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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  1. To the author says:

    That was a nicely written article that simplified in a very understandable way the complicated series of changes in the brain as a result of porn addiction. Sometimes its hard to articulate the complex ramifications; let alone talk about it. But you did a great job in doing so.

    • wrestler says:

      This was the only article that I’ve found that has actually given me a clear cut answer on how pornography affects the brain. Great article!!!

  2. Wow says:

    subhan Allah, that was incredibly interesting. For a lay-person like me, this was very easy to understand medically and socially. Please continue to write things like this! jazak Allah khayr

  3. Pasha says:

    This is yet another incomplete article. The author mentions the addictive nature of pornography by likening it to cocaine use. And when one takes into consideration the technological age and high degree of availability of porn, we must realize that our environment is a lot like a crack house.

    We don’t need more evidence that porn is bad, just like we don’t nerd more evidence cocaine is bad. What we need is actual strategies for men to deal with this addiction. This article is void of any such suggestions, rendering it useless to the majority of men who watch porn.

    It would be foolish to ask a crack addict to just stop. It is equally foolish to ask porn watchers the same.

    • Haneen says:

      To the brother above,

      Advise is actually provided in this article, unless you have been blinded and unable to read the last paragraph.

      Perhaps, it may be because matters such as ‘self discipline’ and making the conscious decision to engage in other activities has become a strange, unleashed phenomenon in today’s time.

      I also feel, that men – or women – only watch porn if there is something missing in their life. They are either dissatisfied from their life, trying to find distractions or want to enter into a ‘fantasy’ of some sort and escape reality.. As the media, – porn industry in this case – depicts nothing more than a fantasy, that doesn’t exist in reality, and is void of what the real essence of sex is… An honorable, sacred union of two people.

      Moreover, you are right, we are in a time and place where our environment is very discouraging as it is taking us away from our Lord.. and very much for men. However, this is no excuse for you to stray. In fact, they should be an awakening call for you to educate yourself behind the hidden agenda of this ‘porn making industry’, mainstream, the media in general…. as if you were to understand it, and appreciate it, you would not allow it to meddle with you nor your values.

      And if you are educated enough to understand these factors, then you are in no position to be complaining nor making excuses, and your facing God on the day of judgment will be more rigorous than that who is not educated enough.

      May God give you the strength to attain the level of 3ubudiya in life, where your heart becomes enclosed with everything that is defined with GOD, and unleash the real essence and purpose of your existence – to build this world according to God’s wishes to attain the level of 3ubudiya. And for you to reach to a point where GOD becomes so enclosed in your heart that you begin to see how trivial these distractions are in life that are initially designed to take you from the real source of happiness, hope and peace – GOD. May your learn the purpose… the purpose that is between you and God, and between you and people in society. All the peace of mind inshAllah.

      • Pasha says:

        Jazaak Allah for all your advice, despite its irrelevance. I never made any of my comments personal to myself so am choosing not to address the vast majority of your reply. But thank you anyway.

    • Icthyo says:

      Advice is given in the article at the end. The person is just providing another perspective on the effect of pornography on the brain. This perspective is very invaluable as he correlates the effect of porn on the brain with the effect of cocaine on the brain.

      In the same way that with this understanding we try to treat cocaine addicts, he offers similar advice (not identical) on how to deal with this addiction.

      Yes, we know porn is bad but the article offers an avenue on how to deal with the issue.

      I don’t see how from reading the above article that one can say it is ‘useless to the majority of men who watch porn’.

      • Pasha says:

        When talking about the subject of porn, and coming at it from such a medical perspective, simple advice is not good enough.

        Do you see medical doctors studying the adverse effects of cocaine, or heroin, and then give “advice” to addicts? What would you tell a doctor who told a cocaine addict, that he should use.

        ” 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.”

        In essence if you read my initial comment correctly you will see that the above amounts to asking an addict to “simply stop”. Which in my opinion is a useless thing to say to any addict.

        Addictions are a serious illness and should be addressed accordingly. Not through pseudo-medical articles like these.

        • Icthyo says:

          “In essence if you read my initial comment correctly you will see that the above amounts to asking an addict to “simply stop”. Which in my opinion is a useless thing to say to any addict.”

          You’re assuming this article is meant only for addicts. Even when doctors and social workers treat cocaine addicts it still takes a great deal amount of willpower for the addict to recognize a problem and go through the whole treatment process. Some either don’t go through the process and then others do come off the cocaine. And of those who come off the dependence, some end up getting back hooked on the drug. The same goes for alcohol addiction.

          The person is not suggesting you can just come off it by using sheer will power to stop it but he is alerting anyone of some of the challenges they are bound to face and that we can’t just depend on someone else to fix us but it requires some amount of effort on our part as well.

          Actually, as mentioned below by Fulan there is a Br. Zeyad Ramadan who is a Muslim counselor who deals with/has programs dealing w/Muslims who have sex addictions, porn/masturbation addictions. He recently held a few seminars this month about these things.

        • Nadir says:

          As mentioned by Icthyo, there is an online program by Br. Zeyad Ramadan.

          Here’s the link

          The enrolment for the current program has already ended, but you can join their mailing list, to be notified of future programs. It’s not free but it does help alot. I’ve personally benefitted from it, and so has many others. The program will teach you practical steps inshAllah to cure the addiction.

      • The solution to stopping is simple, applying the solution is VERY difficult. Change the way you think and with help, you will eventually change the way you act. I do this in my office daily with porn addicts.

