Month: January 2017
Your Kid’s Brain and Porn
Every parent should read this, and every person who knows others with children should read this and pass it on. I struggled with pornography addiction for 18 years, and it all started… …when I was a kid. Read on, this article has some good info and resources:
This Is Your Kid’s Brain on Porn
January 24, 2017
When my son was little, we liked to go see a family variety show that performed around town. One afternoon, I sat at my computer to check the performance schedule. I Googled “The Buddy Club,” and, a moment later, was up to my eyeballs in hairy, erect penises. I fumbled to close the browser while checking over my shoulder to see if my three-year-old had witnessed the display. (He hadn’t.)
That incident came to mind years later, during a parent meeting of my son’s Jewish youth group, when a youth mentor warned us of the easy availability and extremity of online porn. One of the moms there recounted a disturbing anecdote: Her 13-year-old had seen an online porn video and later tearfully confided to his mom, “I can’t get it out of my head. I wish I could go back to the time when I’d never seen that.”
So began my quest to learn everything a mother never wanted to know about pornography: What is typically portrayed? How does watching porn affect adolescent boys? Is it addictive? Can I keep my son away from it?
If your idea of porn is naked women in lewd poses or close-ups of people vigorously copulating, you’ll have to put aside such quaint notions. Today’s porn is hard-core, hard, hard, hard. The industry’s diabolically effective marketing strategy involves baiting and hooking young viewers by feeding them a series of increasingly dehumanizing content, ratcheting up the shock quotient to forestall boredom.
By “dehumanizing,” I mean that the vast majority of heterosexual porn portrays women being violently brutalized and humiliated by one or more men in one or more orifices. Women are gagged, choked, struck, and verbally abused. They have cum squirted in their faces and large objects (made of flesh or other materials) shoved into their orifices. Close-up shots are careful to show the woman’s swollen, torn, and inflamed body parts.
In other words, when boys watch porn, they’re seeing women being sexually assaulted and tortured. Even relatively tame porn videos typically portray sex without intimacy, with a focus on ejaculation, speed, and unusually large breasts, buttocks, and penises. No wonder my son’s youth group friend was traumatized.
Most boys see porn for the first time at the age of 11 and, by the time they’re 18, many are consuming porn on a regular basis. Some of those young men become addicted to porn, though no one seems to know how many.
Girls watch porn, too. The recent spike in the incidence of teen girls waxing their pubic hair, undergoing breast augmentation, and mutilating their genitals with “labiaplasty” surgery has been blamed on porn.
Sociology professor Gail Dines, author of “Pornland”, calls pornography “the public health crisis of the digital age.” Her rhetoric isn’t overblown. According to Huffington Post, porn sites get more traffic than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined. A staggering one-third of all internet downloads are pornographic.
Research into the psycho-social effects and addictive qualities of porn is just beginning to catch up with the magnitude of the crisis. A slew of studies link porn consumption with infidelity, job loss, and erectile dysfunction. Young men profiled in Time’s recent cover story on porn describe their experience in similar terms – they got hooked young, and their compulsive use of porn led to sexual dysfunction, shame, and, later, withdrawal symptoms such as depression, headaches, and insomnia.
According to Gary Lynch, a neurobiological psychiatrist at the University of California at Irvine, the viewing of a single pornographic image can immediately alter brain structure. Many researchers corroborate Lynch, among them University of Texas neurosurgeon Don Hilton, who testified at a congressional briefing on pornography in January 2015.
Hilton characterizes pornography as a readily available drug that produces an addictive neurochemical trap and notes that brain imaging of porn addicts shows shrinkage in the brain’s reward and control centers akin to that of drug addicts.
Cambridge University addiction expert Valerie Voon puts it more succinctly: “Letting our children consume [porn] freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house.”
There are, to be sure, a handful of researchers who posit the innocuousness of porn, but they’re up against a growing consensus that porn is harmful and addictive.
Certified sex therapist Wendy Maltz has treated dozens of compulsive porn users at her practice in Eugene, Oregon, including growing numbers of young men who started using porn as teens but didn’t acknowledge they had a problem until they began suffering erectile dysfunction or depression in their 20s. Her porn clients are ashamed of themselves, often self-isolate, and experience poor self-esteem, insomnia, and anxiety.
