Loading
Similarity between porn, drug addictions 'not surprising'
Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
Credit: Petr Kratochvil.

.- The co-founder of a pornography addiction recovery program said that a recent Cambridge study showing identical brain activity in addicts to pornography, drugs and alcohol is “spot on.”

According to The Sunday Times of Sept. 22, neuropsychiatrists at Cambridge found that the portion of the brain stimulated in drug and alcohol addicts lights up in the same way as it does for porn addicts viewing explicit materials. The brains of those who are not in the habit of using porn did not react in the same manner to the same materials.

“That kind of brain research is spot-on, and there have been a number of different approaches and studies that have said the same thing,” said Bruce Hannemann, co-founder of Elizabeth Ministry International and its program Reclaim Sexual Health.

“It doesn't surprise me at all that more and more, people are finding out that there are patterns of addictions that are similar across the board,” he told CNA Sept. 25.

Hannemann, a retired chemistry professor, said that “whatever you have as a thought in your mind, actually changes the chemistry of your brain.”

Reclaim Sexual Health is an online recovery program that helps those addicted to, or in the habit of, unhealthy sexual behaviors. It utilizes the neuroscience of addiction to allow users to 're-program' the chemical pathways in the brain which result in, and subsequently foster, sexual addictions.

The program is based on the knowledge that “the brain truly changes with every thought that we have,” and was developed by a team which included neuroscientists, therapists, neuropsychologists, cognitive- behavioral scientists, and professional trainers.

Hannemann likened Reclaim to a “gym” for the brain, as it is a series of exercises which is meant to “re-train, re-wire your thought processes.” The exercises help people to “unlearn that (poor) habit, and how to re-learn healthy habits, in terms of their sexuality and relationships with other people; it's really a very comprehensive exercise program, and it has to be worked as an exercise program.”

“It all fits the pattern of what we would expect to have happen in human anthropology,” Hannemann explained, and indeed the pattern of breaking a vice by educating one's self about the good and habitually acting towards that good – developing the corresponding virtue – fits the description of vice and virtue described by Aristotle more than 300 years prior to Christ.

“It's our choice to put our brain cells to use to follow our old habits, or to wire them into new behaviors and habits, and really re-learn our lifestyle,” said Hannemann.

He said the mind “is really capable of telling the brain what to tell your body to do,” but that in the case of addictions, “your brain has become so habituated … that it starts to function on such an automatic level that you kind of take your mind out of the picture.”

When a pornography addict is presented with explicit materials, chemical signals from the senses “go directly to the brain's pleasure center and call up dopamine … without being processed by the mind any more.”

Reclaim's exercises are meant to re-train the brain so that the physical reaction to seeing provocative material will no longer be something that happens in the person, but can come under the person's control and be a personal act – a chosen act that can be controlled, rather than an automatic something-that-happens.

“It doesn't matter how hopelessly involved someone is with porn, and masturbation: if they start practicing putting their mind into the proper decisions and context, the brain chemistry will follow, because the mind controls the brain – you habituate yourself to a holy lifestyle,” Hannemann said.

Reclaim is a Catholic re-brand of another secular program, which was requested by Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay. Hannemann related that shortly after Bishop Ricken's appointment to Green Bay in 2008, he called the Elizabeth Ministry into his office and directed them to develop programs to deal with human sexuality and to start with pornography, as it as one of the biggest detriments to family life.

When Reclaim was launched in May 2012, Bishop Ricken sent letters to his fellow American bishops “telling them about this program and endorsing it; he's been a very strong backer.”

Hannemann described Bishop Ricken as “a man of action. He doesn't like to sit around, he likes to get things done.”

The program of exercises, which is recommended to be followed for at least six months, includes video training, a calendar to track progress, a forum, an online journal, assessments, and a personal trainer, all of which are used anonymously. The program is $49 a month, but if users commit to staying for six months and pay up-front, they are given a discount worth one month's use.

“In terms of what we've seen out there in healthy and unhealthy behaviors, we know this is working, really making a difference in people's lives,” Hannemann said. “If they follow the prescription, the program, and make the necessary changes, it will change their life.”

He recommended using the program in concert with prayer and the Sacraments, but stressed that if people use only prayer and the Sacraments, if they are in the state of a sexual addiction, they will often be unsuccessful.

“That's why were so excited about this – we have one more thing we can give them, some tools to work on the biology and biochemistry, as well as the theology, and that's where the real success lies, I think. We have a real integrated approach here.”

Pornography addiction is not only a problem among adults, Hannemann noted, an observation that has been made increasingly by scholars and other authorities as well.

The British government intends to filter pornography off of internet connections by default, to “protect our children and their innocence,” prime minister David Cameron said in July.

And a Sept. 25 report by the Daily Mail records the shock of a former soft core pornography magazine editor at finding how much, and how graphic, pornography 13 and 14 year-old children have been exposed to through the internet.

Hannemann said that Reclaim has received many requests for help from youth – children in middle school and high school – who realize they need help with a burgeoning addiction to pornography.

“They're begging us for help.”

He noted that Reclaim hopes to develop a program “that would be available for teens, that would be completely free to them, anonymous, that they could work on doing the brain chemistry and changing their behaviors, but not have to spend the money they don't have.”

“That's our biggest project right now,” he said, and Reclaim is currently trying to raise funds to produce such a program for teens. 

Tags: Pornography


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Jul
29

Liturgical Calendar

July 29, 2014

Saint Martha

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 11:19-27

Gospel
Date
07/29/14
07/28/14
07/27/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 14: 17-22
Gospel:: Jn 11: 19-27

Saint of the Day

St. Martha »

Saint
Date
07/29/14
07/27/14

Homily of the Day

Jn 11:19-27

Homily
Date
07/29/14
07/28/14
07/27/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: