Is Porn Harmless? Part 1

By Anne Gagliano

Sex is a beautiful, bonding component of marriage. But, as with all good things in life, there typically will arise counterfeits–fake substitutes that seek to displace that which is good with that which is not. The truth with a lie. Hard core pornography comes in many forms, whether in print, digitally displayed, or live. Today, it is everywhere and easily obtained. Hard-core online pornography is a growing problem in the firehouse, one for which firefighters have been disciplined, terminated, even jailed. Firefighting is a high-stress profession and, because of this, firefighters tend to seek outlets. This is only natural and often necessary. But sometimes these outlets can form addictions such as alcohol, drug use, and pornography. This column is a controversial one as opinions differ widely but, as with anything I write, it is meant to help, even warn—not judge or condemn.

“More and more officers and firefighters are accessing pornographic Web sites while on duty. I can honestly say that a lot of people I’ve worked with had issues with alcohol, drug use, and sex addiction. There is no excuse for these behaviors, but the stress level is very high, and a lot of firefighters ease stress by acting out in a variety of ways …. Pornography is the number #1 vice that challenges our firefighters to remain morally sound and morally courageous while on duty. It has become so destructive that department management had to have legal departments write special orders, directives, and operational memorandums on the non-access or keeping of pornographic material in print or electronically.”—Stan Tarnowski, Fire Chief (Ret.)

And despite these preemptive and career-threatening measures, many firefighters are still willing to take the risks to access pornographic material while on duty. That is a clear indication of how strong the pull of pornography, in all its varied forms, can become for some. Evidence of addictiveness and a potential threat to your livelihood—this is not exactly “harmless.” But the biggest threat of all: Pornography can be a destructive force within marriage. And it’s difficult to avoid as it’s readily available, even within your own home.

       

Porn Is Everywhere and It’s Highly Addictive

Seventy-two million Americans have seen porn at least once in their lives, while 40 million visit porn Web sites every month. Nearly 100 percent of therapists report an alarming rise in treating porn addiction. We are now raising entire generations on porn with the current average age of exposure being just 11—imagine that, witnessing an explicit pornographic image before your first kiss! Pornography is readily available to anyone at any time—it’s quite tempting, especially for men; it is estimated that up to 85 percent of viewers are indeed men.

So, what’s the big deal–it’s just a little harmless fun, isn’t it? After all, a bit of porn can liven up the old marital sex life, right? Wrong! Hard-core pornography is anything but harmless, and it’s rarely just “occasional” because it is just as addictive as any drug. The chemicals that are released into the brain from drug use are identical to those released while viewing porn. Two authorities on the neurochemistry of addiction, Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwith, have this to say about pornography: “… it is the ability of this drug to influence all three pleasure systems in the brain—arousal, satiation, and fantasy—that makes it the ‘piece de resistance’ among the addictions.”  Another study asserts the same, that pornography is indeed addictive, saying this, “A sexual compulsion can cause physical, anatomic change in the brain, the hallmark of brain addiction. A preliminary study shows frontal dysfunction specifically in patients unable to control their sexual behavior … diffusion MRI demonstrated abnormality in the superior frontal region, an area associated with compulsivity.”

 

Reasons Porn Addiction Is the Most Harmful to Marriage

Pornography addiction is a drug so powerful it can destroy a family simply by distorting a man’s perception of his wife. Many believe it to be the most harmful addiction when it comes to marriage, and there are three primary reasons for this.

Porn creates a negative attitude toward intimate relationships. Countless studies and neurological imaging confirm this. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed it viewed the women in these images as an object instead of a person. (To be more precise, the area of the brain that recognizes images as objects was activated instead of the area that recognizes images as people.) Wives of porn addicts often seek therapy and they report this as their number one complaint; their husband no longer seemed “present” during sex. Intimacy had vanished. Wives often feel as if they’ve been “replaced” by not just one but hundreds of younger, more attractive women.

Porn movies are consistent in presenting women as either one of four things: mindless playmates, nymphomaniacs, heartless gold-diggers, or those who enjoy pain. These dehumanizing views of women are demeaning and present them as subordinates instead of sensitive, intelligent, loving persons with a soul. Wives report a noted change in their husband’s treatment of them as their addictions grow; affection, communication, and nonsexual touch vanish. Many studies have been done on what women need in marriage, and most indicate that affection is not just a need, but the number one need. Affection includes kind, gentle words; nonsexual touch (such as hugs and hand-holding); and focused attention. And since this is the number one need in marriage for most women, it is no wonder that the relationship suffers when these things are lost as the addiction grows. Pornography trades the truth of a loving, flesh and blood woman into the lie that she is an object that does not need affection. This is anything but harmless.

There are more reasons pornography is harmful to marriage, and I will discuss them in my next column.

 

References

  1. http://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-10/issue-10/command-and-leadership/50-dos-and-don-ts-part-1.html: 5 part series.
  2. https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/pornified.html.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050060.
  4. https://theillusionists.org/2009/02/princeton-objectification.
  5. http://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/12/17/the-impact-of-pornography-on-women.

 

Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 32 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.

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