Pornography, Sex, and the Pleasure Systems in the Brain

LifeStar of the Central Valley Blog

Dopamine.  That’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in recovery circles for pornography /sex addiction.  Why is this tiny endocrinological, neurochemical compound such a big deal? It’s a big deal in recovery because it affects the part of the brain that pornography stimulates.  

Norman Droidge, M.D., author of The Brain that Changes Itself, writes the following about pornography and the pleasure centers of the brain:

“Pornography is more exciting than satisfying because we have two separate pleasure systems in our brains, one has to do with exciting pleasure and one with satisfying pleasure.  The exciting system relates to the ‘appetitive’ pleasure that we get imagining something we desire, such as sex or a good meal. Its neurochemistry is largely dopamine-related, and it raises our tension level.

“The second pleasure system has to do with the satisfaction, or consummatory pleasure, that attends actually having sex or having…

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Male Dishonesty & Divorce: Choosing the Man Card Over Succeeding ‘Like a Girl’

Must Be This Tall To Ride

unexpressed emotion and dishonesty (Image/choosehonesty.com) Men lie constantly.

I think maybe everyone does.

Sometimes, they are classic bald-faced lies: “I didn’t do it!” Even though we all know he did.

Sometimes, they are exaggerated lies, like when basketball and football players’ heights and weights are inflated slightly.

And sometimes, the lies are so subtle and nuanced that most of us don’t even think of them as lies. There is no malice in the deceit. The deception is not to harm others, and in fact, may be to preserve another’s feelings: “No. Seriously. I think you look beautiful with your super-short haircut!” Even though he thinks it makes her looks boyish and hates it.

But there are many other deceitful moments that seem harmless as they’re happening, and as isolated incidents, probably are. But they’re not isolated. They’re constant. Not “constant” in a hyperbolic way. “Constant” in a That Guy is Wearing a Mask and…

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The Power of Understanding

Must Be This Tall To Ride

The Power of Understanding On the left is what we consider “color-correct.” On the right is what someone with red-green colorblindness sees. (Image/Irv Aron’s Journal) Person #1:“I love the way the red pomegranates, orange oranges and yellow bananas pop in this photo.”

Person #2:“What are you smoking? Everything looks muted. Dark greens and grays. Nothing is red or yellow in that photo.”

Person #1:“Are we looking at the same thing here? The colors are vibrant and beautiful. You’re crazy if you don’t think so.”

Person #2:“Whatever. You’re a moron. I know what I see.”

Couples fight a lot. We’re human. We disagree because our brains work differently than others’.But when we FIGHT, it’s mostly because we don’t understand.

And then, no matter how many different situations crop up, it seems as if the fight is always the same.

Both people believe they’re looking at the same thing, yetboth…

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Is Your Spouse Hurting You On Purpose?

Must Be This Tall To Ride

albert einstein the power of asking the right question (Image/CoSchedule) Pain sucks.

Some people enjoythe muscle burn after a hard workout because it feels like progress. Others like the achy remnants of vigorous bedroom activities, or headaches the morning after a fun party, as a reminder of the fun.

But we can mostly agree that pain in most forms and at most times is a predominantly negative experience. Hurt someone long enough or hard enough and they won’t even be the same person afterward. It’s a big deal.

My go-to defense when my wife was upset with me inour marriage was to sayI didn’t do it on purpose (which was true). To me, it felt unfair forher to be mad about whatever the thing was. Or at least AS mad as she sometimes was.

Inflictingdamage intentionally is a universally frowned-upon thing. When your actions result in harm to other people or their property, the penalties in the criminal justice…

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We Can’t Always Get What We Want, But if We Try Sometimes…

Must Be This Tall To Ride

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-by-angela-duncan Everyone needs a few things. If you deny help to your partner in their pursuits, or become an obstacle, then your relationship will inevitably suck or end. (Image/Angela Duncan)

You and outside forces are engaged in a never-ending dance—working in harmony, or against each other—to motivate your spouse or partner to stay with you or leave you.

