This is your brain on porn

This is your brain on porn

I’ve been working on an assignment for a couple’s therapy class.  I had to create a fictional scenario involving an estranged couple.  It could have been anything, so I picked an issue that has perplexed me for years.  In the realm of IT, people’s computers make many confessions.  A non-judgemental ear receives even more.  I know common it is for men to be caught up in the porn trap.  Sadly, I never had very valuable advice to give.  For my scenario, I have a man addicted to porn and his wife discovers his habit and all the lies and deceit that go along with it.

I jumped down the rabbit hole of porn, and I was shocked at what I found.  Heavy porn use leads to an addiction much like an addiction to gambling or sex.  Remember the old commercials with the frying egg.  This your brain, this your brain on drugs.  Well, the most recent neuroscience research has discovered that porn addiction looks a lot like drug addiction in the brain.  Just like with drugs or alcohol you have:

  • Tolerance builds up so you need more porn to get the same arousal
  • Symptoms of withdrawal if you try to quit
  • Increase sensitivity to triggers that make you crave the porn
  • Strong correlation with depression and anxiety
  • Diminished of intimacy in relationships
  • Erectile dysfunction

Yeah, I just wrote erectile dysfunction, and it is more unique to porn use.  The brain isn’t used to the stimuli produced by the serial cornucopia of illicit videos on porn streaming sites.  Your brain is so overwhelmed that another part of your brain tries to turn down the sensitivity of your reward system.  So, you need more porn and increasing unique forms of porn to get the same arousal.  Plus, your reward system for everything else is turned down too.  So, you get to the point where the only thing that seems matter anymore is porn.  Your brain gets so wired for porn that Mr. Happy just doesn’t get that happy even with a naked woman in the room.

Porn rewires your brain and impairs your ability to think, to gain self-control and ultimately quit.  That explains why so many people can’t quit because a normal man who compulsively uses porn can’t quit without help.  Getting off porn will allow the brain to reset and most of the negative impacts diminish with time.  Then you have to work on the things in your life that make you prone to addiction I the first place.

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