The Creation of a Pornography Addiction

Dr. Kevin B. Skinner is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He has worked with over 100 individuals and couples who are dealing with pornography-related problems. His website at discusses the nature and treatment of porn addiction, as does his book, Treating Pornography Addiction (2005).

Dr. Skinner proposes the following as key elements in the development of a porn addiction (pages 9-20 of Treating Pornography Addiction):

Starting at a Young Age
“In a majority of my cases, the earlier the exposure to pornography, the deeper the client’s level of addiction. In most cases I see involvement with pornography starting between ages ten to fourteen… [C]hildren and teenagers are faced with sexual decisions before they fully understand the consequences of their own sexual behaviors.”

Controlling or Disengaged Parents
“A majority of individuals who struggle with addictions live in homes where their parents are very strict, rigid, and controlling, or they are disinterested or disengaged in their child’s life… Children who are often shamed turn to behaviors that are comforting… [I]f a child is exposed to pornography and sexual behaviors during this time of learning to cope with controlling parents, it is predictable that he will turn to these things when in emotional pain.”

Loneliness and Isolation
“Many of my clients cite loneliness as an important contributing factor when they view pornography. This is especially true for individuals who are single and have no current hope in finding a relationship… Others are shy or experience social anxiety when they think about relationships… Fortunately, shyness and social anxiety can be overcome by learning new social skills, but seldom does this happen without the addiction to pornography being resolved first… Ironically, the pornography that many are turning to creates an even deeper feeling of isolation. These vicarious relationships create a new kind of loneliness–the loneliness of people whose relationships are with images and illusions instead of persons.”

Model of Unhealthy Relationships
“Many pornography addicts grow up in homes where there is not an example of how people should treat each other… The only lessons [one client] learned from his stepdad were that pornography and sex are very important… Others see and experience sexual advances and innuendos as common behavior in their homes. There are no boundaries growing up… They are exposed to pornography, R-rated and X-rated videos, and other sexual behaviors at such an early age, and they do not comprehend the need to establish sexual boundaries in relationships… [T]hey often mistake sex for love… This perception can lead to one unhealthy relationship after another… Moreover, pornography hurts relationships because it is often done in secret. Secrets, especially related to sex and pornography, are destructive to relationships because they hurt the trust and feelings of loyalty necessary for a healthy relationship to exist. Almost all pornography addicts feel the need to keep their pornography from their spouse or others.”

Negative Social System
“Due to the financial power of those who make pornography, many turn their cheek to those who are pushing the boundaries… In the United States alone, sex sites are generating at least 2.5 billion dollars each year.”

Early Sexual Experiences
“[O]ne in four girls and one in six boys report sexual abuse or play as a child… Because early sexual experiences are so profound to the child’s mind he can become fixated on sexual thoughts and feelings.”

23 thoughts on “The Creation of a Pornography Addiction

  1. [O]ne in four girls and one in six boys report sexual abuse or play as a child

    “Abuse or play?” Sounds a bit like Michael Moore’s encounter with “pets or meat.” That pre-pubescent sexual play between children is normal has basically been accepted since Freud. I suspect that yr cause has as much to do with undoing Kinsey and Freud as it does the First Amendment. I demand that you post a list of your positions on Kinsey, Freud and the First Amendment and will hound you like yr name is Andrew Shefflo and I am an anti-porn crusader until I get answers.

  2. I trust an experienced sex conselor on these issues a bit more than uncredentialed commenters. Perhaps if you spent more time with victims of childhood sexual abuse or spouses of porn addicts you would take these issues more seriously.

  3. Can you say more about this Skinner guy? The link you provide leads to a commercial site that’s trying to sell me an 80 dollar set of CDs. It contains no information about Skinner, other than that he has an LMFT degree and lives in Utah, that I could find.

    Where did he study? Do other LMFTs find his research and methods to be credible? What’s his reputation in his field? How did you find out about him? Have his methods been studied scientifically? What is his success rate for treatment of porn addiction? What’s the relapse rate of his patients?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. I’m so glad you’re interested in the work of Dr. Skinner. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Family Life Educator. He has taught dating and relationship classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Brigham Young University. He has two websites dedicated to helping individuals and couples learn healthy relationship skills. ( and

    To learn more, I encourage you to buy Dr. Skinner’s book, Treating Pornography Addiction . You can also visit another one of his websites at

    I am satisfied that Dr. Skinner has interesting things to say about relationships and about porn. He should not be casually blown off. You can try to fend off engaging with his material (or anything we have to say) by asking endless questions, but I don’t think that will be very productive for you or me.

  5. I don’t really have any interest in his work; I suspect him of being a quack. (What responsible therapist would promise he could cure a porn addiction in absentia with 5 CDs, for only $80? Sounds pretty fishy.)

