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How The Porn Industry Limits Consumers’ Sexual Freedom

By March 2, 2017 May 3rd, 2018 No Comments

The world is a pretty cool place. Many countries have been founded on a desire for greater freedom, giving people the chance to pursue life, love, and happiness. But what if we told you that countless people across the world were enslaving themselves and becoming enslaved every day? What if there is a type of slavery that is not always apparent to the eye but that threatens life, love, and happiness?

What if we told you this slavery is internet porn?

We receive so many emails from people all around the world who have experienced this slavery first hand. Because our society promotes the idea that watching other people have sex is normal and healthy for anyone’s sex life, millions of people get sucked into the world of pornography and then find themselves unable to turn back.

We recently received a personal account from Dallin, a twenty-something guy who tells the story of his escalating porn, webcam, and cyber-sex addiction that started when he was just ten years old and continued into his marriage until his wife caught him. Dallin mentions throughout the story that he knew he should stop – he wanted to stop – but each time he found himself unable to do so. He was enslaved to the rush he got from looking at porn and having cyber-sex. He writes, “Almost every time I would look at porn I would tell myself that this is the last time. I couldn’t do it, and I hated myself because of it.”

How is watching porn an escalating behavior and how do so many find themselves enslaved? When someone watches porn, their brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes them feel pleasure.[i] As the dopamine travels through the brain, it leaves behind a pathway created by a protein called iFosB which tells the brain how to get back to that good feeling again.[ii] When this happens with healthy behaviors, it is a good thing. However, when it happens with unhealthy behaviors, it can cause a lot of problems. When a person continually looks at porn, his or her brain is flooded with more dopamine than the brain can handle. Some of the brain’s dopamine receptors start shutting down and the person does not feel the same amount of pleasure anymore.[iii] The same porn that once seemed exciting becomes boring.[iv] The user now needs harder and harder material to feel the same high. Users find themselves going from images in magazines or catalogs to online porn, to harder online porn, to webcams, and so on. The users themselves are left wondering how in the world this happened because they do not understand what is going on inside their brains. These iFosB pathways also make it harder and harder to quit porn once they have been engrained in the brain.[v] Research now shows that if enough iFosB accumulates, it can “flip a genetic switch,” causing irreversible changes in the brain that leave the user more susceptible to addiction.[vi]

Men and women alike can find themselves tangled up in porn. T, an anonymous 17-year-old girl who reached out to us, wrote to us about her struggle with porn and how it quickly “spiraled out of control.” She found herself watching videos that showed abusive and domination and she quickly found that she was unable to look at men without seeing them as objects. Similarly, many men have found themselves unable to be aroused by their wives or girlfriends because of the addictive and unrealistic nature of porn. Instead, they find themselves compelled over and over again to watch more porn and in harder versions.

Does any of this sound like freedom? Does any of this sound like healthy individuals who are able to make their own choices about love and sex? No. Instead, it is slavery – slavery to images on a screen. Slavery to pleasure. Slavery instead of love, instead of a real relationship.

Watching porn is not freedom. It may seem like it at first, with its endless availability, endless entertainment, and seeming lack of consequences. In reality, it entices the user into giving up his or her own ability to choose for a momentary rush. Freedom is being able to say yes or no to love and relationship. Freedom is having control over one’s body and choices. Freedom is being in love with a real human being who can look into your eyes, laugh with you, cry with you, hold you, and go on adventures with you. Love is freedom. And porn kills love.

What YOU Can Do

Add your voice to this important conversation. SHARE this article to raise awareness on the harms of porn and fight for love instead.

Citations

[i] Hedges, V. L., Chakravarty, S., Nestler, E. J., and Meisel, R. L. (2009). DeltaFosB Overexpression in the Nucleus Accumbens Enhances Sexual Reward in Female Syrian Hamsters. Genes Brain and Behavior 8, 4: 442–449; Bostwick, J. M. and Bucci, J. E. (2008). Internet Sex Addiction Treated with Naltrexone. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 83, 2: 226–230; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 108; Mick, T. M. and Hollander, E. (2006). Impulsive-Compulsive Sexual Behavior. CNS Spectrums, 11(12):944-955; Nestler, E. J. (2005). Is There a Common Molecular Pathway for Addiction? Nature Neuroscience 9, 11: 1445–1449; Leshner, A. (1997). Addiction Is a Brain Disease and It Matters. Science 278: 45–7.
[ii] Nestler, E. J. (2003). Brain Plasticity and Drug Addiction. Presentation at Reprogramming the Human Brain Conference, Center for Brain Health, University of Texas at Dallas, April 11.; Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3:20767; Angres, D. H. and Bettinardi-Angres, K. (2008). The Disease of Addiction: Origins, Treatment, and Recovery. Disease-a-Month 54: 696–721. Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 108.
[iii] Hilton, D. L., and Watts, C. (2011). Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective. Surgical Neurology International, 2: 19; (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050060/) Angres, D. H. and Bettinardi-Angres, K. (2008). The Disease of Addiction: Origins, Treatment, and Recovery. Disease-a-Month 54: 696–721; Mick, T. M. and Hollander, E. (2006). Impulsive-Compulsive Sexual Behavior. CNS Spectrums, 11(12):944-955; Nestler, E. J. (2005). Is There a Common Molecular Pathway for Addiction? Nature Neuroscience 9, 11: 1445–1449.
[iv] Angres, D. H. and Bettinardi-Angres, K. (2008). The Disease of Addiction: Origins, Treatment, and Recovery. Disease-a-Month 54: 696–721; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence of Unrestrained Access to Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 2: 41–44.
[v] Nestler, E. J. (2008). Transcriptional Mechanisms of Addiction: Role of DeltaFosB. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363: 3245–56. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607320/)
[vi] Nestler, E. J., Barrot, M., and Self, D. W. (2001). DeltaFosB: A Sustained Molecular Switch for Addiction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98, 20: 11042-6.

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