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The Centerfold Syndrome

Excerpted in part from Kids Online: Protecting Your Children In Cyberspace
by Donna Rice Hughes (Revell, September 1998)

Psychologist Dr. Gary R. Brooks, in his book, The Centerfold Syndrome: How Men Can Overcome Objectification and Achieve Intimacy with Womeni , has identified four symptoms of the "centerfold syndrome." As the result of a steady diet of soft-core pornography, men may display one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Voyeurism-an obsession with visual stimulation that trivializes all other features of a healthy relationship

  • Objectification-obsessive fetishes over body parts and the rating of women by size and shape

  • Trophyism-treatment of women as collectibles and property

  • Fear of intimacy-inability to get beyond glossy, centerfold images of women to have a real relationship
Pornography subtly communicates that the value of a woman is determined by her body, shape, and size. Only those women with a perfect physical appearance are valuable and worthy of being admired, desired, and loved. This can have detrimental effects on how women and girls view themselves. I often wonder how many young girls who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are unknowingly struggling to measure up to the perfect "10" image projected by the airbrushed centerfold. I also wonder how many teenage boys, consciously or unconsciously, measure the value of their girlfriends against the "bunny" image.
iGary R. Brooks, The Centerfold Syndrome: How Men Can Overcome Objectification and Achieve Intimacy with Women (San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, 1996), 2.

© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.