How Watching Pornography Changes The Brain


By Mohamed Ghilan, UVic Neuroscience

It is now recognized in neuroscience that the brain is malleable. It changes with our experience and forms pathways and connections that correlate with what we watch, listen to, and learn. From the active engagement in a philosophical discussion in class to the learning of directions in the new city you moved into; even the seemingly passive sitting down to listen to music or watch television results in a constant formation of new connections in the brain that eventually make us who we are as individuals. A huge problem, albeit a silent one, that has reached epidemic proportions is the viewing of pornography, which affects men more so than it does women.

The great majority of articles on the problematic nature of this subject typically speak about it from a psychological and/or social perspective. This article, however, will shed light on the effects of viewing pornography from a neuroscience perspective.

The current model explaining how we learn and remember things at the brain level uses synaptic plasticity as the basis. Synaptic plasticity is the ability of the brain to change the strength in connections between the neurons (brain cells) in response to experience. This involves changing the amount and types of receptors expressed, as well as the amount of neurotransmitters (communication molecules) being released.

A vital neurotransmitter in the brain is dopamine. It has many important roles that it serves in functions such as voluntary movement, motivation, reward, punishment, and learning. Dopamine has been implicated in children with ADHD, cognitive decline due to aging, and depression. Most of the public’s knowledge about dopamine is about famous individuals with Parkinson’s disease such as Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox, who have dopamine dysfunction pathology.

A vital role for dopamine is in pleasure experience, reward, and learning. Drugs such as cocaine target the dopaminergic system to release great amounts of dopamine which results in experiencing a “high,” often leading to addiction. A number of studies have implicated dopamine in either the anticipation or the direct experience of pleasure. Depending on the brain area, dopamine can be released either prior to or during the moments of heightened pleasure. When released, dopamine strengthens and reinforces the new connections that are being made in the brain while an activity is undertaken.  This in turn acts to encourage the individual to repeat the activity again so they can feel that pleasure once more.

How is this relevant to pornography? As the images are displayed on the screen, an arousal takes place and the dopaminergic system is triggered just like it would be by drugs such as cocaine. The newly formed connections in the brain from watching pornographic images become greatly reinforced by the massive amounts of dopamine being released. Rather than going into short term memory, where these images can be forgotten after the screen is turned off, the dopamine reinforcement ensures they’re moved into the long-term memory stores where they can be stuck in replay mode in the person’s mind. The troublesome fact about this is that the more something is recalled, the more it solidifies it in the brain. Think back to your school days when you studied for an exam – you repeated the statements you needed to memorize over and over until they stuck.

Pornography is fantasy. Different scenes present with different women give the illusion of the watcher having a relationship with a new person every time. These “stars” subject themselves to different demeaning sexual practices by the men in the scenes. The acts in their totality are detestable to most mentally healthy people. However, the design of the act in a pornographic scene is to link one or two normally arousing and familiar elements with others that are not. This is how the viewer acquires new tastes in sexual practice. Electromagnetic waves are emitted from the screen with a fantasy that triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing dopamine. The result is a feeling of a real, yet delusional, state of pleasure and satisfaction. The dopamine reinforces the new connections with newly acquired sexual tastes, and the next thing taking place is the man asking his wife to engage in a sexual fantasy that was downloaded into his subconscious.

The sequence of events in the brain is quite disturbingly simple. Synaptic plasticity works to form new connections as a result of watching pornography, and newly learned memories are stored. Since the experience is an arousing one, dopamine release results in very strong reinforcement of those new connections. Now that the scenes are in long-term memory, two consequences take place: 1) since the very same system stimulated by cocaine is being triggered by pornography, addiction is developed; and 2) the man will often attempt to create his own re-enactments with his wife, which leads to a great disappointment. The re-enactments do not live up to expectations because instead of many different women, it’s now only one. Worse yet, this only one woman doesn’t sound, act, or look the same as the ones downloaded into his mind. Although the first couple of re-enactments might be exciting, soon reality will strike and dopamine will no longer be released because pleasure is no longer derived.

Sadly, that’s not the end of it. After such a disappointment in the actual experience due to the unrealistic fantasy-based expectations, the brain not only refrains from releasing dopamine; it actually dips below baseline levels. It goes into a depression response that results in disappointment, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness in the marriage since the wife is “not up to what he expected”. Despite the efforts by many women to “spice things up” and even subject themselves to the demeaning acts that have been artificially downloaded into their husbands’ brains, the pornography-addicted husbands will only enjoy themselves for a very short while before losing interest. Meanwhile, the wife feels unattractive and emotionally abandoned despite her best efforts, not knowing that she couldn’t compete with the dopamine buzz offered by pornography.

What’s alarming about this information is that the brain acts as a whole entity; its plasticity is global. Change in one area affects other regions. It is a literal rewiring of overall neural connections as a result of pornography viewing. The extent of influence on other parts of the brain and cognition is an area of research requiring attention.

While neuroscience paints a very disturbing picture for those affected by watching pornography, it’s not all bad news. Although the same system for cocaine addiction is targeted by it, the substance is not the same. A cocaine addict must go through a regimented program to detoxify his system or otherwise he’ll be placing his life at risk. On the other hand, many men that have learned about the real stark effects of watching pornography are able to quit immediately without experiencing negative physiological consequences. It does take a lot of willpower and requires the person to busy themselves with other activities. Initially, tormenting replays of pornographic scenes watched over the past months or years will test the person’s drive and strength to give it up. Luckily, the same brain that went through a rewiring due to viewing pornography can also be rewired again. It is an extremely efficient organ that gets rid of unused connections. The longer a person can go without restimulating his pornographic connections, the more likely he makes it for his brain to discard them. Engaging in new experiences and occupying the brain with other PG-rated matters will be bound to force it to prune others away. It just needs time to do its work and it needs to be given the choice; it will always choose what the person activates more often.

