The problem with porn

Many women are troubled by their partner or boyfriend’s use of pornography. And they have good reason to be.As long ago as 350Bc, the philosopher Aristotle noted how, unless analyzed and controlled, human behaviour will typically tend toward extremes. Without external control or self-discipline, when it comes to anything that gives pleasure, human beings are inclined to overindulgence, loss of control and in the extreme, self-destruction.

The porn industry is worth billions of dollars a year and porn addiction is rife and getting worse. Addiction to porn has many costs to the men who can’t leave it alone:

  • Time spent on porn is often at the expense of work, friends, healthy activities and family.
  • Porn costs money which could be better spent on other things.
  • Loss of self-respect.
  • Loss of other’s respect.
  • A detrimental effect on personality such as secrecy, deceit, and cultivating the ‘dark side’ of a man’s nature.
  • Damage to relationships.
  • Influences their response to women, so that females can be more readily viewed as objects, conveniences, commodities, people to be exploited and who are not worthy of respect.
  • Like any addiction, porn can take over the viewer’s life (so that porn images and scenes intrude constantly) and can weaken will power, ambition, motivation etc.
  • It changes the brain.
  • It can lead to impotence.

Most porn viewers justify what they do as ‘normal’; that they are just satisfying their curiosity, that it is harmless, and that ‘everyone’ does it. But viewers of porn become desensitized so that eventually even the most loathsome images don’t have much impact on them.

The porn addict will find it increasingly difficult to find his real, live, partner arousing. Reality is no longer enough and without his porn fantasies to stimulate him he will have little interest in ‘ordinary’, no frills, sex.  He might try and entice his partner into dressing up, role-playing or trying more ‘exotic’ acts to try to get real life closer to porn fantasy. Eventually he will want more primitive, more violent, less emotionally connected, and less personal sex.

Normal sex and normal women are not enough. Fantasy becomes so much more satisfying than reality. It’s a bit like a woman being obsessed with romantic fantasies of the perfect man, a woman whose life revolves around romance novels and dreams of Prince Charming. Any real man can only be a disappointment. Eventually, the tender touch of a loving partner just doesn’t do it for the porn addict anymore and he may lose interest in ‘real’ sex and become impotent with his partner. Only porn images will then be able to arouse him at all.

The regular viewing of pornography changes men’s brains (perhaps permanently). What scientists call neuroplasticity means that the human brain changes its structure and way of operating when we change our activities and thoughts. Learning a new language for example re-wires the brain by connecting up previously unconnected neurons. Porn does the same thing only without any positive result. This can be especially damaging for young people (those under 24) whose brains are not yet mature. Porn will change their future sexual style and responses.

But adults too will have their brains reshaped by porn. The porn addict has pornographic images hardwired into his brain in much the same way that a soldier seeing death and mutilated bodies will have such images ‘burned’ into his brain and be affected by them for years to come.

Porn affects dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure of achieving and rewards) and can damage its system permanently. We experience two types of pleasure - anticipation pleasure and satisfaction pleasure. Porn overstimulates the anticipatory pleasure and re-wires the brain so that the feeling of satisfaction (after masturbation or anything else) is short lived and the anticipation (or the craving) quickly takes over. The centres of the brain associated with pleasur