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3 Startling Changes His Porn Use Does to His Brain and Yours

By June 24, 2022July 29th, 2022No Comments
porn use

“There’s nothing wrong with watching porn once in a while.”

When my husband revealed his porn addiction, I felt devastated, shocked, and sucker-punched. I thought we had a good marriage, he loved me, and we had a fulfilling sex life. How could he need porn?

If “everyone watches some kind of porn” is true, why did I viscerally react to this news? Why do other women experience similar reactions to mine?

Contrary to what you might think, not all men watch porn. It might be safe to say that everyone has been exposed to porn. However, lumping every man on the planet into one category is a gross generalization and demeaning. It’s like saying one peculiar people group always steal. By definition, gross generalizations aren’t true.

The problem with the original statement, though, lies in research by people way smarter than I.

Repeated porn use does affect the addict’s brain.

Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinics uses SPECT imaging to help identify what’s happening in the brain of addicts. Dr. Amen studies how the brain responds to behavioral addictions, which include

  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Food
  • Sex and Pornography
  • Gaming
  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Internet/Social Media
  • Self-Harm

He says a normal healthy brain SPECT scan shows all areas of the brain equally active. A person struggling with behavioral addiction will have various parts of the brain with low or high activity.

Discovering your husband’s porn addiction or sexual betrayal changes your brain.

Dr. Sheri Keffer in her book Intimate Deception also refers to studies performed by the Amen Clinic that show how betrayal trauma affects a woman. Dr. Keffer says this is the “only diamond a girl doesn’t want.” The Diamond Plus pattern, identified by Dr. Amen, is often found in brains with posttraumatic stress. This pattern shows overactivity in several areas of the brain, that when seen on a scan, easily show a diamond shape. Basically, the brain remains in a constant state of fight-or-flight. It can’t calm itself down. Sexual betrayal trauma can cause this kind of a reaction in a woman.

An addict can’t just stop his porn use.

Understanding this part of porn addiction took me a bit to process. My initial thoughts about my husband’s revelation were, “Well, you better figure out how to walk away from this, Buddy.” “This isn’t okay, and you know it.” “It’s a choice you make, so stop making it.”

Perhaps you’ve seen a classic therapy comedy sketch by the brilliant comedian Bob Newhart. We find this sketch funny, though not a recommended technique. Thankfully, the counselors my husband and I work with don’t operate like this therapist. But I think you get the point. When it comes to porn addiction, so often we want to yell, “Just stop it!”

In The Porn Circuit, by Sam Black, we discover it’s not that simple.

Good news. Our amazing brains have neuroplasticity, which means they can change and adapt according to the stimuli we feed it.

That’s why the Bible says to fill our minds with things that are pure, worthy, lovely, and excellent.

Men and women aren’t born ogling others’ bodies or spending hours in sexual fantasies. It is learned behavior.

“Porn is exciting. It can completely capture someone’s attention. It distracts a person from any other thought, and through orgasm it delivers a potent dose of euphoria. In a simple scenario, the brains says, ‘I saw porn. I masturbated. It felt good. In the future, let’s do it again. Really, I need this again. I’m not sure I’m getting what I need. How about a little more?’ Mix in the anxiety and excitement of using the forbidden, the fear of being caught, and even secrecy, and the brain learns even faster during these intense emotional bursts. With each repetition the brain receives powerful cocktails of signals and hormones that ensure future cravings.” says Black.

This euphoric cocktail becomes compelling. That’s why you can’t just stop it.

You can use your brain’s neuroplasticity to change your desires.

God created our brains with the ability to change and heal. We aren’t hard-wired to behave certain ways because our brains change with every experience. Those inputs can be positive or negative. And, even more fantastic, we can control the majority of the experiences.

Foxnews.com reported this story recently about a young man who left porn and the porn industry behind. He beautifully exemplifies how our God-given brain neuroplasticity can be used to improve life. Click on the image below to read the full story.

While more experts agree on the harmful effects of porn on the addict, their spouse, and their family, I want you to see there is hope. Always.

We have hope because of Jesus Christ. He promises to be with us and provide the way to healing. We aren’t stuck. Porn addiction is a choice, albeit one attached to a potent hormonal cocktail. My husband chose to activate his God-given brain neuroplasticity and leave the porn behind. Your husband can too. But it’s his choice.

You can heal as well. I know because I’ve done it step-by-step. I feel your pain, the punch in the gut. Please reach out. I’d love to listen to you and help you design your healing path.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.