By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
The impact of pornography on the brain is more widely understood now than at any other time. What was once seen as harmless leisure activity, we now understand as detrimental to healthy development. Brain scans and research continue to consistently report the negative impact.
The brain is a critical organ in your body. It is essentially the command center of everything that happens. Although it only weighs three pounds, it eats up about 20% of your body’s oxygen supply. It works hard expending significant energy – like a mega-computer. The new understanding we have of the brain indicates that it has “plasticity.” This essentially means that it is always changing. It is constantly pruning itself to function at its peak capacity. It is in a state of continual rewiring to help you avoid pain and increase pleasure.
Although using pornography has many of the same chemical effects as healthy sexual interaction, the differences are critical to understand. With any sexual activity dopamine is released to create a sense of “I need it.” The chemical norepinephrine is released which creates a sense of alertness and readiness. The chemical oxytocin is released during orgasm that generates a bonding sensation to whatever is creating the stimulation. We also must recognize natural opiates that the brain produces which generates a sense of euphoria and escape from reality. Finally, serotonin is released to create a sense of calm and peace.
So how is pornography unhealthy? The release of all these chemicals creates a bonding pathway to pornography images rather than to a real-life human being. The more you escalate the use of pornography, the more your body will begin craving the tsunami of chemicals that are associated with it. Because pornography is often very novel – in other words you can always find new and captivating images – the chemical release is further magnified. With time it becomes compulsive. Eventually the brain becomes sensitized to any hint of sexuality in media or real life, and quickly pushes back toward another release of the chemicals. Over time a person addicted will need more of it and more graphic images to get an increased heightened experience. This unhealthy pathway bond, which occurs slowly, pulls the addict further and further away from normal real-life interaction.
If you need help with these sensitive issues then give us a call for a free 15-minute private consultation to discuss your situation. We have specialty counseling services for pornography addiction in Mesa Arizona. (480) 668-8301.