The Brains of Porn Addicts: Article Summary

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Article Summary

Sexual fantasies can range from being sexy to insanely weird. Weird meaning, not the norm in society. Most times individuals who experience these weird desires become perverts/rapists or most times addicted to porn. Pornography today is much more diverse and easier to attain than it was 30 years ago. You can find exactly what you are looking for with the click of a mouse. Pornography also called porn, is the representation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, statues, motion pictures, and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement. (John, 2019)

This literature review is about an article entitled “The brain of porn addicts”. This piece was very enlightening because you wouldn’t actually think that watching something online could cause this much damage to your social life and brain. The article gives insight into why persons may become addicted to porn, how much damage porn can cause to the brain, and mind-blowing records, that show how addicted the world is to porn.

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Exactly how and why do people become addicted to porn? The article makes mentions dopamine in the brain and how it causes addiction. When people watch porn it somewhat generates pleasure, dopamine is then released and this is what causes us to want to repeat our actions. You may be asking yourself, “Why do people allow themself to be lured into pornography and cause it to consume them?” Kristi Pikiewicz Ph.D. believes that persons who become addicted to porn may have had a history of sexual abuse, neglect, physical, verbal or emotional abuse; or some unfortunate combination therein, which then causes loneliness, despair, depression, and/or low self-esteem issues, in their lives. Most persons who have been abused have some of these “weird” fantasies, their partners do not support them so they turn to porn and become trapped in the world of cybersex which then leads to addiction and causes them to become lonely. Lonely in the sense that they wish they had someone to do, what they want to be done to them. It is only a make-believe in their head, so after it is all over they then become depressed and sometimes wonder if something is wrong with them and why no one wants to please them in ways they find pleasurable.

“So watching porn all day will damage my brain?” Oh yes, it will. “How?” Many researchers like Dr. Pikiewicz believe that porn can become as harmful to the brain as the use of tobacco, binge eating, and even gambling. Persons who indulge in porn watching, get a feeling of reinforcement from the dopamine that rushes through their brain, this can alter our plasticity and synaptic plasticity. Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is a term that refers to the brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. (Cherry, 2019) If the brain's plasticity changes, that means the brain of addicts will have a harder time changing its physical structure, it will take more out of them to learn new things, and will have a hard time transferring damaged functions to undamaged regions. Synaptic plasticity is the change in the strength of synapses in the brain. A synapse is an entire junction between neurons. (Alleydog.com, 2019) If our synapse weakens that means we will not perceive information as quickly as we should, and there would be reduced cognitive function in the brain (it would become lazy).

Approximately 46% of people watch porn, there are over one hundred sites on the internet that are accessible for watching porn. The highest percentage of porn watchers are in the age range of 18 – 26, 87% of young men and 31% of young women. Based on the information in the article, the reasoning behind such a high number of porn users in this age group may be that young adults are trying to understand themself, some may wish to experiment and get a feel of what they like and do not like, (Smith, 2017). Watching porn may be the closest some of these adults may ever get to experiencing sexual fantasies. They become addicted to seeing what they are pleasured by because young adults have such a higher sex drive (especially males, because women reach their sex drive peak around 40 – 50 years old) than mature adults.

Overall, this article was very captivating and mind-blowing all at once. I believe pieces like this should be widely available since it is so popular, people will be shocked by how negatively something so pleasurable can affect them.

Deciding what topic to do this assignment about was somewhat challenging, I wanted to do something that was popular while I was going to high school and still is popular now. I had so many different ideas but then it came out to me by one flashback I had, I remembered when I was in grade 7 and a group of boys would always surround one particular boy. They would give him money and he would give them a slip of paper, one day I went over and asked him what he was selling, and all the boys looked at me a laughed. After he finished dealing with everyone, he came to me and showed me his book, it was full of porn sites, and he was selling the different names of porn sites to the boys. He had over 50 different porn sites in the back of his notebook, so I wondered to myself, if he had so many from six years ago I can only imagine the impact of porn on society today.

