Erektionsproblem av för mycket porr (Swedish article about porn-induced ED - Aftonbladet) Also see: För mycket porr påverkar hjärnan, Verkligheten inte tillräckligt upphetsande and Porren var det enda som fick Kalle att tända.
Pornography in Relationships (Lively podcast discussion)
The Science of Orgasms and Your Brain on Porn (Brain Pickings)
"Talk About Sex" (interview on Santa Fe's KVSF)
"SuperNormal Porn" podcast (podcast on AskBryan)
Hard porn can make you soft (Mumbai) Correction: Gary is not a psychologist, but rather a physiology teacher.
How Porn Kills Your Sex Drive in Men's Health News
Interview with Chris Greene - Irish Radio
Internet pornography destroying men's ability to perform with real women, finds study in Daily Mail on line (UK)
Impotent? Blame (Sex) Addiction! in HealthMad
Re-Thinking Porn; The Internet Factor - By Dad's Primal Scream
Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction: Is It Real? - in GuySpeed
9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain - Thegospelcoalition.org
Show host Bryan: This is a frank conversation with Gary Wilson about the subject of internet porn addiction. Know this: Internet porn addiction can cause erectile dysfunction, and a host of other problems; you may want to consider removing it from your life.
Listen to podcast (scroll to bottom of that page)
FOR COOPER JAMES, self-improvement isn’t masturbation. Really. As of early September, it has been 225 days since the 22-year-old Calgary radio-broadcasting graduate has masturbated. The most challenging part, he says, is kicking Internet pornography. James has a mobility impairment that confines him to a wheelchair and, living in a second-level duplex, it’s a chore for him to get in and out of his home. Unemployed, bored and sitting in front of a computer all day, he would turn to the quickest and most accessible source of entertainment he knew: Internet porn. This became part of his routine. “It was just too much. It was just getting out of hand,” he says. “It was just like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to be that person anymore.”
NoFap changed all that.
NoFap is a growing online movement comprised primarily of men, who have taken a personal challenge to abandon masturbation and, usually as a result, turn of internet pornography for a week, a month, 90 days, or even indefinitely. (Fap is Internet slang for masturbation.) Since becoming a NoFap devotee, James says he feels more confident, assertive, and sociable. He has relapsed only once, 46 days into his first vow of fapstinence. Now, James wants to see if he can go for a whole year. It sounds possible. After all, NoFap has freed up his time and rekindled his need to socialize. “I feel a lot more genuine,” James says.
These are the kinds of stories Alexander Rhodes, creator of the popular NoFap reddit website, hears daily. Rhodes, a budding actor and University of Pittsburgh biology major, discovered NoFap when he stumbled across an online thread describing a study that showed how serum testosterone levels in blood increased by 45.7 percent in men who went one week without ejaculating. “Everyone was talking about it,” he says.
The NoFap movement has encouraged thousands of men and women to quit masturbation. The arguments make sense: improved self-esteem, better concentration, and no more porn. But is self-pleasure really that bad?
With NoFap lingo flooding reddit, Rhodes saw a need to create a dedicated forum for discussion. He started the website in June 2011. In little over a year, the site has exploded to include 30,000 fapstronauts—NoFap terminology for masturbation abstainers—and counting. Rhodes said the website gets more than 3 million hits each month. He’s recently launched a non-reddit website, nofappers.com.
Each fapstronaut has his or her own reasons for participating in NoFap, according to Rhodes. Some try to quit masturbation for religious purposes, while others are merely looking to test their mental resolve. In his most recent challenge, Rhodes hasn’t masturbated or had sex—a feat dubbed HardMode—in 62 days. As a result, he says he experiences increased energy and motivation, or the “Bradley Cooper effect”—a reference to the movie Limitless. (In it, the protagonist, a fledgling writer, takes a drug that unlocks the full potential of his brain, allowing him to pen a best-selling novel overnight.)
Others join NoFap because masturbation has become an unhealthy part of their lives. “In the very beginning, NoFap was just meant to be a fun test of willpower or a challenge,” says Rhodes. “It wasn’t founded under the idea that it was going to end up—or eventually evolve into—any sort of self-help website.” Despite this, he estimates that posts detailing personal struggles with masturbation and helpful tips for people taking the challenge account for 50 percent of the website’s content. A lot of NoFap users, adds Rhodes, come to the site seeking support, friendship, or somebody to talk to.
Carlyle Jansen, owner of Good for Her, a Toronto sexuality store that focuses on women and couples, commends NoFap for encouraging open discussion on a very taboo subject. Jansen conducts educational workshops that teach women how to feel comfortable self-pleasuring. She believes people, and parents especially, need to talk about masturbation without judgment—and without feeding any feelings of shame. Not only is there the stigma of masturbation, she adds, but there’s also the stigma of too much masturbation. In fact, Jansen says the question about masturbation she hears most often from clients is: “Am I normal?” “People do feel nervous that sometimes [their masturbation] is too much when it is like, maybe, three times a week or once a day,” she says. “Which, to me, is not anywhere close to a problem.”
Can masturbation become a problem though?
Rhodes doesn’t believe it is inherently unhealthy, and is careful to say that scientific research has shown that for many adults masturbation is healthy. He also doesn’t advocate NoFap to people under the age of 18. “I think that masturbation is important,” he says. “It’s something that is natural and usually occurs— and possibly should occur—in your teenage years. It’s a tool that humans use naturally to learn about their bodies and learn how things work, so that whenever they do emerge from adolescence, they know what they are doing when it comes to sex.”
Wendy Trainor, a registered sex therapist in Toronto, says masturbation is a good way to learn about your sexual responses and to satisfy needs if a partner is unavailable or does not exist. However, she says it can become unhealthy when it affects a person’s ability to focus on work or studies, or when it takes away from a person’s experiences with his/her partner. “Some women come into my ofce thinking their partner has low desire, when, in fact, their partner has been self-pleasuring several times a day,” she says. “Self-pleasuring can be an easier path to pleasure than taking time to be sexually engaged with their partner.”
Pornography can compound the problem. As James puts it: “You can have those pretty women up there for a few minutes and you can get off, but after that, what does it do for you? It doesn’t help you in your real relationships at all.”
The NoFap website directs new users to yourbrainonporn.com, a website authored by physiologist Gary Wilson. Wilson argues that excessive Internet pornography use can reshape men’s—and women’s—brains by altering their ingrained reward circuitry. Arousal addiction, he continues, may be responsible for a variety of symptoms, ranging from ADHD, depression, erectile dysfunction, and social anxiety disorder. By turning off, Wilson argues users can reboot their brains and reverse some of the changes created by Internet pornography.
The science, admittedly, is still in its infancy, but Trainor says pornography-related visits are far more frequent today than when she started practicing in 1972. While she says pornography can provide useful visual cues for people who want to self-pleasure, she calls it a slippery slope. The internet, she says, can give people the “perfect mechanism” for discovering novel stimuli at the click of their mouse. That can, in turn, lead to compulsive behaviour. NoFap, on the other hand, pushes people to interact. Rhodes receives scores of emails from men, women, and couples who credit NoFap with turning their lives around and saving their marriages. “Whenever you take away the masturbation, [people] are forced to emerge from their caves,” he says. “If you are going to get off, you have to go outside.” (A recent user survey found 40 percent of NoFap members have never been in a relationship.)
Rhodes doesn’t pretend NoFap has all the answers. As Jansen says, the movement has comparisons to fad dieting: encouraging people to abstain from something enjoyable, while ignoring the underlying issues that make them feel fat. Rhodes adds there is little primary research on Internet pornography’s effect on people and even less so on NoFapping. Many of the challenge’s claimed benefits on the website are anecdotal and—in cases where superhuman powers are reported—likely exaggerated. To dissuade users from seeing NoFap as a cure all, Rhodes has added a medical disclaimer, advising people to seek help if they have serious issues in their lives. Such warnings are unlikely to deter James and the many other NoFap converts. “A lot of the people feel it is for science and I feel the same way,” James says. “It’s still an ongoing experiment.”
"Talk About Sex" host Lucien Bonnafoux and Gary discuss how today's porn differs from porn of the past and the effects on users and their relationships.
They also consider such questions as, "What can parents can do to help their kids navigate?"
... Reading this and watching this riveting Tedx talk on the impact of online porn on young male brains – essentially numbing them to actual sex with real human beings and creating an epidemic of young men with floppy dicks (I refuse to use the term “erectile dysfunction” when simpler English can do) – has woken me up a bit.
Writing and editing and producing 50 posts a day – and doing something very similar almost every day since Bill Clinton was president – must be affecting my brain. It’s not as powerful as the effect on the younger, developing brain, but, yes, skittishness, dissatisfaction, and constant stress have doubtless changed my entire mindset. And I can see the point about online porn making physical sex more difficult – especially if you spent your most formative sexual adolescence under the spell of constant, dizzying varieties of sexual imagery and video. How can one woman or one man even begin to replace that cornucopia of dopamine?
Our brains were designed to be turned on. But not this often, this instantly, this pleasurably and without any consequences at all. Once again, our frontal cortex is getting way ahead of our primate DNA. And the Tower of Babel grows ever taller.
From Being Master Of Your Own Domain, Ctd - In this post Sullivan quotes several guys involved in the NoFap movement:
... The NoFap “movement” is much more about Internet porn than it is about fapping, whether the participants are aware of this or not. It’s not that frequent masturbating in itself is detrimental to sexual performance; it’s that frequent masturbation to online pornography is detrimental to sexual performance. For the first time in human history, a male can view more sexually arousing females in one hour than our ancestors did in a lifetime. The ubiquitous nature of Internet porn has provided a level of sexual novelty that our brains have not evolved to handle. The key here is dopamine and the brain’s reward circuitry. It’s one thing if you masturbate to mental images. It’s another if you just look at porn. Combine the two to orgasm, day after day, and you will have very real, very detrimental consequences to sexual performance. And once you do this for years on end, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain boner-levels of dopamine when you’re with just one, 3-dimensional woman.
There is an epidemic of younger guys who are struggling with erectile dysfunction, seemingly due to the over consumption of Internet porn. Check out Gary Wilson explaining the problem in his TEDx talk [above]. So you get this group of guys who can’t get aroused by a real girl (or guy), maybe throw in some other issues such as depression and social anxiety, and due the psychological and social aspects of masturbation, they misinterpret cause-and-effect and quite “fapping” when they should be quitting porn.
I can’t even maintain an erection in a condom anymore, and during sex often think about the porn scene I watched the previous (or that same) day. Refraining from porn, deleting our downloaded collections, is an attempt to get some control back in our lives.
... I can tell you from experience – as a 33-year-old gay man who’s been on Viagra for seven years, who was given my first tablet from a 30-year-old man who was dependent on them, who has a handful of straight and gay friends who “can’t stay hard with condoms”, who knows guys who fight ED in their early 20s, and knows guys who can only come if it’s on someone’s face – there’s something happening to young men these days.
A lot of guys find the forum from the website yourbrainonporn.com. It features Gary Wilson’s TedX talk “The Great Porn Experiment” and Philip Zimbardo’s “The Demise of Guys”. It’s compelling stuff; the idea that Internet porn is not your father’s Playboy collection, that our brains aren’t equipped to handle what we’re putting them through, and the effects of tying dopamine reception to internet porn daily, for years at a time.
