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I want you to consider what happens when a person is exposed to Internet pornography once, or numerous times. I will refer to the brain and the body in tandem as imindbody, because the two really do not function independently. Information, feelings, experiences, images, sounds, emotions, etc., are stored in cells throughout your brain and body, linked together by a complex highway of electrical and chemical connections. Truly we are one mindbody.
Doing anything-even once-provides your mindbody with the foundation for a habit. What role do habits play in your mindbody? Your mindbody innately tries to organize incoming data so that it can function on autopilot, so to speak, or with the least degree of effort. Your mindbody naturally sets up automatic responses to stimuli so it doesn't have to take the time to think every time it responds. So, you form habits in order to free up your conscious self to focus on other, more pertinent things. In other words, your mindbody seeks efficiency.
For example, you buy a new car and spend time studying the operator's manual to figure out how everything works. Then after a few days or weeks, you find that you don't need to think about how to increase the volume on the CD player or how to turn on the rear defrost. Performing these functions just comes naturally. Your mindbody memory takes over. Can you imagine if every time you got into your car you had to consciously re-figure out how everything works! Your mindbody is designed to turn everything into a habit.
Your sitting position as you read this article, your ability to concentrate, your reading speed, everything going on inside you at this moment is the result of habit, or your mindbody seeking to do things efficiently.
Habits are the natural goal of your mindbody. You don't have to announce to your mindbody, "I'm going to form a habit now;" the mindbody is always in the process of forming habits. Habituation is the mindbody standard. Your personality, or who you are, is the sum total of all of your habits. Remember-Never do once what you don't want to do all the time.
When you do something once, your mindbody assumes that you intend to do it again and again. Your mindbody forms habits with the greatest of ease. In fact, everything it does, it does with habit as its main objective. Yes, just once can hurt you!
The renowned behavioral scientist Abraham Maslow said that the brain in concert with the body is always hungering after "peak experiences." (For our purposes here we shall continue to refer to the entire human system-the mind and physical body-as one entity or mindbody, meaning that one part does not, and cannot for that matter, function separately from the other.) Maslow identified sex and music as the main ways that the mindbody attains peak experiences. But participating in other enterprises like science, poetry, prayer, dance, extreme sports, and so on, can supply the mindbody with a peak experience.
Why is the mindbody in search of these experiences? The simple answer is that it constantly seeks stimulation; it can tolerate anything but boredom. Yet the mindbody finds itself overloaded with too much information all the time, and it craves being able to make order of and organize all the pieces of information it receives. Its natural instinct is to construct the pieces into a whole and then use this whole to achieve stimulation-or a peak experience-of some kind.
A trained computer programmer is able to create a wonderful program and enjoy the accolades of his or her colleagues-a peak experience. One who practices public speaking delivers a keynote address in front of a large audience and receives a standing ovation-a peak experience. You help someone in need, hug a child, overcome a challenge, receive a promotion and you feel warm and full inside-all peak experiences. Your mindbody has set standards that have been met as peak experiences, bringing greater meaning, fulfillment, and excitement to your life. Your mindbody has successfully fit together the puzzle pieces it received from the outside world to create a whole picture, and now you have obtained the fruits of your efforts-peak experiences.
Is the stimulation or peak experience the mindbody seeks after always productive and positive? At the most basic, instinctive, biological level, the mindbody does not care what type of stimulation is achieved, so long as there is not the absence of stimulation.
What determines the type of stimulation or peak experience a person will seek for? This is fully determined by the information, images and input the individual has allowed to be stored in the cells of her brain and body. In harmony with her stored values, beliefs, standards, and convictions, she will form her intentions, expectations, and sincere desires. All these conscious and subconscious decisions and thoughts will be governed by her mindbody.
For example, if a man has spent hundreds of hours in front of Internet porn and has used it as the process to achieve the peak experience of orgasm, then his mindbody will organize all memories associated with this process so that orgasm through Internet porn can be duplicated over and over in the future with very little effort. All he need do is express the intention for this type of stimulation, and the entire habit network in his mindbody lights up and kicks into gear.
The most effective and efficient way for your mindbody to have as many peak experiences as possible is to form habits that lead to a specific peak experience. Your mindbody is always looking for ways to fit information, events, abilities, etc., together-like the pieces of a puzzle-to form a habit. It will then focus all its abilities and resources toward a specific type of peak experience.
A dancer will probably not be able to unify the parts of her artistic expression in search of a peak experience by restoring an antique car. Only an antique car buff would find that specific activity stimulating. Thus, if you are involved in a certain activity, your mindbody seeks a peak experience of that kind.
Of course, your mindbody seeks out peak experiences in all areas of life, always trying to implement the information it receives in the most effective way possible. When your mindbody achieves a peak experience, it is inclined to always find ways to create a higher experience of that same kind the next time. So if the peak experience your mindbody seeks is in extreme sports, say skydiving or rock climbing, then it will work to achieve a bigger thrill or challenge the next time around. It's kind of like how an expert rock climber would not be satisfied being relegated to climb kiddy cliffs, or how the pro skier covets the speed and thrill of a steep course rather than the safety of the bunny slope.
