BBC Online recently reported a
"National Children's Homes" study that "[c]hild porn crimes
have risen by 1,500% since 1988." But "Why" we ask? And why are
"over one in three [users] involved in hands-on abuse"?
Is it because the human brain is designed--rigged--to believe
that any image it sees is real, so that millions of sexually
aroused viewers act out on children the "sex" they've seen? If
yes, would that fact stain the "Free Speech" defense of
pornography? This is the question we will briefly explore here.
[C]hild abuse….sculpts the brain to exhibit various
antisocial…. behaviors…. violence and abuse….This suggests
that much more effort must be made to prevent childhood
abuse and neglect. (Harvard neurobiologist Martin Teicher
in "Scars that won't heal"). (Emphasis added.)
The prevention of "child porn crimes" leads us
directly to the "Child Online Protection Act" (COPA). COPA,
scheduled for debate before the US Supreme Court in March, would
criminalize commercial Web sites (1) that regularly engage in the
business of selling, and (2) then knowingly make available to
minors, the kind of pornography that meets the legal standard of
obscene or obscene for minors.
The National Law Center for Children and Families wrote the "COPA
Brief of Members of Congress." The brief made legal history by
unveiling recent data on how pornographic pictures re-form the
Sophisticated medical diagnostic techniques confirm that
images override text for brain dominance and research
indicates that a pornographic environment "colonizes" a
viewer's brain, producing structural changes in the
brain that are involuntary and can last for years.
Pornographic pictures can cause permanent brain change.
These disinhibiting images can be reawakened at any time, like it
Neurologists question which of the brain's hemisphere
will gain control of shared functions and dominate overt
behavior, in light of the fact that every second millions of
messages bombard the brain and carry information from the
body's senses. Inhibitory transmitters help to shape the
neural networks that underlie all behavior and control
negative behavioral responses. There is evidence that the
inhibitory health function of a minor's nervous system can be
critically stressed by pornographic imagery.
Are children's minds being negatively sexualized? Are
children's natural inhibitions being eroded? If so, we would
expect sharp increases--post 1950--in children's mental,
physical and sexual disorders. The COPA NLCCF Brief continues:
[H]ealth statistics indicate that a significant
percentage of minors may be highly vulnerable to the toxic
effect of pornographic stimuli. Researchers claim that 25
percent of the population of the United States is under age
18, and at least 12 percent of these minors have a diagnosable
mental illness. Current Department of Justice data indicate
that 67 percent of all sex abuse victims are minors, and of
these, 34 percent are under age 11, and 14 percent are under
age 5. According to an Australian study, exposure to online
pornography is a "key factor" in the increase of incidents
involving young children committing sexual offenses, including
"oral sex and forced intercourse," against other children.
This is a predictable outcome of massive sociosexual
The Violence and Brain Injury
Institute now cites "Media Influences" as a "Macro Social"
cause of crime and violence (see
Pyramid" above from The Violence and Brain Injury Institute).
Modern brain-scans provide ample evidence of how media reshapes
brain, mind and memory. Sexual or violent images will
dominate any text (speech). Says pioneering neurologist
"The waking cortex obey[s] a law of strength, according
to which every strong (or biologically significant)
stimulus evokes a strong response, while every weak stimulus
evokes a weak response."
To respond to the written word we must be able to read!
Children cannot commonly read sex manuals (left
hemisphere speech) but they can and do mimic sex pictures. They
are taught how to molest babies and toddlers by repeating their
own abuse and/or by repeating what they see--commonly in erotic
pictures (right hemisphere arousal). The civilizing task of the
"Free Speech" amendment is subverted when emotional right
hemisphere pornography overrides the weaker left hemisphere
speech tasks of logic and analysis.
"Strong responses" defines our brain's neurochemistry in action.
Pornography isn't like a drug, it is a polydrug.
For example, psychologist M. Douglas Reed cites just a few of
many endogenously produced neurochemicals triggered by viewing
Arousal dependence may be compared to biochemical
alterations related to excessive amphetamine use…. Fantasy
behaviors can be related to such neurotransmitters as
dopamine, norepinephrine, or serotonin, all of which are
chemically similar to the main psychedelic drugs such as LSD.
Very "harmful to minors" are the spam or split-second
"teaser" sex images that trigger an endogenous drug "high." Says
neurologist Gary Lynch:
"[A]n event which lasts half a second within five to ten
minutes has produced a structural change that is in some ways
as profound as the structural changes one sees in [brain]
damage…. [and] can…leave a trace that will last for years."
Neurologist Richard Restak (The Brain) notes,
"inhibition rather than excitation is the hallmark of the healthy
brain." Science magazine reports, "too much neuronal
activity can be as bad as too little." No wonder a Government
Accounting Office report on 550 sex offender clinics--1977 to
1996-- found none had cured sex offenders. Predators
re-experience an endogenous drug "high" when seeing pictures of
naked or "provocative" women and/or children.
Plainly, the media cannot be blamed for all sexual wrongdoing.
Yet the media must be held legally and socially accountable for
its harmful, lying pictures about women and children's sexuality
and their alleged lust for indiscriminate or sadistic sex. Does
such brainwashing explain judicial decisions legitimizing even
"virtual child pornography?" For the brain processes "virtual"
child pornography as real "sexy children." Lynch and
others documented the rigorous scientific experiments that
finally established that the brain processes what it sees as
When nature gave man the prefrontal neocortex
and….connected it with his cortical areas, she failed to
provide a radar antenna and viewing screen. … [A dummy animal
decoy in the field] is sometimes sufficient to trigger the
entire copulatory act.
Until recently most neurologists doubted the affect of
media upon the national mind. Naturally we would expect a lag
time until legislators and judges also understand a causal
connection. The scientifically fraudulent idea that erotic images
are harmless speech and children are naturally sexual has led to
mass child victimization. An uninformed judiciary has subjected
millions of children and youths to toxic images that now dominate
their brains, minds, memories and conduct.
The First Amendment was designed to protect words- discourse, not
pictures-arousal. Pornographic images neurochemically blitz our
brains--overriding legitimate informed consent.
Enlightened lawmakers will have to bring our laws up-to-speed
with the power of media to shape our brains, minds, memories and
our civility. COPA is a beginning.
Dr. Reisman is author of Kinsey, Crimes &
Consequences and Soft Porn Plays Hardball. Her