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"Adult Ideal interfere girls sexuality" (Sweden)

(Google translate) Porn does not only affect the viewing. Also partner is affected, according to two young women made a short film about pornography and sexuality. Porn ideals has made women the teeth to be object, they say.

"Porn Damaged" is the title of a recent short film where eight young women talk about how pornography affected their sexuality, self-image and relationships - including after their boyfriends looked at porn. Behind the film is Roxane von Gerber Hedayat and Moa Kjell Beach, both 22 years old and from Stockholm.

- We wanted to make this film after many conversations and discussions with friends about porn role in our society. But even our own experiences and emotions play a major role. We also thought that there was one aspect of porn debate, which usually is about how men are affected or whether the industry itself, says Roxane.

How women really affected by growing up in an over-sexualised society in which they almost always portrayed as passive objects? It's a question that Moa thought a lot about.

- Whether eyeing at porn or not, you become extremely influenced by society's messages and sexual experiences with men who probably consumed much porn, she says.

As a woman, look at porn is a different thing than to do what you believe Roxane. The course is mainly the woman who is the object of the movies, which only exists for men, she says.

- Even if I choose not to check out, I will still be influenced and get the image conveyed to me - as long as I have sexual relations with someone who consumed porn.

Both Roxanne and Moa have read parts of The inside series on "porn impotence," that young men who masturbated while viewing porn may find it difficult to have sex with a partner. Now they want to broaden the debate. How are such girls to see porn, or that their boyfriends do it?

- In addition, porn aesthetics everywhere. We are constantly surrounded by airbrushed and sexualized female bodies. So even if no one consumed just porn we would clearly understand how a woman should be and look like - but in porn pulled it to the extreme, says Roxane.

Both she and Moa has studied documentaries, including on Öland Folk High School. Preparations for the documentary "Porn Damaged" was a study of women's sexuality, they think.

- Several of the interviewed young women in the movie are offended that their partner eyeing the porn in the relationship, and feel let down and betrayed type says Moa. They wonder why there is a need to fire on anyone but themselves. When you've grown up with constantly being objectified - in such a degree that it has become an important part of one's identity - it will be a doubly even feel deselected as the object of their partner.

Roxanne says she constantly struggles to stop objectifying herself, she thinks it is a tough battle when the world looks the way it does.

- Actually, the real problem of why women should have valued as objects, both of themselves and of others. And regardless of how much I myself manage to free myself so other people will still respond to me based on this standard.

Prior to his documentary conducted Roxane and Moa thirty interviews, eight of them are in the movie. The talks revolve around how porn and the female gender role affects their self-image.

- We live in a time when porn normalize more and more. Pornography seems almost considered something healthy and fulfilling, part of a sexual liberation. But I really think it's the opposite, continues Moa.

- Yes, I think that porn puts handcuffs on our sexuality and that it creates a template for how we should behave sexually, says Roxane.

How so?

- We have learned to be stylish objects to satisfy men and even light on it themselves. It has gone so far that it's almost become more important than the physical pleasure, answers Moa.

- That we ourselves teeth to be instruments of man's pleasure is quite sick, says Roxane. Of course, we women also physical pleasure of sex, but I think most of us find it very difficult to relax and think about ourselves and how we want it.

Almost all the guys looking at porn. Can you not see it as a "private" thing, something that does not have the relationship to do?

- Men who watch porn affects not only themselves, answer Roxane.

- No, porn watching always affects a relationship, says Moa. I think everyone gets a wrong perception of reality of what sex is by taking note of the skewed image of women conveyed in movies.

Have any of you had boyfriends who looked at porn?

- Yes, replies Roxane. And it has affected my relationships much.

Have you yourself been watching porn?

- Yes, I've checked a lot, especially when I was younger. I felt a lot of shame, a shame that is associated with female sexuality in general. But I've also always felt that there was something very degrading, answers Roxane.

- And as conscious feminist, I also felt more shame in bed if I lived up to the porn-influenced ideals. At the same time I learned to turn on the right, so six is on the whole very problematic. But I'm so fucking tired of being ashamed of my sexuality, continues Roxane.

It is not the individual person's excitement as they question, underline Moa. But regardless of whether we are men or women affected us as individuals of ideals in such porn movies and commercials, she believes.

- We are surprised by society's lack of analysis of what all this really does to us.

Both Moa and Roxane believe that this influence also occurs in other ways.

- The media reports more and more often to mental illness among young girls is increasing. I think a contributing factor is the diseased conditions our bodies to live up to, and we think it is strange that this should not be taken more seriously, says Moa.

Moa and Roxane says that the number of reported rapes is increasing, that men seem to fire on all young girls and that 13 year old girls secretly photographed in the dressing room.

- We see it as a direct consequence of the messages we constantly get thrown in the face. And that a girl is raped with a wine bottle by three guys who are not convicted says a lot about society's view of sexuality, says Moa.

She and Roxane wants to sex would be more free, open and fun.

- It need not be anything wrong in that film six, but it is impossible as long as today's gender roles persist. Sexuality is so steeped in porn ideals is really just an old-fashioned expression of the patriarchal structure. In Iceland, discussed a draft law against Internet porn - maybe it's something for us in Sweden, says Roxane and Moa.

Footnote: The short film "Porn Damaged" appears on 2 June in collaboration with the Women's Lobby of the Rio Cinema in Stockholm and is followed by a call.

Thomas Lerner
thomas.lerner @ dn.se


May 23, 2013

Roxane von Gerber Hedayat

Age: 22 years old.

Family: "Siblings, parents, sisterhood."

Lives: Stockholm.

Background: Has studied television production and documentary films.

Current: The short film "Porn Damaged".

Moa Kjellstrand

Age: 22 years old.

