How to Identify Porn Compulsions

Dr R. Y. Langham

Jan 21, 2022

When was the last time you clicked on a porn site or flipped through or masturbated to sexually-explicit images in a porn magazine or book or on a porn video or movie? A month ago, a week ago, today, a few hours ago, a couple of hours ago – right now? If you feel an “urge” to frequently perform these behaviors, you are experiencing a porn compulsion. The truth is most people, young and old, have developed personalized “compulsions.” For some, the compulsion is a constant “urge” to check social media and dating sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Match.com, TikTok, Christian Mingle, etc., every five minutes.

For others, it may be an “urge” to shop, eat, play video games or watch porn – all of the time. But, what does a porn addiction entail? And, once you know what porn addiction is how can you tell if you have one or not? Well, the good news is you have come to the right place…cough…cough…article. This trusty mini-guide will help you recognize a porn addiction so you can seek porn addiction help for yourself and/or a loved one.

Is Porn Addiction a Form of OCD?

Yes, in a way…

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also commonly referred to as OCD, is an anxiety condition that impacts approximately 2% of people worldwide. The main characteristics of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. These two behaviors not only co-exist, but they also interact with and influence each other. In other words, obsessions – i.e., a “fixation” with sexually-explicit images or porn – can trigger certain behaviors – i.e., “porn use” or porn addiction.

Most definitions and descriptions of OCD involve “compulsions,” so it is easy to compare OCD to porn addiction. After all, the “urges” or compulsion to view porn excessively resembles the “urges” and compulsions to, let’s say, excessively clean your house, pick at your hair or skin, eat, or wash your hands. So, while porn addiction is not listed in the DSM-5 as a form of OCD – or any mental health condition, it does share the compulsion feature with OCD.

What are Compulsions?

A compulsion is an “overwhelming urge to perform a certain behavior.”

The purpose of a compulsion is to ease or eliminate anxiety, an obsession, worry, concern, fear, or fixation. Compulsions have two components – mental and physical. It is important to understand that compulsive behaviors are triggered and “driven” by fear. In fact, it is common for people, who suffer from compulsions, to constantly worry about what happens if they do not perform a certain act or engage in a specific behavior – i.e., porn-watching.

These individuals believe that performing the act or engaging in the behavior (i.e., porn-watching) will somehow prevent something “bad” from happening, thereby, calming their “urges” and relieving their distress. Surprisingly, however, the real purpose of a compulsion is to protect you against realistic or unrealistic harm or danger. More specifically, a compulsion is designed to work as a “coping mechanism” to help you avoid or “outlive” a perceived danger.

In regards to porn addiction, the perceived danger may be internal (i.e., anxiety, depression, chronic stress, etc.), external (i.e., an unhealthy relationship, workplace woes, low self-esteem, loneliness, boredom, etc.), or both. Thus, the goal is to “escape” these distressing feelings by delving into porn.

So, for some, a compulsion (i.e., porn-watching) can become an addiction (porn addiction). Understand, however, that stopping a compulsive behavior is not easy. Compulsions are involuntary – and repetitive. People engage in compulsions because they provide them with “relief” by assuaging painful thoughts and emotions.

Is It Important to Identify Your Porn Compulsions?

Yes!

It is important to identify your porn compulsions, so you can banish your “porn habit.” In other words, knowing the origin of your compulsions can provide you with respite or relief. Remember, a compulsion, regardless of the “type,” is a “coping mechanism” designed to ease pain, stress, and distress and make you feel “safe.”

In other words, once you perform a certain behavior or ritual (the compulsion), the anguish eases. In this case, once you view porn (the compulsion), your anxiety, depression, boredom, stress and tension, and/or physical pain eases.

So, what do you do? You repeat the behavior to gain relief. However, if you can identify and understand your porn compulsions, you are better equipped to stop or even prevent them. But, most of all, determining if you have a porn compulsion can help you seek porn addiction treatment, so you can combat your compulsions altogether.

When you can recognize your porn compulsions, you can choose not to engage in them. Understand, however, that permanently stopping your porn compulsion will likely be unachievable without porn addiction help. Nevertheless, identifying the causes of your compulsions may take effort, patience, and time.

But, after you fully understand them, you can start to “unlearn” them and replace them with healthier behaviors, such as seeking porn addiction support, spending time with friends and family, seeking porn addiction counseling, attending support groups, and investing in a porn recovery program, like Stop Together, changing your daily routines, etc.

