With Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 6th February this is a little reminder of why we need to be on our toes about the potential harms that lurk online, not least for children. In this winter edition we cover news about – the porn industry’s new business model to start ‘paying’ people to watch hardcore porn; the proposed new diagnostic category of ‘compulsive sexual behaviour disorder’ by the World Health Organisation; attempts by the porn industry to deflect from it; new CPD-bearing educational opportunities; a news snippet about how another country is tackling online rape; support with quitting and a Valentine’s Day special feature to gladden our hearts.
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Internet porn used to cost a couple of pounds and was hard to access. Then it became free and widely available on smartphones and other internet devices. The news this week is that the big players in the multi-billion dollar porn industry are upping their game to actually ‘pay’ people to watch hardcore porn, albeit in crypto-currency. Here is the story run by The Sunday Times (4 Feb 2018) in which we have been quoted. The journalist had originally designated us correctly as ‘campaigning on internet pornography’ but that was changed to “against internet pornography”, presumably by the sub-editors. The bottom line: yet more money for the already seriously rich porn industry but more addiction-related health problems for the cash-strapped NHS, more sex crime for an overloaded criminal justice system and most important of all, less desire for real relationships coupled with lower sexual satisfaction overall.
World Health Organisation Poised to Introduce New Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder category
The WHO will bring out its eleventh revised International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) coding manual later this year. It is used by healthcare professionals world-wide to identify all kinds of diseases. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, currently in its fifth iteration (DSM 5, 2013), is a similar one used primarily in the US but is less common beyond their shores. As research into new areas of disease builds up, new entries appear. To that end, and in recognition of the impact the internet has on behaviour and health, ICD-11 is poised to introduce several new categories of disorder including “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder”.
A letter in World Psychiatry (Vol 17: 1 Feb 2018) by key neuroscientists involved in the development of the new manual, sets out how it has arrived at this diagnosis. Here is an excerpt:
“The pattern is manifested in one or more of the following: a) engaging in repetitive sexual activities has become a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities; b) the person has made numerous unsuccessful efforts to control or significantly reduce repetitive sexual behaviour; c) the person continues to engage in repetitive sexual behaviour despite adverse consequences (e.g., repeated relationship disruption, occupational con- sequences, negative impact on health); or d) the person continues to engage in repetitive sexual behaviour even when he/she derives little or no satisfaction from it.
Concerns about overpathologizing sexual behaviours are explicitly addressed in the diagnostic guidelines proposed for the disorder. Individuals with high levels of sexual interest and behaviour (e.g., due to a high sex drive) who do not exhibit impaired control over their sexual behaviour and significant distress or impairment in functioning should not be diagnosed with compulsive sexual behaviour disorder. The diagnosis should also not be assigned to describe high levels of sexual interest and behaviour (e.g., masturbation) that are common among adolescents, even when this is associated with distress.
The proposed diagnostic guidelines also emphasize that compulsive sexual behaviour disorder should not be diagnosed based on psychological distress related to moral judgments or disapproval about sexual impulses, urges or behaviours that would otherwise not be considered indicative of psychopathology. Sexual behaviours that are egodystonic can cause psychological distress; however, psychological distress due to sexual behaviour by itself does not warrant a diagnosis of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder.”
Porn Industry Propaganda Seek To Influence New Diagnosis
The multi-billion dollar porn industry is keen to protect its profits and rubbish any idea that porn use can become compulsive. In the wake of the Weinstein/Spacey, #MeToo debate and the ICD-11 proposals, this article in the Daily Mail tries to establish that sex addiction and porn addiction can be a mental health disorder.
However women’s groups fighting the upcoming new diagnosis “Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder” in the proposed new edition of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) are sadly misguided. They need not fear. This proposed diagnosis will NOT “let the Weinsteins off the hook.” This is a talking point spun by the porn media machine to try to increase resistance to the proposed diagnosis.
This ICD-11 diagnosis will allow addicted porn users, particularly the young, to understand that they have a very real problem and get treatment. It will also allow the academics to do more research. Some research has been blocked because “the disorder wasn’t in a diagnostic manual.” Even “Psychology Today” a psychology magazine in the US but read more widely, won’t permit bloggers to write about it “because it doesn’t exist.”
