The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography. By Matt Fradd. Published by Ignatius Press, 2017.
Matt Fradd's book The Porn Myth is a must-read for Catholics and all those who believe in the sanctity of marriage.
However, unlike many books reviewed in this venue, it is also ideal for a secular audience, since its author demonstrates the harmfulness of pornography using strictly nonreligious arguments and research.
Fradd has assembled the latest knowledge of the effects of exposure to pornography. He also presents the testimony of sociologists and psychologists on the harm pornography use causes to relationships.
Those who, coming from a religious perspective, assume that secularists have no misgivings about pornography may be surprised to hear that, as Fradd writes, "… all over the globe, people are reporting the ill effects of pornography — even those who have no moral qualms with it.
"From the findings of neuroscience to the clinical investigations of psychologists to the couches of licensed counselors, there are widespread concerns about pornography's impact on our minds and on our culture. Pornography, says neurosurgeon Donald Hilton, is 'a visual pheromone, a powerful 100-billion-dollar-per-year brain drug that is changing human sexuality.'"
Fradd organizes his book in four parts, each subdivided into chapters that confront the various myths that porn users and purveyors tell themselves and others to deny or diminish the harm of pornography on themselves, others and society.
The problem is dauntingly huge. Fradd makes abundantly clear that pornography is a plague that is out of control — aided and abetted by a multibillion-dollar sex industry and by the availability of countless freely accessed pornographic websites. This is something that every person desiring human happiness for himself or others (here and in the hereafter) should care deeply about. The author urges: "… don't rip sex out of its obvious relational context, turn it into a commodity, and then expect individuals, families, and society to flourish. If we become a civilization that sells people, a civilization that takes something so central to who we are as persons — our sexuality — and industrializes it, we cannot be happy people."
As a priest who hears confessions, I can testify that pornography destroys families. It becomes a habit that rewires the brain in ways the person may long struggle to overcome, with great anguish and devastating effects on spouses and children.
However, the author's purpose is not only to offer facts, but also to instill hope by pointing out treatment approaches.
The information in this book will arm readers to rebut the lies and false information on the topic of pornography, understand the nature and scale of the problem, and become aware of ways to help disentangle people from pornography's grip.
Rev. C. John McCloskey is a syndicated columnist and author.