from JAKARTA GLOBE
Addiction to pornography among children can cause brain damage leading to depression and behavioral problems that can be just as serious as those caused by illegal drugs, doctors told a seminar on the effects of pornography on Monday.
Jofizal Jannis, a doctor who heads the Intelligence Development Center at the Ministry of Health, said on Monday that addiction to pornography likely harms both the function and structure of the brain.
“Although we don’t have statistics yet about children whose brains have been damaged by pornography addiction, such damage is likely to exist considering that our children are very familiar with pornography,” Jofizal said. “Our brain is adaptive and very flexible. It records every single thing that happens in our life.”
Children are particularly susceptible to brain damage because their brains absorb information faster than those of adults, and a pornography addiction is likely to degrade their intelligence potential, Jofizal theorized.
Donald Hilton Jr., a neurosurgeon from the Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, told the seminar that pornography addiction could cause changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters and may interrupt oxygen metabolism in the brain.
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Donald Hilton Jr., neurosurgeon
Hilton said such changes would cause the brain to focus too much on pleasure receptors, thus failing to control behavior.
“Just like other addictions, pornography addiction will interrupt dopamine, which functions as a neurotransmitter, and it will cause a part of the brain to shrink,” Hilton said. The shrinkage occurs in the Ventral Tegmental Area, or VTA, at the front of the brain.
At the seminar, the We and Our Children Foundation presented a 2008 survey claiming that 66 percent of fourth through sixth-grade students in Greater Jakarta had seen pornography from various media, including comics, games, the Internet, movies and magazines.
Meanwhile, a 2007 survey by the government’s Child Protection Commission of 4,500 teenagers in the 12 biggest Indonesian cities found 97 percent of those surveyed had seen a pornographic movie, the seminar was told.
Hilton said there was little difference between addictions.
“The brain doesn’t care what the addiction is, it just can’t stop the process,” Hilton said.
Hilton said children were susceptible because the part of the brain that controls memory is not yet fully developed.
Children exposed to pornography could lack appropriate boundaries and might have a tendency to poor social behavior, depression and sexual abuse in later life, he said.
“From all the addictions I’ve handled, I’ve found out that porn addiction is the hardest to escape, even harder than drug addiction,” Hilton said.
Hilton proposed creating a safe environment by drastically reducing access to pornography and setting up support groups to help children deal with the issue of addiction.
He said with time the porn-damaged brain can heal itself but will never return completely to normal.