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4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain

Last Updated: August 3, 2020

Matt Fradd
Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is the author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Woman Who Turned from Porn to Purity. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has worked through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Texas. He has served as an apologist for Catholic Answers and has traveled all over the world, speaking to tens of thousands of teens and young adults. He and his wife Cameron have four children and live in North Georgia.

I’ve often heard men say, “I love looking at porn. Besides it doesn’t hurt anything. It’s only fantasy. What’s the problem?”

Now, you may not have a moral problem with porn, but many are starting to have a medical problem with it. The more we study the impact of porn on the male brain, the more men are starting to think twice about porn being a harmless pastime.

1. Porn gives men a new standard of beauty.

In 2002, the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, published research showing that when men are shown pictures of centerfold models from Playboy and Penthouse, this significantly lowered their judgments about the attractiveness of “average” people.

In our hyper-sexualized media culture, is this something that really needs to be reinforced? Should we train our brains to rate women by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts? Do we want our standard of beauty to be shaped by a fictional standard or by the woman we are actually in love with?

Related: 5 Ways Sex Gets Better After Giving Up Porn

2. Male brains don’t just view porn. They enter into it.

The journal NeuroImage published a study in 2008 demonstrating that as men are sexually aroused by porn films, something called “mirror neurons” in the brain also fire.

What is a mirror neuron? Have you ever seen someone get hit in the face with a ball or some other blunt object, and then your own body recoils? This is because of mirror neurons: you instantly react as if you were the one hit.

When it comes to porn, the brain naturally imagines the viewer in the pornographic scene. When a man is turned on by porn his body is not merely responding to the naked woman. His brain is picturing himself as the main character, heightening the arousal. You see, porn isn’t merely arousing to men because the women in it are attractive, but because it makes the man feel sexy.

This trains men not to get their sense of personal validation from real life relationships but from pixels on a screen.

3. The more porn men watch, the more their brains look like an addict’s brain.

In 2014 scientists at Cambridge discovered that the brains of habitual porn users show great similarity to the brains of alcoholics. When a self-confessed porn addict is hooked up to an MRI machine and then is shown a pornographic image, a brain structure called the ventral striatum “lights up” in the same way it lights up for an alcoholic who sees a picture of an drink.

You might be thinking, “So what?” Well, researchers speculate that continued use of porn over time, especially starting at younger ages, makes it such that we actually lose willpower. The more we watch porn, the more difficult it is for men to say to no to watching porn because of the strong craving they feel.

This is not the kind of men most men want to be. We want to enjoy our passions, not be enslaved to them.

Related: Brain Chemicals and Porn Addiction

4. Porn makes violence sexy.

According to research by Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant, the more porn one is exposed to, the more likely one is willing to trivialize rape. In their experiments, after watching just five hours of pornographic films stretched over a six-week period, subjects were willing to cut the sentencing of an accused rapist nearly in half, compared to those who had not watched pornography at all.

Those who watched more porn were also likely to believe that practices like sadomasochism were two to three times more common in general society than those who had not seen porn. Of course porn doesn’t make most consumers into sexually violent people, it does train men to embrace a culture of objectification, reinforcing a belief that women exist to give sexual pleasure to men. Again, is this the kind of men we want to become?

Let me make an appeal to men:

  • if your goal is to become a man whose standard of beauty is shaped by the one you love…
  • if your goal is to feel a personal sense of worth and validation based on your most valuable relationships…
  • if your goal is to be a man of self-mastery, not enslaved to your passions…
  • and if your goal is to treat women as people to be served and loved, not see them as objects for your pleasure…

…then consuming porn will take you in the opposite direction.

  • Comments on: 4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain
    1. Greg on

      “When it comes to porn, the brain naturally imagines the viewer in the pornographic scene. When a man is turned on by porn his body is not merely responding to the naked woman. His brain is picturing himself as the main character, heightening the arousal. You see, porn isn’t merely arousing to men because the women in it are attractive, but because it makes the man feel sexy.”

      This might be true for some men (and I’m sure for some it is), but definitely not all. It is a general assumption. Some of us men clearly know we’re not physically attractive, and so our own attractiveness isn’t part of the addiction. The female form itself, and our misuse of viewing it outside of biblical command IS the addiction. I can’t understate that.

      I understand that there are many different reasons why men are drawn to pornography. There are also different kinds of porn. But it’s worth noting that not all of us men fell for the fake ‘come hither’ looks or the “enhancements” of hollywoodified porn. We were drawn to the basic differences of the female form itself. As sinful as that out-of-bounds viewing is, for many men, that’s all the ‘reason’ they ‘need’.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        We’re only saying what the NeuroImage report concludes. Even if you believe you aren’t attractive, your brain believes it is entering into a sexual experience with a woman who thinks you are. Your might have a cognitive belief about your lack of attractiveness, but the brain doesn’t necessarily process or deconstruct images the way it deconstructs words. This really goes back to what sociologists call “media theory,” and now modern neuroscience is helping us to understand some of why this exists.

        I am interested in what you’re saying here about being “drawn to the basic differences of the female form itself.” What do you mean by this exactly?

      • Roland on

        Its been about 3 weeks for me. I ‘m done with porn. Its disgusting for me anymore. I get the “addicts brain” effect. Does anyone have any suggestions on getting past the shame and moving on with life? Thanks. RS

      • Greg on

        I hear what you’re asking–and yes, I do challenge the conclusion that the NeuroImage report draws. How dare I? I can only speak for myself, but like research journalist Gary Taubes, I’m a hardcore realist who weighs all the facts and data. Not once in my ~15 years of pornography addiction was I looking with the mindset of “She thinks I’m attractive!” or “She wants to have sex with me!” Nor do I believe that that was what was going on in my subconscious mind. In fact, I believe what makes pornography so deadly is the anxiety and fear that no woman–not even the one on the screen–finds me physically attractive, let alone sexually desirable. It’s a scary place to be, even after God rescues you from pornography. Hearing numerous husbands share the same fear, I know I’m not alone in that struggle–even being single.

        You stated that “…your brain believes it is entering into a sexual experience with a woman who thinks you are”. I challenge that assertion based on pure reality, regardless of who made it. My brain is reacting to the visual stimulus of the female form. Most of the pornography I looked at depicted zero sex acts; nudity, yes, but zero sex acts.

        I measure the validity of science reports by reality and personal experience, rather than taking them at face value. I do that because numerous reports and findings are later shown to be flawed or inaccurate in the conclusions they draw–later disproven or contradicted by peer reports/findings. As an example: In my own website (unfortunately), I quoted findings about sex and the male brain by Dr. Daniel G. Amen, an M.D. and Neuroscientist who I assumed was a reputable source for the information; I later discovered that many of his “findings” and “reports” are seriously flawed: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Amen#Reception).

        No disrespect to women, but modern science still has zero clue on how the female brain works in relation to sexuality. That’s why there’s been no female version of Viagra that works. If they had figured it out by now, there would be massive amounts of money to be made. So I find it very difficult to trust findings on “here’s what your brain is doing”. As the saying goes, “Time will tell.” And in that regard, no-one argues that women are different from men in how they think and feel about sex (whether subtle or not-so-subtle), and there are numerous differences between women themselves about sex and physicality even beyond that. Ask 100 women what they really think and feel about sex, men’s physicality, etc. and I think you’ll be very surprised at the wide range of perspectives and opinions you get.

        Simply stated, the female form is arousing in, and of, itself. What the male brain supposedly does, or does not, do with it is still at a point where science is arguably making dicey conclusions. The point is that we’re watching what we shouldn’t be. No disrespect Luke; we’re on the same side. :) Just a disagreement on how reputable these findings actually are. We can rest easy knowing that God’s Word is the final authority–the source for our primary answers and direction there.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I still think you’re misunderstanding what the report is saying. This isn’t about conscious thought (i.e. “She thinks I’m attractive”) but about what regions of the brain are activated as a result of watching porn. It’s about what neurologists are seeing on brain scans. Perhaps we aren’t stating that clearly enough in the article.

        I do agree with you that God’s Word is the final authority on these matters, and with that we can rest very easy. :)

      • Greg on

        Luke, I don’t question what “lights up” in the brain scans. What I _do_ question are the interpretations of what those brain scans actually mean, and their real-world implications. As with the firestorm that Dr. Daniel G. Amen set off with his conclusions, neurologists are arguably drawing a lot of dogmatic conclusions in a field that’s far too complex to make the kind–and level–of statements and predictions that they are.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Then I suppose your debate is with them. Thanks for the discussion.

      • Seth on

        Just a few comments. I understand the heart of this research and I agree. Porn is prostitution plain and simple and it’s not beneficial, it’s a bandaid that covers a deeper issues. However the article is off base with some of it’s “findings.” I had consumed porn for two decades. I have never felt or been attracted to violence in porn nor did it ever make me want to be violent in the bedroom. Games, music, tv and movies promote violence as well but because they aren’t naked it somehow isn’t a factor? Second it’s simply not the case for everyone that while viewing porn you imagine yourself as one of the actors. There is the thrill of simply seeing something that is taboo that’s exciting on its own, as well as women watching the most gay porn and men watching lesbian porn doesn’t lend itself to that idea. There is many non-male and female porn that is consumed where it’s not possible to “be” the main character. Third the standards of beauty has been changing and will continue to change no matter if porn is involved. Unless something has changed in the last year the “fake/plastic” look was already out of favor. I doubt we have an epidemic of men telling women to get surgery to look better, that’s a good way to lose a woman. I have seen as surgery gets cheaper that women themselves are looking to “improve” their looks but that can’t be put on porns shoulders anymore that Hollywood’s. And porn had a large viewership of “non-traditional standards of beauty” if you want to see elderly or obese people shown to be sexual porn will do that unlike traditional media. Lastly through many conversations with partners and friends I have found that women use porn often and feel like it’s taboo to mention it. But any harm that porn does to a mans brain it will also do to a woman’s brain. Each point made in the article could easily be said about women as well. This isn’t a one gendered issues a cause we both have equal involvement in it. Let’s just make sure it’s accurate. Porn is bad but like any other addictive thing it’s just a mask for a real issues.

