Addictions: Pornography

We are all familiar with addictions, perhaps the ones most commonly known are alcoholism, drug addictions and of course pornography; however not many of us truly understand the causes behind pornography addiction and its ramifications.

First let’s start by making sure we all understand the difference between sexual addiction and pornography addiction.

One obvious difference between porn addiction and a sex addiction is, sex addiction by definition takes place with a partner. A porn addict can satisfy their urges simply by logging to the internet, watching a video or opening a magazine.  A sex addict, however, is constantly on the hunt for new partners, and new avenues to express his or her sexuality. Therefore, sex addicts are generally very social people. Meanwhile, porn addicts are likely to become reclusive, spending much of their free time in front of a computer monitor and not interacting with others face-to-face.

It is worth mentioning both addictions are not an official diagnostic in the DSM-5; regardless, what’s important is to remember an addiction to pornography can lead to distress and have severe consequences in many facets of one’s life.

Let’s start by clarifying this article is in no way a condemnation of sexuality which is a beautiful and an enriching experience when practiced in a healthy way.  I chose to write this article in order to explore how pornography addiction works at a neurological, physiological and spiritual level. I hope by doing this to re-educate those of us who are holding onto the old belief system our brain is hardwire and there is no real way out.

To me the whole world permeates with sexual energy; it is a compliment to our spiritual nature; therefore one should embrace it not negate it. Pornography on the other hand deals with fantasy, therefore creating a negative impact on our lives. Pornography takes everything to the extreme and makes it bigger and more animal alluring than it actually is.

It has been estimated about 37-47% of the content found in the internet is pornographic material.  There is a big debate on the numbers, with some stating the numbers are hugely exaggerated by the porn industry, to others stating the numbers are not even close to what the real figures are.  Bottom line, the above numbers are an average estimate (let’s not forget such numbers are only a reflection of the pages used; however, each page hosts huge archives).

When talking of pornography addiction, it is important to clarify it isn’t just men who have a tendency to becoming addicted to porn; reality is both men and women are both capable of developing such addiction.  Nowadays 1 in 5 women who use the internet for sexual purposes has an addiction to pornography. A study published a few years back in the Cyber Psychology and Behavior exposed 62% of women have seen pornography by the age of 18–shocking?…shouldn’t be, specially when 52% of young women today are exposed to sexually explicit images by the age of 14.

Let’s focus on the science behind the addiction: We all have a chemical called Dopamine; a neuro chemical; which is in charge of your brain’s pleasure reward system.  Let me give you an example: When you achieve a goal or a desire, the brain releases Dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good, it’s what makes just about any of us feel better after we exercise; in other words it is what keeps us motivated!

What happens when one is watching pornography?…the result is an overstimulation of Dopamine, which reinforces the addictive behavior, creating more desire which causes a vicious cycle.  The more Dopamine we have in our bodies the more we cause a chemical imbalance within our body.  Just like too little Dopamine can contribute to depression, high Dopamine levels can be very destructive as one will need more dopamine to get the same feeling or “high”.
Through Pornography the neurons in our bodies become so desensitized, resulting in the need for stronger triggers to get the release of dopamine.

I hope you are starting to understand what I am getting to… It is not the images which turn one into an addict, it is the result of the brain’s neurons having loss its natural triggers and needing stronger triggers to produce Dopamine.  This explains why the more porn one sees the more porn one needs. It explains scientifically why one starts with what is called “soft porn” and it escalates to “hard core porn”.  One is not addicted to the pornography one sees but to the chemicals the brain releases.

Why then isn’t everyone addicted?…usually because an addict is a person who has a poor lifestyle; stress being the major contributor but not the only cause; usually a combination of stress and poor self esteem can be found.

Stress which is tough on the brain can cause a chemical imbalance, add to that poor self esteem and you have a recipe for a negative cycle where the person starts to like the high of Dopamine. Living within that vicious cycle could turn someone into an addict to pornography; spending countless hours on it; to the point of losing sleep which often results in feeling tired and more stressed.

When healing pornography addiction, it is not as simple as to give someone a  prescription; one first has to deal with the self esteem issues. The negative sides of high dopamine include but are not limited to: Mood disorders, loss of memory and focus, premature aging and more.

