It’s true. You have TWO brains! And if you want to help inoculate your children against pornography, it’s very helpful to understand how they work together.

GPBP_07SmlThe Feeling Brain

The feeling brain (or instinctive brain), called the limbic system, resides near the center of your brain. It’s where emotions like fear, anger, excitement, sadness and pleasure come from. The feeling brain is also responsible for your basic drives such as hunger, thirst and sexual desire which help to ensure your survival and the survival of the entire human family.

The feeling brain has three main objectives:

  • To survive physically
  • To avoid pain
  • To pursue pleasure

The feeling brain is sometimes called the primitive brain because we share the structures of this part of our brain with all mammals. It’s automatic and responds to stimuli extremely fast. Just imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and come upon a large bear. Before you can even think the word “bear”, your feeling brain has already started pouring out adrenaline to help you run away or even fight the bear!

GPBP_08 Your feeling brain automatically handles a bazillion tasks like warming your body up when you go sledding on a cold day or cooling your body down when you play soccer on a hot day. Your feeling brain regulates your breathing and your heart rate so you don’t ever forget to do them. Being on auto pilot for some things is very crucial to our survival.

The Thinking Brain

Our second brain is our thinking brain, or the pre-frontal cortex. This part of our brain is much slower. In our pre-frontal cortex we plan, weigh consequences, learn right from wrong and develop brakes for our basic emotions and drives.

Think about a two-year old that runs after a ball into the street, not thinking to look for cars. His feeling brain wants the ball (which represents pleasure). The two-year-old’s thinking brain is not yet developed enough to put the brakes on his desires. But an older child can be taught to stop at the curb and look for cars before entering the street because an older child has a more developed pre-frontal cortex.

The thinking brain needs to be in charge in order to control our basic drives. And, in fact, until we grow up we depend on the adults in our lives to be our pre-frontal cortex. Eat your vegetables before dessert. Put your helmet on when you ride your bicycle. Wear a jacket—it’s supposed to rain today.

I’ll be you can hear your mom right now!

I’ll talk more about this in future posts, but to put it simply, pornography activates the sexual part of the feeling brain before a child’s thinking brain even knows what sex is. That can set up a very confusing and compelling curiosity which may drive the young child to seek out more and more pornography.

virus-41366_640Simply put, the feeling brain, infected with the nasty virus of internet pornography, hijacks or takes over the under-developed thinking brain. In fact, because our brains consider sex a matter of survival, pornography viewing can become a powerful and enslaving addiction.

Teach your children about their two brains and encourage them to put their thinking brain in charge!

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.