      • Coredon on

        I myself don’t personally believe this article accurately represents a large number of men who watch porn. I watch porn on a regular basis. I don’t feel addicted to it as I’ve gone months without watching it before. I don’t feel that it perpetuates the idea of a heightened standard of beauty. Nor do I believe that it causes men to trivialize rape. As I’m a father of seven, happily married, and have a good self esteem. I’m against all forms of sexual abuse I’m against all forms of any kind of forced sexual anyting. My wife is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met even though to some she may not match the standards of a pornstar. It doesn’t consume my life though I do enjoy watching it regularly. The only thing that it is done for my sexual life is enhance it as me and my wife like to try new things and at times porn can provide ideas for new positions and new kinds of foreplay. I don’t feel that porn creates sadomasochist or sympathizers of the such. I believe that porn like any other form of entertainment can be fun entertaining and enlightening. But I do believe just as other forms of entertainment or outlets for some people it can be addicting and it can be destructive. but for this article to say that it does this to all men but mentions none for the women who are addicted to it or watch it regularly is extremely biased. And this is all coming from a person is introduced to born at a very young age. I also believe that that website covenant eyes kind of speaks for the religiously morally divided group of people this article was aimed at

      • Kristie Griffin on

        #pornkillslove

    2. Ben on

      Well stated.

      Reply
      • Carla on

        I’m not replying to you directly Ben. Article and comments as a whole. Lot of denial out here. I dint watch open but I’ve seen it ruin lives. Just read the dang article and absorb the science. I’m not addicted days every addict. It doesn’t do that to me says every addict. I can take it or leave it says every addict then leave it. It hurts women. Objectifies is. Makes ya feel like we’ll never add up. Body wise. It’s like competing for other women. Proportionately women watching porn I’m sure but it ya not at epedemic levels as it is a men. Many relationships ruined by porn and don’t ask ya to join in. We do t want to and has nothing to do with how prudish we are. We love sex just not after you’ve watched other women and they are stuck on your brain not us. And what about wine. In porn that are caught up in it. It continues a perpetuation if disrespect you wouldn’t want for your daughters.

    3. I Disagree on

      I respectfully disagree. Let me go point by point and tell you why:

      1. A new standard of beauty? Not really. The reality is that beauty has been pretty consistent throughout the ages. What has happened in America is we are massively overweight as a whole but porn stars weigh much less and are in shape. There is also something called the golden ratio and women who have this are universally thought of as beautiful. Oddly, the golden ratio is found everywhere in nature. Bottom line is this: women in porn are in shape and that is attractive. What has actually happened is we have gotten massively out of shape in America so yeah, the average girl is not all that attractive anymore. Also, who are we kidding. Hollywood, plastic surgeons, selfies ….. have redefined the standard of beauty. Go look at newscasters and women on ESPN — almost all look like models and the older women get sent to work at stations like PBS.

      2. Mirror neurons are utilized in everything and not just porn. Leverage point 1 in my comment — most humans know within three seconds if they are attracted to someone. That is mirror neuron utilization. Also, of course he sees himself as the main character — this happens in any type of production be it movies, tv, cartoons, plays, etc.

      3. I can make any brain look like an addicts brain. Tons of addictions out there. From food to work to porn to drugs to alcohol. Tons.

      4. Rape in America has now become when a man looks at a woman the wrong way. The reality is that people should look at the rise of rapes with the rise of female alcoholism. They directly correlate. A lot of drunk sex going on and a lot of mixed messages. Also as a whole, rape is at an all time low in American society even with population being at its highest and more women reporting it than ever. In college, I personally witnessed many girls drinking on purpose so they would have an excuse to go have sex or cheat on a boyfriend. A few claimed rape, but I was there when those girls were planning their sexual escapades and getting hammered. Those girls were not raped. They regretted what they did or got caught cheating and innocent men went to prison because no one believes a man in a court of law. This is why 93% of all prisoners are male. Women and men have completely different standards. Rape is not as cut and dry as we like to think. Also, a woman I dated had her son accused or rape. Two boys actually They were both ball players. Three girls accused them of rape. The boys took a lie detector test and passed. The girls refused. Had it not been for that, both would be in prison and not have gotten married and had families of their own.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks for voicing your opinion. Aside from the fact that these statements are grounded in actual studies that have been done, here’s why I disagree with you.

        1. Beauty standards have changes quite a bit. The Greeks liked their women fair; the Egyptians liked them tan. In the 1600s Rubenesque women were preferred; in the roaring 20s, the aim was to hide your curves. In some ages, wigs were used to achieve elaborate hairstyles; in other ages, minimal hair was preferred. Eastern standards typically were on another plain altogether.

        No doubt, porn is part of a much bigger and uglier iceberg of false beauty standards, but this doesn’t mean porn is not also a major player in promoting those standards.

        2. Mirror neurons are used in everything yes, but I’m not sure why is disagrees with this point.

        3. Yes, there are a lot of behavioral addictions out there, but again, not sure why this would disagree with the point. I can be addicted to gambling. I can be addicted to porn. How are you disagreeing exactly?

        4. No one in the world thinks you’ve raped a woman if you look at her the wrong way. That’s ridiculous. Furthermore, what statistics are you using saying that rape is at an all-time low? Furthermore, what does it have to do with the point we’re making in the article?

      • I disagree. on

        Let me write the questions in those “studies”. I have found the questions often can determine outcomes and everyone writes politically correct questions and few people give true answers. Take covenant eyes for example. The articles are skewed a bit here. They are so anti-male and ignore the fact that women are the ones doing the most porn and pushing the most sex. Tons of jobs out there Luke. Tons of them. No woman has to do porn and if they do —- really porn isn’t the issue —- the issue is why do we waste so much money on things like war instead of building our communities and providing for all.