Maltz, co-author of “The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography,” says that porn was the first sexual experience of many of her clients. Instead of stealing kisses under the bleachers, these young men are masturbating in front of screens. “Porn railroads their sexuality,” she says. “They don’t realize they’re forfeiting control to this industry and giving up something very precious – love-based intimacy and erotic imagination.”
A little-noticed Salon essay by novelist Mark Slouka echoes Maltz’s lament. Slouka contrasts the experience of cyberporn with the experience of lovemaking. He likens online porn to a “million-room whorehouse” that offers a 24/7 smorgasbord of pre-packaged sexual fantasies that colonize the mind. In Slouka’s experience, the price porn users pay is the loss of imagination, accountability, and agency. They become an “army of unmanned drones, piloting our libido through the ether.”
Maltz’s clinical experience bears out what Slouka intuited and researchers have found – that porn serves up a powerful cocktail of feel-good neurotransmitters and adrenaline and that this blend of novelty, stimulation, and pleasure amps up what’s already a powerful, feel-good, biological response to an irresistible intensity.
Kids whose brains are wired for novelty, excitement, and risk, are particularly susceptible.
To make matters worse, free porn is never more than a few mouse clicks or cell phone swipes away. Some kids seek out porn, others come across it accidentally while Googling seemingly innocent terms such as “panda movies,” “bravo teens,” and, my personal favorite, “whitehouse.com.”
Age-appropriate curiosity can land a young child searching for words like “boobs” or “butt” on some highly inappropriate sites. A colleague of Maltz’s once treated an eight-year-old boy who got shocked, then hooked, when his search for butt images delivered images of double penetration anal sex.
Maltz reminds parents that all kids are naturally curious about sex and counsels them to make sure their kids get authentic sexual education before porn becomes their teacher. Some of Maltz’s clients don’t even know they can have an orgasm without porn while others demand that their first sexual partners act out scenes they saw in a video.
If your child does get exposed, Maltz advises staying calm and not lashing out or blaming your child. Educate yourself about why porn is harmful and share this information with your child. Validate your child’s curiosity, engage in honest, non-judgmental communication, and, if needed, seek professional help.
Parental filters on devices can help protect younger children, but most seem to figure out how to disable the filter. Eventually, they’ll see porn, whether on their own device or a friend’s. Dines’ organization offers additional resources for concerned parents.
During the time it took you to read this article, eight million people viewed porn. Was your child one of them?
Prevent Recovery Burnout
This is a great article I read on the Covenant Eyes blog. A good reminder, and good encouragement. Enjoy:
Porn Addiction Recovery: 5 Ways to Avoid Burnout
Last week I was having an informal conversation with one of my accountability partners. Our chat flowed through normal catch-up material and soon the quintessential question arose: How are you doing with pornography?
Having anticipated this, I delivered a rehearsed answer, one that gave the truth but left out the true emotions that ran underneath the surface: I was getting tired of the fight. Truly, I was exhausted, and down to the core I knew that I needed to speak up. I started to say things like, “I am tired of this being so hard,” “Isn’t it supposed to get easier as time goes on,” and even “I don’t think it’s worth all these sacrifices anymore.”
As I heard myself speak, I started to understand that I had hit a point that many before me had warned me about: recovery burn-out. In my discussions with those who are battling addictions of many kinds, I have observed that almost all suffer with this in some context.
At the beginning of one’s recovery, the desire to make a change and be free from that addiction fuels them, driving them forward with a determination to gain back control of their life. Everything is hard, but they were warned of this, and they have the necessary support (therapists, accountability partners, friends, etc.) to wrestle through the withdrawal stage.
Now fast-forward to a few months or even years down the road. Are they still surrounded with support, or even seeking out help? Are they still as dedicated to their recovery as they were in the beginning? Honestly, it depends on the person, but too often I find that many (including myself) get tired of asking for help.
I hear in my own head too often, “You were supposed to be over this by now, so get a handle on it without bringing anyone else into this mess.” I know that I am not alone in these angst-filled contemplations, because many times the process of recovery is viewed as peak-and-dive, where the degree of difficulty peaks during the initial withdrawal and forming of healthy thought-patterns and habits, and then drastically declines with time. Instead, the recovery process looks a lot more jagged, with ups and downs in unpredictable configurations that cause frustration and feelings of hopelessness and defeat.
