Thursday, October 09, 2014

Overcoming pornography

As I've written before, an awful lot of folks in our society have a real struggle with pornography. Mostly men, but not all. And for those who wrestle with it, porn can be a tremendously powerful thing.

And, as you might imagine, this is something people talk to me about -- and I want to help them. I'm frequently looking for resources.

Today I looked at a series of articles at the Art of Manliness, with a fourth and final installment due shortly. The author put in some impressive work on the subject. Here are some things he explains in plain (albeit sometimes crude and direct) language:

-- It's all about brain chemistry and survival. Dopamine in our brains "rewards" and thus motivates behaviors that further our life, and further reproduction. Of course, this same function can be triggered by sexual pleasure generated by imagery.

-- We tend to crave what gave us that dose of dopamine, and seek it out. That leads to habit, escalation, seeking novelty.

-- The release of dopamine is "also strengthening neural connections that are responsible for the behavior that keeps those neurotransmitter hits coming. Porn is literally rewiring your brain."

The author, Brett McKay, develops other consequences: we tend toward depression because our brain becomes desensitized to dopamine, which is supposed to make us happy, and we tend to lose focus and discipline as the part of our brain that contributes that is weakened.

That series, in turn, led me to another site I found fascinating: Your Brain on Porn. It has tons of information and links, way more than I could examine; but what I saw seemed to offer some good tools for those who are trying to break this habit.

If you check these sites out, please come back and let me know any reactions or observations you have.


ndspinelli said...

I almost certainly have a different view on porn as do you, Padre. I see it as most things, in moderation, it is OK. So, we disagree on that.

Where I am quite certain we agree is that too many men have become addicted to porn. A lot of it is OCD related. These are compulsive men who need to medicate their mind[dopamine related] to deal w/ the stress of their OCD. It could be drugs, alcohol, gambling, hoarding etc. that brings that self destructive relief just as easily as porn. It is the ubiquity of internet porn that has made this obsession way too alluring. I don't know the answer to the ubiquity. We have a First Amendment which is the core of our great country. Attack the OCD is what I see as the main focus.

northernHERMIT said...

It was interesting to read about the neurochemical basis of pornography addiction, and how it relates to many other addictive behaviors. I think though that neurochemistry and neurobiology are difficult subjects to grasp, and that they can easily be misunderstood and misapplied by people without the proper academics. They can just as easily justify a behavior, as they can warn of a misbehavior. For most people Church language is much easier to understand. Good versus evil, morality, free will, vices and virtues, graces and sins are understandable terms by most lay people; even if we object to them. They certainly are much easier to understand than behavioral addiction as described by the doctorate neuroscientist. Neurochemistry might describe the science behind behavioral addiction but the catechism gives reason to why it is wrong. Also, traditional fire and brimstone from the preacher can still be considered an effective therapy.