Several days ago I had the opportunity to hear a couple speak about how pornography had almost ruined their marriage. In fact, it lead to divorce but then through a healing process 6 years later their marriage was restored. They now have a ministry for families and individuals who are struggling from the ravages of pornography.
I had forgotten how it is such a silent but destructive force in the lives of so many. And we are talking all ages, even the very young. I describe it as silent because it is usually done in secret until the dam bursts.
I spoke to a man who was working with 25 to 30 sixth grade boys in his church. He had them fill out anonymously a survey of questions. One of the questions was, “Have you watched pornography in the past?” All of them answered “yes.” He informed their parents and they were all in shock. It goes to show you how pervasive this is, even among our children.
There is a woman who shared with me a story of a couple she knew personally. They were newly married, both virgins on their wedding day. Yet, on the first night of their honeymoon, the husband could not perform sexually. He reluctantly confided that he had been hooked on pornography for years. Can you imagine having such an obstacle being thrown into your marriage on your very first day as husband and wife? Needless to say, the couple’s marriage was not off to the start they had hoped for.
In another scenario, we find supermodel Christie Brinkley, considered by many to be one of the most physically attractive women in the world today and featured three times on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Brinkley married architect Peter Cook, who was addicted to a $3,000-a-month porn habit, which may or may not have contributed to his affair with a teenager. Cook was married to one of the most beautiful women in the world but still looked to porn to satisfy his sexual desires, destroying his marriage.
An experienced, well-regarded counselor recently told me that pornography is the 500-pound gorilla in the world of addiction. He commented that it is easy to hide from others, is very difficult to overcome, and can have devastating effects on your relationships and your future sex life. Many young men, and even some young women, are graduating from college heavily addicted to pornography. We are only now beginning to understand how pornography influences regular users, particularly those who have viewed it for a number of years.
There are those supporters who argue that pornography has no effect on individuals who consume it, but that’s like saying people are not influenced by what they see. The advertising industry will gladly tell you, without question, that what you see enters your mind and heart, impacting who you are and what you do.
Sex therapists and educators Wendy and Larry Maltz authored the well-documented book, The Porn Trap. The writings share how people are shocked when they first hear about the destructive force of pornography. Many consider it to be harmless fun; it’s not a drug, alcoholic drink or even an actual sexual experience. So, how can it be so destructive? The Maltzes put it this way:
The truth is, using pornography can make you so blind–blind to the power and control it can eventually have over your life.
Pornography makes a major impact on brain chemistry. It stimulates an area of the brain, known as the “hedonic highway,” whereby the chemical dopamine is released when someone is sexually aroused. Pornography causes a huge spike of dopamine production in the brain. Many researchers believe that the dramatic increase in dopamine caused by the viewing of pornography is similar to that of the high someone experiences when using crack cocaine.
The Maltzes further add:
Porn’s power to produce experiences of excitement, relaxation and escape from pain make it highly addictive. Over time you can come to depend on it to feel good and require it so you don’t feel bad. Cravings, preoccupations and out-of-control behavior with using it can become commonplace. Porn sex can become your greatest need. If you have been using porn regularly to “get high,” withdrawal from porn can be as filled with agitation, depression and sleeplessness, as detoxing from alcohol, cocaine and other hard drugs. In fact, people in porn recovery take an average of 18 months to heal from the damage to their dopamine receptors alone.
Pornography can easily give a person an easy escape from real life and all of its pain, but it creates all types of problems, many of which evolve slowly, so you never see them coming until they are serious. The most alarming consequence is that it causes sexual desire and functioning difficulties, and it often shapes one’s sexual interests in destructive ways.
Naomi Wolf’s New York magazine article, “The Porn Myth,” posts this:
You would think porn would make men into raving beasts. On the contrary, the onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as porn worthy. Women are not having to fend off porn crazed men, but are having a hard time keeping their attention.
Dr. Ursula Ofman, a Manhattan-based sex therapist, has seen many young men coming in to chat about their porn-related issues.
It’s so accessible, and now, with things like streaming video and webcams, guys are getting sucked into a compulsive behavior. What’s most regrettable is that it can really affect relationships with women. I’ve seen some young men lately who can’t get aroused with women, but have no problem interacting with the Internet.
Journalist Pamela Paul, in her well-researched book, Pornified, says:
While some men try to keep pornography and real sex separate in their heads, it’s not so easy; pornography seeps in, sometimes in unexpected ways. The incursion can even lead to sexual problems, such as impotence or delayed ejaculation.
Sex therapist and psychologist Aline Zoldbrod is convinced that a vast number of young men are destined to be terrible lovers because of pornography. Too many men assume women will respond to them as the porn stars do in the videos. Zoldbrod says they are in for a rude awakening and will make horrible lovers because they do not know how to relate to a real woman.
In her book What Are You Waiting For?, Dannah Gresh details a common delusion most young people have about pornography: the belief that their issues and problems with porn will go away when they are married. The young women whose fiancés are hooked on porn certainly hope that is true. Gresh says this is the number one question she gets from young people.
“But, the lure of porn is never quenched by marital sex,”Gresh adds, “because porn has almost nothing to do with real love and real sex. It’s as counterfeit as a counterfeit can be.”
In simple terms, author Nate Larkin imparts that pornography corrodes all relationships between men and women because lust kills love. Here is a telling excerpt from Larkin:
Love gives; lust takes. Love sees a person; lust sees a body. Love is about you; lust is about me and my own gratification. Love seeks…knows…respects. Lust couldn’t care less.
The bottom line is this: Porn satisfies lust, not love. Lust is about me and my own satisfaction. In the end, porn destroys relationships and love. Its impact can be devastating.
(If you are interested in reading more on this subject I address it and other related issues in my book Sex At First Sight: Understanding The Modern Hookup Culture. – Richard Simmons)