Tag Archives: Pornography

The neurological impact of pornography

January 21, 2015



I came across a great article by Daniel Spadaro today and I just wanted to share a bit of it with you. This is found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website in conjunction with the 9 Days for Life campaign. He writes:

“Pornography is believed to function like a ‘drug’ that stimulates the brain. Neuroscientists point to three fundamental effects that addiction has on the brain: 1) ‘desensitization,’ a numbing of the brain’s ability to experience pleasure; 2) ‘sensitization,’ an increased sensitivity to triggers and memories related to the addictive behavior; and, 3) ‘hypofrontality,’ the reduced activity of the frontal brain, decreasing impulse control and creating a negative mood. These effects remind us that pornography robs our joy, and where there is little joy, there is often never enough pleasure.

Based on recent brain imaging studies, behavioral addictions—like gambling, food, and Internet gaming—have been found to meet the above three criteria for causing changes in brain circuitry. They are related to pornography addiction in that they are all behavioral/process addictions, as opposed to chemical addictions. Internet pornography possesses characteristics very similar to Internet gaming addiction, and could arguably be more potent, as the object of compulsion is sexual arousal. This explains why some who are trying to break their addiction to pornography report having the same type of physical ‘withdrawal’ symptoms that are experienced by those breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol.”

(Daniel Spadaro, LPC, CSAT, a licensed professional counselor and certified sex addiction therapist, is founder of Imago Dei Counseling in Colorado Springs. He is a regular columnist for the Colorado Catholic Herald. […]
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Pornography’s Pain to Families

June 14, 2012


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Pornography is all around us; on the internet, within pages of magazines, displayed in store windows, popping up on search engines, sung about in music, and touted in best selling novels like 50 Shades of Grey. (Please read my blog, Pornography in our Face.) It’s a scourge that commits violence against the dignity of the human person, causing the user to view people as commodities or instruments for their own pleasure. It draws focus away from one’s family life and relationship with God and sets a destructive example to children. It leaves a void in the soul of the viewer, and gnaws at the family, causing deep wounds.

Easy Access

“Okay,” you might say, “I know porn is bad, but do very many people get hooked?”

Yes. Some estimates put porn use among churchgoing men at 50 percent, a figure that differs little from use among the adult male population at large. The Family Research Council’s summary on the effects of pornography states that men and women use porn differently. Men are more than six times as likely to view pornography as females, and more likely to spend more time looking at it. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) states in an article called Women and Online Pornography that one-third of all visitors to adult websites are female, and 17 percent of women are addicted to porn.

Fr. Michael Miller, pastor of the Church of St. Michael and St. Mary’s Catholic Church–both in Stillwater, Minnesota–told me:

“Pornography is really a crisis. The ease of availability makes this problem far greater than ever before.”

Dr. Patrick Carnes, who in 1983 first advanced the idea that a person could become addicted to sex, calls the addiction to Internet pornography “the crack cocaine of sexual addiction.” Like crack, it doesn’t take long for an Internet porn user to become hooked–often a matter of just a few weeks. And like crack, habitual viewing of online porn creates an intense cycle of addiction that is extremely difficult to break without expert assistance. There are no age controls for X-rated websites, and no need to register a credit card. Gail Dines, author of  Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (2010), argues that boys access pornography on average at age 11. Often, the first time a child sees this disturbing stuff is by accident.

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has warned that on his popular site porn comes up automatically on some searches, even if the search topics are apparently unrelated. For example, a search for “clothespins” or “jumping ball” reveals explicit sexual images. “I will continue to raise enough noise on the issue that we will, I hope, force them to make a choice,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Either they will explain very clearly that they are not for children, or, alternatively, they will install a filter.” Sanger warns that one of the site’s primary uses is actually for viewing pornography, and despite the outcry for content filters, none have been implemented. According to Wikipedia traffic statistics, the majority of the site’s most frequently viewed pages are explicitly pornographic.

(Gosh, kids are surrounded by so much smut these days, that unfortunately it’s becoming acceptable in many circles. Before we know it, a young man will ask a porn star to prom. Oh–wait! That has already happened here in Minnesota.)

