Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain

Submitted by gary on
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Thanks for the tip.
This is a new book, by a professor, an actual neuroscientist. I have only skimmed one chapter "Your Brain on Porn", which starts on page 83. Seems really good, full, and is more technical than we get.
He teaches at a Christian college
Search for it on Google books - it has the entire chapter up there. Heck, the whole book may be up there.

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, By William M. Struthers


I tried to read it but. It

I tried to read it but. It was good for awhile. Then I got sick of reading god god god. I wish it was not religious based it might help me. I just am not going to get caught up in the god talk and all that crap that come with it.

inconsistent and shallow

from Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain:

Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and has a long-lasting effect on their thoughts and lives

That quote was from the second paragraph of the introduction, already showcasing some poor semantics. I would contend, and I expect that everyone else who has read any material from this site would agree, that pornography does not hijack the proper functioning of the brain. It is not the intent of pornography/porn producers to hijack anything. Definition time:

Hijack: To seize control of (e.g. a moving vehicle) by use of force, especially in order to reach an alternate destination.

Pornography and its producers do not have any alternate destination (state of being, relationship status, emotional condition, etc.) in mind for porn consumers, and most importantly, they are not taking control of porn consumers by force. There is no change to the 'proper functioning' of the brain. To the contrary, the brain is functioning exactly as it should! Rather, any effect of porn would, in my opinion, be much better characterized as exploitation:

Exploit: 1. To employ to the greatest possible advantage; 2. To make use of selfishly or unethically.

As far as I can discern, porn represents a combination of these two definitions of exploitation. Producers create images designed to exert greatest possible influence on hardwired brain systems, and they do so selfishly (perhaps also unethically, but I'm not sure about that). But even had Struthers used a more appropriate verb for the first half of that sentence, I'm still unimpressed by the second clause. Can anyone think of something other than porn that has a long-lasting effect on thoughts and lives? ...correct! Religion! My brain was infused with religious ideas since as far back as I can remember, and some of my most pernicious self-hatred problems were a direct result of the belief that a pissed-off Near-Eastern semitic tribal fucker was always keeping tabs on me. I used to starve myself in penitence for masturbation, and my eventual masturbation-related self-mutilation was due to transferred religious guilt. At this point, pornography has stolen untold hours of my life, and made me somewhat dissatisfied with my sexual relationship, but religion has stolen much more time (church, prayer, repentance, abject incontinent fear, etc.) and left me with deep scars both psychological and genuinely physical.

Thus far, I have soldiered/mentally puked my way through nine pages of this excerpt, and I am unsure whether I can tolerate it enough to finish. There are two primary problems that I perceive:

First, the definition of porn is culturally limited. To Struthers, a picture of a bikini-clad woman is porn; a profile picture of breasts is porn; essentially any image of a woman that doesn't show her kneeling in front of the fucking altar getting communion is porn. But what is truly porn is any image (or written stimulus, or whatever) that elicits extreme sexual excitation--and that is wildly variable. I gather that pre-euro-contact Samoans would have freaked out over an image of female knees, but had no sexual reaction whatsoever to naked breasts. For me, pictures of bikini-clad women are not arousing.

Second, the phenomenon of pornography, male reaction to it, and benefits of avoiding it are all best explained outside of the religious context. Using the framework that Marnia has developed, we can clearly understand how our neurology predisposes us to porn addiction, and we can also understand why it would be most useful for us to avoid porn--that is, to maintain a relationship in which non-sexual bonding improves well-being and health. There is absolutely no need to inject the 'grace of god' or 'dishonoring the image of god' or any other god-based bullshit. Dishonoring the image of god? Were't we supposedly created in god's image, whether we're sleeping, praying, walking, fucking, or taking a shit? Or is it just when we're all suited up for church?

I have probably gone off the rails here, so please forgive the rant.


Sorry Marnia and Gary--I understand your motivation for the post. None of that anger (which surprised me, actually...underlying issues to deal with, it seems!) was directed at anything you are doing.

Sorry to have upset you

I haven't even had time to read it yet, but Gary said there was no religion in the science chapter, so we thought it might be useful. He thought the science was pretty good, and a bit more detailed than ours.

Incidentally, many neuroscientists use "hijack" for describing how drugs/alcohol/porn use circuitry that was designed for other purposes...like bonding us with mates and tribes. In other words, evolution didn't mold you with extreme stimuli in mind. Smile

In any case, thanks for your honest response. Just shows there's a need for some sites that don't preach religion. It's also interesting that we just looked right through the veneer and found the substance of that one chapter useful...and a welcome corroboration and expansion of our efforts.