I encourage you guys to check out the site. It’s an interesting subject, and it deserves better than what New York magazine and Gawker gave it.
By Leila Brillson
Wait, wait, wait: Before you light your Internet on fire, we don't mean we are anti actual masturbation. No one loves you quite like yourself, of course. But we do think that there is an interesting point to be examined in the "anti-masturbation movement," which is currently being discussed by websites such as Reddit or Andrew Sullivan.
Okay, here's a deep (and maybe uncomfortable for some) section of the Web — on Reddit, there is a new movement called the "NoFap" forum. (For those of us who aren't quite exposed to the wonders of the darkest corners of the Internet, "fap" is a colloquial term for masturbation.) The idea of abstaining has very little to do with morality or purity, but instead points out how, with the information superhighway, any type of sexuality, performance, kink, or taste can be easily accessed and catered to, without a moment's hesitation. Which, according to science, might be a problem when it comes to being a happy person.
According to the TED talk given by Gary Wilson, the absolute onslaught of Internet porn means that the basic brain is being rewired. He says, "With Internet porn a guy can see more hot babes in 10 minutes than his ancestors would see in several lifetimes. The problem is, he's got a hunter-gatherer brain. A heavy-user's brain rewires itself to this genetic bonanza, so it carefully becomes associated with this 'porn harem.'" Which isn't exactly great for the brain.
Wilson points out that Internet porn and real sex are vastly, vastly different. In particular, in porn, body parts are segmented and disembodied, and the quick, fast-forward-rewind nature of watching Net porn doesn't prepare one for, say, intimacy or considering a person beyond just their naughty bits. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, according to a Dutch study called "Predicting Compulsive Internet Use: It's All About Sex," of all the activities on the Internet, porn is the most addictive. This is because our brains have evolved to treat sex, companionship, and food as rewards — which means "hot, novel babes" feels like a real treat. That "treat," in the form of dopamine, can literally promote "binging and craving," like, well, like an addict. (Whatever happened to a good, old-fashioned fantasy?)
As a reader writes in to Andrew Sullivan says, "I can’t even maintain an erection in a condom anymore, and during sex often think about the porn scene I watched the previous (or that same) day." Which is why the, erm, "NoFap" participants have decided to voluntarily give up watching Internet porn. The same reader concludes, "Refraining from porn, deleting our downloaded collections, is an attempt to get some control back in our lives."So, from our understanding, this isn't about being "anti-masturbation" — it is more about limiting the stimuli and intensity of the information those of us consume when they decide to engage in a little self love. And this awareness — plus the idea that a lot of porn promotes unrealistic ideas about sex — is an experiment that makes a bit of sense. Too much of a good thing is, well, never good at all. (Andrew Sullivan)
Deutsch Version Versione Italiana | Captions also available for 한국의, Português, Español. To see them, click on the 'YouTube' logo to watch on YOUTube. Then, when you get there, click on "CC" for captions (bottom right of screen).
The widespread use of Internet porn is one of the fastest moving, most global experiments ever unconsciously conducted.
Nearly every young guy with Internet access becomes an eager test subject.
Canadian researcher Simon Lajeunesse found most boys seek pornography by age 10 - driven by a brain that is suddenly fascinated by sex. Users perceive Internet porn as far more compelling than porn of the past. Why is that? Unending novelty.
As you can see from this Australian experiment, it's not mere nudity, but novelty that sends arousal skyrocketing. Subjects watched 22 porn displays. See that spike? That’s where researchers switched to porn the guys hadn't seen before. The result: subjects' brains and boners fired up.
Why all the excitement? (A slide with sheep.) Mother nature likes to keep a male fertilizing willing females - as long as any new ones are around. A ram needs more and more time to mate with the same old ewe. But if you keep switching females, he can get the job done in two minutes – and keep going until he is utterly exhausted. This is known as the "Coolidge effect.“ Without the Coolidge effect…there would be no Internet porn.
This old mammalian program perceives each novel "mate" on a guy's screen as an opportunity to pass on his genes. To keep a guy fertilizing the screen, his brain releases the "go get it!" neurochemical dopamine for each new image or scene. Eventually the ram will tire, but as long as a guy can keep clicking, he can keep on going – and so will his dopamine. With Internet porn, a guy can see more hot babes in ten minutes than his hunter-gatherer ancestors could in several lifetimes. The problem is we have a hunter-gatherer brain.
Internet porn registers as a genetic bonanza - so, a heavy porn user’s brain carefully wires his sexual response to everything associated with his porn viewing. Being alone, Voyeurism, Clicking, Searching, Multiple tabs, Constant novelty, Shock or surprise. As one young guy asked: "Are we the first generation to masturbate left-handed?"
Real sex, in contrast, is: Courtship, Touching, Being touched, Smells, Pheromones, Less forceful stimulation, Emotional connection, Interaction with a person. What happens when our guy finally gets with a real partner?
Well, researchers don't know much about the effects of Internet porn - for several reasons. In 2009 when Lajeunesse tried to study porn's impact on users, he couldn't find any college-age males who weren't using it. So, the first serious dilemma is that studies have no control groups. This creates a huge blind spot. Imagine if all guys started smoking heavily at age 10 - and there were no groups who didn't. We'd think lung cancer was normal for guys.
Undaunted by his lack of non-users, Lajeunesse asked 20 male students - "Is Internet porn affecting you or your attitudes toward women?" Their answer? "Nah, I don't guess it is." But they'd been using it for about a decade…pretty much nonstop. This is like asking a fish what it thinks about water.
Which brings us to a second problem: researchers haven't asked porn users about the kinds of symptoms Zimbardo described in The Demise of Guys [TED talk]. “Arousal addiction“ symptoms are easily mistaken for other conditions, such as: ADHD, social anxiety, depression, performance anxiety, OCD, and so on. Healthcare providers assume these conditions are primary--perhaps the cause of addiction - but never the result of addiction. As a consequence, they medicate these guys without inquiring about the possibility of Internet addiction. So, many guys never realize that they could reverse their symptoms by changing their behavior.
Third, as a culture, we can’t believe that sexual activity could lead to addiction--because "sex is healthy." But today's Internet porn is not sex. It’s as different from real sex as "World Of Warcraft" is from checkers. Watching a screen-full of naked body parts won’t magically protect a guy from arousal addiction. On the contrary, this Dutch study found that--of all online activities--porn has the most potential to become addictive.
Here’s why. This ancient brain circuit evolved to drive us toward food, sex and bonding. As a consequence, extreme versions of these natural rewards register as uniquely valuable. That is, we get extra dopamine for high-calorie food and novel hot babes. Too much dopamine can override our natural satiation mechanisms.
For example, give rats unlimited access to enticing junk food, and almost all of them will binge to obesity. This is also why 4 out of 5 adult Americans are overweight and half of them obese-- that is, addicted to food. In contrast to natural rewards, drugs - such as alcohol or cocaine, will only hook about 10-15% of users, whether humans or rats.
This "binge mechanism“ for food and sex was once an evolutionary advantage. It helped us “get it while the getting was good”. Think of wolves stowing away 20 pounds of meat per kill. Or it’s mating season and you’re the alpha male.
What if mating season never ends? All those hits of dopamine do 2 things:
DeltaFosB – which starts to accumulate in your brain's reward circuit. With excess chronic consumption of drugs or natural rewards, this build-up of DeltaFosB (starts to change brain and) promotes a cycle of binging and craving.
If the binging continues, it can lead to the brain changes seen in all addicts:
The simplified dominoes of addiction are: excess dopamine over time>> leads to DeltaFosB>>> addiction-related brain changes>>>more binging>>>more dopamine>>>more DeltaFosB>>>more brain changes.
I can’t emphasize this enough: All addictions share these same neurological underpinnings and are triggered by the same molecular switch - DeltaFosB.
How do scientists measure the underlying brain changes? Brain scans of various types. These particular scans show reduced pleasure response in drug addicts. These and several other changes have also been seen in gambling addicts, food addicts, and very recently, video game addicts.
And now, in Internet addicts. I apologize for filling the slide with brain studies – but I want everyone to know they exist. Just notice the dates – these are hot off the press. So far, all brain research points in only one direction: Constant novelty-at-a-click can cause addiction. We know this, because when scientists examined former Internet addicts, these brain changes were reversing themselves. Unfortunately, none of these studies isolate Internet porn users—although they do include them.
Here’s the game changer....
At last, we have groups of guys who are no longer using Internet porn. That’s right. Heavy users are voluntarily giving it up by the thousands. These guys are the missing “control group” in the great porn experiment. They’re showing the experts what changing one variable can do.
It’s the “resurrection of guys.” Before I continue, you probably want to know why any porn-loving guy in his right mind would give it up. Two words:
Erectile dysfunction. “Internet porn is killing young men’s sexual performance.” As Zimbardo said, “Young guys are flaming out with women.” This survey by Italian urologists confirms what we have witnessed over the last few years.
Sexual enhancement drugs often stop working for these guys (if they ever did) - because their problem is not below the belt, where Viagra operates. Nor is their problem psychological. It’s due to physical & biochemical changes in the brain – addiction-related changes. Their numbed brains are sending weaker and weaker signals to their bananas.
As Dr. Foresta says: "It starts with lower reactions to porn sites. Then there is a general drop in libido, and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection.”
3 take-aways from this:
--Here's a guy in his late twenties:
I've been to psychologists and psychiatrists for the last 8 years. Have been diagnosed with depression, severe social anxiety, severe memory impairment, and a few others. Have tried Effexor, Ritalin, Xanax, and Paxil. Dropped out of two different colleges. Been fired twice. Used pot to calm my social anxiety. I've been approached by quite a few women (I guess due to looks/status), but they quickly flew away due to my incredible weirdness. I've been a hardcore porn addict since about 14.
For the last two years I've been experimenting, and finally realized porn was an issue. I stopped it completely two months ago. It has been very difficult, but so far incredibly worth it. I've since quit my remaining medication.”
“My anxiety is nonexistent. My memory and focus are sharper than they've ever been. I feel like a huge "chick magnet," and my ED is gone too. I seriously think I had a rebirth – a second chance at life.”
This is why pockets of guys are appearing all over the web. On bodybuilding sites, pick-up-artist sites, sports sites - wherever men congregate. They are seeking a neurochemical rebirth. Here's a group on Reddit.com, who call themselves "fapstronauts." "Fapping" is slang for solo sex – but they really mean giving up porn. They have added 2000 members since this picture was taken one month ago.
This movement to unhook from porn is growing. In fact, groups of are springing up across the web…in Europe too. But, there’s a bizarre fly in the ointment.
Guys in their early twenties aren’t regaining erectile health as quickly as older guys. How can a 50-year-old get his mojo back faster than a 20-something? Answer: even though the older guys used porn far longer, they didn’t start with today’s highspeed internet porn. We know this is the key variable – because older users don’t develop porn-related sexual problems until after they get high-speed Internet.
Today’s young teens start high-speed internet porn when their brains are at their peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity. This is also when they are most vulnerable to addiction. But there’s another risk:
By adulthood, teens strengthen heavily used circuits and prune back unused ones. So – by age 22 or so – a guy’s sexual tastes can be like deep ruts in his brain. This can cause panic - if he has escalated to extreme porn, or porn that no longer matches his sexual orientation. Fortunately, brains are plastic, and tastes can revert after a guy quits porn.