        Yes, I am familiar with artwork and weight differences. Yes, in the past chubby women were pictured in artwork. That is because they actually had food to eat while the masses were starving and those fat indulgent women had the money to afford a person to paint their picture. Skin color, hair styles — have nothing to do with body size.

        Also, lets look at descriptions. People said things like Marilyn Monroe was “voluptuous”. Not really —- she was tiny. We equate today’s meaning of voluptuous with the past. Today that word means someone who is 170 or 180 pounds with “curves”. Please. Marilyn Monroe weighed all of 118 pounds with “curves” and a 22 inch waist. The reality is that we have a problem in America. A huge one and ignoring it isn’t going to make it get any better. Telling men that 180 pound women are attractive isn’t going to make it so when they see that woman next to an in shape woman. They are going to see an in shape woman and say hey that is attractive . Porn women are very much in shape. It is just the truth.

        Then lets get brutally honest. Once married, women get caught up in wanting more and more. A bigger house. Nicer things. This costs money. This makes people work more. This makes people tired. This makes people have less sex. This makes people get out of shape. This makes people ignore each other. Then the woman wants kids which heightens all of this. Women are obsessed with children not because they truly want them but rather somehow this is a measure of being a woman. I know women right now who want kids just to say they had kids. Sooner rather than later as a male you are just existing and not living and you are a paycheck. You are in a marriage where the sex has stopped, your wife is out of shape, you are worked to death and you wonder where the heck your life went.

        Maybe at the end of the day, marriage to one woman is just not what it is cracked up to be. Maybe that at the end of the day is the real issue. I don’t know. I am not married but I see what I wrote above everywhere.

        We never talk about that. Maybe it just isn’t worth it. In theory, it sounds great. You meet a sweet, beautiful, loyal woman and she sticks by you throughout life. It is you and her against the world. Unfortunately, that is just a pipe dream and we see that with the divorce rate.

        I simply do not have all the answers. But I do know the issue is much bigger than porn. Porn is just a symptom. I assure you.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        You have a lot of thoughts here. Let me see if I can respond to each one.

        1. No one here disagrees with the idea that porn is a symptom of a much larger problem, but to call it “just a symptom” is an oversimplification. Even symptoms of diseases can themselves be complicating factors that lead to greater ills. Things can be both symptoms and causes.

        2. You seem to be under the impression our articles are all “skewed,” that we are anti-male, that we never call women to account for the way they flaunt their bodies, and you are simply wrong. We talk about the spread of so-called “sex positive” feminism on college campuses and why it should concern us. We target the authors of women’s erotica for contributing to a culture of sexual exploitation. We interview former porn actresses about their lives in the industry and why they got out. We write about how people need to remember making pornography is itself a form of prostitution. The two should not be so sharply distinguished. We write about the vital importance of modesty among Christian women. We comment on cultural trends, such as the acceptance of porn use among women, young girls using social media as a forum to flaunt their bodies, the growing prevalence of sexting, and the growing number of women posting videos on YouTube to ask “Am I pretty?”

        It really baffles me that in some people’s minds, when we write an article that is on a specific topic, we are being “skewed” because we don’t talk about every other angle in the world. That’s not being skewed. That’s just staying focused.

        We should not feel the pressure when we right about anything to also write about everything.

        3. No one here doubts porn women are often in shape, and no one doubts this is something that makes them attractive to the masses. But you are contradicting yourself when it comes to beauty standards. As you said, when women live in cultures where the rich have lots of food but the poor do not, we paint idealized pictures of “chubby” women who had the luxury to overeat. When that is not the case in our culture, those “chubby” women are not out of shape and unattractive. That implies a change of beauty standards, and yet you seem to think beauty standards according to size haven’t changed.

        Not that your contradiction matters much, because the whole notion is still largely irrelevant to the subject of the post. Out-of-shape women cannot be the primary motivator why men watch porn, because they would just date women who weren’t “out of shape” by their standards. The allure of porn goes much deeper than simply comparing the so-called “healthy” porn stars to the so-called “unhealthy” women we see. Porn is alluring because the women are clickable and customizable. Porn is alluring because of the endless novelty and variety. Porn is alluring because it is industrialized and commodified sex on tap. And no woman, no matter how “healthy” can compete with that.

        4. I have no doubt your characterization of marriage is true for a lot of people. I totally agree. And if this is all marriage is, then I agree: the experience of that kind of marriage sounds pretty sad. The good news is this is not how marriage has to be, and I know many marriages that are the opposite.

      • Buttercup on

        Not a new standard of beauty? Why then are so many women being asked by their boyfriends if they will get boob jobs and Lipo? I was extremely thin, still had an hourglass shape and very athletic yet was still not the standard of beauty promoted by porn because I was real. I know so many women in the same situation whose boyfriends/husbands want them to get surgery via boob jobs and Lipo and botox so that they can be more sexually appealing. There isn’t even an argument about the fact that pornography has fueled these ridiculous standards that simply cannot be attained by real women. And that is just sad.
        As for rape, you can tell by your own comments that watching too much porn has done to your own brain exactly what the article states. Sorry to be so blunt but this is the truth. I hope you can stop with the denial and get some help.

      • C on

        You’re right. Looking at tons of porn is absolutely fabulous for your mental health. It makes you a better father, husband, etc.

