July 9, 2018

World Health Organization: ‘Compulsive Sexual Behavior’ Is Real – Pornography Addiction Should Be Next

According to news reports, the World Health Organization has recognized ‘Compulsive Sexual Behavior’ as an impulse control disorder. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation applauds this step forward, and calls on WHO to formally acknowledge how compulsive pornography use fuels sex addiction and can become addictive in and of itself.

“The World Health Organization has formally recognized the reality of Compulsive Sexual Behavior. Now it’s time for it to take another step into the 21st Century by also specifically recognizing the public health harms of pornography,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “While some pseudo-scientists—reminiscent of doctors who encouraged cigarette use in the 1950s—argue that pornography is harmless, science shows otherwise. Neurological tests and peer-reviewed research point to the reality of pornography addiction that countless individuals, male and female, suffer from every day.”

“Like other public health issues, not all exposed have the same response. However, for many pornography consumers, repeated exposure and frequent use is correlated to addiction, which can lead to harms such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, divorce or failed relationships, and sometimes sexually aggressive and violent behaviors.”

“The research is clear that pornography use is harmful to the brain. In fact, there are 39 neurological studies consistent with 280+ Internet addiction brain studies, supporting the premise that Internet pornography use can cause addiction-related brain changes. A 2014 study found that increased pornography use is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of motivation and decision-making, impaired impulse control, and desensitization to sexual reward. Further, a 2015 study from Cambridge found that pornography use can drive novelty-seeking, so users need more and more extreme content over time in order to achieve the same level of arousal. This is a hallmark of addiction.”

“For 56 years, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has warned of the addictive nature of pornography. Today, we once again call on public health organizations, medical professionals, and elected officials to recognize and combat the public health impacts of pornography.”

More information about the public health harms of pornography can be found here:endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth

Resources for individuals, romantic partners, and parents to heal from or prevent pornography addiction can be found here: endsexualexploitation.org/resources

Dawn Hawkins

Senior Vice President and Executive Director

Dawn Hawkins is a passionate abolitionist and defender of human rights who has dedicated her life to fighting against societal harms that threaten the dignity of others. Her energy, creativity and mobilization skills have revived the anti-pornography movement and her intentional emphasis on the intersectionality of forms of sexual exploitation has proven a unique and effective strategy for curbing them.


As Sr. Vice President and Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Mrs. Hawkins has developed a global strategy uniting more than 300 women’s rights, conservative, child advocacy, medical professionals, law enforcement, and religious groups, including a bipartisan political leadership, to work together in raising awareness of the connections between all forms of sexual exploitation. Her initiatives have lead to sweeping policy changes of policies that foster exploitation for targets such as Google, Hilton Worldwide, Comcast, Walmart, and the Department of Defense. Through her leadership, NCOSE has grown a network reaching hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Mrs. Hawkins has appeared on many local and national television programs, including CNN, Fox & Friends, and Good Morning America. She regularly authors articles and speaks around the country addressing the public health harms of pornography, curbing demand for sex trafficking, protecting children and families in our digital world, and more.

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