    • Ammatullah says:

      Completely agree

    • To Pasha says:

      Very well said, couldn’t agree more

    • Iman says:

      I can understand Pasha’s frustration. I think the article did a very good job at explaining the neuroscience behind a porn addiction. If that was the purpose of the article (which I believe it was), then the article met its objective. However, it would be great to have a follow-up article of a similar style where research-based treatments are presented to the readers in an easy-to-understand manner.

      Just to point out, that quitting cold-turkey is not for everyone. While it does work for some, others may struggle. Some researchers have suggested the 12 step programs similar to the one used for AA and other addictions could be of use here. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also helpful but may be an more expensive alternative.

      Pasha, according to your expertise, do you have any suggestions that you could share with the rest of the readers?

      • MA says:

        As someone with a medical background, I agree with Pasha. While the article was extremely well-written and informative, I think it’s important to give advice that is applicable to everyone. Sure, someone who casually views pornography may be able to break the habit by exercising more self-control. However, for the addict, it is precisely the belief that he should be able to stop if he really tries that reinforces the addiction. Every time that an addict has a failed attempt at “recovery”, he blames himself, which leads to further depression, repetition of the addictive behavior, and so on.

        So what’s an addict to do? In today’s world, there are a number of helpful resources that can and should be pursued by someone who thinks he may have a problem, including pharmacotherapy (anti-depressants, naltrexone), counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, couples’ counseling), and 12-step groups, just to name a few. Learning more about the addiction can also be immensely helpful.

        It is important to remember that addiction has a significant genetic component. I therefore think it’s inaccurate to state that all people who turn to pornography and make a habit out of viewing it have “something missing” in their lives, as was claimed by an earlier poster. There are plenty of young children who come across pornographic images inadvertently, especially so in today’s society, and if the genetic predisposition is present, that early exposure alone can trigger an eventual addiction.

        The issue of pornography and sex addiction is one that is becoming increasingly prevalent, and it’s important to avoid passing judgment when trying to reach out to our community. Shame is all too commonly the reason for not seeking help. As such, we should do more to provide our affected brothers and sisters with help instead of making them feel like horrible failures, and discouraging them from taking the necessary steps to regain control over their lives.

    • Ummm says:

      Women watch porn too.
      If I was a man, I’d be upset at the fact that the article keeps mentioning how men are often addicted to porn as if women never deal with pornography or unsatisfying partners whether they’ve watched porn or not. It also, should have mentioned that a lot of Muslims probably develop porn addictions because they’re forced into un-natural separation from the opposite sex and are never taught how to cope with their sexual desires aside from “Don’t do this it is haram.” Meanwhile everyone is having a good time with themselves behind closed doors and no one wants to acknowledge it, totally unhealthy.

      When will sexism in the Muslim community die?

    • Brother Pasha I think the author focused his article on describing the process since not many believe that this can be an addiction. Perhaps it’s a good idea to figure out how to contact him, and request him now to talk about strategies to overcome.

    • Malik says:

      Pasha I see what you are saying but alhumdulilla this article really showed to me how pornography can be detrimental to a persons life. I used to be addicted to pornography. I used to watch it on a daily basis. Personaly, I found my own way to stop because I believed going through a program of some sort would not be able to help me. I tried so many times to stop and one day I told myself, “If I really want to stop than I will stop.” Although it sounds very simple there were a few other things i went through that pushed me to stop. I believed pornography was bad yet i continued to watch it. I told myself if my younger brothers started watching it I would not be able to truthfully tell them to stop because i would be doing it at the same time causing me to be a hypocrite.

    • gem says:

      This is not a self-help article. It is information about the brain on porn. If someone needs to stop, they need to get help in the form of treatment.

      • gem says:

        I should add that any therapist who is equipped to help with addictions or obsessive-compulsive behaviors could be helpful to an individual struggling to end a pornography habit.

    • Mohamed Qayum says:

      Brother Pasha,
      The answer to you queston is in the quran.For Muslims, based on an understanding of Qur’an and hadith, sexual relations are confined to marriage between a wife and husband. Within this context, the role of a healthy sexual relationship is extremely important.
      Beyond childbearing, sexual relations assume a prominent role in the overall well-being of the marriage. In reading hadith, one is impressed with the Prophet’s ability to discuss all issues including those dealing with human sexuality. The topics range from questions about menstruation to orgasm. He apparently was not embarrassed by such inquiries, but strove to adequately guide and inform the Muslims who asked. Both Qur’an and hadith allude to the nature of sexual relations as a means of attaining mutual satisfaction, closeness and compassion between a wife and husband. “Permitted to you on the night of the Fasts is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and you are their garments.”(2:187) Also, Muslims are advised to avoid sexual intercourse during menses so as not to cause discomfort to the woman (2:222).
      The goal of marriage is to create tenderness between two individuals and satisfy the very basic human need for companionship. “And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; in this are signs for those who think.”(30:21) The hadith which address this issue are numerous. The Prophet himself, while not divulging all aspects of his own sexual life, was known for his nature as a loving husband who was sensitive and physically demonstrative. In several hadith, he speaks about the importance of foreplay and speaking in loving terms during sexual relations. Again, the concept of mutual satisfaction is elucidated in a hadith which advises husbands to engage in acts that enable a woman to achieve orgasm first. (see Ihya ulum-id-din (Revival of Religious Learning) by Imam Ghazzali, chapter on Marriage). Sexual dissatisfaction is considered legitimate grounds for divorce on the part of either wife or husband.
      Sex Outside of Marriage
      Naturally, attraction between individuals is necessary to initiate a relationship that leads to marriage. But sexual relations can obviously take place between any couple, consenting or not. Because of the far-reaching ramifications of sexual relations outside of marriage, Muslims are prohibited by God from such behavior. And because the process that leads to physical attraction and ultimately intimacy is part of human nature, Muslims are advised to behave in a way and avoid circumstances that could potentially result in extra- or pre-marital sex. Modesty in dress and behavior between women and men figures prominently as a means of exhibiting self-control. Similarly, unmarried couples are admonished against spending time alone in isolated places where they would be more likely to act on their feelings and thus be less inhibited.
      Some of the negative results of sex outside of marriage include the potential for unwanted pregnancies, transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, disruption of the family and marriage (in cases of adultery), and emotional and psychological difficulties resulting from the lack of commitment associated with most relationships outside of marriage. As in other religions, extra- and pre-marital sex are considered major sins. Muslims believe that God does not simply forbid or allow behavior whimsically, but does so with our best interest at heart, guiding us away from potentially destructive behavior and towards behavior that allows us to achieve our most fulfilling potentials as human beings. For a similar reason, Muslims give up the consumption of alcohol because of faith in God’s wisdom that the negative effects outweigh the positive for individuals and society at large. “Whoever submits his whole self to God, and is a doer of good, has grasped indeed the most trustworthy handhold…”{(31:22)

