The Catholic Letter

Pornography Addiction and How It's Damaging Catholic Society

Why Do Men Become Addicted To Pornography

Why Do So Many Men Have Problems With Pornography Addiction?

Most women have a hard time understanding why a man would look at pornography at all... let alone become so addicted to it that it creates such huge problems with job performance, family life, and even finances.  And when women are told why this happens, they often don't believe it or they think that it only applies to a few select men.

Let's start with the fact that women are beautiful.  God made them this way, and meant for us to have a certain amount of awe for this beauty.  But the beauty (for men anyway) is much different than the beauty of a blue sky or a nice car.  The beauty is different because the mere sight of it excites a man sexually.

Sexual desire is one of the strongest of all human passions.  St. Thomas Aquinas called lust "the greatest of pleasures; and these absorb the mind more than any others."

Aside from understanding how powerful lustful passions are, St. Thomas also realized how much lust can interfere with right thinking.  Lust can cause a man to act irrationally and behave in ways he would not normally behave.  When in a fit of lustful passion, man can become "incapable of judging spiritual things."

Like any activity that gives pleasure, lust can easily be misused and abused.  Just like shopping or gambling or drinking.  From the Catholic perspective, any sexual activity at all outside of the marriage bed is already a misuse.

The point at which it becomes a serious problem (an actual addiction) is when a man uses it as a means of emotional or mental (or even physical) escape.  This isn't always the easiest thing to recognize, as it sets in gradually... although, in most cases, quickly.

Most sexual addicts admit that they've turned to pornography when their jobs or home life got very stressful.  Also, many of them turn to it to escape loneliness.  In fact, in my own research, every porn addict I've talked to said that LONELINESS is their biggest trigger.

This is easy to understand, because the activity itself (looking at pornography and masturbating) is an isolating activity.  Men feel lonely and they turn to something that makes them more lonely.  A cycle starts, and continues forever, forever, forever.

Until recently, men had to go through a bit of an obstacle to get a hold of pornography.  They had to go to a ‘special store' or had to rent from a video store that kept records.  A man could hardly look at pornography in total secret-in order to obtain it, someone would have to know about it.  Not only that, but if he were a God-fearing man, even one prone to a lot of temptation in this area, he had time to think about his actions as he prepared to look at it.  Even standing in the checkout line at the store gave him enough time to realize he really didn't want to offend God this way.

Now, with the internet to available, a man can look at it without anyone knowing about it.  And he can get to it in a matter of seconds-just by typing a word or two in a search engine.  In fact, even if he doesn't want to see pornography, he eventually will by accident.  He might click on the wrong link, search for the wrong words, or even get spam from a pornography website.  If he does anything online daily, he will eventually see pornography.  It's just one of those things.

When you add all this up, you have a good recipe for spiritual disaster.  And that's exactly what has happened to thousands of good, Catholic men.  Men who, ten years ago, would never even have considered looking at an indecent picture.  Suddenly they're trapped in a fantasy world they can't seem to get out of-not alone anyway.

What's the solution for this problem?  Prayer.  The sacraments.  Fasting.  These men need all of that.  Eventually, they'll realize how bad it's gotten and try to get help.  Until then, you can only pray for them.