Feb. 17, 2021

#30 Dr. Debra Soh- Fetishes, Sex and Porn Addiction

#30 Dr. Debra Soh- Fetishes, Sex and Porn Addiction

Chatting with Candice

Dr. Debra Soh

Episode Run Time: 59:19

Dr. Debra Soh is a neuroscientist who specializes in gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Globe and Mail, Scientific American, and New York Magazine, among many others. Prior to writing The End of Gender, Debra was a weekly columnist and resident sex scientist for Playboy.com.

Dr. Soh holds a PhD from York University and was awarded the Provost Dissertation Scholarship for her fMRI research on paraphilias and hypersexuality. She is a recipient of the prestigious Michael Smith Foreign Study Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and has published in academic journals including Archives of Sexual Behavior and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

In her second appearance on the show, I talk to Debra about the biological basis of paraphilias, the difference between drug addiction and sex addiction, and the absence of consent in antisocial patterns of behavior.

[01:47] Debra’s Experience with Sex Research, the Stigma of Sex Research and Shame 

[09:31] Paraphilias (Kinks) and the Brain

[13:02]Healthy Kinks and Unhealthy Behaviours

[18:14] The Biological Basis of Pedophilia

[23:50] The Evolving Definition of Addiction: Disease or Habit?

[30:15] The Difference between Drug Addiction and Sex Addiction

[36:55] Consensual Non-monogamy, Boundaries, and Antisocial Personalities

[46:54] Pornography, Prohibition, and Paywalls

 

You can follow Dr. Soh on Twitter, on Instagram, and visit her at DrDebraSoh.com

Support the show (http://patreon.com/candicehorbacz)

