One of the blogs I pay pretty close attention to is Rod Dreher’s. On December 17th, one of his topics was porn.
You may have intuited there must be a connection between porn and sexual dysfunction and perversion of various kinds; that it might not be an innocuous activity, even putting moral considerations aside. An article by Pascal-Emanuel Gobry confirms it, based on neuroscience. A key insight is that porn is addictive in the same way drugs are. This is much worse than simply being drawn to it a second time because it was exciting the first time. It is addictive in the same way as heroin; a physiological problem and not just a psychological and moral one. It has the effect of re-wiring the brain. This is not just a re-wiring in the sense that any experience re-wires the brain. When you develop muscle memory for some sort of acquired skill, for example, you’re really re-wiring the brain. But this re-wiring from porn is different. It re-wires the pathways for sexual stimulation, for constantly new and more aberrant types of porn.
The progressive and destructively addictive nature of porn might not be a surprise, but I bet this is. Porn is a sexual stimulus, but not for sex; rather, for more porn. Just as heroin addicts lose interest in sex because their brains are reprogrammed to seek out heroin rather than sex, porn addicts’ neuronal wiring for sex is re-routed to more porn. The result is an epidemic in chronic erectile dysfunction even among younger men. To put numbers to it: for men under 40, the incidence of loss of interest or ability to have sex has increased from about 1% to between 14 and 37%. Think what this means for the dating pool, for romance, for marriage, for children, and for the future of our entire society.
Our culture is porn-saturated. You may have heard this assertion before, and it’s easy to dismiss as a kind of throw-away line. You might think, for example, that it only means porn is readily available. It’s far worse than that, however. If you read Gobry’s article and grasp the basic arithmetic necessarily involved, you will see that a huge percentage of (mostly men) you know are regular viewers of porn and it’s rotting them from the inside. A single instance of looking at porn may seem relatively innocuous, aside from the morality of it. Repeated viewings have the effect of eroding moral compunctions. And then the slide begins, not just for individuals, but for all of us. As Gobry concludes, and as Dreher agrees in his comment on Gobry’s article, “it is not at all hyperbolic to conclude that our pornography addiction is leading to civilizational collapse.”