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Study says porn damages mind, heart

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 9 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

A recently released study of pornography cites its damaging effects on mind, body and heart.

Titled "The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community," the study was authored by Patrick F. Fagan, a Family Research Council senior fellow and director of its Center for Research on Marriage and Religion.

"Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations," wrote Fagan. "This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage, it is one of the factors in undermining social stability."

The former deputy assistant secretary for family and community policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during President George H.W. Bush's administration, Fagan was also a former senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

His 28-page study and two-page executive summary were released locally by the Sutherland Institute in conjunction with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

As for effects on the mind, "pornography significantly distorts attitudes and perceptions about the nature of sexual intercourse," Fagan wrote. "Men who habitually look at pornography have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexual behaviors, sexual aggression, promiscuity and even rape."

Additionally, men begin to view women and even children as "sex objects," commodities or pleasure instruments, rather than persons with their own inherent dignity, he added.

Citing effects on one's body, Fagan called pornography very addictive.

"The addictive aspect of pornography has a biological substrate, with dopamine hormone release acting as one of the mechanisms for forming the transmission pathway to pleasure centers of the brain," he wrote.

Also, increased sexual permissiveness engendered by pornography increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease of being an unwitting parent in an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, Fagan added.

Pornography's effect on "heart" is Fagan's summary of how people's emotional lives are affected.

Married men addicted to pornography often feel less satisfied with marital sexual relations and less emotionally attached to their wives, who in turn report feelings of betrayal, mistrust and anger, he wrote.

Use of pornography may lead to infidelity and even divorce, while adolescents who view pornography feel shame, diminished self-confidence and sexual uncertainty, he added.

Fagan lists the defenses against pornography, including close family life, a good marriage and good parent-child relationships, including a strong parental monitoring of Internet use.

"Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family and social effects of pornography," Fagan wrote, "it is time for citizens, communities and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach."

For more information about the study, visit www.frc.org/pornography-effects.

e-mail: taylor@desnews.com

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