Pornography is not just negative.  Just like with guns, it’s how they’re used that makes them dangerous.  The analogy continues with cars; cars help a great many people, but still, if used carelessly people may be killed by them.  Pornography is often the focus of negative attention because of moral considerations, but pornography has flourished in part because sexuality is such a huge and important part of our lives as human beings.  The mere presence of such a large variety in presence of pornography only underscores sexuality’s vitality and importance.  Unless we fully accept our sexuality in a healthy and positive way, it will always surface in our consciousness and our world in distorted, perverted and unhealthy ways.

    It is the tendency in the media for topics to come to attention when they grow to become problematic; however, during times of normality issues go unnoticed.  Pornography is used by many individuals in ways that is not damaging to either love relationships, personal morality or healthy sexuality, but these situations tend not to be worthy of concern.

    It is completely true that pornography and sexuality have a dark side and that much of the sex industry lives out of this dark side.  It is also true that sexuality is tremendously important to all of us, and has a large, but unfortunately largely untapped in our social consciousness, bright side.

    Much of the problem with pornography is that it is used by a great many people to gain sexual pleasure and satisfaction while avoiding intimacy.  As a result, I as a sex-therapist see many couples within an active sex life and with an emotional disconnection while one partner, often the male partner, masturbates frequently while using pornography.  This is certainly a negative phenomenon and allows coupled individuals to avoid addressing a challenging difficulty.  However, there are also a large number of married spouses who find that there exists a large discrepancy between the level of sexual desire between them and their spouse.  The use of pornography in this situation by the spouse with the higher level of sexual desire actually aids the couple‘ s intimacy by avoiding destructive tension from building between partners.  Of course this only works when the use of pornography is open and accepted by both partners.

Of course a huge problem associated with pornography is porn addiction or also referred to as sexual compulsivity. Because sex is pleasurable, a disproportionately male tendency is to seeks sexual pleasure to calm issues of anxiety, stress and self-esteem. People who use porn for this purpose increasingly isolate and become emotionally trapped in a compulsive cycle of pleasure-seeking.

    Yet I recently learned about a study in which the researchers looked at the use of pornography and found a causal link between use of pornography and a reduction in sexually related crimes such as rape.

    Of the many couples I talked to while providing treatment, it is not unusual that the couples have utilized some form of pornography, whether it be images, videos or literature to enhance their sexual experiences.  Some have utilized porn in order to learn and practice different forms of sexual activity so as to increase excitement and variety.

    Many of my patients who struggle with their sexuality have needed to understand their own eroticism in a better way.  The use of pornography aids their exploration and helps them to understand their own eroticism.

    At its best, pornography is fantasy created in a variety of media.  Fantasy is an extremely healthy activity which allows each one of us to experience things that we desire or about which we are curious while at the same time not taking any risks or challenging the limitations, boundaries and laws.  It is a freedom that is essential to our well-being.

    Certainly, at its worst, pornography debases our morality, our spirit, our soul, and our sexuality.  There is no doubt that the darkest aspect of our sexuality leads to sexual slavery, darkness, and the lowest of human expression.  It is up to each one of us to use our strength and our love to express our sexuality in a way which raises up the level of our entire humanity.

    Pornography is an expression of our sexuality which is neither good nor bad, but can be depending on how it’s used. Andrew Aaron, LICSW