Pornography has developed into a public health crisis. Secular and Christian sources concur that pornography has staggeringly negative effects on its viewers. So why do so many people still view it?
Michael Cusick draws on his experience with addiction to explain how pornography hijacks the brain.
“From a Christian perspective we see Jesus as the answer, but we sometimes don’t know what the question is that we’re actually asking. The question is, why in the world does the seem so powerful to me when I have Christ inside of me and when I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?”
Michael says that the reason why pornography is so hard to fight against is because it takes control of the brain and rewires it. He says that one of the reason we are attracted to porn is because of its novelty.
“Internet pornography is very, very different from what I saw as a kid and as a younger man with magazines and even video images because on the internet, the novelty is almost infinite – and there’s no end to it. God created our brains for novelty, to be stimulated by new visual things.
When a person views this endless stream of images, something very particular happens in the brain.
“Those images make the brain secrete dopamine which is known as the gimmee, gimmee, gimmee molecule or the I got to have it molecule and that is the neurotransmitter in the brain that’s responsible for all desire and wanting.”
A chemical reaction occurs similar to when someone thinks about eating their favorite food.
“Pornography releases that in very high amounts and so when a person on the Internet is seeking this novelty with so many different images the brain actually gets over activated with dopamine.”
While the brain is being overloaded with dopamine, several other things are happening as well.
“The first is that the frontal cortex that thinks about right and wrong and that has judgment and can make good decisions and I would even argue the part of us that has a conscience that part gets shut down.”
“The part that says ‘I got to have it, I want to do this’ are impulse part that gets turned up. So it’s as if the volume gets turned down on our capacity to think well and to make good choices and our impulse and our desire gets turned up – and those go head to head. Then we end up choosing something we don’t want. Every time a person does that, it creates or carves out a pathway in the brain that makes it easier and easier to happen.
How addicting is pornography?
“There have been studies that have shown that pornography online is as addictive and has the same kind of impact on the brain as crack cocaine and even heroin.”
Featured songs: We Must Not by Selah; Do Something by Matthew West; I Refuse by Josh Wilson