Porn, Intimacy, and the Male Brain

Author William Struthers teaches the subject of neurology with a Ph.D at Wheaton. This means his book has a very unique, neurological perspective, as most books on pornography are written either 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 overall. Also, I feel the subtitle (“How pornography hijacks the male brain”) is a bit misleading, for the book is not solely a scientific exploration.

Nevertheless, 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 her 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 really why they watch porn. I just hope they get around to seeing that and stumbling upon this direly-needed book.

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain