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”. In short, 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 traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. 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 life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 163 Comments

  1. D.K.

    Porn won’t give you STD’s and make you pay child support for children that aren’t yours. Just saying.

  2. Vera Wolfe

    Watching porn has often led men to become more violent towards women. In many of the videos online, women are treated in a way that shouldn’t ever be repeated in real life, unless it’s something they find arousing and give you their consent to do so.

  3. Tara Lambert

    The majority of us have dreams, passions and goals in our life, right? What happens when we get distracted from them? We lose sight of them. We stop working on them. Porn is just one of the many bad habits that can stop us from working on our passions. Your addiction to watching porn is taking up a lot of your time; time that could be spent achieving your goals.

  4. Sharon Reese

    Most online porn nowadays is free, unless you truly are addicted and want to start watching all the premium productions. If that’s the case, then your wallet is going to start looking a little thin.

  5. Angie Becker

    Porn might make you question a lot of things; your abilities in the bedroom, your physical appearance, your relationships. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest side effects of things like porn. They ruin your self-confidence. But, there’s a simple fix: stop watching porn and the doubt goes away!

  6. Dixie Castro

    In the fantasy world of porn, where everything is designed to perfection, sometimes we can forget to appreciate just what we have. With images instilled in our minds of perfect bodies, we can easily forget to appreciate our partner.

  7. Bridget Baker

    Real-ationships are better, than your porn-line buddy.

  8. Kara Mccormick

    Choose real love instead of watching porn. Create real connections, not virtual ones.

  9. Eva Armstrong

    Connect with real people, stop watching porn.

  10. Neal Chambers

    I was watching porn about 20 minutes ago. You know why? Out of boredom. I am a young early 20s male and it is a sorry state of affairs that I have reached a place where I find watching porn an acceptable release for when boredom kicks in. When I discovered porn in my early teens, just the mere sight of breasts would be enough but it has to be said the more you watch porn the more you descend into a filthy hole (no pun intended) where just a little is never enough and you then find yourself skipping through the video to the “ending scenes” I stumbled across this article because I was wondering if it just me who has grown tired and almost desensitized to the stuff that is shown on porn sites, it is good to know that it is perhaps a more common problem for men than I originally thought. I genuinely feel like I have lost a part of me, an innocence, a feeling of being with a girl and just enjoying being in bed with them, it’s always oh but we didn’t do that or damn I wish I had a girl who would do that for me.

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