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Running head: Pornography

The Effects of Pornography


Antonia Mendoza
ISC: 300- O2
Chelsy Cardin
12/9/15

The Effects of Pornography


What is pornography? According to Merriam-Webster pornography is defined as
"movies, pictures, magazines, etc, that show or describe naked people or sex in a very open and
direct way in order to cause sexual excitement." (Merriam-Webster, 2015). In today's world porn,
pornography is seen as socially acceptable. Most individuals will say that there is nothing wrong
with occasionally watching a pornographic movie or even reading that pornographic book, as
long as they do not participate in it all the time. However, in the recent years many famous and
well-respected individuals deep, dark secrets have started to come to light. These individuals
claim that everything started with a pornography addiction. With this information coming to

Running head: Pornography

light, researchers have become interested in the how pornography affects the individual mentally
and socially.
According to the American Psychological Association, that many viewers do not seem to
suffer ill effects, porn can be problematic for others. They found that 9 percent of porn viewers
have unsuccessfully tried to stop. So what is happening in these individuals that causes them to
be addicted to porn? When cocaine enters the system it triggers the abnormal amounts of
dopamine, which in turn leads the brain to fight back by taking some of its dopamine receptors
away, in turn causes the brain to rewire its neuro-pathways so that it can handle the increase in
dopamine. Eventually, leading to a tolerance for the dopamine that is released, which results in
the user having to increase the amount of cocaine, they use to feel the same effects as before.
Researchers have found that the brain reacts the same way to porn as it does to cocaine.
However, unlike cocaine, porn is has become easily accessible and is not illegal. Due to the
internet, users are now able to stream though multitude of images, satisfying many different
desires, which keeps there dopamine levels elevated for many hours, making it impossible to
stop. (Fight The New Drug, 2014).
With that being said, a whole new set of problems come into play once the addiction has
had time to develop. Studies have shown that addiction damages various parts of the brain; such
as causing damage to the part of the brain that helps you to make good decisions, as well as
shrinking the frontal lobe. The longer you partake in the addiction, the more damage it causes to
the brain, making it harder to break free from the addiction. (Fight The New Drug, 2014).
So how does porn affect the individual? Porn has been shown to affect the behavior of the
individual that views it. It might start of innocent; maybe only viewing soft porn, no violence,
and nothing sexually deviant. However, the high starts to fade and that individual starts to view
more deviant porn; which causes their view to change. In the article Porn Affects your Behavior,
it states that, in 2012 survey of 1,500 guys, 56% said their tastes in porn had become

Running head: Pornography

increasingly extreme or deviant. Because consistent porn users brains quickly become
accustomed to the porn they have already become accustomed to the porn they have already
seen, they have to constantly be moving on to more extreme forms of pornography to get aroused
by it. As a result, many porn users find themselves getting aroused by things that used to disgust
them or that go against what they think is morally right. (Fight The New Drug, 2014). These
individuals then become more accepting in participating in unacceptable behavior that was
originally viewed as wrong; these behaviors include sexual acts with animals, sexual violence
with their significant other, rape, child pornography, violence toward women, and even murder.
(Fagan, 2014).
Researchers have also found that pornography also leads to violence. Todays porn is
mostly made of women being beaten and enjoying it. This then translates to the user that it is
okay to be violent with a partner, making them believe that the partner will actually enjoy it. In
the article Porn Leads to Violence it states,
When porn shows the victims of violence accepting or enjoying being hurt, the
the person watching is learning that people want and like to be treated that way,
giving viewers permission to act that way themselves. That education leads to
behavior changes that range form being more likely to verbally harass women, to
problems as serious as rape. The scary truth is that both non-violent and violence
porn make users more likely to support violence against women and to believe
that women enjoy being raped, and those beliefs have been found across several
research studies to be predictive of a person being sexually aggressive in real life.
With violent and rape porn, the associations get particularly strong. In fact, one
study found that those who reported higher past exposure to violent porn were
six times more likely to report having raped someone than those that had low
past exposure. (Fight The New Drug, 2014).
Concluding that porn exposures the user to violence being pleasurable and acceptable, which in
turn translates into the users everyday life, causing them to become more violent. Leading to
more aggressive behavior to have the same release of dopamine that they feel when they watch
the porn.
Lastly, porn individuals tend to be lonely. Why is this? The more an individual views
porn, the more aroused they become with the fictional fantasy that porn produces. Which causes