Transcript

0 (0s): I have seen this with other people I know in the field. And there are actually papers documenting this for Sex research with researchers will say, they feel shameful about what they do, and they don't want to tell people what they do because people judge them. And I don't feel right, is that though I'm saying that there was something wrong with what I do. If I feel I have to hide that. And a lot of people will say, I'm sure you get this too, will tell you that they are, they love what you do. And they actually might've considered doing what you do as well. But because of the societal, societal stigma and shame, they didn't. And I think that is, 1 (30s): Is really a shame as well. Hello, everybody, you are listening to Chatting with Candice I'm your host Candice Horbacz. Before we get started on this week's episode, if you want to support the podcast, you can go to the Chatting with Candice dot com. From there, you can sign up for our patron account where you get really accessed to episodes, shout outs, and eventually some live. And maybe you can also click that little link that says, buy me coffee. Both things helped me out a ton, every dollar counts, especially because I'm just getting started this week. We have our first return guest. We have Dr. Debra Soh. I was really excited that she wanted to come back on and discuss a little bit more about herself as well as some much requested content around Fetishes Sex and Porn so this is going to be a lot of fun. 1 (1m 24s): I hope you enjoy the episode, first of all. 2 (1m 27s): Oh yeah. Thank you for coming back on the podcast. You are my first repeat guest. So that was like a little milestone. I was really excited because we didn't get to talk a lot about you. And there was a lot of other topics that a lot of my listeners would be like, Oh, why don't you talk about Fetishes or Porn or a sex addiction, all of these things. So first I wanted to kind of get into what got you into Sex research, because I feel like you, you talked a little bit about it in your book where it's a little bit taboo, even though your on the research side. And I find that there's gotta be maybe like a sense of authenticity in that decision-making for you. 2 (2m 10s): At least it was for me, when I decided to get into the business, it's like, you know, that this is taboo and some people are going to be like, what are you doing? This isn't the right thing. But you like remained true to yourself and your values. And then you steered in the direction that you saw fit. So what was your journey there? 0 (2m 25s): Absolutely. I would say, I mean, Sex is, it's still remains really taboo today as I'm sure. You know, and I think that's really unfortunate. I don't think there's any reason why it should be so stigmatized. So for me, I just happened to come across the SEC's research and when I was still in school and I didn't know such a thing existed, but I thought it was so fascinating. And I thought it was also interesting to see people's reactions when I would tell them about the research that I was doing, because I found that it would usually fall into one of two camps. People who would either get really excited and say, Oh my, Oh my goodness. That's so that's so cool. Tell me more about it. Or they would get really put off uncomfortable. And I do write about this in the end of Gender. And so part of my decision to continue on in Sex research is because Wall number one and it was so fascinating to me and it still remains that way. 0 (3m 10s): And I still keep on top of the newest studies as they come out to stay close with many of my colleagues and friends in the fields, but it's also, I just felt we should be able to talk about this in a very open way, just as we would talk about anything else. And I, I often give the example, if I were studying something else, like say birds, there would be no shame in that. I'd be able to talk about that all day long. So that would probably be the, the core reason I think. But it also, for me, I mean, in my personal life, I'm very, I consider myself to be an open-minded person. That's very important to me and is also very important that the people in my life are like that as well. So when you study Sex or when you write about sex research for a living, as I do now, it's a really good filter in terms of, you can tell right away certain things about somebody or the minute they find out what you do. 0 (3m 58s): And if people want to judge me based on that and avoid me and not get to know me because of that, I actually liked that because it tells me also that this is probably someone who's, we're not gonna have the same sort of approach in life. I don't think you necessarily have to agree, agree with somebody, but in terms of your opinions. But I think just that openness to be willing to talk about things and understand people and, and to not judge someone, just because they may be pursuing a line of work that you might not understand. That's that's important to me. 2 (4m 25s): I couldn't agree more. There was a really long time where I would get a lot of anxiety when it came to introducing myself to somebody and their, you know, the line of questioning is almost standard for everyone. I was like, well, what do you do? And I hate lying. Like, it's one of my, like one of the, like my core values is like truth. So like, even when it comes down to like a stranger and like a superficial meeting, maybe I'll never meet this person again. Like I hate line about what I do, because I feel like when I do that, it's saying like, I'm shameful of certain decisions. So I kind of just like leaned into it. And I had, I have a similar mindset as you do, which is like, it's a great filtration process. And I've had to revisit this with like having a kid recently. And it's like, what, what do I do? And other parents of his friends may be like, you can't play with him anymore because his mom is XYZ. 2 (5m 12s): And I'm like, wow, that is going to be terrible. But it's also a great way of just rooting out people that maybe don't have that curiosity or that open mindset I'm, or that are accepting there going to be very critical people. So I don't want them in my, in my close circle anyways. So it's a really good and healthy way I think, to like reframe it. Okay. 0 (5m 30s): Yeah, we are totally ready. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. I was going to do that resonates with me too, because I feel if I, cause I have seen this with other people I know in the field and there are actually papers documenting this for a Sex research, researchers will say they feel shameful about what they do and they don't want to tell people what they do because people judge them. And I don't feel right, is that though I'm saying that there was something wrong with what I do. If I feel I have to hide that. And a lot of people will say, I'm sure you get this too, will tell you that they are, they love what you do. And they actually might've considered doing what you do as well. But because of the societal, societal stigma and Shame, they didn't. And I, I think that's a really a shame as well, so. 2 (6m 8s): Okay. Where do you think that comes from, or I guess is lingering from, especially because your, you are like This professional researcher, your looking at it from much at a much more sanitized way, if you will, versus like what I do, like I can get people who are having an issue with what I do, but with on your end, I'm like, what's wrong with that? You know, we should be researching this thing. It's a Biological need really. So we shouldn't leave it unattended. So where's that coming from? 0 (6m 37s): I think it's comfortable for people to just not question The the idea is that they have, I mean, for you, I find it really hypocritical that people would judge someone like you because I'm, what's the, the vast majority of people enjoy looking at Porn. So, you know, why are we, why are we punishing people who, who do that line of work? And I think it's like anything, it's just, it's, it's uncomfortable to question your, your values in some cases. And because there, there aren't many people out there saying the things that you and I say, I think that's part of it too. 2 (7m 8s): Yeah. Just not enough voices or yeah. Cause judgment sucks on either end, right? Like you don't want to be like a bad person or you don't want to feel like you're not accepted, but at the same time you want to be authentic to yourself. So when you were doing research, what were your main areas of focus? 0 (7m 27s): I was using Brain imaging technique. So that includes a functional MRI or better known as fMRI structural MRI to look at a human sexuality. So I was looking at Paraphilias, which are unusual sexual preferences. I was looking at hypersexuality, which is known more commonly as so-called Sex addictions and as well Porn addiction. We can talk about those two topics because they don't actually, there's no research to bear them out in the context of being addictions. And there are definitely, there's definitely some people struggle with access of sexual behavior, but I wouldn't call it an addiction. And then I was also looking at sexual orientation and gender. 