Family: Parents, sister, girlfriend.

Lives: Stockholm.

Background: Read gender studies. He studied documentary film at both Sundbybergs college and Öland Folk High School.

Current: The short film "Porn Damaged".

"Broken relationships. Zero self-esteem. Spiralling depression. The terrible price being paid by the young women addicted to porn" (UK)

  • It's accepted that women watch porn but some can find it difficult to stop
  • At least one in three visitors to porn websites are estimated to be female
  • Unrealistic depictions of sex can have a detrimental effect on women’s love lives

    Emma Turner had always been the perfect daughter. A classic ‘good girl’, she won prizes for her academic achievements throughout her school career before being voted deputy head girl in the Sixth Form.

Now as she faced a disciplinary panel at her university, she was struggling to think how on earth she was going to explain this to her proud parents. She was about to be ‘sent down’, i.e. kicked out.

The reason? Moments earlier, Emma had stared in abject horror at a document listing every website she had visited on her laptop in her halls of residence since starting her degree at the start of the year.

It spanned ten sheets of A4, and there, highlighted in an orange pen, were all the pornographic sites she’d visited. Emma, now 24, cringes as she recalls: ‘I’d been caught red-handed by the IT department. Now all I wanted was for the ground to swallow me up.

‘I’d never kept track of the hours I spent looking at porn. Now, here was the evidence right in front of me. In my shock, I could half hear it being explained that it was in the contract of my hall of residence that I didn’t use the university computer network to use or download any pornographic material.

‘Then just as I was expecting to hear the words telling me I was out, the Warden said: “Of course, we know it wasn’t you. Do you know how any of the male students might have got your log-in and password? You realise it’s illegal to share them, don’t you?” ’

Although Emma couldn’t believe her luck at getting off the hook, it confirmed her darkest fears: there must be something terribly wrong with her, because women don’t get addicted to pornography, do they? Men do. Yet here she was, unable to go more than a day without it.

However, despite the fact that porn addiction is seen as a male problem, Emma is far from alone.

While it’s accepted that women watch porn — at least one in three visitors to such sites are estimated to be female — it’s less recognised that some find it difficult to stop.

And the sad reality is that, just like with men, being bombarded with degrading and unrealistic depictions of sex can have a detrimental effect on women’s love lives, leaving them feeling empty, not empowered.

Only now, six years after the near-miss that almost derailed her university career, can Emma, who works in TV production, finally see the effect porn had on her life.

Brought up the youngest of three children in a naval family, her curiosity was piqued when she stumbled across porn while researching an art project when she was 15 — but even more so when she borrowed a copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

‘I found myself turned on by the descriptions of sex and started searching online for clips. Until then, I’d thought porn was something horny teenage boys used.

‘No one would ever have suspected me because I was a classic goody two shoes.’

When she went to university to study languages, Emma’s porn use turned into a habit. ‘With no parents to hide from, and with a lock on my door, I could look at it as often as I wanted,’ she admits.

‘So I found myself looking at it when I woke up, at night to help me get to sleep and two or three times during the day.

‘The temptation was always there because of my laptop. It was like trying to wean myself off a free drug right in front of me.’

Indeed, it seems women experience the same pattern of exposure and addiction to hard-core images as men, according to Gary Wilson, author of Your Brain On Porn. ‘The key thing is that both male and female reward systems can be activated by porn.

‘Since sexual arousal releases the highest levels of (feel-good chemicals) dopamine and opioids — the potential for sexual conditioning, or even porn addiction, is possible for both sexes.’ And it’s increasingly being recognised that women may have a higher risk than men of addiction.

This is because, as women who have shared their experiences with Wilson have pointed out, they don’t need as long a recovery period after climaxing as men. As a result, women have reported going on ‘porn binges’.

But while some therapists hear young women say the violence of porn makes them too afraid to have sex, others like Emma found the constant exposure made her feel highly sexed.

‘I had lost my virginity to a boyfriend before university but after I started watching a lot more porn it was all about hook-up sex and one-night stands. Sex became like starring in my own porn film in my mind and I thought I knew exactly what to do.’

However, what at first seemed liberating, started to feel soulless, says Emma. ‘The men loved that I was up for all the things they’d seen too. For me, after a year or so, the novelty wore off.

‘I realised that here I was, an educated young woman, volunteering to behave for free like porn stars who were paid, or forced, to pretend they were enjoying it.’

Indeed, the main difference in the way men and women use porn seems to be how women feel afterwards.

According to social worker and church pastor Karin Cooke, who has spoken to young women like Emma for her book, Dangerous Honesty: Stories Of Women Who Have Escaped The Destructive Power Of Pornography, many feel desperate because they think they are struggling with porn alone.

Karin says: ‘It’s a taboo subject. One way that porn imprisons women is that they feel isolated and feel they have no one to talk to. It can start to dominate their thinking because they live with the constant fear they will be found out.

‘I’ve spoken to professional women, like teachers, who could not sleep at night unless they got their fix. Even when they try to put it out of their minds, unwanted images they have seen keep popping back in their heads.’

Another of the women Karin interviewed for her book was Sophia Thomas, a 30-year-old project manager who lives in the Midlands, who also started watching porn at university.

What began as entertainment became a habit which became hard to break when she ended up watching it up to seven times a day. Sophia says it was a sure way to achieve an orgasm and, crucially, something she could control when ‘everything else was on everyone else’s terms.’ But then it started to impact on her real sex life.

Sophia said: ‘I had to watch different porn for longer and more often. I became agitated and stressed if I couldn’t and it would play on my mind all the time.’

When she discovered her boyfriend was also using porn on his computer, she was not concerned, but relieved. There was a crucial difference in how it affected them, however: ‘While I was enough for him, soon he became too boring in bed for me.’