    4. jt on

      I take exception to saying I must “serve” a woman. Men do not exist to provide for women and their comfort because I can tell you that in today’s world women are not following through with their part of the bargain. Also, who are we kidding. I am looking at People magazine. Every woman in this magazine is vain as can be taking selfie after selfie. Lastly, I work in a courtroom and rape cases are not like you see on your Lifetime network for women or Blue Bloods. Most are he said she said an they involve a lot of drinking and drugging where both parties really had no clue what was going on. The man gets the blame and has his life ruined. But I guess we are here to “serve” women. That is what our lives amount to. Amazing how no one on this site will tell women to be biblical women. None of those exist today I assure you. But yet, men are held to the standard of the bible. We live in a dream where women are this innocent creatures with good souls who are sweet and giving up their entire lives for men. That is so far from reality. The reality is many are screwing around and pretty much worthless. They want to text, tweet, and snap chat and be catered to. But I guess that is my calling. I am called to “serve” the female gender and their fake crocodile tears.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        What do you mean by “their part of the bargain”? I’m not clear on that point.

        You said, “Men do not exist to provide for women and their comfort.” I suppose I agree if you’re talking about a man’s ultimate purpose in life, but exactly how does this disagree with the article? When we say, “…if your goal is to treat women as people to be served and loved…” you seem to see this as some kind of burden rather than a high and good calling, which is sad, really.

        You said, “Every woman in this magazine is vain as can be taking selfie after selfie.” I know this is true of a lot of people, but what does this have to do with the article?

        If you mean “biblical women” don’t exist in the sense that perfect women don’t exist, I agree with you, but again, I fail to see what this has to do with the article.

    5. jt on

      When I mentioned People, I forgot to say why I mentioned that. It is not porn … it is everything!!! Women are sexualizing themselves. It is the look at me generation. So vain. Doesn’t the bible talk about vanity? Women need to have that talk. Tell them to stop that nonsense. Stop tempting at every turn. That is all a selfie really is — advertising.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I agree women (and men) are flaunting their sexuality a lot in our modern culture. I agree they should be told why this is a bad idea. Are you telling ME to send this message, or were you just speaking broadly?

      • chesed on

        Look, yes some women can be vain but so can men. Don’t paint women with the same brush and color. Plus even if women flaunt their bodies, yes it’s wrong but you are a man, men are supposed to be strong and that means not giving in to temptation. A man that gives in is a weak man and a woman who flaunts her body is a weak woman.

    6. michael s. on

      For what it is worth I think that porn is just a small symptom of a bigger problem in America. Take your survey from 2002. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. The same standard of beauty existed back then. What has changed is we as a society are now fat as can be. Pardon the pun but it is a huge issue. I have met Playboy centerfolds. I assure you that they would be viewed as beautiful no matter if it was 2015 or 1815. It had nothing to do with being in Playboy or even being nude. They are just pretty. But we are ignoring the fat issue in america. Essentially we are Rome. It is funny. Every empire thinks that it will not fall victim to what caused other empires to fall. The reality is America is falling and we are doing exactly what has happened in other empires throughout the ages. I know it is a strange comment to make on this article but really porn usage is just a symptom of problems. It is not a cause. Take it for what it is worth. Thanks for listening.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        No doubt porn is part of a larger problem. No doubt there is an obesity problem today. No doubt people find porn more alluring if they’ve convinced themselves their significant other is unhealthy.

        My problems with your comment are…
        (1) you think porn can’t be both a cause and symptom (things in society often are),
        (2) you think standards of beauty haven’t changed (and yet artwork of idealized nude women from one time period to another, one culture to another, changes considerably, especially when it comes to weight), and
        (3) you seem to be suggesting if women lost weight, men would be less attracted to porn (which I find no support for).

    7. Jordan on

      I was struck by the line “Well, researchers speculate that continued use of porn over time, especially starting at younger ages, makes it such that we actually lose willpower.”

      Porn had been a part of my life since I was like 12 and I made a decision to stop watching it about 4 years ago after becoming a believer but have had “relapses” since that period. I no longer desire to view it and yet still find myself being drawn to it. I’d love to hear more on this and what the ways are to regain willpower after an entire adolescence / young adult life of uninhibited porn use.

      It seems most Christians just think that once you follow Jesus, all that should go away but I haven’t found that to be the case at all…

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        We have an article about the regaining of willpower (from a neurological perspective), if you want to read that.

        There are many who think following Jesus simply makes the experience of sin go away, but that is a false theology if there ever was one. Certainly, the gospel that brings about our forgiveness is the same gospel that, over time, sanctifies us and makes us new, but that is a lifetime journey of transformation.

