Our behavior shapes our brain. What we do on the outside, changes how our brain works on the insisde.
Sexual activity releases certain chemicals in the brain called “neurotransmitters”. These chemicals are the way brains cells (neurons) pass infomation from one cell to the next along a brain-cell-chain called a neuropathway.
Neurotransmitters associated with sexual behavior get released when the behavior is associated with a real person as well as with fantasy-sex generated by pornography.
Dopamine in one of these brain cheimicals. It signals desire for pleasure. How much dopamine gets released is not fixed. It changes depending on how one’s behavior programs the brain.
An initial pleasure that begins with a certain intensity begins to wane with repeated exposure. As a certain unique experience becomes common, the brain becomes desensitized to its stimulating effects.
This effect was reported in relation to the use of pornography by a study published in 2014. (Kühn S, Gallinat J. Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014.) The reseraches proved that the more pornography a person watched, the less stimulating pornography became.
This desentization to stimulation explains why a person watches more and more pornography. A person watches more pornagraphy to the exclussion of others important parts of his or her life.
It also explains why a person seeks out more extreme representation of sexual activity. The brain is seeking a dopamine surge that becomes less powerful with each exposure to pornographic images.
Other brain chemistry comes into play as well. Oxytocin and vasopressin are neurotransmitters associated with memory. Because the behavior is pleasurable, it is memorable. These brain chemicals help me to know where to go back to get more.
As my brain adapts to my behavior assoicated with pornography, it reworks itself to the neglect of nature’s original mapping associated with sexual pleasure.
The natural sexual response draws me deeper into relationship with another human being. I experience greater richness, stimulation and reward as I share life with my partner as I return to him or her for pleasure, comfort, and validation.
When I rewire my brain to respond to a graphic image, I find myself alone and frustrated with a two dimensional object that can never satisfy.
Image by Jeff Kubina.