Sex starts in the brain. Yes, your brain. In my books on sexual bonding, I share how the brain is a powerful organ, and in fact, it’s our biggest sex organ. It’s in the brain that sexual arousal and response originate, sending messages to our nerve endings to respond. God designed our brains to release powerful chemicals and hormones during sexual arousal and release. These chemicals make us feel good, and make us want to repeat the same activity over again.  Science has discovered that these chemicals and hormones bond us to the object of our sexual arousal and release, whether it’s a person, image, or fantasy of the mind. In fact, scientists say that as we chemically bond, we are training our brains to be aroused by certain things or not be aroused by other things. Let me explain.

Pavlov was a scientist who proved that we can train our brains (learn) to respond to certain stimuli. Working with dogs, he found that they would respond to him differently when he entered the lab with his lab coat on as opposed to his coat off. Taking the dogs, a bell, and some food, he performed an experiment. He would ring the bell, and then feed the dogs. The dogs would salivate when they ate their food…that is an involuntary learned response…something we do naturally without thinking. But in a short amount of time, Pavlov noted that the dogs began to salivate with the ringing of the bell, in the absence of food. This is what Pavlov called a voluntary, or conditioned response. The bell became a trigger to the dogs that food was coming, thereby causing them to salivate in response.

Experts in the area of sexual addictions and pornography confirm that the same thing happens with sex and the human brain. Whatever we are focusing on during sexual arousal or release, a person, an image–as in pornography, or a thought or fantasy in our minds, becomes our mental trigger, over time. It’s what we learn to associate with sexual pleasure. So when we see that person, or image, our brain responds with arousal, sensing sexual pleasure is coming. This learned response to sex is good news for our marriage partner especially if they’re the only person we’ve bonded with and trained our brains to. When they’re the only one that creates that level of sexual arousal and pleasure for us, there will be no other comparisons, no other people in our brains or memory that we associate with sexual pleasure. Isn’t God amazing!

Adapted from Barbara Wilson’s books: The Invisible Bond, how to break free from your sexual past,2006, Multnomah Publishers, Colorado Springs, CO. chapter 3 and Kiss Me Again; Restoring Lost Intimacy in Marriage, 2009, Multnomah Publishers, Colorado Springs, CO; chapter 2.

More Articles by Barb Wilson

The Brain and Sex: Good and Bad News

Info and Help . . .

Help for Marriages and Families struggling with Pornography: FamilyLife Canada

The Invisible Bond of Sex

Talk to a Mentor



Written by Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Dr. Barbara Wilson is an author, Dr. of Clinical Psychology, licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is also the founder of Freedom Bound Communications, an organization that brings healing and hope to those with a painful sexual past. She speaks internationally to youth and adults with her message of sexual bonding and healing. Released from a past of her own, Barbara combines neuroscience and Scripture, with her own story of healing to explain what sexual bonding is and how to move freely into your future in her books, The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free From Your Sexual Past and Kiss Me Again; Restoring Lost Intimacy In Marriage. Dr. Wilson’s study guide, Free, Finding Freedom and Healing from your Past, available in women’s, men’s and young women versions, is being used locally and nationally to walk men and women through an empirically-based, trauma-focused approach for healing from past abuse, sexual trauma and destructive relationships. You can view or purchase any of her books here. Barbara and her husband have been married over 30 years.