back to top
Politics

A Tory Peer Claims Watching Porn Makes Your Brain Shrink

In what was one of the most awkward debates in parliamentary history, the Lords spent today arguing about the threat of pornography.

Posted on

Speaking at the Lords debate on porn's effect on society, Lord McColl of Dulwich, 82, claimed that "constant pornography consumption can reduce the size of parts of the brain that are related to reward".

McColl was referencing a study which he said examined 64 "healthy men" as they viewed sexually explicit videos. He claimed it proved beyond doubt that porn damages brain activity much like drug addiction does.

"There is increasing evidence to suggest that brain activity of those individuals who consume large volumes of pornography is similar to the brain activity of those with other addictions, notably with addiction to drugs," said McColl.

It was one of a number of eyebrow-raising contributions during the porn debate, including when the Bishop of Chester spoke about "squalid, dirty, sex".

vine.co / Via Jim Waterson

The bishop had called for the debate in the Lords, arguing that pornography has a detrimental affect on society. At the conclusion of his speech, he teased that he wanted to end in "a way which may surprise" his fellow lords – and proceeded to quote the author D.H. Lawrence.

"No other civilization, not even the Romans, has showed such a vast proportion of ignominy and degraded nudity and ugly, squalid, dirty, sex," he said.

Most speakers agreed that more needs to be done to tackle porn being accessed by children, with one lord claiming young people were caught in "a web of pornography". Others, such as Baroness Murphy, argued there was no evidence that porn has led to an increase in sexual violence among young people.

Baroness Howe thanked the Bishop of Chester for giving the Lords the opportunity to "stand back and look at pornography".

A number of the lords who contributed to the debate made sure to be clear about their lack of experience with porn, but were nonetheless very concerned about it.

"I have to admit I am not an expert on pornography," says Lord Northbourne.

Lord Cormack, who said he went to an erotic exhibition in the British Museum last year, was among those who said the definition of pornography had to be more clearly defined before it could be effectively dealt with.

"Last year the British Museum had an extraordinary exhibition of Japanese erotic prints," says Lord Cormack.

Murphy agreed, saying the "really rather nasty" Fifty Shades of Grey is a form of pornography but one that shouldn't be restricted by law.

Baroness Murphy calls 50 Shades Of Grey "basically a piece of sado-masochism and really rather nasty".

Lord Farmer was concerned that access to porn was leading to more internal injuries caused by sex.

Lord Farmer: "Internal injuries can be caused by sex acts inspired by young men's access to porn"

Baroness Shields assured Farmer she would do research to get to the bottom of the issue.

Baroness Shields says she will get back to Lord Farmer with the latest statistics on anal sex injuries.

Lord Framlingham seemed quite confused by the whole world of online porn.

I think Lord currently speaking just began talking about "the internet world" of "flickering images" "where we adults can not get involved".

Summing up the debate, the Bishop of Chester said the issue of porn was a lot like a chicken omelette.

Bishop of Chester: "Does the chicken or the egg come first? When you're looking at a chicken omelette, that question becomes academic"

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.