Andrew Sullivan on "The Great Porn Experiment"

Printer-friendly version

Andrew Sullivan's logoFrom Technology vs Writing And Thinking

... 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:

First guy

... 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.

Another confesses:

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.

Another:

... 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.