As a guy returns to normal sensitivity, his brain looks around for the rewards it evolved to seek--including friendly interaction and real mates. Here’s one more example of what we hear every day:
“I feel like the next Sir Isaac Newton or Leonardo da Vinci!
Since i quit a month ago, I've literally: started a business, taken up piano, been studying French every day, been programming, drawing, writing, started managing my finances, and have more awesome ideas than i know what to do with. My confidence is sky high. I already feel like I can talk to any girl. I’m the same guy who took 2 and a 1/2 extra years to graduate from college - because of procrastination and depression.”
I'll conclude with a wish: I'd like to see Zimbardo's guys who are wiping out, and their caregivers, listen to the thousands of men who are teaching us about arousal addiction -- by escaping it.
Thanks for listening.
Recently I received an anonymous email from an individual who heard our show about internet addiction and did some follow up. He claims to have been suffering from this addiction for many years and came across a website which was able to help him get cured. Tonight show will feature the creators of this great site, www.yourbrainonporn.com.
This UK debate occurred today via the Internet, and although the audio quality is decent, the visual quality is uneven.
Gary mentioned this research in the debate: Adolescents & Pornography.
Experts say the use of porn among teenagers is impacting their notions of normal sexual behaviour and their views on women.
With the click of a mouse, children of all ages now have 24-7 access to pornography, some of it violent.
The crimes are shockingly similar: an inebriated victim, a group of teenage boys committing sexual assault and then, to the horror of all, photos and videos of the crime recorded and distributed for everyone to see.
For Rehtaeh Parsons , 17, who committed suicide earlier this month, the photo of her assault was almost as damaging as the crime itself. Months after the Cole Harbour, N.S., teen was allegedly raped by four boys as she lay unconscious at a party, one horrific image from that night remained on the cellphones of her classmates. The picture, described by her mother, was of one of the perpetrators smiling and giving a thumbs-up as he assaulted the teenager. It was almost as if he was performing for an audience.
California teen Audrie Pott, 15, committed suicide days after pictures of her assault by three boys were posted online. Steubenville, Ohio’s Jane Doe would only learn the intricate details of her assault after a video and photos surfaced on the Internet indicting two members of the local football team in her rape.
In these cases, rape is just one horrific part of the equation. Equally disturbing is trying to determine what lurks in the minds of these young perpetrators.
“You have to ask yourself, what 15-year-old boy thinks there is a girl who wants to have sex with four boys and to what extent he thinks this is expected or normal? And you have to ask, where do they get these ideas from?” said Peter Jaffe, a professor at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University. “It’s not from sex education they are getting in school.”
One hypothesis: exposure to pornography. At no other time has pornography — including violent pornography — been so easily accessible for children of all ages. In one U.S. survey, 70 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds said they had watched porn, while a Canadian study found boys as young as 10 have experienced pornography. By the time they reached 20, the same study found it was almost impossible to find men who hadn’t viewed X-rated material.
Pornography can’t be solely blamed for what appears to be an increase in rape or sexual violence. However, academics, researchers and scientists say there is little doubt that the use of porn among teenagers is having a profound impact on their notions of normal sexual behaviour, their views on women and their ability to even identify what constitutes sexual violence.
“There was rape before porn, and if you could somehow magically remove porn, there would still be rape,” said Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity . “It’s kind of silly to assume that mass media and porn is responsible for violence, but it’s not ridiculous to assume that these mediums reinforce values that lead to violence.”
Fans of pornography cite years of Playboy and Hustler magazines as proof that pornography has long been a part of mainstream culture and that it can help broaden our horizons and improve our sexual lives.
But almost all academics admit the current “golden age” of pornography is unprecedented. The 24-7 access to multiple images and videos in a few clicks, including violent pornography, has never been experienced and its repercussions are unknown.
And they argue the “benefits” of pornography are debatable. In a 2010 analysis of 50 randomly selected adult films, researchers found high levels of verbal and physical aggression. Of the 304 scenes analyzed, 88 per cent contained physical aggression, including spanking, gagging and slapping, while nearly 50 per cent contained verbal abuse, particularly name-calling. In most cases, the men were dominant and the women almost always responded neutrally or with pleasure. Only 10 per cent of scenes contained positive sexual behaviour.
“This is not your father’s pornography,” said Jaffe. “Most pornography now looks to degrade and humiliate women. It’s not about healthy relationships, and I think if a teen is seeing those messages over and over again, it does have an impact.”
It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that a number of studies looking at the effect of pornography have found it to have negative overall effects in adults, and in particularly men: increased sexually aggressive behaviour, adverse effects on intimate relationships, and acceptance of rape myths, which trivialize rape or blame the victim.
A U.S.-based 2011 study of 10- to 15-year-olds over three years yielded similar results. The 1,200 kids were asked if they had seen X-rated material, included sexually violent material, and if they were involved in sexually aggressive behaviour within the same year.
“Our data supported this hypothesis that when you look at kids who report viewing violent X-rated material, they are significantly more likely to report sexually violent behaviour,” said Michele L. Ybarra, a lead researcher with the Center for Innovative Public Health Research. “Kids who reported non-violent material had almost the same behaviour as those who reported no exposure to porn at all.”
The study found that those who watched violent X-rated material were six times more likely to self-report sexually aggressive behaviour.
Jaffe says he is not surprised at such findings. “There are websites dedicated to forced non-consensual sex with drunken inebriated women. There are training manuals on how to do it, and how to get it away with it,” he said. “I am convinced that the more violent porn out there, you are going to see an increase in non-consensual sexual activity.”
A teenager’s brain is an ideal haven for pornography. Between the ages of 10 and 15, the teenage brain is in a heightened state of sexual development and maturity. This is also when many kids are first being exposed to pornography. Scientists have discovered the teenage brain is not exactly like the adult one — and that may influence how their brain responds to sex on demand.
In recent years, scientists have done brain scans of children from early childhood through to age 20 to track brain development. For years the assumption had been that that gray matter — the thinking part of the brain — peaked at early childhood and gradually decreased. Instead, scans indicate that the volume of gray matter is highest during early adolescence, giving the brain enhanced elasticity, yet delaying its progress into adulthood. That’s because gray matter matures in a back-to-front pattern with the frontal lobe the last to develop. This is perhaps most relevant, as this part of the brain is responsible for executive functions, such as planning, controlling impulses, judgement and reasoning.
MRI scans of teen brains also show that it is actively involved in a process of building neural connections, and thus the grey matter forges and prunes neural pathways. Scientists believe the “use-it-or-lose-it” process is actively at work here — and that how a teenager spends his days and nights will likely determine how his brain will ultimately be wired.
Brain scans have also found the teenage brain is dominated by areas associated with pleasure and reward, and emotional response, perhaps explaining the emotional roller-coaster years associated with puberty.
This volatile situation taking place within the teenage brain may make it more susceptible to the lure and long-term effects of pornography, scientists believe.
“In the teenage brain there is an imbalance of power between the thrill-seeking part of the brain, the reward circuit and the frontal cortex part of the brain, the higher brain that controls impulses and consequences,” said Gary Wilson, a physiologist and founder of the website www.yourbrainonporn.com . “This leads to the urge to seek thrills, especially sexual thrills, like Internet porn, and there is no inhibition of that.”
He also believes that if teenagers spend their adolescence watching pornography, their brains may “rewire” themselves to need such stimulus to be aroused.
Wilson said that in extreme cases of use, in both teenagers and adults, the brain reacts the same way to pornography as it does to other addictions.
However, some critics debunk such theories on pornography addiction as “pseudo-science.” They say there is no concrete scientific evidence that pornography is as addictive as drugs, or that it has the same detrimental outcomes as substance abuse. Studies on teenagers are even more difficult to administer, due to the sensitive subject matter.
“It is difficult research to do because you can’t ethically expose underage people to pornography,” said Ybarra, who adds that in most cases research to youth is limited to self-administered surveys. “But the work is made even more difficult because people have a hard time untangling the scientific and the moral arguments around pornography.”
Another complicating factor is that, while pornography consumption may be up, the “official” numbers of documented rapes are down.
“Rape remains at its lowest level in 40 years cross-nationally, for both juvenile and adults . . . even at a time when porn is everywhere,” said Christopher J. Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University.
Ferguson has done a meta-analysis of all studies looking at the correlation between porn and aggression and found the linkages were hardly convincing. “We are just not seeing that relationship.”
But one problem is that the definition of rape has never been clear cut, said Jensen. The views of college students in the U.S. are proof. One study by the U.S. Justice Department on the sexual victimization of college women found that 28 out of 1,000 female students were victims of an assault. Other studies have it pegged as high as one in four. Since rape is the most under-reported crime in the U.S., the rates of prevalence vary. A study of male undergraduates found that nearly a quarter of them admitted they had acted sexually aggressively on a date, causing their date to cry, scream or plead.
And for both men and women, their understanding of what constitutes rape is also alarming. Almost 75 per cent of women whose experience meets the legal definition of rape don’t recognize themselves as victims.
In the same survey, one in 12 men admitted to acting in ways that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, but 84 per cent of them said what they did was “definitely not rape.”
It’s an understanding that experts believe will continue to shift.
“If contemporary porn shows scenes that are cruel, degrading and violent to women, how does that affect the perception of those who are raping and being raped? Do they become more accepting of acts that would be deemed rape years ago? It could be that porn is shifting the way we even understand the term rape,” said Jensen.
As for the other side effects of pornography on society, most experts say we will have to wait and see.
“We are running a massive experiment on an entire generation of people,” Jensen said. “We are exposing them to incredible levels of this hypersexualized media with no idea of the effect. Some of what we are seeing now (with these gang-rape cases) is hinting at this.”
Online vixens may raise your flag but could be leaving you at half-mast with real-life ladies.
Many men in their 20s who started watching porn at a young age (as early as 14) and currently consume porn daily have a low libido or even inability to get an erection, according to a wire report on an Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine survey of 28,000 men.
According to the Italian wire service ANSA, researchers have even given a name to the condition: sexual anorexia.
This comes as no surprise to Marnia Robinson and her Husband Gary Wilson, authors of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habits to Harmony in Sexual Relationships.
The couple noticed the trend when guys suffering from low libidos keep showing up on a website they ran for addiction. Wilson soon created the website yourbrainonporn.com and has seen “hundreds and hundreds” of forum threads from 25 different counties where guys were all suffering the same symptoms.
“There are young guys who have grown up wired to high-speed Internet porn,” says Robinson. “Now this survey matches up with what we have be seeing for years—that that these guys are having addiction symptoms. The experts were telling them, ‘Take a Viagra’ and ‘You just have performance anxiety.’ Well you obviously don’t have performance anxiety with your own hand.”
Though anecdotal, their evidence is backed up by the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s new definition of addiction, published in April. It states that all behaviors that are rewarding, not just substances, can become addicting including “sexual activities.”
“That is what’s called a process addiction,” says David Smith, M.D., past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and coauthor of Unchain Your Brain. “Evidence shows that you can become addicted to dopamine and because behaviors like porn, eating, and gambling release squirts of dopamine they can lead to addiction. That’s why they were included in the new definition”
The Internet allows for immediate access to porn, which wires the brain for that type of constant visual stimuli, argues Wilson. New or novel porn jacks up the release of dopamine but can eventually leads to an inability to masturbate without it, he says.
