What Do You and my Uncle Ray Have in Common?



This photo has nothing to do with my cocaine-addicted uncle.  I’m hoping to play on your sympathies for not having posted for so long due to the hurricane.  Forgiven?

When last we were together, I described the decline of that mad-capped, handsome guy, my gay Uncle Ray.  Once sophisticated and fun-loving, he died a shell of the man I had known him as because of the dreaded drug, cocaine.  How could this have happened, I queried my readers at the end of the last post.  Well, it happened because of the biochemistry of drug addiction.  Why do you care, say you, about me and my once-hapless uncle?

You might care because the insidious erosion of the chemicals in his brain, his neurotransmitters, to be exact, underwent the same process that YOU, my friend, may be undergoing through the long-term, continual use of INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY.

It’s as natural as air he breathes for a man to look at an attractive woman, or a still photo of a female, to become physically aroused.  From an evolutionary perspective, how would we expect otherwise?  After all, it is the nature of men to “want” to impregnate as many fertile females as possible.  The instant a man sees something erotic, the limbic center (the part that feels pleasure and feelings) of his brain receives a squirt of the neurotransmitter “dopamine“, and he feels, well, good.  Nothing complicated or mysterious.

Enter the decade of the 1980’s when the high-speed internet computer became a commodity, with its accessibility, affordability, and anonymity and BLAM… human sexuality has never been the same.  Mother Nature’s tried and true method starts to break down when there’s artificial overstimulation.  In a single evening, a man looking at online porn will expose himself to more erotic images than his primitive hunter-gatherer ancestors would experience in a whole lifetime.  From the brain’s point-of-view, even a half hour of porn is an overwhelming binge of stimulation.  A client of mine (funny guy) once remarked that since the internet became a reality, he can now look at 300 vaginas before he even gets out of bed in the morning.

The reason this is so important is that the male brain is highly sensitive to such artificial stimulation.  If fact, modern suppliers of online pornography actually design their products so as to hijack men’s thinking processes.  In this way, contemporary porn is actually a “visual” drug, designed to be as addictive as possible by over-stimulating a vulnerable part of the male brain.

The frequent ejaculations brought on my relentless porn viewing creates a biochemical roller coaster involving high levels of dopamine and a protean within the brain called FosB, which lingers in the brain far longer than the “drug” and actually causes anxiety and despair.  In fact, the same area in the brain which is activated during ejaculations is the same area activated by using cocaine.

Men who use pornography regularly are clueless about what is actually happening to their thought processes and to their biochemistry.  All they know is that they find themselves looking at more and more pictures, or more and more deviant pictures, while enjoying it less and less.  This is because too much stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain leads to two significant consequences:

  • Increasing neurotransmitter insensitivity, creating tolerance.
  • Chronic dopamine depletion, creating psychological distress along with the generalized feeling that “something is missing.”

Dopamine depletion also impairs the quality of emotion-based decision-making.  When dopamine is low, people find it difficult to resist short-term rewards, even when such behavior can lead to serious long-term consequences.  Bathing your brain in dopamine has another side-effect besides blissful euphoric states:  in a manner I don’t quite understand, it erodes the grey matter part of your brain, the neo-cortex which is the higher functioning part of the brain.  The neo-cortex is what makes us uniquely human — separates us from the beasts, as it were, by enabling us to have consciousness, to problem solve and to think rationally.

Is all of this starting to sound like a nine letter word that begins with “A”?

I’ll give a few hints: highly pleasurable, loss of control, continued use despite adverse consequences, lack of impulse control, tolerance?  AND, when you burn out your dopamine receptors from overstimulation, NOTHING seems pleasurable to you anymore.  Simple smells, sights, babies laughing, your girlfriend’s smile —  no pleasure, no joy, just depression, anxiety.  Get it yet?  The nine-letter word?  Now you’ve got it —  ADDICTION!!

Perhaps by now you see the similarity between me and my uncle:  you repeated a pleasure experience enough times so that your brain rewired itself to accommodate the binge/withdrawal  fun house mind of an active drug addict.  Except it’s not so much fun, right?  (I know, I know…I’ve been there with you.)

Not only is internet porn a drug addiction, it’s starting to look to me like it’s the quintessential drug of addiction.  More on that with upcoming posts.

An old Chinese proverb comes to mind:  “When the cock stands up, the brain sits down.”  I never knew how true that was until I studied up for this post.

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One thought on “What Do You and my Uncle Ray Have in Common?

  1. Pingback: Dopamine and Porn Addiction - How Your Brain Gets Hijacked | Dopamine Function

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