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170 Comments

  1. mike says:

    I would just like to say a little bit about this amazing discussion I stumbled upon. First a little about myself. Im 24 years old and I have to children with my girlfriend of seven years. For as long as I can remember I have felt as if everything in this world is unnatural . Im what i would consider un educated. I’ve always naturally opposed direction from the rest of the world. I have always and still live my life instinctively. breaking everything including my thoughts down as much as possible in order to try and understand better the things of this world.Now i am shocked to find such an article being discussed by Muslims. In my many dead end quests for any real knowledge in life i have come to a few conclusions. 1st there is definitely some form of higher power. sciences unsolved mysteries led me to that. 2nd is that all that is bad is man. everything else is a naturally occuring event that has a positive impact on something else. I’ve always respected the muslim religion because of its number of followers that pursue knowledge in sciences and history. I was wondering if someone could tell me why all religions that believe in a “creator” all base their lives around a book that even if it had originally been passed on directly from the”creator”, has been in the control of flawed mankind since? I truly mean no disrespect. I am only instinctively following my train of thought led by this very valid discussion. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I apologize for straying from the topic but i had a feeling that this could be a good opportunity to collect some thoughts and opinions on a question that troubled my mind repeatedly.

    • mike says:

      P.S .. I believe the article has very valid points. what we see and hear effects us directly. Also the comparison between sex addiction and drug addiction was a very spot on call. and truly in my opinion the advice to overcome both addictions mentally is logical . Your mind controls the body so control it. Its hard, yes. is that not the meaning of temptation? And as long as you continue fighting a battle not yet won is still a battle not yet lost. surely ppl that believe in a creator should have faith that they would not be put in a situation that can’t be won. trials and temptations force one to strengthen their beliefs and their physical being as well.

      • Talha says:

        Dear Mike

        Great to read your comments. Hopefully those with more knowledge will pick up on your question, but for now, here are my humble thoughts:

        It’s an interesting point that you make with regards to human imperfection. This world is finite and everyone will die – we all know that. The Muslim doctrine holds that this world is imperfect because it is not the destination we should be striving for; it is merely an intermediary to test us on where our ultimate destination will be in the next, eternal world. Understanding this is the basis of what I am about to discuss.

        In Islam, our belief is that the Quran has been and will continue to be preserved by God. It is unchanged and comes as His direct speech to us. The consequence of this is that we believe the faith is also perfectly designed to last till the end of time. How else would man be accountable if the message of the final prophet ﷺ has been corrupted?

        Now, to answer your question; why entrust this faith to man? Our belief is that the Qur’anic scripture is preserved by God designed to last till the end of time. Previous divine scriptures were revealed and lost when they were entrusted to man who changed it to suit their own worldly needs. The Qur’an and the core tenants of the Islamic faith will remain preserved and unchanged until the final days on earth. What has been entrusted to man is the implementation of this faith on this earth, largely as a test from our creator to see whether we acknowledge or reject His guidance. This is the basis by which we are judged – how well can we uphold the teachings of God upon this earth.

        This world is temporary and its imperfection enables us to realise its true purpose. All our joys and sorrows are given to us to humbly recognise it all comes by the grace of God and to realise that human beings are helpless without Him. The imperfection of this world is in fact its perfection because it precisely serves the purpose it was created for; to guide us to the best outcome in the next world and lead us back to our creator.

        I hope that helps answer your question and pray that you are guided to the truth wherever you find it to be.

        Talha

        • Salaam says:

          Mike…
          The reason we muslims have ‘stuck’ with the Qu’ran for 1400 years is because it has remained unchanged since the moment it was revealed. The Qu’ran itself is a miracle. When it was revealed, it was done so in such a way that it is memorable. Even in this day and age, kids aged 5 have memorised the whole Qu’ran, and this is down to the way God has revealed it. It is poetic and the greatest form of literature on earth (in the eyes of a muslim, and even in non muslims) and guides humans to how they should live.
          Do some more research on the Qu’ran and islam, you will be shocked.

        • Benjamin says:

          So if these scriptures are “Preserved” by god, how does man get access? The simple fact that we were born in an imperfect world AND us as regular humans following suit in out our imperfection still lying, stealing, killing and other detestable acts such as our predecessors, whom can really be trusted with access with this knowledge preserved by God? Fortunately as illustrated in this article people can change if you “renew your mind” or change the way you think and what you choose to participate in. No sleight to your religion, but whom has led by example showing that this can be done? I personally believe in Jesus being the son of God who lived this perfect life and died so that we did have to be stuck in out filth. Why would a god who cares about us withhold good knowledge from us? That rebuttals the characteristic of what GOD(singular) would do. What do you think -Ben

      • hello says:

        It’s just like a human to hold on to the simple yet so imperfect believe that this sweet passage of time we call life can be over in a blink and that’s that. So I tell you guys if you study your history as much as you both claimed you have, you will discover that if there is a creator then that is us “Man Kind”. so simple is the cruelty that we find in our thoughts when we think of the questions “Is there something else, is this it?” For we our in our ignorance and our never-ending pursue for immortality and control of it all we have a created that of what you speak “God, creator and almighty is our believe in one form or another it all points to the inevitable conclusion that every form of human being that ever existed in every culture has created their own believe systems which always include a higher power, for such power would shine light on all that we don’t understand. To this notion i called the lazy human syndrome = to human lack of creativity and conning ability to make themself believe that if we can’t do it there has to be someone else who could. so let’s just leave to it the “All mighty higher power” the solution to all of our natural and human created problems. God will take care of it all.

