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HOMESpiritual Psychology

Porn is Good, Bad or Somewhere Inbetween?

Published on August 9, 2016

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Sex is an explosive subject, one that many people just cannot deal with. When it comes to pornography masterbation overlays the subject because obviously pornography is an aid to masterbation. There is no longer any doubt among doctors and therapists that the supposed negative effects of masturbation are false. It is a perfectly normal and healthy form of sexual expression. Whether you are single or in a relationship, masturbation is a healthy sexual activity that you can engage in to fulfil your sexual desires. Studies show that masturbation is a very common behavior; about 92% of men and 62% of women masturbate.

Pornography is controversial and there is no complete consensus about it except the negatives do seem to outweigh the positive. Salon Magazine responded to the Times essay, ‘Why young men who grew up with internet porn are becoming advocates for turning it off,’ saying, “I am not trying to argue that Crews and the men quoted in Time did not feel deleterious effects based on their pornography use; I’m saying that it’s quite possible those effects could have been avoided or lessened if they were given a context, whether at home and/or at school, about what porn signifies, and what it doesn’t. For instance, take the advice Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, founder and president of The Child Mind Institute, offers at Time Ideas, where he urges parents to tell kids that sex in porn is not the same as sex in real life.”

All it takes is one click to start down a path of habitual pornography. In the old days it was Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler magazines and the pornograph books we would find on our parents shelves. More powerful than heroin, sex via pornograph has the power to addict the young. Sex through porno offers instant access to pleasure that is self-reinforcing. It is inner heroin no drugs needed. “Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable.”

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Sociology professor Gail Dines wrote. "After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse.” Though this might be a general trend not everyone who uses pornography falls into hell meaning cannot enjoy intimacy, love and deep appreciation for their partners.

"I can’t tell you, really, much you don’t already know about the evils of pornography," Jeffrey Holland said. "I’ll tell you that pornography is steadily, inexorably, unendingly present, that there is more of it, that it’s easier for everyone, including children, to access, and that it continues to rend the very moral fabric of our society whether that be the family, or the community, or the very state or the nation. That is because in every case, it rends the moral fabric of the individual."

“For some young men, it messes with the reward centers of the brain so that sexual arousal, i.e. erections, are only possible with porn, even when there is a real, live, naked and willing person in the room,” writes one concerned mother. It is called Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED), and more doctors are seeing erectile problems with younger men. The theory is that the men are desensitized to normal sexual stimuli and require a level of imagery, intensity, and novelty that isn’t real-life.

Drs. John & Julie Gottman writes that, “Research on the effects of pornography use, especially one person frequently viewing pornographic images online, shows that pornography can hurt a couple’s relationship. The effect may be true, in part, because pornography can be a “supernormal stimulus” (see Supernormal Stimuli by Deirdre Barrett). Nikko Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, described a supernormal stimulus as a stimulus that evokes a much larger response than one that has evolutionary significance. One effect of a supernormal stimulus is that interest wanes in normal stimuli.”

“Pornography may be just such a supernormal stimulus. With pornography use, much more of a normal stimulus may eventually be needed to achieve the response a supernormal stimulus evokes. In contrast, ordinary levels of the stimulus are no longer interesting. This may be how normal sex becomes much less interesting for porn users. The data supports this conclusion. In fact, use of pornography by one partner leads the couple to have far less sex and ultimately reduces relationship satisfaction,” these doctors conclude.

Young men and women are being taught in mass what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training—and this is having a huge effect on how they interact. But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women.” “The ubiquity of sexual images does not free Eros but dilutes it.”

A 2014 fMRI study from the Max Planck Institute found that habitual porn use may have an effect on the brain. The found that the more pornography that men consumed the smaller the brain striatum, the reward center of the brain. They also showed less response to pornographic pictures in the same area. Another study found that the more frequent porn users were more impulsive and had less ability to delay gratification. A brain scan study out of the University of Cambridge in 2014 showed that men with compulsive sexual behavior responded to explicit clips in the same way users of drugs respond to drugs: they craved them even if they didn’t like them.

One of the positive aspects of pornograph is that over the same period that pornography has grown much more common, the rape rate has plummeted. However, many who work with rape victims say they do not believe there has been a widespread decline in the number of attacks. Instead, despite the years of attempted outreach to rape victims — they say the crime may be as hidden now as ever.

Nevertheless, it does not take too much stretch of the imagination to see how pornography takes some of the pressure off sexual frustration and stress. A study from Carnegie Mellon reports that men who looked at sexy pictures were much less stressed than those who viewed non-sexual images.

Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic says, “Lots of countries with ubiquitous pornography seem to be much more successful, and to treat women much better––to grant them more rights, dignity, and status as equal persons––than countries where porn is more restricted or unavailable.  And I suspect that, for social conservatives, anti-porn feminists, and everyone else besides, the truth about porn, whatever it is, will raise very thorny moral and ethical questions precisely because its many effects are neither entirely good nor entirely bad. What if, hypothetically speaking, modern porn increased the degree to which men think of women as objects, made marriages marginally less healthy, significantly decreased the rates of rape and spousal abuse, and led to fewer abortions?” asks Friedersdorf.

Possible Effects on Relationships and Sex

Modern life with easy access to pornography via the Internet has led to some alarming trends. In Japan nearly 40 percent of singles in their 20s and 30s do not want a romantic partner, with many calling relationships “bothersome.” “Both men and women say to me they don’t see the point of love. They don’t believe it can lead anywhere …. relationships have become too hard,” says Ai Aoyama, a sex therapist in Japan.

In New York we see another phenomina, a “Dating Apocalypse,” The Internet itself, not just the porn on it is changing the way young people relate. With mobile applications like Tinder and OkCupid becoming popular there no dating and no relationships. Like with pornography dating and sex have become almost as easy as turning on pornography. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,  where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida.”

Compassion is Needed

Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, suggests that self-compassion is a sound approach to much of what ails us. “In other words, treating yourself just like you would your best friends, even when they (you) screw up.” Compassion is always superior to judgment based morality in dealing with pornography and masturbation.

One concerned mother writes, “Don’t be naive about your kids. I’ve talked with my sons about this temptation, and they’ve estimated that 70-80% of guys in their high school watch porn regularly. They’re probably right, and I bet their parents have no idea. An anti-porn site aimed specifically at youth is Fight the New Drug.”

On this site for the young it says that porn kills love. That sounds like an exaggeration but it holds some truth. Time spent with porn takes us away from time spent with our loved ones. Pornography can disapate our sexual frustrations of which there is much in modern society and that is important if not essential for many people

Republican delegates unanimously adopted an amendment to their draft platform that called pornography “a public health crisis” and a “public menace” that is destroying lives. There are many things that are destroying lives. Pornography offers some access to pleasure and for the oversexed highly passionate people a relief valve. 

It is impossible to banish pornography off the earth with laws or moral teachings so the best we can do is be aware of it, deal with it, and educate our children about the dangers. Pornography is the easy way into the pleasure principle, the problem is it is too easy.

Pornograph can never replace the pleasure when we see the love light shining back on us through the eyes of our beloved. It is sad but understandable that some people turn away from love bccause there is little that is easy about love and relationships. Modern life has been making it more difficult than ever to find true love and deep intimacy just as the Internet has made pornography the easiet thing in the world to access.

Masterbation

The vast majority of men begin to masturbate at puberty, and many continue to do so throughout life without negative consequences. Masturbation can boost your immunity, improve your mood, and used right, it can even help you to last longer in bed. However, we are beginning to hear that ever-increasing numbers of people are suffering from a chronic compulsion to masturbate. It’s affecting their work, impacting their social life, destroying relationships and leaving them feeling guilt-ridden.

In the vast majority of cases, those suffering with chronic masturbation are also watching huge amounts of porn, and it has been demonstrated that excessive porn use can have significant detrimental effects on your mind and body. Conversely, cutting porn out of your life can bring tremendous benefits.

One man put it this way: “A sexual reboot does far more for you than you might realize, especially if you’ve been masturbating to porn since a young age. That was the case with me, and when I finally recovered and experienced all of these amazing benefits, I truly understood just how much impact porn had on my life. I can only imagine how different my life would have been if I hadn’t got involved with porn.”

Conclusion

Is pornography good, bad or somewhere in between? Each person has to answer this for themselves. Husbands and wives also need to answer this question for each other. Interestingly enough one of the most sucinct ways of describing pornography comes from Eugene Fama, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Finance,” who is a Nobel laureate. “So basically, I think it means the business of central banks is like pornography: It’s not the real thing.”

Sometimes too much of the real thing can get us into the trouble of unwanted pregnancies and sometimes our partners do not want to have sex when we want or need. Personally I do not believe that pornography is all bad and certainly it is no one’s business to judge another for masterbation and the use of pornography.

I was told a story after I finished this essay about a Brasilian porn star whose father said to her that it was ok to have intercourse for money doing the films first because she was desperate in need to make a life and support her three kids and secondly because she was going to have sex anyway she might as well get something from it. I was told she made doing pornography into an art form so much of herself did she give over to it.

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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