“So once they get in the bedroom with a real girl and the lights are off they can’t get the visual stimuli they need and can’t get it up,” says Robinson.
Don’t worry though, our experts stress. Even though 87 percent of men watched porn within the past year, only a small percentage of people cross the line into addiction. As with any activity, just be wary if you have trouble stopping despite negative consequences.
If you know you’re a bona fide sexual anorexic, quit cold turkey, Wilson recommends. “For older guys we are seeing that it takes about 8 weeks to recover,” says Wilson. “But for younger guys, guys in their 20s who grew up with high-speed Internet, it takes around 3 to 4 months because they didn’t wire to real girls and real touch when they were young.”
My letter of April 15, 2013 to the journalist who had contacted me about this article.
I'm quite disappointed with the article and what was attributed to me. The main problem is that the article conflates masturbation with Internet porn use. As a result, the quotation attributed to me reads as though I've claimed masturbation causes a decline in dopamine receptors, rather than claiming that Internet porn addiction causes a decline in dopamine receptors. (We know it does, because the Internet addiction research shows this is so.)
The entire focus of the article is on "anti-masturbators", however, on my site I emphatically state that porn addiction, not masturbation, can cause a decline in dopamine signaling. See - START HERE: Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction.
From the "Hands Off" article:
"Comparing the body to a computer is a common analogy among those in the anti-masturbation community, a subset of which includes the self-proclaimed “biohackers” and “quantified self” enthusiasts who collect data regarding the input and output of their bodies. If the body is a series of systems, the thinking seems to be, then whatever problems exist can be repaired like a piece of hardware. Wilson, the guru of “Your Brain on Porn,” suggests that dopamine receptors will regenerate and dopamine levels increase after a withdrawal period of “flatlining”—total uninterest in sex. Some anti-masturbators even use video-gamespeak when they talk about abstaining on “hard mode,” which means declining sex with a partner as well as with oneself."
The article continues by asking "experts" about ED and delayed ejaculation. Nowhere is Internet porn mentioned:
THE ARTICLE: "Every doctor and psychologist I spoke with informed me that “there’s no evidence” to link masturbation to sexual performance, and that it’s an oversimplification to think that frequent masturbation is the cause of delayed ejaculation."
In my TEDx talk and on my site, and in our "Psychology Today" articles these conditions are referred to as 'porn-induced sexual dysfunctions,' not 'masturbation-induced sexual dysfunctions.' Below is an excerpt from the beginning of my START HERE: Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction:
Internet porn causes ED, not "excessive masturbation" or "sexual exhaustion"
Really get this: Internet porn (or rather its constant novelty) is the cause of ED - not ejaculation or "sexual exhaustion". I've never heard of masturbation causing chronic ED in healthy young men, unless one employs a serious "death grip" or traumatic masturbation techniques. Another myth is that masturbation or orgasm depletes or lowers testosterone leading to "sexual exhaustion." Porn-induced ED has absolutely nothing to do with blood testosterone levels. (See: Any connection between orgasm, masturbation, and testosterone levels?)
So many of today's "NoFappers" experiment with the challenge because of Internet porn overconsumption that they confuse the source of their problems, just as your author has. But masturbation, traditionally, did not cause the kinds of severe sexual performance problems seen today; Internet porn overuse is the culprit. In fact, The Dr. Oz show did a show on porn-induced ED not long ago, with a urologist and psychiatrist explaining the brain changes that produce the problems: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/can-porn-cause-erectile-dysfunction-pt-1.
So your author could certainly have found experts who would have confirmed what is on my website had she looked. As it stands, the article misleads porn users that "because masturbation can't cause sexual performance problems, any amount of Internet porn use is also safe." There's plenty of science that explains why this assumption is wrong, and a range of experts who would agree.
It's ironic that your magazine has taken this position, given that "New York" earlier published a major piece by a guy who wrote about his porn-induced sexual performance problems (needing to fake orgasm), and how stopping porn corrected the problem. "He’s Just Not That Into Anyone"
My wife tried to post a polite comment in the comment section explaining the fundamental error in the article, and it has not yet been approved. Instead, only comments supporting the article as written have been approved. This is very unsettling for anyone trying to set the record straight.
Is there anything that can be done about the errors or the refusal to approve comments that correct them?
Por Guilherme Gouvêa Pícolo em 13/Ago/2012
Há poucas semanas, o SD publicou uma notícia na qual o psicólogo Philip Zimbardo, da Universidade de Stanford, comentava sobre os graves danos que prevê às pessoas expostas de maneira constante à pornografia online.
Apesar do alerta de Zimbardo ter soado um tanto quanto histriônico, a verdade é que existem outros profissionais da área debruçando-se sobre o tema; também já é possível ler na internet relatos muito consistentes sobre internautas que tiveram suas vidas abaladas pela compulsão por acessar conteúdo adulto online.
Gary Wilson, um biólogo e professor norte-americano, que leciona na Universidade de Oregon, e sua esposa Marnia Robinson, uma ex-advogada, vêm pesquisando os comportamentos e os efeitos que a exposição repetitiva da pornografia online está causando aos indivíduos.
No site que criaram há cerca de dois anos, o YourBrainonPorn, Gary e a esposa expõem relatos de viciados em pornografia online, discorrem sobre os efeitos neuroquímicos do fato, os danos que tal vício pode ocasionar e divulgam outras informações de interesse e de apoio aos internautas acometidos pelo problema.
É importante salientar que acessar conteúdo pornográfico, por si só, não induz a nenhuma patologia mental. O problema ocorre quando a prática da atividade torna-se um imperativo incontrolável na vida da pessoa, capaz de prejudicar suas atividades cotidianas, provocar mudanças de comportamento negativas e prejuízos sentimentais e sociais. Nesse caso, a vontade transforma-se em dependência, e o seu agente torna-se vítima dela mesma, conforme explica o psicólogo Oswaldo Rodrigues Junior, diretor da Sociedade Brasileira de Sexualidade Humana.
É interessante acompanhar alguns relatos no site de Gary. Muitos dos depoimentos, prestados por homens jovens, descrevem a compulsão por acessar material pornográfico e os prejuízos diretos e indiretos que isso lhes causa, incluindo casos recorrentes de disfunção erétil, fadiga, problemas no trabalho, dispersão, anulação da vida social, ansiedade descontrolada, falta de concentração, depressão e queda da produtividade laboral.
Como todo vício, esse transtorno reflete-se na química cerebral, aumentando gradualmente os níveis de produção e absorção da dopamina, um dos neurotransmissores responsáveis pelas sensações de prazer e bem estar, causando tolerância e a necessidade de estímulos cada vez mais fortes e duradores. Na prática, isso leva a uma diminuição da sensibilidade ante os estímulos eróticos naturais, além de um afastamento da realidade - ou até mesmo a substituição completa dela pelo mundo virtual.
O "desejo sexual excessivo" já foi recentemente catalogado no CID - Código Internacional de Doenças da Organização Mundial da Saúde. O DSM (Manual Estatístico de Doenças Mentais) trata o diagnóstico como transtorno sexual não especificado. A compulsão pela pornografia online e pelo decorrente comportamento sexual solitário, acompanhado pelos sintomas acima citados, pode abrir mais uma vertente dentro deste gênero de transtorno, que hoje é mais frequentemente diagnosticado entre pessoas caracterizadas por uma vida sexual intensa, desregrada e pelo seu número igualmente extenso de parceiros sexuais.
Para o psicólogo Luiz Augusto de Araújo, o consumo compulsivo de pornografia pode ser considerado, por alguns autores, tão grave como a dependência química. É uma tragédia silenciosa que corrói relações familiares, incapacita progressivamente para o trabalho e desconecta o viciado da sociedade.
Luiz Augusto também divulgou alguns sinais que permitem diferenciar o acesso sadio a conteúdos adultos daquilo que pode vir a se tornar um vício, entre os principais:
- o internauta não consegue deixar de visitar páginas pornográficas pelo intervalo de alguns dias, muitas vezes nem mesmo no local de trabalho;
- a produtividade cai absurdamente, bem como o compromisso com as obrigações sociais antes realizadas;
- por fim, as relações reais e os contatos pessoais são trocados por relações virtuais - ou pelo puro isolamento.
Enquanto os profissionais da área ainda discutem o tratamento para o problema (há a abordagem que defende o tratamento com antidepressivos e outros medicamentos a fim de reduzir o quadro de ansiedade e também programas de redução gradual do vício com acompanhamento psicológico), Gary Wilson está cada vez mais requisitado para apresentar palestras sobre o tema.
Com alguma tarimba que já ganhou sobre o espinhoso assunto, Wilson acredita que a facilidade com a qual se obtém material pornográfico na internet livremente, aliada com um modelo de vida que privilegia o isolamento e uso demasiado do computador (sobretudo com a promoção das redes sociais), acaba por tornar o vício um problema grave e de difícil prevenção, especialmente para a população mais jovem.
No YourBrainonPorn também existe um programa de aconselhamento sobre como reverter o quadro do vício, o que Gary chama de "Rebooting", que se trata basicamente de um período mais prolongado de abstenção da visita a sites eróticos, acesso a vídeos pornográficos e congêneres.
Será que estamos diante de uma nova mazela psiquiátrica, pronta a ganhar ares de epidemia, como ocorreu com a depressão durante toda a década de 2000 a 2010? Ninguém possui a resposta ao certo, mas os indícios apontam para um quadro pouco confortável.
O mais recomendado ao internauta, nesse caso, ainda é seguir o milenar ensinamento aristotélico da "doutrina do meio termo", percebendo nos extremos - seja na escassez ou no excesso - o desequilíbrio de que se deve fugir.
by Christian Cawley
I WOULD FAP out of boredom, sometimes even at work in the bathrooms. I was addicted, pathetic…
Anon22 discovered Internet porn when he was just 12 years old. Looking back, he recalls it clearly. “I was unable to look away. I remember everything about that first moment. The music that was playing, where my parents were in the house, the time of day.” For around 10 years, Anon22 has enjoyed pornography using his computer once or twice a day, a compulsion that he claims ruined his social life and limited long-term employment opportunities.
Heavy reliance on porn is serious; it literally ruins lives, causing disruption in relationships, jobs, first person social interaction and other ways. Just as crucial, however, is that the mechanics behind pornography addiction are completely natural. Worrying, Anon22 has discovered that compared to many others, his was a mild case. As I write this, there are 18,928 “Fapstronauts” doing their utmost to exercise considerable self-control.
Rather than boldly going where no man has gone before, these individuals are each trying to get their lives back on track following the realisation that they’ve become a little too close to their computers. To put it bluntly, these guys – and yes, girls – are attempting to overcome their addiction to Internet porn, a condition that is becoming increasingly recognized and discussed by experts. Sadly, recognition and discussion doesn’t do much to help the potential millions that are locked into this way of life.
Fortunately, there is a growing network of support for the Fapstronauts, members of the Reddit channel NoFap (“fap” is Internet slang to describe a “solo act”). Various websites offer help, suggestions and encouragement while genuine experts of the phenomenon such as Gary Wilson provide immense assistance with research and study into porn addiction on his website Your Brain on Porn.
Watching adult movies and enjoying salacious images can often be a pastime engaged in by couples, but with the proliferation of porn on the Internet addiction has spiralled simply because it is so easy to access.
Desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones — the way in which addicts can get their fix have become increasingly portable over the years. With Flash available on most platforms and other video streaming tools provided on the rest, it doesn’t take long to download movies and hi-res photos through a mobile Internet or local Wi-Fi connection.
There is more to pornography addiction than simply loading up a website of images or streamed movies starring the world’s biggest adult movie stars, getting to grips with it and then moving onto another activity.
In order to understand the problem in more detail, I contacted some of the users of the Reddit group NoFap to get some first-hand accounts of their experiences. This ever-growing group is a massive part of many addicts’ attempts to control their masturbation habits, or as they are called in the group, “PMO” (porn/masturbation/orgasm).
What is fascinating about these guys is two-fold: one, how closely their stories match, and two, that Internet porn has become such a part of their lives that they didn’t realise that they had a problem until they discovered NoFap and the work of Gary Wilson.
Reddit user m1610, found his entire social and academic life falling to pieces. “I never had severe social anxiety, but I noticed that I found it hard to look people in the eye. I became very lazy and unmotivated in my teenager years (I’m now 20), going to bed late, waking up late (often watching porn late at night and watching porn first thing in the morning for hours). I got average grades in school but managed to get a place at a pretty good university. I’ve just finished my final year and really I’m so grateful with both the fact I got into a good university despite my laziness and that I’ve sorted myself out before working towards my final grade.”
Meanwhile, Teambold found that he “was generally lacking confidence, for two reasons that I am aware of: not approaching many women because porn was easier, and the fact that guys in those scenes are huge and I’m an average Joe.”
BECAUSE I WAS SPENDING so much time masturbating and looking at porn, I didn’t have the energy or desire to spend time with friends.
For Anon22, meanwhile, social interaction seems as though it was something of a nightmare: “It made me very insecure and I felt very disconnected from my body and soul. Nothing flowed. Everything I said or did was held back and altered by me before I let it out, and because of this I don’t think many people enjoyed socializing with me. Because I was spending so much time masturbating and looking at porn, I didn’t have the energy or desire to spend time with friends.”
Beyond the social issues, there is in fact a range of symptoms which are typical to those that use porn excessively. The guys I spoke to on NoFap indicated that some or all of the following had happened to them (symptoms backed up in Gary Wilson’s own research):
Clearly – in case you were still doubtful – pornography addiction is real. We should consider the symptoms and compare them to those that we know of from other addictions; the similarities are shocking.
You’re unlikely to start stealing to fund your porn habit, but just as drug users need increasingly larger doses and alcoholics find their intake rockets over time, so porn addicts struggle to gain gratification without a new supply of fresh, and sometimes weirder, material. The reason for this is explained later on, under Desensitization and Dopamine.
You probably noticed the term “erectile dysfunction” in the list above.
It’s quite odd how an addiction that requires the use of a particular part of the body should result in that appendage being unable to perform when the time arises.
You’re not alone in noticing this but sadly ED is a widespread issue and one of the most concerning aspects of the whole Internet porn addiction phenomenon.
When I spoke to Fapstronaut Teambold, he told me that the inability to perform was his catalyst for change.
“I would fap out of boredom, sometimes even at work in the bathrooms. I was addicted, pathetic… My only real concern was the fact that I was starting to develop ED. It worried me, but until I found NoFap I had always assumed that once it really mattered (with a real live girl) I would be hard as a rock and ready to rampage. [I was] no longer willing to take that chance.”
I COULD ONLY ENJOY any sort of sexual pleasure with her when masturbating. Everything else I just pretended to seem more normal.
Similarly, Anon22 recalled erectile dysfunction when he was as young as 15. “When it came to my first girlfriend and having sex, I couldn’t keep it up, I couldn’t feel… and wearing a condom made me so flaccid. I could only enjoy any sort of sexual pleasure with her when masturbating. Everything else I just pretended to seem more normal.”
These stories are common. Reddit noFap user m1610 recalled that the erectile dysfunction “meant I couldn’t really connect with my girlfriends or satisfy them the way I should have.”
Is porn really worth that?
It isn’t as if addicts have been completely unaware that there was something about their behaviour that wasn’t quite right. In the past, before Wilson’s work became better known, some might have spent some time visiting a doctor to try and get to the bottom of the problem. There, however, they would only find themselves diagnosed with depression, or erectile dysfunction, or any one of the physical symptoms of addiction. Those that press the point are faced with common myths, such as being dismissed as compulsive users rather than addicts, or that only people with ADHD, depression or other pre-existing conditions can become addicted to pornography.
PEOPLE FEEL they can’t talk about it at all, that it makes them a terrible person.
That the general practitioners have overlooked the possibility of their patients being trapped in a self-rewarding cycle of porn, masturbation, and orgasm is telling. A general lack of awareness of the problem has led to guys just carrying on, unaware of just what’s going wrong in their lives and why.
But why are they unaware? Why isn’t it obvious? This is something that the noFappers I spoke to seem to wonder. Should a taboo subject be allowed to let people’s lives fall apart? Anon22: “People feel they can’t talk about it at all, that it makes them a terrible person, and so they are unable to seek help from friends, family, often not even their significant other. They are totally alone on this and there is no way for them to get help, so a lot of them just give up and keep going with it.”
Like any addiction, the mechanics of the human body play a part here, specifically the brain.
What do you think of porn? Is it something you regularly view? Do you and your friends or roommates often spend time looking at, discussing and even sharing adult material?
With a world full of sexually suggestive adverts and characters in fiction and video games, it is little wonder that porn has become increasingly socially acceptable, certainly within a subculture of teenagers and young men.
The advent of the Internet has also made adult material available – by the gigabyte – to children. This is a harsh reality that anyone with concerns about pornography addiction simply has to accept. Boys, as we are told, will be boys and with the exploration phase and bodily changes of puberty causing all sorts of emotional and physical havoc, easy access to porn (perhaps communicated between friends using the l33t term “pr0n”) has the potential to throw the traditional teenaged development into chaos. (You can find plenty on the topic of family Internet content filters elsewhere on MakeUseOf.)
Peer pressure is only one stage of Internet porn addiction, however. It isn’t even a pre-requisite in all cases. What happens next, however, is common to all addicts, whether their poison is porn, shopping or drugs.
This is where things get a little scary. It seems that overcoming addiction to Internet porn is more than just attempting to break the habit. Rather, there is a chemical process in the brain that becomes rewired.
ONCE IT’S FLIPPED ON, it stays on for a while and doesn’t go away easily.
I’m not going to attempt to give you the comprehensive ins and outs of the process here; I’m not a specialist, and for a full explanation you can head over to Your Brain on Porn.
“A numbed pleasure response, or desensitization, is probably the best understood brain change that addiction induces… Dopamine is where it all starts. If dopamine is too high for too long it leads to nerve cells losing their sensitivity. If someone continues to scream, you cover your ears. When dopamine-sending nerve cells keep pumping out dopamine, the receiving nerve cells cover their “ears” by reducing dopamine (D2) receptors.
“How much is too much is determined by brain changes – not by outward behaviors, such as the amount of drug used, calories consumed, or time spent watching porn. No two people are alike.”
It isn’t just sex that gives us pleasurable feelings. Eating, listening to great music, even extreme sports can cause dopamine to be released. These positive feelings are there for a reason and porn offers a shortcut to get to those same feelings, effectively fooling the body into thinking it is about to procreate or become engaged with another human being in something intimate.
In other words, guys who find themselves habitually masturbating will find that what they had previously been turned on by becomes “boring” – or more accurately, fails to turn them on. A common result of this is the quest for more porn, different porn, material that has never been seen that might even cross boundaries of taste, decency and sexual orientation.
Tackling the various myths about porn addiction has become a lynchpin of Gary Wilson’s presentations. He also offers evidence based on cutting edge neurological research. The discovery of DeltaFosB, a protein in the brain that has been discovered by neurobiologists to affect all addictions, has shed light on just what happens to the human brain.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re over-indulging in junk food, drugs, over-regular sex or even long stretches of “alone time” with your PC, the dopamine increases cause DeltaFosB to accumulate, altering the way the brain works causing desensitization and over-use of the particular pleasure – in the case of the recovering NoFappers, Internet porn.
Researcher Eric Nestler found that DeltaFosB can be compared to a switch, one that is difficult to disable.
“Once it’s flipped on, it stays on for a while and doesn’t go away easily. This phenomenon is observed in response to chronic administration of virtually any drug of abuse. It is also observed after high levels of consumption of natural rewards (exercise, sucrose, high fat diet, sex).”
As Gary Wilson points out in his seminal TEDx talk (seen above) this is nothing new. The history of human procreation proves that men get bored with female partners over time, becoming aroused when a new female appears; the same is true of other species. Desensitization can occur when over-indulging in other things, not just porn. If you’re a fan of McDonalds, the urge to get more and more of their famous burgers and fries can dull your pleasure centres, catching you in an onion-scented version of the vicious circle in which porn addicts are caught.
It all sounds pretty grim. Is this the future – billions of men shut up in their rooms, looking for some porn that will help them get their latest fix while the world goes to rack and ruin?
[RECOVERY] HAS SHOWN me that I have self-control. I’m excited to apply this in the other areas of my life. The sky is the limit, and now I know it’s worth the effort. My goals are no porn ever again.
Hopefully not, and while Gary Wilson and other experts are around to share their research and encourage recovery from Internet porn addiction, hope remains.
Recovery from Internet pornography addiction and any related conditions (such as erectile dysfunction) can be achieved, but it requires willpower, determination and an understanding of just what has been happening. Additionally, a desire to make changes in this and other areas of life is useful to the process that is appropriately termed “rebooting.”
This “cold turkey” style experience is required because the brain has undergone the same changes that it would with any other type of addiction. Rebooting – a term usually used to describe the act of restarting a troublesome computer – is particularly apt, allowing the recovering Internet porn addict to reprogram themselves, staying away from porn, cutting back on masturbation completely during the reboot period and eventually remove the association between the two activities.
Web filters and a change of any porn-related email addresses can help, as can restoring your operating system to factory settings, thereby creating a “clean” computer. Mobile phones and tablets – indeed, any digital device used for the enjoyment of porn – should be also cleaned up and suitable software installed.
If you would rather keep your hands away from any potentially incriminating software, however, there are third party web services that can help. SelfControl for Mac will block access to the Internet temporarily while www.getcoldturkey.com can also control your ability to view adult material should a relapse occur. Even using an adblocker can be considered to stop any salacious ads appearing on Facebook or other seemingly innocent web services. Obviously, existing stashes of salacious material should also be deleted, or in the case of DVDs, videos and magazines, binned.
SINCE STARTING NoFap, I haven’t edged, and have barely touched myself. I have ups and downs like anyone else. But the struggle has been worth it, because I’ve seen quite a few changes in myself.
Because, thankfully, there is a chance of recovery; there are success stories. With nearly 20,000 members on the NoFap board – a number rising with considerable speed – it seems as though this is an issue that will only gain in recognition as time goes on. The guys I’ve spoken to are proof that there is a desire to put Internet porn back in its cupboard and perhaps shut the door for good, and with growing awareness of the problem perhaps other previously-ignored addictions can receive the attention they deserve.