Once you can successfully redirect yourself when the “urges” occur, you are on the path to porn addiction recovery. These “healthy safeguards” not only help you avoid porn addiction relapses but also reduce your porn addiction withdrawal symptoms.

Lastly, once you identify your porn compulsions you can promptly seek porn addiction help for them. Porn addiction treatment can help you regain a healthy personal, work, and even sex life. Thus, the only way you can fully reclaim your life is to identify your compulsions and seek porn addiction support.

What Happens If I Don’t Act on My Porn Compulsions or “Urges?”

Truth be told, a lot can happen if you have a porn addiction and do not act on your porn compulsions or “urges.” For instance, the “urge” to view porn can become so overwhelming and distressing that you are mentally and physically unable to stop the behavior – even if you want to. If you don’t act upon your “urge” to view porn, it could trigger or exacerbate your anxiety and/or depression.

It could even cause panic attacks and/or lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. At minimum, it could cause you to develop a “replacement addiction” (I.e., gambling, substance abuse, etc.) to combat your “urge” to view porn and feelings of helplessness (at not being able to use porn). Resisting your “porn urges” could cause headaches and/or your blood pressure to skyrocket – out of frustration.

How Can I Identify My Porn Urges?

Well, the good news is there are several ways you can identify your specific porn compulsions.

The truth is recognizing your “porn urges” may be tricky at first. Why? Because, when you are in the midst of addiction, it can be hard to think clearly. In other words, your mind becomes clouded and “fixated” on porn because you believe it will stop your pain, discomfort, distress, boredom, anxiety or depression, etc.

You truly believe your life will implode if you do not perform the action or behavior, which in this case is watching or viewing porn. Remember, a porn addict is obsessed with porn – because he or she has attached specific feelings to it, such as relief, pleasure, “escape,” entertainment, inclusion, happiness, and/or satisfaction. So, when he or she is unable to view porn, it becomes unbearable.

Let’s say you have had a terrible migraine for a few days. You see a commercial on television advertising a pain medication, like Excedrin, that could take the pain away. What do you do? If possible, you run to your local pharmacy as quickly as possible to pick up a bottle of Excedrin. You take a couple of pills as soon as you get home. Why do you do this? Because you’re tired of being in pain and willing to try anything (at that point) to make it go away.

Well, there is a similar dynamic with porn compulsions. You are struggling with low self-esteem, financial problems, relationship issues, workplace woes, anxiety, boredom, etc., and are desperate for some relief. You turn on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or laptop, and a porn advertisement immediately pops up. It looks interesting and fun, and you think to yourself that maybe it could distract you for a little while, so you click on the advertisement and enter the “World of Porn.”

It accomplishes the mission.

You feel better…lighter…happier after watching online porn. So, what do you do the next time you get stressed or upset about something? You turn to porn. And, you keep turning to porn until you are addicted to it. The compulsions or “urges” to view porn are too strong to resist. So, you return to it over and over again.

So, what is the best way to identify your porn compulsions?

  • Do Your Research

    Research obsessions and compulsions because your “porn habit” is a type of obsession and your “excessive porn use” is a type of compulsion – even if it is not classified as such. So, learn as much as you can about OCD and compulsive behaviors. Understanding your addiction can help you take back control of your life.

  • Identify Your Triggers

    Determine what is triggering your compulsions (porn obsession) and become more aware of your reactions to them (i.e., happiness, relief, shame, and guilt, etc.). Why is this important? Because without awareness nothing changes. So, the best way to get a grasp on your porn compulsions is to pay more attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Try to view your “porn habit” through curious and empathetic eyes. Refrain from judging your actions, rather, use this time to understand the origin of your compulsions.

  • Try to Figure Out Why You Are Having These “Urges?”

    Analyze your porn compulsions. More specifically, take time out to really think about your “porn habit” – when you first viewed or watched porn, the feeling(s) it produces in you, why you feel “pulled” towards porn, and why you keep returning to it.

    As mentioned above, once you understand the thoughts and behaviors that are reinforcing and maintaining your porn compulsions, you can “unlearn” them and replace them with healthier thoughts and behaviors – those that coincide with your personal morals and values.

  • Make a List of Your Porn Compulsions

    Create a list of your porn compulsions. Why do you use porn? Is it out of boredom, anxiety, depression, loneliness, frustration, stress, pain, etc.? Do you turn to porn when you’re uncertain, unsure, upset, or scared? Pinpointing the root cause of your “porn use” can help STOP your porn compulsions.

