Let’s admit it. It seems we constantly hear how porn is ruining your life. We hear how unethical pornography is and how those who consume it are sinning and on their way to hell. We hear it’s bad to look at sex and nude people on the Internet, magazines, or even sexually explicit movies.
Many say this is just the opinion of religious fanatics who “should mind their own business and leave me alone.” To be fair, I should let you know I am one of those religious fanatics, but I believe we need to meet people where they are at in their beliefs. I must admit, if religion or morals were the only case against pornography, then to much of the world we would have a pretty weak case.
So let’s take God, religion, the Bible, and morals out of the picture. How is porn ruining your life? Or is it?
Let’s address four major areas that porn negatively affects us: brain dysfunction, human relationships, human trafficking and personal success.
Let’s start with an overview of how the brain works and what happens.
Several chemicals are produced by the brain for the purposes of learning, controlling emotions, sensing cravings, handling cravings, etc. Dopamine is the most significant of these chemicals. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries neurological information relating to emotions, awareness of cravings and sense of pleasure. Large amounts of dopamine create a sense of euphoria and ecstasy.
In sexual stimulation and activity, norepinephrine, oxytocin, vasopressin, serotonin and natural opiates are introduced. These additional chemicals are responsible for the bonding to another person emotionally and cognitively, laying down long term memories in the brain, neurological adrenaline, and the wave of pleasure at orgasm.
When we look at porn, a supercharged amount of dopamine floods the brain and an artificial high is created. The brain’s pleasure center spikes, and we experience euphoria and ecstasy. Repeated exposure to porn causes the brain to be repeatedly overloaded and become fatigued, and the dopamine receptors begin to shut down. When this happens, the same experience does not produce the same result, causing a more frequent and more intense experience to bring the same “high” or euphoric experience. And thus, an addiction is born.
Additionally, with porn, the brain is unable to “bond” to the image on the screen like a real person. The unsuccessful attempt to do so leaves the brain with a “short circuit” type of experience resulting in intensifying the need to try again (increased addictive tendencies) and facilitates the unsatisfied feeling a short time after the sexual release.
The inability to bond to the image on the screen leaves the brain confused in areas of intimacy. We as humans are designed to bond to another person emotionally, relationally, and physically. We call this intimacy.
When the brain relates images to a sexual fantasy or sexual act, it begins to replace the originally wired brain structure of desiring human contact and emotional intimacy with that of the image, hence objectification. The brain actually begins to see other people as body parts for the purpose of our pleasure rather than another person to bond with in a healthy self-giving relationship.
The craving for self-pleasure overrides our logic center and addictive behavior patterns, such as deception and extreme selfishness, take over. We seek the next dopamine dump or “fix” at any cost. Two-thirds of HR professionals have found porn on employee’s computers, demonstrating that the craving for pleasure is so strong that large numbers of people risk their jobs just to get the fix.
This process of supercharging the brain begins to cause degeneration of the frontal lobe and produces multiple negative effects. Negative results include reduced concentration, depression, blurring of reality, anxiety, withdrawal from social activities, reduced willpower and erectile dysfunction just to name a few. With the flood of chemicals overloading the brain, the pleasure center of the brain becomes so fatigued that it becomes increasingly difficult to experience pleasure in normal everyday life.
To hammer this idea home, take a look at a study in 1954 by researchers James Olds and Peter Milner. They found that when rats were electronically stimulated in the pleasure center of the brain similar to sexual pleasure, the rats would be so focused on choosing the reward switch that provided this stimulus that they literally starved themselves in effort to be rewarded with pleasure. The rats chose the stimulus over food to the point of death. No, we aren’t rats, but the addiction principle is exactly the same: it blurs the sense of reality and decision making–even in humans.
When looking at porn, how many times have you watched a scene and asked yourself: What’s her real name? I wonder what her hobbies are? Does she have any kids? Does she like camping? What’s her favorite food? You get the idea.
No, of course not! You’re thinking how good she looks and picturing yourself as the guy with her. You’re thinking of how much pleasure she could bring you. And when you are done and turn off your computer, she is forgotten. She was merely an object for your enjoyment, no different than a new car or a top end fishing reel–some “thing” to enjoy.
Without realizing it, this perception bleeds to the women you see in daily life. Co-workers, bank tellers, a random woman walking down the street–all become objects.
Here’s a self-test. Are you more interested in interacting with an attractive woman than one who may be a little overweight or a little below average looking? This reveals that you may not be seeing the “person,” but rather an object or a sum total of body parts.
We need to be clear that we all typically first notice certain aspects of a person’s physical appearance. There is still a chemistry component between people, and it is wrong to deny that. However, when you notice the physical aspects of a women, do you move on to wondering who she is as a person? What is her name? Or do you begin to fantasize about physical relations with her, sealing in your mind the images of memorable parts of her body?
If you honestly realize you tend to be more interested in the latter, be aware of this fact. There may need to be a change in how you see and treat women. Let’s be fair, studies show women are becoming more and more prone to the same objectification of men as well.
This objectification isn’t limited to the opposite sex; it tends to dictate how our relationships and interactions are with all people. We first think of what we can get from the other person, rather than having some kind of friendship or relationship with them.
Common behaviors will reveal themselves in marriage by thinking, “What can my wife do for me?” Not just sexually, but from a service expectation. Do you expect her to do the laundry, clean the house, take care of the kids, etc.? Or is caring for her the first thing on your mind? Do you help around the house because you want to take some of the load off of your bride or do you help because she is nagging you or you expect something in return?
Yes, we are all guilty of self-centered behaviors and tendencies from time to time. However, studies are clear that porn consumption dramatically cultivates a selfish frame of mind rather than one of selflessness.
Remember the symptoms of brain dysfunction: depression, withdrawal, reduced willpower, etc. Do you know of anyone with these symptoms that you’d say is an outgoing, selfless person always willing to please others? The fact is, you can’t give and take at the same time.
While on the surface it may seem that human trafficking may not be ruining your life, consider that all women are somebody’s daughters. Do you have daughters or sisters or nieces?
The radical increase in pornography in the last decade has created a demand for porn that the “willing” actresses can’t keep up with. Also with the most popular porn searches being for violent acts and teen girls, the demand for younger and more innocent actresses are in high demand.
The demand has gotten so bad that the term “rape for profit” is now a standard in the industry. Even if you are of the school of thought that it only affects you and no one else, it’s no longer true. The more addicts, the more trafficking.
Personal success is where this will hit many of us. Success is often the foundation of our value system. We simply can’t get away from the impact of the first two points of this article.
First, the side effects of depression, social withdrawal, reduced willpower and reduced ability to concentrate will undoubtedly create road blocks in how successful a person can be. Second, most leaders in business have the ability to make people feel valued and important–something that is difficult to do when your world is self-focused. If you look closely, many successful leaders are either strong leaders because people felt valued and wanted to follow, or they obtained their status by brute force and luck.
Unfortunately, with our culture becoming more and more sexualized, it is difficult to shield ourselves from the overwhelming images. Billboards, television, and even the advertisements in our email bombard us with tempting images. Staying clean and away from temptation is no easy task. Products like Covenant Eyes are critical to keep at least some of the unsolicited images at bay. This is also something that all parents should be educated on to have appropriate discussions with our children. Young brains become addicted much faster than adult ones.
So if you’re not religious, don’t care about ethics, or you’re ok with brain damage, bad relationships, and the trafficking of young girls, then by all means–indulge.
covenanteyes.com · by · April 12, 2016