Part 3: The Dangers of Excessive Porn Use
How Child Abuse, Drug Abuse, and Porn Addiction Wreak Havoc.
To review, the trilogy modum consists of three dysfunctional attitudes and abuses that, when combined, formulate a kind of psychological “super germ” in an individual, and can lead them down the path to destructive, abusive behavior. These are:
- Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse suffered as an adolescent.
- A family history of drug abuse and addiction (be it alcoholism or otherwise)
- Pornography Addiction
In parts one and two of this series, I presented excerpts from my book, An American Lawyer, that discussed the influences that childhood abuse and familial addiction may have on an individual’s own long-term behavior. Today, I’d like to discuss the third (and most quietly dangerous) of the three dysfunctional attitudes: porn addiction.
As I’ve briefly touched upon in previous installments, I believe pornography addiction is an especially potent toxic behavior, one with wide-ranging physical, emotional, and neurological effects that often go unnoticed or flat-out ignored by society at large.
The following excerpt from An American Lawyer covers these effects in detail, while also laying out a brief history of pornography and how this phenomenon came to impact my career as a criminal defense attorney, handling thousands of sex offense and child pornography cases. Read on for more:
Permeation of Porn in Society
I was in the thick of it—working every day and barely lifting my head up to see the world around me. Except for the time I spent with the kids and all the coaching I did with them in softball, baseball, basketball, and other activities, I was living almost every moment in my practice. But I loved it and thrived on it.
I have handled a tremendous amount of sex offense and child pornography cases throughout my years. I continue to see a growing number of these matters. As I continued working on these issues, I began to see certain patterns of actions from clients. I began deducing criminal behavior from certain repetitive decision-making processes. One of the most prevalent decision-making patterns I observed was the use of pornography by males starting at an early age.
Why would I include this subject in this book? The answer is that it fits into many men’s lives in a way that can be devastating and deceitful. I’ve seen the end result, and it’s an important subject that explains a lot of behavior. I believe this subject matter is so important and so underdiagnosed that it’s my duty to shed some light on the entire subject matter.
Looking at it from the outside, you may regard porn as a topic that is out of place, but I disagree. Porn fits squarely into the factors that contribute to abuse in our society. I want to introduce my views about the harm caused by porn, from both an emotional and physical perspective, to tie the pieces of my proposition together, which is that this aspect of sexuality is a major component that prevents emotional growth in many males in their life journey. Later, I will discuss in more detail how porn fits into the overall scheme along with abuse. I believe that this new major aspect of sexuality in most men’s lives has created an astronomical negative effect on almost every facet of development and ongoing success. For now, let’s discuss the growth of porn and how our society has reached a point of no return.
In my opinion, a deep, dark hidden canyon exists in society, and we are all afraid to address it. I’m talking about sex offenses that permeate family structures and destroy so many lives in this country.
As I previously stated, I’ve literally handled thousands of “sex offense” cases categorized as such in the Maryland code. These range from rape, sex abuse of a minor, sexual touching, sexual exploitation, solicitation of a minor for sex, child pornography, indecent exposure, and some consensual crimes such as solicitation of prostitution. Over the years, the question has become what came first, the chicken or the egg? What contributes to or causes these actions? Is pornography a root contributor? Does it play a role of any kind?
Our society is “freer” in many ways than ever before. The ability to “speak out” through visual depictions and sexual imagery in today’s society is abundantly prevalent, arguably more than ever before. The first amendment has your back, but there are limits. Historically, has the number of sexual abuse cases reported always been as high as it is now? Previously, was it just covered up and put in a dark corner to be forgotten? In my opinion, these cases have always existed and were tossed aside and ignored by our justice system, encompassing not only prosecutors and police but also the general public.
Early in my career, as a criminal defense attorney, I started to notice certain trends in sexual offense cases. One of those trends was that in the majority of sex offense cases I’ve handled, most defendants are men who are engaged in some sort of pornography use.
First, let me say that from a legal and personal standpoint I believe pornography falls under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and is guaranteed speech. I have no moral qualms with pornography in general, and I am not naïve enough to believe that it is something new in our society. I do have issues with the treatment and helplessness of individuals who fall prey to the industry, but that is another subject.