Running head: Pornography

them to become less aroused by an actual person or even an actual relationship. Researchers have
found that many porn addicts also experience problems with anxiety, body-image issues, poor
self-image, relationship problems, insecurity, and depression problems. This causes the
individual to draw into themselves and their addiction, all while pushing others away. (Fight The
New Drug, 2014).
Pornography does not only affect the individual, but also effects the individuals
significant others, families, and even friends. How is that so? According to Fight the New Drug,
Porn Kills Love,
For those lucky enough to have found a special someone, using porn can take things
downhill fast. Research has found that after men are exposed to pornography, they rate
themselves as less in love with their partner than men who didnt see any porn. On top
of that, another study found that after being exposed to pornographic images, people
were more critical of their partners appearance, sexual curiosity, sexual performance,
and displays of affection. (Fight The New Drug, 2014).
With this being said, porn shows the user unrealistic expectations. They do this by photo
shopping any physical flaws, cut out scenes they do not like, always looking like they are having
a good time no matter what is happening to the actors and actresses, the actors and actresses
never seem to have any needs of their own, opinions, or feelings, and lastly if anyone fails to
satisfy or connect with, theres always someone new to click with. (Fight The New Drug, 2014).
This then causes the individual to look at their partner different, such as they do not feel their
partner to be as attractive as they once use to, and eventually slowly loosing interest in their
partner. While the user is loosing interest in their partner, the partner tends to end up feeling like
their significant other does not value them. According to the article Porn Kills Love, many
partners of porn users end up depressed, anxious, and feeling like they can never measure up.
(Fight The New Drug, 2014). In conclusion, pornography can cause a serious problem in the
users ability to have a real and meaningful relationship with another person.
With the information stated above, it only makes sense that your sex life is ruined by
pornography. Since pornography promises more sex, better sex, exciting sex, and everything in

Running head: Pornography

between; with that being said pornography tends to lead to less sex, which then turns into less
satisfying sex, which can result to porn users to not participate in any sex at all. (Fight The New
Drug, 2014). In various studies it has been noted that individuals that are addicted to porn,
usually have a decline of arousal when they have sex with the same partner. However, if porn
addict has sex with different partners were able to continual their arousal. (Andersen, 2013). This
ends up reinforcing that pornography causes problems with intimacy. By always changing
partners, it causes the user to avoid making meaningful, lasting relationships where love is
commitment is involved. According to an article that was written by GQ magazine they state that
For a lot of guys, switching gears from porns fireworks and whiz-bangs to the comparatively
mundane calm of ordinary sex is like leaving halfway through an Imax 3-D movie to check out a
flibbook. (Andersen, 2013). When explained like this, it only makes sense why pornography
users become uninterested and unaroused by the same partner. In the article they share a story of
two individuals who are happily married, but found themselves addicted to porn.
Stefan, 43, who is happily married but cannot climax during sex with his wife unless he
replays pornograph images in his minds eye. Something is lost there, Stefan told
rothbart. Im no longer with my wife; Im inside my own head. Another victim of
porns aggressive allure was Perry, a 41-year-old-lawer. I used to race home to have
sex with my wife, Perry told Rothbart. Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get
home before she does and masturbate to porn. Added Perry, Its like Ive got this
other woman and the other woman is porn. (Andersen, 2013).
These are only two examples of how pornography affected the users sex life, however these two
examples give a strong idea on how big of an impact pornography has on the users sex life.
In a recent study, researchers have found the 56% of all divorces are due to one party
having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. (Balan, 2010). This number is shocking;
nearly half of all divorces are due to pornography use. Not only does pornography destroying
marriages it can also impact children. According to The Social Costs of Pornography they state
that children of pornography uses, live in homes that are less affectionate and loving with
undertones of anger, betrayal, and mistrust. In a study involving adolescents who stumbled