Why does this matter? Ultimately, it means that all of those in recovery and those helping need to have postures of grace that adequately take into account the long-term nature of recovering from pornography addiction. With any addiction, there should be the continual reminder that this most likely will be something that will be struggled with for years, if not for a lifetime. In my recovery, I have found some thought-patterns and practical ideas that have helped me survive the reality of this long-term journey of overcoming.
1. Be realistic about the long haul.
A porn addiction is just that: an addiction. It means that this process most likely will be a temptation and a battle for months, years, if not a lifetime. When we hold ourselves to standards or expectations that demand complete deliverance from our addictions, we set ourselves up for failure.
Recovery is a process, and included in that will be many seasons of hardships, others of great success. All of those seasons are a part of the the inclusive redemption of God’s story, no matter if this is something that we struggle with until our last day. We need to continually prepare our hearts for a battle that can be won, but a battle that will need new energy, motivation and strategy as time goes on and the circumstances of our lives change.
2. Find ways to channel that energy with a new hobby/idea.
Honestly, this has been one of the most helpful tips that I have found in my recovery process thus far. Find an interest, a hobby, a talent, and throw your energies into it.
The less time that we spend idle means that there is less time to fall into temptation. When I notice that I am having a harder week fighting temptation, I will work even harder to be intentional about what I do with my time. It makes an incredible difference in my life when I can be using so much of my frustration and angst into something productive, one that leads me away from pornography and promotes a healthy lifestyle at the same time.
3. Recognize that falling into sin may happen, but it does not discount the effort that has been taken in the recovery process thus far.
In my journey, It makes me so upset when I fall back into sin that I have already confessed and made the commitment to rid my life of. When I confessed my sin of watching pornography and found accountability, I finally felt like I could get rid my life of it. However, that process of healing did not happen in a continuous forward motion of resisting temptation. Too often, it meant that I would be resisting for a while and then eventually falling right back to where I was before I made that promise. Every time I found myself in a place of sin again, I felt more and more dejected and that the effort I had put in thus far was useless.
Yet, how beautiful is it that even when we make a commitment to resist sin and yet fall into it again, we have a God that welcomes us with open arms. His relentless love does not hold a limit of the amount of times we can fail before He begins to walk away.
In recovery, meditate on the truth that each day that is a victory! Each minute, hour, day, month is a testament to God’s strength that gives us determination. It is not about counting the number of days that we have resisted, but about the power of Jesus that weaves in our story, whether we have made it 1 day or 150, or made it a year and lost sight of the purpose for a day.
It is not a success countdown that allows us to go the distance, but a mentality and thought process that lives and breathes grace and victory.
4. Celebrate the little victories.
I already touched on this point a bit, but I want to emphasize just how important it is to this process. At the beginning, it seemed like I could not actually feel that I was winning the battle until I had reached a year without pornography. The problem was I did not make it that far. And during those times, I found no reason to celebrate that I had made it months without it.
It is critical that we learn to celebrate all the victories in this recovery, even the little ones. Did you resist going on the computer today because you were feeling tempted? Yeah, it might have been yesterday that you did not, but today you did! Were you able to make it a week without it? That is incredible! Find ways to be thankful in each and every step, however seemingly small.
God walks us through, and He gives us strength in the moment to overcome temptation. It has made my process full of much more joy when I am able to thank God for the minutes, hours, days, and months where He has walked in this with me.
5. Document the process.
It does not have to be anything fancy or creative. I have a friend who writes down on little pieces of paper the little victories or where she has seen God move in her battle against pornography. When she is feeling particularly disheartened, she reads a few of them to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in her journey.
Do whatever feels most comfortable for you and make sure you can come back to it in the future. What a blessing it is to be able to look at how God has provided for us before and be reminded that He can and will do that for us again.
Sometimes the relentless battle of fighting darkness seems too much to press on. Be encouraged that the power of Christ already has victory, and His strength will be sufficient for you. Whatever season you are in, however fall you have fallen or pushed through, God will provide for you. Find reason to celebrate in that!
How does your Wife feel about your porn use?