While I never thought of my marriage as any sort of Gotcha!-trap for my wife, it’s pretty clear upon reflection that my behavior frequently conveyed the belief she would never leave and that I had no power nor responsibility to influence her decisions or motivate her to choose me and our marriage over other options.

Maybe it’s because I grew up Catholic and didn’t see much divorce.

Maybe it’s because I was ignorant and oblivious.

Or maybe it’s because I was a stupid asshole.

It has become clear to me in the…

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The 3 Tiers of Lying and How Well-Intentioned Lies Can Still Destroy Relationships

Must Be This Tall To Ride

chair in spotlight (Image/iStock Photos)

How many times have you lied to people you genuinely love and respect in the past few days?

If someone asked me that, I’m pretty sure I’d say “Zero! I don’t lie to people, but especially not to those I care about most!”

And by doing so, I’d be telling another lie.

I don’t think of myself as a liar. I don’t think of myself as dishonest.

But maybe I am.

I used to think I was this really good and nice person just because I got along with people so well and had a bunch of friends. And you know what I found out later? That my behavior sometimes hurt people—friends and family. And you know what else I found out later? That my behavior often hurt my wife, and even though I thought of myself as a good husband, she thought and felt differently, and left…

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‘My Wife is Irrational, Therefore She’s Wrong’

Must Be This Tall To Ride

light bulb in sunset (Image/freewhd.com) I know it’s hard, guys.

I’ll never be confused for a genius or scholar, but I’m reasonably bright in a Get B+ and A- Grades Without Trying kind-of way. And I made all of the same arguments you’re making. I repeated them until I was blue in the face, sometimes in my best dickhead voice while my wife and I volleyed shots at each otherin another fight in which no winner would emerge.

I agreed with you so much that I unknowingly bet my entire family on it. Andlost.

Maybe some of you guys are really tough and stoic. Maybe when bad things happen to you, you brush it off like it’s no big deal and move on gracefully.

That’s not how it went for me.

I could barely breathe when my wife and littleson weren’t homeanymore. This isn’t some “evil monster entitled man-hating feminist” I’m talking about, raging…

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7 Steps to Rebuilding Trust in Your Relationship After Betrayal and Lies

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interlocked fingers - rebuilding trust in relationship (Image/Life Supports Counselling)

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by my friend Jay Pyatt, who mentors men struggling with various addictions, including sexual ones which have resulted in relationship betrayal. Jay has a proven track record of helping men conquer inner demons, reconnect with their spouses, and restore broken trust at home. How does he know what to do? Because he’s been there. He fought back and won. And you can, too.

I’ll be honest with you: I lied to my wife almost every night for four straight years.

I did a quick estimate and figure I lied about a thousand times to her face in those four years.

I know how to destroy trust in a relationship. Thankfully, I learned how to rebuild trust, too.

It wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t even difficult.

It was the single hardest, awful-est, and most challenging thing I’ve ever done—and…

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What Men Should Learn From Straight Women Choosing Other Women

Must Be This Tall To Ride

two women having dinner These two ladies are just as likely to be business associates or friends as to be on a date. But whatever. Women seem to be choosing other women over men with greater frequency. Men should try to understand why. (Image/Legal Executive Institute)

I think women, with increasing frequency, are choosing romantic relationships with other women over men because of how poorly men perform the relationship functions women value most.

A few notes:

  1. Yes. I meant to type that.
  2. “…with increasing frequency” is difficult to quantify. Maybe we simply hear about it more than we used to because of a reduced fear of judgment, or because of the wide reach of the internet. University-based studies from 2009 through today suggest more females are self-identifying as bisexual or lesbian (15-ish%) than males are as gay (5-ish%), and that 60-ish% of females, regardless of sexual labels, find other women attractive (in a more-than-a-friend…

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