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Porn changes your brain, but you can change it back

Learn more about the science behind pornography addiction and how it is changing our culture and our youth.
Wed Jul 1, 2020 - 11:45 am EST
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June 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pornography has become an epidemic, ruining relationships, disfiguring intimacy, and destroying lives.  

In today’s episode of The Van Maren Show, Gabe Deem joins Jonathon to discuss the negative health impacts of pornography as well as his own journey of recovery from a pornography addiction.  

Gabe Deem is committed to helping others break free from their porn addiction through his ministry Reboot Nation which helps to educate individuals about the harmful effects of pornography and provides safe forums for people to connect and build each other up in their journeys.  

Deem begins by sharing his own story of addiction with Van Maren. He tells Van Maren about how he became addicted to pornography at a fairly young age and by his twenties was noticing the physical effects.

For a 20-year-old male, struggling with sexual function was a serious wake-up call. Deem began reading forums and learning he wasn’t alone. 

Watch the full interview: 

The percentage of young men aged 18 to 40 who struggled with erectile dysfunction in the early 2000s was around two to five percent. After the advent of video streaming and the explosion of easy access to porn in 2010, that number has skyrocketed to over 30 percent. 

He then began his recovery of unlearning all of the dopamine pathways his brain had built around pornography. 

Deem explains that pornography shares many similarities with other addictions in how they impact the brain. There are four physiological changes in the brain that happen with addictions. The first is sensitization, the link of a stimulus with a reward. The second is desensitization, the development of a tolerance for the original stimuli. The third is hypofrontality, when the prefrontal cortex becomes inhibited and then altered. The fourth is stress response, which causes cravings or sparks one to seek a behavior to relieve stress.  

The desensitization is not only making it difficult for pornography users to connect with their partners, it is leading to an increase in sexual violence and sexual deviation. The number of women reporting they felt scared during a sexual encounter with their partner has increased significantly in the last few years. 

Sadly, hardcore pornography is impacting both secular and religious individuals alike. Pornography is rampant in public and private religious schools. Even for individuals who intellectually dislike pornography or find it morally revolting, the pleasure/reward system in the brain can be too great to overcome. 

Listen to the full interview: 

Deem recommends parents speak with their kids about the harmful effects of pornography by starting with the brain science. This foundation can later be linked to drug and alcohol addictions and helps remove some of the shame and stigma from the conversation. He recommends parents read the book Your Brain on Porn to learn more about the brain science behind pornography. 

It is important to have this conversation early as the adolescent brain is extremely malleable and the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed. Since the brain is developing at a rapid rate during adolescence, addiction pathways form quickly, but the prefrontal cortex is not able to help regulate or decrease these addictions.  

To young people, Deem reminds them it is possible to “reboot the brain” and recover from pornography. He again recommends visiting the website YourBrainonPorn.com.

“Dopamine signaling increases with abstinence, whatever the addiction was to...gambling, internet, video games, whatever.” 

The journey isn’t easy, but with the proper support groups, anyone can overcome a pornography addiction. Deem recommends people read the stories of other individuals in forums like he did, or find a few friends to talk to about the recovery journey. 

Deem also recommends finding a physical hobby to help speed the brain’s recovery. Intense exercise helps to speed up neurogensis or the creation of new neurons in the brain. Additionally, the neurochemicals released during exercise help to combat the withdraw symptoms that can come when one quits an addiction of any kind.  

Deem and Van Maren also address the common claim that pornography isn’t an addiction. Deem points to the fact that countless studies show that the way the brain responds to pornography is consistent with other addiction models and the fact that the dissenting voices tend to be sexologists. Sexologists don’t want to see any form of sexual expression as addictive or negative.  

The Van Maren Show is hosted on numerous platforms, including Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play.

For a full listing of episodes, and to subscribe to various channels, visit our Acast webpage here.

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  gabe deem, jonathon van maren, pornography, the van maren show

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