2 (8m 5s): Okay. So with the Sexual can you say paraffin now? Para Paraphilias Paraphilias is, is that that's similar to Fetishes 0 (8m 14s): Yeah. So fetish a fetish is technically a sexual preference for an object or body part. So it's a, it's a kind of paraphilia, but when people say Fetishes or Kinks, that's essentially what it is, what I was thinking. Okay. 2 (8m 25s): And is there like a reason that you got interested in like that particular Study? Cause I remember, I don't know if it was like in an interview or if it was in the book, but you're like, I'm kind of like a surprisingly like vanilla when it comes to the care preferences, I was like, well, there's gotta be something that draw drew your attention there 0 (8m 44s): It's because it is so, like you said, I am vanilla. People never believe me, but I'm a very, actually old fashioned in traditional and monogamous in my relationships. So, you know, when I am dating somebody, so I, it was a way for me to, I think, see, almost lived vicariously through the people I interviewed and the, in the context of research and doing clinical work before I've interviewed hundreds of people about their sex lives. And I just love it because I think you learn so much about someone. And also I love that I can apply this knowledge in other areas. So even when I wasn't doing Research people, people love to ask me questions about their lives or their friend's lives are the people they know. And when they find out that you do this work with the people who do find it fascinating, they usually have a whole litany of questions. 0 (9m 27s): So I love that. I love seeing what people, our age are interested to talk about it and what they want to know. Okay. 2 (9m 33s): So with the research aspect of it, did you kind of, did you tie in psychology as well? Or were you looking more of just like the neurochemistry with the MRIs? 0 (9m 44s): So my degree is technically in psychology, but I was studying Neuroscience because we were looking at the structure and function of the brain. So I was looking at brain networks that were involved in sexual arousal. And I was looking at the difference between men who were paraphilic so that they were very, they had multiple Paraphilias. So they are very kinky. They had a lot of different when I say, I want to be clear actually, when I talk about Paraphilias, I think whatever you're into is perfectly acceptable. So long as it's Consensual. So there is no judgment there, but I just, I find it really fun because it, to me it's so different. So these men were into all kinds of different sexual preferences. And I looked at their brains compared to men who were not. And I also compared them in the context of those who struggled with a Pornography access of sexual behaviors and trying to understand what does their brain look like a when they're struggling with that, is that a kin to an addiction 2 (10m 36s): With these men that had particular things that turned them on that maybe were variant from the average bear. So when you talk about like, like a foot fetish, for example, like, I feel like that's one of the most common ones that I see at least on social media and everyone's like talking about. So when you look at something like that did well first did you study it? Was that a particular area that you've researched with that was like a foot Fetishes. 0 (11m 1s): That was a common one, actually, one of the very one, very, very common when it was actually an interest in urine, which is probably, I'm not sure if that surprising or not. I'm not, for me, at least for me, it was surprising because, and the other thing I'd have to say, cause people also don't believe, like I actually don't look at Porn in my personal life. So when I'm from my PhD, that was really the first thing I was. Wasn't going, digging, looking at it. I was like, wow, there is a lot. And there was a lot of, a lot of, I don't want to say, what are some of the other ways that you can describe you are in play basically. And I always try to keep it quite family-friendly when I talk about this stuff. So yeah, I mean, that was one guy and Angela morph affilia so that's a sexual preference for transgender women. 0 (11m 43s): So I won't talk too much about gender here because we did talk quite a bit about that in the other episode I do with you, but that's another very common one. So a sexual interest in women with a penis, what else was there? A BDSM is a very common, that was probably the most common, although I would say BDSM is not the same as masochism and sadism. 'cause BDSM is more, uhm, there's a lot of a negotiation Boundaries it's not a true Paraphilias because the true Pedophilia is if you look at something like masochism are sadism The what's arousing for someone who is masochistic or a CA This sadistic. So someone who is a masochistic likes to being humiliated and then someone who is sadistic, like seeing their partner being humiliated or suffering. 0 (12m 24s): And so there is a, in that comes a lack of consent. So if someone is going to role play that, then there's a, obviously a Consensual aspect. So I'm a, again, I think for people who are a masochistic or sadistic it's, it's not a choice, generally Paraphilias are biologically based, but it's, it's your choice, what you do with it. So if a person chooses to act out in a way that's not Consensual, then I have a problem. And I think that should be a criminal. But if someone who has had, if someone just has those fantasies, it's not their choice to be into what they're into. So I, I ask that people be a less judgmental are not judgmental in those cases. 2 (13m 3s): So did you find a link between, I guess like a Healthy paraphilia and a, maybe one that maybe stems from like childhood traumas or maybe lack of confidence, like a coping mechanism, if you will, because I find, at least in my experience of talking to a lot of men that have like these Fetishes, I think there's there's Healthy ones. And then there's ones that are kind of like a little M is like a light bulb, like an indicator of like, you need to focus somewhere else to like heal somewhere else. So when you were doing your research, I guess I think the BDSM is a good example. 2 (13m 45s): Like I would find that BDSM is a, like a healthy, consensual way to explore sexuality. And then when you start getting more into like the violent type of like the true cause, I mean you can do to get into a hole on certain tube sites. There's some like truly violent performances or exchanges and you can't deny that there's a difference there. So I would say like one is healthy and one is maybe stems from a, like a trauma or a psychological trauma perhaps. And I don't know if you ever like found that. Okay. 0 (14m 20s): So coming from the perspective of PA a true Paraphilias someone's primary sexual preference. So that's the thing that really excites them. It can not be changed because it is Biological. I do think in a, you know, a life experience probably shapes The the ways in which, or what someone specifically finds sexually appealing. But the fact that they have a paraphilia is, is laid down in the wiring of their brain very early on. So, so I would say with BDSM, because some people are into BDSM in their whole bunch of different reasons. I would say the, the violence aspect. There's probably some Antisocial there. There's probably, again, it could be sadism. 0 (15m 1s): So that if that someone's primary sexual preference there for them had a, a, a heterosexual, one of my literal at the beginning of vanilla Consensual sex is not going to excite them. So in that case, it's again was their choice of what they choose to do with it. And if they choose to act out on it, there's probably some aspect of antisocial personality disorder. Or there are probably other factors there, like you said, there may be trauma, but I think BDSM because it is so to me, even BDSM is so common in, and it's almost the new vanilla in some ways, because, you know, it's so mainstream and I think most people who are even a little bit sexually adventurous have experimented a bit. So yeah, there's a line there, cause it definitely, there are some people I would say I've heard stories of, of people who will say they're into BDSM, but then they may also go down that path of, of maybe being violent or non-consensual with their partners, which was very unfortunate. 0 (15m 55s): But I think it comes back two more of that person's pro-social illness. And because you can have a This preference, but it's not indication of necessarily whether you're going to act out on it or not, or necessarily whether someone has trauma in their background. 