The problem with porn

The ubiquitous, nearly unregulable access to e-Porn complicates fighting online porn addiction and offender monitoring


     In 1989, a famous self-proclaimed pornography addict described his relationship with sexually explicit materials and how he believes it related to his homicidal criminal acts in an interview:

     "As a young boy of 12 or 13 I encountered, outside the home ... softcore pornography. Young boys explore the sideways and byways of their neighborhoods, and in our neighborhood, people would dump the garbage. From time to time, we would come across books of a harder nature — more graphic. This also included detective magazines, etc. The most damaging kind of pornography — and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience — is that, that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces — as I know only too well — brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe.

     "... I'm not blaming pornography. I'm not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I've done. That's not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior."

     The now infamous interview was recorded on the eve prior to Ted Bundy's execution 21 years ago. Bundy is thought to have killed at least 28 young women and girls. He was finally convicted and sentenced to death for killing a 12-year-old girl and dumping her body in a pig sty. Though this story is an extreme example representing a convicted killer's opinion on how pornography affected his criminal compulsions, it shouldn't be discounted. Much of what Bundy relates in the interview with Dr. James Dobson, a psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family, mirrors the story of other porn addicts.

     In our contemporary world of tech saturation, with folks finding their entertainment, socializing, work and play online, there exists a whole new influencing factor that wasn't around in Bundy's time: the Internet. Sex crime investigators and a recovering porn addict say the breadth of what is available online, the anonymity the Internet provides and its omnipresence have created a perfect storm for porn to escalate beyond a problem.

Another man's story

     Another man's tale begins eerily similar to a man who was killed in order to protect society. Michael Leahy explains how for him, simple pornography use became addictive.

     Leahy, today in his 50s, got his foot in the door early in what would become the technological boom of the late '80s and into the '90s. Just out of college and married to his college sweetheart, Leahy says he began to indulge in online pornography that would later take from him all the foundations he had laid up until that point.

     "There's no warning label on this stuff," Leahy says.

     In the 1990s, Leahy was an all-American man with a storybook life: college graduate, married to his college love, starting their family and making his living at the technological giant IBM. But it wouldn't be long before Leahy fell under the spell of what he now touts as the all-American fixation: pornography online.

     He considers himself a recovering pornography addict. However, according to the classifications used by mental health professionals in the United States, pornography and sex have yet to be written into The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, and their diagnostic criteria defined.

     Leahy says that like some individuals casually seeking out porn through the Internet, he became obsessed with online porn in a way that would cost him his family and relationships.

     The self-professed former porn addict and author of "Porn Nation: Conquering

     America's #1 Addiction" (Northfield Publishing, 2008) and two other tomes on the subject, now makes his living speaking about his path toward addiction, recovery and the plague that he says is taking over America's computers. He tours college campuses around the world, warning of the dangers of porn.

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