Question: Is my husband addicted to porn?
It’s difficult to assess for sex or porn addiction because there is really nothing in the way of an objective standard other than measuring personal consequences, and personal consequences depend so much on one’s own moral standard.
The HBCI us the most well-known scale for sexual compulsivity. https://karunahealing.org/hbci-hypersexual-behavior-consequences-scale/ Here is a decent scale for measuring porn consumption. https://www.pornhelp.org/problematic-pornography-consumption-scale.html But again, the results are going to depend on the self-perceived consequences.
Complicating things is the impact of religious and moral views. Joshua Grubbs’ research suggests that about 20% of American males (most of the research is with men) self-identify to some degree as suffering from pornography addiction despite about 3/4ths of those having porn consumption patterns that are not problematic by any objective standard. Religious men consume porn about the same rate as non-religious men but feel much more guilty about it.
In the end, it doesn’t matter.
I think getting hung up on a standard of addiction or compulsivity is the wrong approach. If someone feels their sexual behavior is not aligned with their values, they can work to align them. If they are breaking relationship agreements, they should work to align their behavior with relationship agreements.
My bias is that if a man is blowing his wife off who is upset with his porn use or other sexual behaviors, then he likely is exhibiting some narcissism. I would recommend he fix it before the kids get old enough for the wife to be empowered to divorce him. That’s what happens often, and men think it’s going to be much better no longer shackled down, but in these situations when long term marriages come to an end, women’s emotional well-being usually goes up and men’s usually goes down.
I’ve done CSAT training. Some frown on that as being a sex-negative and shaming approach. I’ve also done an OCSB (out-of-control sexual behavior) training taught by Douglas-Braun Harvey. That was really good. They are hard to find, but sometimes part of a package CST training. I don’t come with an agenda of what behaviors they need to quit, other than they should be aligned with their values and their relationship agreements.
My belief is that true (ie not a moral conflict) problematic sexual behavior almost always has roots in insecure attachment and toxic shame. I do a lot of shame reduction, emotion regulation, and work towards earned secure attachment. I have good success using IFS, ACT, and attachment-based EMDR.
Rob Terry is a therapist for clients in Utah and coach for clients outside of Utah and across the globe. He specializes in sex addiction recovery for individuals and couples. He integrates the CSAT, OCSB, and Minwalla models for individual recovery and Gottman Method, RLT, and ERCEM for couples recovery. He is betrayal trauma informed. His therapy modalities are IFS, ACT, CBT, EMDR, and Attachment Theory.