Several weeks ago I heard about a talk given at Seton Hall about the effects of pornography. The speaker, Dr. Mark Laaser, said that watching it changes the chemical operations in the brain so that a pattern is established. This makes it very difficult to break the habit. Then, while I was in tuning in to one of the Life on the Rock programs on EWTN, a married couple was talking about the devastating effects that pornography had on the husband and on their marriage. Thirdly, there was an article about this subject in the November issue of Columbia, the Knights of Columbus magazine. The writer said that one third of men are in the pornography trap and one in six women are as well.
The level of dopamine in the brain increases with the viewing of these impure images, so much so that the brain wants more and more. It is even more addictive than food because with eating there is a limit when one can not eat more. But, looking at erotic pictures goes on and on. It is important to know that as one stops this habit, the dopamine levels go down and eventually the brain will be restored to normalcy.
The Church has been saying this all along. To have spiritual health we must avoid all proximate occasions of sin. So, for example, we don't browse around in a candy store if want to go on a diet and abstain from candy. Through the millennia the Church has also taught that one must avoid the remote occasions of those sins to which one is most seriously tempted. We will stay far away from that street on which the candy store is located.
Do you remember Lot's wife in the incidents at Sodom and Gomorrah? In spite of warnings, she looked back at those two cities she and the other believers were leaving. She was turned into a pillar of salt. The lesson is to leave sin behind! We can't go thinking about past sins; soon we will begin to pine after them and once again fall into their trap.
Our Lord used the hyperbole: if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, and if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off (Mt. 18:9 and 5:30). Of course Jesus did not mean that you should actually maim yourself; that would be against taking care of the body which God gave you. But, He was underscoring the gravity of sin and its destruction of the life of grace in the soul. However, in the case of the habit of watching pornography, one should get rid of the computer (or at least the Internet). The TV should go as well as; programs broadcast over the airwaves are getting just as bad as those through cable.
Moreover, one should never go alone in the battle against any addiction like pornography. First, go to God with frequent Confession and prayer. Also, seek out human help through good self help groups like sa.org and a moral, competent counselor.