It was when she took an online test, which asked questions about whether she was using such material to control her mood, that Sophia realised she had a problem and joined a support group for women.

‘It didn’t feel sexy or fun any more,’ she says. ‘It wasn’t nice to see my habit for what it was.’

Karin says Sophia was a fairly typical addict, who got lured in by curiosity, but then trapped by feelings of guilt. ‘Porn provides an escape, an immediate hit of pleasure to drown out any pressures and discomforts of life. It usually starts as an avoidance technique, either for failure, depression, loneliness, stress and boredom.

‘But of course after using porn, those problems haven’t gone, and now on top of dealing with them, women are also dealing with the shame, guilt and discomfort. And so they turn to porn again.’ Yet psychosexual counsellor Krystal Woodbridge, of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, insists that, when used in moderation and within a loving relationship, porn can benefit some women.

‘For some, it enhances their intimacy with their partners. Some couples are pleased it’s something they can do together,’ says Krystal, who is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

However, for those who are not in secure equal partnerships, porn can be destructive and dangerous, teaching vulnerable young women to comply without question with acts they see on screen.

In one academic study, it was found that nearly 90 per cent of 304 random scenes showed ‘physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping,’ while half contained ‘verbal aggression, primarily name-calling’ against women.

Which is particularly disturbing when you consider how Swedish research recently discovered that, like young boys, young girls now use pornography as their principal source of sex education. It discovered a third of 16-year-olds regularly browsed porn websites, 43 per cent fantasised about mimicking what they saw, while 39 per cent had gone on to try them.

It’s meant that violent, brutal sex acts have become the norm, at the expense of more tender gestures, like kissing.

Angela Clifton, a sex and relationship psychotherapist at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said many women are not getting the love lives they deserve: ‘What it’s not about is love, teasing, sensuality, massage, eroticism or emotion. Often young women do stuff to please the guy. It’s less about their enjoyment and more about guys saying: “If you like me, you’ll do these things.” In the long term, I think it will have emotional consequences. Women end up feeling used.’

Sociology professor Gail Dines, of Boston’s Wheelock College, says that the more porn girls watch, the more coercion becomes a feature of their relationships. Professor Dines, author of Pornland, says: ‘If girls watch it from a young age, their whole concept of what constitutes a normal sexual relationship shifts. It grooms girls into accepting male sexual mistreatment as normal.

‘The result is that women don’t become more sexual or liberated. They get more open to porn sex in which they don’t get any pleasure in return. It becomes all about pleasing the man.

For girls and young women, this can create an emotional hangover. There are fewer relationships, and more “hook-up sex” leaving them more prone to anxiety and depression.’

Indeed, according to one NSPCC survey, led by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire, as many as 40 per cent of 13 to 17-year-old girls in England said they’ve felt pressured into a sexual activity.

The human cost of trying to live up to ‘porn sex’ is obvious when you speak to young women like Philippa Bates, a 20-year-old business student from Bournemouth.

When she started dating her last boyfriend, he began turning porn on in the bedroom during sex, saying it would give them ideas. But soon her boyfriend was watching the screen more than her.

‘It didn’t make me feel sexier. I just compared myself unfavourably to the women on the screen.

‘It got to the point where I felt like I could have been anyone. I started to feel degraded.’

‘I also felt that whatever I did for my boyfriend was never going to be enough because he was logging onto more extreme things.’

Studies have found that girls subjected to sexual coercion turn their feelings of anger back on themselves.

Research by the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S., found women repeatedly pressured into sex become ‘two to four times more likely to develop clinically significant symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress, and substance use than those who experienced only one incident.’

Since she left university two years ago, Emma has been single and intends to stay so until she finds a meaningful relationship in which sex is more than just a performance.

Although still embarrassed by that phase of her life, the shame has lifted now that Emma knows she is not on her own.

‘I felt such a freak. Now it’s a relief to see other women coming forward to say: “I’ve been to and come back from that place, too.”’

Original article


"Coming Out as a Porn Addict" (The Atlantic)

Subscribe to The Atlantic By Isaac Abel About a year ago, I was regularly seeing a therapist. During one session, I mentioned the niche porn I had watched and how I was unsure whether or not I wanted to embrace some of the "kinkier" fantasies, like rape and incest, through role-play in my real sex life. It was the only time I could remember her telling me that certain fantasies--not acted out in real life, just imagined--could be "wrong" or considered a "sickness." In retrospect, understanding my condition as an illness might actually have been empowering if explained differently, but at the time, it shut me right up. I never brought it up to her again.

I'm not alone in feeling silenced. Every day it prevents a lot of people from recovering. From porn.

Earlier this month in The Atlantic I described how I came to identify with the porn addiction movement, if a bit unsure of where exactly I fall under that umbrella. The label made me feel comfortable reaching out to affinity groups and ultimately seeking the treatment I now felt I needed.

More immediately, it begot hours of trying to figure out: How many other people watch porn like I did? While there's no survey for porn addiction, there is a life path emerging for some percentage of the population shaded by Internet porn.

The average age a U.S. child is first exposed to porn is 11 according to Family Safe Media, though others claim it's closer to 14. According to Norton Family, of 3.5 million web searches in 2009 by kids, the sixth most commonly searched term was "porn." For children younger than eight, it was the fourth most commonly searched term.

Clearly, many like me started watching porn when they were barely pubescent, and researchers assert that there's a correlation between early porn use and sexual compulsion problems down the road.

According to a 2009 survey of 30,000 college students, over 10 percent of U.S male students are estimated to be heavy porn users (five to 20 hours per week), and 62 percent of college guys watch some Internet porn each week. At Brigham Young University in 2007, 21 percent of male college students reported watching porn "every day or almost every day."

