The ARM of St. Michael
This meditation includes selected text excerpts from the video short topic entitled The addictive dopamine cycle explaining the mechanism of pornography addiction. A related short is presently available for viewing at http://www.saint-mike.org/csgsar/bb3/viewtopic.php?f=161&t=1472
"Twenty five per cent of all Internet search requests are for lust content. While it might be argued that the search for images with the power to "reward" is inevitably part of human behavior, with the implication that no one can be anthropologically free of it; what is called pornography has also dynamically changed over time and has ultimately gained greater power to synthesize tastes and desires, and beyond that, to mold and define them."
Lust takes us completely out of the prudent intimate interaction between man and woman, out of sexual faculty understood and chiefly reserved for co-creating life with God, into an artificial realm of entrapment in chemical feedback pleasure processes, indistinguishable from drug addiction.
"Lust has profound consequences for the development of the brain. Prolonged exposure to lust stimuli increases the tolerance for the reward effect of brain-released dopamine. Tolerance eventually leads to habituation or addiction - not merely wanting stimuli but requiring it. Addiction gives rise to loss of control despite negative consequences which in turn leads to compulsion or complete powerlessness."
"Chronic exposure to lust stimuli can cause long term neuro-plastic change in the brain." Science has already revealed the phenomenon of multiplication of specific neural receptors in the excess presence of certain substances during the adolescent growth years. Children's brains can become, for example, four times more sensitive to nicotine than those not exposed during the same transit. Science may not prove it yet, but it is not implausible to expect that lust stimuli also multiplies the neural connections in young brains and increases the efficiency and preference for sensitivity to that stimuli.
"Dopamine is regularly and normally released in the brain and experienced as reward or benefit, as when eating a good meal - which is life sustaining, or when creating a child in the nuptial act - which also sustains life! Over time dopamine tends to reinforce or consolidate neural connections, to more efficiently recreate the reward cycle, through more of the same activity or behavior."
"Dopamine can alter and form the brain in different directions depending on the stimuli, to motivate choices and actions. The greater the addictive potential of substance or experience, the more dopamine release occurs. More stimulation yields more dopamine release, which reinforces need or desire for more stimulation."
Tolerance has the effect of reducing sensitivity to stimuli, meaning, one must seek more intense forms in order to maintain the same dopamine levels. The result is escalation; lust becomes increasingly toxic.
"Lust has the added dynamic of supplementing dopamine flow through obsession - mental concentration of past events or anticipating new ones, which can manufacture stimuli and also reinforces need for more." Still further is the experience of acting out, which pours still more dopamine into the system. All the while, the developing brain and nervous system consolidate all the related neural pathways to "wire things" in a way that insures the most reward.
It seems like an insidious outcome. But it is not when remembering that obedience to God's will and designs can also bring, union with God, a gift beyond any earthly intoxication.
While freedom from lust is sometimes regarded in courthouses and clinics as a character defect, a "volitional handicap", we know from recovery fellowships that a lust addict has unwittingly taken himself out of the whole context of morals. In other words, living error routinely into habituation takes on a life of its own far removed from the idea of volition or even the original need to escape or 'medicate'. The pleasure-dependent brain becomes physically deformed, warped around the object of its over-cultivated interest.
Lastly, addiction is not strictly a biochemical problem. There are demons connected to addictions, which is why it is so hard to break away from them. To be free of demons you need prayers, deliverance, or possibly exorcism.
When you add the temptation to be seduced by over-sensualized modern society - the third obstacle to salvation, lust emerges exactly as biblical indictments declare so explicitly: deadly.
There is a Savior. Jesus Christ is the One who can deliver us from our sin, from the menaces that collude to ensnare us in forbidden acts of personal intoxication. Jesus alone gives new life.
"Blessing for the Soul" Extract from "Jesus Our Eucharistic Love" by Fr. Stefano Manelli
"As for blessings for the soul, St. Cyril of Alexandria,Father and Doctor of the Church wrote:
If the poison of pride is welling up in you, turn to the Eucharist: and that Bread, Which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility.
If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity.
If the cold wind of coveting withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart.
If you feel the itch of intemperance , nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life , and you will become temperate.
If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent.
If you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of
Christ will make you pure and chaste.
When people wanted to know how it came about that St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) kept chaste and upright in the midst of youths who were loose and frivolous, this was his secret: frequent Holy Communion. It was this same St. Charles who recommended frequent Communion to the young St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591), who became the saint of angelic purity.
Assuredly, the Eucharist proves to be "the wheat of the elect and wine which sprouts forth virgins" (Zach. 9:17). St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), a priest thoroughly familiar with young people, remarked, "Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin are not simply the best way, but in fact the only way to keep purity. At the age of twenty nothing but Communion can keep one's heart pure... Chastity is not possible with out the Eucharist. This is most true."
Jesus gives Himself to us in the sacraments: holy communion and confession. Jesus, always one with the Trinity of God, is the one higher power, the one remedy. Jesus accomplishes all by our faith in His divine power. By the power of grace and cooperation with right thoughts and living right desires, eventually the body begins to un-deform.
The longer sobriety perpetuates the more it reverses what has happened to the body. There is no death sentence of developmental malformation. God has allowed for a plasticity in the human creature that will make transformation possible.
Thank you Jesus. Make us hunger for You and draw us more deeply into Your sacramental life that we may be healed and made new. Amen.