First in a series of three articles 

By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

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Dr. Mario Sacasa talks to students about fighting the battle against pornography at Christ the King Church and Student Center at LSU.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

It’s quick and easy to access, seductive and secret – no one has to know. While many think viewing pornography is a private matter, the damage it causes in individual lives and society has sociologists doing studies that are uncovering what the industry tries to cover up, according to Dr. Sacasa, director of counseling services at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Sacasa presented a program on fighting the battle against pornography Sept. 13 at Christ the King Church and Student Center at LSU.  

Sacasa said the root cause behind the violation of human dignity by pornography is best summed up by Saint John Paul II: “In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”  

Sacasa gave some sobering facts about pornography.  

A popular YouTube! site reports  that in 2016, people watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography on its site alone; 61 percent of visits occurred via smartphone. Eleven pornography sites are among the world’s top 300 most popular Internet sites. The most popular such site, at number 18, outranks ones such as eBay, MSN and Netflix. 

Another disturbing fact concerns the young age in which people first consume pornography.  

A research summary on pornography and public health prepared by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation noted that a study of university students found that 93 percent of males and 62 percent of females had seen Internet pornography during adolescence. Another sample has shown that among college males, nearly 49 percent first encountered pornography before age 13.  

A national survey found that 64 percent of young people ages 13-24 actively seek out pornography weekly or more often.  

Many people come into contact with pornography through “piddling” on their smartphone, tablet or computer, according to Sacasa. He said while men tend to be attracted to visual images, women are more attracted to something that proposes to be relationship based, noting that the audience for “50 Shades of Grey” was predominately women, and women are more likely to have sexual discussions in chat rooms.  

“(It’s) ‘Let me go to Facebook, or do a Google search, etc., let’s see if something comes up,’ ” said Sacasa. </span id=”10″>

From there, the habit of pornography demands to be fed, Sacasa said.  

In the same way that people typically eat three meals a day and the body signals a person “I’m hungry” at certain times of the day, if a person watches pornography at certain times of the week, the brain may signal “It’s Monday night, I’m hungry for porn,” said Sacasa.  

He talked about the different levels of use in pornography: curiosity (such as a boy of age 12); compulsion, in which their will has been compromised; and addiction. Addictions also have a progressive state. The first sign of addiction includes unmanageability. The object of their addiction interferes with their work and family life. The next is progression/tolerance, which manifests itself in two ways. The first is when the brain has the upper level of the pleasure hormone dopamine, the body wants more – one hour of viewing pornography, for example, turns into 3-4 hours. Progression also manifests itself in what the person is looking at online. They may start with looking at “soft porn” still shot photos and move on to hardcore, violent materials. This leads to mood alterations, and finally the inability to stop even with consequences.  

“People who watch child pornography don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to watch child pornography.’ They stumble into it,” Sacasa said.  

People may often think of pornography as alluring, and the glamorization of sex in ways not intended by God in entertainment may even be reflected in their dress.  

“It’s ‘the more explicit the better, the more revealing the better,’ ” said Sacasa.  

He pointed out if there is not a need for pornography, it would not be filled.  

“Let’s get rid of the need,” said Sacasa.  

He said that evils of the pornography industry, which it tries to hide, are that it is linked to sex trafficking and sex slavery; it encourages sexual violence against women; it lowers sexual satisfaction in marriage; it leads to poor body image, particularly for women; and, a higher rate of porn-induced sexual function disorder.  

Sacasa said despite all these problems, people return to such illicit materials because “porn hijacks the brain.” The rewards center of the brain releases “feel good” hormones throughout the body – similar to the way people think, in a three-year-old mindset, “ice cream tastes good” while consuming it. But after consuming a lot of it, the body sends a message, “Ice cream is not so good. My tummy hurts.”  

It’s similar to pornography, said Sacasa. While, particularly for males, there’s an initial “rush” which is enhanced by testosterone when viewing pornography, their consumption ends in frustration. He said with pornography, people have fallen in love with an image, not a spouse in a safe, loving spouse who can affirm them and bond with them. They can only imagine what it must be like to be the male in that video, which is not fulfilling.  

“The problem with porn is that all you’re looking at is a screen. A screen is never going to satisfy the need that a real person can,” said Sacasa.  

Next: A look at the impact of pornography on the sex trafficking industry and efforts within the Baton Rouge area to combat that.