We’ve only scratched the surface here. If you think you may be suffering from a similar problem, take a look at the links in this article, spend more time reading the accounts of others (the guys who kindly gave their time to talk to me for this story are the tip of a massive iceberg) and give yourself a few hours to make the right decision.
Overcoming any addiction is a big step – fortunately for new Fapstronauts there is a lot of support on offer. You can also find out more about the subject via www.yourbrainonporn.com. Becoming something of an evangelist for the subject will do a lot more good than going square eyed at 1am giving yourself a bad back.
by Mark Manson
A couple years ago, I stumbled across some research and articles about the pornography and the negative effects it could be having on men and their sex lives. I found it interesting, but never gave it too much thought after that. Then some time last year I stumbled across this video: Erectile Dysfunction and Porn
According to the science, porn trains our brains to release more endorphins than is natural in response to an overload of sexual stimuli. After a while, our brains become desensitized and develop a need for higher and higher stimuli in order to reach the same arousal and excitement. Thus begins the spiral into more hardcore porn and higher quantities of it. In some cases, men can develop a psychological addiction to pornography and it can begin to interfere with their sex and social lives. In rare cases it can be debilitating in both.
Chances are you’re not a porn addict, but if you’re a man under the age of 35, I imagine that the abundant access to porn has affected you more than you think. Think back to the first time you watched porn. The mere image of a beautiful naked woman was probably enough for you. But sadly, for many of us, over the years we devolve into darker and more twisted porn habits.
The result is that not only does it limit your ability to become aroused at all, but also can limit your dopamine receptors in general, causing you to become more anxious, less social, and possibly even depressed. Not to mention it completely skews your perception of what beauty is and gives you unreasonable standards for sex with the women you meet. If you’ve ever gotten an otherwise beautiful girl naked in your bed and been unable to ignore the tiny blemishes or asymmetries to the point where you have trouble getting turned on, then you know what I mean.
And worst of all, the younger you were when you began watching porn, the worse the effects generally are.
In my book on attracting women, I shared something I referred to as the “masturbation diet” in my chapter about motivation. It involved eliminating porn and limiting masturbation to 1-2 times per week. The goal of the “diet” was to revitalize and motivate guys who had trouble being motivated enough to pursue women in the face of their anxiety. I had done it on and off in the past whenever I needed a kick in the ass and it worked for me. Often within a week or two. But I had never considered keeping it or making it a permanent habit in my life.
Late last year, the “no more porn” stuff really caught fire on the forum here, and a number of guys (myself included), hopped on the bandwagon in this thread and agreed to not look at porn for 60 days. We all kept logs on the thread and it turned out to be a raging success. Most of us made it through the 60 days unscathed and true believers. Porn had been negatively affecting our sex lives.
For some it was a major shift and very difficult. For others, the changes were minor and simple. For everyone, the consensus seems to be we’re glad we did it. You can read the experiences of others on the thread. Personally, I have been watching porn since I was 13, and had been watching it almost daily for 8-10 years when I began this challenge.
It appears my addiction and “reboot” were milder than that of many guys. You can read more about porn withdrawal symptoms here and read about the benefits many men experience after giving up porn for 60 days here.
I jokingly call it a “relapse,” but in early-February I was pulling 14-hour work days and not getting out much, so I hit up the good old YouPorn to blow off some… err, steam. Yeah, that’s it, blow off steam.
On my first return to porn post-reboot, a few things had changed:
I watched porn a couple times over the span of maybe three weeks with the above reactions. I noticed no change in my aggression, my sex drive or my comfort around women. A few weeks later, I began dating a girl here in Brazil pretty regularly and for the first time in about a year, I had a regular sexual partner who I saw frequently.
I decided to use the opportunity to test something out: I wanted to see how much porn was too much. I had watched it on a couple isolated occasions and nothing changed. But how much did I have to watch before it began to affect my sex life? My new Brasileira girlfriend offered a perfect control variable. Since I was having sex with her every few days, I could see and feel any changes in my sexual interest or ability to perform with her as soon as they happened.
It took about a week. I maybe masturbated to porn 4-5 times that week. But by the last time, I was back to my old habits of watching hardcore porn and watching 10-15 videos per session, usually skipping straight to the money shots. The second time my girlfriend came over after beginning my escapade, there was a noticeable drop in both my desire and my performance, to the point where I apologized to her for not being able to live up to my standards (no pun intended). The next week, I quit the pornography, and within a week, the old desire and performance came back and is still going strong.
So what does this mean? Is porn the devil? Should you never watch it? Is it ruining your sex life as we speak?
I can only answer for myself. For me, yes, porn had a noticeable impact on my sex life and I’m much better off not watching it. And I know there are a number of guys on the forum who had far more dramatic benefits than I did. I will never go back to watching it regularly. I imagine I will watch it occasionally, most likely when I’m drunk and get home after a night of striking out. But it’s clear that if I watch it on any consistent basis for more than a few days, it negatively affects my sex life. I honestly wish I had stopped watching it years ago, as it would have saved me a lot of struggle for motivation and embarrassment in the bedroom.
I recommend you experiment with quitting altogether as well. Our “No More Porn” thread on on the forum is on-going any everybody is invited to participate. We have some guys in the midst of their 60 day challenges right now who are posting about their progress. I invite you to join in and follow along. If anything, it’s worth the exercise in discipline. At the worst, you go without fap material for two months. At the best, you gain a newfound sexual confidence around women, and increase your performance in bed. Sounds worth it to me.
Also, if you believe you have a severe porn addiction — you watch porn for up to an hour per session, you have trouble getting an erection without porn, or you watch porn which does not match your sexual orientation — then I highly recommend you do a full reboot and read www.yourbrainonporn.com.
Pornography in relationships, the good, the bad, the nasty. Our guests, Gary Wilson, of Your Brain on Porn and Great Porn Experiment TEDx Talk, and Kenya K. Stevens, of JuJu Mama Academy share great info. No one, from grandchildren to grandparents should miss this show!
Some of my most popular posts are those that discuss porn and masturbation. I don’t believe they are the evil the the Mormon Church does. I also believe that the religious approach to sexuality is harmful and I believe that the evidence supports my view.
Yet, because I claim to believe in evidence and claim to have a moral compass which guides me to speak and act wisely regardless of what I’ve said in the past, I’m going to backtrack or at least modify my previous comments regarding porn. It appears that there is a significant difference when it comes to Internet porn.
I came of age in the 70′s and early 80′s long before the Internet. To me, “porn” means nude pictures, stories and movies. In that day it took time and skill to obtain event a smattering of titillating images. Masturbation was done fleetingly in bed or the shower, not sitting in front of a computer monitor or with a handy smartphone having access to millions of images, movies and stories.
Masturbation did not always include porn.
Simply put, today’s porn is not your daddy’s porn. And that distinction makes a significant difference to the human brain. Some claim that evolution has not prepared the human brain to interact with the Internet. So, the long term effects of Internet pornography viewing are dramatically different and more pronounced than with your old fashioned girlie magazines and XXX theaters. It’s not even so much about the porn itself, but about the Internet that impacts the brain in significant ways. Gamers and even some bloggers are believed to suffer some of the same neurological consequences as those who regularly imbibe in Internet porn.
Brief overview: Dopamine
Desire and motivation in humans is linked to a neurochemical called dopamine. It’s also how we get addicted. This ancient reward circuitry compels us to pursue things to ensure our survival…things like sex, food, love and novelty. In other words, dopamine encourages us to participate in life enriching, indeed life creating activities. Squirts of dopamine that occur during sexual stimulation are the scaffolding behind cravings. When you see porn you get a big rush of dopamine.
Dopamine also surges with novelty and this is where Internet porn and dopamine share a unique relationship. With the Internet, novelty is just a click away. What may have previously taken weeks or months to hunt out and view is now available in minutes on the Internet. That’s awesome if you’re a porn viewer!
But there are consequences to such awesomeness.
Dopamine rewires the brain to get more, but in the case of Internet porn the brain isn’t being rewired to pursue more sex; it is being rewired to pursue the novelty that can only found on the Internet. So, you end up with an oversentization to novelty and a dramatic desensitization to “vanilla” behaviors such a sex with a real person. It’s a cycle that causes willpower to erode and the creation of dysfunctional stress coping skills.
Nerve cells that are constantly fired upon by the same sort of behaviors lay tracks and strengthen connections. It makes it easier for electrical impulses to travel and communicate. Viewing porn on the Internet therefore creates a rut in your brain. Ironically enough this rut leads to LESS pleasure rather than to more. Over time, this dual-edged mechanism can have your reward circuitry buzzing at the hint of porn use, but less than enthused when presented with the real deal.
Of course this sort of brain circuitry rewiring was involved with porn use in the past too, but with the Internet it is more pronounced and more common. It happens faster to even the very young and it’s easier to stay in this rut due to the availability of Internet porn. The way it’s used keeps dopamine elevated for abnormally long periods, making Internet porn uniquely compelling, and potentially addictive. I was shocked in my research to discover anecdotal stories of 15, 16 and 17 year old boys who claim they are addicted to porn and can’t get it up with a real human being.
The damage isn’t permanent. The brain can be rewired to seek other dopamine pumping activities and alternate neurological super-highways can be built. Eliminating porn and porn fantasy leads to “un-wiring” and eventual weakening of sensitized pathways and cravings. Many have stopped using porn and recovered their lives.
Because the Internet is still so new, the knowledge and resources for recovering from an addiction to it are still in their infancy. Still, there are a surprising number of resources on the topic and not all of them relate to religion or the type of guilt and shame producing that it delivers. That sort of approach does not work to change behavior in my opinion. There are non-religious approaches for people who don’t necessarily think there’s a moral problem with porn but who recognize that it is having a negative impact on their lives.
I first stumbled upon this unique Internet Porn issue when listening to a TED talk on the subject. I think it’s an excellent place to start.
That link will automatically take you to the Your Brain On Porn web site. Spend some time on that site. You’ll find videos, article, testimonials and tools for change.
Yet, skeptic that I am, I couldn’t stop there. I recalled that John Dehlin had recently done a podcast on Mormon Stories about Overcoming Pornography Addiction. I hadn’t listen to it yet because the title on a Mormon-themed web site just sounded like it would be a litany of shoulds, shame and suffering. But I went back and listened to it. I was surprised. While the guest Tony Litster isn’t a scientist or psychotherapist of any sort, his summation pretty much matched what I had found on the Your Brain On Porn web site.
From what I can tell, Tony is a motivational speaker who processed his own affinity for porn, recovered and now seeks to help others. His own web site includes FREE resources and FREE coaching.
What I like about both of these resources is that the religious hysteria which usually informs this topic is missing. I’d still guess that Tony is Mormon albeit a liberal one at that.
I’m sure there are many more resources available that I haven’t found. It’s just that the religiously neutral ones here speak to me. Still, even these 2 resources aren’t 100% in agreement.
Your Brain On Porn actually takes a more dramatic approach by encouraging a “reboot” of the brain. A “reboot” is a period of time when you just shut everything off…porn, masturbation, even orgasm. The period of time can vary but it seems that 90 days is a common suggestion. During that time participants will have found productive activities to rewire the brain and regain normal sexual functioning after the “reboot.”