        With this I leave you to engage in the inevitable question. What would you do if today or any day comes a higher power and introduce himself/herself to you as your savior? Would you believe such being to be who it claims and if so why? After all it’s human nature to pretend to believe in something when no one can actually prove its existence. Once it can be proven we all doubt it to be real and that’s that. There is no higher power you know it, the pope knows it, the leaders of all religion know it and we all know it. But it’s just to hard for some of us to cope with the idea that there is no one to save us from ourselves and yet why, we have always manage to save our-self from everything nature has thrown at us and from everything we throw at our-self, if you want a savior just look into the mirror.

        • andy says:

          I grew up in a Christian family and as I left home I wrestled with all that you mention here. Is this just a game that we’re all playing? As a child I could feel truth from scripture…or so I thought…but I have to admit I never experienced God in any real way. However, just b/c you do not believe in God doesn’t mean that you cease to ask the big questions. Where did we come from? Is there a purpose? At some point in time every human simply has to ask…if you do not, you’re a simpleton. Its that question that led me back to God. Not b/c I wanted to feel something or wanted life after death. Not b/c I was scared or needed a higher purpose. God and creationism is the most logical and yes, even most scientifically explainable explanation of our existence that exists. Logically, scientifically, and emotionally, it fits. I would ask you what you believe as far as creation but I already know the answer…you don’t know. You don’t believe in anything. Nothing makes sense to you so you don’t choose a path. That’s fine…but I wouldn’t doubt the people who have asked the question and put in the effort to find out for themselves…just b/c you haven’t.

      • Andy says:

        While I’m not a Muslim, I will tell you my theory on the reason why we should focus on a book, whether it be the Quran, the Holy Bible, the Tanakh, the Vedas, or whatever book corresponds to your belief(s). If there is a supreme creator (which I’m, absolutely certain there is), then why would He let His instructions become defunct due to mankind’s immorality? Kinda self defeating, if you ask me. Therefore, God has to have a fail-safe in place His sayings and words. People have tried to change sacred texts before, look at Christianity for a moment and what Joseph Smith did to it with the Book of Mormon. It didn’t really take off, except in modern-day Utah. Another good example is the Buddhist denomination called Mahayana. They took the teachings of Siddharta Gautama (Buddha) and began to worship Buddha as a god, as opposed to what he really said.
        Here’s the point: Religious texts are going to be tampered with. It’s up to you and your spirit to discern which one calls to you. Just my two cents.
        I pray you find your way, Mike!
        By the way, that’s my son’s name. :)

    • Monika says:

      Dear Mike…You have raised some interesting insights that may never be fully understood. I am touched by your honesty. The capacity for what you call simplicity is a sign of a great mind. I have often contemplated the reason for flawed humans. It seems to me that any interest we have from a Divine Creator who resides far beyond our understanding mind, is quite miraculous. I have often read that this is the world where things get fixed. If God were revealed and we were perfect, then there would be no opportunity for change…and change is the very nature of life itself.

      • JD says:

        Dear Mike,

        I came on this website for the article about how porn can rewire your brain. As one who tries to follow the Christian faith, I logged on to get an understanding about why it’s been so difficult for me to break this habit that really goes against my faith. I came away witht he conviction that I it much more pernicious than I thought, but that it’s also beatable. So, I must dig in deeper. Even as I sit now and type this note, my thoughts floated momentarily to going on a porn site.

        In terms of your comment about your concern that some holy books which have been written by men but have been claimed to be God’s holy word without any human interpretation, I believe that all men can receive guidance from the Holy Spirit, whose only mission is to guide each one of us. Some people call it the rhema word or revelation knowledge.knowledge. I subscribe to the explanation below from the Holy Bible. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Timothy 1:20-21. Another application of the Holy Spirit is as guide or counselor. Some secular people call it intuition, or a gut feeling or a hunch. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 I’ll stop here and hope that this has been helpful to you.

        • JD says:

          To All,

          I realized later that this was a Muslim website and it was too late to remove my posting. I do not wish, nor meant, any disrespect by my posting. I am not proselytizing nor evangelizing. I just thought that Mike’s posting was referring to all holy books, and so I responded from my viewpoint.Peace to all.

        • diday_ says:

          Since my first job, i encountered some cases of porn addiction with some of the relative or friends of the special prople I handled. I have so much time talking through sessions.

    • jameel says:

      Brother, May Allah be with you. in respect to ur question. I appriacite it bcos it is reasonable. But reply is all divine books are revealed in order to guide human being for a successful and morally guided life in this world and also achieve eternal bliss in the next world. As u rightly said many so called divine books in the hands of men are alterred but except QURAN It is still guided by it sender but pla read it.

    • jr says:

      totaly agree

  2. James says:

    I have been in a relationship for a good period of time.
    Me and My Gf would have sex occasionally and everything was great.
    In between our relationship, i bought a laptop and then began watching porn.
    i became addicted to porn as i thought it was nothing serious.

    but after maybe 2 or 3 months when the porn watching began, i tried to have sex with my girlfriend and i could not keep an erection during intercourse.

    Just like this article stated, “the man will often attempt to create his own re-enactments with his wife, which leads to a great disappointment.”

    i built up this crazy standard of what sex should be like in my head and since my sex life was not as what i was watching, i could not function properly.