Your mindbody will rally all its resources to practice and perfect its skills, through habit, so that the peak experience is even higher the next time: "I have written this poem, therefore I can write another more tender one." "I have climbed this mountain, therefore I can tackle a higher one."
Scientists have described our mindbody as having trillions of intelligent cells-all waiting for our intention or instructions. Once our mindbody understands the intention or expectation that we have for a certain peak experience, our cells will do everything they can to bring it about.
As mentioned, one of the most powerful peak experiences that the human brain and body can experience (some experts says it is the most powerful) is orgasm. If the mindbody is always seeking peak experiences, then near or at the top of the list is orgasm.
Nature (or God) did not make us this way by accident. In its proper place and in its proper setting, the natural outcome of sexual union is orgasm. It is a wonderful "high" when experienced between two committed people who have a union, a tie, a marriage that grows to become a flowering love affair.
The power of romantic attraction and sexual intimacy is a big part of what drives a man and woman to accept and carry out the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood. Coupled with love, compassion and selflessness, sexual attraction can be a vital binding force for good.
Pornographers fully understand the power of orgasm as a peak experience, and seek to use this strong attraction for their own greedy, selfish purposes. Many claim that pornography is an innocent form of entertainment, like sports, dancing or music. But men and teenage boys don't masturbate while at a football game or during a symphony orchestra performance.
Yet Internet pornography sites targeted at the male market blatantly announce the fact that their total focus is to lead the male viewer to masturbate and achieve orgasm. Their ads invite men and teens to do just that and even go so far as to graphically portray it!
There are some Internet porn sites that target the female market and also encourage masturbation. More common is the push to direct female viewers into sexually oriented Internet chatrooms, where they are encouraged to masturbate through cybersex with other chatroom participants.
Once anyone begins using Internet pornography or cybersex as the means to reach orgasm, his or her mindbody rallies all its resources to make this an automatic response-a habit. And, as discussed, with each porn or cybersex session thereafter the mindbody strives to make the present climax more intense than the last one. Once the mindbody falls into this cycle, the porn or cybersex process leading to orgasm becomes the mindbody's all-consuming focal point.
In order for the easily bored mindbody to achieve a higher peak experience the next time, the Internet pornography or cybersex chat must become harder and more perverse. Some inevitably begin mixing sex with violence, debauchery, mutilation and torture. Cybersex chat discussions become more and more daring and graphic.
Soon, images are not enough and the porn addict begins viewing live sex on the Internet. Many men and teenage boys then graduate to strip bars and prostitutes. And, finally, in an increasing number of cases, they work up to rape, and even murder-all in an effort to climb to a higher peak experience. This was the process that produced a Ted Bundy.
And this process does not afflict men and boys alone. More and more women and teenage girls, bored with cybersex, are meeting their chatroom lovers for one-night stands or extended affairs. Women are leaving long-term marriages and families to run off with their Internet fantasy lovers. And these are not just the so-called trashy women. Women who have long histories of a committed marriage, several children, active involvement with their church, good neighbors, etc., are falling prey to cybersex.
Once you learn how to drive a car with manual transmission, you never forget. Thereafter when you get into a car with a stick-shift, your mindbody immediately links up all the cellular memory groups needed for the task. Your left foot operates the clutch in coordination with your right foot, which operates the brake and accelerator. These in turn operate in tandem with your right hand on the gearshift. The entire habitual and efficient neural network is in place. It's all virtually automatic-you don't give it much conscious thought.
The next time you hop into the car and express the intention that you want to drive somewhere, in a matter of microseconds that intention triggers an entire series of events. Your mindbody immediately searches out the network or group of linked cellular-memories that are best suited to carry out your intention. It then seeks the network of cells that are most accustomed to working together to drive the car. In other words, it seeks out the most habitual network of cells for the desired purpose. Your mindbody will almost always defer to your most powerful habit to accomplish a specific task within the frame of reference of that habit.
When a person has repeatedly achieved orgasm through viewing pornography or engaging in cybersex, his or her mindbody assumes that all the parts of the process are linked together as the most efficient (habitual) way to reach the peak experience called orgasm.
Next time this person feels the need of arousal or sexual release, the mindbody turns on the Internet porn and/or cybersex network almost automatically. There is little need for conscious thought. Suddenly the person is in front of the computer screen headed toward the desired peak experience of orgasm.
This arousal process can be triggered at any time or place. The next time a male Internet porn viewer sees a fully clothed woman, teenage girl, or even a child walking on the street, the whole memory network can switch on-like getting into a manual transmission car. What does this do to a man or teenage boy's ability to see a woman for what she really is rather than a collection of naked body parts and a way to arrive at orgasm?
Now you know how viewing pornography literally changes the physical and chemical structure of the human brain and body. But does Internet pornography affect the male brain and body in the same way it does the female brain and body? Are men and women attracted to the same kinds of pornography? Do they behave and react to pornography in the same way?
My research, review of case studies, conversations with therapists, and personal interviews with men and women clearly show that the answer is NO! Why? Simply because the structure of the male and female brain and body are different. In next month's article I will discuss how men's and women's brains are wired very differently and how pornographers target men and women with very different techniques.
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.