  4. Dub says:

    Interesting read. Perhaps some research is needed on the increasing number of women watching this material. How does it affect them?

    • lady s says:

      yeah…I wonder actually how this is going to affect me … :)lol

    • Women says:

      This article does affect me. I’m never going to marry a guy who have watched porn lololol. The chance of finding one who have not is yes, slim, but I’m sure he’s somewhere out there. A proper Muslim. Hmm.

    • tenille fatimah says:

      this article affects all who read it, i think. it gives the reader insight not just on the damages of pornography to healthy relationships but also to the psyche. i actually ran across this article while researching chemical releases in the brain as related to listening to music, but think tht some of the info contained in this article can be applied to that and other aspects of our lives. how many times have we just sat down in silence without the radio or some other background noise, for example? why is constant stimulation (in a figurative and literal sense) necessary?

  5. Fulan says:

    Jazakallah, for the wonderful article! I, myself am a porn addict and trying desperately to rid myself of it. Alhamdulillah, I’m getting closer to victory every year.

    Just wanted to let my fellow brothers and sisters know about a Br. Zeyad Ramadan who is a Muslim counselor who deals with/has programs dealing w/Muslims who have sex addictions, porn/masturbation addictions. His website is . It requires payment, but Alhamdulillah, his efforts, by the will and help of Allah (swt) have helped many Muslims on the path to recovery. I don’t think he has any programs currently, but you can still check out his site. Just wanted to put this out in case it may help some of my brothers and sisters here.


  6. Abu Eisaa says:


    Maybe you should try reading the Very Last Paragraph,

    The article is not primarly about Solutions, although it does give you a few at the end.

    The main focus of this article is to tell you, “How watching porongraphy effects your brain”

    It is always advisable to read and re read what the actual article is about before commenting as to not look foolish.

    Very good article keep them coming!

  7. Dahlia M. says:

    well this article only shows a biased one person opinion. Have you ever considered the fact that couples tend to use pornographic material to spice their sex lives up?
    No control tests mentioned, no solutions, including points Pasha mentioned. Very incomplete article. I give 2 out of 10.

    • Mozistani says:

      Huh? Pornographic material is haram.. you CANNOT use something intrinsically haram to spice up your sex life.. period.

      That’s like saying I like to spike my Kool-Aid with Vodka to spice it up..

      Seriously? And no solutions mentioned?? HOW ABOUT CLOSE YOUR EYES. Wow, this issue is so real people don’t even know it.

      • Anonymous says:

        I totally agree with you… The only fact is that its haraam, and displeases Allah… No excuse, in ANY matter related to it! That’s it!!

        The only thing that should control our acts is Allah’s pleasure and displeasure… Not what WE deem pleasurable…

        Allah created us, and only HE knows exactly how we work. We can’t argue with the Creator over how we work. PERIOD!!

        This just proves how we get carried away by the illusions Shaytan creates. We don’t realize how much we making him happy when we stoop as low as animals.

        Animals who are always being slaves of their desires, and satisfying them lavishly in a seemingly “Intoxicated” manner… That’s what we are doing, and that’s what we should pray to Allah to help us STOP doing… InshsA…

        • IndirectServantOfGod says:

          Indeed, I believe the problem with this addiction is purely the lust for pleasure. The solution is extremely simple – just know that we are eternally a servant of god, thus our eternal duty is to please him and instead of letting pleasure control us, we should act on duty instead. In all my years of experience, I find that this is by far the best mindset for everyone in any field – whether an addict or not.

  8. Mikayil says:

    Excellent article!!! Very well articulated and informative. Gives the power of knowledge and forewarning to those who took the time to read this, before falling into the pits of a very common contemporary issue affecting men of our generation and the next. two thumbs up! thanks for the knowledge.

  9. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for shedding light on this very sensitiove yet vital issue!

  10. Robin Mahmud says:

    Great article. That is why there are many more young people (males)going to doctors for problems such as Erectyle Dysfunction and other sexual problems. The doctors just go straight to the medication, but the real problem is brain. The solution is to stop, and let the brain heal and return back to normal.