To understand my premise and philosophy, a little background is needed. Pornography was not recently invented. History shows that since the beginning of mankind, there has been some sort of proclivity toward capturing sexuality and erotica. Ancient Greece exhibited many examples of pornography, although most were basic writings with some limited visualizations. The term “pornography” is derived from the Greek language “pori,” meaning prostitute, and” graphein,” which means “to write.”
Later in history, depictions of sexual behavior were many times memorialized in a religious context. Philip Jenkins, in an article published in 1998, “Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History,” believes the evidence shows that although phallic imagery and depictions of orgiastic scenes existed for centuries, they probably did not fulfill the modern psychological functions of pornography as used today. In other words, they were treated and looked upon differently, not just for sexual arousal, but for other moral or religious purposes.
The current culture and historical use of pornography shows deep roots in the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century because printing techniques became advanced enough to promote visual materials such as drawings as well as written materials. Many people believe that the widely read classic “Fanny Hill,” referred to as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748), was the first true pornographic Western production.
The Victorian age, with its purported adherence to family values, nonetheless had a dark underbelly of sexually explicit productions, especially in Great Britain. A central location for these publications and productions was a street in London known as Holywell Street. The smut booksellers who operated there are equivalent to today’s modern-day porn shops. There were many of them!
The invention of photography and, several decades later, motion pictures almost immediately spread the pornography bug to the general public. Even in the 1920s, pornographic movies were widely available. Not many people could afford them or had the ability to see them, but they were there.
Film and various visual publications were thriving through the 1970s, not just in this country but throughout the world. The 1980s brought videocassettes and eventually DVDs, so movie productions could be brought into the home and owned privately. In many ways, I believe this is where the “boom” occurred. The concept of owning the movie privately and viewing it privately was a huge advantage over the old methods of viewing pornography movies. For decades, there were “movie houses” where pornographic films such as Deep Throat were shown in public view. Now, all of a sudden, an individual could view as much pornography privately as he or she desired.
I would argue that movies are much different than the old medium of viewing pornography privately such as via Penthouse or Playboy magazines. Yes, images are viewed in these magazines, but they are nowhere near as graphic and revealing as the actual acts of sex acts depicted in the movie scenes.
The ultimate form of viewing pornography was created shortly thereafter with the emergence of the internet in the 1990s. Almost instantly, the pornographic industry became one of the most used and profitable businesses in the world. The web provided a tremendously vast marketplace for pornography use, and as time went on, the high- speed Internet depictions seemed to consume the world.
There have been countless books written over the last two decades about the effect that pornography has on individuals. During that time, therapists, psychologists, and other professionals actually encouraged the use of pornography at times to enhance one’s sexual life.
For many years, there has been an ongoing debate about the effects of pornography and its addictive qualities. Many scientists and doctors believed that pornography had a beneficial effect on individuals in that it provided a normal and natural outlet for stress and sometimes marital discord. Today, most scientists recognize the profound consequences of viewing sexual material over a protracted period.
Over the decades, as I represented individuals in sexual deviation cases as well as for use of child pornography, I began to realize that the views of many of these individuals about sex, was either calloused or obtuse. As part of a pretrial interview for a client when preparing a case, one of my standard questions was “How much pornography did you watch five years before this situation at hand occurred?”
Almost 100 percent of the individuals indicated that they had watched a “fair amount,” and most indicated they had watched a “tremendous amount.” What that meant from my discussions was that pornography was watched at least once a day and sometimes twice. Masturbation and ejaculation occurred almost every time. The time range spent on watching pornography lasted from fifteen minutes to several hours on average. It became a strange phenomenon within my representation arsenal because I could tell almost immediately whether an individual watched a lot of pornography just by the nature of the case. This is true for teenagers charged with a sex offense and men up to the age of seventy-five.
