Shinn: Porn addiction causes mental, physical issues (The Daily Kansan)

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It’s not because of my moral compass or religion. And though I wish it were because of its objectification of women, sadly, it’s not out of shame or guilt either – I’m quitting porn for my health.

I am the product of a pornographized Internet. Chances are, if you’re a male under the age 40, you are too. Let me put this into perspective.

Accessible Internet porn has been available to users since before I was born. Unlike men from my dad’s generation, when I grew curious about sex, I had an array of websites with images and videos to explicitly show me how professionals perform it. And the hard truth is, ever since I discovered porn, not only has it become more accessible, but it’s also been a crutch in my personal life (sometimes you need to channel Drake in order to admit you might be “addicted to naked pictures”).

Anybody who actively peruses Tumblr knows of its overwhelming porn presence, and anytime the name “PornHub” gets dropped, almost anyone my age – men and women alike – know about the infamous website. But because porn is so prevalent and is used to stimulate arousal so frequently, recent studies are showing negative long-term effects, and young men are taking notice.

Physiologist and founder of YourBrainOnPorn.com Gary Wilson was invited to present a TED Talk due to a growing demand for credible scientific information pertaining to porn-use and its effects. According to Wilson, who cited research conducted by head of Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine Dr. Carlo Foresta, excessive porn use leads to arousal addiction, which in turn reduces natural libido, causing numerous negative symptoms. According to the video description of Wilson’s TED Talk, symptoms include “escalation to more extreme material, concentration difficulties, sexual performance problems, radical changes in sexual tastes, social anxiety, irritability” and “inability to stop.”

To put his argument in more alarming terms, porn addiction is physiologically causing erectile dysfunction for men in their 20s. And to be fair, he’s not the only one who’s noticing it.

Writer Naomi Wolfe of New York Magazine conducted interviews with young people and concluded that Internet porn has created “a whole generation of men … less able to connect erotically to women—and ultimately less libidinous.” Because of this, she writes, young women feel as if “they can never measure up” sexually.

What really resonates with me is that society already pressures women to live up to unobtainable standards of beauty. Now, to add to the mess, it’s asking for hyperbolized bedroom activity, all while novelty sex is causing men to lose their natural drive to perform. It all seems like a Catch-22, but there might be a way out.

Wilson points out that there isn’t much research to back up these claims on porn-induced ED, noting the trouble in researching this issue due to the lack of a sizeable control group of young men who do not use porn. But those who have broken their habits claim to have seen major improvements in physical, social and mental health.

A new trend started by a group of Reddit users called “NoFap”  — a 90-day challenge to abstain from porn and masturbation — has already bandwagoned thousands of young men who’ve experienced excessive porn-induced symptoms and are seeking help.

According to Reddit’s NoFap page, based on anecdotal reports by members, potential benefits from quitting porn include pleasure-response healing, increased self-control, more free time and overall improved attitude, especially toward sex.

One individual — nonaffiliated with NoFap — experienced similar results after quitting porn.

In a radio interview conducted by Wilson in Ashland, Oregon called “Your Brain in the CyberSex Jungle,” a young psychiatrist shared details on his recovery from porn-induced ED, claiming to have more energy, strength and alertness, as well as a regained ability to sexually perform after quitting porn.
What’s interesting about the psychiatrist’s recovery is the tale leading up to it in which he lists free time, stress and living alone as factors that allowed him to fall into his excessive porn habits. As a college male living with an almost absentee roommate, I can relate to this.

Although there’s very little scientific research to back up claims of porn causing aforementioned symptoms, there isn’t any to refute it either. In Wilson’s radio interview, he theorizes that “high-speed Internet porn is way ahead of the research” in terms of how recent it is. He then jokes that “when the next DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) comes out in about 20 years, maybe then” something will be noted regarding the phenomenon, to which his guest replies: “Yeah, when half the male population is incapacitated.”

- See more at: http://kansan.com/opinion/2013/10/22/shinn-porn-addiction-causes-mental-...