    These videos talks about what Mohamed Ghilan mentions in his article, and breaks it down ,

    And here is Zeyad Ramadan’s website,

  11. Robin Mahmud says:

    @Dahlia: also the reason there are no controlled tests and peer-reviewed scientific research is because internet pornography is a new phenomenon. No one has done large scale research on it. For people that make drugs such as Viagra and pills for ED, its more profit for them when even younger people need it for their issues. Many people miss the root problem are the changes that take place in the brain from* addiction.

    However, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence, and males have cured their sexual problems by eliminating pornography and excessive masturbation.

  12. 5446 says:

    As a person in the medical field, I really love how you addressed the medical aspect of this disease. It makes it seem much more real when you can see not just the emotional and spiritual effects, but even detrimental physiological effects on a person. Also, as a brother in the process of kicking this disease, it’s really refreshing to see that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. Most articles merely tell you to be strong and fight through it, and they always seem like preaching and never seem like actual cures, whereas this article shows that maintaining strong willpower is actually a viable cure.

    Jazak Allahu Khayr brother, I would love to see more medical based religious articles in the future :)

  13. Umi Alief says:

    Life is a choice, God gives us a clear sense to sort out which one is best for us, especially in the visual language of pornography, which is seen in the eyes clear intention to give the impact of the imprint in our brains .. the problem is not just something on the watch, the people finally triggered to practice it .. the dangers when practiced in violation of the prohibition of religion .. Why Pornography (porn action further up) is strictly prohibited, because it triggers a variety of criminal acts .. because keeping religion forbids us from destruction …

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great article, I agree with the article that staying away from it helps to change the brain and the need for that stimulus of porn. Also, Pasha guy is addicted to porn and very upset that he cannot stop his addiction to this sin. It destroys and weakens the mind, however, again, if u stay away from it then change in the brain can happen. Pasha is addicted but is afraid to let it go. He has no hope in creating something more real. That is a tragedy.

    Here r some ways to let go and protect oneself from porn

    1. Give up your lap top for a month- Yes, give it to your friend or keep it at a place where u have to drive to and use in front of others like a freinds house. This is annoying but it has to be done to create the distance from that desire.

    2nd. Cut your internet service from your house for two three months or until u get married. Trust me it will make u calm and more relaxed and less frustrated. But at first you will experience withdrawal.

    3rd. CUT YOUR INTERNET !!!!!!! TRUST ME.

    4th. Read Quran till you get tired, A scholar once said that reading in Arabic will get you tired cuz it takes a lot of energy to read and then do something else to keep busy.

    5th. Fast, eat less, start eating Halal Zabiha and stop the non zabiha meat. The meat you eat outside of zabiha effects your soul and body.

    6th. Excersize but not at 24 fitness, at home or at the track. Cuz if u go to 24 hour or an public gym, you might as well shoot yourself from the fitna of women their. lol


    8. Lastly, For dealing with withdrawal of no internet, take the lesser of the 2 evils, masturbation but not like crazy. Only once a week. Sorry, this is sick but it is better than porn.

    9th. Remember You are disrespecting God and your Parents when you watch porn in your parents house.

    10th. Make dua that Allah grant you decency and Haya shame so you may stop.

  15. scientist says:

    How is watching sexual acts in pornography different from watching your wife lying naked in the bedroom seducing you?

    Does not that imprint images in the brain? Does not that induce dopamine release? How is that dopamine, which is released when a man watches his wife naked, or when a wife watches his husband naked, different from that which is released while watching a porno?

    And how can you call such sexual acts “detestable?” Does not Islam allow men to enjoy their wives in whatever way? Does not Allah swt say they are tilth onto you?

    • Abdul says:

      Perhaps this article will clarify the difference between normal stimuli and addiction: “Why Do I Find Porn More Exciting Than A Partner?”

    • larrymike says:

      @ scientist
      One wife, 10 billion vidoes.

      Internet porn differs in many ways. The primary is novelty. Dopamine rises with each novel porn star, genre, and scene. One women cannot match how Internet porn is used: multiple tabs & windows, clicking between tabs, fast-forwarding to just the right parts, searching and seeking the hottest thing to get you off.

      You could see more hot “partners” in on session than our anscestors saw in several lifetimes. It cannot compare static, once a month Playboy, or an occasional rental to the rapid fire, high speed, HD, anything goes natore of Internet porn.

      The ability to escalate to whatever is surprising or is shocking also activates the dopamine system.

      In addition, in trains you to be a voyeur rather than a participant. To need full body, multiple tab visuals, rather than a face, or nothing but touch.

      Real vs artificial.

      I suggest your read – Porn Then and Now: Welcome to Brain Training

  16. Anonymous says:

    11th. Imagine when you were once in love with a chick long ago and you had natural feelings for her. Now look at yourself after porn, u lost that natural fitra feeling and only want a chick for sex. You will never be satisfied and she will stop loving you.

    12th. People will naturally notice from your character that you have issues of sexual tension and may even consider you a sexual threat even though u may not notice it urself.

    13th. Imagine on the Day of Judgement when you are standing in the circle of those who created porn i.e. porn industry, cuz you took part in what they promote. So you are worshiping that.

    14th . Lower your gaze G Money, cuz your always thinking about …

    15th. Imagine life without Porn

    16th. POrn causes anger lack of focus etc.

    17th. Sleep less

    18th. God is right next to you and is watching you. IMAGINE THAT !! Would u want to watch nasty porn in front of someone you respect?

    20th . Make Ghusl

  17. Deen says:

    This article is about “how the viewer acquires new tastes in sexual practice.” It is true and a warning to those married or soon to married to stay away from this addiction. To conclude that increasing number of views of that type of material causes an extremely high threshold of dopamine release is not scientific. It could be possibility but you would have to prove the cause and effect. To many factors come to play when making that type of conclusion. I would say new sexual practices are performed but that is about it. May Allah (swt) protect us and give us ability to fulfill our desires lawfully with our spouses.

