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Porn on the Brain

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by rizen1, Jul 24, 2013.

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  1. #1 rizen1, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
    The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain
    Article ID: JAF1345
    •By: William M. Struthers, Ph.D

    PORN ON THE BRAIN

    It should come as no surprise that the majority of pornography viewers are men. And while it is true that women also notice sexual cues in their environment, there seems to be a sensitivity to pornography that many men have built into their neurological wiring. The male brain seems to be built in such a way that visual cues that have sexual relevance (e.g., the naked female form, solicitous facial expressions) have a hypnotic effect on him. When these cues are detected, they trigger a cascade of neurological, chemical, and hormonal events.5 In some ways they are like the “hit” of a drug—there is a rush of sexual arousal and energy that accompanies it. How a man learns to deal with this energy and to form an appropriate response to it is part of becoming a mature adult. The psychological, behavioral, and emotional habits that form our sexual character will be based on the decisions we make. Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod. The consequences of this are far-reaching.6


    Another relevant finding by those who are conducting brain research is in the area of what are being called mirror neurons. These neurons make up a circuit located in the frontal and parietal lobes (the region near the top of your head). These neurons are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior. They contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. Consider this example: if you see someone grab a hammer and pound it, the same part of your brain that you would use to actually pound a hammer would also be activated. Other brain regions may hold that behavior in check, but you now have primed a neural circuit to hammer a nail. These neurons were originally called “monkey see, monkey do” neurons (they were first discovered in monkeys), and constitute the way we neurologically learn by observing others. Whenever we see a behavior, there is a silent echo; a neurological mirror of ourselves doing that behavior resides in the brain. This is a wonderful thing as we can learn by watching others, but it can also have negative effects, especially with respect to pornography.7

    These mirror neurons are involved when someone views pornography because what they view, they vicariously experience and learn from. As men watch the sexually charged scene onscreen, they vicariously “mirror” this, which triggers sexual arousal.8 This mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on. In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.

    But it would be wrong to think of viewing pornography as just a simple circuit board. The human brain is not like a computer; it has a chemical soup in which it operates and functions. There are hormones and brain chemicals (known as neurotransmitters), which provide the chemical medium for brain activity. Viewing pornography does not just activate circuits; it generates feelings intended for sexual longing, desire, love, and romance. It also alters the chemical medium of the entire body in profound ways. These chemicals include the neurotransmitters that brain cells use to communicate with each other, as well as the hormones the body and the brain produce in response to sexual arousal and sexual activity.


    THE BIG FIVE


    In men, there are five noteworthy chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. Testosterone is the male hormone that seems to drive sexual interest. It has long been known that castrating animals (removal of the testes that produce the majority of testosterone in males) is an effective way to decrease sex drive and castration also reduces interest in sex in men as well (i.e., eunuchs). Testosterone seems to be an enabler of sex drive and its production is triggered by the brain through a hormonal process that can be adjusted throughout the day in response to what is going on in the environment. When sexual cues are identified by the brain, a surge of testosterone production is triggered. This testosterone surge heightens sexual anticipation and prepares the body for sexual encounters. What is fascinating is that these cues can be produced by pornography or through sexual fantasizing. So it’s not just what you see that causes the testosterone surge to increase sexual interest, it is also what you dwell on that can produce the surge as well.

    A second player in the cavalcade of chemicals is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is known to underlie all drugs of addiction. Dopamine seems to play an important role in helping people identify what things in their environment are significant. This chemical is going to be the primary reason why craving occurs. Often dopamine is referred to as a pleasure chemical. Its levels are increased when we do things that generally perpetuate our lives and the survival of our species. For example, satisfying hunger by eating a meal, satisfying thirst by drinking water, and satisfying the sex drive by engaging in intercourse all are correlated with heightened dopamine levels. External or internal sexual cues can trigger the release of dopamine in key brain regions that are also sensitive to testosterone. The key element to remember here is that dopamine is directing us toward resolving the tension that is being produced by the sexual images and anticipation of sexual release. It provides the rush that men feel when they view pornography.

    Another neurotransmitter involved in heightening this rush is norepinephrine. It has two functions in the development of sexual addictions. First, norepinephrine is a significant player in promoting sexual arousal. It is a cousin to adrenaline chemically, and it is involved in helping the body prepare for sexual activity. In addition to preparing the body, it also is readying the brain to remember how the sexual drive is being met. Norepinephrine helps to store the memories of this event. It should come as no surprise that many men who can’t remember what they had for breakfast last week can still remember the image of the first Playboy centerfold that they ever saw. Norepinephrine serves to help store these memories and get these images stuck in the brain because, presumably, they were memories that were important to be stored.

    While dopamine and norepinephrine may provide the immediate rush that men get from viewing porn, the key event in determining whether or not viewing becomes a habitual pattern is going to be the release of endogenous opiates produced during sexual release (most notably in response to orgasm). Many men will report that this experience is accompanied by feelings of transcendence and euphoria that are known to be related to the release of endogenous opiates. It has been known for decades that the brain produces its own opiates that are involved in pain relief and pleasure. Street drugs such as heroin and medicines such as morphine can produce feelings of euphoria and reduce pain. This ability of orgasm to produce euphoria or release from sexual tension is what provides the psychological reward to the sexual drive. The release of endogenous opiates during masturbation or sexual activity with a partner is part of a larger sequence of sexual arousal and response. Viewing pornography provides the stimuli that help prepare the body for sexual response. When the viewer sexually acts out, resulting in orgasm, it gets stored as a behavior that is known to have a significant payoff. That significant payoff is the release of opiates that provide the chemical substrate for the psychological experience of orgasm.

    While the payoff for orgasm is powerful, it is not an easy thing to achieve. The highs of orgasm are not available on demand. In the real world with real people, considerable effort has to go into cultivating a relationship that may result in a sexual encounter. A great deal of neurological effort, hormonal preparation, and appropriate behaviors usually precede this high. Here is where pornography hijacks God’s intended pattern of sexual attraction, arousal, and response.

    Viewing pornography for sexual arousal and using it to produce the release and euphoria of orgasm provides a merely transient fix to any number of psychological problems. Whether it is depression, poor self-esteem, anger, or any other number of things that cause a person to feel a need for relief or release, pornography becomes part of the ritual that is used to get a short-term fix. Like eating candy to satisfy hunger, pornography can feel like a healthy way to satisfy the drive for intimacy. In truth, it provides no nourishment whatsoever, and results in a greater degree of need. Even in the absence of acting out, the images have such a robust, salient character that they are stored as memories that can produce a warped sense of sexuality and objectification.


    SO NOW WHAT?

    How do we avoid falling into despair once we realize that the use of pornography can produce long-lasting neurological and hormonal effects on the brain? It is important to remember that the guidelines we are given in Scripture about how to conduct ourselves sexually are fairly straightforward.

    When we follow these guidelines, we will be more likely to develop minds that focus on those things that are good and noble, right, and pure. When we choose not to follow these guidelines and act in a way that is sexually immoral, we are affected—our thoughts and bodies become polluted. The same can be said for watching immorality, that is to say, viewing pornography. It corrupts and pollutes our brains as it attempts to make sense of humanity’s sexual nature. But if we choose to follow the guidelines of Scripture, we will find that we are better able to appreciate the image of God in each person and have a healthy view of sexuality where we honor one another rather than consume each other.

    This is not only a spiritual reality, but also a neurological one. When a husband and wife restrict themselves to each other, directing their sexual energies toward one another, they will find that they occupy each other’s thoughts. They will find that they will be more closely bound to each other. This is God’s plan for a husband and wife—that they will image God’s exclusive love for His people as they exclusively set this part of themselves (their reproductive nature) aside for one another. For the single person, realizing that needs for intimacy can be met in ways beyond sexual gratification is an important process. When someone is deceived into thinking that sexual intimacy (i.e., sexual intercourse) is a necessary part of living a life worth living, it comes as no surprise that pornography, masturbation, or promiscuity become a cycle of unmet needs and unfulfilled promises of intimacy, love, and connectedness.

    These neurological habits of compulsion and depravity were not established overnight and the expectation is that they will not be changed overnight. But if we can appreciate that God uses our embodied nature and the laws that govern it to our benefit and His glory, then we should also appreciate that God can reveal Himself in a unique way through our brokenness. In other words, He exhibits both His grace and power through the process of redemption as we continue to walk with Him by faith. If we understand that our sexuality need not hinder us as we pursue sanctification but instead can be harnessed and used to propel us forward, we then can also see that it plays a critical in our life’s purpose, which is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). By moving beyond the lie of pornography—that people are nothing more than sexual objects to be consumed—we can appreciate each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We can begin to move beyond objectification and false intimacy to real relationships, which honor the dignity of each person.

    Sexual intimacy is a complex neurochemical, hormonal, and spiritual event. It is one of the most powerful God-given means by which human beings form attachments. The question “Who or what are you bound to?” has to be asked in the arena of sexuality, and it has a neurobiological answer. There is no such thing as “just looking” at porn. There can be no doubt that it affects us neurologically in long-lasting ways. How we choose to exercise that knowledge—for sanctification or for depravity—is up to each one of us.

    William M. Struthers, Ph.D., is associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where he teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience, men and addictions, and psychopharmacology. His research is in the area of sexuality, neuroethics, the biological bases of personhood, and the nature of integration in psychology.


