How Porn Affects Teens

A teen [or child] who views porn and makes internal assumptions about the purposes, motivations, bodily requirements, etiquette [and so forth] of sexual acts without the guidance, education, and wise filtering explanations of an adult [making the gross assumption that the adult has a mature understanding of sexual intimacy] could be in danger of becoming a perpetrator and/or victim of some of the most heinous sexual acts without even recognizing them as wrong or out of place.

There are countless articles about porn addiction’s effects on the brain and perceptual shifts from seeing people as living breathing thinking opinionated beings into objects for our sexual gratification and explorative fantasy. What porn addiction actually does to the brain is in line with what drugs and alcohol do to the brain. The dopamine released when viewing manufactured and synthetic pleasure [porn] overwhelms the neurocircuitry of the brain to the point of exhaustion. Processes of addiction’s roots are explained by Dr. Robert Navarra, a Master Addiction Counselor and Gottman-certified therapist based in San Carlos, California:

  • Phase 1: The brain’s reward pathways are flooded with high levels of dopamine. Over time, the constant dopamine high raises the bar on the level of excitement needed to actually feel pleasure.
  • Phase 2: The frontal lobes, which are involved in decision making, judgment, and impulse control, experience structural and functional changes. The effect: bad decision making, like browsing porn at work or school — or seeking increasingly kinky porn content in order to feel that next big dopamine rush.
From <https://www.bustle.com/articles/153055-heres-what-porn-addiction-does-to-your-brain-and-how-to-recover>

The consequences [a.k.a. LOSSES] of porn/sex addiction that I could think of are laid out below and are informed by clinical experience and insight. The italicized portions are examples of the changes in belief and value structures that develop as a teen views pornography.

LOSS OF: Identity

  • “I am supposed to think of myself and view others as I am thinking and viewing others right now while watching these consensual or non-consensual sexual acts. I used to be a thinking, opinionated, emotionally adjusted, spiritual, musically talented person, but if I am ever to have someone ‘love’ me, I should drop those parts of my identity and focus on getting abs, shaving my body, etc. This is what sex is supposed to be — no other versions of sex are as readily viewable to me at least; this is what I am supposed to be — sexual. An object for giving and receiving sexual acts.”

LOSS OF: Self-confidence

  • “I am not as good looking as them, nor can I sexually perform like them, and I should be able to.”

LOSS OF: Self-esteem / Self-worth

  • “Because of the above statement, other people are likely to think of me in that way — sexually lacking. I am worth less to others because of my inabilities to sexually perform, which, according to the reality that porn sells, is my primary function/identity — a performer and recipient of sexual acts; to give and get sexual gratification objectively to and from others.”

LOSS OF: Feelings of belonging and ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships

  • “I am not one of them, and I never can be. The people I watch do not respond to me. What I think/feel doesn’t matter to them because they don’t really know me and I don’t really know them, and yet I am seeing them naked.”

[you can only imagine how this might influence a person’s ability to healthily interact with people in real time situations…dating would be difficult, getting to know a person is not a pre-requisite to having sex with them, engaging in small talk might be arduous or pointless, or an unnecessary formality etc. Not to mention the habitual training of unhealthy boundaries this may promote — seeing another naked before getting to know them; Porn culture strengthens rape culture because of this objectification of sexuality.]

LOSS OF: Resiliency in handling rejection

  • “The people I watch performing sexual acts do not tell me mean things; they don’t reject me. They never tell me to stop watching. They can’t tell me. I am safe from rejection when I am viewing porn. I am safe while viewing porn. Porn feels safe. Relationships with others doesn’t feel safe.”
  • BUT THERES HOPE!

The brain circuits of the porn addict can be reset. As the previously cited article mentioned, the brain circuitry can be “rebooted” through abstinence and re-engagement of other parts of who we are. After a sufficient reset has occurred, healthy re-engagement of sexuality is practiced; the brain reconnects to more healthy and natural pathways of pleasure response. Pleasure returns as a response to the “natural” stimuli of human relationships instead of the synthetic digital ones. A person eventually responds in attractions with another person as they get to know each other and gradually onward to sexual intimacy.

Another, more hopeful way, of interpreting this article is by swapping word “LOSS” with “GAINS”. For this is what people stand to gain when recovering from viewing porn.

The paramount function of healing from any addiction is the rediscovery of a psychological and spiritual need: establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships. Establishing and maintaining the most powerful unit of society…”us”.

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