No. 6 Spring 2018

Welcome to the Spring No. 6 edition of Rewarding News. We’ve lots of stories and news for you. Keep up-to-date with our regular Twitter feed and the weekly blogs on the home page too.

This image of beautiful cherry blossom at its peak was taken in Washington DC just after the Global Summit we attended there in early April. Surprisingly, we only had peak blossom here in Edinburgh a few days ago.

 All feedback is welcome to Mary Sharpe [email protected].

In this edition


General Data Protection Regulation

You will no doubt have been receiving notes from many organisations that you are associated with requesting you to opt in to their database. Well, if you want to keep hearing from The Reward Foundation you will need to respond to the request you will receive from us in the next few days. We hope you will!


Doctors are confirming what we suspected

We ran the first of our series of four Royal College of General Practitioners-accredited, one-day workshops on the impact of internet pornography on mental and physical health in Edinburgh this week. The following three will take place in London, Manchester and Birmingham in the next few days.   So far, the GPs attending have confirmed what we suspected – that they have seen a huge increase in the number of young male patients presenting with sexual dysfunctions such as ‘delayed ejaculation’ (often a precursor to full erectile dysfunction), anorgasmia (an inability to orgasm) and erectile dysfunction itself.

This has only happened in the past few years and coincides with the widespread availability of free, hardcore porn on smartphones and tablets. There may be other contributing factors too, but our money for the main culprit is on the effect of free streaming internet porn.

The doctors are aware too that Viagra and similar erectile enhancement medications, aren’t working too well in many cases to alleviate the issue. The reason they don’t work is that the problem is “not below the belt”, i.e. blood flow to that most vital of male organs, but is rather about the disruption of nerve signalling from the brain “to their bananas”. If you haven’t seen Gary Wilson’s funny and informative TEDx talk “The Great Porn Experiment” on this, see it here.

What the healthcare practitioners are learning from the ever-increasing research, to their astonishment, is that porn-induced erectile dysfunction is ‘a thing’, and different from the erectile dysfunction issues associated with much older men. This article explains the difference. Here too is a presentation on the background to ED with lots of scientific support.

Please sign up to our remaining workshops if you’re available at short notice or let your colleagues know. We’ll be advertising future dates soon in late 2018.

Cambridge Calling!

Our CEO Mary Sharpe has been invited by the President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, Jackie Ashley (also a Guardian columnist and wife of political broadcaster Andrew Marr) to speak about the impact of internet pornography on the adolescent brain on Thursday 7th June 2018. See here for more details. It is a free event. Come if you can.


5th International Conference on Behavioural Addictions

The Reward Foundation was delighted to make its debut speaking at the prestigious ICBA conference taking place in Cologne, Germany 23-25 April. The ICBA brings top neuroscientists and psychologists from around the world to showcase the latest research on behavioural addictions. TED events eat your heart out! This is the where the real cutting-edge action is to be found. Professor Stark gave a keynote talk summarising the overall field of scientific research into the effects of pornography use.  It was a true masterclass.

Darryl Mead presented the charity’s work on the public communication of the impact of internet pornography in society today. He spoke of our evidence-based lesson plans in schools, workshops for healthcare professionals, lawyers, public servants and teachers and on making the work of scientists accessible to those who need it. This included a review of the scientific papers on internet pornography at last year’s ICBA conference in Israel.

If you are interested in this peer-reviewed paper, we can give you a link that will allow you to download the paper from the publisher. The publishing agreement only allows a limited number of free copies to be made available. We expect to be publishing a new review based on the 2018 conference’s papers later in the year in the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity.

Brief Pornography Screener

If you are a clinician or otherwise interested in how problematic porn use can be detected, you may find value in a new tool called the Brief Pornography Screener. It was one of the treasures revealed at this year’s ICBA conference. For the past year we have been recommending a longer, more detailed screener called the Problematic Pornography Use Scale with 18 questions, but this new tool has a mere five. The Brief Pornography Screener looks to be a significant breakthrough in giving General Practitioners a tool that is quick enough for use within a normal NHS appointment.

Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit, Washington DC

We were delighted to be able to participate in this amazing Global Summit with over 600 activists and academics from key institutions around the world. Talks were streamed live on Facebook and are still available online. You can hear Professor Gail Dines, founder of Culture Reframed*, explain the differencebetween radical feminism and liberal feminism, the former being anti-porn, the latter being pro-porn.

You can also listen to the heart rending story of a mother whose 15-year-old daughter was groomed by another 15 year old girl, kidnapped and advertised the same day as a 21-year-old on, a site for sex workers, many of whom had been trafficked. She was raped by several men before her captors realised her mother had contacted the Police and were on to them. The family was left picking up the pieces along with a daughter who’d never been in any kind of trouble before and had been a good school student. She featured as Jane Doe (no. 3) a documentary film about human trafficking.

