National pornography education speaker Garret Jonsson shared personal testimony on his pornography addiction and the brain Science behind it with students at Guerin Catholic High School, Sept. 25.
Jonsson, presenter and ambassador for Fight the New Drug, a pornography education group, works to make inroads with young people and raise awareness of the risks involved with pornography. “It’s a movement for love, and a movement to help young people make informed decisions,” said Jonsson.
Science and brain research show pornography affects the frontal lobe of the brain where decision-making takes place. It indicates the brain is affected by pornography the same way it is affected by cocaine. This makes viewing pornography highly addictive. Jonsson said continual use of pornography causes similar results to other addictions. Users of pornography withdraw from time spent with friends, family or engaging in favorite hobbies because the person prefers to engage in the addiction rather than activities or relationships they used to enjoy.
In his presentation, Jonsson detailed how Science and research show that viewing pornography harms others in three ways. It hurts the 1) brain, 2) heart, 3) world. Pornography works in the reward center of the brain. Brain functioning changes over time and a person wants more, needs more, and more hardcore porn to get the same reward or effect. “It puts a straightjacket on your mind as you build-up a tolerance to it,” said Jonsson.
How does viewing pornography make a person feel? Jonsson said it hurts the heart because it makes a person feel bad about themselves, but because they are addicted, they can’t stop. This adds to the downward spiral a person feels. “The human heart is made for love and intimacy, but not this type of exaggerated, pixel on the screen,” he added. The brain starts to prefer the exaggerated version, over the real-life person. A preference for “pixels over people” emerges. As a result, satisfaction in real relationships also decreases. “People who use pornography see people as objects for pleasure rather than as human beings,” said Jonsson. “They see them as body parts, not as a whole person. Porn gets in the way of true love.”
The world is affected negatively because when relationships fail and marriages end people get hurt, he added. In 2015, 4.3 billion hours of pornography were watched on a single Website according to Jonsson. Viewing pornography increase marital infidelity by 300 percent, said Jonsson. Nearly 90 percent of pornographic scenes depict violence. The pornography industry has been linked to child exploitation, drug abuse, and human trafficking. These are ways pornography affects the world.
Introduced to pornography at a friend’s house during a sleep over at age 9, Jonsson said he tried to quit for 20 years. In his own life, Jonsson told himself that his habit wasn’t “that bad”, he wasn’t “hurting anyone”, and he would “stop once he got married”, but that was not the case. Jonsson continued viewing pornography after he got married.
While pornography has been around for hundreds of years in various forms, Jonsson says the big difference now is technology. “We have unlimited access to pornography and privacy to view it. There is literature, movies, music, sexting,” he added. The nature of pornography has changed over time in that it is more aggressive and violent. The more exposure a person gets, the more aggressive and violent a person becomes and the brain wants more. Given the widespread accessibility of pornography on computers or personal devices, it makes the danger of exposure to it and getting hooked on it more serious now than in any time in history.
Jonsson said that concerns about the effects of pornography have become so troubling that at least three states have passed laws saying that pornography is a public health hazard.
Getting help for pornography addiction is key, said Jonsson. Until recently, it was challenging to get for young people because they needed parental consent and a credit card. Yet a new, free, online program called Fortify, found at fortifyprogram.org, is available and nearly 70,000 people have sought help through this online resource.
Jonsson displayed several pictures of baby daughter, wife and his family on the big screen. Jonsson said, “This is what I wanted. This is what makes me happy, fulfilled. Isn’t this what you want?
“It’s important for us to have the conversation and to change the conversation about pornography because it affects people and their relationships and future relationships so much,” said Jonsson.
Michael Supernaw, a freshman who attended the talk said, “I thought if someone like Mr. Jonsson can talk to us openly about such a sensitive topic, we can make a difference by talking to our friends and family about it.”
Jenna Janssen, a senior said, “I really like the way the speaker handled the presentation. People were not joking around like I thought they might be. I didn’t realize viewing pornography had the same effects as drugs do. And the negative impact it has on our different relationships.”
For more information on how to fight the new drug go to www.fightthenewdrug.org