The human brain is probably the most complex piece of biological machinery in the universe. This is exactly why, whenever scientists want to understand something’s effect on human psyche, they start with looking at the biological effects the element has on the brain.
In the case of pornography, scientists look at the same areas of the brain that are studied when looking at addictive materials, like drugs or alcohol and the results have helped them to learn how watching pornography can affect human physiology and psychology. These effects are exactly what our Sexual Compulsivity track is designed to counter. To understand more about pornography and the brain, peruse the following facts:
When one is viewing pornography, mirror neurons start firing in the brain. These neurons can lead to a state of arousal, which results in a person taking an action to ease that state. When the person commits this act, to achieve relief, s/he is bound to the image that they were viewing, and for porn addicts, it’s usually a pornographic image.
Dopamine is the primary chemical responsible for the aroused state and it is released when you are viewing pornography. The problem with this is that overtime, the explicit images release more dopamine than looking at a partner. This can lead the porn addict to lose interest in their romantic partner and rely more and more on pornography, to achieve arousal.
There is a neurological phenomenon called Coolidge effect, which narrates that mammals show a renewed sexual interest in a new sexual partner. This is the precedent that the whole pornography industry is based on; it presents viewers new types of explicit materials every day, thereby causing an addiction that is fulfilled every day.
When a porn addict’s brain gets used to the release of certain amounts of dopamine, they will be desensitized to that type of images. In an effort to increase the release of dopamine, the addict will seek out more stimulating images. This is exactly why porn addicts seek out more extreme types of pornography over time.
When the sequence of watching pornography and reaching a state of arousal is repeated often, it becomes a preferred method of achieving satisfaction. When your brain prefers this oft-tread path, it becomes very difficult for porn addicts to focus on real relationships.
These facts about brain chemistry should be able to tell you about the psychological impact pornography addiction can have on a teen. And if it is left untreated for long, it can become the cause of debilitating sexual behavior issues. Contact us (800.584.4629) and learn how our Wilderness Therapy program helps teenagers with their pornography addiction.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.