Running head: Pornography

across their parents pornographic material, most reported that this incident significantly
increased their uncertainties about sexuality. Many also reported feeling depressed, lonely, and
unsure of who to turn to in order to discuss their feelings. (The Social Costs of Pornography,
2015). You would never think that the children of pornography addicts would be affected, but
they are. With that being said, since these children are unsure about sexuality and feel as though
they are unable to discuss their feelings with their parents, there is a high chance that they will
end up turning to pornography to answer there questions. Lastly, since these children come from
homes that are less affectionate and loving; they themselves will tend to have more difficulties
connecting with others and potentially even forming a long lasting meaningful relationship with
someone else.
Not only can a pornography addiction ruin your relationship with your spouse and
children, but It can also cost you your job. How is that so? According to the Social Costs of
Pornography, 70 percent of porn viewing occurs during normal business hours. This is one of
the primary reasons employers have began to closely monitor employees computer habits. In
addition, around 1/3 lose their jobs as a result of their addiction. (The Social Costs of
Pornography, 2015). Most individuals do not inform their spouses that they are addicted to
pornography. This is why they view it at work or during times that their spouse is not around.
With that being said, if the individual looses their job because of pornography, this not only
causes a problem for the individual to find another job. It also causes the individuals significant
other to loose trust in their partner, feel inadequate in their relationship, and even blame himself
or herself for their partners pornography use.
Lastly, since pornography users tend to be secretive, they usually end up isolating
themselves from others. Leading to having no motivation to go out and interact with others. (The
Social Costs of Pornography, 2015). This can cause relationships with friends and even extended

Running head: Pornography

family to waste away. This then leads to a decline in quality of life, which concludes to the user
to feel depressed, feelings of disgust, and lack of desire to do anything to put an end to their porn
addiction. (The Social Costs of Pornography, 2015). Most people do not realize how important
relationships with other people, like friends, are to our self-esteem and day-to-day tasks. Without
those people in our life we tend feel unimportant and useless, ultimately leading to the feelings
of depression. Pornography takes away those relationships, since people do not like being around
individuals that are secretive and have no motivation.
To give me a better understanding on how pornography affects the individual I
interviewed a family and marriage therapist. This is what he had to say.
What effects of pornography have you noticed on the family unit?
I have found the effects of pornography to be devastating on the family unit. Never have
I had a client come into my office and state that pornography has been a benefit to their family,
and has brought them closer together. In direct contrast, a client will often share how compulsive
pornography use by one or more members of the family is destroying their relationships. As
most of my clientele ascribe to strong moral beliefs, pornography use is often seen as a form of
betrayal in a couple relationship (the emotional toll of which can be comparable to having an
affair). Trust is weakened, especially as extensive efforts are made to cover up the pornography
use. Reports of decreased intimacy within the relationship and increased conflict flood into my
office. Although each situation should be considered in context, the vast majority of experiences
show a trail of hurt, pain, disconnection, and loneliness associated within increased levels of
pornography use. I have noticed a connection between pornography use and both anxiety and
depression. Those who use pornography often have similar symptoms to dysthymia, which is a
chronic state of depression that is less acute and severe than major depressive disorder, and is

Running head: Pornography

marked by low energy, low self-esteem, and low capacity for pleasure. Pornography use is also
associated with isolating behaviors, which further strains family relationships.
How has pornography affected the individuals that you have talked to?
Of course each situation is different. Some believe that pornography as little affect on
them. It is easy to dismiss the effects of pornography and attach blame to other sources (such as
an volatile spouse . . . which spouse may be volatile due to the pornography use by the partner).
Some individuals began viewing pornography even before their teenage years, so it is difficult to
know what it is like for them to not live with the effects. It is kind of like asking a fish what it's
like to live in water. The fish doesn't know what it's like to not live in water.
A common element with pornography use is the associated efforts to keep it a secret.
With secrets, there are often deep feelings of shame and guilt. This is particularly true with the
individuals I meet with, possibly enhanced by the religious values to avoid pornography. Shame,
the intensely painful feeling that one is not worthy of love or connection, is what fuels this
negative cycle of pornography use (similar to any addiction). This means that pornography often
leads individuals to isolate themselves (emotionally and/or physically) from others, which further
increases their feelings of unworthiness, which then drives them to use pornography to numb
those feelings.
There are many other ways pornography effects individuals. As stated previously, there
is increased anxiety and depression. Individuals may find it difficult being emotionally
vulnerable and therefore experience a lack of intimacy. This is due to the feelings of shame, and
the extreme, protective measures taken to prevent being exposed. It becomes more and more
difficult to feel love from others, except through sex (and even that ends up never being enough).
Individuals can become dependent on pornography use and actually experience withdrawal

