Skip to comments.Is pornography driving men crazy?
Posted on 07/02/2011 9:39:42 AM PDT by Cardhu
Could the widespread availability and consumption of pornography in recent years actually be rewiring the male brain?
It is hard to ignore how many highly visible men in recent years (indeed, months) have behaved in sexually self-destructive ways. Some powerful men have long been sexually voracious; unlike today, though, they were far more discreet and generally used much better judgment in order to cover their tracks.
Of course, the heightened technological ability nowadays to expose private behavior is part of the reason for this change. But that is precisely the point: so many of the men caught up in sex-tinged scandals of late have exposed themselves - sometimes literally - through their own willing embrace of text messages, Twitter, and other indiscreet media.
What is driving this weirdly disinhibited decision-making? Could the widespread availability and consumption of pornography in recent years actually be rewiring the male brain, affecting men's judgment about sex and causing them to have more difficulty controlling their impulses?
There is an increasing body of scientific evidence to support this idea. Six years ago, I wrote an essay called "The Porn Myth," which pointed out that therapists and sexual counselors were anecdotally connecting the rise in pornography consumption among young men with an increase in impotence and premature ejaculation among the same population. These were healthy young men who had no organic or psychological pathology that would disrupt normal sexual function.
The hypothesis among the experts was that pornography was progressively desensitising these men sexually. Indeed, hardcore pornography's effectiveness in achieving rapid desensitisation in subjects has led to its frequent use in training doctors and military teams to deal with very shocking or sensitive situations.
Given the desensitisation effect on most male subjects, researchers found that they quickly required higher levels of stimulation to achieve the same level of arousal. The experts I interviewed at the time were speculating that porn use was desensitising healthy young men to the erotic appeal of their own partners.
Since then, a great deal of data on the brain's reward system has accumulated to explain this rewiring more concretely. We now know that porn delivers rewards to the male brain in the form of a short-term dopamine boost, which, for an hour or two afterwards, lifts men's mood and makes them feel good in general. The neural circuitry is identical to that for other addictive triggers, such as gambling or cocaine.
The addictive potential is also identical: just as gamblers and cocaine users can become compulsive, needing to gamble or snort more and more to get the same dopamine boost, so can men consuming pornography become hooked. As with these other reward triggers, after the dopamine burst wears off, the consumer feels a letdown - irritable, anxious, and longing for the next fix. (There is some new evidence, uncovered by Jim Pfaus at Concordia University in Canada, that desensitisation may be affecting women consumers of pornography as well.)
This dopamine effect explains why pornography tends to become more and more extreme over time: ordinary sexual images eventually lose their power, leading consumers to need images that break other taboos in other kinds of ways, in order to feel as good. Moreover, some men (and women) have a "dopamine hole" - their brains' reward systems are less efficient - making them more likely to become addicted to more extreme porn more easily.
As with any addiction, it is very difficult, for neurochemical reasons, for an addict to stop doing things - even very self-destructive things - that enable him to get that next hit of dopamine. Could this be why men who in the past could take time-delayed steps to conduct affairs behind closed doors now can't resist the impulse to send a self-incriminating text message? If so, such men might not be demons or moral ciphers, but rather addicts who are no longer entirely in control of themselves.
This is not to say that they are not responsible for their behavior. But I would argue that it is a different kind of responsibility: the responsibility to understand the powerfully addictive potential of pornography use, and to seek counseling and medication if the addiction starts to affect one's spouse, family, professional life, or judgment.
By now, there is an effective and detailed model for weaning porn-addicted men and restoring them to a more balanced mental state, one less at the mercy of their compulsions. Understanding how pornography affects the brain and wreaks havoc on male virility permits people to make better-informed choices - rather than engage in pointless self-loathing or reactive collective judgments - in a world that has become more and more addictively hardcore.
Naomi Wolf is a political activist and social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.
Al Jazeera ... Naomi Wolfe??
..is Naomi Wolf a media whore working for Al Jazeera.
It’s been around in different forms for thousands of years. Look at India and their Kama Sutra images as an example. The internet just makes it easier to view it.
Pornography has nothing on Free Republic in terms of a dopamine rush.
Some few years ago The New York Post did a study on porno and found 22% of people who view it are women.
I am the political enemy of the author, the mortal enemy of the publisher's core demographic...
...and I love the article. Weird.
There is no such peer reviewed science that even comes close to showing cause-effect.
Pornography is evil and destructive (to people, families, marriages and the culture). (so is Al Jazeera)
Today, Weiner Tweets pics of his johnson..Back in the day, Wilbur Mills gets a load on, has a traffic accident while driving drunk, with his mistress, an Argentinian stripper stage-named Fannie Foxe, in the car with him..panics..jumps OUT of the car, and INTO the nearby Tidal Basin...
Best of all, he did NOT resign from Congress..indeed, kept on as chairman of Ways & Means...the most important committee in the House, and..wait for it.....was actually RE-ELECTED to the House a few months later..
True, but I think Ms. Wolf has a point. It is so available, without stigma, without the rest of the world (other than your ISP) knowing about it, that it is being consumed (probably, roughly) at 100 times the per-capita rate it was before.
That can't be good - sex is a dopamine-releasing process. And it ties in with what friends of mine are saying behind closed doors.
Nonsense. Utter sexual anarchy is perfectly healthy. Ask any leftist.
I think Naiomi Wolf is just mad because nobody wants nekkid pix of her.
Sounds like we need the gubmint to step in and regulate this - it’s addictive, and we can’t have that. Oh, No....it’s probably going to be called a mental illness, public health threat...in no time, libs will be requiring health insurance to cover treatment of this...
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” (I Corinthians 6:18)
I think there is a certain age (I dont know what it is maybe 30 something) where people live an abundance of their lives via technology/internet/facebook/twitter/text message and for some reason they might to the things referred to in this article. As for porn addiction, having so much of it available online for free can be very controlling and cause one to develop some habitual holes they may have a real trouble digging out of (a long time ago some one called this sin). Another part of me thinks that its not so much a porn addiction but rather so many have a need to just be constantly entertained. Perhaps this explains why you see people constantly yapping on their cell phones about literally nothing or staring obsessively at their i-phones or watching huge hours of television. The idea of just walking without the entertainment or doing a little thing called intropection just isn't something people do anymore and maybe they should.
I do not look at it. I would suspect that a person that frequently looks at it has psychological problems.
Years ago she did this same routine in NY Magazine
It gave me the creeps. The way she described her Orthodox Jewish friend was disrespectful and unseemly. But I suppose for a socialist/commie Naomi was as compassionate and understand as all get-out. For someone totally kalshebekalim.
I know I've always been discreet.
Hey, Tiger! Wait up.
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