Pornography in the Workplace

By Tess Marshall

The executive who surfs the web for Internet porn sites on and off throughout the work day or secretly plans a business trip around a "new friend" discovered in a chat room is out of control. Research indicates 70% of Internet porn is downloaded during the standard workday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Surveys have shown that 30% of men and 13 % of women admit to using porn online during working hours.

The use of porn at work results in lost time, talent, creativity, productivity, and profitability. An outstanding employee hooked on porn is unable to work at full capacity. Riddled with feelings of shame, guilt, and regret. The results are lost productivity and profitability for the company.

Sam's story: Sam's first experience with porn began years ago when he came across his dad's adult magazines. Later he found himself searching the web for pornographic sites during the wee hours of the morning trying to escape the pressure of attending an ivy-league college. Sam graduated and began work as an engineer at a fortune 500 Company where he began downloading porn during working hours to escape the pressure of staying on top of his game.

Eventually he began experiencing mood swings and lost his ability to focus. He was consumed by feelings of disgust, shame, and self-hatred due to the amount of time he wastes and his inability to stop. The only way Sam could feel better was to continue self-medicating with porn. Porn helped Sam temporarily forget about his feelings of fear, powerlessness, inadequacy and unworthiness. Again and again he found himself lost in his dark world of porn at work.   He continued to waste time, talent and opportunity until he found himself without a job.

Sam was unable to control his desire for porn at work.  If he wasn't able to surf the web for porn like an alcoholic who needs a drink he became irritable, tense and anxious. Like an alcoholic he acquired a tolerance to pornography and needed to see more graphic porn more often to get the initial high. As Sam's life continued to spiral out of control he continued to do the same thing in spite of the negative consequences of his behavior. He lost his status as an outstanding employee as he became out of touch with reality.

Everyday millions of people experience the same pain Sam does. Studies have proven that viewing pornography can be as mood altering and have the same effect on the brain as narcotic drugs. A chemical in the brain, epinephrine "burns" images of porn permanently into the memory at cellular level, images can easily be remembered and triggered by a word, a display in the mall, the sight of a woman at the grocery store or a newsstand.

Sam is a porn addict and like Sam many porn addicts find it impossible to turn off their addiction at work. Porn addicts isolate from friends and colleagues. Their interests and hobbies go by the wayside. They live in fear of being found out. They feel crazy from the stress of living a secret life.   No matter how many times an addict promises himself or others they will quit it is impossible.   Eventually an addict is swallowed up by a dark void and feelings of emptiness.

Who is addicted? Anyone with a computer, a cell phone or a PDA with Internet access has the opportunity to become addicted to porn. Porn addicts come from all walks of life: CEOs, Executives, painters, factory workers, computer geeks, couch potatoes, electricians, accountants, married couples, parents, volunteers, senior citizens, and children.

Porn addicts suffer extreme emotional pain due to painful unresolved trauma. Trauma can include childhood abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, incest, divorce, illness, and addictions. You may medicate with porn to avoid the pain of an unhappy marriage or relationship, work dissatisfaction, debt, self-hatred, other addictions, fear, or depression. Porn will temporarily medicate your emotional pain.

Everyone experiences emotional trauma but many fail to deal with it in a healthy manner. Some don't know how, others are in denial, some are ashamed, and others refuse to change. Some are willing to reach out for help and others never will.

Ask yourself about porn, "Can I take it or leave it?" Then go thirty days without looking at porn on or off line. If you really don't care about it and don't have a need to use it, if you find yourself rarely thinking about it—then you are probably not addicted.

Characteristics of an addiction are loss of control, continuing behavior in spite of negative consequences and obsession with the activity. These criteria were adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (1996)

Treatment is similar for all addictions. An addict needs to admit they have a problem and take 100% responsibility for their life. Recovery from porn addiction has to be the number one priority.

  1. Abstinence: Total and complete abstinence from porn is necessary. You have to clean house. Delete and destroy everything that has to do with your addiction on line and off. Eliminate cable television. Direct your phone company to block area code 900 numbers. Disconnect the television in your hotel room.

  2. Accountability Partners: It is necessary to have a few accountability partners who will hold you accountable. Choose partners that are wise and mature that will confront you about porn use.

  3. Therapy: Find an experienced therapist that will help you heal your childhood wounds, trauma and addictive behavior. You will discover how to become comfortable with genuine face-to-face intimacy.

  4. Join a support group: Isolation keeps you stuck. You can't heal by yourself. Twelve-step recovery groups have been proven to work. You will find acceptance, support and comfort.

It is necessary to admit you have a problem and get the help you need. You have the power to create healthy intimate relationships with family and friends and a wonderful career.   

Read other articles and learn more about Tess Marshall.

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