Guest post by:
Dorothy Hayden, LCSW
New York Center for Sex Addiction Therapy
www.sextreatment.com

I’ve written a great deal about the “marvelous dopamine rush” of viewing porn addiction.  Of course, there are many other endorphins and neurotransmitters involved in the allure of what I’ve called “The Erotic Haze.”  It’s a rather complex interplay of brain chemicals that produces this highly addictive state.

The endpoint in knowing about the biochemistry of porn addiction is the awareness that, eventually ,the pre-frontal cortex of the brain gets damaged.  This is the part of us that manages “executive functioning”.  Your ability to see reality, make decisions, make changes that affect your destiny, organize yourself internally and externally, to focus, to concentrate.  In other words to have a sense of “agency” in your own life.  Becoming the captain of your own ship.  We all really crave that, don’t we?

Along with damage to “executive” functioning, the biochemistry of porn addiction alters our Minds.  The Mind, as opposed to the brain, holds our “higher selves”.  It is what contains higher consciousness which is able to distinguish right from wrong.

Addiction occurs when the physical brain has taken control of the Mind.  The Mind is our higher intelligence part gets frustrated about the loss of control over your behavior.  The physical brain has no concept of right or wrong.  It’s primary function to survive and it does this exclusively by driving you towards pleasure and away from pain.

The biochemical, physical brain has a huge ability to capture control of the mind, which is our higher essence.  It can subject it and hijack it.  Really, the physical brain, part of the limbic system which drives us toward pleasure, can influence the human will and influence how you think, feel and act.  Certainly, this is addiction,  Certainly, this is the shackling of the human spirit.

The physical, biochemical part of the brain demands and compels you towards a certain compulsive behavior regardless of what the Mind or conscience says. I believe there’s something inherent in our souls that feels it wrong to view the private sexual acts of others.  The sexual act is designed to be a private expression of care and connection.

In other words, the Mind, the electrical (according to Dr. Swartz) intelligent part of us simply doesn’t feel good about participating in internet porn.

In all my years of personally treating people entwined in sex and porn addiction, never has there been anyone who feels good after a porn binge.  NEVER!

Viewing internet pornography leaves in its wake feelings of frustration, shame, anxiety and depression.  These feelings are the direct result of the biochemical changes in your brain, specifically the sudden drop in dopamine levels, the occur with persistent involvement with porn.

In addiction to the chemical changes that influence our feelings and general state of well-being, in the deepest part of ourselves, the Mind, the conscience, the “witness”, or our Higher Power observes the loss of control of a destructive behavior and acts as the ultimate judge of lower selves.

I re-print an e-mail from a client:

I am sick to my core about my involvement in internet porn.  I am at the bottom of a hideous pit.  I’m in terror that there may be no hope of recovery for me.  I simply am compelled by an irresistible impulse to go into the “Erotic Haze”.  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I change?

Pornography eats away at your soul.  You know it does.

The client mentioned above did find sexual recovery.  Along with acquiring the skills he needed to resist the “irresistible impulse”, he is working on the internal issues that drove him to porn in the first place.

He is learning better coping skills to deal with his feelings so his has other options than going to the “Erotic Haze” for soothing and safety.  He is more reality-oriented and finds himself more able to receive healthy pleasure from his interpersonal interactions, from hobbies and recreations and to a renewed commitment to working toward his meaningful, realistic goals.  He feels great.

So can you.  Find recovery now.

 


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