    •Article ID: JAF1345
    •By: William M. Struthers, Ph.D

    This article first appeared in Christian Research Journal, volume 34, number 05 (2011). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: CRI | Equip, Christian Research Institute, The Bible Answer Man, Equip App[/
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NOTES
    1.Rob Tannenbaum, “Interview with John Mayer,” Playboy Magazine (March 2010).
    2.Read Mercer Schuchardt, “Hugh Hefner’s Hollow Victory: How the Playboy Magnate Won the Culture War, Lost His Soul, and Left Us with a Mess to Clean Up,” Christianity Today, December 2003, 50–54.
    3.Todd G. Morrison et al., “Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material and Variations in Body Esteem, Genital Attitudes, and Sexual Esteem among a Sample of Canadian Men,” TheJournal of Men’s Studies 14, 2 (Spring 2006): 209–22.
    4.Gail Dines, Robert Jensen, and Ann Russo, Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (London: Routledge, 1998).
    5.Harold Mouras et al., “Brain Processing of Visual Sexual Stimuli in Healthy Men: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study,” Neuroimage 20, 2 (October 2003): 855–69.
    6.William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
    7.Justin H. G. Williams et al., “Imitation, Mirror Neurons and Autism,” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 25, 4 (June 2001): 287; Sarah Archibald, “Mirror Image,” NatureReviews Neuroscience 7, 4 (January 2006).
    8.Harold Mouras et al., “Activation of Mirror-Neuron System by Erotic Video Clips Predicts Degree of Induced Erection: An fMRI Study,” Neuroimage 42, 3 (September 2008): 1142–50
     
    Shiney likes this.
  2. Porn is images or video of naked women having sex. Let's remember that. That is completely ungodly.

    But if your talking about things like Hustler or Maxim, that just shows a woman dressed seductively, that's not porn. Also, if you posing nude for an art class, I don't think that is porn either. I think its art. Some people just admire the female form and why shouldn't they, I mean what is wrong with the showing the body that God hand made for us himself as long as its not fully naked?

    Just look at men in the Olympics wearing speedos, they never get criticized for that because that's not porn. Just like a girl in a revealing swimsuit is perfectly acceptable and not porn either.
     
    Binky likes this.
  3. GOD HIMSELF put clothe on Adam and Eve. We are Not to be showing our flesh bodies to others

    Men for sure are tempted by sight and it can cause serious sins. All sin takes place in our minds first. The actions are just a result of what our minds did.

    Mat_5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    And that sin can bring sickness to our bodies. Lots of people are suffering for that sin. It serious.
     
    Binky likes this.
  4. True. I'm just saying that some things that considered porn by some shouldn't be--- I mean the Olympics all the guys are on speedos, I don't think that's porn. Art classes, that's not porn. People do find the human body beautiful and its not fair to classify all of those people as porn addicts or pervs.
     
    Binky likes this.
  5. A magazine like Hustler is (and has to be) classified in the same category than porn because it's visual incitement and sexually suggestive for men. If you read well the article by Dr Struthers and understand the mechanisms he's talking about you'd see more why those images can bring people into sins; things that are biblically known as works of the flesh:

    Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry (...) Gal. 5.19-20

    It's like a domino and very often, it doesn't take much for a woman to become a stumbling block...

    You're young, Bikinigirl, and may not see the problem with that right now. We, women already have to struggle with what the society is imposing us like a tyrant (to look as sexy as possible in order to be considered physically beautiful and attractive); the fashion and cinema industries, the models, the magazine covers, even the videos games, the publicity, etc. are all telling us what we're supposed to look like and how we should be dressing.

    To the contrary, the word of God is telling women to...

    adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
    but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. (1 ti 2.9-10)

    Not necessary to dress like an Amish... but the LORD knows what is good for us, right?


     
    Binky likes this.
  6. Of course He does and that's why we can pray and talk to him.

    Maybe I'm wrong or just see things through a more artistic view but I don't see trash in everything, I probably look at Hustler and see more art, but that's just me.
     
  7. @bikinigirl Yes, pornography can also be soft, very artistic and subtle; but we know what all that leads to.

    It's like music or other things: it can be artistically
    awesome and very well made etc. and at the same time, carrying subliminal evil messages or occult charges.

    Maybe later when you'll have a fiancé (or a husband), you could understand what I mean if you
    see that he also has weaknesses and that his eyes can irresistibly be attracted to stare at very sexy or "immodestly dressed" women...
    Often we, women, don't realize it as long as we 'feel good' or are the center of the attention; but now we need to think for others too as believers, and that also, in many other things.

