Pornography addiction – a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity

AUTHOR(S)

Hilton, Donald L.

PUBLISHED

2013 in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology

KEY FINDINGS
  • In this review article, the author analyzes various arguments for and against the adoption of viewing pornography as a potentially addictive behavior, concluding that there is sufficient neuroscientific evidence for pornography as a behavioral addiction.
ABSTRACT
Addiction has been a divisive term when applied to various compulsive sexual behaviors (CSBs), including obsessive use of pornography. Despite a growing acceptance of the existence of natural or process addictions based on an increased understanding of the function of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward systems, there has been a reticence to label CSBs as potentially addictive. While pathological gambling (PG) and obesity have received greater attention in functional and behavioral studies, evidence increasingly supports... READ FULL ABSTRACT
EXCERPTS
  • "Pornography is a perfect laboratory for this kind of novel learning fused with a powerful pleasure incentive drive. The focused searching and clicking, looking for the perfect masturbatory subject, is an exercise in neuroplastic learning. Indeed, it is illustrative of Tinbergen's concept of the ‘supranormal stimulus’."
  • "These issues warrant greater respect for the power of natural addictions, which can, as their substance counterparts do, ‘change the stamp of nature’. Sex, like drug rewards, places its stamp on neuronal receptors, dendrites, and gyri as it facilitates neuroplastic change, thus meriting the addiction label when compulsively and destructively expressed."
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