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6 Dangers of 21st Century Porn: Part III:
It Changes Your Turn-Ons & Sexual Interests

Links to PART I and PART II

God is an engineer and designed humanity, and humans, to work a certain way.  Nothing about the human condition is accidental or leftover, but is carefully planned out since before “let there be light”.  This includes how our bodies and, in particular, our brains, function.

Our sexuality and sexual interests are not chiseled in stone.  As we’ve discussed in other posts there is part of the brain called The Reward Center” that can influence and change our behavior. Well, there is another area of the brain that scientists have more recently identified that responds to new and novel inputs the same way that the Reward Center responds to pleasure.  This area of the brain has a real fancy medical name that’s a mouthful! I do not want to have to re-type it and I”m sure that you do not want to read it!  So lets just call it The Novelty Center.  Between the Reward Center and the Novelty Center we can reprogram ourselves without even knowing it.   This can happen with many types of inputs, but it is especially true with modern pornography.

How? Let’s take a look.

We’ve talked about how the Reward Center can impact behavior.  You do or experience something fun or pleasurable (an activity, food, drink, drug, sex, adrenaline, etc.) that causes your body to dump a ton of a chemical called dopamine into your system and…WOW!!!….your brain gets a jolt of good times!  This may be a runner’s high, or an orgasm.   Because we like how this activity or substance made us feel, we want MORE!  So your brain tells you to go get more.  Scientists now are telling us that this is the root of addiction, and it explains all of  these:

  • Alcoholism
  • Drug addiction
  • Sex/porn addiction
  • Smoking addiction
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Adrenaline junkies
  • Sports Addiction
  • Love addiction (addicted not to sex, but that “in-love” feeling)
  • Food addictions
Think about it.  If you find a snack that a child likes, and you reward them with that snack, they will then keep doing what they did to get the snack until they learn that it won’t work (you can only pick up your room so many times in a day!).  If an adult gets a “surge” from a can of MONSTER drink, then they will want MORE MONSTER!!!

 

Now let’s add this newly recognized region of the brain called the NOVELTY CENTER.  This region of the brain reacts to NEW things.  It not only reacts to the fact that something is new but it also determines how new it is, and causes a brain reaction in line with how new or novel that something is.   Familiar stuff doesn’t elicit as strong a response as new stuff. So, what does the NOVELTY CENTER do when reacting to novelty?

It dumps dopamine into your system! !!  

Dopamine…the “pleasure” chemical.

Just as the Reward Center gives you a reason to re-experience something that was fun, the Novelty Center gives you a reason to have variety and newness in that activity or substance.  In both cases, the “same old, same old” can stop producing the thrill it used to. This is why a new town becomes old hat, or why we find being “in-love” at the beginning of a relationship to be so intense, especially compared to how things are years, or maybe only weeks, later.

But, if you add the two effects, the Reward Center hit and the Novelty Center hit, you get a MUCH stronger reaction.

So, what does this have to do with modern pornography?

A LOT!

We all know that sex and sexual “stuff” are fun, whether sex itself or reading about it or watching porn.  (Anyone who says “sin isn’t fun” is lying!)  It can get the blood hot and lead to intense pleasure.  Once we have sex for the first time we want to have sex again (in most cases).  After a while, though, the “same old…same old” gets boring.   Even though there is pleasure, there is no longer novelty.  There is nothing new and exciting.  You get in a rut. Just ask many marriage counselors.

This not only applies in the bedroom, but also in the area of online pornography.   Many people who become involved with online pornography react in the same way.  An online video, for example, might be very  exciting the first few times that they watch it. But, it eventually becomes stale.  Nothing changed in the video.  Nothing at all!  But how it affected the brain changed.  There was no novelty, so there was less dopamine dumped into the person’s system, and therefore less of a “high”, or in the case of sex, a less exciting and less satisfying orgasm.  Things aren’t as pleasurable as before so your body wants more!

With modern internet pornography this situation is easily addressed: Just download another video.  There are thousands upon thousands of new files to feed your Reward and Novelty Centers.   They are just a “click” away!

Eventually a person can become bored, not just with an “old video”, but with the same old type of sexual activity:  If the videos just depict a single couple engaged in “routine” sexual intercourse then that activity, viewing routine sex, becomes less of a novelty, and you get less of a high or hit.   So, you look for something “different”, something that brings back that old “zing”.  Porn sites make this easy.  Their owners and programmers understand the need for novelty and show a variety of types of sexual activity on every page.  Sure, they maintain “categories” where a visitor can go and focus on particular “genres” of porn, but they make sure to include variety, from the tame to the extreme, on nearly every page….automatically.

