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The Truth and Science of Porn With Fight The New Drug's

with

Clay Olsen

We are just GOING THERE today. This is a topic that is so widespread, but also so feared when it comes to bringing to the light. There is so much confusion, so much pain, so much shame wrapped up in this 4 letter word.

Today, in this two-part episode, Kait gets extremely real with Clay Olsen, Co-Founder and President of Fight the New Drug;  a youth movement dedicated to raising awareness on the harmful effects of pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation through science, facts, and personal accounts.

Fight the New Drug works to shine a light on the underbelly of pornography and, as Clay describes it, “not to limit the supply, but rather to decrease the demand.” Let’s get into this, shall we?

HOW WAS FIGHT THE NEW DRUG STARTED?

To start off his explanation, Clay shares a personal experience of a cousin of his had an extreme addiction to pornography since a young age. As his cousin aged, he started to act out in inappropriate, escalating to illegal, ways that ultimately put him in prison, and when he was released and asked what lead him to believe these things were acceptable, he claimed that a lot of his beliefs stemmed from his addiction to pornography.

This lead him to question whether there was scientific evidence behind addictions to pornography. After Clay and some other friends from college came together and realized that they all had either direct or indirect relationships to pornography, they decided to do some research. So, after reading and searching for answers, they found some: he and his friends realized that there is an extreme neurological impact that porn can have on the brain, similar to the way that the brain responds to drugs. So, when starting—more specifically, naming—the organization, the founders realized that the best way to approach it would to highlight the addictive pattern that it can have on an individual, rather than the shame and guilt that it can bring.

Probably a good call.

Fight the New Drug started around 10 years ago, and at the start they knew they wanted to start it more as a public health concern rather than a moralistic or political issue. And while they think that there are some legislative laws that could come into play, FTND stands to frame pornography as an addictive pattern to be helped versus speicficallu a moral issue. It seeks to bring together anyone and everyone that has struggled with addiction, which can affect ANYBODY: conservative or liberal, tall or short, male or female. Anybody.

HOW CAN PORNOGRAPHY BE AN ADDICTION LIKE A DRUG?

SO many books have come out that reveal the addictive nature of pornography. In fact, over the last decade, 39 out of 39 neurological studies that have confirmed pornography as addictive. And he’s not talking about your local neighborhood evangelist conducting “studies” out of their church and passing them as fact. These studies have come from institutions like Cambridge, Yale, Max Planck Instituted for Human Development in Berlin… big deal neurologists. In one of her studies, Dr. Valerie Voon from Cambridge, who studies addictive behavior for a living, said that when comparing the brain scans of drug addicts and people with sexual compulsivity due to pornography they are the same. Because, at the end of the day, when it comes to the brain addiction is addiction.

It really does come down to science. We have a reward pathway in our brain in which pleasure chemicals in our brain—dopamine, epinephrine, oxytocin, serotonin—are released. When we introduce drugs or any other kind of addictive behavior, it triggers that pathway to the point where the things that we used to enjoy no longer stimulate us. Therefore, the further the addiction continues, the more we need to expose ourselves to our addiction, whatever it may be. So, over time, that part of our brain is altered and rewired.

Now, we’ve known about that #science for a while. However, what is coming into light more—some of which is due to FTND—is that this same process occurs with sexual compulsivity as well, and pornography is a very powerful force that taps into one of our most primal urges: sex. And now that we know more about the reality of neuroplasticity—which is the brain’s ability to literally restructure itself by forming new neural pathways and connections over time—it means that our brains are constantly adapting and molding according to what we do, say, think, watch etc... This is GREAT for learning, say, an instrument or a language because we can rehearse and practice over time to learn better. This can also used against us as we can develop bad habits with this, and that’s what is being seen with these behavioral and chemical addictions. However, it is definitely possible to relearn healthy behavior after addictions. And the sooner we catch it, the easier it is to heal.

REALISTICALLY, HOW LONG MIGHT IT TAKE SOMEONE TO GET OVER A PORN ADDICTION?

Clay shares that there is no exact guidebook for recovery; it’s different for everyone and depends on a lot of factors, like support systems, personal motivation, self-control… There is no silver bullet, no pill or book to buy. Recovery is a process filled with setbacks and stumbles, and the only way to fully recover is to embrace all the bumps along the way. Ultimately in the process of recovery, though, everyone will reach a point in which they are not consumed by it. Recovery will come with the work that is put into it. #TRUTH.

Clay really warns anyone looking to recover to not look at the process as an “on/off” switch. When we struggle with addiction, we don’t “have it” or “not have it.” Especially with younger kids, the word porn addiction has such a psychological weight on children, because addiction is such a strong word. We can often overuse this word to describe our habits with Netflix or junk food, when in actuality, those are bad habits, not a psychological addiction.

That being said, though, addiction to pornography is very common, even if it isn’t talked about frequently. The surveys that have been conducted, while they are not reflective of EVERYONE that struggles with it, are still astronomical. Furthermore, it’s not just men! The shame associated with being a female and having an addiction to pornography is actually much much higher than men because it is painted as a “man’s” problem. Surveys showed that 30% of those who reported to have a porn addiction were women. Like we said above, addiction is addiction, and it can affect anyone.

