Is There a Problem with Porn? (Part 1)

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old brain - new brainSuppose you're really hungry, but it's almost time to leave for your basketball game. What are you going to do? Answer: you're going to listen to either the old part of your brain or the new part. The old brain is saying, “You're hungry, go eat.” But the new brain is saying, “Sure you're hungry, but it would be smarter to eat after the game so you don't throw up.”

The old part is the part you share with all animals. It evolved about 100 million years ago as mammals appeared. It urges you to do things without thinking, like eat – and find anything to do with sex very interesting. The new part evolved much later. It helps you to solve problems, play music, and invent things. It thinks and helps you choose your best strategy.

The old brain gives you urges or feelings, and the new brain helps you figure out what to do with the urges and feelings. If a much bigger kid calls you a “loser,” you may have an urge to punch him, but your new brain might say, “Actually, that's a very bad idea.”

We need both parts of the brain, because the old brain isn't very smart sometimes. For example, it doesn't know the difference between a picture of food and real food. Imagine you were hungry and had nothing to eat. chocolate cakeWould you want to thumb through a food magazine with photos of yummy-looking desserts? No. Your stomach would growl, you would drool, and you would feel hungrier than ever. Your old brain is powerful enough to make your body react as if those pictures were real food, even though your new brain knows you can't eat pictures. In fact, your new brain would probably say, “Hey! Drop the magazine and go find some real food.”

Why does your old brain react so powerfully to pictures of food? Because, for millions of years your ancestors lived where food was scarce. They had no refrigerators, and food spoiled quickly. There were no groceries or restaurants, so if you wanted to eat, hunteryou had to hunt. The old brain in your head is designed for the conditions your ancestors faced.

The result is that your old brain reacts powerfully to anything that it associates with the presence of food. So, if you were a hunter like your ancestors, your old brain would react to animal droppings, hoof prints, and any shape that looked like it might be your next meal.

This is why a commercial with pictures of fries, or the sound of an ice cream truck, can cause a powerful physical reaction in you. When your old brain decides you are hungry, it urges you to stop playing and become more alert and focused on what it thinks is important. It wants you to give your full attention to getting some food so you don't starve.

From hunting food to naked women

As you leave childhood, your old brain expands its focus to a new task. It urges you to get excited about girls. It hopes that someday you will pass on copies of yourself in the form of babies. As odd as it may seem, this is the number one job for the old brain.

cave coupleYour old brain prepares you for this future task by making you “hungry” for anything that is related to sex. In fact, your old brain thinks sex is way more interesting than eating. That's why sexual feelings can be much more intense than hunger.

When you stumble upon something connected with making babies – like a website with naked women on it, or some other picture associated with sex – your old brain takes over. It releases chemicals into your brain that make you feel like true happiness is just around the corner. It is like the feeling you get when you're about to open your birthday presents. This feeling is the old brain's way of giving you a big “yes!” for focusing on sex. As one man said, “When I saw my first picture of a naked woman I thought, ‘This is just wonderful!”

So why could porn be a problem?

There are several reasons in the next part of this article. Give them some thought. If possible, talk them over with an adult whom you trust. Use the new part of your brain to decide whether viewing porn is a good idea for you.

Read the rest of this article.