2 (16m 10s): So if it's, if it's in their preferred way of like Sexual engagement, so let's say it's, let's go back to like the foot fetish. Let's say that person like has to incorporate feet play otherwise, like they can't reach climax. Would you say that that becomes problematic or is that just like hard wiring? Like that's just part of like their biology and how they were raised and something clicked we're in a printed early on and then that's just who they are. Yeah, 0 (16m 42s): Probably they probably had some experience. Some may be some positive experience with the feet when they were younger or M the fetus such a common one. And I don't think that's necessarily a problem or that it's pathological is only a pathological if there are going out and interacting with their partners and a non Consensual waste so that they can have their sexual needs met in that way. But I think if, if men say are behind or a mullet is primarily men, if, if that's what they're into and they're having difficulty finding partners who are into that, then that's not necessarily an issue with them as long as it's a, Consensual the way that they are going about asking their partners. 0 (17m 23s): I think for anything, it's probably good to have a conversation very early on. If you are dating someone to see where their boundaries are and to not spring anything on them, we are also, or just to make any assumptions in general. That was my general advice to anyone when it comes to seeing whether you're sexually compatible. Because I think there's a, a, an assumption in our society that if you love somebody that you can work through anything sexually, or a lot of couples don't even talk about sex, they just assume that figure it out and they get married. And I, you know, I see the, the effects of that when they've been married for 10, 20 years, and they're not having sex because they are very different expectations. So I'm, that's a bit of a tangent, but I would say you have an unusual sexual interest or a preference. 0 (18m 6s): I don't think there should be any shame or guilt about it. And just to seek out partners who are happy to indulge, indulge you just, as you should be happy to indulge. 2 (18m 14s): Okay. That's great advice. When it comes to Pornography specifically, I've heard a lot of arguments that I'm watching too much of it is going to kind of create an addiction. And then through that addiction, it increases your tolerance just as a drug would. And then that's why you get people that start watching the questionable content or the illegal content. And it's not that that person had predispositions it's that it's the poor and that's the problem. And it's the dopamine hits by tube sites. And having like that suggestion pull on the left, I was like, okay, well, keep watching, keep watching watch, is it like slowly gets more questionable? 2 (18m 57s): And then all of a sudden, I mean, this is going to its kind of a leap from what we were just talking about, but I was watching this documentary and This the, one of the founders was blaming Pedophilia on Porn. And he said that the reason that Pedophilia pedophiles exist is because of a porn addiction and that that tolerance just gets so distorted that that's the only thing that can get them where they need. And I'm like that. I obviously am a little bit biased because I come from that industry, but I just feel like that's a huge overstep and I would love from a scientist's perspective for you to kind of break that down. 0 (19m 37s): Right? So I'll start with the part about, Pedophilia definitely watching too much. Porn is not going to lead someone to become Pedophilia 'cause Pedophilia is a paraphilia. This is actually one area that I did Study as well. I worked, my supervisor had a, a, a million dollar grant from the Canadian government to do brain imaging research on Pedophilia because sexual offending is one area of research that does get funded quite readily because public safety is very important and we obviously want to protect children and protect potential victims. So it is Biological Sexual so Pedophilia should define it to, cause I think sometimes people can think it means certain things that it doesn't, it's a sexual preference in children under the age of 11. 0 (20m 19s): So these are children who are prepubescent. So sometimes, I mean, people use the word pedophile to sometimes refer to the sexual preference to teenagers, which is not, not accurate. That can be hemophilia, which is a interest in kids between 11 and 15. Again, it's about con consent. I do not believe children can consent to sex. So, but in terms of Pedophilia and know it's hardwired in the Brain it's from birth. Okay. And it's not something that can be learned Pedophilia so the sexual interest in children is different from sexual offending though, because it's someone who is Pedophilia, they have the sexual attraction to kids. 0 (20m 59s): They may or may not act out on it just as someone who abuses a child may or may not be pedophilic. So people who are sexually abused kids, unfortunately for a number of different reasons, sometimes they are sexually attracted to children. And in other cases it can be because they are Antisocial in some cases it's because they can't get access to an adult partner. They're number of different reasons, but a hundred percent, no, it's not due to Pornography it's not something that you learn. And then in terms of the addiction model of regarding Porn and whether it can be people's tastes become more extreme, the more they watch. That's also not true. 2 (21m 35s): If you ask these individuals, they will be, 0 (21m 39s): I'll tell you if they feel that they can speak openly about this and not be judged that generally what or whatever it is that they are looking at, the more extreme content is what they like to begin with. It just took them a while to eventually get there, to find it, maybe it to accept that about themselves. It's not something that, again, people learn because the average vanilla man is not going to be a vanilla. I mean, not kinky is not going to enjoy looking at some of these categories or Pornography. So if anything, he'll probably be quite put off by them. So I think a lot of that stems from, again, just people being very uncomfortable about sex and also whenever people have issues in their lives. 0 (22m 23s): And if there is anything to do with the Sex or if those issues touch at all in on sexuality, people are quick to blame Sex as the problem, as opposed to looking at what is this really about? What are the underlying causes? What is the root cause? Because that's ultimately, what's going to help that person, if they are struggling with excessive sexual behaviors or as you know, with so-called Porn addiction, it's usually a procrastination and anxiety. So people use Porn as a way to cope with stress and to suit themselves. And so if you give them better coping strategies so that they don't rely on Pornography to feel better, then the problem goes away. They're not as reliant on it. 0 (23m 3s): They're not spending hours. I mean, some of the people I would talk to spend 12 hours a day looking at Porn, which is really extreme and obviously affects their relationships. So people get, some people get upset with me when I, I say this because they are struggling and I understand, or they've had relationships that have been effected by a partner who was struggling. And I definitely empathize with them. And I'm not saying that what they feel is not real, but again, I think if we want to help people who are struggling with this, it's important to talk about it, honestly. And to just call it N a V at an addiction in and say, you know, in some cases it's because someone does experience a lot of guilt about even having sex period. So they may not even have a, a so-called problem with sex and maybe we just having a healthy sex drive, but they consider themselves to be an addict because they feel guilty about that. 2 (23m 51s): So when it comes to addiction, I think that's also important to like define. So like the little bit of reading and research that I've done on it is like the definitions very vastly. And there's like the old school model, that's like addiction as a disease. And there was a gene and are kind of, This helpless participant not buy your own, buy your own decision, making it just like you are predispositioned. And you found yourself like an alcoholic or you found yourself a sex addict or whatever these things are. And then a lot of the newer Neuroscience is saying that it's not necessarily a disease, that, that there was no gene that is kind of been like pinpointed and was like, ah, like this is the gene for alcoholic or for alpha alcoholics. 