Seems to be everywhere these days. From books to magazines, TV to websites, movies to music videos, photo-sharing sites to social media, the whole world is awash with porn, an industry which rakes in roughly $100 billion a year.
And this isn’t just any old porn. According to Professor Gail Dines, “Images today have become so extreme that what used to be considered hard-core is now mainstream pornography.”
Even more worrying is the number of people who when confronted with the facts – that pornography is being viewed by more people than at any time in history – merely shrug and say, “So what?” The fact is, pornography is so widespread these days, it has virtually been ‘normalised.’
But does it do any harm? Just what IS wrong with pornography?
Well, first of all, it’s highly addictive, so much so that many mental health professionals rank it alongside crack cocaine for the power it wields over its victims. People who regularly view porn eventually find they can’t stop, with some suffering trance-like symptoms accompanied by physical shaking and head pains. There are personality changes too: Addicts tend to be highly secretive and deceitful, while feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety and anger are serious by-products of this habit. Worst of it is, even if they wanted to break free, they often feel too ashamed to admit they have a problem! Some people even become suicidal.
Nobody is immune. Accidentally coming across an offensive image, however briefly, can leave a permanent scar. Such images are indelibly engraved upon the mind, occasionally gatecrashing as unwelcome and intrusive thoughts that are difficult to shake off.
Leading researcher on pornography, Dr Judith Reisman, says: “Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail that is difficult or even impossible to delete.”
The effects on families are dire and divisive, undermining trust, intimacy, and fidelity. Being in thrall to porn creates selfishness, dissatisfaction and emotional distance, at the same time fuelling unhealthy sexual fantasies and objectionable, possibly violent, practices to which partners may be subjected. Extreme or not, porn demeans, poisons relationships and causes loss of respect for oneself and others.
“Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain"
Adults, of course, have choices. What is very worrying in today’s climate is the way children are targeted through Smartphones and other mobile devices, triggering a potentially destructive pattern of promiscuity from very young ages, with catastrophic results. Boundaries are blurred, emotions are scarred and the victim may never be able to form lasting partnerships in later life.
How can an addict break free?
The best way to avoid this state of affairs is not to let it begin in the first place. If your hands were tied with a single cotton thread, it would be relatively easy to get loose. But if the same thread were continuously wrapped around your hands, it would be much harder to break. This is why it’s vital to pull way from anything which could arouse sexual feelings....and never let curiosity get the better of you.
Obviously, once in porn’s grip, you need help to escape, so summoning up the courage to talk to someone about the problem is vital. Whether it’s a partner, trusted friend, parent, teacher or professional counsellor, take a deep breath and talk to them, make that appointment and get them on side.
Another key to overcoming the habit is to identify and avoid any situation which may trigger the desire. If the Internet is a source of pornographic content, avoid using it in private and keep the computer in a room to which all members of the family have access. (Parents take note!) Same with TVs and video games – you need to make sure other people can help you monitor what you view. Set your computer to block pornographic sites and avoid opening links from unsolicited emails and messages from people you’re not sure about on other social media.
Mood can also play a part with boredom, loneliness or other mental lows contributing to the problem, in which case, extra care is needed to recognise these feelings and bolster yourself up to resist temptation.
Often, the best way to get rid of unclean thoughts is to replace them with wholesome ones. Imagine a sponge. Drop it into a pail of muddy water and it will come out muddy. But if the sponge is first of all dunked in a pail of clean water, there’s less room for mud to stick. In the same way, all of us can be smeared with unclean images every day of our lives but by filling our minds with wholesome things and keeping occupied with positive, upbuilding activities, we can help keep the mud to a minimum.
A few porn statistics:
Almost 30,000 people view pornographic websites every second
More than 1.7 million pornographic emails are sent every minute
Nearly two hard-core porn videos are released in the US every hour
Over 2 million porn videos are rented in the US every day
Roughly 9 out of 10 young men and 3 out of 10 young women view porn every month – in the United States alone