Pornography’s Effect on the Brain, Part 1

Dr. Lasha Darkmoon – Occidental Observer September 28, 2012

NEMO REPENTE FUIT TURPISSIMUS
“No one became extremely wicked all at once.” — Juvenal, Satires
The aim of this essay is a controversial one: to provide evidence in support of the thesis that porn addiction, especially when accompanied by compulsive masturbation over a long period, alters brain chemistry and can eventually produce brain damage. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is an intellectually defensible thesis for which there is now a growing body of scientific evidence.
Perhaps the quickest way to tame and tranquilize an unruly nation is to turn its citizens into sex addicts: for just as children are easily taken in by predators who tempt them with candy, most people are only too pleased to live under governments that offer them the seductive pleasures of porn: that is to say, cheap and easy orgasms as substitutes for happiness.
Sex addiction, especially when fueled by internet pornography, has been likened to crack cocaine or heroin addiction, only much worse. It allows its victims no respite. It is a sickness of the soul that drives many to suicide, transforming its worst sufferers, like Ted Bundy and Gary Bishop, into serial killers. (See here and here).
The striking similarity between orgasm and the heroin rush was confirmed in 2003 when Dutch scientist Gert Holstege announced in a press release relating to his research that brain scans of orgasm resembled brain scans of shooting heroin. Laboratory rats know all about this, as a famous experiment in the 1950s by James Olds and Peter Milner conclusively demonstrated.

 1.  UNDERSTANDING  BEHAVIOR  MODIFICATION

Rats go into a veritable frenzy pressing levers (in Skinner boxes) in order to give themselves powerful pleasurable sensations, even if it means depriving themselves of food and life. “Some rats,” we are told, “would self-stimulate as often as 2000 times per hour for 24 hours, to the exclusion of all other activities. They had to be unhooked from the apparatus to prevent death by self-starvation. Pressing that lever became their entire world.”
In a subsequent related experiment involving humans, a woman suffering from severe pain was allowed to stimulate the pleasure centers of her brain by turning an amplitude dial: so much so that she developed a chronic ulceration at her fingertip. She became so addicted to erotic self-stimulation that she had to beg her family to limit her access to the stimulator. (See also here)

OPERANT CONDITIONING CHAMBER OR “SKINNER BOX”

 American behaviorist psychologist BF Skinner (1904-1990) devised the operant conditioning chamber or Skinner box in the early 1930s. His object was to experiment with behavior modification in animals and then apply the same results to human beings. His major discovery was the concept of reinforcement: behavior that receives positive reinforcement (reward) tends to be repeated and strengthened, and behavior that receives negative reinforcement (punishment) tends to be extinguished. When placed in the Skinner box, the rat will learn to press a lever. This will trigger a reinforcing stimulus such as food or water, or a punishing stimulus such as an electric shock. The rat will rapidly learn to press the right lever and avoid the wrong one. In short, good habits can be acquired and bad habits destroyed in a systematic and scientific way under laboratory conditions.

Seven important points are worth noting here. These will allow the reader to trace the connection between operant conditioning and porn addiction.
(1) In the 1950s, psychologists James Olds and Peter Milner made a vitally important breakthrough in behavior modification research: they introduced innovations to the Skinner box so that the lever, instead of delivering food pellets when pressed, would now deliver direct brain stimulation through electrodes planted deep in the brain. Rats would now press the lever as many as 7000 times an hour to stimulate the pleasure centers of their brains. All other activities, including eating and drinking, were neglected. Every single moment was spent in pleasurable self-stimulation.
(2) How does this relate to porn addiction? Quite simply, the porn addict is behaving exactly like the rat in a Skinner box. His lever is masturbation, and his positive reinforcement or reward is the orgasm. His addiction is the result of self-imposed operant conditioning, i.e., he is conditioning himself without knowing it. The buildup to orgasm and the orgasm itself is accompanied by direct brain stimulation through the release of psychotropic chemicals into the bloodstream, especially dopamine, that produce precisely the same feelings of elation and euphoria in the porn addict which the rat experiences by the stimulation of the electrodes implanted in its brain.
(3) What triggers the release of the psychotropic chemicals into the bloodstream? The exciting erotic images. So it goes like this: Erotic mind pictures —> trigger psychotropic chemicals  —> which stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain —> which in turn produces obsessive-compulsive behavior (or addiction) in an attempt to relive the pleasurable sensations  —> which finally cause neuroplastic changes in brain structure as a result of constant chemical bombardment.
(4) Further brain research was to give rise to truly spectacular results in behavior modification, but this was at the cost of “deeply unethical experiments”, to quote one politically correct academic researcher. This research, conducted by two daring and enterprising scientists called Drs. Moan and Heath, was abruptly halted because, among other things, it had come up with a possible cure for homosexuality. Moan and Heath had obtained permission to engage the services of a hooker to see if she could turn on a confirmed homosexual male in the laboratory. Initially, the sight of this sexy young woman not only left patient B-19 completely cold but actually disgusted him. He found the idea of having sex with an attractive female quite repulsive. However, on being wired up and having the pleasure centers of his brain stimulated with electrodes, while the hooker proceeded to perform her tricks on him, patient B-19 began to perk up and soon experienced an impressive  erection. “And then, despite the milieu and the encumbrance of the electrode wires [poor B-19 was attached to an EEG machine the whole time], he successfully ejaculated [in her vagina].”
(5)  Needless to say, such experimentation could not be allowed to continue, even with B-19’s full consent and cooperation and even though many homosexuals might want to become heterosexual and start families. It was political dynamite. So the experiments were abruptly halted, with Drs. Moan and Heath receiving a sharp rap on the knuckles and the stern disapproval of their politically correct peers. Since we are expected to believe that homosexuality is as “normal” and “healthy” a practice as heterosexuality, it follows that it is deeply offensive and “homophobic” to suggest that homosexuals might want to undergo heterosexual conditioning to “normalize” them. Even if they should wish to become heterosexuals, they should not be allowed to do so “on ethical grounds.” After all, one does not allow people to self-mutilate or commit suicide. One needs to protect them from themselves. In the same way, homosexuals, for their own good, need the state to protect them from the threat of heterosexuality.
(6)  The blocking of research into sensitive areas of behavior modification for political reasons has had far-reaching consequences which cannot be discussed here in detail. Suffice to say that if it is considered “ethically wrong” (= politically incorrect) to permit research that would yield an effective cure for homosexuality, then huge sacrifices in knowledge are deliberately being made in order to maintain the status quo on behalf of a corrupt elite—an elite that is not only against the idea of heterosexualizing gays but is actually committed to the homosexualization of America … beginning with the homosexualization of children and their corruption by exposing them to child porn in the classroom.   
(7)  It is clear that successful behavior modification could, in theory, produce a Utopian society of model citizens. There need be no more sociopathic and criminal behavior in society, no more personality disorders, no more phobias and manias, no more neuroses, no more depression, no more crippling addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, eating, shopping, and self-harming.  Such vast improvements in the mental health of society clearly cannot be permitted. If there were no more criminals, what would the police and legal profession do? There would no longer be a need for their services. That cannot be allowed. They need criminals. Fighting crime is their job. Similarly, if there are no more sick people, what would Big Pharma and the medical profession do? They need sick people. Fighting sickness is their job. A sad situation indeed when the greatest threat to the established order is a Utopian society of model citizens who have nothing wrong with them! Perfection, if it were ever achieved, would have to be banned.
(For further details on some of the points listed above, see here, here and here)

2.  PORN ADDICTION COMPARED TO HEROIN OR CRACK COCAINE ADDICTION

Columbia university neurologist Dr Norman Doidge, in his book The Brain That Changes Itself, describes how pornography causes rewiring of the neural circuits. He notes that in a study of men viewing internet pornography, the men looked “uncannily” like rats pushing the levers in experimental Skinner boxes. “Like the addicted rats,” Dr Doidge points out, “the men were desperately seeking their next fix, clicking the mouse just as the rats pushed the lever.”
All addictions, Dr Dodge tells goes on to tell us, cause “lifelong, neuroplastic changes in the brain.” This includes porn addiction:
Dopamine is also involved in plastic change. The same surge of dopamine that thrills us also consolidates neuronal connections. An important link with porn is that dopamine is also released in sexual excitement, increasing the sex drive in both sexes, facilitating orgasm, and activating the brain’s pleasure centers. Hence the addictive power of pornography.
The men at their computers looking at porn were uncannily like the rats in the cages of the NIH, pressing the bar to get a shot of dopamine or its equivalent. Though they didn’t know it, they had been seduced into pornographic training sessions that met all the conditions required for plastic change of brain maps. Since neurons that fire together wire together, these men got massive amounts of practice wiring these images into the pleasure centers of the brain, with the rapt attention necessary for plastic change.
They imagined these images when away from their computers, or while having sex with their girlfriends, reinforcing them. Each time they felt sexual excitement and had an orgasm when they masturbated, a “spritz of dopamine,” the reward neurotransmitter, consolidated the connections made in the brain during the sessions. (See here)
It is in this way that pornography becomes a serious addiction, comparable to heroin or crack cocaine addiction, and begins its slow and deadly assault on the brain.  And as other research has shown, it facilitates callousness in sexual relationships—sex completely divorced from love and an interest in family and children.

