Pornography: The Junk Food of Sex

 

David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug
Administration, posits in his book “The End of Overeating:
Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”
that the modern food industry intentionally layers
fat, sugar and salt in its products to trigger our craving
for more food. “They aren’t selling just any commodity,”
says Kessler. “They’ve designed highly stimulating
products, substances that excessively activate the reward
circuits of the brain, and consumers come back
for more.” The end result is a population in a desperate,
lifelong battle to control its ballooning weight – much
like Kessler himself.

This is the scientific basis for banning 64-ounce sodas in
New York City movie theaters: junk food is literally turning
us into food addicts. Well, sugary food isn’t the only
easily available, highly stimulating product on the market
with a risk of triggering obsessive and destructive
behavior. Internet pornography is the junk food of sex
and love addiction. Maybe Mayor Bloomberg should
google “free streaming porn” next time he enjoys his
8-ounce glass of unsweetened iced tea.

This is not an anti-sex position any more than it is an anti-
food position. Food and sex are both vital to human
survival, and curiosity about human sexuality (e.g., images
of people having sex) is normal and healthy. The
question is, is salted caramel ice cream really food? And
is Live Cam Teen Asian Double Penetration Party really
sex?

It used to be, sex outside marriage and French fried potatoes
were both rare and special treats. One involved
ruining a pot and wasting a load of cooking oil. The
other involved spending cash and risking public exposure,
if not actual arrest. Today you can get both fries at
MacDonalds and sexual fantasies on your smartphone
24/7. No wasted oil, no being rousted by the Vice
Squad. For most teenage boys, access to pornography
24/7 generally means pornography, 24/7.

But there’s a larger problem: the nature of the sexual
fantasies themselves. Like the complex, supercharged
flavors of pretzel M&M’s or salted caramel ice cream, the
intensity and variety of pornographic images available
online go right for the brain’s reward circuits, creating
that instant gratification feedback loop that easily turns
into an addictive groove.

Recent studies show that watching pornography stimulates
more brain activity in the dopamine receptors
than having actual sex does. Dopamine is the neurochemical that signals not
just pleasure and gratification, but the anticipation of
pleasure and gratification, which is often even more
exciting. (For me, sorry to report, the anticipation is almost
always more exciting than the event. Whatever
the event may be…)

As rock star John Mayer told Playboy magazine in a revealing
interview, “It’s a new synaptic pathway. Internet
pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s
expectations. You wake up in the morning, open
a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of
visuals. There have been days when I saw 300 vaginas
before I got out of bed.”

Mayer may not be speaking for his entire generation,
but he certainly speaks for the percentage who have
gorged themselves on the junk food of porn to the
point of clinical sex addiction. Maybe you are (or know
someone who is) one of them. How do you know when
you’ve become an addict? Mayer describes his own invisible
line pretty well: “You’re looking for the one photo
out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish
to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you
thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw,
but you throw it back and continue your shot hunt and
continue to make yourself late for work.”

Addiction: A chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized
by compulsive use of a mind-altering substance
despite negative life consequences. When you
continue to do it (whatever it is) despite the fact that
it makes you late for work… your spouse leaves you…
you feel ashamed and dirty… it costs money you don’t
have… this is what we call negative life consequences.
I don’t care if the mind-altering substance is ingested
or if you manufacture it in your brain by masturbating
to pornography. Addiction is a hunger that can never
be satisfied, and junk food never truly satisfies hunger.
Both food and porn know this, and they are not above
using it to their advantage. Nothing is more profitable
than a consistent, unquenchable demand. Ask any
dope dealer.