Even though I plan to become a clinical psychologist, there is a part of me that yearns to organize a business where I help teenagers especially, to make certain decisions in life so they have an actual plan for the future. Dealing with teenagers and helping them, I know some of them are going to confide in me about certain aspects of their life. I know doing this article review changed my perception and blew my awareness through the roof. I am aware of what porn addiction can do to the brain, so knowing all that I can better assist people by taking porn use into consideration when they may be feeling a certain type of way.

During human skills and strategies class, under the topic of emotional intelligence, we learned about stress. Ways to deal with stress and factors that cause stress. While reading other materials, (Bushell, 2017), to make this article summary diverse in opinions, I came across findings that stated some persons watch porn because they are stressed. At that moment I remembered the discussion among group members that people deal with stress in different ways beneficial to them. They might not be addicted to porn but they take part in cybersex whenever they need to relieve stress.

Not necessarily that I learned something about the profession but, I learned how powerful the chemicals in our brain really are, yes I learned are all different ones but I never knew dopamine would have the power to reinforce an action like watching porn.

I believe more helping professionals should take the time to read the literature of this nature. We might believe a client has a particular problem because of one aspect but we might have never looked at the possibility that pornography might be the problem with some of our depression or anxiety cases. Some clients may not even bring up the fact that they have a porn problem because they see it as pleasuring themself. So people on a whole should be compelled to read and be aware of what they are doing to their bodies.

Article

The Brains of Porn Addicts

Pornography: Helping or Harming Our Brains?

Over the past decade, there has been much debate about the merits and risks of viewing pornography. Anti-porn advocates often argue that viewing erotic images can alter the brain and result in porn addiction. In this article, we take a look at some of the recent research to better understand what the data tells us about pornography, psychology, and the brain.

Statistics on Porn Use

One does not have to go very far to obtain pornography; there are literally millions of websites at an internet user's fingertips. Estimates of the amount of internet use devoted to pornography range from 4% to 46% (of all internet users), according to the media.

Research on porn paints a more precise picture, including the following statistics:

  • 46% of men and 16% of women between the ages of 18 and 39 intentionally view pornography in a given week.
  • In a study of people ages 18-26, roughly two-thirds (67%) of young men and one-half (49%) of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.
  • In that same study, nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) young men and nearly one-third (31%) of young women reported using pornography.
  • Among the elderly, while sexual intercourse decreases, masturbation and the use of pornography increase.

Most people who use porn do not spend that much time on it. Some highlights, derived from the data collected through a survey conducted by the Kinsey Institute, reveal that:

  • 66% of porn users view it for 5 hours or less a month.
  • Another 16% of porn users view it for less than 15 hours a month.
  • 6% use it for more than 26 hours a month and 3% use it for more than 50 hours per month.

One research study identified associations among pornography acceptance/use, emerging adults' risky sexual attitudes and behaviors, substance use patterns, and non-marital cohabitation values.

Reasons to Use Porn

Why do so many people use porn? To some extent, its availability certainly explains the increased use. A person who might not have been motivated to make a trip out to an adult store to buy a porn magazine, or pursue other avenues of obtaining pleasure and satisfaction, perhaps would be inclined to click a mouse.

As porn use has become more widespread, the reasons for its use have diversified. There are both benefits and risks associated with pornography.

The availability of porn has made it possible for a number of individuals who might have felt insecure or guilty about their sexuality, or sexual desires, to be able to gain familiarity and comfort with practices that are closer to their realm of experience.

Some examples include:

  • Monogamous couples seek greater sexual satisfaction in their relationship.
  • People living in remote areas are far from meaningful social networks.
  • People who seek to satisfy fantasies in which their partners and spouses do not wish to engage; pornography provides a way to mitigate potential frustration while remaining committed to their relationship.

For some users, pornography provides a way to cope with the difficulties they might be facing, such as stress, depression, or loneliness. Problems can ensue when use accompanies impulsivity, or when users do not feel they have control over their use.