After observing this for years, I began to argue in federal and state courts about the addiction of pornography and how it may or may not have affected each individual. I had determined, through my research in correlating massive amounts of watching pornography with the act of masturbating to it, how it affects the brain from an addictive behavior standpoint. There is no question that since the time pornography appeared on the internet, it has become more accessible than ever before. This is reflected in the population’s overall pornography consumption, which has been on the rise globally and is still rising. A particularly important question that must be asked is: “What effect does the frequent consumption of pornography have on the human brain, and how does it affect sexual desire and behavior?” Can it actually cause an individual to “act out” in a deviant sexual manner? Is there a correlation between the viewing and consumption of porn and eventually criminal charges? What are the statistics?
In a 2014 Cambridge study, it was determined that a longer duration of use of online sexual materials in healthy males has been shown to correlate with lower level putamina activity suggesting a potential role of desensitization. Although the study suggests that the brain responses to explicit online materials may differ between subjects, individuals who may be heavy users of pornography and online material but without the loss of control or association still showed negative consequences. The study shows in many cases that desensitization in porn addicts mirror sensitization issues like drug addicts. It was found that porn addicts fit the excepted addiction model of wanting more porn, but not necessarily liking it.
In the 2014 book, Your Brain on Porn, author Gary Wilson, M.D., concluded after reviewing many brain studies on pornography, “Compulsive porn users often described an escalation in their porn use that takes the form of greater time viewing or seeking out new genres of pornography. New genres that induced shock, surprise, violation of the expectations or even anxiety can function to increase sexual arousal, and in porn users whose response to stimuli is growing blunted due to overuse, this phenomenon is extremely common.”
A study done by the same author, through a member survey, found that over 60 percent of the members evaluated expressed that sexual taste resulted in a significant escalation through multiple porn genres. Twenty-seven percent of those tested stated, “My taste became increasingly extreme or deviant.” Extreme behavior by looking at videos that never interested the user in the first place became something of the commonplace. The author claims that this study taken together with other studies debunks the theory that porn users eventually “discover their true sexuality” by surfing websites and finding what they naturally like. The evidence is mounting that streaming high-level pornography appears to alter the sexual taste in some users and that is related to the addicted brain change known as desensitization. In other words, the study shows that individuals who look at certain types of pornography that are out of the norm of their regular sexual activity may temporarily be attracted to that type of sexual activity.
In yet another Cambridge study conducted in 2015, “Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards,” by Paula Banca, Laurel S. Morris, Mitchell, Neil, Marc N. Potenza, and Valerie Voon, it was again determined through MRI imaging, and through controlled studies that the users habituated faster to sexual images, meaning their brains became less activated seeing the same image and they were more quickly bored. “Thus, the novelty of internet porn drives the addiction to it, creating a circular spiral of needing more novelty to overcome faster habituation,” the Cambridge study found. My question for purposes of understanding and representing my clients was whether individuals are naturally set up for these types of novelty and whether they are pre-existing. The study determined that it was not pre-existing and that it was something that is a learned behavior. It was determined that “novelty-seeking” occurs often when individuals are masturbating to pornography.
“People who show compulsive sexual behavior, such as sex addiction, are driven to search more for new sexual images,” the authors observe. Again, researchers determined that addicts were more likely to choose the novel images over the familiar sexual images. “We can all relate in some way to searching for novel stimuli online; it could be flitting from one news site to another or jumping from Facebook to Amazon to YouTube and so on,” explains Dr. Voon. She and the other researchers found that when sex addicts viewed the same sexual image repeatedly, compared to the healthy volunteers, they experienced a much greater decrease of activity in the brain known as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which is also related to the anticipating rewards aspect of the brain. The researchers correlated and believed this was consistent with habituation, where the addict finds the same stimulus less and less rewarding. They compared it to an individual coffee drinker who may get a “buzz” from the first cup of coffee but gets less stimulation over time by drinking coffee.
Gary Wilson, after reviewing hundreds of articles and evaluations, has reached the following eighteen standardized findings from the studies listed:
- The three major addiction-related brain changes were: sensitization, desensitization, and hypofrontality.
- More porn use correlated with less gray matter in the reward circuit (dorsal striatum).
