Sex Obsessed: Is the Average Teen Brain Ready for Porn?

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Dr. Valerie Voon, a neuro-psychiatrist and a global authority on addiction, is working at Cambridge University in England on this very topic. She found 20 young men ages 19 to 34 who said their lives were controlled by porn. Voon's study participants didn't want to be identified but were willing to have their brains scanned and analyzed to see if the pleasure centers in their brains would react to porn in similar ways that a drug addict or alcoholic's brain reacts to their substance of choice.

When Voon's data was analyzed, the results were astounding. Compared to the control group, the compulsive porn users' brains were twice as active in the pleasure center known as the stratum, mimicking the responses seen in brains of drugs and alcohol addicts.

"Compulsive pornography users do have parallels with substance abuse disorders," Voon concluded.

Of course, one study is not definitive and the Free Speech Coalition, a trade group for the porn industry, says that "unlike drugs and alcohol, adult content is not and cannot be a chemical addiction no more than compulsive shopping, gaming or hoarding."

But for some of those who believe porn addiction is real and could even be harmful, a few have tried to produce porn that is more like actual sex.

Cindy Gallop, a former advertising executive turned entrepreneur, started a website called "Make Love Not Porn," a kind of YouTube video streaming channel online in which real-life couples post their homemade sex videos. Her goal was to give porn users a destination where they could see real love making instead of hard-core porn. "Make Love Not Porn" went public in January and already has more than 100,000 users.

"Children are viewing hard-core porn years and years before they ever have their first sexual experiences and it's shaping their view of what sex is," Gallop said. "That is why what we're doing is so important."

Others, such as pornographic director and producer Jincey Lumpkin, are making porn videos that show what they say are softer, more relatable depictions of sex that are more realistic and less harmful to young people.

"Porn is a fantasy that can't ever stand in for sex education," Lumpkin said. "The way that it is put out there, often times you just feel like a woman is nothing but an object or a hole, and I try to offer an alternative to that."

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