      • Carla on

        To Jordan-
        Becoming a Believer doesn’t mean we no longer have the urge to do sinful things- it means we have help from the Almighty to give us strength to overcome those urges, God knows our hearts, and He and He alone is who we will give account to at the end of the day!
        I totally agree with the findings of this article- I was married for 23 years- my ex had been exposed to porn at a young age by grandfather- and father- but never had it in our home- until the late 90’s when personal computers came along, and slowly I began to see a difference in him, and noticing pop ups on the computer, and mostly how he was treating me- we had a great sex life through out our marriage-but something was different and I started feeling “objectified” and then it turned into disrespectfulness, no longer going to church- because he didn’t like something that was said- needless to say- my marriage was over about 5 years after having a computer- I feel that while the internet can be used for good- it is also like Satan living in your home- and we have to be careful and Rely on the Spirit at all times- and I feel that some men get so dependent on Porn that they often never form a real relationship with a woman, because they are not looking for a warm heart and “normal “ life- it’s easier to go to work and go home to a computer- and their “ fantasy” world . And yes, I think they get desensitized to human feelings, Just my thoughts

    8. Interested to observe on

      It’s obvious that a couple (two) of the men who have commented, are avid porn users. We can readily view in their comments some of the results of their porn viewing that were talked about in the article. “I disagree” and jt, I’m talking about you. Everything, of course, is women’s fault. You think all women should start to look like porn stars, and if they don’t, it’s their fault you’re porn addicts. You can see in your comments the trivialization and excusing of rape talked about in the article. You have just proven, unwittingly, the results and conclusions written about in the article. Thank you, very informative and interesting to observe this.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        What a great observation. Being able to take responsibility for ourselves, rather than blaming others for our choices and behaviors, is an absolutely essential element of healthy adulthood, as well as respect and care for the well-being of other people. Anything less is troubling in the extreme. Thank you for pointing this out so clearly.

      • Freddie McNabb on

        Nope, that is not what they said about rape. They stated the fact that most rape cases are he said/she said cases, not as cut and try as on SVU. You are correct (for the most part) on what they said about beauty. Women losing weight or gaining weight has little to do with porn–or adultery. Christie Brinkley–world famous supermodel–has been married three times, and all her exes have cheated on her. Porn and other sexual sin go much deeper than a woman’s looks. It is the sin nature of humanity. But no one trivialized rape.

    9. seriously? on

      I didn’t make it through all the comments because I quickly realized that many men who were commenting obviously have no problem with porn and take huge issue with ‘fat,’ lazy women who simply want to stay home and do nothing, while spending all of your hard-earned money. There are so many problems with these thoughts that I’m not even sure where to begin. First, let me point out that men looking at porn has NOTHING to do with how ugly and fat their wives are. My husband looked at porn for the first 5 years of our marriage, after looking at porn for MANY years before that. It had absolutely nothing to do with the way I looked. It has everything to do with not walking in the Spirit and not having crucified the sinful nature to the cross (galatians 5). It was a deep seated sin problem, long before I came into the picture. To prove my point further, that it isn’t a result of an ‘ugly, fat’ wife, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m 5’2″. I weigh 115 soaking wet, wear a size 2, have long blonde hair, etc. Many of the things listed on here as ‘attractive,’ by the world’s standards, I possess. So why would my husband feel the need to look at another woman who has the same shape and body type as me? Sin. Pure and simple. Not living a life of holiness that the Lord requires. That’s all. See 1 Peter 1:16. Women in the porn industry and women in general aren’t all just victims (though some are—sex trafficking), but it’s good to have a biblical view of men and women, not a worldly view. Allowing sexism and disgust of one gender into our hearts is very ungodly. By turning the tables and saying it’s a woman’s fault if she gets raped, gets cheated on, etc, one is actually devaluing women, something Jesus would never do. Our worth as women isn’t based on if you think we are attractive or not. God determines our worth and he says that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. I want to be that kind of woman. The God of the universe tells me he loves me, he won’t betray me, and that I’m valuable in his eyes so what men say about me matters not.

      Reply
    10. Ashley on

      Such a good article! My husband started using porn years before we got married. Boy was I in for a horrible surprise! After I discovered it, we met with our pastor and have been getting help. He is really making an effort, and I’m so thankful! However, he doesn’t seem to believe the porn use has affected his brain or our sex life at all. I don’t know how to get him to see it other than pray God will open his eyes.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        So glad you liked the article!

        Let me ask you: in what ways do you observe porn having impacted his mind and your sex life? What specifically?

      • Tom Laing on

        Ashley I suggest you and your husband agreed to order the books called every man’s battle and every woman’s battle the author’s name is Atturburn and he also has his own website make a solemn agreement that you both will not explode when you both read each others book because they are about basic human nature but they give a profoundly biblical spiritual cure and recovery do it together is the best way and then help him find men’s study groups on the book for men to men accountability I’m praying for you guys

    11. A on

      Luke, I can answer your question. I’m how porn affected my husband’s mind and our sex life. And I don’t think he reliazes it neither.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        What have your conversations with him looked like so far?

    12. Mark on

      Regarding the trivialization of rape, numerous studies exist that contradict the findings of the study you’ve chosen to present as being solely representative of the truth? It simply isn’t a conclusive statement.

      Reply
    13. Devon on

      1. Generalized standards and statements. Porn doesn’t teach men this, society does. I’ve seen quite a few porns that didn’t have attractive or overly attractive women in it. Normal or even what some would consider “Ugly” women appear in several videos. Each individual is due their own opinion on what beauty is. Science and psychology would say alot on the subject of what attracts each individual to pick their mates and the result vary I can assure you. Like the Facebook post I saw earlier said and I quote “I’ll take a slutty 7 over an amazing 10 who only does missionary.” What attracts an individual or what they consider beauty in a women will be different with each individual. Now society’s outlook with models and stars, they are portraying what is considered to fashionable and trendy. These people are setting the bar for what is the model basis of our standard of beauty. This is encouraged and mirrored by our youth, young adults and even adults. Society sets these as the standard, and individuals allow themselves let that vision or standard of beauty become theirs.