Tony, surprisingly seems to take a less melodramatic approach. He really doesn’t focus on a period of “fasting” from porn, masturbation and orgasm to reset the brain, but he sees the solution as substituting negative dopamine producing activities (Internet porn) with positive ones (taking care of the body, mind and spirit in other ways). The end result is the same…you gotta stop viewing porn and you still need to take care of yourself in healthier ways. I think a person could follow both approaches without much conflict at all.
Adherents to either methodology report recovery from the negative consequences of Internet porn addiction.
I still stick by almost all of my earlier comments on porn and masturbation but I am reverting to an almost completely no porn policy. I do not think that viewing porn is the end of the world. Every man and many women will most likely have some sort of interaction with it in their lives. Yet, because of the new dangers to our brains inherent to the Internet the negative consequences are greater than ever before.
I suppose it is a lot like alcohol. I like alcohol. I like its taste and effects in moderation. But because I didn’t grow up with alcohol I can have a meal or be social without it. I have a full, untouched bottle of premium vodka in my freezer that has been there for months. I think I can safely say I’m not an alcoholic. There’s nothing inherently evil about alcohol. With the advent of the automobile, however, alcohol did become dramatically more dangerous and potentially harmful. Sure, it’s always had a dark side to its use but technology blew that out of proportion. And if someone finds that they have a drinking problem, staying away from all forms of alcohol is really the only solution.
The same is true for pornography. It has always been around and humans have dabbled in it with moderation at times and dis-functionally at others. But technology pushed the dark side of porn ahead light years and our bodies are not equipped to manage it. As a father I have an obligation to protect and warn my children of Internet pornography the same as I do with drinking and driving.
I’ve very clearly told my children that I would never be upset or angry if they asked me to come pick them up at a party. But I will be furious if they ever drink and drive or get in a car with someone who has. I feel the same now regarding Internet porn. While nudity and sexuality are wonderful things, the Internet is a dangerous place to go looking for them. And if someone finds that they have a pornography problem, staying away from all forms is really the wisest solution.
As always I welcome your comments, suggestion and questions.
Interveiw begins at 0:29 and ends at 1:22
Note: If you enjoyed this show, you may want to listen to Mike David's earlier show about www.yourbrainonporn.com, which preceded this interview by a few days. The dscussion about YBOP runs from the start of the show to about the 45 minute mark.
Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T. Founder and clinical director, Center for Healthy Sex
Huffington Post: 05/15/2012 (LINK)
Can Internet Porn Really Be an Addiction?
This is beginning to be a tired question, but I'm sure you and your friends have talked about how more and more guys in their 20s and 30s are complaining of erectile dysfunction, or you've been on the receiving end of an inconveniently flaccid penis. It seems like a new epidemic is at hand, so to speak, from widespread usage of masturbation to Internet pornography. And yet skeptics keep insisting that addiction to porn is impossible, while more and more studies show that out of all online activities, porn is the most addictive. Get a grip! Consider this: Pornography usage is all about being alone and isolated, it's voyeuristic by definition, and about a constant search for surprise, novelty, and even shock at times. Courting another for the sake of seeking sexual contact requires human interaction, touch, smell, gazing into someone's eyes, and making yourself vulnerable. Who needs that?!
In the TEDx video "The Great Porn Experiment," Gary Wilson tells us that most boys begin seeking porn by the age of 10, due to a brain that is in a massive growth phase. Think about how teenagers seek constant novelty in order to feel satisfied and how easily bored they get. This is nature's imperative. We're hunter-gatherers, so novelty seeking in the form of the next mate is a genetic imperative, and it releases dopamine. This is hardwired into humans. When dopamine is released largely in relation to pornographic images, however, then the brain literally rewires itself, and all things associated with porn are sought: being alone, isolated, and voyeuristic; surprise, novelty, and shock; not to mention incessantly clicking a mouse.
Wilson explains that our brain's reward system is designed to move us toward rewards that give us pleasure, like food and sex. But what happens when there's too much dopamine in the system? Think of the last time you ate too much. What happened? Did you binge on a great dinner and then have a big piece of dessert afterwards? If so, dopamine was building up in your brain so that you couldn't read the satiation signal that said, "Stop, you've had enough." Instead, you got into a cycle of wanting more, leading you to eat the entire desert. If you have to hoard a lot of food for a long winter's nap, then you have to override the satiation signal, or if mating season only comes along once a year, then you'd better get busy. Since we're supposedly civilized creatures, why do we keep overriding the satiation mechanism? In part, because we can, and when we do, addiction ensues. When there's too much dopamine buildup in the brain, a chemical called Delta Fos B accumulates in the reward circuit. This buildup alters the brain and promotes a cycle of binging and craving, and that's what eventually leads to brain changes in addicts. For porn addicts the equation is that excess consumption of porn equals an excess production of dopamine-creating Delta Fos B, which leads to brain changes.
All Guys Look at Porn... So What?
A Canadian researcher attempted to study porn use among college-aged men and couldn't find a control group -- meaning a group of guys who didn't use porn. So, it's true, all guys look at porn! If all college-aged men look at porn, then looking at porn is the new normal. Given that most of these guys had been looking at porn for at least a decade, there was no way to determine whether looking at porn affected their sex lives or not. The brain changes that compulsive porn users undergo are unbeknownst to them, because they're like the proverbial frog who's about to be boiled to death. If you put the frog in boiling water, it hops out. If you put it in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, it will never feel its demise. Use enough porn and, like the alcoholic over time, you'll go numb to feeling pleasure in everyday life. The changes in your brain will have you getting excited and aroused when you see your laptop, flip open the lid, click your mouse pad, and begin your search for the ultimate novel image. Remember, it's not about sex; it's about novelty. As you become more powerless over your addiction, your frontal cortex changes, which is why you can no longer get an erection with a live human being. You visit an urologist for sexual enhancement drugs, and they work for a short while or not at all, then you end up in therapy for sexual issues. The therapist tells you that you don't have any serious psychological issues but that your brain is numb to real-life sexual encounters due to overstimulation by pornographic images, so it can barely send signals to your penis to stand up. The only cure is to go on a porn diet for a long time.
'Save the Penis,' or Penile Resurrection
Websites are popping up across the Internet helping guys to stop "fapping." Fapping means masturbating to Internet porn, and anti-fapping is part of a men's movement that is rapidly gathering steam. Sites like Reddit are adding members by the thousands. Because many guys started looking at porn as early as 8 years old, it takes them longer to restore their neurochemistry than older guys. Starting Internet porn at a young age is dangerous, because the brain is at its peak of dopamine production. Circuits that are actively being used are strengthened, and others are being pruned. These pathways are intensely wired together by the time a guy is in his 20s or 30s, so withdrawal from porn usage can be intense. But hang in there and don't despair. After about four or five months, your erection will be restored.
Getting support to stop using Internet porn is a good idea, because you'll be coming out of isolation and, sometimes, a lot of shame. Twelve-step meetings like SAA, SCA, and S.L.A.A. can be extremely helpful. Putting a filter on your computer, not using it when you're home alone or in a room where others can't see the screen and what you're up to is also a good idea. If you're really struggling, consider getting specialized help from a sex-addiction specialist (searchable through SASH or IITAP.)
Over time, your penis will stand up again in relation to a live and direct, full-blooded guy or girl. At some point down the line you may feel the need to masturbate. If so, consider going old-school and use a photo of your partner or a magazine image, but tread lightly, because your brain has been through the wringer. When in doubt, don't do it. Remember, stay away from two-dimensional hotties, because they're just pixels, and they're not about sex.
Have our brains evolved to handle the hyperstimulation of today’s Internet enticements? Gary Wilson discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet users, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these 21st century phenomena.
I recommend watching this version of the talk, as it contains a few more slides and details missing from the TEDx talk.
Gary is host of www.yourbrainonporn.com. The site arose in response to a growing demand for solid scientific information by heavy Internet erotica users experiencing perplexing, unexpected effects: escalation to more extreme material, concentration difficulties, sexual performance problems, radical changes in sexual tastes, social anxiety, irritability, inability to stop, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
As a physiology teacher with a particular interest in the latest neuroscience discoveries, Gary was aware that their symptoms might be the result of addiction-related brain changes. Applying the website’s concepts of brain plasticity, many former users have braved withdrawal, reversed their symptoms and restored normal sexual responsiveness.
The site has been linked to from hundreds of threads in forums from over thirty countries, with posts numbering in the thousands. Gary blogs for “Psychology Today” and “The Good Men Project” on the extreme plasticity of adolescent brains, the evolutionary context for today’s flood of novel cyber “mates,” and the neurochemical reasons why superstimulating Internet delivery has unexpected effects on the brain.
Gary's talk was given as a response to this TED talk, which the audience will watched before he was introduced:
If you saw Zimbardo's 5-minute, powerful TED talk The Demise of Guys? you may want to know that he and his co-author Nikita Duncan have expanded it into a short TED Book. The book, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, goes beyond the talk—not only elaborating on it but also pointing to solutions.
It's refreshing to see mainstream psychologists, steeped in the Western sexology model, tackle the "arousal addiction" challenge today's young adults are facing, without downplaying, or exaggerating, the risks of addiction. Human brains haven't evolved to resist the constant novelty of the Internet with ease, and for some the result is personally injurious.
Training one's brain to constant stimulation-on-demand is leaving many of today's guys out of sync with traditional teaching methods and the natural pace of romantic relationships. The latter, according to the authors, require interaction, sharing, developing trust and suppression of lust at least until "the time is right."
The authors acknowledge that reversing the phenomenon will require concerted efforts of educators, gamemakers, parents, guys and gals. They even recommend that every porn video should have a 15-second ad on safer sex practices or resources that users can easily refer to if they suffer from porn addiction, much as casinos offer resources to those with gambling addiction.
However, the authors also have advice for guys themselves:
What guys can do Turn off your digital identity and turn on yourself. Learn how to dance, rediscover nature, make a female friend, monitor social interactions to be sure others are being listened to adequately and sufficiently, learn to tell jokes and practice conversation openers. Practice the art of making others feel special by giving justifiable compliments—one a day for the next week. Find people who possess traits you want to have and study their lives, find living role models or mentors, and find something in the real world that motivates you. The world wants you; in fact, the world needs you more than you know.
Turn off the porn. Clarify your relationship with porn so you can avoid its downsides. ... If you find you are having trouble getting turned on by real people, you need to stop watching porn for at least a small period of time. There's really no way around it. The good news is, your brain can heal. [Here they point readers to www.yourbrainonporn.com and summarize its content.]
The book is refreshingly daring in some ways. For example, consider this plug for using sexual energy for achieving higher values:
Beyond porn, having sex on your mind all the time or as a big part of your identity is actually a good thing—a lot of very successful people have very high sex drives—but you need to learn how to rechannel your sex energy out of lust and into the heart and mind, where it can serve your higher values instead of just your primal instincts. When transforming sexual energy into thoughts and actions of another nature, you have to use willpower to visualize and mindfully direct that energy.
This was perhaps my favorite passage, in light of all the amazing transformations we have seen in collecting material for www.yourbrainonporn.com:
Our culture loses something important when we, as a population, are less able to think critically, delay gratification, or define and achieve meaningful personal and social goals. Technology especially needs to be embraced, but how we embrace it may make the difference between healthy and unhealthy human interaction.
Read a Q&A with the authors on TED Blog.
