Sorry to be so late with this second post on addiction. Computer problems invaded my world.
Most of my comments regarding pornography addiction will come from information I have gleaned from various sources. One of the main ones is so important that I believe I should point it out right from the start. A book that was critical to my thinking processes in the early stages of dealing with my own pornography problem was Protecting Your Child In An X-Rated World: What you need to know to make a difference. It is published by Focus On The Family by Frank York and Jan LaRue. Although it was printed in 2002, it is still available on Amazon .com and the information is timeless.
I read the book while I was still awaiting information on the Federal government’s plans to prosecute me for visiting pornographic sites containing, among other things, child pornography. I was initially angered by some of what I read because the authors are adamant about the need to prosecute anyone who visits such sites, even if they never intended to retain any pictures, which was my case. They emphasize a point that I had never considered before reading their book. That point is whenever anyone views a pornographic image, whether it is of a child or an adult, the person in the picture is being abused all over again. I had never considered that and frankly didn’t want to consider it when I first read the book. There were times when I had to put the book down and think to myself, “these people are crazy, I wasn’t abusing anyone.” I have since come to respect their views and recommend their book
In this post I will share a point that Frank and LaRue made about what happens in the human brain that leads to pornography addiction. There are some who dispute their arguments, but I will share them nonetheless because there is ample evidence to support their stance. They make reference to the work of Dr. Victor Cline, a psychotherapist and specialist in marital and family counseling. Cline believes that a person goes through four primary steps.
1] Addiction: He states that the repeated exposure to pornography leads to a person becoming addicted to it. There is a desire to keep going back again and again due to the pleasurable experience he/she achieves.
2] Escalation: The addict eventually becomes bored with the level of images seen and seeks to find more explicit ones such as incest, bestiality, violence and even mutilation.
3] Desensitization: Eventually, what was once shocking becomes commonplace. The guilt once felt is replaced by a justification in a person’s mind that “must be everyone does this.”
4] Acting out sexually: Not every addict will progress to this stage, but unfortunately all too many do. This stage involves the addict choosing to act out the behaviors seen in the pornography. The result is most likely going to be some form of illegal activity or at least painful and harmful to someone else.
Cline goes on to report that porn makes a permanent impact on the brain. In his testimony before the Reagan Administration’s Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography he describes the chemical changes that occur. He reports that, “research suggests that experiences at times of emotional [or sexual] arousal get locked in the brain by the chemical epinephrine and become virtually impossible to erase. These memories, very vivid and graphic in nature, keep intruding themselves back on the mind’s memory screen, serving to stimulate and arouse the viewer.”
Other researchers suggest that additional chemical changes may occur in the brain when a person is viewing pornography. One report refers to an opium-like effect and the possibility exists that repeated exposure to stimulation from viewing porn may strengthen the connections between nerve cells and increase the amount of tissue in the brain.
Given the findings mentioned above, it would be easy to see why some conclude that there is no cure for sexual or pornographic addiction. If it is true that there is a permanent change to the brain cells, that conclusion seems reasonable. However, I remind you that we have a God who is all-powerful and able to accomplish anything. There is hope for the person who has experienced addiction to pornography and I will address that in my next post.