In the past it was believed our brain was hard wired, as a result very little hope was seen for addicts or victims of serious traumas. The support groups and treatments out there had very little success because they were seeing addiction as a permanent illness; then came Neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the science which deals with the neurons in our brain; scientists discovered the brain is not hard wire.  What this means is that our brain can heal and change itself– Talk about a huge discovery and even a major positive factor in the new treatment of addictions–Neuroplasticity explains how our brain can change as a result of mental experience.

Neuroplasticity explains pornography addiction as the result of continuous exposing of the mind to a destructive pattern. If one addresses the low self esteem issues and the subject is removed from destructive/toxic atmospheres and instead is exposed to different/healthier experiences, the brain will rewire the old neurological paths once created from the over use of pornography and it will readjust dopamine levels.  Isn’t that amazing? Think about it, no need for drugs and cloudy judgement. Drugs tend to mask the problem, Neuroplasticity offers the individual the opportunity to be “reborn again” by giving him the ability to recreate himself each and every day.

Pornography addiction destroys lives; not only the life of the person who is using it but also the lives of those around.

The person who uses pornography is already hurting but chooses to seek momentary pleasure. If that person was taught self love, the less he or she will need the addiction.  Obviously at times it will be hard but the reward is permanent as the person reclaims his or herself and is no longer subjugated to abuse.

Sometimes those who surround them may or not contribute to the addiction.  However, at the end of the day, it’s a personal choice. It is hard for a person with low self esteem to make a beneficial personal choice; regardless it wouldn’t be right to blame others for their actions.  In order to overcome the addiction one has to start taking control of life.

We should all have compassion for those suffering of addiction but also for the innocent ones who may have to deal with the repercussions of it.  Many addicts end up going to pornography because they feel tied down; in their mind there is no way out; again it all comes down to self esteem. Neuroplasticity helps those who suffer of addictions to see a new light.  They no longer need to hang onto to the idea of hope but actually experience it, as Neuroplasticity scientifically explains to them that change is possible and not just a dream.

With pornography we are exhausting our energy. Esoteric science teaches us how the seed is the life force, and when we throw that away there is a high price to pay.  Our bodies consist of 7 glands, when we abuse ourselves sexually we block those glands resulting in mental problems, spiritual and physiological problems such as prostate cancer, bipolar disorder, early Alzheimer’s, early loss of libido, frequent infections, etc.

Esoterism & Tantra believe in the channeling of sexual energy. It is not about denying but fulfilling our passion in a way that promotes balance and creates energy and bonding. 

Even Psychology agrees with Tantra…

Another difference between the two addictions is that porn addicts are at an increased risk for problems with sexual performance. Due to the chronic sexual over-stimulation caused by the constant viewing of pornography, their brain is getting depleted of its natural chemicals, as such many porn addicts find it difficult to become aroused by real-life partners, even when they believe that their partner is sexually attractive. Sex addicts, on the other hand, aren’t known to suffer from this same problem.

The world we live in is filled with beautiful people; they are not the problem. The problem lies in how we look at them and what we do with that admiration and/or passion. Do we abuse ourselves and our partners by imposing on them the image of someone else? or do we channel that passion to enhance and to lose our inhibitions with our partners.

When watching pornography one needs to bring it to a personal level. What I am trying to convey to you, is that we need to learn to look at things from a different angle; for example:
What if that person was your husband or wife? your sister or brother? your son or daughter?  When we bring it down to a personal level; those who are not extremely lost to their pain, will stop to think about it; as most of us wouldn’t want to see our loved ones being abused.

We tend to forget many of those who work in the pornography industry come from a dysfunctional background.  They either have low self esteem or FALSE high self esteem or are being coerced into it.   In 2012 the most extensive study within the porn industry was conducted, the results of such study was a bit of a surprise for everyone.  They discovered that in contrast to a study conducted in the 1980’s, in 2012 most of whom got involved within the porn industry were “Narcissists”.  A narcissist is a person who has become obsessed with his or her own self, exposing excessive interest on themselves or their physical appearance.  Although a narcissist believes he has a good self esteem and uses that theory to camouflage the inconsistencies behind the story he tells himself, it is a fact that in reality a narcissist has very little to no self esteem.  The results came to no surprise for those within the field of psychology as more and more our modern world fuels our mind with false images and beliefs of what it is to be confident.  More than ever men and women are being taught to look out vs. looking in, or are being taken to the other extreme where being rigid and exhibiting prude limiting behavior is supposed to be “good”…yet the result is the same=poor self esteem.

