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.

Click "like" if you say NO to porn!

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.