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Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain Paperback – Unabridged, January 9, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The chapter titled 'Your Brain on Porn' is one of the best explanations of how a person becomes addicted to the neurochemicals involved in love, romance, sexual arousal, and human touch. Wired for Intimacy is a valuable contribution to our field." (Given four out of five stars) (Mark R. Laaser, Christianity Today, March 2010)

"Fascinating and highly informative." (Luise Bolleber, ForeWord, January/February 2010)

"Finally there's a book that scientifically quantifies what those of us who work in the field of sexual addiction have long understood: pornography powerfully impacts the brain. Wired for Intimacy offers a clear and complete description of the brain and its interplay with human sexuality. Struthers marries an advanced understanding of neurobiology with a thoughtful theology of sexuality and a comprehensive discussion of intimacy. The result is a very readable, understandable book that goes far beyond the typical 'porn is wrong' premise to illustrate why from a biological, emotional, relational and spiritual perspective. Wired for Intimacy surpasses the typical recovery book in its scientific foundation and careful scholarship. This is a much-needed and welcome addition to the Christian literature addressing the pandemic of pornography." (Marnie C. Ferree, M.A, LMFT, director of Bethesda Workshops, author of No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction)

"Wired for Intimacy is a groundbreaking book on the brain chemistry of sexual addiction. Every man needs to understand how his sexual choices affect this crucial part of his humanity. It will be a great help toward sanctification for those who embrace its message." (Russell Willingham, author of Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus)

"This book opens the door for Christians to talk about men, sex and addiction in a candid and intelligent manner." (Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., author of Sex, Men and God, president of the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy)

About the Author

William Struthers (Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago), is associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois where he teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience, men and addictions and the biological bases of behavior. His theoretical research is in the area of neuroethics, the biological bases of spirituality and personhood, and the nature of integration in psychology. He is also interested in the Anglican tradition and in science/faith dialogue issues.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (January 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830837000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830837007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alex on July 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
The pervasiveness of pornography in our culture is obvious and widely discussed. Pornography is primarily marketed to and consumed by men. But why? How does it work? And how can men find freedom? Dr. William Struthers, Associate Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, has written a very interesting and informative book on how pornography hijacks the male brain and (more importantly) how the very impulses (the drive for intimacy) which propel men toward pornography can lead them out of depravity and into holiness.

The book is divided into two sections: How Pornography Works and Healthy Masculinity and Sexuality. Each section has four chapters. Chapter 1 addresses our culture's saturation with porn. Pornography is hard to define, and therefore hard to legally restrict. Those who produce it claim to be exercising their first amendment rights. Their materials are not harmful, they argue, since all participants are consenting adults. Moreover, they say, you can't prove that porn causes men a host of social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual problems (to say nothing of the problems for women). With the Internet comes access, affordability, and anonymity. In addition, the Internet provides opportunities for communication (chat rooms) and connecting with others (hook up sites). Chapter 2 discusses porn's corruption of intimacy. Rather than sexual intimacy between a husband and wife in a maturing healthy relationship, a man learns to focus on the physiology of sexual sensations detached from any significant relationship. This brings shame, increasing loneliness, and less libido for their wives (or girlfriends). Chapter 3 expands on these consequences.
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Format: Paperback
Originally posted on my [...] blog

The promise of Wired for Intimacy is that it can speak to the problems of pornography both from a Christian/theological/moral perspective and a neurological/psychological perspective. Some people are drawn more to one type of argument or the other. But I think it is important that there is an attempt at both sides. Without the theological, there is just a pragmatic science. Without the science, it is one person's theological system against another.

The first half of the book progresses from definition of pornography, to the social issues that occur because of pornography, to the neurological effects on the male brain from exposure to pornography. This is the heart of the book. The main issue identified neurologically is the potential for creating sexual triggers that are based more on pornography than a sexual partner. And the earlier a person is introduced to pornography the more likely that sexual response will become dependent on pornography and create sexual dysfunction when sexual response is desired with a human partner.

Sexual response for a male is more complicated than I would have imagined. There are a variety of chemical, hormonal, and other neurological responses that usually occur in the progression of arousal through to orgasm. But when pornography is used, several of the steps are skipped. When the brain becomes used to skipping steps, the ability for a man to have a fuller sexual response becomes limited. (There is a lot of neurological science in the book that I am skipping.)

For readers that are Christians I think that chapter 2 (Corruption of Intimacy) is important.
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Format: Paperback
According to the latest numbers I've seen, 53% of Christian men consume pornography and 37% of pastors say it's currently a struggle (stats from [...]). Clearly, according to the numbers, it is a much bigger problem than is being talked about, and being a pastor of a church virtually guarantees that I (and many of our readers) will deal with someone in the cross-section sooner or later. Thus William Struthers has done the entire believing body a service in writing Wired For Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain.

Perhaps the most interesting and helpful information Struthers provides is on the fact that pornography acts on the male brain much like drugs (such as cocaine and heroin) do. Both cause the body to release dopamine and, with repeated use, the body develops a tolerance and needs greater stimulation to get the same dopamine high (thus the law of diminishing returns is equally true of pornography). Just as a path in the forest becomes wider and more defined as more hikers use it, so do the neural pathways with repeated pornography use until, as Struthers puts it, one has created "a neurological superhighway where a man's mental life is over-sexualized and narrowed . . . they become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed".

Struthers, however, resists the temptation to color pornography use in particular and sin in general as simply a problem of the mind. He writes a book that plays to his strengths, but balances his expertise with the proper biblical picture of sin and temptation. While this book is not for everyone (obviously the subject matter is explicit), given the stats cited earlier, I cannot recommend this book enough for every Christian male, especially those in ministry.

Recommended for: Christian men; especially pastors and counselors

This book was a free review copy provided by InterVarsity Press.
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