3.  PORNOGRAPHY AND BRAIN DAMAGE: IS THERE A LINK?

Recent research has shown that pornographic images become permanently embedded in the brain, releasing large amounts of naturally occurring chemicals into the bloodstream: e.g., dopamine, epinephrine, oxytocin, serotonin, vasopressin, prolactin, and enkephalins or endogenous opiods, i.e., the brain’s own endorphins. People who view porn obsessively become literally intoxicated: drunk with an overdose of psychotropic chemicals. These mind-altering substances are now known as erototoxins, a relatively recent neologism meaning “sex poisons”. This poison-bearing pornography, it has been shown in recent laboratory tests, “actually alters brain chemistry” and will in time produce brain damage.
Just as alcohol in large quantities consumed over a long period will damage the liver and kidneys, and just as long-term tobacco addiction will adversely affect the  lungs and cardiovascular system, so highly charged erotic imagery accompanied by compulsive masturbation can eventually, it is argued, lead to chemico-biological brain damage. This will of course be strenuously denied by the Masturbation Lobby, but the claim has nevertheless been made by responsible medical researchers.
Dr. Gary Lynch, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine, in discussing the effect that a single highly erotic image can have on the brain, points out ominously:  “What we are saying here is that an event which lasts half a second [image imprint], 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.” (See here)
Dr Judith Reisman goes one step further. She refers to this brain damage as “brain sabotage”, thereby implying that pornographers are in fact engaged in a species of “sex terrorism”. She asks:

How does this “brain sabotage” occur? Brain scientists tell us that “in 3/10 of a second a visual image passes from the eye through the brain, and whether or not one wants to, the brain is structurally changed and memories are created; ‘we literally grow new brain’ with each visual experience.” Children and others who cannot read can instantly decode and experience images…. In fact, erotic (any highly arousing) images commonly subvert left hemisphere cognition.

Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, Psychiatrist and Professor at Princeton University, in his testimony to a Senate subcommittee on pornography toxicity, expresses himself even more forcefully:

Like cigarettes, that particular form of expression we call pornography is a delivery system that has a distinct and powerful effect upon the human brain and nervous system. Exactly like cigarettes, this effect is to cause a powerful addiction. Like any other addiction, the addiction is both to the delivery system itself—the pornography—and to the chemicals that the delivery system delivers.

It may seem surprising that I should speak of “chemicals,” when one might be thinking instead of “sex.” But, in fact, modern science allows us to understand that the underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction. (Emphasis added)

The pornography addict soon forgets about everything and everyone else in favor of an ever more elusive sexual jolt. He will eventually be able to find it only among other “junkies” like himself, and he will place at risk his career, his friends, his family. He will indulge his habit anywhere and everywhere, at any time. No one, no matter how highly placed, is immune. (See here)

Porn addiction, we are told by practicing neurosurgeon Donald L. Hilton, Jr., MD, produces long-term brain damage in which

the frontal lobes atrophy or shrink. Addiction scientists have called this condition hypofrontality and have noted a similarity in the behavior of [porn] addicted persons to the behavior of patients with frontal brain damage… [which] can also result from a car wreck.

All addictions create, in addition to chemical changes in the brain, anatomical and pathological changes which result in various manifestations of cerebral dysfunction collectively labeled hypofrontal syndromes. In these syndromes, the underlying defect, reduced to its simplest description, is damage to the “braking system” of the brain.

They are well known to clinical neuroscientists, especially neurologists and neurosurgeons, for they are also seen with tumors, strokes, and trauma. Indeed, anatomically, loss of these frontal control systems is most apparent following trauma, exemplified by progressive atrophy of the frontal lobes seen in serial MRI scans over time.

Not a peep of any of this in the mainstream media. You don’t need three guesses to know why. The world porn industry generates $97 billion a year in revenues. If porn damages your brain, this is the last thing the wealthy elitists who run the world and control the mass media would wish to tell you. “The publishing industry is now heavily involved in pornography,” Dr E. Michaels Jones points out, “and it is not in their interests to explain to the public that they are in the business of enslaving people.” (p.560)
Is one a Victorian prude for suggesting there is something seriously amiss here? The simple fact is that one awkward question remains unanswered by all these self-appointed “sex experts”—many of them egregious frauds and sexual perverts like Kinsey and Reich—and it is this: how can all this compulsive masturbation and porn consumption be good for you if they end up damaging your brain?
Masturbation doesn’t necessarily make you blind. Let’s hope it doesn’t. Maybe it’s not the eyes, but the brain, that ardent aficionados of the solitary vice need to worry about.

 End of Part 1

Dr Lasha Darkmoon (email her) is an academic with higher degrees in Classics. She is also a poet and translator. Her articles can be read here, her poetry here.

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Dr Lasha Darkmoon

Dr Lasha Darkmoon (a pseudonym), who is also sometimes known as Pandora Pushkin, is an academic with higher degrees in Classics. She is also a poet and translator.

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