The impact of porn on the mind

A graphic showing the title: The real dangers of porn on the mind CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

In 2017, Janet Zacharias presented a study to the House of Commons that outlined the health effects and negative social impact pornography has on young people.

The study touched on how various themed porn can influence minors in accepting and normalizing abnormal sexual acts. In this case, Zacharias argued that ‘hardcore porn’ exalts and encourages ravenous and aggressive acts to be practiced with a potential partner. The study relayed that down the road, porn addiction can lead to sexual compulsive behavior and other disorders.

While porn can have detrimental effects on sexual bahaviour, Dr. William A. Fisher, a professor at the Western University, in both the Department of Psychology and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology said that addiction is not one of them. His research has covered a wide spectrum of topics based on health and behaviours, including the impact of pornography.

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Fisher said that very little research has been done to see the effects of pornography on mental health, but has looked at the relationship it has with sexual behaviour and couple relationships.

“There is no diagnosis for an addiction. The American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version tried, considered and rejected the idea of point addiction. There certainly are people who have compulsive and intrusive use of pornography, but it’s not considered an addiction. There’s no particularly clear answer to this.

In his own study, Fisher discovered that there was a connection with couples that showed porn, when used by both partners, had a positive effect on the relationship.

“We’ve done a considerable amount of research on the impact of pornography on relationships,” he said. “Generally, what we find is that the neutral use of pornography, either of partners using it alone or both partners together, tends to be associated with positive effects on relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. I want to very much caution that this relationship is all correlational, we know there is an association between mutual use or mutual solitary use and positive relationship characteristics.”

But with some couples it did have some negative effects in terms of both partners’ sexual satisfaction, where porn acted as a supplement to appease the sexually dissatisfied partner.

“There is an association between hidden use where one partner uses it and the other partner doesn’t use it, and negative relationship satisfaction, but it doesn’t mean that it’s causal. It may simply be that, ‘Gee, I’m not satisfied with my relationship, but I can get some of the sexual satisfaction that I‘m missing by looking at pornography.’ So, it may be that relationship dissatisfaction causes pornography use rather than the reverse,” Fisher said.

Fisher also said that viewing pornography has the same brain pattern as any other casual rewarding experience, as it pertains to a release of dopamine in the brain.

“In relation to any kind of reward, the brain produces dopamine and the impact of pornography and brain chemistry is very similar to the impact of eating that of a bar of chocolate or seeing a picture of a loved one. So, there’s no particularly unique impact of learning about exposure to pornography. It seems to be, in many cases, a rewarding experience that produces brain consequences similar to other rewards.”

Pornography tends to have a lot of pros and cons with its effects on people’s minds and relationships. Its use can vary from people using it to satisfy their sexual needs or even to enhance and further their sexual knowledge. But it doesn’t negate the harm it does by glorifying things, like sexual violence, especially to a young demographic that has such easy access to it.