    This article is very much helpful(( i had no idea what was going on with me, i thought something was going terribly wrong with me, its good to know the science behind the situation)) and should be considered when tempted to watch pornography

    • Kartz says:

      My friend told me about this website I am stunned to relieze that it is everything I have been going through in my marriage. I wanted sex more than my husband. I would talk about it and this would make him angrier only putting the blame on me more, because my wanting more sex was causing the disinterest. We went to a marriage councilor where there proceeded to be something wrong with me, that I was searching for some emotional connection and focusing too much on sex. When we were intimate sometimes he was unable to complete. We even went as far as testing his testosterone. I continued to blame myself, feel unattractive. Which brings me to last week when I found a porn tape in his brief case, he lied and told me he was using it from a friend. That night was the worst most disconnected intercourse we have ever had. I openly asked him what was wrong. He again told me he was stressed about his new job. Which takes us to the following night when my whole like changed. The momment he told me he was not in love with me, that things where not fun anymore that I am not the same person I used to be. Prior to this we were talking about a dream house and where we wanted to live and how good this new job was for our family. Now I am sitting here wandering who this man is. I also found that the porn did not start 1-2 weeks ago it has be going on for months maybe even years

      • Gengad says:

        Dear Kartz,

        I’m sorry to hear this, but this way in Islam it says women should cover up and protect their private part except for your husband, In other way yes your husband was cheating on you by watching other women performing sex, this alone means he did have sex with other women indirectly and that’s why he demands a lot from you. I totally feel sick about his act and I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with you ate all, You are wonderful person don’t listen to what he says to you. I will recommend you to learn more about Islam.

    • diday_ says:

      James, your experience is normally being experienced also by other males. You would even think you regret having started watching with or without the consent of your partner. If she consented about it. You are not the only one having problem. Beside her unsatisfaction, she is being torn apart just holding on to his sincerity of love then in the long run you never know where the relationship will lead too. Although I know a couple who started solving the problem by first communicating with each other, nothing hidden and all with honesty. I have handled cases like yours as a moderator but still the best is the two of you talking about it.

  3. Abu Musa says:

    Pornography is fantasy. Different scenes present with different women give the illusion of the watcher having a relationship with a new person every time.

    Rather than going into short term memory, where these images can be forgotten after the screen is turned off, the dopamine reinforcement ensures they’re moved into the long-term memory stores where they can be stuck in replay mode in the person’s mind. The troublesome fact about this is that the more something is recalled, the more it solidifies it in the brain.

    On point, best article ever on this topic. And when the person does try to quit, just like a cocaine fiend or an addict of another substance the images and the scenes that were stored in the persons brain are suddenly replayed when they are craving their addiction and have stayed away for some time. Unbelievable..

    • diday_ says:

      You say its the dopamine. Probable. Some gets bored also and will look for more new that will result to perversion. Thats when the problem starts or ends.l Some because of guilt or other reasons will try to stop, to find out she has to open the favourite site, and every time you say “I will not do it again I promise.” Some say that their consolation is that the intervals became far apart longer. If its chemical, you have to consult a therapist or licensed psychiatrist.

  4. tenille fatimah says:

    asalaam alaikum..

    subhanAllah, this article was such an eye-opener for me in so many ways, mashaAllah! i think it should be said that the word “pornography” in this article can be substituted with a great many other attachments that we humans get hung up on (Facebook, eating, even music, for example).

    Alhamdlillah, it’s a blessing that our Lord’s Mercy overcomes His anger!

    may He help us to overcome our weaknesses and our attachments to other than Him, and give us the strength and determination to defeat out addictions. Ameen.

    • Hyde says:

      May God bless you sister, for including the “nonsentity” of facebook & these other so called technological in lieu of the addiction problem.

  5. Maher says:

    This is such a wonderful site indeed. It explains in great detail the process of how porn ensnares the viewer’s thoughts. Truly, one can escape the negative effects of porn if only we turn to Almighty God & choose a life of sobriety over such disruptive fantasies.

  6. Bam015 says:

    Great article! Although I am fairly in control, sometimes I do stumble down to addiction and watch porn… If I’m able to go without watching porn, how long do you think it would take before my brain is altered back to a blissful state where I do not lust for pornography? Thanks…

  7. barry says:

    I need to get rid of this bad habit.I tried many times and same things happened with me porns starts playing in flashbacks.pics.scenes al sorts of nude stuff in my brain and if i even succeed to stop for couple of days i get depressed frustrated angrily talk with people.really need some good advice .It affects me to focus on my studies.

    • AF says:

      Block all the sites and whenever you get the urge to watch it go for a walk, jog, work out, do something that would keep u busy from thinking about it. At first it’ll be hard but after awhile u’ll be able to come out of it. It worked for my boyfriend, it could work with you too. Give it a try cause these are really just fantasies,they act cos they get paid for it. But what do u get by watching it? Think about it… I hope u’ll be ale to get out of it and focus on ur studies. Good luck!

    • muslim says:

      dear barry !!!!

      u just try to control ur self just for 40 days things will be alright then this will need your strong will power that will surely help u to overcome this hazardous problem !!! keep ur mind set for things against this practice !!! whenever u feel need for doing this thing !!! get up and go outside or make ur self busier in other good things

  8. Jennifer says:

    My husband and I have been married for three years now, and the 2nd week into marriage I found where he had looked at porn on our computer. It is now 3 years later, and it’s still going on. He said that it is a sin just like me smoking or gambling. I said that no it is different. With smoking and gambling that is hurting myself, but with the porn, he is hurting me. My marriage is over because of porn. He truly makes me sick to my stomach. It ashame that morals are completely gone this day and time.

    • Ally says:

      Jennifer,
      I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I have been with my boyfriend for three years and he is also addicted to porn. It has completely ruined our relationship. I no longer have an self confidence or self esteem. He can’t have sex with me because he looses his erection. I know what you mean about being sick to your stomach because when I look at him now that is all that I feel.

    • Gengad says:

      Jennifer,

      I am sorry to hear this but I still think he will regret one day, again this is what is Islam teaches us moral. Media is the problem everything is available to any one, the society have lost respect for women. Too much watching TV can also cause problem into your marriage live. And this is what is available for our kids. One advice I will give please try it cover your head and go out for a day and see how peaceful you are, try the following day not wearing it add tight jeans which shows your flash, and see how many guys are staring at you.

      I a

  9. julie says:

    This article has been somewhat unsettling to me. There are some things that I am believing and other things that I am having a hard time agreeing with. For instance, I find it very interesting and very true that when the images are committed to long term memory it gives a fantasy of having a different woman/man(I would like to hear more about the effects on women) every time. I think that could cause some problems and I think it might have even caused some commitment problems with myself. What I am not agreeing with is how bias this article seems to me. Yes, pornography is fantasy acted out by sexually appealing porn stars, however; the things that they do should not be called unnatural. Regardless of whether or not one watches porn I would think that they would still have their own sexual fantasies locked up inside of their minds only because society says that expressing your sexuality is not okay. What may seem demeaning to one person may be completely satisfying to another “mentally healthy” person. I am offended by your use of that term to be honest. Who are you to say what is Mentally Healthy and what is not especially when it comes to someones very personal sexuality. That’s just my opinion though.
    Thank you for your time and insight.

    • Nic says:

      Most porn trains, for lack of a better word, men to believe that women enjoy being degraded. Porn users believe “normal/routine/everyday intercourse” with a wife should be like that seen in the porn. Men who watch porn on a regular basis begin to think it is normal. I think most people would agree that the acts seen in porn are unnatural. The women begging for more and faking orgasm as they are degraded by multiple men? When a man believes that the women in the movies are enjoying themselves and actually reaching orgasm he begins to believe that his partner should enjoy those things as well. He may think that she is lacking when she doesn’t act and react like the women in the movies. That is unnatural. Not the act in the movie, but the expectation that it is the norm. The expectation that every woman does or should do the things seen in porn, and like it. The expectation that every sexual encounter with ones wife needs to be “porn movie worthy” That is unnatural. Is it good to act out a fantasy? Sure, provided that it is done with a consenting partner. Mentally healthy people can tell the difference between a fantasy and real life. In real life you don’t get off every time. In real life sometimes you are tired. In real life you snore. In real life you get interrupted four times because the baby will not stay in bed. In real life women are on their cycle. In real life you don’t answer the door for the pizza man naked and have sex with him. In real life you don’t have sex with your boss at work with his secretary joining in. Come on…. Of course porn is unnatural. If your life is such that a porn seems natural, then quite honestly I feel sorry for you.

    • Friend says:

      There is a level of attraction and intimacy that two truly committed people who have never shared the sacred act with anyone else can find that is completely unavailable to those how have. And because they are careful about sharing that part of themselves publicly, it is not talked about. As one wise leader said of premarital sex, (and pornography is certain a form of that, at least virtually):

      “You may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved you have spent, and that only God’s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue you so casually gave away. On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best self—clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return.”

  10. AF says:

    I thank you for this article. It helped me in many ways. Should add to this that even though men are targeted in most of these articles as the ones who watch pornography, there are many women who silently do it as well, they are just not open about it. I believe pornography is an addiction and in order to come out of it religion does help a lot. Thank u once again.

  11. vn says:

    this is very tru,, thanx for the article

  12. John says:

    I’m a stdnt. Evnthoh i gt a lot of advices frm my parnts & othrs, i’m nt able 2 stp ths habit of wuchin porn. I cud cntrl it 4 a day or tu. Aftr tht i go crazy. Ps give any advice tht really helps!

  13. Doug says:

    Good article! But first I’d like to say, dont’t think it’s an mental illness. Watching porn is very much comparable to smoking, eating crap food, doing drugs or any other addiction offered by society. I’m 34, I have 2 kids and very attractive wife. I got this addiction for time to time over last 10 years. But recently, couple of years ago I had major changes in my life… which lead me to learning more about brain, our preconditions, prefrontal cortex. I found neuroscience fascinating and I’ve finally starting to figure out how we are driven and how our brains function. And then one day I just felt so sorry about what I did over the years. I took away something from my wife… that was the time I was suppose to fill her needs. Sex has been always to me like a primitive need I had to get rid of, like eating or taking crap. What happened was, I got rid of seducing part. All I waned was to get into her pants asap, without any effort. I love my wife but I never really thought about it too much. It was just a sex! She loves and understands me and never said anything about it but now I’m starting to understand what she went through. And I didn’t even saw it’s a problem! Actually I even felt it even helpful in bed, I just didn’t know the reasons back then.
    Like I said, porn is just another bad habit… which eventually might mess up any relationship. It’s like a quick shortcut, skipping erotic and sensual part… giving only the end result. Both sides actually need more than that and without it, it just makes porn addicts searching for new, different stuff to keep up the sexual excitement like any other addiction. That is also why porn is so overabundant in different “tastes”, totally created by audience. Porn producers are looking only for the statistics, pushing women further and further, way past their physical and mental limits. I also think, porn might be only solution for some and in that case I wish them good luck with it. I think it also might help to lower the prostitution little bit, which is way worse in every aspect. Personally I’m glad I got rid of that problem, had enough wasting my life on that. Thanks for the article, it makes sense to me! Wouldn’t call porn addicts mentally ill, though… what makes me understanding today might not be the case on many. Who am I telling them how to live their life. Nothing in this life is addictive, if you don’t want it to be addictive.