2 (24m 39s): This is the gene for someone who is going to be a predisposition to sex addiction, or what have you. It's more of like, like habits that have formed. And in these, like these neuro pathways that are just kind of getting deeper and deeper and deeper, and that's why you keep doing it. So it's all of the things that lead up to the, the drink or the Porn. So it's like, well, what are your triggers for that? So I guess like, do you, would you say that you're which camp do you fall in as far as like disease or not, or more of a Habit probably, 0 (25m 12s): I suppose it depends. I would say with drugs and, or listen to substances and alcohol, I mean, they did the, the definition of addiction is repeated use, have something in the face of negative consequences. And my understanding is usually there is a genetic component to it, but that's not to say just because something's Biological or someone has a predisposition that they don't have some for some will or say in terms of the decisions they make. But I think with when it comes to anything about sex or Porn, I wouldn't say it's addiction, I would say again, it's about, I mean, there are a variety of different presentations. 0 (25m 52s): So with Porn I would say it's usually procrastination, anxiety, coping skills with say so-called sex addiction. In some cases, there's just people who are a very good looking or are they have money and they just wanna enjoy themselves. And there are probably better off not being in a monogamous relationship because if you're a man and you have women throwing yourself at themselves at you, this doesn't justify cheating, of course. But if you sit and talk to these men that they are just in some cases or a little bit entitled, and they think they should be allowed to have sex with whoever they want and even if they are married. So in that case, it's is just saying, well, maybe you're better off not being in a monogamous commitment. 0 (26m 32s): And is it really a problem in that case? Is it that you're addicted to sex or you just enjoy it? And the PR it's a problem because you're, you've committed yourself to someone else and it's not fair to that other person. But I feel like when I look at say two years ago, there was a lot in the media about so-called sex addiction, people or celebrities going off to a sex addiction treatment. And I think it's just an easy way for someone to not take responsibility as much as I feel bad saying that to just call themselves an addict and say, well, I have this, and this is, this is to blame for the choices I make. In other cases, it's, as I say, you know, some people just feel really guilty about having a healthy sex drive. I think also in a lot of cases, I mean, as human beings, it's very normal to find other people attractive or to even want to have sex with other people and fantasize, but other people, even if you are in a committed relationship. 0 (27m 23s): And I think because that makes people uncomfortable, they think that's a problem, or because it makes their partner in a comfortable, that's a problem. And there is a difference between how you feel and what you fantasize about and what you actually do. So again, I think if you're in a committed relationship, you should not be cheating. That's not ethical, but it's very natural to want to, again, with Porn, it's very natural to want to look at other people who are naked and to find that arousing. And if we can accept that as a society, I think that would take a way a lot of the misconceptions around so-called porn addiction, because a lot of people feel, especially if they do have any sort of guilt around those feelings, that their desire to look at someone else must be a problem. 0 (28m 3s): And that that must be pathologized. 2 (28m 6s): So do you think part of it's also like an impulse control issue, like the fact that they are acting on this and knowing that I shouldn't watch porn for 12 hours a day, because I need to actually go out and live in, you know, have these real life relationships. And I have work in these responsibilities and the same when it comes to someone that has an alleged Sex addiction, it's like, well, there is a difference between acknowledging that I'm, I find this person attractive and then acting on it. And knowing that it's against the rules or parameters of your relationship, 0 (28m 36s): A sexual compulsivity is included in the ICD, which is the international classification of diseases. So that's the Europe's so-called psychiatry Bible. It is not included in the DSM, which is the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. So I just wanted to clarify, because from a medical perspective, it is classified as, and as you mentioned, an impulse control disorder, but it's not classified as an addiction. So yeah, for some people definitely. I mean, I guess you could see it from that, from that perspective, but again, it's a different way of conceptualizing it in treating it from addiction because of it with an addiction model, you would say, okay, we just can't have sex. 0 (29m 17s): And I don't think for someone who is struggling with hypersexuality, that they necessarily have to stop having sex for the rest of their life. I think that they just have to find better ways of managing their Time probably, and also figuring out what is, what is it they're really struggling with and then how can they incorporate their sexuality in a healthy way? But I always just want to say that for me, I don't have a choice because people often will say she has to write for this Magazine that had naked women on it. So of course she was gonna say that, but I've had these views. If you go back before I was a journalist, when I was a researcher, I have the same views. And as I said, I'm just about the data and facts. So wherever it takes us, if they do start to show, that was say, Brain studies that they're is the reward network is changing over time as a result of this or that, you know, that it is actually in addiction that I'm happy to change my perspective. 0 (30m 10s): But I just think a lot of the, the discussion right now is really unhelpful for people who are struggling because it's not accurate. 2 (30m 17s): So when we bring it back down til some fMRI rise and like actual data. So what is, what's the difference between someone who might be addicted to say cocaine versus someone who is addicted to Sex? 0 (30m 32s): So with the drug like cocaine, you will see that there will be changes in the brain over time. They're awful often be craving as well. So you'll see those parts of the brain light up. Even if they're just thinking about the drug or if they see a picture of the drug, we don't have any research to suggest that when it comes to Pornography or Sex, and, and the research that we do have, because there are some studies that get a lot of attention because they are supposed supposedly show that this is happening in the Brain with M as a response to the so-called sex addiction. But when you look at how they define hypersexuality, usually it's very, very moneyed that the people who take part in the study are M they are not very similar. 0 (31m 18s): So you'll have someone who say, say in a ditch, a study, looking at a so-called Porn addiction, someone will be someone who is self report say there's one study that got a lot of attention. And I looked at the method's and some of the people in the study would be looking at Porn once a week for under an hour. And I'm thinking of, to me, that's not really a problem. When you look at some of the people who are looking at it for 10, 12 hours a day, that to me is, is a problem, unfortunately. So they shouldn't be lumped together as one, because of the results that you find are not going to really speak to either. And then the other thing I would say is also because as far as I know of no studies have looked at the Paraphilias in that context. So if someone is a paraphilia, their brain is going to look different from someone who is not. 0 (32m 0s): And if you're not asking these questions as part of your methodology, again, you don't know what's going on with the people that you're scanning in the, in the brain scanner. So I think more, I'm definitely a supportive, more rigorous research being done. I think that's very important. I think it's excellent that we have the technology and the technology continues to improve. But my issue is just when people are quick to jump on a Study because they think it fits a particular narrative and they run with that. And, and because I would say also, you know, surprisingly it's, it's pretty hostile terrain to counter anti-porn activists. They are, they are, they can be very aggressive and some people in the field have really have to deal with a lot of harassment and intimidation from them in the, my last conversation with you, I'd talk about how trans activists are in a bad way. 0 (32m 50s): Anti Porn activist are pretty bad, too. I'm I'm not sure if you had to do is I have had to deal with them, but that, that's another reason why people don't want to touch the Research. 