Excerpted in part from Kids Online: Protecting Your Children
by Donna Rice Hughes (Revell, September 1998)
Dr. Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist at the University of
Utah and a specialist in the area of sexual addictions, has observed
a four-step syndrome common to almost all of his clients who have
been involved with pornography.i
Step 1-Addiction. Once consumers of pornography get hooked,
they keep coming back for more and more. The sexually graphic
material provides the viewer with an aphrodisiac effect, followed
by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Pornography
gives the viewer powerful imagery that can be recalled and elaborated
on with the person's fantasy life. Despite negative consequences,
most addicts are unable to rid themselves of their dependence
on pornography. Their addiction rules their lives.
Step 2-Escalation. Cline describes the second phase as
an escalation-effect. The pornography consumer, similar to the
drug user, requires more and more stimulation to reach his or
her "highs." In fact some viewers prefer the powerful sexual imagery
planted in their minds by exposure to pornography to sexual intercourse
itself. This nearly always diminishes the viewer's capacity to
love and express appropriate intimacy within relationships.
Step 3-Desensitization. In this phase, material that
was originally perceived as unthinkable, shocking, illegal, repulsive,
or immoral is now viewed as acceptable and commonplace by the
viewer of pornography. Regardless of the deviancy expressed, the
viewer perceives the pornography and his or her use of it as legitimate.
Step 4-Acting out sexually. This last step describes
an increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed
in pornography, including promiscuity, voyeurism, exhibitionism,
group sex, rape, sadomasochism, child molestation, and more.
Clearly, this progressive pattern demonstrates how reality and
fantasy become blurred for those who are entangled with pornography
or when viewing is no longer enough. Early emotional wounding
is almost always a factor in pornography addiction.
In regard to the compulsive or addictive nature of pornography,
Dr. Cline shares the following: "In over 26 years, I have treated
approximately 350 males afflicted with sexual addictions (or sometimes
referred to as sexual compulsions). In about 94 percent of the
cases I have found that pornography was a contributor, facilitator,
or direct causal agent in the acquiring of these sexual illnesses."
iiVictor B. Cline, "Pornography
and Sexual Addictions," Christian Counseling Today 4, no.4 (1996):