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More than 50% of men now look at pornography regularly, thanks to easy access and constant bombardment of images on the internet. No one wants to talk about it. Society generally looks the other way at pornography, dismissing it as harmless “men's entertainment.” The reality is that it is extremely addictive, and along with the addiction comes life-destroying side effects. It puts the addict into a creepy bondage that affects the lives of those around him or her. It is not a victimless crime. It has become a chilling epidemic that is ruining the minds, families and jobs of possibly half the men in the country. Everyone has a family member, spouse or friend whose life is full of problems due to this addiction.
Viewing pornography overstimulates a neurochemical in the body called dopamime. In men, it mixes with testosterone and builds up an adrenaline rush. After repeatedly looking at porn, a tolerance is built up, and it becomes difficult for ordinary romantic experiences to provide pleasure. Men lose interest in real romance. Musician John Mayer has publicly admitted that his pornography habit is so strong he prefers to stay home with it instead of spending time with a real woman. Some men end up forcing the pornographic acts they watch on their unwilling wives in order to try and become interested in them again. The rise in men's erectile-dysfunction aids is no doubt due in part to the increase in pornographic addictions.
The kind of addiction created by porn is akin to drug users needing stronger and stronger drugs in order to achieve the same feeling. Addicts seek out increasingly hardcore porn to try and satisfy their addictions. Ironically, they don't seek out more hardcore porn in order to obtain more pleasure, but because they are obtaining less pleasure. Several studies have come out revealing that pornography addicts have the same brain changes as drug addicts. It radically alters the structure of the brain, as the pleasure parts of the brain become more dominant, literally turning into a “one-track mind.” The structural brain changes have been compared to brain damage. Addiction to pornography destroys intelligence, ruining the ability to concentrate and causing forgetfulness. It reduced one engineer's ability to hold down any job except at minimum wage level.
The American Society of Addiction modified its definition of addiction to include pornography last year, stating that it can be associated with the "pathological pursuit of rewards." Pornography is an extremely difficult addiction to cure, because recovery involves withdrawal symptoms like irritability, concentration problems, and even flu-like symptoms. It takes 6-12 weeks after stopping to be able to enjoy normal romance fully again.
The internet has allowed for the creation and sharing of an endless stream of pornography, making it easier to get trapped. Men cannot surf the web or log into their email accounts without seeing ads and emails with air-brushed provocative women inviting them to click. 25% of internet searches are related to pornography. They're not all men, either, one-third of all who look at porn on the internet are women. 20,000 pornographic videos are produced each year in the San Fernando Valley, 90% of all pornographic videos.
The most disturbing part about pornography addiction is that it can lead to child pornography. When an addict cannot get the same feeling any longer from regular pornography, the addict may turn to child pornography. Child pornography is increasing; between 2005 and 2009 there was a 432% increase in child pornography movies and images.
Another terrible consequence of porn is it can lead to rape. Clinical psychologist Dr. Victor Cline, author of Pornography's Effects on Adults & Children, found that almost half of the rapists he studied used pornography to arouse themselves before they sought out a victim to rape. Dr. M.J. Goldstein studied sex offenders and found that many of them acted out the sex acts they watched in pornography on their victims. Most admitted that watching pornography increased their desire for deviant activities. Serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy has said that his pornography addiction progressed through stages.
Porn creates images of women that are not based in reality. Most porn stars are deeply troubled, and a high proportion are sexual abuse survivors. Many ex-porn stars are now speaking out about how how terrible the industry really is. It is not glamorous, the average male porn star makes $40,000 annually. There are 15 new cases of STDs reported in the adult movie business every week. One porn star has said that 99.9% of the industry has herpes. Another porn star said the industry only tests for HIV, not other STDs. Another one said they are all on drugs, that is “an empty lifestyle trying to fill up a void.”
Shelley Luben, a former porn actress, now speaks out against porn. She exposes the truth the porn industry hides, “The porn industry wants YOU to think we porn actresses love sex. They want you to think we enjoy being degraded by all kinds of repulsive acts.” The pornography industry renamed itself to the “adult entertainment industry” in order to create the perception that it's just entertainment. It's not, it is extremely damaging to the wives and children of the man “being entertained.” Culture theorist and author Jackson Katz describes how porn hurts regular relationships, “It normalizes the men's pleasure-taking as it sexualizes the woman's degradation.”
The epidemic has seeped into the workplace, hurting workplace productivity. A Nielsen report found that 29% of working adults access adult websites form work computers. Considering that viewing porn is a fireable offense, this is evidence of how severely addictive porn is.
Men who are addicted to pornography frequently defend their addiction by claiming they have “needs.” However, pornography has not been around or easily accessible until recently. Cavemen got by just fine without it.
Communities used to be able to zone adult stores away from sight. With the advent of the internet, any attempt now to regulate pornography raises cries of censorship. Yet the Supreme Court's rulings over the past 60 years holding that pornography is protected free speech drew arbitrary lines: obscenity – which includes extremely hardcore pornography - can still be banned.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, who researches sexual addictions, has found that most sexual addicts come from dysfunctional families, with the root of their addictions based in childhood. Instead of dismissing this unhealthy addiction as “free speech,” society should help pornography addicts understand that their behavior is not normal, and they need to take steps to correct it, such as joining a 12-step support group or using self-help at websites like yourbrainonporn.com. Addicts are not using pornography for “entertainment,” but to mask their emotional problems. Porn does not liberate men, but puts them in virtual bondage. Their unhappiness is still there, their relationship problems are still there, and they risk damaging their lives further as the addiction increases. Sadly, most pornography addicts are probably unaware they have an addiction, thanks to society telling them that it is just “men's entertainment.”
There needs to be a shift in cultural attitudes regarding pornography. Ironically, it is women who are responsible for instituting this laissez-faire attitude towards porn. Feminists in the 1960's ushered in a sexual revolution, which said that anything goes, free love, free sex. This was self-defeating to feminists, since porn eroticizes male supremacy. Sexologist Alfred Kinsey also contributed to society normalizing porn. He performed research on subjects that included a high percentage of pedophiles, inmates, sex offenders, pimps and prostitutes, but told everyone his subjects were “average” Americans. He claimed his results proved that men need deviant sexual behavior and that it is normal. His findings were widely adopted in schools and universities and by psychologists, even though it became well-known later that he was a deviant himself who welcomed the sexualization of children.
Former porn actress Luben tells men they must stop, “The truth is there IS NO fantasy in porn. It’s all a lie.” She asks men, “We want you to throw out our movies and help piece together the shattered fragments of our lives.”
Christians can speak up against pornography from a moral basis. The Bible calls it a sin. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said that looking at a woman lustfully is the same as the sin of adultery. 2nd Peter 2:14 speaks to the addiction aspect, “They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied.” Christian leader James Dobson produced a report for the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography under President Reagan, where he explained how pornography has gone from airbrushed naked models to serious perversion, due to addicts needing more stimulation. “This is the world of pornography today, and I believe the public would rise up in wrath to condemn it if they knew of its prominence.” It is over 25 years later and pornography is more prevalent and disgusting than ever. Why hasn't the public risen up against it? Because half of the men in our society are addicted themselves.