In the 1980’s a study showed most people within the porn industry had been sexually or mentally abused.  Porn stars use porn as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain caused by their abuser; by reliving abuse they are doing what they think they deserve. Porn stars who did not exhibit mental issues before they started, often were found to have been tricked or forced to be part of that lifestyle.  Would you like your child or sibling to be forced to do something against his or her will? To be controlled by having their wounds used against them?

*Another fact I would like to point out is most porn actresses and actors end up in bankruptcy, why? because nothing belongs to them!

Let’s look at other aspects…when it comes to shooting pornographic scenes, each scene can take many hours to produce.  It takes an average of 4-8 hrs. work in order to produce a 4-6 minute video? Doesn’t sound so alluring now, does it? They are not simply “enjoying” themselves as one may think.  It may take 14-20hrs of work in order to produce a 15 minute video; so it’s not as glamorous as one may think.

In the film and modelling industry there is a saying,anyone can look “beautiful” or “alluring” under the right lighting” — No shocker there; if you think how much the average man or woman can alter their appearance by the use of makeup and clothing alone; take that and multiply it ten fold (This is not an exaggeration; when I used to do photography, it took hours to get things right).  The pornography industry spends millions on the best equipment an make up artists out there to create an alluring man or woman.  We need to realize NONE OF THAT IS REAL!

Ask yourself what is missing within.  Many turn to pornography because they are afraid of intimacy in the real world, with a real person, in a real relationship.  It may seem as if porn actors and actresses accept them but reality is  those actors aren’t at all aware or concern with the existence of those on the other side of the screen. 

If you have a porn addiction, it would be helpful to ask yourself the following: Do I really believe that person would want to know me as I am in real life? Do they even care that I am watching their movie? How then is this acceptance? Don’t I deserve more?  When did I start believing the lie I was told growing up; whether by words or experiences; that this is all I deserve?

When you abuse yourself, you are choosing to say to those who originally hurt you that they were right, that there is nothing better your soul can offer and that you don’t deserve better because you see yourself as less than an animal; NONE OF THAT IS TRUE.  Just because your eyesight is sketchy doesn’t mean you are correct. You are beautiful and you have all you need inside to turn your life around.

We may think porn actors and actresses  love to have sex but reality is they don’t.  Many are coming from abusive backgrounds, therefore we need to re-change our focus and realize behind the act is a real person with real emotions. We need to learn to honor and change how we see women and men; putting our compassion before our lust.

Desire is beautiful if it takes place between consenting, mentally mature people; lust on the other hand is animalistic and denigrating. Do you want to contribute to abuse?  I am all for embracing our sexuality but never at the expense of another soul!

For those of you who may seldom deal with pornography, ask yourself whether or not you are doing it to enhance your life or to escape it.  Is it creating energy and flow in your life or is it depleting you by bringing lies and secrecy?  Ask yourself what is missing in your life or relationship and be open and honest about it.

If you are looking to enhance your sexual life there are many beautiful ways to do so but it requires being open about your sexuality, what your likes and dislikes are; giving yourself permission to express your desires without feeling ashamed. It may mean opening up about your wounds and fantasies, being romantic, role playing, introduction of toys, lingerie, new places, new positions, tantra, tantric videos with your partner.  All of these will ultimately bring you closer and will not exhaust nor violate your soul.

All of these things can help you get closer physically yet in order to have a superior sexual life it will require the combination of the above, plus the mental and spiritual connection which are the result of a nurturing relationship; a relationship where you can help each other grow as human beings, increasing your intimacy in every aspect and having more fun in healthier ways.

To me, fun healthy things, plus the ability to grow in a relationship, bring me peace and help me feel more connected. When you feel connected and you add to your sexual life, you are in for a beautiful and intense experience…a NEW experience.

There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.

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By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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