Our Brains on Porn: Healthy or Not?

Via on Mar 19, 2014

Photo: Elen Maggs via Pixoto

Let’s face it, sexual stimulation begins (and perhaps ends) in the brain.

Though men often have the reputation of being always ready for sex, even they will have a hard time getting hard if there are certain mental stressors going on upstairs. And women are thought to be that much more sensitive to emotion-based sensory stimulation.

Perhaps that’s why more and more men, women and couples are tuning in to get turned on?

Statistics suggest that the number of women enjoying porn is on the rise. So, if we’re on the same porn page as our partner, no big deal, right?

That depends.

A while ago, I read the book The Brain That Changes Itself  by Norman Doidge, M.D.

Basically, the book says that the more porn people watch (statistically it’s mostly men by about 98 yards), the less stimulated they can become by their partners and by the porn they watch—at least by that same kind of porn.

For the porn addiction susceptible, a man might start with watching a trigger point scenario; let’s say it’s “standard” man and woman sex. (I’m writing based on male/female relationships as that is what the book focused on.) After a while these visuals don’t work anymore and the porn-watcher needs to elevate the visual experience.

For example, maybe now he’ll need to see two women together, or two women and a man. (Even this is pretty mainstream considering the arsenal of pornography available). The perversion factor will continue to escalate as he becomes desensitized to what he’s currently watching.

The brain has an adaptability factor that kicks in–a physiological rewiring technically called neuroplasticity.

This is a similar chemical/hormone effect as happens for addicts of cocaine or heroin, as examples. Eventually, more and more drug (porn) is needed to produce the same previous effect–in this case, an erection and/or the ability to orgasm.

Also, if a man is into fetishes (sexual attachment to inanimate object/s) or other seriously ‘kinky’ stuff, he may have a long standing kink arousal or he may develop one.

Do what feels right. Just make sure it really, really feels right. The longer the pattern has been there, the less likely it is to change, and if our partner is happy then who are we to ask for change? If it doesn’t feel right for us, we may need to reconsider compatibility.

(Note: there was no specific statistics mentioned on whether men or women are the kinkier kind.)

Remember, too, that our partner is probably going to play it safe unless/until he knows he can both trust us and share these experiences with us, especially if his interest is of a ‘less mainstream’ nature. We need to trust our gut and listen to our inner voice if/when suggestions start showing up.

Sexuality is a vulnerable place to go with another person, so unless he/she is doing something immoral/illegal, we needn’t try to make them feel bad about their persuasions. Everyone has their preferences. Even if we discover sexual incompatibility, we can be grateful that this person trusted us enough to share a deep intimacy with us.

We need to decide what role, if any, porn plays for us. Is there some gray area in the sexual arena? How open are we? What are our desires, expectations and boundaries? (The degree of sex discussion will be based partly on the depth of the relationship. Friends-with-benefits may have different needs than friends with Is-this-guy-a-potential-aisle-walker or We-need-some-new-between-the-sheets-games!)

Despite the idea that porn makes women feel bad about themselves (true for me), more women are watching porn. Many a couple I know, whether together awhile or not, use such titillations to tune up a dull lull in their relationships.

Scenarios of mutual fulfillment aren’t necessarily unhealthy. It’s the ones in which I described above (addiction and escalation) that can be unhealthy for both parties.

In order for the men in the case studies to overcome their desensitization and inability to be aroused by their partners, and without having to constantly fantasize during sex with their partners about porn, they had to stop watching all porn cold turkey.

Eventually, their brains rewired back to ‘normal’ and they could legitimately become aroused by their partners again. (It was noted that many experienced heightened intimacy and sexual pleasure.)

Somehow, in today’s society, ‘it’s all good’ is an accepted catch phrase. Sure, okay, if I’m to preach do what makes you feel good, then I have to say go for it. But if in the big picture, the long term outlook doesn’t make you feel good anymore, then stop.

Some people simply are more susceptible to addictions – even porn (fetish or no fetish). It’s a brain thing. If our partner is addicted to porn–W.T.H? There might be something else going on. He (/she) could have an issue that is related to insecurity or childhood crap or dissatisfaction in the relationship or in life that may not have anything to do with us.

Of course, it might also have something to do with us. We need to figure it out because it probably isn’t going to readjust itself. As with any addiction, what’s causing it?

It’s also noted that psychotherapy has physical effects on the brain. So that old ‘get therapy’ cliche isn’t just a cool thing to do. It can change the physiological pathways in our brains. So, if our porn watching partner doesn’t want to ‘adjust’ his thinking (assuming it needs fixing); then we may have some serious thinking (/shrinking) to do.

Someone pass the popcorn!

Relephant Read: Waylon’s Interview with Lodro Rinzler

 

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Pixoto

About Anna Jorgensen

Anna Jorgensen  I'm a logging truck driver's daughter and an ex-realtor-turned-redneck-roots-love-is-the-answer-female-empowerment woman. My blog is unfiltered, uncut, politically incorrect, sardonic, sometimes swear-containing, often offensive, off-side, funny as hell and always real. (Warning: Blog/memoir contain inappropriate TMI.) I'm making a new career out of a mid life crisis living part time on Vancouver Island, Canada and wintering in California and Gypsyland. My purpose: Entertain! Inspire! Be happy, damn it... Free hugs! Find my blog and memoir, Me: A Rewrite, here: link to laughs.

Connect with Anna's real, unfiltered Facebook page here and find her on Twitter.(Save the bees!)

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