Running head: Pornography

symptoms in attempting to quit. They may have difficulty emotionally regulating, which further
impacts relationship with themselves and others. I meeting with individuals currently that loathe
themselves because they feel hopeless in overcoming this addiction.
When you find out that an individual in counseling watches pornography, what are your
first thoughts?
My personal thoughts are drawn to understanding their goals for growth, their
understanding of the problem, and to listen for minimizing statements. What is it that they are
coming into therapy for? Do they view pornography as a factor to consider in them attaining
their goals? Is it difficult for them to discuss this topic/ is there an avoidance of acknowledging
the impact pornography has on them? In my mind, I try to connect everything back to the clients
goals. For example, if a goal is to improve their emotional relationship with their spouse, then I
want to address pornography use in the context of improving their relationship. If a client's goal
is to decrease depression symptoms then pornography use can be brought up in that context.
After finding out the individual you are counseling watches pornography, what are the next
steps you take in counseling?
It is important for me as a therapist to not place my clients in well-defined categories or
boxes. I can use my understanding of common elements associated with pornography use, but
am more dedicated to the individual experience and goals for change of the client. Going back
to the above questions, I want to understand the impact viewing pornography has on meeting the
client's goals. I want to first assess the extent of the pornography use (frequency, intensity, type,
triggers, etc.). I ask questions to discern my client's understanding of pornography use, as well
as moral or religious context. If the client is desiring to decrease pornography use, we would
then explore what success would look like for them (short-term and long-term). I would want to

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understand their attempts to decrease pornography use. What has been effective? What was not
met with success? An important therapeutic stance throughout therapy, especially with
pornography use, is to be non-judgmental and empathic. Discussing this topic can be extremely
difficult for clients, because there is often an extreme fear of rejection or judgment. Remember,
this is how the shame thrives, by keeping it a secret. Part of the actual healing process is the
client disclosing this problem in an authentic way, with the therapist empathically holding the
client's pain with no judgment. Empathy tends to decrease the power of shame. I tried to
normalize my client's situation, as they often feel like they are the only ones struggling to stop
viewing pornography. Hope is key to change. Without helping the client believe that they can
change, little change will happen. These are the beginning steps I tend to take in therapy. There
are many other interventions that will take place in later sessions, but this at least gives a good
foundation of which to build from.
How do you feel about pornography?
Our sexualized American culture seems to have embraced pornography as a part of
healthy living. Movies, TV shows, romantic novels and the internet set it up as the gold standard
for sexual intimacy. In my opinion, pornography is a powerful way of disconnecting oneself
from real relationships with real people. It is an imitation of intimacy, yet leaves the user feeling
even less connected than before. It hijacks the reward system of the brain. It actually re-wires
the brain so that normal sexual cues made by a partner no longer have the same impact. Some
men report no longer being able to get an erection with their partner, but can only with the use of
pornography. I believe that the increased diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is largely due to
increased pornography use with harder and harder material.
Pornography sets up unrealistic expectations for sex. If parents do not teach their kids

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proper sexuality, then it seems like pornography ends up doing the teaching. Part of what is so
destructive about pornography is not that it shows too much, but it shows too little. What I mean
by that is there is only a focus on the physical aspect of sex. What about the mental, relational,
committal, spiritual, and emotional pieces? They are all but forgotten. By excluding these
portions of human intimacy, it begins to re-orient couple sexuality as being only physical. The
problem is it is impossible to separate the physical piece from the other dimensions of the
relationship, thus there will be a sense of incongruence in both partners (which leads to feelings
of emptiness/numbness). Also, the flawless performances that the actors give in pornography
material means that more people begin to view their own sexual experiences with their partners
as unsatisfying.
Pornography also promotes seeing others simply as objects and not as real people. With
continued pornography use, there is a tendency to view others through a sexual objectification
lens. They are no longer human beings with fears, joys, aspirations, talents, or worth. They are
only used for the purpose of sexual pleasure with no thought of how it affects the other person.
Pornography destroys love.
The advent of the internet has exponentially expanded the variety and intensity of the
pornography material. With the demand for harder material comes the demand for more sex
slaves, adult and child. It is a tragedy to see this multi-billion dollar industry exploit these
defenseless men, women, and children. Describing the horrific effects of pornography on these
populations would take an entirely different setting to discuss.
Ultimately, I believe that pornography use is a way of escaping the painful emotions and
yearnings that are calling for our attention. From an attachment theory lens, we are all seeking
connection, belonging, and acceptance. Pornography offers a pseudo-attachment, a fake one, to