Psychological Effects of Porn Use

Whereas porn can be used in ways that are beneficial to sexual health, approximately 9% of viewers indicate that they are unable to refrain from viewing pornography. Problematic internet pornography use can lead to and exacerbate existing psychological issues with which the user may be struggling. There is a fair amount of research that substantiates the idea that problematic pornography use correlates with psychological problems such as depression and anxiety:

  • Reduces cognitive functions, more than half of men who use porn have acknowledged that their porn use has caused them problems in life, with the majority experiencing psychological and behavioral repercussions.
  • Depression. Compulsive and at-risk cybersex users experience guilt, depression, and anxiety. This may both result from pornography usage and perpetuate further behavior.
  • Anxiety, Personal factors such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, or interpersonal stress may contribute to the ease of conditioning to a pleasurable experience like porn as the behavior alters a negative mood.

Additionally, a growing body of research exists that supports the argument for a correlation between internet pornography use and impulsive behaviors. Initial findings suggest that impulsiveness extends to all internet pornography users and not only to problematic use.

Porn's Effect on the Brain

Recent research has shown that non-drug addictions such as gambling, binge eating, and sexual activities affect brain function in ways similar to alcohol and drug addiction. Many addiction studies focus on what is referred to as the pleasure/reward circuitry and their corresponding neurotransmitters - chemicals that are responsible for the communication between neurons. One of the neurotransmitters frequently identified as central to addiction is dopamine. A behavior or drug that produces pleasure induces a rush of dopamine that ultimately 'reinforces' that behavior, making it more likely to occur. The amygdala, basal ganglia, and other reward centers play a role in the reinforcement of the activity that produces pleasure.

Changes in the brain's neural pathways are referred to as 'plasticity'; and 'synaptic plasticity' refers to changes among neuronal connections

  • Research substantiates the idea that porn addiction can alter brain plasticity.
  • Non-drug addictions, like internet and pornography use, may lead to changes similar to those reported with long-term drug use.

Additionally, increased pornography use is associated with:

  • Smaller volume and less activity in the striatum- a region involved in processing rewards- although it is not yet clear if this is due to greater time spent viewing porn, or if people with reduced striatum volume will tend to watch more porn.
  • These individuals also tend to have less connectivity between the striatum and areas of the prefrontal cortex, indicating reduced judgment, decision-making, or control over impulsive behaviors.

Conclusion

As researchers strive to clarify the possible similarities and differences between substance abuse disorders and problematic behavior, such as excessive porn use, clinical evidence increasingly suggests overlap in both predispositions and their impact on psychological issues and brain structure. Whereas most people who view porn do so in a controlled manner that may contribute to greater sexual health, persistent, impulsive, and excessive porn use can begin to look like other addictions.

References

  1. Alleydog.com. (2019). Retrieved from Synaptic plasticity: https://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Synaptic+Plasticity
  2. Bushell, A. (2017, December 17). Quora. Retrieved from Can watching porn reduce stress?: https://www.quora.com/Can-watching-porn-reduce-stress
  3. Centers, A. A. (2015). Mentalhelp.net. Retrieved from The Brains of Porn Addiction: https://www.mentalhelp.net/porn/
  4. Cherry, K. (2019, September 26). How experiences change brain plasticity. Retrieved from Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886
  5. John, p. J. (2019). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from Pornography: https://www.britannica.com/topic/pornography
  6. Pikiewicz, K. (2013, September 9). The hidden wisdom of porn addiction. Retrieved from Psychology today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/meaningful-you/201309/the-hidden-wisdom-porn-addiction
  7. Smith, B. (2017, Jan 18). Why do younger teenagers watch pornography? Retrieved from Quora: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-young-teenagers-watch-pornography
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The Brains of Porn Addicts: Article Summary. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-brains-of-porn-addicts-article-summary/
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The Brains of Porn Addicts: Article Summary. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-brains-of-porn-addicts-article-summary/> [Accessed 19 Jul. 2024].
The Brains of Porn Addicts: Article Summary [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2024 Jul 19]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-brains-of-porn-addicts-article-summary/
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