    I was wondering why I should believe anything he says. I realize that he has some letters after his name which indicate that he was awarded a degree by some degree-awarding body, but I guess I don’t really care. (Also, what on earth is a “Certified Family Life Educator”? Who certifies these people? On what basis? Do you really believe in this stuff?)

    Not all degree-awarding bodies are accredited. Not all accredited degree-awarding bodies are well-respected in their fields. Not all people with degrees from well-respected, accredited degree-awarding bodies engage in responsible, scientific research practices, are well-respected by their colleagues, or have proven rates of success or low rates of relapse. Do you see what I’m getting at? The letters after his name by themselves are meaningless. That’s why I asked those questions in my earlier comment. Since you didn’t answer them, I guess I’ll ask them again:

    Where did he study? Do other LMFTs find his research and methods to be credible? What’s his reputation in his field? How did you find out about him? Have his methods been studied scientifically? What is his success rate for treatment of porn addiction? What’s the relapse rate of his patients?

    In another discussion we were having recently (in “Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility”) you promised to only cite credible material. I’m wondering why I should think this Skinner guy is credible.

  6. His book is backed by his extensive experience as a therapist, and his insights struck me as well in tune with reality. I believe his recommendations will improve the life of those who follow them.

    Hopefully some day you’ll tire of these peripheral issues and engage with the heart of the matter. It’s far more interesting.

  7. Thanks for changing the content of your response after I submitted my reply but before you posted it.

    I am not casually blowing Dr. Skinner off. I am also not casually assuming he’s credible, as you seem to be. On what basis are you confident that he knows what he’s talking about?

    I’ve seen you make a big deal about the credentials of your opponents. I wonder why you don’t make such a big deal about the credentials of your sources.

  8. I find it hard to believe that you consider your source’s credentials to be a “peripheral” matter. The fact that you, an anti-porn activist with an admitted financial motive (the value of your big Victorian mansion, in case you or your readers need a reminder), found Dr. Skinner’s insights to be intuitively correct is unsurprising. The rest of us, though, need to know more if we are to evaluate him as a source. Factors such as where he was educated, his professional reputation, his methods of research, his success rate, and the rate at which his patients relapse are all relevant.

    Dr. Skinner may be a icensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Family Life Educator, but he’s also a salesman. He’s selling books and CDs that promise a cure for porn addiction. Therefore, if I believe that there is such a thing as porn addiction, and I believe that I have it, and I believe that he can help me, then he makes 80 bucks. So I’d like to know why I should trust him. The letters after his name and the trust of another interested party are of little comfort.

    You promised to cite only credible sources. Show me why this guy is credible.

  9. Sometimes we do edit our posts or comments after initial publication. Usually this is to correct minor errors or to add hyperlinks. In other cases we are working around the limitations of our blogging software, where certain modes sometimes require us to publish a half-finished comment before adding to it. In yesterday’s case, I was also having computer troubles and had to repost some comments a few times. We don’t edit posts to confuse outside commenters or make them look bad.

    Sometimes changes to a post or document may be important. In those cases we add a revision history to the post:
    Example 1: Citizen Petition

    Example 2: Draft Adult-Use Zoning Law

    We have adequately credentialed Dr. Skinner. Our goal is to get people to read the information and consider if it will be useful in their lives. The ultimate test of the credibility of any of this material is whether it conforms to reality and improves peoples’ quality of life. If you stand outside the information and endlessly debate whether to even consider it, you’ll never know.

  10. I’d like to address what you consider my weak and absurd arguments, but I’m not certain exactly what you’re referring to.

    If weak arguments are an indicator of someone’s working for Capital Video, they must have a pretty large payroll.

  11. That’s interesting. Over the summer when I sent you an article that seems to refute many of your secondary effects argumens, you said it wasn’t credible because of the author’s backgrounds and the journal’s mission. Were you guilty of standing outside and debating instead of considering?

    The title of the article was “Peep show establishments, police activity, public place, and time: a study of secondary effects in San Diego, California.”

  12. If you’ve adequately credentialed Dr. Skinner, you haven’t shared that information with your readers. Please share.

    Where did he earn his doctoral degree in LFMT? What is his professional reputation? Have his methods been studied scientifically? What are his success and relapse rates?

    Since he has a financial motive and I don’t know anything about him, I’m not just going to believe whatever he says just because he says it. Since you have a financial motive, I’m not going to just take your word, either. Please tell us what his credentials actually are.

  13. Your link to to “” was incorrectly coded. “” appears to be a dead link. A google search for “dating smarts skinner” turns up a mormon dating website sponsored by your Dr. Skinner as the first hit. I’m having a very hard time learning anything interesting about Dr. Skinner’s education or professional reputation. If you know, please tell us.

  14. I’ve seen that site. What I want to know is, what are this guy’s credentials? Where did he study? What is his professional reputation? What are the success statistics of his method?

    I make it a point to be skeptical of people who are selling something, especially if it sounds like some snake-oil cure-all. This guy says he can cure a porn addiction with 5 CDs for $80. That’s a wild and crazy claim, if porn addiction is as serious as you seem to think.