- More porn use correlated with less reward circuit activation when briefly viewing sexual images.
- More porn use correlated with disrupted neural connections between the reward circuit and the prefrontal cortex.
- Addicts had greater prefrontal activity related to sexual cues, but less brain activity related to normal stimuli (matches drug addiction).
- Porn use/exposure to porn related to greater delayed discounting (inability to delay gratification). This is a sign of poorer executive functioning.
- Sixty percent of compulsive porn-addicted subjects in one study experienced ED or low libido with partners, but not with porn; all stated that internet porn use caused their ED or low libido.
- Enhanced attentional bias, comparable to drug users, indicates sensitization (a product of DeltaFosb).
- Greater wanting and craving for porn, but not greater liking. This aligns with the accepted model of addiction—incentive sensitization.
- Porn addicts have a greater preference for sexual novelty; yet their brains habituated faster to sexual images, not pre-existing.
- The younger the porn users, the greater the cue-induced reactivity in the reward center.
- Higher EEG (P300) readings when porn users were exposed to porn cues (which occurs in other addictions).
- Less desire for sex correlated with greater cue-reactivity to porn images.
- More porn use correlated with lower LPP amplitude when briefly viewing sexual photos indicates habituation or desensitization.
- Dysfunctional HPA axis and altered brain stress circuits, which also occur in drug addictions (and greater amygdala volume, which is associated with chronic social stress).
- Epigenetic changes on genes central to the human stress response and closely associated with addiction.
- Higher levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)—which also occurs in drug abuse and addiction.
- A deficit in temporal cortex gray matter, poorer connectivity between temporal corporate and several other regions.”
There is no question from modern research that individuals who use pornography over a protracted period experience “addictive qualities,” the same as a drug addict, someone who is a compulsive gambler, or even a sex addict. In the same respect as an alcoholic, compulsive and greater consumption of alcohol is a marked scenario very similar to porn addiction.
The typical commercial porn site list sometimes hundreds of different scenarios of sexual contact. Every possible body type, sexual contact, sexual fantasy, and any other possible imagery of sexual contact between human beings is listed. The studies show that an individual who is a high-end consumer of porn and who may normally only be interested in basic social traditional sexual activities would be inclined to grow exponentially in their desire for unique sexual activities because of the dopamine need for increased novelty. So, an individual who would normally be satisfied with viewing basic pornographic sexual activities, many times will be driven to look at different genres to generate excitement for dopamine release.
These individuals may not even understand why they are looking at sexual acts that they previously had little or no interest in, or sometimes never even thought of in any sexual context, but find themselves viewing and feeling sexually excited by. The studies show that the sexual excitement related to these novel activities does not necessarily make them acts or genres that these individuals would be naturally inclined to look at. Many times, the mistaken need for novelty-produced dopamine release for temporary interest in viewing materials on the screen leaves the individual confused and depressed. The truth of the matter is that the extreme novelty that is “sold” to viewers on the internet is a “trick” that the porn industry places upon individuals once they have sucked them into their porn world. The porn industry understands that once they “push” an individual onto their website, they can create an almost endless amount of novelty for that individual, which keeps them coming back for more consumption. The porn industry is insidious because of these basic sales techniques, but the individual looking at these websites does not pay any money for viewing. Years ago, the money in pornography was paid by individuals viewing the same. Now, the porn industry is one of the highest moneymaking industries in the world, where the larger scale of money they make is because of the high volume of Internet trafficking. In other words, they make money on advertising and by reselling to other companies the traffic they control by individuals looking at the materials. The use of pornography in our society is so prevalent that it barely escapes most families. Chances are someone in a normal family is viewing and masturbating to pornography.
The question becomes: Do the addictive qualities of pornography sometimes catapult individuals into viewing more and more dangerous materials such as child pornography? There is no question that every situation is unique and every defendant who is charged with possessing or distributing child pornography may be different. However, the underlying major factor in all those cases is the escalation process. Every brain and its plasticity are different. Just like some individuals who can consume alcohol on an infrequent basis and put the glass down are not affected, some individuals who take a sip of alcohol become extremely affected and develop into alcoholics.
