Pornography and the Brain

My recent readings, among other things, prompted me to write about the relationship of pornography and a person’s brain. Some of the things I learned from the book “Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire beneath Sexual Struggle” by Michael John Cusick are what I want to share here in this article.

Understanding the compulsive use of pornography is not complete without taking into consideration the physical changes or effects that porn has on a person. Recent discoveries in neuroscience have helped in trying to understand and treat various kinds of addictions and psychological disorders as well as the pursuit of good physical and emotional health. The discoveries, when summed up, come to a conclusion that our brains are highly changeable. In relation to pornography, which is one of the behavioral addictions, I learned that viewing porn regularly affects the brain just like drugs – in all major aspects.

Sexual desire and arousal do not simply begin in the genitals – they begin in the brain. When changes happen in the part of the brain related to sex, it also changes a person’s sexual desire and the ability to choose how to act on it.

In the brain is a chemical neurotransmitter dopamine. It is the gas that fuels the desire engine and it involves both anticipation and expectation. It is the “got to have it” or “I want it” molecule. When we imagine a good experience we had like eating at a restaurant that serves your favorite dish, shopping for a new gadget that you have been looking forward to purchase, or in relation to this article, having sex or looking at a porn site, the brain releases dopamine and our senses then call out to us and we hear Beenie Man singing loudly, “Gimme, gimme, gimmme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme…”. The more intense the experience being imagined or being anticipated, the more dopamine is released in the brain.

The problem is, pornography can overstimulate a person’s brain. Its power and intensity, especially the pornography available in our time, internet pornography particularly, as against pornography many decades ago, create a very high level of stimulation – something that a person’s brain was not intended to experience. Because of this, the brain of a person regularly using pornography can change and shape itself to resemble neuropathways similar to those of an alcoholic or drug addict. On my next article, I will write the four ways that internet pornography overstimulates the brain.

Pornography and the Brain

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