If only we were born with an instruction manual on what makes us tick! It would really help to have one with a chapter on how internet porn affects the brain. The good news is, it is never too late to learn. It’s a complex matter, but like a car, we don’t have to know everything about the engine to learn how to drive it safely.
Internet pornography is not like porn of the past. It affects the brain in a much more direct and unconscious way. It has been designed specifically using highly sophisticated technological persuasion techniques to change our thoughts and behaviour. These techniques can make users addicted and lead to escalation to more extreme genres of porn. These two short videos explain how. They take the guilt out of the issue by explaining how susceptible the brain, especially the adolescent brain, is to the lure of this hyper-stimulating entertainment. The multi-billion dollar porn industry is only interested in profits not the mental and physical side effects on users.
This 4 minute TED talk called “The Demise of Guys” by Stanford social psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo looks at ‘arousal addiciton’.
“The Great Porn Experiment” is a 16 minute TEDx talk by former science teacher and author Gary Wilson, that answers the challenge set down by Zimbardo. It has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube and has been translated into 18 languages.
Gary has updated the TEDx talk in a longer presentation (1 hr 10 mins) called “Your Brain on Porn- How Internet Porn Affects Your Brain“. For those who prefer an engaging and informative book with hundreds of recovery stories and key tips for quitting porn see Gary’s Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction available in paperback, on Kindle or as an audiobook. He sets out a lot of the key concepts too in this excellent podcast (56 mins).
In this ‘brain basics’ section, The Reward Foundation takes you on a tour of the human brain. You can look here for more details about the basics of brain anatomy produced by McGill University. The brain has evolved to help us survive and thrive. Weighing about 1.3kg (almost 3lbs), the human brain makes up just 2% of the body’s weight, but uses around 20% of its energy.
To grasp how the brain evolved to function in general terms, see the evolutionary development of the brain. Next we’ll see how the parts work together by exploring the principles of neuroplasticity, that is how we learn and unlearn habits including developing an addiction. We will also look at how the brain communicates attraction, love and sex via its main neurochemicals. To understand why we are driven towards these rewards, it is vital to know about the brain’s motivation or reward system. Why is the golden age of adolescence so turbulent, fun and confusing? Find out more about the adolescent brain.