Horrendously hurting marriages 

Pornography undermines marriage and is one of the factors that threaten social stability. It distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. Fr. Miller explained:

“Pornography is hurting families in so many ways. Husbands become withdrawn and add new and unrealistic expectations on their wives after committing adultery in their hearts with other women. They also become very discouraged with themselves because of their inability to stop the pattern. Even if they get away from the actual pornography, it is still in their memories and imaginations and this can take a very long time to get under control.”

A friend of mine who was going through a divorce told me, “Pornography ruined our marriage. Kevin’s  addiction (name changed) made it impossible for me to please him. I was never good enough.” According to Dr. Patrick F. Fagan, author of The Family Research Council’s summary on the effects of pornography:

“The wives of pornography users also develop deep psychological wounds, commonly reporting feelings of betrayal, loss, mistrust, devastation, and anger in response to the discovery or disclosure of a partner’s pornographic online sexual activity. Wives can begin to feel unattractive or sexually inadequate and may become severely depressed when they realize their husbands view pornography. The distress level in wives may be so high as to require clinical treatment for trauma.”

Often, people who view such vulgarity on a regular basis believe marriage is sexually confining; have diminished belief in the importance of marital faithfulness; and have increasing doubts about the value of marriage as an essential social institution. This depreciates the importance they place on having good relationships within their own families.

In a Pastoral Letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde titled, Bought with a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God, he states:

“When family members turn to pornography in a distorted thirst for intimacy, they turn against and in some measure reject their commitment to their family. By doing this, they commit violence against the relationships which define their own vocation.”

How does porn injure children?

Pornography use among parents often causes young ones to face challenges of a broken home among other threats.

Many kids are traumatized when they walk in on a parent who is viewing perverted content, or they become disgusted with Daddy or Mommy for having it in his or her life. Kids who are around pornographic content are more sensual. Teens who use porn themselves have significantly increased sexual intercourse with non-romantic friends, and are more likely to take part in the so-called “hook-up” culture. Exposure to pornography can also be a significant factor in teenage pregnancy.

And I’d be remiss not to mention that children often are at danger if they are around people who use pornographic material. Law enforcement authorities have noted that many adult porn consumers will eventually move to child pornography–putting children in their midst at risk.

Fr. Miller told me:

“Pornography is especially damaging to young men whose images of sexuality are perverted [after viewing pornography] and are not in conformity with God’s will, thus damaging their ability to become good fathers and husbands, even for those who are truly trying to break this with confession, prayer, and practical means, it is very difficult and takes perseverance.”

But there is healing and freedom for those caught in the snare of pornography addiction.

Recovery and help:

Many professionals believe that because porn addiction has a number of the same causes and effects as adultery, the treatment and counseling are pretty much the same. Where there is a spiritual component to the recovery, there is great success.  The King’s Men, a lay apostolate whose mission is to help males rise above the lustful pandemic of porn, teaches that through humility, accountability and sacramental grace a man can find freedom from sexual sin and addiction.

Bishop Loverde says:

“We stand at a threshold – either we can continue to allow this plague to spread with fewer and fewer checks, or we can take concrete steps to uproot it in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods and our culture. A free people can combat the tremendous moral, social and spiritual danger of pornography with great courage. My fervent prayer is that Catholics, other Christians, and all people of good will understand this threat, confront it and facilitate true healing.”

Please refer to:



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Pornography in our Face

December 8, 2011


The first time I was exposed to pornography was quite by accident. In 1987 I was a college student spending the summer modeling in New York City. The agency I was booked through had an apartment on Park Avenue which I shared with five other models. We were all from small American or Canadian towns; and one night we got whip-lashed by what was on late-night-television in The Big Apple. A woman named Robin Byrd, if I remember correctly, was prancing around in a crocheted bikini–talking naughty, dancing dirty and singing nasty. We sheltered young ladies pondered: Was this type of show really allowed in the good ol’ United States? 

Today more than 80% of pornographic images on the web are from America. Since the days that I lived in NYC, the use of porn has grown exponentially.


