Men as Victims
In my last article, I discussed how pornography's scourge scorches the soul of the innocent-the children and teens. Theirs is the most tragic situation of all because they suffer needlessly as a result of the lust, greed and selfishness of others.
But what about the men who get sucked into porn's cauldron of lust? I certainly would never suggest that their suffering is anything like that of innocent women and children who lay in the wake of pornography addiction. Nor am I suggesting that their actions should be excused or justified. But I do submit that the suffering and misery experienced by men who get pulled into the pornography trap are real and excruciating.
- Nearly all men who view pornography use it as the stimulus for masturbation. As a result they frequently suffer feelings of guilt, shame, regret and humiliation.
- Many men become addicted to pornography and lose their freedom. They feel trapped, out of control, and in despair. They literally become slaves to their own lust.
- Pornography places men on an emotional roller coaster. One minute they're happy, the next they're sad; calm, then angry; kind, then cold. These moods change without warning, causing stress and pain for wives, children, friends and associates. Feelings of estrangement ensue, further isolating and alienating them from their loved ones, which often drive men even deeper into the self-medicating escape of pornography.
- Men isolated on the slippery slope of pornography typically fail in their families and marriages, and in their relations with people in general. They are less effective, less reliable, less creative, and more prone to meanness and fits of anger. In essence, pornography turns men into zombie-like characters who are but a shadow of their true selves and potential. They waste their time, talents and resources, caught up in their own dark little world of pornography viewing.
- In the advanced stages, pornography addiction can lead a man to commit rape, incest, violence, exhibitionism, other sex-related crimes and even suicide. Millions of men have lost their families, their careers, their reputations, their good names, and their freedom just to satisfy their addiction.
- Pornography can take an immensely good, talented, enthusiastic man and turn him into one of the walking dead.
Porn is a purely selfish hobby-it gives nothing to anyone but the viewer and the porn producer. In that way it is not at all like other hobbies, such as painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, woodworking or gardening, which give something of value to others and make the hobbyist a more well-rounded person.
With rare exception, porn for the male viewer has a singular purpose: It is a process that leads to climax. In marriage, the process leading to climax at least has the potential to be a binding, loving, giving experience for both the man and the woman. No such benefits exist with porn. And, in fact, when a husband is locked into the porn process leading to his private orgasms, this selfish attitude will nearly always spill over to his marriage. Over time, he will be less of a soul mate and more of an isolationist. Plus, sooner or later he will begin seeing his wife as an object similar to the porn images he views in order to achieve climax. Thus, pornography often turns intimacy in marriage into a totally selfish and narrow experience.
There Are Two Seas
Writer Bruce Barton inspires us with a powerful and appropriate metaphor:
One is fresh and fish abound in it. Splashes of green adorn its landscape. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its life-giving waters. Along its shores children play, as children played when He was there. He loved it. He could look across its silver surface as He spoke His parables.
And on a rolling plain, not far away, He fed five thousand people in the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The River Jordan forms this Sea with sparkling waters from the hills. It laughs in the sunshine, and men build their houses near it, and birds their nests, and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The River Jordan flows on south into another Sea. Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no laughter of little children. Travelers do not pass, unless on urgent business which might take them there. The air hangs heavy above its waters, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink of it.
What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor Seas? Not the River Jordan-it empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie, nor the country round about. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives but does not keep the Jordan water to itself. For every drop which flows into it, another drop flows out. The receiving and the giving go on, day after day, in equal measure. The other Sea hoards its income jealously. Every drop it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other Sea gives nothing. It is named "The Dead Sea."
So it is with men who immerse themselves in the me-first/pleasure/orgasm-centered world of Internet pornography. They keep everything for themselves. They even have sex with themselves, filling the role of both man and woman to reach sexual climax. Like the selfish sea, they can become truly dead in their desires and capacities to love, lift and serve those around them.
Men Who View Pornography Lose Their Sight
The more a man or teenage boy views pornography, the more he loses his sight, until finally he is, figuratively, completely blind. Not that he can no longer see with his physical eyes, but he becomes blinded emotionally and spiritually.
As a man or teenage boy gets lured into pornography's dark prison, he begins to lose his ability to see and appreciate women for who they truly are. He becomes blinded to women as valuable, gifted and contributing human beings. As the nature of the pornography viewing increases in frequency and hardness, the cellular memories storing these images become larger and more dominant in the male brain and body.
The neural pathways linking these cellular memories become chasms, wide and deep. Eventually, the neural pathways and cellular memories that allow a man to see and appreciate a woman as more than just a sex object are overpowered, then shut down completely from non-use.
PORNOGRAPHY VIEWING CAUSES BRAIN DAMAGE IN THE MALE INTERNET PORN ADDICT
Gazing at the Grand Canyon Through a Straw
Imagine you are a tour guide leading a column of tourists up a winding path to a point overlooking one of the vast natural wonders of the world. Upon reaching the summit, a curious thing happens: Each tourist takes out a drinking straw and, closing one eye, places it up to the open eye and looks through it. There they stand, your little group, taking in the beautiful vista spread before them through soda straws! You hear comments like: "What an interesting rock," "That's a lovely leaf on that tree," or, "There's a beautiful patch of blue water." Finally, in total exasperation, you holler, "For crying out loud, get rid of the straws and look! This is the Grand Canyon, folks!" As ridiculous as this may sound, this is how men and teenage boys hooked on pornography often see their own life and other people (especially women)-through the narrow conduit of a drinking straw. Pornography fosters the most insidious form of "tunnel vision."
The Story of Jack
A person hooked on pornography develops a one-track mind. His focus in life becomes single-minded and his view of others, especially of women, narrows.
In her book An Affair of the Mind, Laurie Hall shares the true-life story of her husband Jack, who had been severely addicted to pornography for over 20 years. She writes:
After indulging in fantasy for more than 20 years, Jack lost his ability to think about anything else. Dwelling so much on that which wasn't true made him unable to think about that which was true. He lost his common sense and his ability to solve problems.
My husband, once a brilliant engineer, couldn't even figure out how to turn a freezer so it would fit through the door into the cellar. He was absentminded in the extreme. He'd turn on the stove to make tea, forget to put the kettle on, and just walk out of the kitchen with the burner glowing red. He'd put wood into the wood stove and leave the door open, causing chimney fires. In the morning, it wasn't unusual to find the outside door standing wide open. He'd have gone out for something the night before and forgotten to close it when he came in.
Sometimes, when someone would ask him a question, he would start to answer, only to stop halfway into the reply and then freeze with his mouth open. His mind had gone completely blank.
Jack always said he wanted other people to think he had it all together. So, for a long time, when other people were around, he'd manage the Herculean effort of staying focused enough so that only the most alert could see that he wasn't tracking well. In the end, though, his checking out became apparent to people besides the children and me.
Too much time fantasizing meant that he also lost his ability to do his work well. Finally, the man who was recognized three times as an outstanding employee was fired for being incompetent and lying to his boss. Once a regional manager for a large company, overseeing millions of dollars worth of equipment and managing half a dozen men, Jack had an expense account, a cellular phone, a company vehicle, and a comfortable middle-class salary.
Today, he is doing production work, packing 12-ounce bags of chocolates at $7.25 an hour. He stands at an assembly line seven-and-a-half hours a day, catching bags that come off the machine at a rate of 71 a minute. Then he puts them into boxes-24 to a box. Sometimes he scrapes chocolate off the factory floor. And every day when he leaves home, he carries his briefcase.
If he forgets it, he comes back in to get it. He needs to remember what he was before he was brought to a piece of bread by means of a whorish woman. (Proverbs 6:26)
Laurie felt strongly that her husband had somehow damaged his brain and lost touch with reality through his pornography viewing and fantasizing. Of course, having no scientific backing for this theory, most people thought it was a ridiculous assumption. Still she writes:
It wasn't until Jack and I were separated and we met with Dr. Ron Miller that my observations were verified. After examining Jack, Dr. Miller looked at him and said: "You've destroyed your mind by fantasizing. You've dug a deep channel going in one direction. The rest of your mind is atrophied!"
When I first found Laurie Hall's book on the Internet, I read some reviews that had been submitted by readers. All were extremely positive and complimentary, except for one. And that one negative response was so typical of the complete ignorance and arrogance regarding the effects of pornography on the male brain and body, that I must quote it here. This reader's critical comments were as follows:
What a waste this book was. It is certainly horrible when a man destroys his life for pornography! But the majority of people who look at pornography do not destroy their lives over it! Porn is a hobby just like any other hobby! Does that mean that all pornography is bad and should be banned? Thousands of people die every year in automobile accidents, so does that mean that automobiles are bad and should be banned? She thinks that her opinion is right and that anyone who disagrees with her is wrong! This book presents a very ignorant view of pornography! The author has a lot to learn! What a waste of time!
I find it fascinating that this reader-critic would refer to the author as an ignorant woman who "has a lot to learn." It seems to me that after living with a porn addict for 20 years, Laurie Hall has experienced firsthand the true nature of pornography and its highly toxic effects.
The reader-critic also asserts that porn does not destroy the lives of the majority of people who look at it. With the overwhelming personal examples, facts and research results that we now have, this reader is most definitely the one who has a lot to learn.
What's more, this reader-critic claims that porn is a hobby, similar to stamp collecting, rock climbing, oil painting-there's no difference, right? Of course, when compared against a standard of what benefits our society, porn fails to measure up. This reader-critic is like the person who points at the perfectly healthy, 90-year-old codger who has smoked cigarettes all his life and exclaims, "See, I told you that cigarettes only harm a few people!"
I've just two words to say to such nonsense: Wake up!
How Does Pornography Viewing Cause Brain Damage?
I want to share with you a body of scientific facts that supports Dr. Ron Miller's diagnosis of Laurie Hall's husband, when he said, "You've destroyed your mind by fantasizing. You've dug a deep channel going in one direction. The rest of your mind is atrophied!"
Dr. Gary Lynch, a neuro-scientist at the University of California at Irvine, in discussing how the human brain processes information received from the outside world, said: "What we are saying here is that an event which lasts half a second, within five to ten minutes has produced a structural change that is in some ways as profound as the structural changes one sees in [brain] damage."
Further commenting on how a word or image can immediately alter the brain structure, Dr. Lynch says, " . . . in a matter of seconds, taking an incredibly modest signal, a word . . . which is in your head as an electrical signal for no more than a few seconds, can . . . leave a trace that will last for years."
In the book The Brain and Nervous System, it states:
. . . Our thoughts, feelings and memories exist as particular patterns of nerve messages, passing repeatedly along certain pathways in the brain. Each message would burn a specific pathway among the billions of axons and dendrites.
In my research of numerous scientific papers, experiments and studies, one thing stands out: Stored away in the cells of your brain and body are all the things you have ever seen, heard, felt, tasted or smelled. That's why Dr. Miller was able to tell Jack after 20 years of porn, "You've destroyed your mind by fantasizing. You've dug a deep channel going in one direction." Jack had literally developed a one-track mind.
After reading about Jack, there are some who will say, "That's a rather extreme example. I'm sure that there are men who look at pornography and don't end up like Jack."
True enough, but I think most people would be shocked at just how many Jacks are out there whose brains and lives have been devastated by long-term porn addiction. And I can guarantee you, with the porn floodgates wide open on the Internet, the number of "Jacks" in the world is soaring.
Your Own Private Mobile Porn Library and Video Store
In previous articles I have already discussed the fact that once cellular-memory groups and neural pathways are formed in your brain and body, you don't necessarily require outside stimuli to access and activate them. You can call up the images, feelings and information simply by using your imagination, another tool that pornographers use to their advantage.
The makers of porn know that the erotic images stored in the male brain are so potent that they can be activated merely by a word, a woman walking by, or a passing thought. For men who are trying to overcome porn addiction, this automatic response mechanism can be a major source of frustration and discouragement.
Cellular-memory groups storing pornographic images and the neural pathways leading to them are so deep and entrenched that their influence can permeate the whole mindbody network. In a porn user's brain and body, there are so many cellular-memory groups associated with porn images that they can be activated from a thousand different kinds of outside stimuli-or, many times, for no apparent reason at all.
Porn addicts trying to overcome their addiction say that pornographic images will pop into their minds at the worst times: in church, during prayer, during a job interview, while chatting with a son or a daughter, and, worst of all, amid intimate relations with their wife.
These men are in for a lifelong struggle; the cellular-memory groups where these images are stored will always be there to beckon them back to the computer screen. A relapse is always a possibility. Pornographers know that there is a good chance they will reclaim as customers men who are trying to overcome porn addiction, because many give up in despair when the images keep barging back into their minds.
For other men and teens who are caught up in porn addiction but are making no effort to stop, stored porn images become a way to look at porn in the privacy of their own minds. It's like having a mobile porn library of photos and videos to draw from at any time, night or day.
Hours better spent at productive work, with family, serving others, etc. are instead wasted in hours of private fantasy. Otherwise good, hardworking men become so distracted by their fantasies that they become zombies. They are present in body but their minds are lost in a pornographic wasteland.
Another common problem for men addicted to porn is that they become walking time bombs that can be set off at any time and without warning. In truth, no woman or child is entirely safe around a pornoholic.
In next month's article we'll look at how pornography destroys marriage relationships.
Mark B. Kastleman is the author of the revolutionary new book titled The Drug of the New Millennium-the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body-A Guide for Parents, Spouses, Clergy and Counselors. Many leading scientists, psychologists, therapists and religious leaders consider this book to be one of the most important works ever written on this subject, and a must-read for parents, spouses, clergy and counselors.