      2. Validation through Self.
      A screen or what is on the screen isn’t what I use to validate myself. Personally, I use my own standard of what a “Man” should be. Because society in modern times fails to define what the culture has portrayed as a “Man”. I don’t need to feel sexy to know I’m a man. I need to be able to lift heavy things, play pool, do stupid things, be able to hold a job, take care of my family, pay my bills. Every single man on the planet will have differing thoughts on what we consider to be a model for a “Man” in our lives. I’ve had several with different father figures in my life. So don’t give me this “validation through pixels” speech, because I believe you don’t speak for everyone.

      3. Same as addiction.

      Yes, it’s a well known fact, but to imply that people lose willpower to stop as a problem, would imply the want to stop. The same as an addict. Everyone gets caught up in the same. Coffee addicts, cigarette smokers, sugar addicts, etc. Some people don’t consider it a problem. It’s what they want to do. Some use it as a way to pass time. If I cannot use masturbation to pass the time, then why should I be able to do anything else? Same as people addicted to TV shows, or other things. You have to consider it a problem, and that’s individual perspectives then. What’s good for the Majority isn’t necessarily good for the minority.

      4. Porn doesn’t make Violence sexy.

      Once again, individual perspectives. But honestly I don’t find violence sexy, nor do I find rape to be a trivial matter. For someone to force themselves upon anyone should be a grave and serious matter. Not only because of disease outbreaks, but because to force one’s will upon another in a violating manner should be a considerable infraction. Regardless of the reasoning or not. Fetishes are abound with rape fantasies or “planned” home invasion scenarios. So this has been a thing for years and will be for many more. Violence can be sexy. Some have enjoyed masochism for 1000s of years. This is what they find to be enjoyable. Some prefer dominance or being handled in a dominant manner. Doesn’t imply they will beat their partners or go out and rape someone. Nor does it trivialize rape in their opinions.

      My name is Devon, and I’m a porn/sex addict.

      P.s. Whoever writes these articles should really do a devil’s advocate perspective, just because you find sources out there, backing your side, doesn’t mean it’s right or that there isn’t a flip side of the coin.

      Reply
      • James on

        So you’ve had a good “reckon” and now you think that means your conclusion is just as valid as those of the studies and statistics mentioned in the article. Try to learn how to learn.

        Amd have you ever thought about trying to better yourself? Rather than just accepting your behavior by default and justifying it after the fact, try listening objectively without defensiveness or hostility BEFORE forming your opinion next time.

        Great article Luke. I greatly respect your patience and restraint in responding to some of these wholly disgusting responses to what essentially amounts to a presentation of facts and data.

    14. Chris on

      I could say I’m addicted . It’s like a habit to search it out . But I don’t enter myself into the seen . I view more the scene or atmosphere . I guess I watch more the act than the actors ? Most of which I want at home but go without . I don’t see myself with these women though I see myself with my wife but acting out what I see .

      Reply
    15. Kevin on

      Pornography is used for Self satisfaction. It is
      used as a tool for masturbation.
      It is a descending process, like any drug, or addiction, you need more of it! And the Pornography has to be more and more graphic and intense.
      It how it makes you FEEL!! It is a artificial stimulant, Fantasy!!!
      No one goes in the public area and watches porn, it’s done in secret,
      I’ve battled Porn , and like any addiction you need to get REAL with yourself!!!!
      Be honest!!! Is this making you a better person? Husband ? Father? Boyfriend?
      Your spouse , girlfriend will never meet the expectations of Porn Fsntasy.
      Yes you might feel trapped and make excuses, you might feel shame,
      But today is the only day that your living in!!
      Tomorrow isn’t here ? And yesterday is past!
      Get help! Go to war! Be a better person!
      Watch and read all you can !
      Get into a good church, read your Bible!
      Ask Jesus for help!!

      Reply
    16. Patricia on

      My husband was into porn before we married many years ago.
      It caused major problems to say the least. I felt like I was being compared to the porn females. I was 5’ 1” and 100 pounds. I was active, exercised and stayed in shape. Was pretty by most standards. His wants became more and more. He insisted that I completely shave my privates. Didn’t sound like fun to me but I relented to please him and be a good wife. I kept a rash, itched and was miserable. But he would not touch me if I wasn’t shaved. I put up with this for years and I hated every single minute of it. All I could think of was a young girl and it disturbed me greatly. Even though I loved him deeply I simply couldn’t stand it. I am sure there are many women who would not object to this but I did. Soon the issue became, No shave,
      No sex. During all of this he enjoyed the porn daily. He required more and more stimulation due to being so over stimulated while watching porn. Sex was no longer something to look forward to. And he simply lost so much of his ability. And I was not stimulating enough. Finally once when we were in the mood he asked if I was shaved and when I replied No, and that I would no longer be shaving, he said then no more sex.
      To shorten this he was also an alcoholic which made things even worse. I eventually moved out of our bedroom into my own bed. He never made a move to be intimate again and neither did I. Now after 40 years of marriage he decided he wanted a divorce. Broke my heart! He is blaming lack of sex entirely on me and even listed the date that I moved to another bed. Other than sex there was nothing that he wanted for in our marriage. So at the grand old age of 75 I will become a divorced lady and on my own for the first time in my life.
      Do I think porn has a devastating effect on a marriage? I am proof positive.
      Awaiting to hear what you have to say. Oh and by the way, he teaches Sunday school and is a pillar in the community.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Oh Patricia.