2 (32m 58s): Oh, that's so interesting. No, I mean, I've seen some of the damage that those, those campaigns can do. I personally haven't been affected by it. So that's, that's fortunate because I just don't, I don't have the bandwidth to deal with anymore. Any more negativity. So there's, I guess, where did the myths then? Cause we, we, we do with drugs or alcohol, that threshold changes, right. That your tolerance changes. And then that's where you start seeing like really negative or at least a physical health implications start to occur. So where did the myth start with the threshold of like Porn or Sex start taking place, because as you said earlier, if someone was being honest and had like this open space to communicate, it would have said that End content is what they had always been interested in. 2 (33m 48s): So where did that narrative come? That, you know, they started here. I just very like the NOLA, you know, just regular sex. And then they ended up all the way, somewhere in the dark web, 0 (34m 1s): I would say very early on when this started to become something, I don't have to call it an industry, but I will, I'll call it an industry. When, when people start to try and understand this and ways of treating it, it was overlaid on the addiction model. So I think that was just an early way for people to try and make sense of it. And I think it also helps people distance themselves from not, I'm not saying this necessarily, but people who struggle with this problem, but maybe the people treating it are, they found a way to make it a little bit more palatable. I would say for people to talk about it and also for the partners to talk about, because it's understandably really distressing and hard on someone. 0 (34m 43s): If you're in a relationship with someone who is struggling with this, and it's very shameful to talk about it, you, I mean, you can't really talk about it. I mean, the people I would talk, I would see in my Research they, unless they had a very strong social support, they were very isolated because it is such an embarrassing thing to struggle with. And it's also really difficult for their partners because even they don't want to tell family members or friends about it because there is such a stigma around sex. And then also if you have problems with Sex. So I think that model probably also helped to lessen the stigma, even though I don't think it's necessarily helpful in terms of the may be very careful with how I say this. I would say, I just think if again, if you talk to these individuals in and see what they're really struggling with, you'll see that other methods are probably helpful in terms of helping them deal with it. 0 (35m 33s): But the other, I would say the stigma is a big part of it. And also a lot of, if you actually go and look through the criteria for when you're diagnosing quote, unquote, diagnosing someone, they will pathologize a lot of behaviors. That to me are not pathological. So something like, again, fantasizing about, let me, let me think of a specific one is actually something like I voyeurism, I believe is one of the criteria. It's been a while since I actually went through the list, but something like voyeurism, if you feel the need to say, look up women's skirts, that's not okay. That's not Consensual of, if, if that's something that's a kinky thing that you did with your partner and you both agree to it, that's one thing. 0 (36m 15s): But in this context say where it's a sexual offense. It's not appropriate to categorize it as an addiction because you need to understand that if it's a paraphilia, which for tourism is, this is not something that is going to change over someones life. And anytime that they want to have sex, that's the thing that they're going to want to do. So it's a very different from saying, this is something that we should treat as an addiction, in which case they're not looking at the Antisocial aspect of it. And there are also basically seeing in some way that yeah, I think, I think it was just, it becomes something more about how we talk about it and how people identify as opposed to what's really going on. 2 (36m 55s): Okay. So have you worked with a lot of couples that one of the partners is going through? I guess they're both going through it, but that has an issue with Sex and an issue with like a mini remaining monogamous. 0 (37m 12s): Okay. So I don't do clinical work anymore. I did not work with couples, but in terms of the people, I did see four, many of them. I mean, some of them, we just weren't aware that being non-monogamous was an issue because I think in society, we are very much told that there was one way to do relationships and sex and that's the only acceptable way. And so I think for them to even conceptualize that it might be okay for them to have multiple sexual partners at once or to not be in a monogamous commitments was really surprising for some people I. I have friends who I have conversations with them and they were relieved because I think at some ways, again, it's the Shame, but its also this fear that they are never going to find someone who will accept that about them, which I think is really, you know, sad. 0 (38m 4s): But I'm not sure if that answers your question in terms of 2 (38m 9s): Where I'm going with. It is. So I guess if you were to come across someone who is in this relationship and let's say a lot of the male partner is, is struggling with quote unquote sex addiction. And he has professionals telling him that he has a sex education and the woman is like, well, I'm going, I love this person. And I'm open-minded and I'm willing have an abnormal relationship if you will, or a non typical relationship, we'll be an open relationship, but this person is still, there are still going behind the, the back there's a, there is still the deception, there is still a cheating. 2 (38m 50s): So for me, obviously like the relationship that me and my husband have is obviously very atypical, right? Like we I shot Porn for a bunch of years and that, you know, we had to very much curate our relationship in the parameters of our relationship. And we still had rules when we still had boundaries. I think a lot of people think that when you have an open relationship of any sort, that it's just like a wild free for all. And I know a lot of people were that is not the case. That there's just different Boundaries. So if you have this person that is saying that they have an issue with sex or an impulse issue with sex and you have one partner that is so open and there are willing to have this atypical relationship has open relationship, but there are still like the lying and the deceiving and there are still breaking those very broad Boundaries what's that about if it's not like an addiction is I feel that there's something there, but I'm not a professional. 2 (39m 48s): So it's hard for me to, to pick apart. Okay. 0 (39m 52s): I would say it's hard to say without actually speaking with, say this hypothetical couple, but I'd probably say it's the Antisocial uality so it's someone who only cares about themselves and they see other people that just basically as a way to facilitate what they want. So it definitely, I would say, you know, I'm I I'm monogamous, but with, with people who are doing consensual non-monogamy there can still be cheating totally. And disregarding Boundaries. And so yeah, I would say that's, that's usually from what I've seen, that's what it is that someone who just doesn't have any sort of care of respect for other people. And the thing to keep in mind is if you say you're audience is listening and they may know someone like This, if someone has antisocial personality disorder, I mean, I would probably advise against diagnosing people in your life, but say if they have been diagnosed or you've noticed certain things that seemed to stand out in terms of this kind of behavior, where they are constantly pushing Boundaries they are, they really enjoy taking advantage of other people. 0 (40m 51s): So even outside of Sex Antisocial people they really enjoy when they get one over on someone or are they really are managed to a deceive people that they really take pride in that they'll usually brag about that those are huge red flags because someone who has this personality disorder, it's not going to change personality disorders are with someone for life. And so it's just about managing them. And so this person may not be doing that to you in the beginning, but I can guarantee over time that they will, they will do the same thing to you. 2 (41m 20s): So how does, how do Personalities personality disorders work with the new information that we have on neuroplasticity? So like the idea that the brain is malleable, because has there been any changes and what we know about personality disorders or is it still pretty, pretty much the same as that? It's like you said, it's it's permanent and the best we can do is try to manage it. 0 (41m 45s): As far as I know, personality disorders are still very much something that can, there's no quote unquote cure for it. And I don't want to, I want to be clear that that doesn't, that does not mean that we should do that does not justify any sort of discrimination against people who have a personality disorder. I do think that they deserve support in love just like everyone else, but in the event of something like antisocial personality disorder, because it can be quite harmful to a partner, especially that's one I would say is a little cause I've spent a lot of time working on with forensic population's in the past and they all had this and there's, I mean, forensic populations are an extreme example because they are obviously they've done a crime to the point where they were caught in and have been placed in prison for it. 0 (42m 29s): But that that's one of those personality disorders. I feel that you don't really want to get to get too close to, but I would probably, I would defer to, if there is some research to show that neuroplasticity can change it, I'm, I'm skeptical though, because even with neuro-plasticity, it doesn't tend to completely rewire completely change someone. And because someone's personality, I mean, typically you're not going to diagnose someone with a personality disorder until their, in their teens because that's that's once someone's personality is a little bit more set, but yeah, as far as I know, I, I don't think it's something that can be overturned say with, with therapy. 