    Because, if you’re no longer “fixated” on porn, you’re less likely to have “urges” to perform behaviors to satisfy them (compulsions). Remember, porn compulsions will never stop if you are unaware of or unable to identify them. You can only change the behaviors (porn use) that register on your radar.

  • Make a Plan to STOP the Compulsions

    Take action. Once you have listed your porn compulsions, your next step should be to make a plan to STOP the “urges.” More specifically, you will need to develop short-term and long-term goals to combat these “urges.” This plan must be detailed with actionable steps and deadlines.

  • Challenge Your Thoughts

    Once you understand what is causing your porn compulsions and how your thoughts (i.e., the belief that porn is a “cure-all” for your stress, pain, boredom, loneliness, etc.) influence your behavior (compulsively viewing or watching porn), you can counter or negate these “faulty” and “deceptive” thoughts.

    So, before clicking on a porn site, opening a porn magazine, or turning on a porn video or movie, ask yourself why you doing it. More specifically, ask yourself if using porn will ultimately solve your problems or eliminate your stress and/or pain. Most likely the answer to this question will be a resounding “No!”

    By questioning your thoughts and beliefs, you can identify why you are turning to porn. What are the benefits of engaging in porn? What do you get out of it besides temporary relief? Is porn really helping you? And, if so, how?

    What do you think will happen if you do not view or watch porn? Will the world collapse? Will you die? Will your life explode the minute you seek porn addiction treatment? The goal of this exercise is to test out your theories of what will happen if you do not engage in compulsive behaviors like excessively viewing or watching porn.

  • Be Patient With Yourself

    The truth is it will take time, effort, patience, and dedication to identify your porn compulsions because they are not always readily apparent. In other words, it may not initially dawn on you that you have a problem with porn.

    In fact, you may not think your “porn use” is excessive. You may need porn addiction treatment to recognize that your behavior is problematic. Understand that if you are unable to admit you have a porn addiction or unaware that you are experiencing porn compulsions, it will be nearly impossible for you to quiet your “urges” and heal from your addiction.

    So, give yourself a break. You can stop your porn compulsions, but it will take time. The good news is you don’t have to be continually tormented by “porn urges.” Porn addiction help is available. You don’t have to conqueror your “porn temptations” alone. Once you understand your porn compulsions, you can take steps to end them – for good.

What Should I Do If My Porn Compulsions or “Urges” Are Relentless? How Can I Make Them Go Away?

If the temptation to view or watch porn is overwhelming or intolerable, seek porn addiction support asap! The only way you are going to make them go away permanently is to seek porn addiction treatment – in-person or online.

Other tools you can use to STOP your “porn urges” include:

  • Porn Addiction Counseling

    Porn addiction counseling can help you gain control of your porn compulsions or “urges.” This type of counseling can also help you determine the root cause of your “porn fixation” and help you identify porn compulsion triggers, all while providing you with some much-needed porn addiction support, healthy coping mechanisms, resources, and anti-porn tools.

  • Online Porn Addiction Recovery Programs

    Porn addiction recovery programs, like Stop Together, can help reframe or alter how you “see” or perceive your porn addiction. Online porn addiction recovery programs are designed to annihilate porn’s hold on you – by changing your thought processes. Stop Together, an online porn addiction recovery program focuses on helping you squash your “urges” to use porn.

    In fact, it offers you a wide range of tools, such as cognitive restructuring, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness, pre-recorded audio-recordings, personal therapy sessions (with industry experts), and post-therapy porn addiction support. The best thing about Stop Together is it is a low-cost online recovery tool that allows you to engage in therapy whenever and wherever you want!

  • Porn Addiction Support Groups

    If you suffer from relentless porn compulsions or “urges” you may want to attend some porn addiction support group meetings. One of the great things about porn addiction support groups is they make you feel less alone and more “accepted.” And, members and facilitators deliberately avoid “blaming tactics.”

    During the meetings, you get to learn new ways to deal with your porn compulsions, while gaining support from other members, who understand what you have gone through, what you are going through (porn addiction withdrawal), and what you may experience in the future (porn addiction relapses). The goal of these support groups is to help you navigate your porn addiction, so you can heal from your “porn habit” and regain your sexual health and wellness.