Psychological and behavioral factors of losing control over sexual behavior and entering into treatment (2015)

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*Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, Poland; E-mail:

Background and aims:

Access to visual erotic stimuli has never been so easy as in the days of Internet pornography. There is ongoing debate whether frequent porn watching (Pw) can be addictive or not. On the one hand, millions of porn users (PU) do not report any problems, but on the other psychotherapists record an increase in the number of people looking for help because of losing the control over their sexual behavior (LCoSB; i.e. excessive masturbation and PW or excessive use of paid sexual services). Some researchers suggest that sense of LCoSB is related to obsessive–compulsive (OCD) traits.


To verify abovementioned thesis and answer the question if the frequent Pw can be related with LCoSB we examined 61 individuals being in treatment for compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) and 964 PU (top-left in Figure).


Analysis of mediation show, that pure Pw is very weakly related to LCoSB, but mediation through intensity of abnormal sexual behaviors (ASB; i.e. frequent Pw at work, masturbation in public restrooms, etc.) is significant (bottom-left in Figure). Among all subjects we selected a cohort of individuals watching porn over 420 minutes per week. Within this cohort we found 21 CSB patients and 36 PU (top-right in Figure). These two groups did not differ in terms of time spend on Pw, frequency of masturbation and OCD symptoms.


The fact that some of these people entered into treatment (CSB) and others did not (PU) seams to depend upon the severity of ASB mediated by LCoSB (bottom-right in Figure).