Watch a clip of Duncan's interview on CNN.
by Keoni Galt
I have a very good memory despite years of constantly bombarding my brain with mind and mood altering substances. I've always thought I had a good memory, but now I know for certain that my memory is better than most people.
I'm now approaching an age for which many of the folks in my circle of family and friends don't remember a lot of shared experiences. I usually remind them, and only after supplying a lot of little details of the memory do they remember the event or thing I'm talking about.
Because I have such a vivid, detail-oriented memory, I still "feel" like I'm a young man, because I remember my youth so well.
Perhaps I'm simply experiencing the calm before the storm of the "mid-life crisis" all humans supposedly experience in their 40's. Perhaps not. But I recently came across a website that made me realize I was mistaken in thinking I perfectly understand the experiences of life in our bravenewworldorder by Gen Y/Millenials
Sometimes, I discover a website/blog/forum, and the content gives me a personal paradigm shift in attitudes and beliefs. A game changer.
For instance, I remember the first time I read Roissy in D.C. Back in those days, the archives were not that extensive. I read the entire blog in under two hours. This was about 6 months before his comment threads turned into the breeding grounds for what we now know of today as the manosphere.
On the other hand, when I first discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation's website, that took me over a week to make it through every single article on their voluminous little library of traditional diet and nutrition research. That was back in 2006. It would take even longer now.
It's been awhile since I've found a site for which I was compelled to devour the website's archives in a single session of furious speed reading...similar to reading an entire book in a single sitting.
Today, I came across such a site: http://yourbrainonporn.com/
Holy shit. I had no idea how big and bad this beast has grown.
I remember when the entire "pornography experience" was girly mags some friend stole from some relative, and we young boys eagerly thumbed through it, thrilled that we were doing something we were not supposed to...looking at the pictures of naked women and feeling the rush of dopamine and testosterone the simple sight-of-nude-females effects on the pre-adolescent male brain.
Then, in my early teens, I became friends with a guy whose parents owned a few hardcore porn VHS tapes. When they were at work, he would sneak a tape from his parents room and play it on the living room tv.
We could only watch it rarely...so when we did, it was even more exhilarating. Its effects on my teen age brain were dramatic. I still remember the cheesy plots and specific dialog that were in all Pr0n before the interwebz metastasized into the pervasive, society wide mind-fuck that it is today.
I remember real vividly, the early days of the interwebz, when teh Pr0n industry was first raking in credit card subscription fees (I used to have one) and when most of the "actresses" sported "glorious natural pelts" and did not have tattoos or belly piercings. Even back in those days, when I became a frequent consumer , I was keenly aware of it's effects on me...I recognized it was similar to a drug.
In the first few years of being married, I regularly looked at teh Pr0n several times a week. I hid my credit card statements that showed the billing company info. I consumed it in secret. It was a forbidden thrill.
Than one day, I was ruminating while lying in bed, in a post-coital haze after consummating marital relations with her, and I realized something: Teh pr0n was ruining my enjoyment of the real thing. It was corrupting my marriage. I had begun feeling like no matter what sex act or novelty we tried, it wasn't enough...more...More....MORE.
Now when I used to look at girly mags or watch videotapes, I never had any problems or sense of dissatisfaction with my real life carnal experiences at all. I had a flash of insight.
Teh Pr0n was insidious. Fuckin' evil.
Soon thereafter I quit cold turkey. I cancelled my subscription and stopped visiting the then just emerging free sites. Within a week or so, my attitude and satisfaction with marital relations improved dramatically.
It's been years since I deliberately consumed teh pr0n on teh interwebz. Yet when I discovered YourBrainOnPorn.com, I was utterly fascinated. It brought back vivid memories of my feelings, emotions and attitudes about sex and how the early days of teh pr0n had begun to affect me mentally.
But reading the archives of that site and some of the forum entries also made me feel like an old man.
I never truly considered the idea that my Gen X experience with the advent of Pr0n on teh Interwebz was only the beginning stages of some very real dysfunctions it can apparently inflict. I vastly underestimated the depths of the problems it could cause for all those who've grown up with it as a way of life. Apparently I quit using just as it exploded into the mainstream.
Apparently teh Pr0n turns masturbation from an occasionally necessary release for all men youngdumbandfullofcum that involves an exercise of the imagination...to the compulsive and nearly uncontrollable habit of fapping in front of a computer monitor multiple times per day.
Apparently old school smut and it's medium of glossy photo mags and clunky VHS tapes that interspersed five or six sex scenes with fictional plots and cheesy dialog doesn't literally change your brain the way the instant access to an endless variety of sex acts and a near infinite variation of participants are on teh interwebz, does.
It seems the old porno mags and VHS tapes were the equivalent to doing a line of coke or smoking a joint...whereas today's norm of opening up multiple windows of 30 second clips and viewing them in rapid succession while furiously fapping is the equivalent to smoking crack laced with PCP.
There's a kicker though. The capacity of our teen to wire up new sexual associations mushrooms around 11 or 12 when billions of new neural connections (synapses) create endless possibilities. However, by adulthood his brain must prune his neural circuitry to leave him with a manageable assortment of choices. By his twenties, he may not exactly be stuck with the sexual proclivities he falls into during adolescence, but they can be like deep ruts in his brain—not easy to ignore or reconfigure.
Sexual-cue exposure matters more during adolescence than at any other time in life. Now, add to this incendiary reality the lighter fluid of today's off-the-wall erotica available at the tap of a finger. Is it any surprise that some teens wire semi-permanently to constant cyber novelty instead of potential mates? Or wire their sexual responsiveness to things that are unrelated to their sexual orientation? Or manage to desensitize their brains—and spiral into porn addiction?
Incidentally, are you a guy remembering your own adolescence—and how you could never climax enough during those years? Perhaps you're supposing that Internet porn would have been a splendid innovation. If so, read these two articles: Porn, Novelty and the Coolidge Effect and Porn Then and Now: Welcome to Brain Training. Porn, its content, the way it's delivered, and its potential effects on the brain have changed radically. For today's users, more orgasm can lead to less satisfaction.
I think I now understand David Alexander a little bit better.
Comments: I am not a psychologist.
Too much porn affects the brain, Sweden - (Google translate version)
The American psychologist Gary Wilson has for several years been interested in the growing consumption of porn on the Internet. He has set up the site, Your Brain on Porn trying to explain what happens in the brain of the viewer extremely much porn. The website also includes tips for those who want to change their behavior.
According to Gary Wilson, those who consume a lot of porn on the net often seek out more extreme material to get the same sexual kicks as before.
They may also suffer from the general lack of concentration and problems with getting a normal sex life work.
Pornography has aroused and continues to arouse strong reactions. Some see any use of porn as morally reprehensible, others argue that Internet pornography is no different from magazines like American "Playboy".
Gary Wilson has no moral views on porn, but would like to introduce the latest neuroscientific findings about the effects of a violent pornography consumption can get.
The site Your Brain on Porn he means that symptoms of the extreme porn consumers can be explained by disturbances in brain reward system. The body's reward system designed to humans to do things that promote our long-term survival, so that our genes are passed on to future generations. Food, friendship and sex at the top end "reward list."
Today, those who want to watch porn anytime and any amount.
But according to Gary Wilson, man is not created to handle this amount of reward sends - and could lead to changes in the brain. He says that the following problems may be due to an extreme porn consumption:
• Difficulty in reaching orgasm with a partner, delayed ejaculation.
• Discovery of greater sexual arousal with porn than with a partner.
• Need to fantasize to maintain erection or associated with sexual partners.
• Earlier genres of porn are no longer "exciting".
• Declining sexual arousal with a sexual partner.
• Loss of erection during attempted penetration.
Gary Wilson tells a restart to get to grips with the problems. The quickest way is to let the brain rest from all porn and avoid masturbating for a while.
Many of those who turned to his site testify that they had regained a normal sex life within six months.
More info about Your Brain on Porn found at:
thomas.lerner @ dn.se
“I’m resetting my dick and my brain,” said Greg Barris of his decision to give up porn, sex and masturbation.
Barris is one of the men featured in New York magazine’s piece about the male anti-masturbation movement. According to the piece, a number of men are reflecting on their masturbation habits — even abstaining from “fapping” altogether in order to be able to perform better with women and to be better men in general.
Thirty-two-year-old Henry compared the feeling of not masturbating for a long period of time to being on antidepressants. He reported feeling more alert, younger and far more attracted to women, better able to communicate with them, better able to perform in bed.
In my personal sexual experience, I’ve found this introspection about porn, masturbation and sexual performance, to be a growing trend amongst the men I sleep with. More than three of my sexual partners have expressed the sentiment that “porn is screwing me up.”
When I questioned them about it, they weren’t so easily able to articulate. One ex-boyfriend, who works as a freelancer, told me, “It distracts me from my work. I don’t get anything done when I know I can watch porn.” Another guy I dated briefly said, “It makes sex with you jarring when I’m used to looking at video to get off. It’s like I have to use a different part of my brain.”
In fact, that’s true. According to TEDX series, “Your Brain On Porn,” Gary Wilson talks about how porn conditions men’s brains to need more and more images and stimuli to feel aroused. It’s like a drug.
When I began dating my current partner, I asked him about his porn habits, as I always do when I start dating someone. You can learn a lot about a man from his porn habits. If what he’s wanking off to and what you’re doing in bed align, I find that to be a good thing. I guess I think it means that his sexuality is in harmony — he’s not off masturbating to anal sex every night and then doing gentle missionary with me. There’s dissonance in sexual disconnection.
When I masturbate, it’s to the thought of a current or past partner. It’s always confounded me, this idea that men masturbate to women they’ll never meet in real life, women that they probably wouldn’t even be attracted to in real life. There lies another area of sexual disconnection. While my masturbation habits bring me closer to my partner, my partner’s ostensibly take him further away from me. I’m not threatened by it in the least. What the person I’m sleeping with does with his penis when I’m not around is his business. Until it follows us into the bedroom. And often, it does.
So back to my partner’s answer to my question about his porn habits. He wouldn’t answer me. He blushed. He looked ashamed.
“Is it something really dirty? I don’t care,” I encouraged him.
And that’s when he shut down. Both verbally and physically. He told me he couldn’t talk about it. All he said was: “I think I’m addicted to porn.”
Our sex life was stellar, I was coming multiple times, but he couldn’t have an orgasm from intercourse. He attributed this every time to “the porn thing.”
I decided not to push the topic any further and let him have his space about it. I jerked him off and gave him blow jobs to come. A couple of weeks later, he came to me to talk about it.
“I’ve stopped masturbating to porn,” he announced. “It’s fucking me up.”
“OK,” I replied, trying to be supportive. “What are you masturbating to?”
“You,” he said.
I was flattered, turned on, I was a million things. I felt more connected to him. His anti-porn crusade has continued for several months. I only know this because he has made it a habit to tell me whenever he masturbates and what he thinks about. I do the same in return. Our sex life has skyrocketed.
This is not to say that if he goes back to masturbating to porn, I will feel less connected to him sexually. I want him to have pleasure, however he wants it. But I think his decision to quit porn, or at least experiment with quitting it, was an admirable one. I am impressed by his desire to self-reflect about how to be a better man, how to be a better sexual partner to me.
Ultimately, at their core, I think men want nothing more than to please women. Men who are reflecting about their sex, porn and masturbation habits are the kind of men who make the best partners, sexual and otherwise.