I am sharing this article I found by Shaunti Feldhahn on the X3church blog. I challenge every male (married or not) to read and seriously considers the author’s words:
3 Reasons Your Porn Use Makes Your Wife Feel Awful
Men, in more than a dozen years of research about how guys privately think about things like sex and porn use, I’ve seen a striking pattern. Although nearly all men are visually tempted today, and many hate and struggle against the temptation, most of those same men also think of it as a private thing that has nothing to do with their wives. They may feel awful about it, but they really don’t understand why their wives would. As one very representative guy told me, “Sometimes I deal with it great. Other times, not so much. But my wife knows I love her, right? She knows that if I look at porn it says nothing about my love for her.”
Guys, I’m here to tell you why you’re wrong. And please know I’m not trying to heap guilt or shame onto the heavy load you’re already carrying. Honestly, given my research with thousands of men for For Women Only and, more recently, Through a Man’s Eyes, I actually have immense compassion for your struggles in today’s culture.
But I’m here as a woman – and as a researcher – to help you understand the truth of what your wife has probably been telling you: that your porn use really does make her feel terrible.
Here are three of the reasons why:
1. To her, your porn use is, by definition, sexual involvement with someone other than her. Women generally aren’t as tempted toward self-stimulation as men are; and even where we are, it is usually around internal fantasies, not via external pictures of a completely different person. So when you’re looking at another woman and having a sexual experience at the same time, we view that as having a sexual experience with another woman. I know many men don’t view it that way. But we do. (And so does God, by the way. When Jesus calls it “committing adultery in your heart” he’s not just laying down a rule of some kind; he’s accurately describing what truly is going on in the hearts of men.)
2. For your wife, sexual attraction/involvement doesn’t happen without emotional connection and love. Our female brains are wired differently than yours. Although there are certainly exceptions, we women aren’t usually sexually tempted by a man unless we’re emotionally attracted to and connected with him. And of course if we’re married, we think there’s no way we would “let” ourselves become emotionally attracted to someone other than the man we love. Thus, if you’re sexually tempted by other women (even images of them), we instinctively feel you must also be “letting yourself” get emotionally attracted and connecting to these other women; you must have some love for them, somehow. And that makes what might otherwise be seen as a purely emotionless sexual, physical experience (see #1) seem like a painful betrayal. The wounded heart cries, But you promised to love me, and me alone!
3. Your wife already feels she cannot measure up to other women… and you just confirmed it. This, oddly enough, is probably the most gut-wrenching feeling underneath the other two. Everyone has different fears and insecurities, but we discovered in our study with women for For Men Only that one of the most common insecurities for us as women is the deep desire to know that we are beautiful to our men – as well as the deep doubt that we are.
You know all those images out there in the world that tempt you to look at them? The cover of the magazine, the girl in the short-shorts, the babe on the TV? Well, we see all those images too. And as they parade by, they tempt you … but they destroy us. They whisper, You’ll never be pretty/thin/tall/well-endowed enough to be attractive to anyone. You’ll never measure up to this. You’re not beautiful; you’re ugly. And once we get married, we think we’ve found someone who does find us beautiful…. But that underlying insecurity is still there. So we subconsciously wonder, “But am I attractive enough for him?” And if your head swivels sideways when the hot girl saunters by, or we discover you’ve been looking at porn, you’ve just confirmed our deepest fears. No. We’re not enough. We’re not beautiful enough for our husband. It can be devastating.
Now, let me reiterate:
I do not share those three things to make you feel terrible, or burden you with shame. I don’t even share those to give you more pressure than you may already feel. I trust that if you have read this far, that you deeply love your wife and truly want to be the man she needs. So I share this solely so you can know what is likely going on, deep down, inside the woman you love. She needs your reassurance and your protection.
We are strong, confident women on the outside. But on the inside, most of us are still like those young girls who secretly hope that our Prince Charming will show us, yet again, that he finds us beautiful.
Men, you’ve got a treasure in your hands: your wife’s vulnerable heart. Ask God for what I know you truly do want: the ability to hold and protect that treasure well.
article source: https://www.xxxchurch.com/men/3-reasons-porn-use-makes-wife-feel-awful.html?utm_term=twitter-followers&utm_content=bufferc435c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer