Dr. William M. Struthers, an associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, has written what sounds like a fascinating book: Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. Dr. Struthers teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience, men and addictions and the biological bases of behavior. This book will surely be an excellent textbook for such courses. It provides helpful argumentation for what many struggling men and counselor/pastors already suspected: Pornography has a drug-like influence on men. The publisher’s description:
Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture as been pornified, and it shapes our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the value of women and the nature of relationships. Countless Christian men struggle with the addictive power of porn. But common spiritual approaches of more prayer and accountability groups are often of limited help.
In this book neuroscientist and researcher William Struthers explains how pornography affects the male brain and what we can do about it. Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. By better understanding the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives and interpersonal relationships. Struthers exposes false assumptions and casts a vision for a redeemed masculinity, showing how our sexual longings can actually propel us toward sanctification and holiness in our bodies.
With insights for both married and single men alike, this book offers hope for freedom from pornography.
Reviewing this book, Dr. Albert Mohler explains:
Why men rather than women? As Struthers explains, the male and female brains are wired differently. “A man’s brain is a sexual mosaic influenced by hormone levels in the womb and in puberty and molded by his psychological experience.” Over time, exposure to pornography takes a man or boy deeper along “a one-way neurological superhighway where a man’s mental life is over-sexualized and narrowed. This superhighway has countless on-ramps but very few off-ramps.
Pornography is “visually magnetic” to the male brain. Struthers presents a fascinating review of the neurobiology involved, with pleasure hormones becoming linked to and released by the experience of a male viewing pornographic images. These experiences with pornography and pleasure hormones create new patterns in the brain’s wiring, and repeated experiences formalize the rewiring.
He also gives this content-rich quote from Struthers:
Viewing pornography is not an emotionally or physiologically neutral experience. It is fundamentally different from looking at black and white photos of the Lincoln Memorial or taking in a color map of the provinces of Canada. Men are reflexively drawn to the content of pornographic material. As such, pornography has wide-reaching effects to energize a man toward intimacy. It is not a neutral stimulus. It draws us in. Porn is vicarious and voyeuristic at its core, but it is also something more. Porn is a whispered promise. It promises more sex, better sex, endless sex, sex on demand, more intense orgasms, experiences of transcendence.
Thankfully, as Dr. Mohler points out, Struthers doesn’t let porn-viewing men off the hook: The addict retains full responsibility for his addiction, neurological explanations notwithstanding.
IVP has made available the Introduction and Chapter 1.