        Your story breaks my heart. I’m so sorry.

        Have you had any support through this? I’m concerned for your well being as this all unfolds. I would hope that you might find a therapist to talk to, someone who can help you process all this. The online resources at Bloom for Women are excellent as well.

        I hope you have close friends and family who are able to hear the truth and be a support to you as well.

        I wonder what his pastor would have to say about all this? I wonder what would happen if you said that he’s had a pornography habit all this time and now wants a divorce. It’s only the truth.

        I’m sorry that it’s been such a long, difficult road, and that it’s come to this.

        You are in my heart,
        Kay

      • Freddie McNabb on

        My heart breaks for you.

      • Carolina Girl on

        So sorry you had to deal with this. I had no idea how bad porn is for a relationship. It’s a real problem. It’s a sad thing. #pornkillslove

    17. Micah on

      I wanted to say that as someone who has struggled with a deepening porn obsession for 18 years, all of these points ring true to me. Porn kept me away from real relationships until I realized what exactly it was doing. Only then did I begin to try to extricate myself from porn completely… and everything leading me into its grasp. I have been married 3 years and my struggles have not left me – they are far less frequent, but my sexual life with my wife has suffered deeply because of my retired brain chemistry. I want to share with point #4 that male masochists are usually not the ones writing porn posts. Rape has always been appalling to me, despite watching lots of porn at certain times in my life. I could never imagine how rape could even happen or be desirable for a man. What point number 4 could include to become more all-inclusive is a discussion of how the type of porn you watch affects the type of violence you are willing to tolerate. For example, someone who watched female-dominant sexual violence may subconsciously become more willing to tolerate sexually inappropriate behavior from women to minors. This is still just as wrong, and should be punished but the porn viewer who has been exposed regularly to such content might not see it as such a punishable offense.

      Reply
      • Jeff on

        Matt Fradd, The Question is how exactly do we define what is and isn’t Porn ? What is Pornography and what isn’t, ? Do the Racy Bikini, Lingerie pics of American Supermodel Elle Johnson on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook count as being considered Porn ?
        Is Porn really harmful to people, ? Or at least to some people, what about Masturbation ?

      • Carla on

        The over and over even slight desensitization if even watching open itself lessens your respect and power dynamic. If something is an object it’s going to have less value than the real thing chips away slowly your ability to even respect. She deserved it. She wore low fit drew. Etc. so although intrinsically you don’t think it affects YOU all porn has a hierarchical dynamic that says I have power over you. You are an object. You mean nothing to me all baseline qualities of violence whether you reach that point or not. Just my opinion.

    18. Peter on

      I think that watching murders and people being killed in movies and TV is much, much more damaging than watching people having sex. And yet killing is shown constantly to the public.

      I don’t know what percentage of men watch or have watch porn repeatedly but I do know that porn has existed for thousands of years in many cultures. What has changed is that technology has made porn more powerful than in the past and more easily available.

      Clearly, some men may become obsessed by porn to the point that it damaging to them and their marriage but I suspect that they are just a very small percentage of the men who view porn. Most men realize that porn is fantasyland, an escape from the routine. Maybe if there were cheap whorehouses on very corner demand for porn would disappear?

      Reply
    19. Michael on

      The comment thread for this post is very interesting. I am surprised at the number of people who argued against certain points that were made in the post. It honestly felt like folks here were actually defending porn use as harmless, although I’m sure that isn’t true…

      I found myself wondering, ‘why are some of these folks here?’

      The article seems not to capture the exact experience of every male porn user, and that seems to be the legitimate observation of some folks here. The article does offer some thought-provoking general ideas about why porn use is damaging for many males… I’m definitely one of the males who has suffered lots of damage over the years, and I hope all of us remain committed to avoiding the further damage that porn use may cause. (I know it’s a late reply!)

      Reply
    20. Brian R Wiley on

      Right now porn is destroying me,it has for many of years,I need to overcome this, and have a fsr more brighter future for myself.

      Reply
    21. Arthur on

      Pffft. Ok Christians…. You hypocrites best clean up your peadophile problem before you cast your stones upon pornography!

      And let’s not forget your Bible condones slavery and your own god engaged in genocide MULTIPLE TIMES According to your Bible!

      Christianity is the LAST place I would look for moral guidence!

      Reply
    22. Robert Berger on

      No disrespect meant to Christians ( I’m a non-observant, secular, agnostic Jew ) , but Christianity and other religions have done infinitely more to warp people’s mind than pornography over the ages .
      Pornography has never made anyone execute gay people or want to , or to execute “infidels “. Here’s a disturbing fact : Muslim countries, where distribution or possession of something as tame as a copy of Playboy magazine can land you in jail to be whipped, tortured and brutally executed , Pakistan for example, have some of the world’s highest rates of rape .
      Christianity has taught so many people to be terrified of feeling sexual desire over the centuries and even to believe that something as normal and healthy as masturbation will somehow cause God to send them to hell for eternity and to become ridiculously prudish and puritanical and to feel an extremely unhealthy guilt for normal feelings of sexual desire .
      Countless people ,men and women ,have used pornography for over 2,000 years all over the world and it has never done them any harm . In this respect it’s rather like alcohol , harmful only when used in excess .

      Reply

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