Thursday, July 21, 2005

Porn Causes Brain Damage

From the Guardian:

According to Dr Judith Reisman, pornography affects the physical structure of your brain turning you into a porno-zombie. Porn, she says, is an "erototoxin ", producing an addictive "drug cocktail " of testosterone, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin with a measurable organic effect on the brain.

Some of us might consider this a good thing. Not Reisman: erototoxins aren't about pleasure, they're a "fear-sex-shame-and-anger stimulant". Reisman's paper on the subject The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech has helped make her the darling of the anti-pornography crusade, and in November last year she presented her erototoxin theory to the US senate.
Pdf of the paper.

As Mind Hacks rightly points out:

Pornography does physically affect the brain. In fact, everything we experience physically changes the brain in some way.

What Reisman is trying to do, is portray this physical effect as 'damage'. Furthermore, she argues the damage could be so severe, that an affected person would not be rational enough to engage in 'free speech' (notice the leap?).

Unfortunately, her self-published paper The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech is highly selective when reviewing the published neuroscience research.

Many of her arguments are based on one-reference claims, and some only on what she calls "extensive documentation". One unmentioned implication is the fact that, if sexual arousal from pornography causes 'brain damage', then so will real-life sex!

Some of her arguments are just plain farcical. For example, she uses a statement by an aesthetician that "No nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling" to conclude that "all sexual images 'arouse' responses by viewers, including sexualised images of children." (p5)
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