How porn is rewiring men’s brains

Nov 17, 2013
Anti-Porn
0 0

There’s a scene in Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new comedy about a womanizing New Jersey stud with a rabid porn habit, in which Julianne Moore’s character gently breaks it to Jon that the sex they had was, well, not that good. That, actually, she felt like Jon was pretty much masturbating using her instead of his hand. Jon is stunned, mortified and finally completely confused by his sex life. Because, the truth is, he’s not enjoying it much either. Porn is what he really loves. Porn, porn and more porn.

Jon’s not alone in his love of porn. Statistics are superfluous – we all know it, don’t we? – but here are some anyway: 97% of boys and 80% of girls who responded to a University of East London survey targeting those aged between 16 and 20 said they had viewed porn. In America, one in three women regularly watch porn and 70% of men aged 18 to 24 visit porn sites at least once a month. (And the English-speaking West isn’t even pornography’s most enthusiastic market – that honor goes to Pakistan.)

dj-620x349The question is: does it matter? If we’re all getting our kicks and having a good time, what’s the problem? “It’s a disconnection from what’s really in front of you,” says Gordon-Levitt, who directed, wrote and stars in the film. “Rather than engaging with a unique individual and listening to what the other has to say, right at this moment, we put people in boxes with labels. We objectify each other.”

The consequences of this are worse than you might think. The thin end of the wedge is less enjoyment during sex. Jon’s dissatisfaction with real life sex is something he has in common with a lot of habitual porn users. In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, the psychiatrist Norman Doidge writes about a phenomenon he began to notice among his male patients in the mid 1990s. They watched porn – “everybody does,” they told Doidge – and were experiencing “increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, though they still considered them attractive.” They found themselves having to fantastise about porn scenes to get turned on.

That’s because, along with a great number of porn users, they had rewired the arousal pathways in their brains. “Pornography,” writes Doidge, “satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change,” – that is, the brain’s ability to form new neural circuitry. The most important condition is the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives us a feeling of exciting pleasure, which porn triggers. The more often you watch porn and get the dopamine hit it delivers, the more the activity and the sensation become entwined in your brain.

Doidge puts it like this: “since neurons that fire together wire together, these men got massive amounts of practice wiring these images into the pleasure centres of the brain.” And, “because plasticity is competitive, the brain maps for new, exciting images increased at the expense of what had previously attracted them.”

A related problem is what addiction experts call “tolerance”, in other words the need for more of a given stimulant (harder and weirder porn) for the same amount of dopamine. In the end, the result is what Doidge politely calls “potency problems”. Compulsive pornography users become unable to maintain erections.

Even among more casual users, porn is wreaking havoc in the bedroom. Last year, American GQ’s sex columnist, Siobhan Rosen, complained about the “pornified sex” men seemed to expect – not in a relationship, when trust has been established, but from the very first encounter. She wrote about men she had just started seeing who brandished ball gags, ejaculated on to her body and used really nasty language during sex.

“You don’t want to do those things with someone you hardly know,” she tells me. Men recreating the money shot is something that “has happened to every single one of my girlfriends,” she says. The advertising executive, Cindy Gallop, became so irritated by this very thing that she made it the central complaint of her TED talk when launching her website, makelovenotporn.com, in 2009. The talk went viral.

Keep Reading

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Spread the love
Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
6 years ago

More crap from the usual sources of anti-porn junk science. Why am I not surprised this comes from the U.K., where the Gail Dines wing of the Labourites enjoys its greatest popularity. Though Dines has publicly admitted on national television here that NO scientific research supports her claims about the “harms” of porn, her allies keep ginning up “research” of their own to prove that porn is definitely, absolutely and without doubt destroying all our lives in every possible way. Last year the party line was that porn wrecks relationships. This year they’re woofing about how porn makes men into… Read more »

Michael Whiteacre
Michael Whiteacre
6 years ago

I concur 100%.

crunkleschwitz
crunkleschwitz
6 years ago

If the sex is like the dude using the broad as a masturbation device, then the broad isn’t putting in enough effort.

Lay there like a dead fish, then complain about the sex? Fuck you honey, this a 2 way street.

TrafficHolder.com - Buy & Sell Adult Traffic
3
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x