We were kept busy too. We facilitated a meeting on Pornography & Public Health Strategy with around 50 participants from around the world to look at different approaches and share ideas on best practice. We gathered some useful information that we have put into a report for the NCOSE organisation as a whole. We also gave a paper showcasing a novel approach to health warnings that can be shown before a person watches porn, much like the warnings on cigarette packets. More on this in the next item below.


Porn Warning – A Private “Film Festival” 

Students from the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art put on a special show for The Reward Foundation in April. As part of our efforts to raise awareness about the challenges hitting society today with the widespread use of pornography, we have come up with the idea of putting a health warning at the start of porn sessions, similar to the health warnings on cigarette packets. To progress this idea, we were delighted to have the opportunity to meet with graphic designer students at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art. Their mission was to create a 20 to 30 second film that could be used in this way. It was a project that was part of their course work and they went it at with great enthusiasm.

The results were breath taking. It was such an honour to be invited to sit through our very own private film festival with 12 presentations from these highly creative students. The diversity and impact was tremendous. We were delighted to then show the six of them to more than 200 delegates at the public health summit on sexual exploitation in Washington where they were warmly received. Some of the policy makers and politicians present were keen to follow up on this work.


Nolan Live

Mary Sharpe returned to Nolan Live at BBC Northern Ireland on 7th March 2018.  The link will take you to a full video of this segment of the show. Mary debated the impact of pornography on the mental and physical health of children with the host Stephen Nolan, with a porn activist and with a recovering porn addict.


Grey Cells and Prison Cells

As mentioned in a previous newsletter, last year our CEO Mary Sharpe was appointed as an associate of the CYCJ based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. She was delighted to offer her maiden speech on “The Impact of Internet Pornography on the Adolescent Brain” at their annual conference on the theme of Grey Cells and Prison Cells. This took place the same day as the Nolan Live TV event in Belfast.

The slides from all the presentations are available here and Mary’s talk starts at P.85-end.  It was a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with other researchers and practitioners who are deeply involved with the study of criminal justice in Scotland today.


Facebook and Youtube

We are pleased to announce our new Facebook page which focuses on the workshops we are teaching and the other events where we feature. Feel free to link to us here.

You may also be interested in the small selection of videos we now have on our new YouTube channel. There are plenty more videos to come as we now have a plan for editing the many interviews we have been recording around the world with experts.


Sex Addiction-vs-Porn Addiction, as covered by BBC

Last week relationships charity Relate called out for the NHS to do more to help with the burden of people seeking help for “sex addiction”. It was discouraging to see the news report by the BBC and other media outlets focus on ‘sex addiction’ as such, that is compulsive behaviour towards other persons, rather than compulsive porn watching and masturbation. Until easy access to hardcore porn became available free and readily available via broadband some 10 years ago, problematic porn use was minimal and categorised in sex therapy training as ‘sex addiction’.
However combining sex addiction and porn addiction today is no longer appropriate, not least as many young porn addicts today are virgins.  It is also a confusion that is widely exploited by sexologists. They choose to ignore the mounting science and insist for political reasons that there is no such thing as sex or porn addiction. Instead they shift the media’s focus of discussion to celebrities like Harvey Weinstein or Tiger Woods saying that it is just a rich man’s excuse for bad behaviour. Yet it was clear from at least 3 research papers at the ICBA conference that the vast majority of people with compulsive sexual behaviour disorder have a problem with compulsive use of porn, rather than going to sex workers or the like.

consensus of leading scholars in the Lancet support the new diagnostic category of ‘’, that will include both porn addiction and sex addiction, for inclusion in the World Health Organization’s soon-to-be-published International Classification of Diseases 11th edition.  When that is published, this deliberate confusion will be unravelled.

It stands to reason that the ready access to highly stimulating porn via a smartphone in the hand is going to lead more easily to compulsive use than the seeking out of partners in real life and then trying to engage with them for sex. We are doing our best to help educate journalists in this area.


UK Age Verification

This new legislation is due to come into effect later this year.  An excellent and very clear blog post from our friend John Carr tells the story of why this is an important and positive development for children in the UK.


A Sad Farewell

As a charity that has loving relationships at the core of what we teach, we think it only right to mention the passing away of Kenneth John and Doris Ivy Mead, the parents of The Reward Foundation’s co-founder, Darryl Mead. We were very happy to have joined them in Australia to celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary on 19 February this year. Only three weeks later however, Ken passed away in his sleep at the tender age of 94 years. Dot, 93, a woman who lived for Ken, passed away quietly in her sleep this past Thursday, 8 weeks to the day after her beloved. She told us she couldn’t bear life without him.

It has been a privilege knowing them both, seeing loving care and devotion in action but also just enjoying their lovely, always supportive, company. We’ll miss Ken’s comical observations and witty turn of phrase, and Dot’s quiet elegance and style.

When I asked Dot on the day of my wedding to Darryl in 2012, what was the secret of a long happy marriage, she replied, “Never argue. There’s nothing worth arguing about”. I am happy to pass on those words of wisdom from a dear mother-in-law who loved very much and was loved very much in return. It doesn’t get much better than that.


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