Your Brain on Porn

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This site is maintained by a group effort that includes men who have recovered from internet-porn related problems and a retired anatomy & physiology teacher. You can contact YBOP admins here, but you must first create an account. Please do not ask YBOP admins questions specific to your situation. YBOP does not diagnose or provide medical or sexual advice. See the Support Page and About This Site for help with your porn-related problems.

Quick FAQs:

1) Is this site religious?

  • Nope. The site's founder is an atheist (as were his parents and grandparents). For more see this 2016 interview of Gary Wilson by Noah B. Church.

2) Does anyone make money from YBOP?

3) What is the current state of the research on Internet porn addiction and porn's effects? 

4) Has Gary Wilson published in the peer-reviewed literature?

5) Are there any studies that falsify the porn addiction model?

6) Do doctors and therapists recognize and treat porn-induced sexual dysfunctions?

  • Yes. This page contains articles and videos with about 110 experts (urology professors, urologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, MDs) who acknowledge and have successfully treated porn-induced ED and porn-induced loss of sexual desire.

7) Is YBOP for banning Internet porn?

  • Nope.

8) Why was YBOP created?

  • We created the site because we don’t like people suffering needlessly simply because they lack critical information for improving their circumstances themselves.

Relevant Research and Articles About the Studies

Below this long intro are many sub-sections containing relevant studies. First we have lists of studies that provide support for the claims made by YBOP. (See Questionable & Misleading Studies for highly publicized papers that are not what they claim to be.):

  1. Porn/sex addiction? This page lists 40 neuroscience-based studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neuropsychological, hormonal). They provide strong support for the addiction model as their findings mirror the neurological findings reported in substance addiction studies.
  2. The real experts' opinions on porn/sex addiction? This list contains 17 recent literature reviews & commentaries by some of the top neuroscientists in the world. All support the addiction model.
  3. Signs of addiction and escalation to more extreme material? Over 30 studies reporting findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms (all signs and symptoms associated with addiction).
  4. An official diagnosis? The world's most widely used medical diagnostic manual, The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), contains a new diagnosis suitable for porn addiction: "Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder."
  5. Debunking the unsupported talking point that "high sexual desire" explains away porn or sex addiction: At least 25 studies falsify the claim that sex & porn addicts "just have high sexual desire"
  6. Porn and sexual problems? This list contains 27 studies linking porn use/porn addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.
  7. Porn’s effects on relationships? Almost 60 studies link porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction. (As far as we know all studies involving males have reported more porn use linked to poorer sexual or relationship satisfaction.)
  8. Porn use affecting emotional and mental health? Over 55 studies link porn use to poorer mental-emotional health & poorer cognitive outcomes.
  9. Porn use affecting beliefs, attitudes and behaviors? Check out individual studies - over 25 studies link porn use to "un-egalitarian attitudes" toward women and sexist views – or the summary from this 2016 meta-analysis: Media and Sexualization: State of Empirical Research, 1995–2015. Excerpt:

The goal of this review was to synthesize empirical investigations testing effects of media sexualization. The focus was on research published in peer-reviewed, English-language journals between 1995 and 2015. A total of 109 publications that contained 135 studies were reviewed. The findings provided consistent evidence that both laboratory exposure and regular, everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.

  1. What about sexual aggression and porn use? Another meta-analysis: A Meta‐Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies (2015). Excerpt:

22 studies from 7 different countries were analyzed. Consumption was associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Associations were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.

  1. What about the porn use and adolescents? Check out this list of over 200 adolescent studies, or this 2012 review of the research - The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research (2012). From the conclusion:

Increased access to the Internet by adolescents has created unprecedented opportunities for sexual education, learning, and growth. Conversely, the risk of harm that is evident in the literature has led researchers to investigate adolescent exposure to online pornography in an effort to elucidate these relationships. Collectively, these studies suggest that youth who consume pornography may develop unrealistic sexual values and beliefs. Among the findings, higher levels of permissive sexual attitudes, sexual preoccupation, and earlier sexual experimentation have been correlated with more frequent consumption of pornography.... Nevertheless, consistent findings have emerged linking adolescent use of pornography that depicts violence with increased degrees of sexually aggressive behavior. The literature does indicate some correlation between adolescents’ use of pornography and self-concept. Girls report feeling physically inferior to the women they view in pornographic material, while boys fear they may not be as virile or able to perform as the men in these media. Adolescents also report that their use of pornography decreased as their self-confidence and social development increase. Additionally, research suggests that adolescents who use pornography, especially that found on the Internet, have lower degrees of social integration, increases in conduct problems, higher levels of delinquent behavior, higher incidence of depressive symptoms, and decreased emotional bonding with caregivers.

For a debunking of nearly every naysayer talking point and cherry-picked study see this extensive critique: Debunking "Why Are We Still So Worried About Wat­­ching Porn?", by Marty Klein, Taylor Kohut, and Nicole Prause (2018). How to recognize biased articles: They cite Prause et al., 2015 (falsely claiming it debunks porn addiction), while omitting over 3 dozen neurological studies supporting porn addiction.

Start here: Evolution has not prepared your brain for today's porn

This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links and read this page. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies. For a more in-depth understanding and further evidence see The Research Page. For specific content explore Porn FAQs.

chart

What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even if she wants more, he has had enough. However, replace the original female with a fresh one, and the male immediately revives and gallantly struggles to fertilize her. You can repeat this process with fresh females until he is completely wiped out.

This is called the Coolidge effect—the automatic response to novel mates. Interestingly, men ejaculate more motile sperm and they do it more quickly when they view a novel porn star. This powerful automatic response to erotic novelty is what started you down the road to getting hooked on internet porn.

Brain Studies on Porn Users & Sex Addicts

This page lists the studies assessing the brain structure and functioning of Internet porn users and sex/porn addicts (Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder). To date every study offers support for the porn addiction model (no studies falsify the porn addiction model). The results of these 40 neurological studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 300+ Internet addiction "brain studies", some of which also include internet porn use. All support the premise that internet porn use can cause addiction-related brain changes, as do studies reporting escalation or tolerance, and the following 17 recent neuroscience-based reviews of the literature & commentaries:

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment" (2012)

Captions also available for other languages, including 한국의, Chinese, Português, Czech, Deutsch, Estonian, עברית, Hungarian, Italian, Polski, Serbian, Slovak. Vietamese. 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). Ver YBOP series in Español. Make captions in your own language

Comprehensive empirical support for "The Great Porn Experiment" (2012)

New edition of "Your Brain on Porn" book now out - in audio too!

The 2nd edition of Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction is now out. It's revised, a bit longer, and has more citations and up-to-date research. More (Audio version now available from UK too.) Visit Amazon. Wilson's proceeds go to a registered charity endeavoring to raise awareness of internet porn's effects. Here's an excerpt:

Internet pornography’s effect on sexual attitudes and behaviours: A Structured Literature Review revealing gender difference (2017)

Cope, V. (2017) Internets pornography’s effect on sexual attitudes and behaviours: A Structured Literature Review revealing gender difference. Counselling Australia, 17 (4). pp. 16-21.

Sexologists Deny PIED by Claiming Masturbation Is the Problem

In the last year, an audacious red herring has insinuated itself into the tweets and blogs of some AASECT sexologists: the notion that PIED (porn-induced erectile dysfunction) is caused by masturbation. Without offering any scientific support, this band of porn-apologists has determined to persuade us that porn is not behind the recent rise of coital ED in online porn enthusiasts. (Gotta be anything but porn, right?)

Please participate in research exploring problems associated with using Internet Pornography

Link to survey landing page - https://pornresearchstudy.wordpress.com/

What is this study about?

You are invited to participate in a study exploring problems associated with using Internet Pornography. With your help, I hope to learn more about what it means to live with this issue and how this has affected your mental health, emotional wellbeing and relationships. Since you are reading this page, you may be considering taking part in this study because you identify as someone who is struggling with, concerned about or identify as having problems related to internet porn. You are also over 18 years old and have not been diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder in the last 12 months.