  18. Robin Mahmud says:

    @Scientist: Watch the link and it will make sense. Difference is that person that watches internet/video pornography most likely masturbates with it. With repeated use a person will not be aroused by real people, and needs that pornography/hand stimulation to get aroused. That is why marriage counselors talk about how pornography addictions from the guys end ruins marriages.

    Here is an article that talks about how Erectile Dysfunction is on the rise among young people, and in Malaysia as well,

    I read articles in the past of how ED is a rising problem in Middle Eastern countries and its no surprise after hearing a lot people say men watch a lot of pornography in those countries. It can’t just be a coincidence that this is becoming a problem for younger people, which in the past was unheard of.


    • scientist says:

      Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, not because of watching porno, but because of diseases such as diabetes, dyslipdemia, hypertension, vasculitis, etc.

      I still do not see how watching a porno and getting aroused is different from seeing one’s 4 wives seduce a guy.

      • larrymike says:

        Oh now it’s four wive.

        How about no wives and 500 uniue pictures or scenes in one porn session. Not one scene, but 12 tabs open. Not just watching, but clicking and searching. Not your tired old wives, but genres you never imagined.

        Novelty, novelty, novelty…..dopamine, dopamine dopamine……

        You should really read those articles to understand how the reward circuitry responds to sexual novelty. If people can get addicted to the novelty of Facebook, what about Internet porn?

        Another apsect you may not get is that guys are starting daily Internet porn use at age 11, long before they wire to real feamles, and when the brain is most vulnerable to plastic changes.
        See – Sexual brain training matters—especially during adolescence.

        Your comment about ED is silly. These are otherwise healthy young men, ages 16-35. They have been checked by urologists. It’s not anxiety as they no longer have erections to porn, let alone a female.

        These young men have nothing in common other than years of heavy porn use and increasing sexual dysfunction. When that one and only one variable was removed, they eventually regained erectile health. All experienced withdrawal symptoms when they stopped porn, and nearly all experienced similar time frame in healing.

        No other hypothesis is needed when changing a single variable (porn use) resulted in a change in condition (no more ED) for all subjects.

        A survey by the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS) confirmed porn-induced erectile dysfunction in young men. Italian urologists commissioned this survey when men in their early twenties arrived at urology clinics with unexplained ED. Upon questioning, doctors identified one common variable: heavy porn use starting in their teens. When that one variable was removed these young men slowly regained erectile function and libido.

        Italian men suffer ‘sexual anorexia’ after Internet porn use

        Scientists: Too Much Internet Porn May Cause Impotence

  19. N. says:

    Good article, thank you!

  20. Tarek says:

    Recommend to talk with close friend (can be ur father/brother) and ask for real continuous support. Participating reliable person in ur problem really differs and may open the mind to more valuable aspects..

  21. As’salamu Alykoum Everyone,

    Jazakum Allah khair for the encouraging remarks. I pray that this article will be a trigger for those afflicted with this problem to establish a strong intention to change.

    As for Pasha: thank you for your feedback. While I can appreciate your grievance with what I wrote, I do reject your judgement of it being “incomplete” and “useless”. The purpose of this article was simply to outline in accessible terms what takes place in the brain as one engages in pornography viewership. Furthermore, your equating pornography addiction to cocaine addiction is fallacious. Although the same system, for the most part, is being affected, they’re not acting in the same way. Cocaine is an external chemical substance that is being administered, which the brain becomes dependent on. Pornography is an activity that one engages in. Quitting cocaine requires a regimented program so as to not have adverse and life-threatening effects. Pornography on the other hand can in fact be stopped, cold-turkey, and the addict will not experience the DT’s. What I had mentioned at the end is in regards to brain activity-dependent circuitry. These types of neural connections will only be sustained with constant stimulation. If the stimulation stops they will eventually wither away, and if new activities are picked up the brain will speed this process in order to make new connections.

    @ Dhalia M.: The article was not about being biased or having subjective opinions. It wasn’t even to necessarily preach and condemn pornography per se. The point of it was to outline what happens in the brain as one watches pornography, and it’s based on a collection of findings in neuroscience. I took complex terms and tried to make it accessible for the general public. If you’re looking for controls, MRI images, behavioral tests, etc., you can consult scientific journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience, Neuron, Cognitive Neuroscience, PNAS, etc. and you’ll find all that you’re looking for.

    @scientist: Aside from what I’ve already mentioned about how pornography is different than reality with one’s wife, I just wanted to address your question about how certain acts are “detestable”. This wasn’t a baseless opinion of mine or some subjective comment added to the article. If you examine papers from science and psychology journals that deal with this subject, women have overwhelmingly rated many of the acts they’ve seen performed in pornographic videos as “demeaning”. While the Quran does say for husbands and wives to enjoy each other in any way they’d like, Allah also says that “We have ennobled the children of Adam”. Many women have reported engaging in acts as requested by their husbands that they wish they would stop doing, because they feel demoralized and humiliated while doing them.

    Again, jazakum Allah khair everyone for your feedback. I hope this article was of benefit and enlightenment.

    Mohamed Ghilan
    UVic Neuroscience

    • pasha says:

      Salaam and thank you for your intelligent response. It was refreshing given the previous comments.

      Firstly, I believe you proved my point.

      “The purpose of this article was simply to outline in accessible terms what takes place in the brain as one engages in pornography viewership.”

      When I said that the article was incomplete, it was exactly referring to this point. A more complete article, in my view, would address not just what takes place in the brain but also what can be done about it. Simply stating problems without providing remedies has no place in the medical profession.

      Secondly, likening cocaine addiction to pornographic addiction was your argument not mine. An addict is an addict is an addict. These were the words that were taught to us in med school. You are right in pointing out that cocaine is an external substance, but you are wrong in ignoring the similar emotional and physical responses it shares with porn. Though porn is not explicitly a substance, it is still an external stimulation.

      In treating addiction, physical harm from “cold turkeying” is taken into account. But so are retention rates. The retention rates from cold turkeying are so low, that it is essentially foolish. But you are right in stating there are far fewer dangers in treating cocaine addiction then pornographic addiction.

      As for your conclusion of neurological pathways withering away as a remedy, I couldn’t disagree enough. Pornographic addiction is classified as a behavioral addiction. These include addiction to: video games, gambling, shopping and even food. None of these addictions can be cured through cold turkeying, except in the rarest of cases.

      Case study after case study have been shown (and ones I am assuming you have read) how families have been destroyed by these addictions. Do you really believe that people who see their world falling apart around them are a simple step of “cold turkeying” as their solution.

      Furthermore, my expertize is not in the mechanics of the brain or the neurological processes that take place within them. But from speaking to my colleagues, the lack of peer review in your research leads me to doubt the soundness of your findings. Professionally speaking, this is shoddy work.

      Having said that, I do believe that pornographic addiction is a very serious phenomenon, and one that has particularly hit muslims and muslims countries in particular. But the solution requires a comprehensive approach from the scientific community and not various degrees of what can be only described as pop-science.

      There is enough bad literature out there, and ignorance is a big part of the problem. As a professional you should have recognized this and at least referenced some of the established approaches in treating this addiction. And since you have failed to do so, I am doing it for you.

      I hope you find my criticism more constructive than vindictive.

      • Mozistani says:

        Why are you so vehemently opposed to the author’s choice of thesis? He CHOSE NOT to include solutions to the problem because that was not the point of his article. He’s just showing the physiological/psychological mechanisms that result in viewing pornographic material.

        Perhaps another author will specifically choose a thesis to your liking and address the issue (of a solution) that you so desire.

        • anon says:

          He specifically said “I hope you find my criticism more constructive than vindictive.”
          He is not vehemently opposed to the author’s original intent in writing this. He offered constructive criticism in an attempt to move forward with a solution. ¬_¬

  22. Salam Pasha,

    It seems that you’re imposing your own criteria for what would constitute a complete article in your opinion. I’ve set my goal in this article to just outline changes, and that was it. There are plenty of experts in the addiction treatment field, and as some of the comments above have already pointed out there are reputable people that pornography addicts can get in touch with.

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen the tweet from the website about this article. It started with “Check yourself before your wreck yourself” followed by the link to the article. Showing how an addict becomes and addict and the changes that take place in their brain doesn’t mean that it’s an incomplete article because I haven’t offered solutions. Giving solutions was not my intention from the start. Consider the article more along the lines of an anatomy and physiology textbook.

    You’re seeking an article that talks about treatment strategies and possibly counselling approaches, which mine is most certainly not. I apologize if that has disappointed you.

    Regarding the referencing and breaking things down in a professional scientific way, I think you’re also on the wrong website for that. I’m sure you realize that if I were submitting an article to Neurobiology of Disease or Brain Research I would have a very different writing style. Moreover, citations would be overflowing throughout and a long list of references would follow. I hope you can appreciate that the layperson, a non-specialist, would find such writing style tedious, boring, too technical, and therefore wouldn’t bother reading the article at all.

    When I write I try to put myself in the non-specialist’s shoes. As you’ve mentioned, you’re a medical practitioner. It seems the problem is that you’re upset that I didn’t write it how you would like it for you. Please don’t take offence when I tell you that you were not the target audience here.

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here. But I think I’ll conclude by repeating what the goal of this article was and what I did not seek to do. I was attempting to make the brain physiology in the case of pornography addiction and acquired sexual tastes more accessible to they non-specialists. With that I hoped it would raise another alarm for those afflicted with this problem, as well as warn others, about what happens in the brain as a result of viewing pornography. It seems from the majority of comments that alhamdulillah I was successful in achieving my goal. My article was not about offering treatments, counseling, or possible ways out. I touched on that very briefly towards the end, but kept it about connections in the brain and what happens if they’re not utilized.

    Jazak Allah khair for your input Pasha. It was greatly appreciated.

    Mohamed Ghilan
    UVic Neuroscience

    • SohaibS says:

      Salaam brother, just wanted to say that I read the title of the article, then the article, and I felt that the article satisfied exactly what the title led me to expect, and I thank you for that. :)

  23. Anwar29 says:

    A must read for those interesting in delving deeper into this very serious problem:

  24. Shima says:


    I would like to point out that it seems some people didn’t catch on to that this article is written in *editorial* style. You did not walk into your university’s library proceeded to the 5th floor, passed the F-L section to stop and turn into the M-Q section and searched the 3rd shelf to pick up “Neuroscience: The Brain and Pornography” Vol. 31, Spring 2011 – the academically, peer-reviewed journal.

    It’s rather clear the intention of this article was to explain, in “everyday language” an “everyday issue”.

    You have every capacity to research experiments and methods for studies like this. But recognize that this is not the place to present it – an editorial style platform.

    Remember, you’re not on

  25. Abu Yousef says:

    For everyone:

    The article was written to highlight a problem many people (including Muslims) face and it also gives a solution. Rather than discussing whether or not it has sufficient information, we can add on extra thoughts here in the comments. We are not here to criticize, but to learn. Please just share your thoughts with additional advice you may have and use it to better your eeman. Jazakallah khayr.

  26. Another Guy says:

    ASalam all,

    Great article brother Mohamed Ghilan. It was very interesting. Not knowing ANYTHING about the brain, I was able to follow the article with very little problem. I hope you can enlighten us on other topics as well.

    Brother Pasha I think if you have other information that you feel is pertinent then perhaps you should also write an article on this topic.

    I have to object though to the negative vibe of the comments. If you need more references or are interested in a deeper conversation on the topic, you can contact the author directly. Certainly a majority of us on this site will not be able to follow your discussion anyways.


  27. sisterdoctor says:

    While I am a physician, I prefer to hold this conversation on a layperson level. I admit I have not [yet] followed the links given in the comments. Perhaps someone else has the time or access to articles readers can access for more detailed and scientific information about my comment. Isn’t it true that viewing media (rapidly changing images, sounds, music, etc.) puts our brain into a very passive receptive learning mode that is quite different than the active, critical, filtering mode that occurs with reading or interacting with to a live teacher? Can this additional explanation not be extrapolated in some way to the question about why porn is not as stimulating as interacting with a live wife?

  28. Ukhuwah says:


    Jazakallahu khairan katheera to the author for the invaluable info! I’m sure the suggestions presented must have been taken as positive criticism for improvement ^^. None of us are perfect, no? Lets all take the best from the article and learn lessons from the suggestions provided to improve our own writing too. May Allah bless us all, guide us to His path and keep us united!

  29. Someone says:

    That’s it. I’m gonna give it a real honest try. No more pornography. NO MORE!!! Ok.. Actually.. I’ve tried to do this.. but what ends up happening is that there is always some questionable image,etc that I run across.. whether it’s in an advertisement, TV, YouTube.. that kind of rekindles those connections..and MAN…i’m back at square one.. alright here goes attempt #6426

  30. Haneen says:

    Dear someone, I am really happy with your positive attitude. And I pray to God to make it easy for you, just as long you have the intention, the willingness, the sincerity that it is for God, and you pray that He gives you the strength midst this corrupt time of temptation.. I believe it can happen.. God will give you that strength.. Just believe.

    Just for a few minutes, take a time out, and think of death, the grave, the day of judgement, when you stand before God, when you receive the book…. hell fire.. the mercy of God, his severe torment. The think of this worldly desire, And you take the initiative!

    But please, brother/sister, don’t take the easier option. You are in my prayers.

  31. Haneen says:

    Also, please note, the fact that you are saying that you have tried many times, and you still return to square one…. this means that there is an error… there’s something missing. So, in order for a different outcome this time, you need to take a different approach. The correct approach… This begins by acknowledging the error.

    Fee aman Allah.

  32. N. says:

    For all who have quit and failed…each failure can be viewed as a positive in that it is clear proof that it is an addiction. It can be motivation to redouble efforts. So many people deceive themselves that they can quit any time, that it is not really an addiction. When you have tried and failed, then you have gone up one level and you now know that it really is an addiction. It may feel like failure, but paradoxically it is actually the beginning of success.

    I’m speaking as someone who quit a long-standing, heavy smoking habit. I quit many times and it used to be discouraging. Once I quit for several years and it was inconceivable to me that I could ever go back, but got tempted back in at a moment of weakness. That happened another time too!

    What that taught me was that I would never be completely free from the addiction, even after I had quit for years I had to watch myself. But this actually gave me more strength to hate my addiction, and see it as separate from me, and it made me keep persisting on quitting. When I was smoking I would use that time to analyze what I disliked about it, I would try to disrupt all my habits around it, I would use brands I hated, I would smoke with the other hand or in uncomfortable positions. Whatever disrupted what was pleasurable about it.

    Then I would finally get a new momentum going. Every time I would quit smoking again I would be re-energized by how many failures were behind me, because I knew, statistically, I was that much closer to quitting for good.

    I finally have quit for over 10 years, alhamdulillah, but I am always on guard. For example, if I ever pass by people smoking I pass by holding my breath, if I catch myself holding a pretzel, pen or any other object like a cigarette, I immediately change my grip and switch hands or put the object down…

    It is not exactly the same as a porn addiction, but I hope this gives some encouragement. Never give up, separate who you are from what the addiction is, and never think you’ve got it completely beaten.

  33. annoymous says:

    agree with pasha. i also feel that the author is somehow bias ing. but nice try keep it up

  34. Amelia says:

    I want to thank brother Ghilan for such a great article.I lead Muslims halaqas and I shared this article with them. It was a good scientific evidence to why we should stay away from watching porn.
    Here’s some comments we had:
    “I watched porn and I knew it was haraam, but I was weak, and I thought I am not hurting anyone. Understanding its impact on my brain, makes me want to stay away from it completely, just as eating pork, smoking,etc”.
    “It strengthened my faith every time i discover a new thing about that everything that God forbids is for our own good”.
    I think this article made its point and reached the people who needs it, whether it is complete or not, Al-Kamal is for Allah only.
    Thank you very much and jazakallah khair

  35. Mohamed says:

    Porn is portraying devils in haram action. Watching is like receiving poisoned arrows that affect your heart. If it affects your soulheart then we can consider that it affects our thougts (brain, if u want). People think it looks nice – making things appear beautiful is a weappon of shaytan. Why stopping it if u feel good..The problem is only that the more u do watch the more u are not satisfied after watching such..In another words: Zina of the Eyes never leads to good outcome.