  14. Gary says:

    Insightful comments Doug. By reading this article I realise that I have a problem and that I should do something about it before I lose my girlfriend and loved ones. I also never thought watching Porn would do something to me, but when In got involved in a relationship my girlfriend highlighted this to me and made me realise that I have been de-sensitised to porn and that I cannot go a day without watching at least a bit of porn… This is not healthy! I don’t want to end up in a failed marriage where I have hurt my partner and hurt myself even more. I am going to stop, immediately. Wish me luck, and those of you who want, say a prayer for me!

  15. Amy says:

    Gary:

    Good luck. I applaud you for your decision, and I am praying for you to succeed in your efforts to stop this destructive and damaging habit. I can only wish my partner had the same motivation as you, but he does not see anything wrong with it.

    I just discovered the extent of his “porn addiction” recently, and am learning what I can about it. It has been absolutely traumatizing for me. Please get your girlfriend involved in your recovery, if you can, and trust her with your fears and your hopes. That is the stuff of which intimacy is made.

    Amy

    • Gary says:

      Thanks Amy. My girlfriend is involved and she was the one that brought the problem to my attention. I also didn’t think their was anything wrong with porn, but the problem comes that you get completely entranced by it, you get excited by the eroticism and it breeds in your mind long after you have watched it. If the fantasy becomes more exciting than the reality then it becomes a problem long term and will influence your relationship. I am probably lucky in that I have someone that understands my problem, but trust me it is not easy. Whenever she brought it up, I felt angry and went on the defensive, but I have realise that she only wants what is good for me and whether I stay with her long term or not, I have to sort this out for myself in order to live a happy life :)

      I am sorry to hear about your partner, I think this issue effects a lot more men in the world then people believe. My advise to you is to try and be understanding and forgiving to your partner. Try to make him understand what this does to you and how it effects him, try and say these things in as kind a way as possible. Try your best, but if he still doesn’t wan’t to understand or at least try, then you should move on…

      Best of luck, I will say a prayer for you too.

      • Umm Hamza says:

        Praying for you Gary, really. I’ve been on both sides of the problem. Stopping REALLY is better.

        • khan says:

          O I am sorry but what if the partner is being an addict to this porn evil since childhood, and for him it doesnt matter how much he is intentionally and unintentionally causing to the spouse!

  16. Azhan says:

    I love this article. Indeed, Allah has mentioned in al Quran in surah an Nuur(24):30 “Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.’ and it is all depends on our attitude. The will of change is on ourselves. In surah al Anfal:53 “For Allah will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in themselves: and verily Allah is He Who hears and knows (all things).” Truly, al Quran contains all the guidance to all of us. Subhanallah.

  17. ASBAB says:

    SUBAHANAALLAH !
    JAZAKUMULLAH !

    this should be brought to mainstream..imagine our kids going through this..May ALLAH SWT save us all..Ameen Ya Rabb !

    I mean..i have not come across this topic discuss on the television yet..this is sad..my first porn is way back 1981 huhuhu.

  18. MSK says:

    As we have identified the problem , we need to find how to cure this problem.

    I think following consideration should help both believers and non -believers in God to control their addiction.

    1. Lowering your gaze at opposite sexes.
    2. Avoid mingling with opposite sexes.
    3. Avoiding unnecessary chats with opposite sexes.
    4. Avoid going nights clubs where hitting on women is socially acceptable in western countries.

    Thanks for the wonderful article. It was like a direct revelation on me from GOD.

    Thanks

  19. Sai says:

    Exactly what’s been happening in my life.. Am an 18 year old studying A very tough course in commerce and all I could think off before exams was porn..
    I tried blocking porn fully
    But then it was as if all the porn in the world was in my mind..
    I didn’t need Internet porn anymore coz its all in my mind..
    Excellent article may god help me

  20. Harshit says:

    Wow man I respect you efforts in writing this.
    Great BIG HELP.

  21. Anon says:

    I have a friend who is trying to stop porn addiction. Although I was unaware, porn contributes to problems with sexual performance and is now considered to be a cause of ED in men in their twenties and thirties.
    My friend is now trying a few websites to block porn so that he cannot get around them. A few useful sites are coldturkey.com, using the timer as it cannot be undone, and selfcontrol is one for mac (has a few more challenges though) I am looking at some alternatives such as netnanny.com as well.
    Although the article does an excellent job of explaining the issue, how to resolve this type of addiction is left a little by the wayside. I hope someone can find use of these sites to help them “reboot” their brain. If anyone else has better suggestions on ways a single man can block this on his computer so that it cannot be undone, esp for a MAC, please respond. Thanks

    • Umm Hamza says:

      There is also something like DNS server block that you can put straight on your modem so that no matter what device uses that internet it will block porn sites.

  22. lisa says:

    thks for this article. am a young lady who is beginning to get addicted to porn. from this article i know the long time effects and how it all really works and since am reading biochemistry in school i can really understand what exactly goes on in our minds when we watch porn. am working hard on breaking this new found habit of mine and by GOD’s grace i know i can stop it.
    AMEN.

    • Umm Hamza says:

      Hi Lisa, I totally understand you (been there type of deal). All I can say is that it doesn’t get better, it does start feeling hallow and empty. And when we get a real guy… not nice at all..

  23. Nader says:

    As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

    I am so happy this subject has been discussed. One of the biggest reasons why this has literally grown into a worldwide epidemic is because it is never discussed seriously and it is played off as a phase in your life. That is not the reality. This is especially a huge problem for the Muslim community because these particular matters are never discussed and addressed openly or even privately, leaving individuals isolated like lost sheep from their herd, and you know who’s waiting for them like a ravage wolf–shaytan.

