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"I must really be a pervert!"

cat and dogBefore we discuss why disturbing images can be such a turn on, let's consider why porn sites so often feature sexy individuals of different races. Evolution favors diversity in mates, which means that evolution has designed you to find partners who appear to be very different from you exciting. The more different the parents of a child are, the more diverse the child's inherited immunities. In general this guarantees stronger immune systems than in the offspring of genetically closely related parents. Interestingly, men appear to distinguish diversity visually, but in a research experiment women preferred the smell of men whose genetic make up differed most from theirs.

Needless to say, if you are seeking a life companion instead of a breeding opportunity, this particular evolutionary program may make your task more challenging. Looks and smell have little to do with emotional or intellectual compatibility.

There's also a reason that you may find kinkier and kinkier images riveting. In fact, it's the same reason that you're feeling worse and worse about yourself.

Not only does your primitive brain reward you for novelty, it gives you a similar massive assaultneurochemical jolt for "shocking" "painful" and "risky." Outrageous images excite the brain in a way that images of cuddly affection do not. This is why so much television programming revolves around sex and violence. Such images put you in an altered state that makes you more susceptible (to advertising in the case of TV, to sex addiction in the case of porn). They produce cravings because they raise dopamine.

Porn sites don't just cater to bizarre tastes, they create bizarre tastes - by exploiting our natural tendency to move from one shocking image to the next because of their stimulating effects on the brain. So it's not unusual to start out your porn career with an image of Jennifer Lopez' fine butt - and weeks later find you have "progressed" to girls with goats or sado-masochism...without a clue as to how you suddenly became a pervert.

You can tell someone you are an alcoholic, a drug addict, and many other addictions with people maybe feeling sorry for you or wanting to help you - but if you admit publicly to a PORN addiction, the pitchforks come out. Somehow you must be a deviant, a perv, and maybe even a sex offender or child molester! It is easier to shun, than to comfort, a porn addict.

Add to that the fact that before a person can fully recover, they have to admit their addiction, that they are powerless with regard to it, and "give it up" to a higher power to pull them through. This process is accompanied by great shame, disgust, and self-loathing. "How did this happen to me? I'm normal(?). I can handle this by myself! No one can find out how horrible I am. I need to stop this NOW! How gross am I? How pathetic am I that I can't just turn the computer off????" and on and on. It is just easier to give in.

Whatever is most shocking or guilt-producing for you will have an allure in part because your primitive brain also rewards you for taking risks. So for example, if you were raised around the belief that homosexuality was a ticket to hell or scandal, then homosexual images will produce a very strong neurochemical reaction in your brain. Does this mean that you are homosexual? Not necessarily. Often even men who regularly engage in homosexual behavior (which can be exciting for the same reason that same-sex lovemaking images are exciting) say that they are not gay. They may believe they are just more broad-minded than they thought, but they may actually be unconscious puppets of doggy pornthe brain's primitive reflexes.

So if you are turned on by strange permutations of human and animal mating behavior, violence, pain, or, alas, even child pornography, understand that it may be because you actually find those things so shocking that your brain has given you a "risk/shock" buzz.

As you now know, that buzz is made possible by dopamine, and a neurochemical blast of dopamine is addictive. Voilà ! Now you may be hooked on something precisely because it is deeply repugnant to you. Or because of some erratic link that your primitive brain made between erotic and God-knows-what (the pain/ sexual stimulation of circumcision, for example). This randomly-created inner conflict may strike you as tragic, but in a sense it's more of a bad joke played upon you by your primitive brain.

Raising the voltage

There are two things that add to the intensity of a porn addiction. The first is orgasm itself. If you respond to an initial arousal reflex triggered by a shocking image by climaxing, you reinforce the addictiveness of the experience. (Scientists now speak of junk food and mating behavior as "natural reinforcers" because they raise dopamine.) Orgasm is the biggest blast of dopamine that your brain produces naturally. You've just "rewarded" yourself for finding some bizarre thing exciting. Your primitive reward circuitry registers this activity as something very worthwhile - even though your rational brain would rather forget the whole incident.

The second thing that adds to the intensity of the addiction is guilt. If an image makes you feel guilty, it's registering as very risky, and is a much more addictive experience at a neurochemical level. sex guiltPorn sellers know this.

Worse yet, the guiltier you feel about the excitement, the worse you feel after your orgasm. A "guilty" orgasm is a more intense (exciting) experience, and the hangover afterward is more intense, too. (It appears that the higher dopamine rises, the more it drops afterward, as your body down-regulates the nerve cell receptors for dopamine.)

As explained, the more painful the withdrawal symptoms, the more likely you are to seek instant relief from how miserable (and guilty) you feel...often by repeating the very behavior you condemn in yourself because it offers a dopamine surge. See the parallel with drug addiction? You may be floundering in a downward spiral of shocking material, interwoven with intense periods of self-hatred.

"Honestly, I'm actually a nice person."