0 (43m 14s): It's just something that will be managed over time. Do you know if there are 2 (43m 17s): There's any Research that's happening with like psilocybin in a personality disorder? 0 (43m 24s): I'm not sure I will. I'm very careful when I talk about the research, I would probably refrain from saying anything because I don't know 2 (43m 30s): I was, I feel like that that would be so interesting. Like I would love to see results on that because you see what they're doing with like depression and PTSD and how they're saying rewire is a lot of the connection's in the brain. So I wonder if that would have an impact on something that's that substantial, because that must have been a trip. Like I was studying people that actually got caught four for a crime with these Antisocial personality disorders, because when I was in school, that was always an area that really fascinated me. And I remember I had, would it have professors that are like, are you sure you want to learn about this? Because it can get really scary. And for me, like I just found it so interesting. I'm just like, how does a brain work to do these things? 0 (44m 16s): It's a, it's a very dark, I'll tell you that. Yeah. I mean, we can talk more about it. I, I I'm, what can I tell you? I've a lot of stories and that we probably should tell you to share. It's just a way for me, my decision to leave that as a researcher is because it so dark, it's just over time, you realize you can spend hours and weeks and years working with somebody in the context of therapy. And there's very little change for very, very little change and its M and a lot of cases, they have had very difficult lives from day one, but I think it is a choice at the end of the day, how you choose to treat other people. And if you are committing offenses, that's not acceptable in society. 2 (44m 57s): <inaudible> I totally agree. So I guess for our listeners, can you give like some examples of what, like a telltale sign would be that someone has one of these disorders that way, like, you know, I don't want to say like whether or not to like give up on the relationship, but just to like, know what your working with, right. So if, you know, if it's something that's going to be like a really tough battle and difficult to change, or if it's something else 0 (45m 28s): I'm a huge proponent of therapy, I think therapy can really help. I think there should be no shame in therapy or in talking about mental health. So I would say if, say you're people are dating and they come across someone who has a personality disorder, or whether it's a borderline or narcicisstic or any of the others. I would say if that person has insight, that's really important. If they are aware that they are struggling with something or, or that they have a condition that is going to affect their relationships and probably affects their functioning and their day to day life as well. That's a really important, because I think someone who has insight can work on it and you can have a very functional, happy, a fulfilling relationship with that person. 0 (46m 10s): And I think it's more from what I've seen in conversations. I would have with people, both in my personal life in Research people generally can sense something is not quite right. If they are dating someone who say has a personality disorder in the, in the context of someone who is not managing it well, or someone who does not think they have a problem or someone who is not in therapy. So in that case, you need to listen to your gut. Cause I think you, people generally can tell when something is not right. And as I said, you know, it's not something that's going to change. So if someone's justifying their behavior to you, and if they're active in a way that's really not helpful, not healthy, then that's not going to be a good for you. 2 (46m 53s): Okay. So touching back on like the Porn addiction, did you see what, what happened with like PornHub? And there was a company like The obviously based in Montreal and they had their payment vendors, they pulled out. So like visa master part, or that we're not doing business with you anymore because it was one of those anti-porn activist groups that kind of like pushed, pushed that to happen. So the result was PornHub pulled every unverified video that was up, which I is a great thing. So now it's only a verified users can upload Soh people that they know who are consenting adults, putting out material, which should have been the case. 2 (47m 40s): Anyways. Do you think I'm with the tendency that we do have to kind of be like sucked into these social media traps, where we were just like swiping, swiping, swiping for these like dopamine hits and the same thing can potentially happen with, with Porn is you just you're like something new, something new, something new. Do you think that it would be beneficial to have something like paywalls put up everywhere? Or do you feel like that that wouldn't really make a difference? Like what's your opinion on, on, on the tube sites and everything. 0 (48m 14s): So when you say paywalls, do you mean so that people are, they have to make a conscious decision to want to look at it as opposed to just mindlessly scrolling through? I think that'd be good for someone like you, because it would be helpful for you or made you make help, you make more money. But I think ultimately it's, it's somebody in, in, in their own ability to control themselves. Because I think in some ways it was probably good because it will help to lessen the chance that a child might come across that inadvertently, although the kids are very smart and if that is what they want to look for or are fine, they will find ways around it. And I've written about this before, how banning Pornography is probably not going to be or banning it for, for, for how do I, how should I say this is just basically, you can try all, you might have to make a more, try all. 0 (49m 5s): You want to make it really difficult, four for kids to not see it, but if they want to see it, they're going to find it. That's just the reality with the internet. So it's better for us as adults, step conversations with them about healthy sexuality and why looking at that is not necessarily going to be good for their sexual development. I think for adults do what you want, but for children, especially if it's the first time they're learning about sex, I don't necessarily think that that's the best way to do it. I do think it's good that a lot of that content was taken down because there, I mean, there are cases where it's abuse, I've heard their abuse videos on there. I guess I could get a little bit nervous when that happens. So, because we're cheering the victory of this, but is what is the underlying reason why this happened? 0 (49m 51s): And is it coming from a place of people who just don't like us talking about sex or thinking about sex because that's worrisome to me. So I think there are a lot of issues combined into one, but I think also with, with the dopamine aspects, I mean, dopamine is released cause this is because something I don't want to come at you for this, but like, I hear this a lot. And with dopamine it's released for a number of different things that, I mean, if you look at a painting that you like, our brain releases, dopamine has just pleasure is not necessarily a sign that we'll become addicted to that thing. Or it's not necessarily a bad thing. So I, I definitely get it because we've all been on social media, you know, just, and then time goes by and you don't realize that what have I been doing? 