  36. ahmad says:

    I was addicted to porn for 18 yrs but alhamdulillah i havent been browsing, watching or see any for almost 5 yrs now. Its like addiction to music, sometimes you just turn on the radio because youre used to having it on. Its not about urge, i was like a programmed robot. The article is so true. As for the solution, i think it will be different for each person but start with a sincere niat that you want to do that for the sake of Allah. Please make dua for me to be firm.

  37. The Slave says:

    As-salamu Alaikum!

    The best way to break free from Porn Addiction or Any Other Addiction is by following the Candeo Program.

    Read more about it here:

  38. Someone says:

    Man… I read the article.. even though I didn’t fully understood it.. but I can tell you this.. I have been wathching porn for quite some time.. and I somehow developed a sexual excitement on certain porn actors on certian scenes…. sadly

    I am engaged now and will marry in 1 year, and the crazy thing about this is that I do not feel that sexually attracted to my future wife and have doubts wether I will be satisfied with her sexually and I dont look forward to the marriage with that an excitement… feels like nothing special

    All because of that freaking porno I have watched over the months :(……….. damit… it has ruined my brain and damaged me.. seriously…

    What should I do????

  39. Deak says:

    First, please please please please DON’T get married until you’ve overcome your porn problem! That’s what my ex-husband did to me, and it was like living in hell.

    Second, make plenty of dua! These types of things do take a whole lot of effort and hardwork to get rid of, but it CAN be done.

    Third, you can start by getting rid of any private access to a computer (meaning if you need to check your email, do it at the library if necessary, or on a public access computer in your house).

  40. Seirra says:


    Hope this helps…
    My addiction ended some what spontaneously…

    I got interested into karate…joined a dojo…
    and in the morning ran atleast 2-3 km for a week. I would be so tired and realized that I was channelling my extra energy that i wasted on porn into productive physical fitness.

    Now I read Quran on daily basis… wake up 5am in the morning…offer regular prayers….read the Quran with english translations… research on religion…and took up reading as a hobby.

    I still sometimes have the urge, but Allhamdulilah I can hold my nerves now…
    I wish this could be benificial and serve as encouragement.

    Seriously, If you saw me now and what I was before…

    I bcuz of porn was 45Kg about 18 months ago and failed 4 of my business papers(exams) bcuz of 0 concentration…Now I am 70Kg, my BMI is an amazing 22.4… I can jog for 4-5 km with out rest…my stamina is off the charts…

    Thank you Dear Allah! May you have mercy on those who are still afflicted by this disease.

  41. Krish says:

    Watching Porn not only damages the brain, but in my case also triggered Sleep Sex where a person engages in sex during the sleep. This is very dangerous and might lead to impotency.

  42. Anonymous says:

    All I can say, is thank you, and cuz these acts are what causes us to be cursed by Allah(swt) and the prophets, we should pray for each other to refrain from these acts, and hope to better ourselves so that we’re not guilty on the Day of Judgement InshA… Thank you, and please remember in Duas (:

  43. Peruvian says:

    Very good article

  44. Alan says:

    well, the article is well-based and simple at some extent but I think its not sufficient because it will hardly avoid an addicted person from watching pornography. If you want to help someone or avoid someone from watching such things, you need to mention more adequate evidences. thus the sameness, moreover, between cocaine and pornography will be accepted.

  45. Ken says:

    Thank you brother for writing this article.
    It has helped me in many ways..

  46. sami says:

    Dear Sir, Please can you put some sources and proof for your article.

  47. bubba says:

    Nice article mate. It takes a lot of willpower to beat this porn addiction. But eventually one can overpower this addiction with his willpower. The porn industry is the work of the evil, they should be destroyed but since it is almost impossible all we can do is stop it from infecting our brain.

    I am somewhat of a good person so this was how I fought this addiction. Since I am an honest man I can’t think of cheating my wife (when I will marry), only one woman for me who will always be beautiful in my eyes.

    Also try falling in love with a real girl. Or imagine you falling in love or maybe even remember the time when you were in love with some one. Everyone has fallen in love at least once in their life try to remember that feeling, do not think how you didn’t get the girl or something :), just remember the time you were lovestruck those memories will help a porn addict extremely. Love and Lust are different. Know the difference

  48. ali says:

    i was free of addiction for 1 and hailf year suddenly i had to sit with couple of old friends that were into the habit and now again some how it got back to me and made my life a living hell..

  49. Joe M says:

    Porn is indeed bad. I’ve been through every kind of porn you can imagine for 15 years. It has been a struggle. Collect porn for years. Throw it away. Collect it again. Throw it away. You literally go years, absorbing it and not realizing what you are doing. It’s not until a moment of strength hits you and that may or may not take place.

    I have seen the way it affects a person on the inside, how it affects a marriage. And because one thing leads to another, porn is merely a doorway that leads you to a cancer that spreads more and more. It might begin with watching a naked woman. Then it goes to two women. Then to women with animals. Then to animals with children on webcam. Then to children altogether.

    There is no such thing as “healthy” porn. The only ones who take up for it are the ones who are whacking off to it and feel like they have nothing to lose. But porn does affect everyone. And it needs to be stomped into the ground. But I think the only way that will happen is to finally ban it. There are too many people for and against. It would require regulation to force people into compliance. And I’m all for it.

  50. Sam says:

    Thank u.will u plz tell me how to stop watching porn.

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