I believe it is because pornography is “in our face” and readily available. Remember the Janet Jackson costume malfunction? (How could anyone forget!) I was serving my husband and children chili while they were innocently watching the Super Bowl game. I gave up TV after that.

“Porn will be available at the touch of our fingertips”

A few years ago, when I worked for the Office of Marriage, Family and Life, I participated in an Archdiocesan meeting in which the subject of pornography came up. “It will be available at the touch of our fingertips wherever we are,” one of the priests stated. We looked at him quizzically, and then he mimicked someone using a cell phone. “Very soon we will have access to the internet through our phones.” He went on to discuss how most people will have laptop computers and be able to take them into the privacy of their rooms, or even upload images in a public place (like someone recently did on an airplane).

Today, many schools give their students iPads to use in the classrooms and at their homes. I’ve heard that some districts are not putting parameters on these tempting devices; placing an opportunity for porn at kids’ fingertips 24/7.

Unfortunately, that priest predicted correctly.

Not long after that meeting I saw my first Blackberry and had a panic attack just thinking of what Father had said. A few months later, I sat at my computer searching YouTube videos on ‘How to breast feed twins,’  and I had another panic attack over the junk that assaulted my eyes. Here I was, an inquisitive mommy-to-be merely seeking practical information, and I ended up having that stuff thrown in my face! Of course my husband walked in at just that moment and shrieked, “What in the world are you doing?” And all I could say was, “This is what Father had warned us about.”

What is pornography doing to us?

It’s hard to escape X-rated pictures, videos, programs and music these days. Even while I do my Christmas shopping–trying to keep focused on the “reason for the season,” an innocent babe “born that we may be free”–I feel shackled by the window displays of “soft porn” at the Mall of America which demean the dignity of the human person. I have to tell my children to turn away when we walk by the silicon-enhanced bosoms screaming at us in front of Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch. How can we expect our youth and other loved ones to be chaste and not sucked in by the sin of porn when they are bombarded with images like these daily? Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote: “Those who give themselves over to pornography find themselves alone with their images and an insatiable appetite for more.”

Yes, pornography is not just a bad habit–it can be addicting. One estimate puts the number of churchgoing men at 50%. A different study found that one in six females is struggling with a porn addiction. Fr. Jeffrey Huard told me:

“The pornographic is designed to be addictive, and experts say it can easily become like a cocaine or heroin addiction. The effects are that women and men are objectified, hours of love are lost to the Lord and family and friends.”

Mark Houck, who gives talks to teens about chastity and pro-life issues, rose above his addiction to pornography.  After pursuing his dreams to become a professional football player, he co-founded a lay apostolate called The Kings Men (http://www.thekingsmen.org). Its mission is to help males rise above the lustful pandemic of porn. Mark is the subject of a powerful documentary titled, Out of the Darkness, and wrote the following in a pamphlet for the USCCB:

“Within marriage, addiction to pornography can destroy intimacy. Eventually, the husband or wife who views pornography can lose the ability to relate on a personal and intimate level with the real person of his or her spouse.”

According to Mark Houck, many of the social ills and behavior disorders in our world today–teenage sexual promiscuity, crisis pregnancy, adultery, abortion, divorce, sexual abuse, sexual deviancy, rape and incest–can be linked to the spread of pornography.

Porn does not bring real joy

C.S. Lewis says there is no joy in what is not real.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that lust which is indulged starves the soul.

Fr. Huard adds, “The pull of pornography is a pull into a virtual world that takes us away from the real and brings deep sadness not joy.”

Back all those years ago, when I was in New York, my path crossed with the porn-star, Ms. Byrd’s, one dark evening on the subway. She was with a bodyguard and looked miserable and unhappy; which is understandable, because, as Fr. Huard pointed out: No one can truly live a joyful life girdled by porn. And compared to the pornography plague that is threatening the well-being of society today, Robin was a tame bird. But, we can hope and pray for that phoenix–a bird that consumes itself by fire and rises renewed from its ashes. Perhaps one day our society will embrace a life full of goodness and rise from the dark poison of pornography.


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