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connect with. This so-called friend is always there for us when we are in distress, provides
immediate relief from our feelings of unworthiness (even some pleasure for a time), and
becomes the most important relationship in our life. Yet, this friend begins to starve us of true
intimacy, true connection, true belonging, and true acceptance. This friend enslaves us with
promises of immediate solutions to our problems, yet leaves us with more. For some extreme
situations, this friend demands so much devotion and loyalty that broken marriages, destroyed
relationships, and loss of occupation do not deter pornography viewing.
Whether one views pornography only occasionally or it turns into a full-blown addiction,
pornography has an impact. Even if one does not view pornography, it still effects them in an
indirect way. Our youth are growing up in a pornography-saturated world. Imagine what that
does to the self-esteem of a teenage girl struggling with her self-esteem and physical appearance.
She receives the message over and over again that she is not enough, she'll never be enough, and
that she is only as valuable as her sex appeal. She may begin to believe that the only way she
can feel worth is to give up herself sexually to even more and more degrading sexual acts. All
the while, this disregard and lack of respect for her as a person of value is tossed out with the
trash, and more feelings of shame and worthlessness settle in. No wonder why we as a
population tend to spend much of our waking moments trying to escape/numb our feelings of
loneliness and worthlessness (over use of social media, YouTube, movies, tv shows, food, drugs,
pornography, etc.).
In conclusion pornography can be highly addictive, and cause the individual to become violent,
frustrated, angry, and make their whole life about porn. This then causes relationships with their
significant others, children, coworkers, and even friends to fall apart. Porn not only changes the
individuals brain chemistry, it causes the individual to accept behavior that was previously

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viewed as inappropriate, it encourages a constant of new partners, and also discourages


meaningful, long lasting relationships where trust and love are involved. After talking to Josh, he
only confirmed how pornography destroys the individuals life. With that being said, porn is
getting more and more popular due to technology and if something is not done soon it will
continue to destroy the individual and their relationships.

References
Andersen, K. (2013, Dec 13). GQ Magazine tells men: Quit watching porn before it ruins your
sex life. Retrieved November 2015, from LifeSite: www.lifesitenews.com/news/gqmagazine-tells-men-quit-watching-porn-before-it-ruins-your-sex-life
Balan, M. (2010, July 28). CNN Highlights Pornography's Destructive Effects on Society?
Retrieved November 2015, from NewsBusters: www.newsbusters.org/blogs/matthewbalan/2010/07/28/cnn-highlights-pornographys-destructibe-effects-society
Fight The New Drug. (2014, August 4). Porn Kills Love. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight the
New Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014). Porn Ruins Your Sex Life. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight The
New Drug.
Merriam-Webster. (2015). Pornography. Retrieved October 2015, from Merriam-Webster:
www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornography

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The Social Costs of Pornography. (2015). Is It Bad To Watch Porn?- The Impact of Pornography
Addiction. Retrieved November 2015, from The Social Costs of Pornography:
www.socialcostsofpornography.org
Weir, K. (2014, April). Is pornography addictive? Retrieved October 2015, from American
Psychological Association: www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography.aspx
Andersen, K. (2013, Dec 13). GQ Magazine tells men: Quit watching porn before it ruins your
sex life. Retrieved November 2015, from LifeSite: www.lifesitenews.com/news/gqmagazine-tells-men-quit-watching-porn-before-it-ruins-your-sex-life
Balan, M. (2010, July 28). CNN Highlights Pornography's Destructive Effects on Society?
Retrieved November 2015, from NewsBusters: www.newsbusters.org/blogs/matthewbalan/2010/07/28/cnn-highlights-pornographys-destructibe-effects-society
Fagan, P. (2014). The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community.
Retrieved October 2015, from Family Research Council: www.frc.org/onepagers/theeffects-of-pornography-on-individuals-marriage-family-and-community
Fight The New Drug. (2014, August 4). Porn Changes the Brain. Retrieved October 2015, from
Fight the New Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014). Porn Is Like A Drug. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight The New
Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014, August 4). Porn Kills Love. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight the
New Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014). Porn Leaves You Lonely. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight The
New Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014). Porn Leads to Violence. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight The
New Drug.
Fight The New Drug. (2014). Porn Ruins Your Sex Life. Retrieved October 2015, from Fight The
New Drug.
Merriam-Webster. (2015). Pornography. Retrieved October 2015, from Merriam-Webster:
www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornography

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The Social Costs of Pornography. (2015). Is It Bad To Watch Porn?- The Impact of Pornography
Addiction. Retrieved November 2015, from The Social Costs of Pornography:
www.socialcostsofpornography.org