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Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain Paperback – Unabridged, December 9, 2009
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"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
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The book is focused primarily on the male brain, but there are useful insights on brain chemistry and addiction in general. The book also has a spiritual component and it suggests that the lack of a right relationship with God often drives the addiction to more extreme measures. Your body longs for intimacy and you try to supplement that need with something that you think is intimacy (sexual stimulation with various partners and/or pornography and masturbation) but ends up being only sexual gratification with no intimacy. It talks about how this develops isolation for addicted individual along with shame and guilt that often accompanies addiction.
The book also offers large amounts of research data from different studies and different countries showing not only the almost unique damaging effects of pornography/sex addiction, it also offers some effective ways to break the cycle and move toward real intimacy.
Author William Struthers teaches the subject of neurology with a Ph.D at Wheaton. This means this book has a very unique, neurological perspective, as most books on pornography are going to be by counselors and/or pastors. This book tends to take a much more scientific approach in some chapters, lending to a better understanding for just how porn latches on to the brain. This is both tragic to see and wonderful to learn -- it's much easier to avoid touching a stove when you comprehend exactly how the burns would destroy your hand.
This is not a typical recovery book. The author will not simply give you practical ways to stop watching porn. He instead addresses how watching pornography reveals the deeper need for intimacy in males. When that need combines with both our sinful nature and a corrupted image of true masculinity in our culture, the result is seeking out unhealthy, unsatisfying forms of "false intimacy" that ultimately destroy the lives of men -- porn. I hope you can see from this review that Struthers' work is more than a self-help book. It is much deeper and much more needed than that.
So this book is less about pornography than it is about intimacy. God "wired" humans to be in His image and to receive their deepest needs for intimacy from Him, from a spouse, and other healthy friendships. Not from their computer screens or prostitutes.
I see a lot of criticism for this book because it's 'not practical enough'. I truly feel those reviewers have either missed the point of the book or didn't read it in its entirety. Anyone knows that to erase a tree you have to uproot it completely, and sins and struggles in the lives of humans are no different. He does give some practical advice for stopping a pornography addiction in the last chapter, and I think the brief yet big ideas he addresses suffice. As the author implied, when a man sets it in his heart to repent and let go of an addiction, a mere book is not going to be the sole savior anyway.
Some of the best parts of the book are in the second half dealing with true masculinity. Chapter six outlines what really makes a man Biblically versus what society says, and it's so great I wish some feminists I know would read it.
One caveat of the book is that at times it feels a bit inaccessible. Because there are some science-heavy parts, some chapters feel either drawn out or like Struthers goes on small tangents that seem a bit irrelevant to the chapter as a whole. Fortunately, this is only a couple cases and does not detract from the book's message at all. Also, I feel the subtitle ("How pornography hijacks the male brain") is a bit misleading, for the book is not solely a scientific exploration. It touches on so much more, which is what makes it a 5-star book instead of a 4-star.
Every man needs to make the effort and read this book. It will convict and rip your heart apart to see why men feel the need to look at a girl's body instead of their face on first sight or, even more sadly, during conversation. It will sadden you to read how men have lost the ability to appreciate female beauty without making it erotic. It will break you to learn about the neurological buildup that traps so many men into pornography addiction when God intended that buildup for the safe confines of marriage. Of course, brokenness is required if one wishes to repent and give their lives to God.
Most men have an intimacy problem today, which is why they really watch porn. I just hope they get around to seeing that and stumbling upon this direly-needed book.
Top international reviews
Wired for Intimacy is a match of three halves - part one dealing with mainly religious objections to porn. Here there are many of the usual Christian arguments which I am largely sympathetic to, but are already well worn in other earlier works. The problem lies in Struther’s tendency to the “corrupt”, “degrading” “distorted” type of vocabulary heavy on the guilt and shame. This is unfortunate if his aim is to help those in trouble as simply telling users they are engaging in degraded behaviour and should do something about it does absolutely no good - they already think that. Cruise the nofap community if you doubt it.
Then the middle section deals with the brain science with some useful material - though much better explained by Wilson (see above) and lots of complex and largely irrelevant description of bits of the brain that aren’t fundamental to the addiction process. In this section he tells us that persistent pornography use deepens pathways in the brain under the influence of the reward circuit but does little to advise on how to eradicate these habitual paths. In fact, under the excuse of “not reinventing the wheel” readers are simply redirected to a bunch of existing counselling and therapy resources. This completely misses the point. If Wired for Intimacy has something new to say the whole benefit should be to apply this new perspective to understanding and addressing the problem - which he completely fails to do.
Finally we get a large chunk on what proper godly masculinity really is - or should be according to Struthers. As above, this is probably very worthy but really beside the point. If you already have a Christian outlook this is unnecessary and if you don’t then you won’t find it convincing. Much better to subscribe to the Good Men Project and see how guys (some from a Christian perspective but most not) are really grappling with the issues.
In general - despite much academic referencing - Wired for Intimacy is also far too based on the power of repeated assertion and generalisation rather than detailed argument and referencing the experience of actual addicts - both still struggling and those in recovery.
So why three stars? Basically because it’s at least an attempt to tackle the issue which is still to be applauded. Gary Wilson makes the case that we are involved in maybe the greatest unregulated social behavioural experiment of all time in terms of the number and age of porn users and the uniquely new phenomenon of high speed internet porn.
Evangelical Christian believers need to find a voice on the subject - but sadly this isn’t it.
Simplistic and boring introduction to the subject.
This book has christian values sewn through it, yet is broad enough on topic to appeal to the masses. If you happen to come across this book from a seeking for a “way out” of an addiction to pornography, believer or not, this book will inform you, relate to you and reveal what the framework for healthy sexuality is (with a biblical worldview).
With a simple read of a book the information is not too complex to understand, yet, bears a weight of the seriousness of porn and the misplacement of what porn really is and what role in plays in our mental, physical and spiritual lives.
The science in this book brings a sobering exposure that your brain, mainly mentioned; the male brain, is wired in such a way that there are processes/ neurological circuits that dictate behaviour, mood and general outcomes based on how you relate to porn.
I am by no means a reader, however, i consumed this book and flipped the pages feverently for the exposing science, the liberation and reminder of God and the Gospel with real practical applications makes this a go-to book for anyone who, on the spectrum of sexual struggle, wants to be rid of feelings of being trapped, ashamed, dirty, or just to know why what is working out is happening to them, then look no further than this book, a ~$15 you won’t regret spending.
It dose not shy away from the hard facts.
Best book I have read as I am trying to help my friend.
This book has guided me with Gods help to understand what sexual porn is.
A must read if you suffer from porn.
Cy of the North
Also, the chapters of the book do not seem to be interrelated. Reading it felt more like reading 8 separated essays than reading a book.
I am very disappointed with the book and I would not recommend it.
It ranges from how our brain processes pornographic images and their physiological and psychological consequences.
Lightly addresses gender issues and the issues of identity and its construction.
It seems appropriate to a person with little knowledge on the subject book, as is my case.
This book relates some details allowing those who want to go further.
However it can also be read with more lightness affording enter the field without much difficulty.