Porn and Depression? Who Knew?

*EDIT: I’ve since come to question the evidence I’ve put forth in condemnation of internet porn, since the data isn’t quite as clear as I thought. The post will remain for reference, though it no longer reflects my actual opinion at this time.

I actually consider myself a pretty open-minded guy — accepting of many things both sexual and non-sexual that seem to be at odds with much of conservative American culture. That being said, I have a hard time considering contemporary internet pornography to be one of those things. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your — *ahem* — habits, the evidence appears to be mounting and the verdict is not looking good, for the porn industry at least.

In an era where depression, sexual dysfunction, and pornography use are on the rise among Americans, one can’t help but look at the theories of various researchers and try to find a connection — something that might give us an answer and a cure for many of these people who are suffering across the country. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation of course; and no doubt depression and sexual disfunction were in existence well before the advent of free internet boning. In fact, I do want to clarify that I in no way believe that all depression or sexual dysfunction results from pornography. It’s virtually certain at this point that a variety of other causes, both physiological and psychological, can contribute to these problems and should therefore always be considered in a diagnosis. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a compelling reason to consider that many sufferers might actually be inducing these illnesses unintentionally by simply indulging in too much online novelty sex.

The way it works is really quite simple. Whenever an individual sees something arousing, the brain responds by producing a chemical called dopamine, which is part of the reward system and serves to tell that individual that such an object is worth pursuing. The more arousing the object, the more dopamine is produced, leading to an even greater rush. This is normal and is a necessary part of life. Without it we would have no motivation and therefore accomplish nothing and eventually die out. In fact, it’s believed that people with certain types of ADD and sluggish cognitive tempo suffer from a dopamine deficiency, which prevents them from pursuing goals and actualizing their potential. If you didn’t have it, you would never fall in love and never enjoy very much of life at all, and our existence would be boring at best.

As we all know, however, even the most exciting things and events in our lives often lose their appeal. Even one’s spouse eventually becomes a taken-for-granted part of life who no longer provides the same high that he or she did in the early days. In a way, this too is good since the brain doesn’t want to spend every waking moment being intensely thrilled to the point of exhaustion. Such is essentially what happens to many addicts and it’s precisely what happens to internet pornography users. The first look at a particular video with a particular actress stimulates the brain just as any new suitor to our liking would; but after a while (usually a very short while), that actress and video becomes less arousing, which means that in order to get the same rush as before, one needs to look at a new video with a new actress to get the dopamine surge. The real problem arises when such a vast number of women are placed before one at the click of a mouse, so that an individual can keep the dopamine surging without giving the brain any time to readjust. This means that the neural receptors become desensitized and therefore need the stimulation of (an often new) pornographic video to get the rush they desire (to my knowledge a phenomenon actually not far off from that seen in compulsive gamblers, especially internet gamblers). In reality, only the most Cassanova-like men can have so many lovers, and even then, they probably wouldn’t be able to have more than a few new girls a week. At least in this scenario the brain has more time to readjust and therefore avoids being so desensitized to its own chemicals. With internet porn, however, the brain doesn’t know the difference, and, as far as its concerned, each new actress is a new potential partner, and it consequently reacts accordingly by firing out that dopamine in hopes that you can maximize your reproductive potential and keep your genes alive. And when men satisfy themselves with one or more new “mates” per day, their brain goes into overload and stops reacting normally in general.

So how does this look for these men? They become sluggish and depressed since they’ve been so overstimulated that their dopamine receptors sort of go numb and fail to process as they should in the real world; and because their partners have become old-hat they find it difficult to get an erection and consequently turn to more porn for the much-needed jolt. Occasionally even the acts portrayed in the videos become boring, leading men to search for something more and more explicit so that not only new partners are needed, but any realistic sex act becomes almost blasé and unappealing.

While this theory could be wrong, I have to admit that the logic is hard to deny.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s