    But
    all of us (men and women) as believers, we have the same challenge : not only we have to come out of the world, but we also have to let the world come out of us!! lol

    :smiley:
     
    Binky likes this.
  8. I think pornography is often associated with men (yes, it is much more prevalent) but it is also common among women in lesser degrees. Pornography doesn't have to be an act of sex. Is looking a nude person pornography?
    I think most women at least would say yes. Yes shows like "The Bachelor" are popular with women. I have seen posters of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Robert Redford, Nicolas Cage, Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey,
    Ben Affleck, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, and others. I heard women say things about men, much in similar ways men talk about women. "I'd really like to..." do such and such with so and so. Where do we draw the line between pornography and adultery?
    Some might say adultery is worse than pornography (after all pornography is just looking). Yet the Bible seems to say.. even just looking with lust is enough. ( Matt 5:28; ) I suspect this goes for women also.
     
    Sue J Love and Binky like this.
  9. Dear B-A-C,

    I agree! Adultery isn't worse, it's just more evident. What defiles us starts in our minds and it's the same thing for women (it's just more taboo for them to talk about it).

    I guess that's why Adam and Eve where naked and pure at the very beginning and there was no problem about it, and after they were defiled by sin, God had to give them clothes and rules.
     
  10. I think adultery is far worse than pornography. Just like killing someone is much worse than just hating them.
     
  11. Apparently, not for Jesus, if you read Matthew 5.27-31. It may seem like that to us, but God sees things differently. Using someone else's body (other than wife or husband) to get sexual pleasure, virtually or not, is adultery IN THE MIND.
     
    Sue J Love likes this.
  12. #12 DutchChristian, Aug 5, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
    Dear bikinigirl,

    men wearing speedos is considered normal in the eyes of this wicked world, but in the Eyes of GOD it is unnormal. What is accepted in today's society now is not like it used to be in 1950 and before, nudity is now common on tv and on the streets al well but again in The Eyes of GOD it is not normal because it is giving attention to the flesh and lust.

    Besides that i do absolutely consider Hustler and other magazines as a form of porn!

    God Bless you,
    Dutch
     
    Binky likes this.
  13. #13 Fragrant Grace, Aug 5, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013

    I agree @DutchChristian

    In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
    1 Timothy 2:9

    @bikinigirl

    What our brother DutchChristian has said about nudity and scanty clothing is correct
    No matter how much you dress it up and call it acceptable worldly names such as 'art' or 'admiring the female form'.....it is still wrong in the eyes of the Lord
    And magazines such as Hustler are worldly trash

    But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
    Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death
    James 1:14-15


    And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child......
    Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.....
    But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.
    2 Samuel 11:2-5, 15 & 27
     
    Sue J Love likes this.
  14. Very good point, Fragrant Grace! You couldn' find a better example in the Scriptures of a naked woman just "innocently bathing" while it brought king David to commit sin.
     
  15. #15 james1523, Aug 6, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
    When God clothed Adam and Eve in Gen 3:21 it was Adam and Eve who clothed themselves scantily with fig leaves (signifying revealing clothing) , but God thought this wasn't enough and made them full coats of animal skin.
     
  16. My flesh wants nothing more than to be submerged into the things of this world. My flesh wants to sin like it was made for it. Thank Jesus Christ for The Holy Spirit to battle against it. Without Him I would wither away into the world and die without ever being the man God made me to be.

    Galatians 5:17 (NKJV)
    "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

    Ephesians 6:13
    "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

    I have fallen short of the glory of God for a long time because this sin. It's not just the porn, it's the act of giving into the flesh. If you think you're okay to do it without watching porn, you're wrong. Acknowledge the excuses and justifications you make in your mind and don't pretend it's what God is telling you. You're whole body wants to do the act, so don't let your mind and heart deceive you. Give the moment to Jesus and wait on Him to deliver you from temptation, He will show you a way out.

    1 Corinthians 10:13
    "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

    We need to be victorious in Christ so we can help our brothers and sisters out of sexual immorality.
     
    Sue J Love likes this.
  17. Wrong is wrong, whether be man or woman OR 'artistic' intentions. There are so many verses in the Bible both in the OT and NT about lust, fleshful desires, Satan's devices (deception), etc about this.

    Matthew 5:28
    But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    1 Corinthians 6:18
    Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

    Galatians 5:16
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

    Colossians 3:5
    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

    1 John 2:16
    For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

    Romans 8:6
    For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

    James 1:14-15
    But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

    Job 31:1
    I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?

    Galatians 6:8
    For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
     
    Alyse Weiss and Sue J Love like this.
  18. That was a very good post my friend. Did you write the entire article?
     
    Sent from an iPad
  19. I'm glad you enjoyed it, it was written by William M. Struthers, Ph.D
     
  20. It is often true that "actions speak louder that words" but sin is sin, and the impurities of heart are just as damning! Jesus didn't come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. As the New Covenant was evolving, he took the old law of adultery to a new reasoning. He said of Adultery, if you have a lustful thought of another, you have committed adultery! Pornography is sinful on many levels, assuredly the act of adultery is one of them!
     
    Sue J Love likes this.

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