Drawing Attention to the Effects of Pornography
Ariel Chaffin | University Relations | 26 October 2012
Dr. Paul Buckingham and Cary Wasden spoke to a full audience on the tragic effects of pornography Tuesday, October 23, in the Little Theater at BYU–Hawaii. Their address, "Bringing the Myths of Pornography to Light," highlighted the process and physiological impact of pornography addiction. The event was hosted by the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding.
Using the parallel of an alcoholic who has not touched a drink in over forty years, but reminds himself daily that he will not drink, Buckingham illustrated the lasting temptation that is present when overcoming an addiction. Pornography addiction is no different, he said.
The formula of pornography addiction starts with rationalization. “We are good at convincing ourselves; there are key phrases that we tell ourselves that gives us permission,” said Buckingham. Following rationalization is the habitual routine that is developed, which involves distancing, disconnecting and isolating oneself. “The human mind is wonderfully creative. Never underestimate the ingenuity of the human mind,” he said. Next, is the participation, stimulation and stimulation response, and at this point the process of shame, guilt and depression begins. This process lasts longer than the stimulation itself, at which point feelings of inadequacy sink in and the cycle starts all over again.
“There is a whole overlay of emotions that are attached to pornographic activity,” said Buckingham. Over time the addicted begins objectifying people, and struggles to connect with people. He compared the dehumanizing effects of pornography to the dehumanizing impact of violent war video games.
Buckingham said, “If the behavior is persistent in seeking stimulation, you’re addicted.”
Cary Wasden focused on the brain and how pornography causes physiological damage. Wasden structured his segment with four lists: the uniqueness of pornography, the effects on the brain, the elements of addiction and how to reverse effects.
Pornography is a unique addiction for it offers no satiation. Since there is no trigger that causes the viewer to feel full or done, it causes a long-term neurological system that is hard to overcome. Through desensitization, stated Wasden, the viewer then needs to view more, or more extreme pornography, which then causes the physiological change.
The brain is an efficient body part that seeks the fastest way to do things. In regards to pornography, the brain recognizes that pornography releases a large quantity of dopamine and with time, rewires the thinking process of the brain. The instant visualization releases the dopamine and causes the viewer to become hooked. “This is dangerous as it causes hypofrontality,” said Wasden. “This is when the prefrontal cortex, the judgment part of your brain, which tells you ‘don’t do that,’ shrinks. In 2002 it was found that cocaine does the same thing, and in 2004 methamphetamine, and in 2006 found that obesity does the exact same thing.”
In order to reverse the negative damage of pornography, Wasden proposed three ways to return to the “factory settings.” The first is to use intentional thinking. “Think about who you are and force your brain to think about every action before you do it. You will either justify it or repent– always err on the heavy side of repentance.” Secondly, find a passion on which to focus your attention. Lastly, “create good habits through repetition.”
Find out how to help with this addiction at www.combattingpornography.com.