Pornography and the Brain: Public Health Considerations
July 13, 2015 12:00 ET

Most people avoid using the word “addiction” in reference to uncontrolled impulses like hyper-sexuality, overeating, or gambling, but neuroscience has shown that pornography use creates a biological reaction in the brain not unlike what is found in drug addicts. Porn use has become a pervasive part of American life, but many give this particular addictive behavior a “protected status.” We know porn is damaging, but if we talk about it openly, we will either have to fight it or normalize it. Join us as Dr. Donald Hilton speaks about the neurological effects and societal consequences of rampant pornography use and addiction.

Dr. Donald Hilton is a neurosurgeon in San Antonio, Texas. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and serves as director of the spine fellowship at the medical school program, and is also director of neurosurgical training for the residency program at the Methodist Hospital rotation. He travels and speaks nationally and internationally, and has published book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles, with special interest in minimally invasive spinal surgery and in neural mechanisms involving addiction. He is currently listed in Best Doctors in America, is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

He has recently authored and co-authored several papers on addiction in peer-reviewed journals. One published in 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which investigated the role of natural instinctive craving in addiction. Other papers published in 2013 and 2014 in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology have explored pornography addiction from the perspective of neural learning models. One is titled “Pornography Addiction: A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity,” and the other is a peer-reviewed rebuttal to the Steele et al. paper purportedly refuting the addiction mode; it is titled “High Desire, or ‘Merely’ an Addiction?”

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