This is Your Brain on Porn - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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This is Your Brain on Porn

Porn is the new tobacco. But instead of deteriorating the lungs, it deteriorates the brain.

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Ok, I know this may sound harsh, but hear me out. There’s evidence that watching porn leads to both addiction and sexual dysfunction. I know – I know! But when a person who’s prone to addictive tendencies looks at a pornographic material, testosterone, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin are all released in the brain to create the so-called “erototoxin”. The release of these chemicals causes a temporary feeling of euphoria that later becomes a necessity for the person to function, or feel ‘alive’.

This is Your Brain on Porn

“He says he watches porn casually. Could he be a porn addict?” Maybe — read on to find out. The difference between a porn addict and a normal person who casually watches porn is evident in the chemical makeup of that person’s brain, and the symptoms he exhibits. BUT even if he’s not “addicted”, it could still be subconsciously changing the way he looks at women, and the way he acts in bed.

Watch Russell Brand break it down:

…and here’s an incredible TED Talk on the subject:

Neuroscientists have explained how porn hijacks the male brain by making new neural pathways as they habitually fixate on pornographic images. “Neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed. Every woman they come into contact with is objectified, undressed and evaluated as a willing (or unwilling) mental sexual partner,” explains neuroscientist and researcher Dr. William M. Struthers.

Want to hear something scary? Porn sites get more monthly visitors than Twitter, Amazon and Netflix combined. And of the most-watched porn, 90% contained misogynistic verbal and physical violence. There’s no denying it – porn is having an enormous influence on both men and women. The effects of pornography addiction vary, but these are the most common:

It can ruin his real-life sex life.

Compulsively gawking at pornographic images (especially of hardcore or kinky sex, rape and sexual abuse) will lead to no longer being turned on by “regular” or affectionate sex, therefore sabotaging his real-life sex life.

It can ruin his marriage / relationships.

As a guy regularly watches porn over the Internet, he starts fantasizing about other women and becomes more detached and emotionally distant from his girlfriend or wife. Porn reduces his capacity for intimacy.

This is Your Brain on Porn

It can make him crave unattainable variety.

Since when a man watches porn, he is constantly seeing a new woman, or multiple women, every few minutes, it conditions him to crave variety and sabotages his chances of heightened arousal with only one woman (without being detached and fantasizing about others).

It can change the way he interacts with and views all women.

Because porn is designed for men, and primarily centers around men dominating women, he may also become more violent and misogynistic, perhaps without consciously realizing it, and this can affect many areas of his life. It can make it difficult for him to see women as equals in the workplace, and he may instead mentally objectify his colleagues.

It may lead to emotional, physical and/or sexual dysfunction.

In more extreme cases, porn addicts have been known to lose the ability to control their sexual urges. Men who watch porn often become dependent on pornography to de-stress. He may fear real sex and find it hard to create social and personal interactions outside of the virtual world. He may also get desensitized to the point where he has erectile dysfunction issues (so if he can’t get hard, it could be because he’s been watching porn.)

Porn addicts’ sexual behavior could be affected in multiple ways: either they shy away from real people, or they crave variety in partners, or they lose control of their urges.

Here’s a TED Talk about the addictive effects of porn and, interestingly, the growing community of men that have vowed to stop watching porn:

We interviewed some men for this article. Here are two who stood out. A man named Keith has this story:

“The tragedy was that my pornography habit kept me totally alienated from any real relationship with girls. I found it difficult to relate to real girls, who didn’t behave like the girls in pornography, I didn’t have girlfriends, because the girls I met or dated reacted with fear and disgust to my pornography-inspired advances toward them. Pornography had taught me that the way to be accepted and loved was through sex, but in reality my obsession with sex brought me only alienation, loneliness, and shame.”

Gene’s story, on the other hand, goes:

“As my mental scenarios demanded more graphic expression, I gravitated to more and more twisted and violent pornographic images. This material that once would have nauseated me, now have become my fantasy. From there I progressed to massage parlors, and finally to using prostitutes. Just as at each step before, what was at first shocking and repulsive became easier and easier to accept. In fact, it was the shock and repulsion that gave me that ‘rush’ I craved.”

Both reformed porn addicts, Keith and Gene are now active members of “Victims of Pornography”, a project designed by Citizens for Community Values to create awareness that there are real victims in pornography.

This is Your Brain on Porn

Believe it or not, pornography addiction is not just a problem among men. There’s a growing number of women who are lured to pornography addiction as well. When a woman watches porn, her self-worth plummets, and she starts to self-objectify, seeing herself as an object to be used by men. She becomes more risk-taking, sexually (like allowing men to degrade her), and not because she’s being true to herself, but because this is what her subconscious is picking up as “normal” and as what will give her value.

Here’s another TED Talk. This one explains how porn so easily changes the brain and creates an addiction, and many damaging effects:

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Pornography visualizes fantasies that many people may be unable to act out in real life. So for those normal people, take it as a means of entertainment — but do it very sparingly. Occasionally watch and enjoy the non-misogynistic varieties. Fantasize, and take inspiration from it. Just don’t make it a regular habit.

Figure out what aspects really turn YOU on, then unleash your inner seductress and try a few out in real life. Try “mirroring” what you see in the video with your lover. Wear lingerie. Meet at a bar and pretend you’re meeting for the first time. Role play and use toys. Make him swoon just like the first time you made love. Cherish, laugh, and be silly together. Just get off the computer, go out and get a life! 😉

 

~ Want more? Check out Culture Reframed to get involved in the anti-porn culture movement, and try our Monthly Sexual Bucket List.

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 72 Comments

  1. Jossen Row

    People saying porn is all about male dominance and choking and all this shit. WTF? The only porn I watch is normal sex with each partner having their turn on top. Nothing kinky. I think porn is only an issue with people who get addicted to it and need to watch more intense stuff to get off. It’s just like drugs or alcohol, some people have a problem doing them once in a while but other people get addicted and move on to harder drugs.

  2. Jonathon Swift

    It’s been 3 weeks since I stopped watching porn. It’s been hard ass fuck. But I stopped because porn gets you in that weird state of mind when it comes to real women: I don’t give a fuck about you, who you are, what things you like, things you dislike, I just wanna fuck you. It wasn’t just that.when I saw beautiful and sexy women on TV or movies, I always expected the girls to get nacked, and do dirty stuff, even though I knew porn I was watching.

    • Summer Ferrel

      “Hard ass fuck”?? Freudian slip, much??

  3. NANCY

    All these porn lovers in the comment section are unable to accept the fact that porn is bad for them. So bad.

    • Marlon Lawrence

      I can’t agree more. For those who are a porn addict. Watching porn is like supporting it. The more you view the more women will be violated. Which sucks! Sex should be enjoyed by two people who love and respect each other. Imagine if every girl in the porn your watching is your daughter how would you feel?

    • Joss Butler

      Addiction complex, they end up believing what they’re doing is good for them, just because they need it.

  4. Amy Bolden

    I feel sorry for guys who can’t control themselves. Honestly, it’s pathetic. Learn to control yourself and you’ll feel happier that you have control over your mind and body.

    • May Baker

      There are people who are addicted to sex without them knowing it. Those are the people who are sick and needs medication immediately. But the problem is they themselves don’t know that they are sick. If you guys have a friend or anyone you know who might be suffering from sex addiction, tell them to visit a doctor. Nobody can save them if nobody will tell them.

  5. Beatrice Schnabel

    Classy porn that doesn’t degrade women is not bad at all. And softcore, like on late night climax or Showtime is awesome. When I was 12-14 the late 90’s shows like hot springs hotel brought me more joy than I can describe. I recently downloaded the whole series for the nostalgia and you know.

  6. Brett Lee

    I gave up porn after I started suffering from repetitive strain injury.

  7. Michelle Fisher

    There is a widely held but disputed hypothesis that porn addiction causes negative effects in terms of people’s relationships. Given that those effects include things such as rape or domestic violence, it’s got to be worthy of investigation.

  8. Maxine Ford

    You’ve probably realized by now that porn takes up a lot of your time. Anyone who frequently watches porn knows that as the years have gone on, they watch harder material for longer periods of time. Think of it this way: if you spent just 10 minutes a day watching porn, that’s over 60 hours at the end of the year you could have spent doing something beneficial to your life. Time is precious; spend it on making memories that last, not on images that disappear with a click.

  9. Karen Smith

    By quitting porn, you’re taking a stand against a dangerous, exploitive industry and becoming an advocate for positive personal and social change. This is definitely something you can feel proud of. Change yourself, and change the world.

  10. Jewel Byars

    A belief in yourself is a huge casualty of consistent porn viewing. People who feel they are addicted who porn believe they are broken human beings with a damaged capacity to love and feel joy. These negative feelings come from your own negative feelings about porn mixed with your inability to quit, or from any of the negative side effects that go with repeatedly watching porn. By kicking the habit, you begin to be happy, which will fuel your confidence in all aspects of your life.

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