    I really appreciate the article but I think it leaves people with a very scary reality. For those addicted to pornography, I would not be surprised if this article really scared and you ended up watching pornography right afterwards.

    VERY IMPORTANT: If you are addicted to pornography, then you have to seek help. You cannot deal with this alone. There are millions of people in the same boat as you. They are stuck in the belly of the whale, lost and confused, in many layers of darkness. There are many resources available online alhamdulillah. The first one is the first Muslim-based program founded by Zeyad Ramadan called Purify Your Gaze, and the next website to visit is Fight the New Drug, which is a movement aimed to raise awareness on porn and help people recover.

    Please, from the bottom of my heart, I implore my beloved brothers and sisters who are suffering from this addiction to utilize these resources. Ask Allah (SWT) for guidance first and foremost and then step out of your comfort zone and check out these resources. The journey to recovery will not be easy but you will learn so many valuable gems about yourself, and inshaAllah, you will become the beautiful person you are meant to be.

    May Allah (SWT) guide all of us to what is best for us. Ameen.

  24. Anon says:

    This problem contributes to dysfunction in men, so its not unusual for men in their twenties and thirties to now have issues and to seek medical help, but not all of the medical community or urologists ask the right questions. For any man who has tried to quit porn and has not been able, it is an addiction.

  25. Moose says:

    This is an interesting topic. Well, actually I am one of porn’s victim. But luckily I never having a sex until now. What I feel of porn effect, as you said, decreasing brain performance. I was brilliant’s once, but now I feel like a pathetic pervert. Do you have any suggestion to recover and regain brain’s performance ? Or is there a therapy for it ? Or recommended food ? Please give your help. Thank you

  26. Anthony Utin says:

    Please which of the software can be used to block pornographic sites. Please inform me.

    Thank you.

  27. Benjamin says:

    no intentions on offending anyone, i now realize this is a Muslim website.

  28. mehmet says:

    Hello,
    It was quite beneficial text for whole humanity if we consider that the porn industry is even bigger than music’s. But for the Muslim young people, The order of living in this century is somehow really hard. According to Hadith of Prophet Mohammed as i know, getting married as soon as possible is good after we get enough aged. This period was age of 18 during my dad and maybe less on previous descents. But for us now studying university, finding job, making money to get married makes us 30 years old to get married so there is big vain for this generation on this subject. I think it’s one of the biggest problems of muslim youth now. Well order of this century neither complies with Muslim perception and order of sexlife nor with orderly biological healthy sexlife if we consider not getting married till 30. so what must be done about this big problem? what are your thoughts to make this problem clear for muslim community?

  29. arun says:

    Thank you soo much for the information…very useful article…

  30. mts says:

    A great article. I myself have consumed porn for years without even realizing the destructive effects it has over the short and long term, or realizing that I was addicted to it. The culture of the west in particular has such a casual attitude towards it it’s almost regarded as normal. Imagine having access to literally any type of sexual scene played out in virtually unlimited quantities at the click of a button. At no time in human history has this occurred. What a dreadful allure for millions even billions of men around the world, aided in many countries by the almost complete acceptance of it by the prevailing culture. Many poor men simply don’t stand a chance against it. And since it is still a relatively recent phenomenon the full impact on society has not yet been felt. Research has suggested that the average age that children start viewing porn is now 11 or 12 years

    I was at least fortunate enough to start much later than this since the internet was not available to me until I was older. What a blessing and curse the internet been. Pornography basically needs to be made illegal. But there is far to much money in it for that to happen in most countries. The UK are now considering automatically blocking porn at the ISP by default, unless specifically ask to unblock by individual users.

    • mts says:

      I would like to add of course some women suffer from this too, but I think most are in agreement that it affects men to a greater extent.

  31. khan says:

    Watching porn or being a part of it in any way is indeed the most traumatic reality. It not only leaves the watcher in heavy losses but also adds a great deal of misery and distraught in the lives of the people they are living with especially the wives of such men have to pay huge losses in terms of disgrace, distrust, distress and much more at every fraction of the second. But sadly they are left with no room to rebuilt themselves because their pornographic partner has nothing good in store for them. Such men most of the time treat their wives as if they were married only to get abused by their husband’s pornographic lust. My sympathies are with every such person who no matter belongs to any religion and are living a life more like hell because of their partner’s dirty choices as such people are not have not lost their sanity yet and still say a clear no to what their porn addicted partner claims and believes as naturally their due right.

    May ALLAH ALMIGHTY Guide all of us towards what is really pure, legal and upright in every walk of life. Amen

  32. Jamal says:

    A balanced and well-researched article.

    Thank you for this.

  33. mompati says:

    this touched me i think my fellow freinds have to see this so as we will build a new generation

  34. An Actual Scientist says:

    This entire article needs an entire giant [Needs citation] stamped over it. There are so many horribly inaccurate and uncited “facts” in this blog post, it is cringe-worthy to an actual scientist.

  35. Nolan says:

    he he he he i watch porn twice to seven times does that make me stupid

  36. Sam says:

    I have lot of things that I want to accomplish, which requires everyday effort. I can hardly try to work on them for 3-4 days and nothing but this thing comes to my mind and pushes me to turn it on. I think my mind is not as focused as it used to be. I am ruining myself, literally. But as this article suggests, if I can stay away from it for a period of time I can start to hate it again, I will work on it from now on. I see too many religious people commenting here, I ask all of you to pray for me.