Again, the issue is the individual’s makeup and the plasticity of the brain as well as many other factors. The novelty factor that some individuals experience when viewing child pornography is an undoubted phenomenon. Many individuals who view child pornography do so on a scarce basis and feel disgusted with themselves. There is no question that individuals who are naturally driven to viewing children in pornographic situations are not the average pornographic user but are those more likely to view such material because they are attracted to it.
However, for the most part, or at least on a larger-scale basis, individuals who have not been viewing child pornography their entire life and have fallen into the natural desensitization process of pornography are not individuals who are capable or wish to harm children in any manner.
The undoubted mindset of an individual who sits down at a computer and looks at any kind of material in the privacy of their home is that no one will find out what they are viewing. Social stress such as family issues, job-related issues, depression, social inhibition, and other psychological deviations, can all lead to habitual computer secretive conduct. Many individuals use pornography as a secretive outlook to combat the above conditions. Many who view child pornography also feel completely disgusted by themselves afterwards. They promise themselves never to look at it again and don’t understand why they feel compelled to search for more and more novelty.
I believe that many of the child pornography cases I saw as well as sex offense cases are based on a belief system created by simply viewing normal pornography. I began to argue in open court years before it was accepted from a psychological premise that pornography is an addiction. My argument consists of many factors. First, many of these men were individuals who had little or no negative involvement with the law. Many were individuals involved in a relationship, were married, and had children. Second, the majority were employed in middle-class jobs and were individuals who espoused some sort of moral belief system. The question I had to answer was, how could individuals who purportedly follow the rules and laws of society their entire life then surreptitiously looks at images of children having sex with adults? Third, many of the individuals caught with possession of child pornography regretted their actions from a catastrophic standpoint. It was almost as if they were hypnotized or their minds were in some sort of vacuum.
The answer was right in front of my eyes—desensitization and novelty. When an individual, no matter how old they are, sits down and looks at pornography for the first time, many things occur. The male sexual brain “kicks in.” Historical long-learned behaviors based upon DNA and a sexual brain reaction system that has been with us since the beginning of humanity floods all the other components of the brain.
Viewing something sexual and novel for the first time pumps many chemicals into the brain, namely dopamine. Dopamine is the “to- do drug.” Video porn is remarkably close to actual sex through the male’s eyes in many ways. It sparks all the same chemical compound reactions in the brain and body as actual contact sex. There are several reasons for this.
The high-speed internet video that allows individuals to “jump around” to view the specific parts of the actual sexual contact creates a hypersensitive zeroing in on the prospect of the final act, which is ejaculation while viewing pornography. This is called edging. In other words, the male brain looks and looks to find the perfect ending to climax to. The reason is to continue to create dopamine and other chemical effects. This is the dopamine chase. Many men report being in an almost “trance-like” state of mind for hours when looking at porn.
After the male watches the same visualization a couple of times, and knowing that there are millions of other movies available to watch immediately, the novelty aspect of his brain pushes him forward to continue watching another image or movie. This continuous “seeking out” of novelty goes hand-in-hand with the production of dopamine. As stated, this is why some individuals will sit and look at pornography for hours at a time. After ejaculation, men report looking up and having very little understanding of how much time has gone by and also note that they were in “their own little world.” The male brain will usually move on to more graphic or explicit material that may be outside the norm of what they were originally attracted to. In other words, pornography does have the ability to make an individual believe they are attracted to certain types of sexuality that they may not have originally been attracted to nor normally prone to. After a protracted time period away from the deviation (porn), sexual interest usually reverts to the original mainstay.
The porn industry knows this, and they use it to their benefit. The industry has developed websites that are designed to create escalation. Once the hook is grabbed, it’s in deep. In other words, initially, an individual may be completely satisfied with viewing and masturbating to a very simple video involving basic mutual consent between two individuals. Because of the novelty and escalation aspects built into our sexual reproduction thought process, we tend to want to escalate the process. That is why most pornography websites will have thousands of options of different types of genres. Big, small, fat, skinny, young, old are all instant options available to the pornography user.
That is one reason why pornography is insidious. There is a constant search for newness and novelty. The male brain doesn’t understand this. He just feels the desire to consume additional material.
After speaking with clients, I have seen individuals who view porn material constantly. It is so easy to find that many look at it on the phone every few minutes.
A criminal case years ago involved a person who loved to write about sexual contact between adults and teenagers of a certain age. For some reason, he was fascinated and became fixated on girls between the age of twelve and fifteen. He was a decent writer, and he would solicit individuals to send in photographs of teenage girls around that age. The photographs did not have to be sexually explicit, and most of them were just normal photographs of teenage girls. The story purchaser would send this photograph to him, and the perpetrator would make up a sexual contact story in detail about how the sender and this teenage girl would eventually fall in love and have some sort of sexual relations. The facts of the case showed that most of the people who requested him to author the stories were men in their forties and fifties who desired to have a pseudo-sexual and emotional relationship with a young girl of this age. This issue is not only a child pornography issue but also demonstrated the issues in our society with how children are being sexually exploited.
This individual had a condition where he had to have some type of pornography “on” at all times in the background of his life. In other words, if he was sleeping, he would play the sexual sounds of pornography to make himself sleep. During the day when he was not in the public, he would listen to pornography and watch pornography incessantly. Ultimately, this fellow stayed out of jail, but he was required to undergo a complete pseudo-sexual evaluation for therapeutic purposes.
After representing many pornography clients as well as sexual deviation clients the last thirty years, I’ve concluded that pornography in many circumstances escalates an individual’s desire to view child imagery or to act out in some sexually explicit manner.
However, the studies show that the majority of individuals who view child pornography never take additional steps to act out any type of sexual contact with a child. The studies show somewhat different results when there is someone who is charged with a sexual crime involving touching of some sort, and who has watch pornography for a protracted period. In my opinion, pornography may have played a major part in the decision-making as to whether or not to act out those scenarios.
The reality is that the vast majority of individuals who view pornography will never be charged with a crime. However, Gary Wilson’s book, Your Brain on Porn, revealed the extent that pornography causes damage to relationships and individuals regarding sexual relationships. I have seen incredibly young defendants who have watched pornography since the age of nine or ten. How can one not believe that viewing sexually explicit material such as high-speed internet pornography beginning at such a young age cannot affect the thought process of someone that young sexuality?
In many juvenile cases, I’ve seen very immature thought processes and assumptions from young offenders improperly believing that their proposed sexual partner wishes to participate in a specific sexual activity, although in reality there was no consent. In other words, many males charged with sexual scenarios will assume such contact is wanted in a particular circumstance when in reality the other individual is not interested.
Wilson believes that the science shows pornography creates a loss of attraction to real partners. “Young Japanese men are growing indifferent or even averse to sex, while married couples are starting to have it even less,” he recites as reported in the Japanese Times in 2010. He continues by saying, “More than 36 percent of men aged sixteen and nineteen had little or no interest in sex, more than double the 17.5 percent from 2008. Men between twenty years of age and twenty-four shared a similar trend jumping from 11.8 percent to 21.5 percent, while men between forty-five and forty-nine years of age leaped from 8.7 percent to 22.1 percent.”
These studies were conducted over a decade ago, which leads me to surmise the numbers have jumped even higher.
Wilson also claims, “Japan isn’t alone. In France, the 2008 survey found that 20 percent of eighteen to twenty-four-year-old Frenchmen had almost no interest in sex.”
A 2015 Italian study reported that 16 percent of high school males who use porn more than once per week reported abnormally low libido, while 0 percent of those who do not use it reported a much higher libido.
In the United States, “the percentage of U.S. high school students who are currently sexually active has decreased from a relatively much higher number in 1991 to 30 percent in 2015.”It is my supposition that pornography, along with other fundamental emotional factors, can harpoon many male brains in most aspects of life—business, love, family, personal relationships, and the list goes on and on. As a result of trying to understand why pornography has played such a role in many lives, I have come to some conclusions. I spent years trying to understand this phenomenon in my practice. Early on, when I was representing people who are addicted to pornography, in my opinion, I saw a pattern of behavior that caused many serious deficits in their lives. I’m not referring to individuals who break the law when viewing pornography. I’m referring to individuals who view pornography in their lives on an everyday basis or even a much more limited basis. This pervasiveness and flow of constant sexual tension cause many changes in the brain and the thought process of people who experience it.