WOMEN & PORN

The reality is that the porn industry has started creating porn directed toward WOMEN. The creators have started creating more content that is story-based or emotionally-driven that is aimed more toward women. Even with that, the female violence that is so apparent in porn is not diminishing by any means. If anything, it is increasing.

Nearly 98% of the most downloaded pornography scenes were verbally and/or physically violent toward women. And from a neurological perspective, that has a very dangerous power to warp someone’s perspective and associate violence sexuality. In those scenes mentioned above, 95% of the time, the women’s response to the aggression was either pleasure or apathy.

What is the relationship with shame and guilt and porn?

Clay wanted to clarify something about the moral issue of porn. Because, while there is a place for speaking about it from a religious or personal standpoint, he wants to focus on the scientific standpoint. FTND doesn’t do this to belittle that perspective, but rather to bring together people from all sides of life that are impacted by it that may only share the same belief of the detrimental effects of porn.

That being said, porn has always had a personal and shameful side to it, and FTND has tried to lift that veil and highlight that it is an addiction like any other. They are doing their hardest to paint it more in that light. Clay says, “Shame can stunt recovery. Shame is ‘I am a bad person’ and guilt is, ‘I’ve done a bad thing.’ They are very different. If you have dealt with this, you are NOT a bad person! You are normal! Sexuality is a part of who we are and it can be wonderful in the context of a committed and healthy relationship, and pornography can really distort love… what we love, how we love, and how we express love. Love is at the core of who we are as individuals, and we need to be that support team for people that are struggling with it.

Clay also highlights an extremely important concept: that the performers are people, too. He says that FTND isn’t trying to attack the industry so much as highlight the negative side effects that can come from it. The performers are people, and they don’t deserve shame either. Like said above, SHAME and GUILT are two very different things. Shame is burdening and undeserving, but there are healthy levels of guilt that can serve as powerful motivators to improve our character. Often, however, we as a culture interchange the two terms. And unfortunately, in the process of trying to be a support system for someone, we remove the purpose of guilt with terms like, “You do you,” or “To each their own.” Clay says that we need to acknowledge the presence and role of guilt and remove the purpose of shame.

We will leave you today with this STAGGERING and heart breaking study. A study was done regarding porn and erectile dysfunction. It started in 1993, and in 1993 5% of men ages 18-59 were experiencing some level of sexual dysfunction.Then the study was re-conducted in 2012 and they found 35% of men ages 18-25 were experiences erectile dysfunction.Then again in 2014 they discovered that 63.5% of men ages 16-21 were experiencing some level of sexual disfunction!!! This is an issue we cannot turn a blind eye to.

How does porn affect our attitudes toward intimacy? Sex? Women?

Based on the research alone, Clay says that we are discovering many things.

What we love: Due to neuroplasticity, pornography can warp what we look for in relationships, and, since we’ve mentioned a lot of violence can occur in porn… this isn’t the healthiest influence. In fact, Clay mentions that a psychologist did a sexual study on butterflies to prove this concept (hear him out). He studied the markings that male butterflies found the most attractive on female butterflies, and then created exaggerated versions of these features on cardboard cutouts of the female butterflies. Then, during mating season, he put the exaggerated cutouts with the male butterflies and found that the males exclusively tried to mate with the cutouts versus the real butterflies. In short, he created an exaggerated version of a sexual stimulus. And THIS is exactly what porn is: a created, fake, and exaggerated version of a sexual stimulus. ***mind blown***

How much we love: This same study also found that, over time, the male butterflies were preferring the new fantasy over reality. Because porn is always new, always available, and very self-focused, it is leading individuals to prefer pixels over people. Clay also mentions that a longitudinal Harvard study on happiness found that relationships are so evidently the largest deliverer of happiness. So when we crave these pixels more than people, it makes sense when people are no longer fulfilling.

How we think about those we love: Clay also brings up testimonials from celebrities that have struggled with porn and had sought professional help from it. He says that they claim that the way they looked at people—not just women—was totally objectifying. They simply saw people as a culmination of body parts rather than a human being. Celebrities are not the only ones that thinks this way after a porn addiction.

How we express love: Additionally, Clay further talks about other studies that demonstrate a frightening increase in sexual dysfunction and a decrease in the average age it affects. In fact, he highlights a new phenomenon called “porn-induced erectile dysfunction” where men cannot become aroused without the use of pornography. So, not only can porn have an extreme mental and psychological effect on individuals, but it can also have a physical effect as well.

So that about covers it for today's Episode on PORN and the science behind it. We hope your eyes have been opened to these staggering facts, but we also hope you can find hope that this is something that CAN be rewired in the brain and conquered. Stay tune next week for when we discuss Porn and it's affects on relationships.

Other Resources:See FTND website HERE.Visit this page on tons of FACTS.Follow Fight the New Drug on InstagramJoin Fortify for HELP with addictionJoin Bloom for SUPPORT with a partner who has an addictionSome of our other favorite Resources:Porn is like a DrugPorn Changes the BrainPorn Hurts your PartnerPorn Kills LovePorn Can Lead to Violence

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