January 7, 2019

Pornography Affects More Than the Brain

“When we damage our brain, it changes us.”

In Fight The New Drug’s new docu-series Brain Heart World, various neuroscience experts explain the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain. The series is a deep exposé on pornography and the way it harms us. But, most importantly, it is a documentary with a powerful story to tell: pornography changes who we are.

The film relates this change to a famous example learned in high school science class. Phineas Gage was a railroad worker who, in a crazy accident, had an iron rod driven through his head. Gage survived the accident but suffered permanent brain damage. Its effect was most interesting. People reported Gage was “like a different person”. His personality changed; he became moody. Phineas Gage no longer seemed like Phineas Gage, despite being the same person, because of the damage to his brain.

What can this tell us about pornography? Research has shown that pornography use is correlated with   with physical changes in the brain. The visual stimulus of pornography hijacks the brain’s reward system and overwhelms it with unnatural prolonged dopamine levels. The result is the brain physically deteriorating in shape, size, and chemical balance. (Learn more about the impact of pornography on the brain here.)

While seemingly impersonal and scientific, these effects on the brain impact us on a personal level. Like Phineas Gage, the changes in our brain from pornography correspond with changes in our mood, personality, and the way we treat others.

Pornography can often lead to depression or feelings of isolation. It can cause us to view ourselves in a negative light, like we aren’t worthy of love. Perhaps worst of all, it can cost us friendships and relationships.

“When we damage our brain, it changes us.” The impact of pornography isn’t some abstract occurrence over in “Brainland.” It’s a serious issue that affects us on a deep, personal level in our day-to-day life.

The beauty of Brain Heart World is that it strikes a balance between these two aspects of pornography. The docuseries has no shortage of interviews with academics highlighting the research behind pornography addiction, but it is also interlaced with personal stories of people who have overcome. It’s beautiful, engaging, and hits close to home.

Pornography’s impact starts in the brain and then proceeds to trickle down to the heart before finally worming out into the world. Brain Heart World reminds us of this reality and is a must-watch for everyone living in our pornified culture.

Ben Miller

Former Digital Strategies Coordinator

Ben joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation as Digital Strategies Coordinator in July of 2018. As Digital Strategies Coordinator, Ben raises awareness for issues of sexual exploitation through digital media, email marketing, and website development. He works to create a community of activists who are enthusiastic about combating sexual exploitation and changing culture.

Ben earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He graduated with Honors in the Liberal Arts and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. During his college career, Ben spent a semester studying in Washington, D.C. and interned for a member of Congress. On campus, he actively sought to change Greek culture, especially with respect to sexual exploitation, through his membership in Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. Ben also supported his peers who were afflicted by the harms of pornography through a weekly men’s purity group.

Ben’s deep commitment to fighting sexual exploitation was ignited in part by the work done by NCOSE. While writing a research literature review for a public policy class in college, he came across Porn Harms Research and the initiatives being carried out by NCOSE. Ben, a strong anti-pornography activist at the time, began to learn more about the connections between all forms of exploitation and how prominent these issues are in today’s society. He devoted himself to raising awareness about the web of sexual exploitation and is deeply grateful for the work NCOSE has done on these issues. Ben is excited to be a part of the team at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and to contribute to this important cause.

Further Reading