As adults, the problems may persist. At the 2003 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers meeting, two-thirds of lawyers reported that compulsive Internet use played a significant role in divorces over that year, and 56 percent of those divorce cases included a partner who had an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. Eight years earlier, pornography had played almost no role in divorce.

And as a country, we watch a lot of porn -- 40 million people visit a porn site at least once a month (that's about one in eight Americans). And as an Internet populace, 25 percent of our search engine requests and an astounding 35 percent of our downloads are for porn.

While some studies that have surveyed the population at large conclude that Internet porn's not much of a problem, it's important to note that the percentage of Internet porn "addicts" is much higher in at-risk populations: young, Internet-connected men. (75 to 85 percent of Internet porn users are men).

And while Internet porn addiction hasn't been specifically surveyed, one study reports that Internet addiction more broadly is as high as 23 percent in some college-aged male populations, and pornography is considered to be the most addictive online stimulus.

I only watched a few hours of porn a week and haven't watched porn in years, but it continues to negatively affect my life -- so for some, the threshold isn't that high before Internet porn causes problems. Already it seems that there could be at least ten to twenty percent of college-aged guys suffering from Internet-porn related issues, and with more children watching at younger ages as high-speed Internet becomes more accessible, how big will this community be by the time my generation's kids are college-aged?

Fortunately, this community is already organizing itself.

Finding the Internet porn addiction community Forums to discuss porn use and compulsive masturbation are cropping up around the web. These include Reddit's NoFap (where members support one other's abstinence from "fapping," or masturbating), Your Brain Rebalanced (where users publish porn-quitting journals), PubMed, and a slew of bodybuilding sites (mostly related to Erectile Dysfunction specifically), as well as some forums centered around a particularly ideology for quitting porn like Feed The Right Wolf.

More so than the startling statistics, the rapid growth of these digital communities felt to me like a concrete declaration that a lot of people are, at least self-reportedly, afflicted by porn: NoFap broke 60,000 subscribers last month.

Some of these groups are gathering interesting information about "porn addicts" and crowdsourcing solutions -- using the Internet collectively to fight what it did to each user alone. For example, Reddit's "fapstronaut" community conducted a self-survey in April 2012 with over 1,500 respondents, which details their demographics, masturbation habits, and self-reported effects of masturbation abstinence.

Below is a graph from the survey describing mutable sexual tastes, a feature that some researchers claim is characteristic of Internet porn addiction:

PORNGRAPH.JPGOf course, folks are organizing in large part to figure out what has improved the lives of those who suffer from this little-recognized ailment. Towards this end, Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson, the founders of Your Brain on Porn, have stepped in to play the roles of informer and curator.

Based on their analysis of addiction research, Wilson and Robinson suggest the experiment: no pixelated sexual stimuli for as long as it takes to "reboot." The term loosely signifies a return to a "normal" sexual functioning and libido through a weakening of neural pathways that have associated arousal with porn-based stimuli. From a neuroplasticity framework, they hypothesize that neurons that stop firing together, stop wiring together -- that we can change our brains to be sensitized or desensitized to Internet porn.

The pair publishes user experiences with the "reboot" process, which they report usually takes about two to six months. On the site, most young guys with erectile dysfunction report a quicker recovery if they give up masturbation and orgasm temporarily too, so users typically label the experiment "no PMO" (porn, masturbation, orgasm).

Your Brain on Porn compliments this suggestion with a forum of what to expect when you abstain from PMO -- based on accounts from several online communities -- like a temporary loss of libido until a "flatline," and an extended recovery time if you're younger, especially if you first masturbated using Internet porn. The tome of grateful comments on Your Brain on Porn suggests that this guidance has prevented many readers from relapsing despite discouraging symptoms.

For me, the information was explosive. I'm not the only one out there who has stopped using porn and still hasn't recovered. My condition is especially persistent because I started my sexual life with porn. And I should keep sticking it out.

Furthermore, I finally had resources to investigate my "failed" attempt at rebooting. In high school, when I felt like my porn desires were morphing in ways I didn't particularly like, I took a five-month hiatus from masturbating. But, many nights before I feel asleep, I would imagine these porn-inspired fantasies as a sort of reward to myself. When I resumed solo sex, it was easier to avoid porn, but my fantasies were still exclusively deviant with apparent roots in porn I'd watched.

I posted this on Your Brain Rebalanced, and someone pointed out the obvious to me: neurons the fire together, wire together, and if I was still indulging those fantasies, I was still keeping those reward pathways strong. Gary Wilson of Your Brain on Porn goes further, telling readers to avoid literary or audio erotica and to not even surf through dating sites or hook-up apps like Grindr or Tinder, because the delivery system of clicking through image after image in search of novelty can itself be addicting.

Although very helpful, these informal surveys and anecdotes were not substitutes for medical advice. So I turned to the psychiatric community to see if they had anything to say. Did they even know this was a problem?

Professional opinions on treating porn addiction Unfortunately, it seems that the scattered opinions on the diagnosis of porn addiction in the scientific community has left clinicians ill-equipped to treat patients.

A survey of therapists in 2009 showed that over 75 percent felt unprepared to effectively treat clients who disclosed pornography use, while 50 percent failed to identify quitting porn as a major goal of treatment, and 20 percent normalized or did not address the porn use at all.

Despite an influx of patients seeking help with porn-related behavior, many marriage and family therapists have trivialized the effects of "cybersex addiction," allowing their personal views of porn to unduly influence their patient assessments. Although there are specialized support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous and even specially trained sex addiction therapists, in many cases, people who have sought help from professionals have had discouraging encounters.

Fortunately, some therapists saw this coming and tried to prepare their colleagues.

In the mid-1990s internationally recognized sex therapist Wendy Maltz and her husband Larry Maltz, who is a licensed clinical social worker, noticed an increase in the number of clients approaching them with porn-related problems; porn was no longer acting as a supplement for sexual intimacy but as a competing force. They contacted other therapists and found confirmation of this trend, so they began soliciting patients with porn-related concerns to interview.

In 2008, they published the authoritative book, The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography . Largely sidestepping the diagnostic imbroglio, the Maltz's spend the first half of the book describing how people fall into the "porn trap," including jarring stories of divorce, arrest, and disgrace. They dedicate the rest of the book to healing, which begins with telling someone else about your porn problem, and moves to enrolling in a treatment program, creating a "porn-free environment" to prevent relapse, establishing accountability, and finally "healing your sexuality."

Since then, some clinicians have taken a more rehabilitative approach and have even crafted new diagnostic models. Tal Croitoru, MSW/MBA, places "porn addiction" in the same category as PTSD and has been pioneering EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) with her patients -- undoing "porn trauma" by watching the traumatizing videos and reprocessing them -- and she has reported positive results. Others promote an extinction training or cognitive behavior therapy approach (even through an online program) to stop the mental "reruns" of pornography and ultimately replace those images with more appropriate ones.

Still, for some of us, porn's most significant disruption is the wedge it creates between us and our intimate partners. In recognition of this, some psychotherapists have provided narratives of successful couples-based approaches to treatment.

In her book The Men on My Couch, Dr. Brandy Engler describes how Casey suffered a "fractured sexual identity" in his relationship with his girlfriend Amy because his porn-inspired fantasies felt like a betrayal to her -- so he hid them. Dr. Engler helped the pair untangle their abstracted associations of love with sexual fantasy, allowing Casey to shed his shame and Amy to explore eroticism.

Some critics of the porn addiction model frame behavioral addiction treatment and psychotherapy as being at odds with one another. Rob Weiss, an international sex addiction expert and the founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute, strongly disagrees.

Weiss explained to me that traditional addiction treatments like cognitive behavior therapy with social group-based support and accountability have clearly proven effective for curbing undesirable behavior. Which he thinks is a necessary first step. "Many of my patients don't have the ability to look at childhood problems. Addiction treatment gets people ready for psychotherapy." Perhaps more distressing, Weiss has seen patients who had been in psychotherapy only, without any behavioral intervention, who had gotten fired or divorced during therapy because they hadn't reined in their destructive porn habits.

Learning all this was making me feel less self-conscious with my own significant other about my predilection for kink and occasional issues with delayed ejaculation. She should be my partner in overcoming my shame, not the judge and jury.

Talking about porn As this gets more attention, hopefully researchers will study all kinds of treatments. But for now, the one thing that everyone agrees on -- from Reddit's fapstronauts to sex therapists -- is that talking about it helps.

On an episode of Gary Wilson's "Your Brain in the Cybersex Jungle" radio show, Wendy Maltz discussed the importance of breaking the silence on porn addiction:

The main thing is overcoming shame and coming out of isolation. Find someone to talk to -- it could be a therapist, it could be a friend, it could be a relative, it could be a spouse or a partner. If that feels like too scary a step, back up a bit and just educate yourself about today's pornography. It's really different than the Playboy magazines of the past. Education reduces the shame. You realize you're not alone and that this is a new phenomenon.

Although learning about porn addiction and finding a community to talk about it with has been liberating for some, the shame -- that goes to the heart of commonly held notions of gender roles and sexuality -- has kept many quiet. This was one response I got from a reader who watched porn like S&M, Diaper, and Furry:

As a man, talking about this issue to my closest friend only came after I took MDMA and I still couldn't mention the kinkiest of the fantasies, only S&M. It completely goes against a man's worth and expectations with women. It can be crippling at times. Because I did not know what was going on I could not communicate about it with my girlfriend and it drove us apart.

As I received more responses like this to my first piece on porn addiction, and as I started sharing my own story openly with friends, family (yep, I told my parents), and current partner, I started to understand how integral not talking about it -- the isolation -- was to the addictive experience of my Internet porn use.

Coming out to my significant other "I can't believe you find that attractive."

As part of the process of opening up to my partner about porn, we decided to watch porn together. She had never watched porn before, and after the first video, she flatly ruled that it was repulsive to her. Particularly the cumshot scenes.

2231186540_6d211f20c7_o.jpgWhen I told her that those scenes used to be a major turn-on for me, that I would fast-forward to those scenes to climax, she just couldn't understand it.

I watched myself get mad. I was confused about where the hurt and anger came from, but I knew where they were targeted -- at her. At women like her. I grew so angry I couldn't speak.

We watched a scene of a pig-tailed girl having sex with her older neighbor and the juvenile logic streamed in my head along with the video: She wouldn't say porn is disgusting. She wouldn't argue with me. She wouldn't say no. I was a pissed off teenager again, smoldering.

The height of my porn watching was my adolescence -- high school -- when each relationship felt like a splintering slat on a long rickety bridge. Porn didn't just serve as an outlet for my sexual frustration; it was a steadying beam to fall back on.

So when my partner gave a hint of rejection, my emotional complexion flushed with hostility, anxiety, and lust. I reverted. To the time when this or that girl: snuck out on a school night to smoke with me but just wanted to remain friends; dated me for almost a year but was never ready to take her shirt off; couldn't stop kissing me when she was drunk but wouldn't start when she was sober.

I had always felt guilty about watching porn and I had needed things to blame. Why not the women who "forced" me to go there?

My partner closed the browser and we had the worst sex we've ever had. She said it was the first time I'd ever "fucked her."

I realized then that the Maltz's "trap" metaphor was apt for me. As a 12-year-old and Internet neophyte, I had fallen into a positive feedback loop.

Porn sites had promoted my pornographic behavior and attitudes over and over again, and I had rapidly descended into darker, dirtier porn, which was all the more gripping because it was so taboo. At the same time, these behaviors were increasingly reviled and denounced by society, so I felt progressively unable to utter my tastes aloud, driving me to depend more and more on porn for sexual acceptance.

I looked at a soft-core Maxim magazine and I could still talk about it with my dad. I watch hard-core POV porn and I could still share it on a CD with close friends. I watched superhero cartoon porn and I'd rather just go to my computer. And once I was only with my computer, why stop there?

The computer didn't judge, just provided, and accepted: pimp, whore, mother.

Of course, my encounters with real women were stained with dejection, which made it even easier to turn to those sites that were sanitized of real life's complications. I didn't even have to think -- it just worked. Like a pill.

These intersecting forces pushed me further into isolation. This is why -- at least for me, and some others who have described it on forums around the web -- talking about porn has been so freeing.

If I tell others, then the computer isn't the only place I can go to feel sexually honest. And if others accept me, then I don't feel so ashamed. And if those desires aren't so shameful, then they lose the black lust of taboo, and I lose my feverish fixation on them. And then I don't feel like they're all I want -- need -- and I can explore sex a bit more freely.

What's more, memories associated with strong emotions like embarrassment are encoded most deeply; so killing the shame can render these dark secrets into just some videos I watched as a kid. Which is whole lot easier to let go of.

Perhaps it's unrealistic for sexuality to be viewed as a public, community-supported, and interactive attribute like playing sports or making art, but I wonder what the cost is of the privacy around it -- especially in the age of Internet porn.

This article available online at:


"How Watching Porn Might Mean The End Of Your Sex Life As You Know It"

EliteDaily logoArousal addiction is a concept that refers to seeking out novelty in order to achieve or maintain a high level of arousal.

Unlike alcohol or drug addiction, in which someone wants more of the same alcohol or drug, a person who exhibits addictive behavior with arousing activities, like video games or porn, craves material that is constantly changing.

Simply put, it is like saying, “Give me the same but different.”

Over time, the things that turn on porn addicts when they first started watching will no longer turn them on the same way. This is because the old porn is not creating the same level of arousal.

If an image or scene isn’t doing it for a person, he or she will then look for newness and variety in the content, more hardcore material or anything unseen in order to attain a sexual climax.

Sameness is soon habituated; difference sustains attention, even if it means morphing porn tastes that don’t necessarily line up with a person’s sexual orientation.

The porn industry is supplying a virtually endless variety via instant streaming online, so porn addicts can always get their fix. Regarding porn, brains demand change, novelty, excitement and constant stimulation, as pornography is a dopamine-producing machine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with activation of the brain’s reward system. Its presence helps initiate feelings of enjoyment and pleasure.

Neutral stimuli and events that are associated with the addictive substance or its process, such as gambling or drugs, can become conditioned to generate further arousal and add to the body’s chemical addiction.

The more aroused you are, the higher your dopamine level. The higher your dopamine, the more you crave something.

Though the impact of arousal addiction on behavior and physiological responses varies from individual to individual, it is worth looking at the potential physiological, mental and emotional effects of watching too much porn because few people consider how it affects their brains and their ability to become aroused during porn-watching sessions and in real-life sexual encounters.

The subtle and not-so-subtle effects of arousal addiction can negatively impact any part of a person’s life that are analog, static or involve planning, delaying gratification or long-term goal setting (e.g. romantic relationships, school, job).

People with whom I’ve spoken who demonstrate signs of arousal addiction feel very anxious in social situations, have less motivation to set and complete goals, feel out of control and even discuss suicide.

Other symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety, desensitization, brain fog and depression. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found,

Regular porn users are more likely to report depression and poor physical health than nonusers… The reason is that porn may start a cycle of isolation… Porn may become a substitute for healthy face-to-face interactions, social or sexual.

Guys are even starting to talk about how porn has personally affected them.

Before high-speed Internet, people consumed porn much differently. Arousal addiction wouldn’t have been as possible as it is today.

First, it was small photos in National Geographic, then it was flipping through spreads in a Playboy or Penthouse magazine, or going to a theatre specifically for adult films.

Then, it was a pile of VHS tapes, followed by a burned DVD mix of selected clips. Now, you can have as many windows open as you want on your computer screen and all you have to do is click between them — or you can use tools like Pornhub’s PornIQ, which creates a custom playlist for you based on your desires.

Most remember the first sexual image or movie they saw — it leaves an ever-lasting impression. If you’re a young, sexually inexperienced person who grows up watching hardcore porn (or really, any person who watches a lot of hardcore porn) and you masturbate exclusively to it, imagine how that will affect your future sexual experiences.

If you’ve trained your brain and body to become aroused by hardcore porn scenes, most likely, real-life sex partners will not turn you on nearly as much as they would if you hadn’t watched porn. You might objectively find the other person attractive, but he or she won’t physically or mentally arouse you.

If you’re a guy, you very well could have trouble getting or maintaining an erection. Even if you are aroused at first (because of the partner’s newness), several months into a romantic relationship, you might find that he or she no longer turns you on.

Dopamine, as mentioned above, is also the basis for the motivation to achieve your desires, and in the context of sex, it’s central to sexual desire and erections. An erection won’t happen if there is not enough dopamine to signal the reward circuitry.

Dopamine skyrockets with novelty, so with every new sexual partner or sex scene, you will get another surge of dopamine. If your dopamine starts to decline — that is, your erection starts to dwindle — you just click on something else to boost yourself back up.

With Internet porn, there is always something new, exciting or shocking. Watch enough porn and your reward circuitry will essentially burn out because your dopamine system has burned it out and thus, become less responsive.

At this point, you become dependent on new porn because you need more and more stimulation to become aroused and get an erection.

Eventually, the porn pathway in your brain will become so strong that you will no longer be sensitive to normal or usual stimuli, such as sex with a real person.

Viagra or Cialis won’t help these problems no matter how old you are, because they only dilate the blood vessels to sustain an erection, not create one.

The brain needs to be aroused first; without arousal, nothing can happen. And that’s what porn does over time — it kills the arousal response. If you think you may have porn-induced ED, check out these links to YourBrainOnPorn here and here.

Overcoming arousal addiction can be simple, but not necessarily easy. A lot of people have found success with the Reboot program on YourBrainOnPorn and support on the No Fap forum on Reddit.

Other people have found that the Internet itself is too tempting and have found success with 12-step programs. If you watch porn, ask yourself how much of the things that attract you are influenced by porn.

Clarify your relationship with porn so you can avoid its downsides. If you want to get aroused by being with people, porn can be a part of your fantasy life, just not the whole thing.

Original article by Nikita Coulombe

"How my porn addiction ruined my sex life" (Cosmo UK)

Daniel SimmonsDaniel Simmons, 23, tells Cosmo his story… I was 15 when I first masturbated to online porn. The high I got was immense, and it lasted about 30 minutes.

At that point in my life I'd been feeling really low, and had been for about seven years. But, for the first time, I didn't feel depressed at all – everything lifted. It made me want to do it again, and again – so I did, until I was watching online porn every day.

At the time, I didn't realise I had a problem. My friends and I talked about porn at school – it was normal, something we all did. I didn't know it could be harmful or that you could abuse it. So I continued to use porn to escape my (then undiagnosed) depression.

It was the only thing that made me feel better, and soon I was watching porn for up to two hours a day. Even if I was ill with flu, I'd find time for porn.

Eventually, I became desensitised to 'vanilla' guy-on-girl porn – it simply didn't turn me on – so I sought out more extreme porn to shock my system into being aroused again.

For the same reason, sex with real women was pretty much impossible. I didn't link it to my porn addiction – because I didn't know I had one. I just thought there was something inherently wrong with me, which made me feel more low.

To this day, I don't know how I passed my A-levels or got into uni to study music. Life was a blur.

It wasn't until the summer of 2013, when I was 21, that I reached breaking point. By then I'd been diagnosed with depression. I was seeing a therapist (who had no idea about my porn use) and was taking medication, but I didn't think it was working.

I wanted to end my life – it was either that, or I had to make a change. I chose the latter. My therapist had mentioned meditation, and I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a try.

After just a few minutes, something hit me. I thought, "Wow, this is the missing puzzle piece. I have a serious problem with porn." It was as clear as day.

I went online and looked up porn addiction. I found a website called Yourbrainonporn.com, which offered advice on how to reverse the unwanted effects of heavy porn use.

It also explained that extreme internet porn can alter the brain, for example numbing the brain's pleasure response. I found a lot of support from other people who also used the site, and I wasn't alone. It was a huge relief.

From that day, I went cold turkey on porn. I had terrible withdrawals. My hands shook and I had awful mood swings, vivid nightmares and hot and cold sweats.

But I was ready to turn my life around, and aside from the side effects, I felt good and my mood was stable. I managed 100 days without porn and masturbation, and after a few months, I didn't have any desire to watch porn.

Two years on, I've moved from the UK to Berlin and am working as a piano teacher while learning German. Now, I'm able to enjoy sex with women without it feeling like a chore, which is amazing.

I do occasionally get cravings, usually when I'm bored, but I cope by changing my environment or distracting myself.

Porn addiction is a huge issue. Shockingly, nearly one in 10 children aged 12 to 13 is worried that they're addicted to porn.

That's why I want to share my story – to raise awareness and let people know porn addiction can be harmful. But the effects are reversible – and the sooner you get help, the better.

Daniel will feature in a new crowd-funded documentary about porn's effect on the human brain called 'Rewired: How pornography affects the human brain'. For more information and to support their campaign, visit here

Original article by Harriet Thurley

"I opt out of sex with a partner" (Sweden)

(Google translate) Many readers will recognize themselves in The Inside series about porn impotence and some will attempt a porno top. Others wish we would draw attention to the women a bit more.

"It's good that you focus on the young, but the problem is understood in all ages. I would like to read more interviews with psychologists and researchers who develop further how porn and masturbating intensively to create a self-sufficiency in terms of sexual satisfaction - perhaps associated with long periods of close, intimate relationships. It may in itself be empowering, but can act as a barrier when suddenly wants to establish an intimate relationship. A lot of possible explanations for the problems in my own relationship becomes exposed through the articles. "

- Lisa

"I recognize myself in the inside cover in the series porn impotence. I'm jerking off to porn and then I get about without problems, but when I have sex with my partner wants it not. I have wondered about the reason for my lack of interest in sex 'in-real-life'. Maybe I'm not in love with my boyfriend? Should I break up? Now I realize that maybe these are porn impotence. So now it gets porn top and I will give our relationship a second chance. "

- A

"Essential reading The inside articles about porn impotence, it was suddenly a light on what is 'wrong' with me. My life story is not as Kalle, an intense porn consumer who could not get a position with their partner (DN 5/9). But I could see the pattern. I'm in a different life stage than he does. I'm 50 +, I've had a pretty active sex life right until about ten years ago. Which came first, the lack of sex or porn consumption, I do not know.

