Kirsten Andersen

‘Malarkey’: Expert reacts to sexpert’s claim that there’s no such thing as porn addiction

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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Updated at 7:46 p.m. Eastern time.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM, February 21, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite a growing number of studies showing that pornography affects brains the same way as alcohol or drugs, a New Mexico-based sex researcher says porn use is not addictive and may be positive – a conclusion an expert told LifeSiteNews is “malarkey.”

“The Emperor Has No Clothes” is the inflammatory title of an article written by clinical psychologist David Ley for the Current Sexual Health Report medical journal. In it, Ley notes that only 37 percent of current studies on compulsive pornography use the word “addiction” to describe the behavior, and that there is no such addiction listed in the DSM-V, the manual psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients.

Dr. Monica Breaux, a sex therapist who often deals with porn addiction in her practice, told LifeSiteNews that Ley’s conclusions are “malarkey.”

She said, while the DSM does not list pornography addiction as a disorder, the scientific community is just now catching up to what those working with patients have known for some time: pornography is addictive, and it’s ruining people’s lives.

To write her doctoral dissertation on sexual addiction, she interviewed hundreds of students at Arizona State University who, regardless of religious or irreligious beliefs, overwhelmingly recognized that pornography and sex addiction were real and affecting the lives of their peers.

“What I showed in my doctoral dissertation was that just questioning students at Arizona State University, they had already informally assessed their peers for sex addiction, even though there was no formal assessment on sexual addiction at that time,” she said.

“When people can informally assess sexual addiction, the formal will naturally follow,” said Breaux. “We didn’t have a formal assessment for alcoholism prior to an informal assessment” that imbibing too much alcohol was bad for people.

Dr. Ley said that people who seek help for compulsive pornography are often religious, and feel deeply guilty for engaging in behavior that conflicts with their values.

Another study released around the same time as Ley’s found that religion played a large role in whether people sought help for compulsive use of pornography. That study found that religion also affected whether clinicians were likely to diagnose a patient with porn or sex addiction – religious clinicians were much more likely to see compulsive pornography use as a problem and encourage users to quit.

Dr. Breaux, who is Catholic, rejects the idea that porn addiction is simply a manifestation of religious guilt.

“There are so many therapists making a living off of pornography addiction,” Breaux said. “I make my living off of pornography addiction. To suggest it doesn’t exist is malarkey.”

Psychotherapist Paula Hall, who chairs the Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction and Compulsivity, told the UK’s Independent newspaper that Ley’s allegations were not only incorrect, but harmful.

“The clients are very very real, and comments like this dismiss and belittle the very real pain that people suffer,” Hall said. “We are inundated with requests for help from people who want to get back on with their lives.”

“[Porn use] impacts relationships, social lives, work, studies, after a while it can escalate to the person paying for sites and so there’s also a financial implication,” Hall added. “When you work with these people it’s just ridiculous to say it doesn’t exist.”

Instead of focusing on or “pathologizing” the negative cases that Breaux and Hall deal with, Dr. Ley argues that clinicians should focus on the purported “benefits” of pornography, such as its promotion of “sexual novelty,” which he argues can lead to more satisfying sex for users.

“More [pornography] viewing has been related to greater likelihood of anal and oral sex and a greater variety of sexual behaviors,” wrote Ley. “This increased breadth of sexual behaviors could arise by increasing a person’s feeling of empowerment to suggest new behaviors or by normalizing the behaviors.”

He did not explain how couples would enjoy more satisfying sex when repeated porn use is observed to lead to male impotence, even among young healthy men.

Ley said another benefit of pornography is the emotional rush it gives users. “[Pornography] can promote pleasant feelings in the moment,” he wrote, “such as happiness and joy.”

He also suggested pornography might give users “a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires,” such as rape or child molestation. Child porn necessitates the abuse of children in order to produce it, and possessing it is in itself a crime.

Ley denies that there has been an explosion in pornography use since the advent of the internet, noting that Google’s search frequency for the word ‘sex’ has stayed stable since it began tracking such data in 2004.

But the word “sex” has always hovered near the top of Google’s search rankings, and its cousins “porn,” “free porn," and “porno” have been on an exponential rise since 2004. Together with “sex,” those search terms are together responsible for 22,820,000 queries every month. ‘Porn’ is most popular, followed by “free porn,” “sex,” and “porno.” That doesn’t begin to cover the millions of searches for individual sex acts, porn genres, or specific websites.

An estimated 30 percent of all internet traffic is related to pornography.

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One of the largest internet forums for people struggling with porn addiction is Reddit’s “NoFap” subgroup, which was founded by an atheist.

Boasting nearly 100,000 members, the group is made up of men and women from all over the world who are encouraging each other in their goal of abandoning sexual self-gratification.

According to group creator Alexander Rhodes, the “NoFap” challenge is not about guilt or societal expectations, but about “devoting yourself completely to your significant other instead of random pixilated girls on the internet who you've never met…enhancing your meaningful relationship, instead of establishing five-minute relationships with virtual girls online.”

Men, and women, who have given up pornography report dramatic increases in social confidence, energy levels, concentration levels, mental acuity, motivation, self-esteem, emotional stability, happiness, sexual prowess, and attractiveness to the opposite sex.

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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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