I believe that all the evidence shows that simple viewing of pornography can have a major impact on a person’s ability to function normally in an intimate relationship. There is no question that after viewing pornography for some time most men’s libidos are changed. In a typical male-female relationship, this documentation shows that when the male views pornography, intimacy is changed or cut off almost completely. The devious thing about that syndrome is that it does not affect all males. For some reason, some male brains can simply absorb this chemical change in the pathways in the brain, and it’s not as dramatic. But the studies are now showing that pornography can be addictive unto itself. It has the same qualities as many other addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling.
This recognition was very important and crucial. I believe that pornography addiction is a major problem not only in this country but throughout the world. I’ve seen countless young and older men fall victim to the trap of excessively using pornography. Again, this thought process goes against the grain of what society expects from males. Society expects that males can be promiscuous and that their viewing of pornography is just a normal growth indication of them learning how to act like a man. In many ways, this may have been true years ago before the advent of high-speed video. There is no question that the use of good, old-fashioned sex books or magazines such as Hustler or Playboy was happening for decades. Science did not see the change in the brain chemical reaction the way it sees it now with the use of high-speed internet porn.
I have had countless cases where a young man had been caught up in the use of pornography. The younger generation lives and dies with technology. Texting or using some sort of app to communicate is more prevalent than speaking face-to-face. Many different social means of communication have replaced good, old-fashioned sexual interaction between the genders. Flirting, simple dating, a phone call, blushing are all things that occurred in the past and are not as prevalent today. Young students sending naked photographs and other private videos seem to be the norm today. It was unthinkable only a couple of decades ago.
One of the things that worries me is the lack of desire on behalf of many young men and women to have an actual meaningful relationship with others. The “hookup apps” seem to rule the day. Many young men in their teens don’t seem to have the same desire or intensity to achieve that previous generations did. Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of young people who are high achievers. It’s just that we are seeing more and more who are not interested in seeking out the things that many young people did in the past.
For example, when I was almost sixteen, one of the most important things in my life was to get a car to travel back and forth in, but also to impress the opposite sex. One either had to work for it or find a way to get it. So many young men today don’t care about those types of things or anything else that may lead to success in life. It’s almost as if many of these young people have “dumbed down” their desire to succeed. To get sex, just go to a porn site. No need to go through all the processes to make it happen. And as a result, women have changed their mindset about their expectations of men.
Probably, the most prevalent issue with pornography that I have learned through the practice of law and from personal experience is that when pornography is used, it has the potential to numb the sexual desire component of having actual contact with another. It puts the male in a situation where he receives sexual gratification through video. This pornography addiction can last for years or even as long as a lifetime. Can you imagine the frustration a partner could experience emotionally and sexually when the other person is simply no longer interested in intimate contact of any sort, including sex.? It can be devastating. It ruins relationships, but even worse it puts the individual in a situation where they can’t “see” the damage being done around them. They are numb to the needs of others and especially their own. The brain begins to adapt and feel as if a video is a normal sexual encounter. As a result, many physical and emotional injuries can occur. Men as young as eighteen years of age report erectile dysfunction problems. This is just one of the many issues that have been reported as a result of long-term pornography use.
Pornography has seen many metamorphoses over the last decades. Originally, it was looked upon from a religious standpoint as a sin and something to be completely avoided if you didn’t want to go to hell. Eventually, society has come to accept pornography in many ways. The movement to understand pornography and its effect on not just men but also women and partners has just begun. Wilson’s book, Your Brain on Porn, has helped open the eyes of a great deal of society. But most eyes are still closed. Most men have no idea of the shady effects that pornography can cause in their relationships and the long-term effect on them and others around them doesn’t even realize it.
Stay tuned for Part 4