These protests against the diagnosis are misplaced. We need to help educate people about it. This diagnosis will not “excuse predators.” All addicts remain responsible for their actions. This applies to crime in relation to any addiction: self-induced ‘intoxication’ is not a defence. Further, many predators are NOT even addicts. This is a deliberate confounding of two separate phenomena…so porn is never declared potentially pathological.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have made a call to FTSE100 companies and other large organisations for them to send the EHRC their strategies for reducing sexual harassment in the future. The TRF have been contacting corporate entities to offer sexual harassment training in light of this.
First for Courts: Swede Jailed for Rape of Children Online
A man has been convicted in Sweden of raping children over the internet. It adds a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘online predator’ and yet another dimension to ‘stranger danger’. As their brains desensitize due to the addiction-induced brain changes, many more men will escalate and seek out illegal porn such as live rape of children on demand. How will our courts respond? What can we do to reverse this trend? Paying people to watch hardcore porn will not help. See the first item above.
“What Should I do? Young Women’s Reported Dilemmas with Nude Photos” New Research
Sexting is rife in private and state schools alike, especially in the 12-15 age range. We’ve been regularly told this when we run classes in schools about the health, social and legal impacts of sexting. Young people need as much support as possible at home and school on how to deal with this phenomenon. Here is some new research about the coercive factors involved particularly towards girls.
Abstract: “Sexting and sending nude and semi-nude photographs continues to be at the forefront of discourse pertaining to adolescence. While researchers have explored consequences for sexting, less is known about the challenges adolescents face when making decisions about sending photographs. Using online personal accounts posted by adolescents, this study explores young women’s reported dilemmas with sending nude photographs to their peers. A thematic analysis of 462 stories reveals that young women received conflicting messages which told them both to send and refrain from sending photographs. In addition to sending photographs in the hope of gaining a relationship, young women also reported sending photographs as the result of coercion by male counterparts in the form of persistent requests, anger, and threats. Young women attempted to navigate young men’s coercive behaviours yet frequently resorted to compliance. Refusal was often met with repeated requests or threats. Alternative tactics were largely absent from young women’s stories, indicating that young women do not have tools to successfully navigate the challenges they face.”
Teaching the first-ever RCGP-accredited Workshops on the Impact of Internet Pornography on Mental and Physical Health in May
We attended the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ATSAC) conference in London on Saturday 27 January. It was clear from the participants, primarily sex therapists and relationship counsellors, that there was a great need and desire for more information about the impact of internet pornography and for treatment options.
TRF is pleased to be contributing to that need and providing the first-ever, RCGP-accredited workshops on “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Mental and Physical Health” in the UK. The workshops will take place on May: 9 May in Edinburgh; 14 May in London: 16 May in Manchester and 18 May in Birmingham. They are open to professionals of all kinds and worth 7 CPD points. Please spread the word. For more details and to sign up go to www.rewardfoundation.org.
Help from NoFap team for a particular New Year resolution
We had a busy time in December teaching in 3 schools, Fettes College, George Watson’s College and St Columba’s, Kilmacolm. The pupils love having the opportunity to talk and learn about the impact of internet pornography on their health and its potential for criminality. Girls generally want to know more about relationships, the boys want to know about the rules and how to get around them.
The sixth year pupils are particularly interested to hear about the transition to college or university where there is less supervision of their time and work. The research shows that that even if they are clever, their inability to control their online habits may lead to poor exam results, diminished sexual performance and reduced interest in real relationships.
Many of those taking part in the 24-hour Digital Detox exercise are finding it a struggle. Others are amazed at those who can do it – most pupils only manage a few hours or didn’t bother to try at all.
The teachers were surprised at the survey results from the questions about phone use and average amount of sleep their pupils are recording. Many pupils say they are not getting enough sleep and that it is engaging with the internet particularly at night that is leaving them feeling “wired and tired” at school next day.
Here are some of the pupils’ comments:
“ Its annoying, because I did well at N5 but I am struggling with highers”
“Snapchat ‘streaks’ have became obsessive, people care more about them than anything. It’s not needed and really quite depressing.”
“I don’t use social media too much, I just play too much xbox.”
“I believe my parents have made the correct decision in never allowing me to take my phone up to bed with me. It means I am never poisoned with blue light and get to sleep relatively easily. I do however still find myself subconsciously picking up my phone when I have ‘nothing to do’. It will be interesting to see the effects of the Digital Detox.”
“I am really proud and happy that someone is finally telling me to get off my phone. i don’t even like my phone but feel under pressure from my friends to constantly be on it … i just wish we could be friends without constantly being on our phones”