The Mind and Pornography Addiction


I recently had a conversation with Chris McKenna (you should check it out. Super informative.), the Educational Resource Manager for Covenant Eyes. If you’ve never heard of Covenant Eyes, they’re an organization (with Christian roots) that helps people who are suffering from pornography addiction – whether themselves or someone close to them.

In my conversation with Chris, I asked him,

“What goes on mentally in the average person who’s addicted to pornography?”

This was his honest, open, and informative answer:

You know, when it comes to porn addiction, I mean, I’m not going to just let people get away with the copout of, “It’s my brain. It’s neurology. I can’t help it.” There is almost always some intimacy disorder – something on the relational side.

If you peel back the onion far enough, a kind of intimacy disorder is going to be a core source to what manifests itself later as a porn addiction that people will use to feed some “lack” that they’re feeling somewhere else. That’s a whole part of this.

Later on, there are things neurologically that go on to solidify and create this crazy cycle. As created beings, God created us to desire sex. It’s a super-stimuli in our brain that was designed not only relationally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, but physiologically designed to bind me to my spouse in a one plus one equals one (in God’s math) relationship. There is something neurological that goes on when I experience sexual intimacy with my wife.

The problem with pornography, neurologically, is that it mimics that exact same reward pathway – especially if I am self-stimulating during that viewing of pornography. What I’ve essentially done is chemically trained my brain to bond to the porn in the same way that it was designed to bond with a person.

The brain is amoral. It doesn’t discern between “That’s a good bonding and that’s a bad bonding.” It responds to stimuli and sets off a cascade of chemicals and neurotransmitters accordingly.

So regardless of the trigger, it’s going to start that set of dominos. Coincidentally, I’m working on an e-book right now that speaks into this idea. We are now experiencing a whole generation of young men who never created a sexual template attached to women. Instead, their entire sexual template was attached to porn. These men no longer find normal women sexually arousing.

I mean, that’s a whole other conversation. We’re just trying to paint some of the dark edges that exist around this issue. Those are some of the extremes that we find ourselves in at Covenant Eyes.¹

¹This is an edited transcript of the entire conversation between Isaac and Chris. To read the whole conversation, click here.


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