0 (50m 32s): But I would say, yeah, I I'm very much in favor of people being a control of their decisions in their lives. And I think being less dependent on say corporation's or the government to come in and, and dictate what's good for us. 2 (50m 46s): Okay. So when it comes, so my, my biggest reason for, I think wanting paywalls, obviously, besides like it would make every performer more money is I thought more about it after I had a kid or, you know, when I was thinking about the developmental impacts of a child that are coming on to that kind of material too early, are there, do you see changes in like these brain scans or can it have a lasting effect on their brain as they, as they mature? 'cause the thing that a lot of, of the anti-porn conversation is that if a kid stumbles upon this material too soon, it can completely wreak havoc on their healthy sexual behavior as an adult. 0 (51m 33s): I don't agree with that because I think that, I think as a parent, you have a lot of say in that. And if you are having conversations with your child about what's healthy sexuality and, and as opposed to, I mean, Porn, as you know, it's entertainment, it's not reflective of what a typical sexual interaction is going to be like with a partner, wants a child is old enough to, to be there. So I understand their concern. I mean, most kids who do stumble across or when they do see Porn for the first time, it's not by their choice. It's usually something they didn't, they weren't aware of or they're Googling something else and they see it. Or sometimes it's in an email, they weren't expecting it if it's spam or something like that. 0 (52m 15s): But it is concerning because I think the most recent statistic is something that twelve-year-olds, or at least half of them have seen Porn already. So I think really, unless you, I mean, this is probably not going to make parents feel much better, but unless you are rid of the internet, it's really a really is going to be really hard for you to avoid your child stumbling across the us at some point, unless they're just not on the intranet at all, and they don't have a phone. So I would say a better way to approach it as to it's really important that your child feels that you can talk to you about anything and especially when it comes to sex or porn or anything like that, because that's how you combat this, any sort of negative effects on their development. But we don't have, as far as I know, I don't think we have any research to show what are the changes in the brain might potentially be not in children, especially Soh right. 0 (53m 3s): And I understand for parents, I mean, it's a, it's probably not the most comfortable or a fun conversation to have to talk about with your kids about that stuff. But it is really crucial because I, I do think again, I do think for people who for say someone who sees Pornography at a young age and that changes their developmental trajectory to the point where they are interested in say being disrespectful toward their partners. I don't, again, I don't think it's the porn's fault. I think there are probably underlying other issues there, again, maybe Antisocial, but Antisocial that it comes from a development, it comes from the parenting, it comes from a male potentially, maybe a biological predisposition as well, but you can't blame porn for that. 2 (53m 46s): Yeah. I agree. I think that it comes down to having the conversations with your kids. And I don't think that watching content is going to completely shape who they ended up being. You have to lead by example. So do, are you respecting your partner and other people when you're around your kid or are you being disrespectful? Are you like yelling at the cashier? Are you saying like this is acceptable behavior or not, but that's, that's reassuring because I think a lot of people like, they are like, Oh my, if I'm not watching them 24 seven, then they come across this material, then it could ruin them. But I think parents have a lot more control than people like to say that they do live or like more influence I should say over, over their kid. 2 (54m 28s): And they think that they do have, 0 (54m 30s): Yeah. And I think understandably parents, it's uncomfortable to think that your child is going to see this material because when we are obviously a child's innocence is something that I think shouldn't be cherished, but unfortunately the reality we live in today with the internet. And I mean, I would say even social media, it's you, you can, there are so many things that I'm not a parent, but, you know, I think you have to be taken into consideration because the world is changing and continues to change. And I don't think the way to approach it as to hydrocele in a closet somewhere and not let them see anything until they're 21. 2 (55m 7s): Okay. So when it comes to these personality disorders or like these I've read, it was like one in 25. Is that an accurate number? 0 (55m 16s): That sounds very, I've heard that too. It sounds very, very high to me. I think that could be traits. Maybe they're referring to traits. I would have to see the Study where they got the number from part of me thinks it is. And I I'm very much in favor of reducing stigma around mental health conditions of course. But I think part of this desire to inflate the number is to, to encourage more social acceptance, which I think we can do without, without skewing things either way. But regardless, you know, there are people who are struggling, so it's, that's important to take on board as well. 2 (55m 52s): Okay. Yeah. I think it's important that almost there is no like, no, no one's judging here. Like, you know what I mean? We're just trying to have a conversation to spread like awareness around like these issues. And obviously watching porn for 12 hours a day is an issue we're just trying to figure out, like, what is it really? And then whether it's her helping her or harming by calling it an addiction for, so for people that are struggling with these, with these issues around sex and porn, like what are some good, like healthy coping mechanisms that can help taper off these, these habits that are kind of negatively affecting the rest of their life? 0 (56m 30s): Hmm. I would probably say number one to seek out a, a sex positive therapist, if you can. So, I mean, if you go to the number of resources that I can tweet out after I can send them to you, that would probably be helpful to us. And so when I say sex positive, I'm referring to a therapist who does not pathologize sexuality, sex positivity. I think it has come to me on a number of different things more recently. So when I say it, I I'm referring to, they do that. There should be no shame around talking about sex and that when people who want to have sex as a perfectly fine and healthy, but I think for some people, there is a connotation that if you're a sex positive, that means that you don't have sexual boundaries are that if you have sexual boundaries that, that sex negative. 0 (57m 16s): And I don't think that's true, I think people should be free to have boundaries. I think that's healthy. That doesn't mean you're not sex positive, but I would say therapy would be very helpful to work with someone who is probably not, well, I was, I would leave it up to people that based on the conversation that we have, I think they know probably where I stand in terms of different treatment approaches. And then I would say just, just don't F I mean, as much as I can say, it just don't feel shameful about it as difficult as that is, and to seek out support friends. If you, if there is someone in your life that you can talk to about this stuff, honestly, I think that's very important. That's going to help you a lot and just know that it's not, it's not, it is something that you can overcome for sure. 2 (58m 3s): Okay. Well, I think this was great. Do you want to tell our listeners how they can support you and any projects that you have coming up? Yep. So I'm on social media. 0 (58m 14s): I'm on Instagram at Dr Debra w so I'm on Twitter at Dr Debra Soh you can learn more about me and my book, the End of Gender, which I discussed with Candice last time at Dr. Debra Soh dot com. And also please feel free to sign up for email updates on my website, because sadly, there is a lot of censorship on social media, and I have to resort to a mailing list as if we're back in the 19 hundreds. Okay. 2 (58m 39s): Well, good stuff. Yeah. And I'm glad that you're a book's back in target. I was, I was keeping an eye on that as all of that was going down earlier. So 0 (58m 47s): Yeah. Thank you so much for your support with that 2 (58m 49s): Question. Of course. I think you have like an, a, a very important message and platform, and I'm glad that you're still, you still have it right now. So thank you. Thank you for having me back. And of course, of course, have a great day. 1 (59m 1s): You too, that's it for this week's episode. If you enjoyed the podcast, please rate and review, and don't forget to hit that subscribe button. You can also share this podcast with a friend. It helps my podcast grow, and I really appreciate it. I hope to see you next week.