How Pornography can Damage Your Sex Life – or Not.

I just recently (June 2010) attended the AAGT (Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy) conference in Philadelphia.  I attended an interesting and informative workshop, titled: Sex & Brain and Gestalt Therapy, given by Dr. Marta Helliesen, a sex therapist [and former neuroscientist] in New York.   www.mkhelliesen.com.

I know that pornography is creating problems for both men and women in relationships in different ways.  I know that some people who look at pornography develop difficulty relating to a partner, but I did not know what created the problem.  Because I could not explain why it happened, I was often dismissed as   ‘just a woman’ and ‘not understanding men’.   Dr. Helliesen helped me understand how pornography can get in the way of normal sexual functioning with a partner.

People who look at pornography are primarily using their visual sense, in a heightened way.  The brain has a need for novelty and through pornography, especially on the Internet, it is quick and easy to get new and more graphic pictures.  This means that arousal and organism are quickly and easily achieved.  During these times men are not using their other senses of smell, sound, taste and touch that are normally involved during sexual encounters with a partner.  Without realizing it, they start to ‘turn off’ these senses and only focus on the visual.  This creates difficulty when they are with a partner. They find it more difficult to experience arousal and orgasm through smell, taste, sound and touch.  Because pornography so quickly arouses them and satisfies their interest and sexual urges, they become impatient with interactions with their partner.

It is possible, although difficult, for people to look at pornography and not shut down their other senses. They are still able to enjoy sexual arousal and orgasm with a partner.  They are able to still find novelty in the nuances of touch, taste, sound and smell and experience pleasure in the time spent. They are able to connect emotionally to their partners and relate through sexual interaction.

Healthy sexual functioning and healthy sexual relationships are important to most people.  It is helpful to know what can go wrong and why.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

2 Responses to “How Pornography can Damage Your Sex Life – or Not.”

  1. adan says:

    i totally agree with you ,let me just explain why some men like me enjoy porn
    its because growing up without my dad and mom confidence is low and simply the body and mind both have their needs .the damage is hidden pornography and any man who experiences a woman before being exposed to porn is more likely to avoid porn because the feeling with being with a woman is more “real” and natural.what can someone who have addiction to porn really do ?
    please advice if you have any
    bless

  2. Dr. Bea says:

    Growing up without a mom and dad would certainly be difficult and affect your relationships. Our early caretakers strongly influence the ability to be emotionally intimate with others so a deficit in loving affectionate contact and connection creates difficulties getting close to others in adult life. However, the brain is plastic and can develop the neural pathways for closeness that did not get developed in childhood. I recommend that you find a therapist to talk about these issues with. The therapist/client relationship is a type of intimacy. You can use this relationship to develop the experience of relating to a real person. This is the precursor to developing a sexual relationship and an on-going relationship with a woman.

    Porn involves mostly the sense of sight and to some degree sound. You can also redevelop your senses of taste, touch, smell and hearing that you tend to shutout when you watch porn. When making love to a real person, all of the senses come into play and generate sexual arousal.

    One client I worked with had similar issues, he had an abusive childhood and was neglected in his family. A couple of years after he had finished therapy he called me and told me he was in a new relationship that was very satisfying and much deeper than he had ever had before. He said he could not have handled the emotionally intimacy in the relationship without the work he and I had done together.