I’m not a scientist and explaining pornography addiction is sometimes an area I get tripped up. I don’t want to talk above people, but I don’t want to talk down to them. Even when I’m on a podcast where I can’t see the host’s face, I know it’s probably glazing over when I bring up “neuroplasticity” or “the release of oxytocin.” But, I firmly believe we must under the science before we understand anything else about pornography addiction.
Did You Really Watch the Above Video about Pornography Addiction?
If you didn’t watch the video, watch it. Seriously. Now. It’s only three minutes long, but it’s going to tell you more facts about how porn addiction works than you’d ever want to read from me. There have been over 9.5 million views since it was posted in February 2013, long before most people had even thought about pornography addiction. It’s probably the best video I’ve seen that covers the basics.
I talk a lot about the brain chemistry in general terms and this video starts out that way, which I think is great, because it’s something we all live with. Unless there’s a medical issue, we all have brains and they’re basically the same on a cellular and chemical level. And yes, just like so many other substances and behaviors, pornography is addictive. The basic proof is here in this video.
I appreciate how they explain the habitual, or addictive loop. I would stress though that the brain doesn’t just crave dopamine, or at least mine didn’t. Whether it was porn, or alcohol, my addictive mind thought I needed it to survive. I could go into mentally withdrawal without porn for a couple days. I needed it if I was going to survive. That dopamine (and technically 5 other chemicals) was as needed as oxygen in my mind.
You Don’t Have to Like Science, But You Should Respect It
I’m not going to get off on a political rant here, but anybody who has ever met me knows that while I’m no good at math and science, I respect them immensely. Math is the always and the provable. Science is the eternal search. There is always more to know or learn without bias or agenda in science. My favorite definition of science that I once heard on TV is “It’s the best set of provable facts we have right now. They may be totally different tomorrow, and that’s not only OK, that’s a good thing. It brings us more knowledge.”
Several years ago, I went on a tear of reading books about behavioral economics. Essentially, it’s the mathematics of how we act. When we understand the different ways that we think (basically fast and slow) and then can find trends across socioeconomic and/or political boundaries, we can better predict outcomes of human behavior. When it gets really interesting is when what appear to be outside data sets line up perfectly. If you’d like to see an example of this, consider the story of the drop off of violent crime in the 90s. You’ll either be convinced, or you’ll decide since you don’t like the correlation, it can’t possibly be true.
Why Are There Naysayers About Pornography Addiction?
There are some people who will never accept the science of addiction, and certainly not pornography addiction. I’m not going to rehash the arguments why it’s real. My life is the best argument. But I’ve come to recognize a few truths in life over my last decade among the humans and one of the biggies is that the people who protest the loudest often have the most to benefit or lose. My favorite example is still Larry Craig. He was a senator from Idaho who fought hard against gay rights. Then he was busted soliciting a male cop in an airport bathroom. When it came time to release a statement, the first four words were: “I am not gay.” Right, Larry.
When I’ve had time lately, I’ve been doing some research on incentive. In the battle against addiction, and even the battle against trauma, I think it plays a bigger role than most recognize. Actually, I think it plays a huge role in all the decisions we make in this world. They’re all based on incentive.
When you see people dismiss pornography addiction, ask yourself why. Are the secretly battling it? Do they want to avoid a conversation about pornography? Are they making money pushing the idea that it’s not addictive? I have no incentive to dismiss video game addiction, which is absolutely real based on the science. Why does someone have an incentive to dismiss pornography addiction?
If you still haven’t watched the video, watch it. Share it. The world needs to know the basics. And if you need some help getting your pornography addiction under control, drop me a line. I’m seeing great results with many of the people I’m working with as a coach.