual orientation.

In addition, there is the fact that women continue to write us about the pornographic behavior of their husband's or boyfriends and the fact that it causes them to feel hurt and betrayed to the degree that they entertain ending the relationship.

The are some facts about Internet pornography that need to be clarified:

1. Pornography on the Internet is very powerful and, therefore, very addicting.

2. The publishers of Internet Pornography are often criminals who are part of larger international drug cartels and dealers in prostitution.

3. The dealers in Internet pornography understand the addictive process. In that process, people become desensitized to the sexual images on the screen. Therefore, they have to publish ever more kinky types of sexuality in order to satisfy their customers.

4. In keeping viewers addicted by satisfying their need for more and more erotic material, they resort to male and female homosexuality, group sex, sadism and even child pornography.

5. Those men who view Internet porn are surprised by their attraction to homosexual acts on their monitor. However, pornographers work hard to make this appealing as a way of maintaining interest in what otherwise could become boring sexual images.

6. The lines between child and adult sexuality becomes blurred because pornographers use older adolescents who could be of legal age for sex but appear to be children, thereby appealing to pedophile feelings. This, too, can entrap people who are searching for ever more erotic material.

My point in all of this is that pornography on the Internet is not benign. Clearly, it creates a lot of confusion and anxiety for people who are vulnerable, and interferes in relationships because of the terrible feelings it arouses.

This does not mean that I favor censorship because I do not. First, I don't even know if it is possible to sensor material that comes from other nations. Second, there is always the danger of using censorship as a way to stop the free and open flow of information and discussion in free and democratic societies.

However, I do believe that parents need to be more vigilant in protecting their children and teenagers from this material. This is not for what some might think are "moral reasons." Rather, pornography depicts human sexuality in ways that are distorted and unrealistic. This is what creates confusion in the minds of young and vulnerable people.

Adults, meaning the remainder of the population after we talk about children and teenagers, need to know how pornography works to cause addiction and make types of sex that would otherwise not be appealing, seem very appealing and, therefore, anxiety producing.

Your thoughts, comments, questions and experiences with this problem are welcome and encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.