  37. Sense says:

    Yes, all will pray for you, He hears the prayers of whoever prays in earnest, regardless of the faith they profess and claim to be the only real truth. We pray and He hears. Then the angels of the One Supreme Being can utilise the very prayers for you because they are real targeted prayers of vital force, and also because your desire to rise and be free is also very real.

    You fight a force, living and yet not living, which seeks to keep you in misery, it seeks to make you ashamed, it seeks moreso if possible to destroy you, to take you down lower and lower, like a gruesome vile degenerated gremlin filled with hatred and loathing, desiring only to bring others down because of its own depraved nature.

    So how will you shake this off, this creature which seeks to strangle you? You have accomplishments in mind, so seek higher things for those accomplishments, even more worthy aspirations, raising those meaningful achievements.

    This power has mesmerised you, it holds you for hours and it fools you to think that you were only going to think about it once for a short while, but you lost every time. And it left you worse off than before you started, worse even yet because it has beaten you again.

    So relax, think with your mind only and not with your eyes, the exact condition and time it starts.

    Then in your mind speed through the treacherous waste of good time to the end where you find yourself dejected, even frightened to have spent hours of precious time powerless to stop the final misery.

    Then do this practice again, and a third time, each time speeding up from beginning to end.

    Then the fourth time, remember where the episode starts and go straight to the end without passing through the middle – in your mind.

    Then the fifth time as soon as the feeling starts, stamp your foot down, you have had enough! Instead, do something constructive, something you can feel good about, something progressive.

    At set times and at random times, use this type of learning practice of the mind which informs you about the process which is used by the foul fiend to ruin your future.

    If you do this enough you will find that your will to shake off the monster is strong enough after all, and he will be gone. You can do it, you need to do it, you need to learn how you are used by malevolence to take you through the process of self-deprecation which leaves you loathing yourself. You have had enough of this behaviour, have you? Do you want to win sweet freedom enough?

    So once you have defeated the monster, be aware that after a time he will be waiting for you to lower your defences, and if you are not careful he will creep onto your back and entwine his tendrils into your soul again. But this time you know you can throw him away. In time he will know he is beaten, he cannot have your soul any more. With your desire for freedom, with God and with His angels, your strength is too powerful for any ghoul – the phantom shall have you no more!

    Be strong…

    • Sam says:

      I appreciate your effort of counselling me. I have read your comment today (6th January, 2014). But I was able to stay away from it for over a month now. May be because of you guy’s prayers. I think your steps of fighting the evil being could really help. I will keep them in mind for next attack. :)
      Please continue your prayers for me.

      • Umm Hamza says:

        Hey Sam we really are with you, praying and wanting your victory. There is a site that was mentioned, http://www.fightthenewdrug.org and they have an amzing (and totally clean) video, it’s good cause there are no porn triggers in it and it puts it in a new light, lots of young people, saying this is my body, I can do what I want to it and I’m not going to make it watch that.

  38. ahmed says:

    well iam glad that such aweb site belong to muslim and i think this article showing truth to people from all world the nature of pornography and addiction and great dicussion that i read from all persons here was so great.i think that this is the true jihad(struggling yourself to be better) leaving poronography and be better man ,engaging in activites benefit humanities.lastly thanks and allah make u better

  39. iwaswrong says:

    I m having a long distance relationship, So I used to share talks about porn,later on we found its an evil so we no more do that.

  40. Asoge says:

    I am a christian doing a research on the effects of porn I must admit that this is helpful. Thanks

  41. Chris says:

    Quoted from early in the article

    “Different scenes present with different women give the illusion of the watcher having a relationship with a new person every time. These “stars” subject themselves to different demeaning sexual practices by the men in the scenes. The acts in their totality are detestable to most mentally healthy people”

    First; fantasy does not necessarily mean “relationship”. Not in the sense I get from the author. Sexual relationship, yes, but not a human interaction of a love and life.

    Second; The acts assumed by the author are demeaning and detestable. To what acts may the author be referring? Pornography that depicts two people having intercourse seems pretty ‘normal’ to me. But that is probably not what Mohammed is referring to.

    His remarks seem to be religiously biased from early in the article and base the rest of the article on the two points listed above. I can see his point of view if I keep in mind that any sexual act portrayed in any medium represents a relationship and is a detestable act. If not, the entire article is biased and less than factual.

  42. Gabe says:

    Solid article! I’ve mostly managed to beat my porn addiction but I’ve developed a pretty low mood as a result. I think it’s from all the porn that I downloaded into my brain growing up. I should probably do more to fill up my senses with more positive experiences such as going to the beach, playing sports, etc. Or maybe I just need to get married! Does anyone else have this problem, where they’ve managed to quit but have a low mood as a result?

  43. Don says:

    This is terrible. You are saying the harm in pornography is in the creation of unrealistic expectations while introducing sexual variation with one’s wife. But variation is healthy. Unrealistic expectations are what is harmful, whether in the bedroom or out.

    It is true that some people have a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality. Such people lead unhappy lives of continual disappointment, whether from expecting their wife to be many women, or expecting a prophet or messiah to save them from themselves. The answer is to strive to mental health. Pornography by itself has no role in such self-improvement, and does no harm to those who are well-balanced.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Those who are addicted to porn, please read this
    If you can fight the evil who is within yourself,
    then you are the true hero.
    Things will be hard only for few days or a month
    then you are successful, I swear this
    Seek protection from that from your one & only God who is
    always with you.

  45. Dave says:

    I think this is an excellent and interesting article with the exception of the religious connotations. Neuroplasticity means that if we stop doing something negative then we can avoid negative issues

    • Andy says:

      Dave,
      I’m not asking this bc of what I believe. Your comment just brought up this question in my head. Aside from religious reasons (morality), why would watching porn be negative?

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