In a previous blog post, I discussed about how pornography affects the brain, that it is similar to how drugs affects a person physically. In this article, I want to talk about internet pornography in particular, as compared to the type of pornography faced by men decades ago. Today’s type of online porn affects the brain by overstimulating it in four ways.
First, a person’s brain crave novelty, and the internet provides an endless supply and variety of novel images and videos. As compared to the available pornographic material decades ago, magazines and images can lose their appeal within a short period of time. But in the case of internet porn, new materials are instantly available with just a click of a mouse. And with each new video or image, the brain’s limbic system releases a burst of dopamine, the “I’ve got to have that” chemical. The power and intensity that internet porn creates a heightened level of stimulation that a person’s brain was never intended to experience. As long as novelty continues, the sexual pull of online porn continues – while dopamine fuels the want.
Second, online pornography provides no limitations on the amount a person can consume. As compared to substance and food addiction, an addict can run out of food or drugs or can become physically unable to take in more. But with porn online a person can have an infinite supply. That is why it is not uncommon for a man to stay up all night and lose track of what’s happening around him when viewing porn.
Third, tolerance happens when a man wants more of an addictive substance or, in this case, pornographic materials from the internet, to get the same effect. As time passes, the person becomes increasingly tolerant to a particular stimuli. This means, a person can either overcome the tolerance by increasing the amount of time to view porn or by escalating the intensity of the images or videos. This explains why a man can move from reading FHM, to viewing R-rated videos, to X-rated or hard core porn then lead to other perversions such as BDSM (bondage and discipline with sadism and masochism), bestiality, rape and other scenes that are normally deemed shocking and repulsive. This is done not because the person is predisposed to these things but because the strong emotions (shock, disgust, shame) give the “new high” or the much sought-after dopamine burst.
Lastly, online porn overstimulates the brain because it is available on demand. Unlike other addictive substances that requires a person to arrange some things to get a high, with the brain and its memory capacity, a man has a stash of porn in his mind without even having to go online. Each time the images and scenes are flashed in the mind, a burst of dopamine is experienced.
With these four factors combined, you can just imagine the intensity of the storm that is conjured in the neurochemical sea of the brain. Over time, the brain is changed physically and the person who regularly views online porn becomes addicted not just to the porn itself but to his own brain chemistry.
Hopefully, this would help men who struggle with internet pornography understand what is happening inside the brain when viewing porn is continued regularly. The good news is, according to Michael John Cusick’s “Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire beneath Sexual Struggle”, the brain can be rewired. That will be focus of my next article.