Just over 100 years ago, pamphlets were distributed amongst teenagers to raise awareness on the effects of porn; ofcourse, these made extreme claims regarding the death at the age of 18 if you masturbated, with no evidence to back it up with. This article does not support such a claim either! With the great leaps Science has made, the harmful effects of porn have been established at various levels.
Pornography and cocaine have been shown to exert markedly similar changes to the reward pathways in the brain; it can be termed, “the addiction effect”. In a study in the University of Cambridge, Dr. Valerie Voon chose subjects who watched porn and conducted fMRI scans on them. Excessive lighting up was observed in the ventral striatum, “the reward centre in the brain”, which ofcourse is an observation made whilst conducting the same scans on drug addicts. There is a “high” associated with the act, after which you may feel guilty. In order to kill that mellow phase, you are bound to try it again, and it results in an endless cycle. These facts were reinforced by a Dutch study in 2006, suggesting that porn, amongst all the other content, enjoys the most popularity on the internet in terms of its usage.
But again, why is addiction such a problem? To answer this scientifically, because of the lesser association between the certain neural circuits in the brain, certain characteristics can be observed in the affected individuals. First and foremost, a numbed pleasure response is observed, which means that every other activity is not as interesting as watching porn. The more you watch it, the more your reward centre gets stimulated, and as a result, a reduced firing off of the “motivation pathways in the brain” will be seen for other activities. The most common example of this is erectile dysfunction, which is one of the most common issues in men associated with watching porn, as highlighted by loads of other numerous studies. A reduced sexual excitation is observed in association with sex, and lesser impulses are fired down from the brain. In a similar manner, it makes you increasingly distant from the other activities, derailing your focus. Of course, erosion in the will power of the individual is observed as well. Then again, you may argue that you don’t watch porn as much. A study conducted in the leading German research institution in 2014 established that watching moderate amounts of porn can lead to shrinkage in the grey area of the brain. This research was published in the Journal of JAMA psychiatry.
Fortunately, giving up porn can make you revert back to your “normal” form, because the brain is a fairly plastic organ. Your Brain on Porn, authored by Gary Wilson, has brought out a few interesting case studies. One of the case studies tells us that an individual in his late 20s was diagnosed with memory impairment, depression and severe social anxiety. As if this list was not enough, he also dropped out of 2 colleges and was fired from 2 places. This person was prescribed to Xannax and a countless other antidepressants, yet no improvements were seen. Certain influences in his life made him give up porn, as he had been a porn addict, and here is what he has to say, “My anxiety is non-existent. My memory and focus are sharper than they’ve ever been”. Quite a few numbers of case studies of this nature has been highlighted in this particular book.
Global movements on porn consumption are beginning to show up. One of these movements include, “the NoFap movement”, which was founded 2 years ago and was started with the objective of seeing whether you could get more productive if you gave up porn for a week. Now, NoFap movement has achieved more than 80,000 members, consisting of a large percentage of people who have decided to abstain from porn completely, saying that it contributed to low self esteem and lack of career ambition.
Overwhelming evidence supports the notion that pornography has held a detrimental value on people. The pleasurable effects of porn are definitely overpowered by its harmful effects, and impact the individual at possibly everything. Therefore, for all the horny boys and horny girls out there, I only have one message: STOP WATCHING PORN.