On the home page of any one of the major free porn sites you will have 25-30 or more videos presented as a “thumbnail” and a link. The thumbnail is a still image frame from the video.  There will also be a description of the video (“hot couple on a date”, “college sex party”, etc.).  But, the home page will be a smorgasbord of porn containing:

  • Couples sex
  • Group sex
  • Straight sex
  • Gay sex
  • Oral sex
  • and much more.
So, here is how it works:
  • An individual visits a video porn site and is looking for a new thrill…
  • They are in a state of sexual desire/arousal to begin with…
  • They see videos in a category that is different from what they normally view, and click PLAY…
  • They get a dopamine boost due to the novelty…and another due to sexual pleasure
  • Their brain chemically associates pleasure with this new material…
  • They want more…
  • They click on another video….
  • They get more dopamine….
  • And they want more….and more….
  • The cycle continues until they no longer get a boost from that category and move on to another, repeating the cycle.
One problem is that, while they are in this heightened state they are exposed to sexual activities and sexualities that they might normally find unappealing…or downright unacceptable!  They are nearing a line.  But, since they are already “hot and bothered” their defenses are down and they are (consciously or unconsciously) on the hunt for dopamine!  They will see material that might normally offend or even horrify them.  And, since they are in an aroused state when seeing these images they are more likely to “just try one, to see what it is…”.  After all, it’s giving us pleasure.  In fact, the novelty of these new videos, especially their “forbidden-ness”, may make them that much more attractive.  So, it changes their turn-ons:
  • One person who would not hurt a fly is drawn into the BDSM genre, where pain replaces pleasure, and the two become mixed.
  • Instead of sex being loving, a person becomes turned on and drawn to videos featuring rape and other abuse.
  • Another person, who completely believed in monogamy, is drawn into the genres of group sex and swinging.
  • One who is straight is be drawn into experimenting with bi-sexual/homosexual material or activities.
In each of these cases,  and more, these activities become “acceptable” to view, and therefore (eventually) acceptable to participate in.
Then there is the impact on the person’s relationships:
  • “Normal” sexual relations becomes boring and often fail to interest the porn user
  • Real life cannot compete with the fantasy of pornography
  • Because of a shift in what excites them in pornography, a person wants new sexual experiences, which their spouse may/may not agree with
  • A person who focuses on a particular sexual genre online (say, bondage) may find that to be the only activity that brings arousal and satisfaction
  • A spouse may want to include a third…or fourth person in the bedroom because that is what they find exciting online
  • Violence can trickle from the video screen to the bedroom
  • A distorted view of sex is built on “thrills” and not love
It is easy to see how we can alter our desires, triggers, and sexualities through online porn when the Reward and Novelty Centers are mis-used and abused.  We won’t even be aware of what we are doing to ourselves!
.
So, what do we do?   Well, if we better understand how our brains and minds work in terms of the Reward and Novelty Centers of the brain we can live, learn, and lead much more wisely:
  • We can make sure that we don’t let our marriage bed become stale and routine, and do so in a Godly manner
  • If single….or married…we can better resist the temptations of pornography and promiscuity because we know the dangers
  • We can better recognize new social and technology threats as they emerge and therefore better defend our homes and families
  • We will educate and equip our children, as age-appropriate, to have a better understanding of these dangers and to have a strong, spiritual understanding based upon God’s Word, and God’s Design
Educate our children?  Why?  Well, you might find this article by former British  men’s magazine editor Martin Daubney enlightening…and frightening.  Click on the image to the right or on this LINK

What we see and experience DOES affect our body…and our minds.  It is easy to see how triggering the Reward and Novelty Centers, especially together, can re-program us when using pornography.  And the power of this is incredible. It is destroying individuals and family across the nation!

The risk for our children is even greater.   While teenagers have fully developed Reward Centers, the areas of their brains that provide for analysis and good judgement are not mature until around age 22.  So, what will a generation be like that was “programmed” by the adult entertainment industry through reward and novelty?

Maybe we should always remember what the Apostle Paul wrote:

Run from sexual sin!
No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.
For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
(1 Cor 6:18  NLT)

Please leave a comment! Share your thoughts…or experiences!

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