    You seem to make a policy of believing anything anyone says as long as a) he has an advanced degree in anything at all, and b) his point of view conforms to your pre-existing one. I don’t do that. So, if you know: where did Dr. Skinner earn his advanced degree? What is his professional reputation? What is his success rate?

    Thank you.

  15. Dear NoPorn,

    I don’t want to seem aggressive or inpatient, but I’d like to politely renew my request for information concerning Dr. Skinner. In particular, I’d like to have the following information: Where did he study? Do other LMFTs find his research and methods to be credible? What’s his reputation in his field? Have his methods been studied scientifically? What is his success rate for treatment of porn addiction? What’s the relapse rate of his patients? You say that he has taught at the University of Nebraska and at Brigham Young University. Under what circumstances did he leave those two institutions?

    I’m particularly interested in knowing where Dr. Skinner earned his doctoral degree and what the quality of his professional reputation among other LMFTs is. This sort of information is extremely important and useful for evaluating the credibility of sources. In an earlier discussion, you promised to only cite credible material. I find it hard to believe that you think that Dr. Skinner’s credibility is beyond question if you don’t know what his professional reputation is. In the current discussion, you claim to have “adequately credentialed Dr. Skinner.” I find it hard to believe that you think you’ve adequately credentialed a doctor in LMFT if you don’t know where he earned his Ph.D.

    In any case, you haven’t informed your readers of Dr. Skinner’s professional reputation or his alma mater, so even if *you* have reason to be confident in Dr. Skinner, you haven’t given your readers any reason to be confident in him. If you know, I wish you’d tell us. If you don’t know, I wish you’d tell us that.

    I realize, as you say, that truth is the ultimate test of credibility. But I don’t know whether what he says is true or not. In order to decide, I’d like to know more about him, where he went to school, what his colleagues think of his work, and what his rates of success and failure are. I don’t think these requests are unusual or unreasonable. You brought him up and insist that he’s credible. Please explain why you think so.

    As I said before, I make it a point to be skeptical of people who are selling something. Dr. Skinner sells $80 sets of CDs that promise to cure pornography addiction. He therefore has a financial interest in what he’s saying. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but it means that we shouldn’t blindly take his word for whatever he says without investigating him a little. I’ve been having a really hard time learning anything interesting about him. Please help me, if you can.

  16. Since he’s your source, why don’t you defend him yourself?

    How can you say you’ve “adequately credentialed him” if you don’t know where he went to graduate school? How can you insist that he’s a credible source if you don’t know what his professional repuation is like?

    Although Dr. Skinner probably knows himself what where he went to grad school, he’s probably not a reliable source on his own professional reputation. He’s likely to claim that his reputation is excellent whether it is or not: if it is excellent, he’ll say so; if it’s not, he’ll probably lie.

    I continue to harp on the point less out of a curiosity about Dr. Skinner and more out of a desire to highlight your slipshod and careless research methods.

  17. Doug, when you harp on these peripheral issues, it suggests to me you have little to say regarding our core points, in effect that you concede them. In general, you seem to prefer to confine the debate to procedures and methods, rather than engaging with the actual evidence presented. I don’t find this very persuasive.

  18. I fail to see how the credibility of your sources and the carelessness of your research methods are “peripheral issues.”

    You claim that there is such a thing as pornography addiction because Dr. Skinner says so. Your readers ask you, “who is this Dr. Skinner? What’s his reputation? On what basis do you claim he’s credible?” These are perfectly reasonable questions, and we have a right to expect an honest, forthright answer.

    Your procedures and methods are central to the debate. A researcher who doesn’t bother to check up on his sources is likely to be led into error. A researcher who believes anything anyone says as long as it comes from someone with an advanced degree and conforms to his pre-existing opinion is not a researcher at all. He’s just a guy who types “pornography addiction” into Google.

    I’m trying to engage in the evidence you present. The evidence you present here consists of quotes from Dr. Skinner telling me about his experiences as a LMFT and Certified Family Life educator dealing with porn addiction. I’ve been trying to find out how seriously I should take his remarks. To that end, I’ve asked you like nine times to tell me where he went to graduate school, what his professional reputation is among other LMFTs, and what is success and failure rates are when he treats pornography addiction. Again, these are reasonable questions, and I have a right to expect an answer.

    Your obstinate refusal to answer suggests to me that you have no idea where he went to grad school, what his reputation is, or what his success and failure rates are. *That* suggests that you’re being incredibly irresponsible.

    And your suggestion earlier that *I* do the work for you is doubly irresponsible and insulting. You’re the ones making these claims, you’re the ones relying on Dr. Skinner, and you’re the ones who claim his credibility is beyond doubt. He’s your source; why is it my responsibility to vet him for you? You should be thoroughly vetting everyone you cite. That’s what a responsible researcher would do.

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