Men, Porn, and the Controversy Surrounding "Sex Addiction"

This is the title of Chapter 51 in Michael Castleman's newest book Sizzling Sex for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Erotic Pleasure at Any Age. This is a comprehensive and easily accessible encyclopedia of sex, and it includes a whole lot you won't find anywhere else. Why focus on Chapter 51? After the spa killings last week in Atlanta, investigators are still trying to unravel the motivation. Michael Castleman and Diana Wiley both believe it was not anti-Asian racism per se, but rather it's likely that the shooter's sex negative, religious fundamentalist upbringing is at the root of his actions. He himself blamed it on his "sexual addiction."


Throughout history, sex has come in three varieties: reproductive, relationship-affirming (relational), and recreational. Alfred Kinsey's scientific studies in the late 1940s discovered that most Americans engaged in recreational sex. Many religious fundamentalists claim that sex for fun is sinful, and if a man used pornography to masturbate, it means he is a sex addict. As Michael points out, it is a vicious cycle: shame creates stress, which leads to masturbation and porn, which leads to more shame, and so on. Dr Bradley Onishi grew up in a strict evangelical community and now he teaches religious studies at Skidmore College. The evangelical culture he was raised in teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which leads them into lust and sexual immorality.


But sex-positive Christianity does exist. Rev. Beverly Dale co-authored Advancing Sexual Health for the Christian Client: Data and Dogma, which deconstructs potentially harmful Christian beliefs around sexuality to support clients stuck in sexual guilt, shame and fear. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help a person reframe their sexual catastrophizing, which may include ideas such as “sexual thoughts and fantasies are sinful,” “only bad people masturbate,” and “porn is evil.”


Castleman is also a medical journalist, answering more than 12,000 sex questions throughout his career, both on his Great Sex Guidance website and on his "All About Sex" blog on Psychology Today, where he reviewed Dr. Diana's book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice From a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine. He also used to answer all the sex questions for "Playboy Advisor" column in the 1990s. No wonder he was able to write the most thorough sexuality guide ever produced! Find out more about his book at and then buy a copy! You’ll be glad you did.

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