I read the article today and got a lot to think about. But I can definitely see the pattern: much porn = declining potency with a partner. I'm in the stage where I was with a shrug opt out of sex with a partner, as it has not worked out so well the last few times, and think 'yes, that is well aged. I've fucked ready in my life, 'and started to settle with porn.

The inside article was an eye opener! I've never even thought about this with the reward system. And masturbation is so damn obvious reward! More than the food, I think ... Now I have to take a look back on my life situation and what I'm doing. "

- H

"I agree that much of the excitement surrounding sex disappears but do not think it only applies to people who consume large porn. I feel in anyway that I saturate all sexskildringar in media, including clothing ads and music, as well as various informational programs about sex. No, it's not fun anymore. "

Perhaps asexual

"It's great that pornography harms addressed. Something I was struck by the The inside article series, however, was that it only focused on how pornography harms men, men can become impotent if they watch porn too much, men not firing on their girlfriends and so on. Poor men who have to objectify women to be sexually stimulated!

How about paying attention to the thousands of women who are victims of the porn industry every year? As raped, exploited and forced to work in appalling conditions? As damaged during recordings and get his life ruined?

How about paying attention to women's sexuality also affected tremendously by porn community? Women are objectified constantly, and the female body is sick sexualized in our culture. How does it affect a woman to a porn addicted boyfriend do not get your dick when to lie?

Thanks to porn and sexist advertising, both men and women a sick picture of how the female body should look like, and how sex should go to (in women's case, submissiveness, etc.). Attempts to identify the problems and pay attention to this next time. "

- Male 1990

"I have now read the articles about porn that I think had a fair allocation. But I found a blaming attitude toward young men that I do not understand. A bit like 'moral rearmament' in the Fifties. And why not extend the analysis to include both genders? "

- Mats

ARTICLE - "I opt out of sex with a partner"

"Jongens gaan in rap tempo ten onder aan porno" (Dutch)

“Jongens zijn in rap tempo ten onder aan het gaan. Ze hebben vijf keer zo vaak ADHD als vrouwen, vallen dertig procent vaker uit van school en worden sociaal en seksueel weggevaagd door vrouwen”, zegt beroemd psycholoog Philip Zimbardo, tegenover het Amerikaanse TED. Hij luidt - met een groeiende groep wetenschappers - de noodklok over het jongensprobleem, waarvan er twee oorzaken zijn: gameverslaving en pornografie.
Pornografie is het grootste probleem. “Je ziet bij jongens een toenemende ongemakkelijkheid, vooral in contacten met mensen van het andere geslacht. Jongens weten niet wat ze moeten zeggen. Ze weten niet wat ze moeten doen. Ze weten niet welke non-verbale houding ze aan moeten nemen. Als ze samen met een meisje in een ruimte staan, overheerst een angstreactie. Elk jaar worden hier onderzoeken naar gedaan en ze geven hetzelfde aan: er is een toenemende angst voor intimiteit met het andere geslacht."
“Wat is de oorzaak van dit alles? Excessieve nieuwe toegang tot pornografie. Dit valt in de categorie ‘arousal addiction’, wat inhoudt dat je – in tegenstelling tot drugs – niet méér van hetzelfde wilt, maar steeds nieuwe inhoud (filmpjes). En de porno-industrie voorziet erin. Tegenover elke 400 films op Hollywood worden er 11.000 pornofilmpjes gemaakt. Het effect: hersenen worden opnieuw bedraad: met de bovenstaande symptomen als gevolg. En vrouwen – die hier in mindere mate mee te maken hebben – streven hen voorbij.”
Zimbardo is één van groeiende groep seculiere wetenschappers die sterk waarschuwt tegen pornografie. Andere wetenschappers, zoals de Italiaanse Carlo Foresta en vele anderen zeggen hetzelfde: porno leidt de ondergang in van mannen en jongens. De anti-pornobeweging in Amerika groeit onder seculiere mensen erg sterk. Eén hiervan is Gary Wilson, wetenschapper en schrijver van het boek ‘Your Brain On Porn’, tevens eigenaar van de website yourbrainonporn.com. Ook hij somt veel problematische bijwerkingen op: depressie, impotentie, afname van mannelijkheid, minder zelfvertrouwen. Hij vertelt op yourbrainonporn.com uitgebreid wat porno met de hersenen doet en waarom het zo verslavend is. Hieronder vier ingrijpende veranderingen in het brein door porno, die Wilson aandraagt:
1. Desensibilisatie
“De hersenen worden omgevormd door porno. Normaal is er een goed functionerend beloningssysteem dat ervoor zorgt dat je geluksmomenten ervaart. Dat heet dopamine.” Bij natuurlijke geluksmomenten zoals liefde, omhelzing, bidden (..), vriendschap etc. komt deze stof vrij. Het zorgt voor een aangenaam geluksgevoel.
“Als dopamine kunstmatig wordt opgewekt door porno, gokken, drugs of computergames, ontstaat er een probleem. Kunstmatige stimulatie zorgt voor een tijdelijke gelukspiek, maar daarna daalt het geluksniveau dieper dan voorheen. Je krijgt door het kijken van porno een lager geluksniveau, afgewisseld met piekjes als je porno kijkt. Juist door het lage geluksniveau gaat het brein wanhopig op zoek naar gelukskicks. In de praktijk zorgen die gelukskicks voor een nog lager geluksniveau en voelt de verslaafde zich alleen oké als diegene regelmatig porno kijkt.”
2. Overgevoeligheid
Afkickende versenen maken zenuwverbindingen aan met het beloningssysteem, waardoor de pornografie als ‘geweldig’ wordt herinnert in de hersenen, zegt yourbrainonporn.com. Het roept een grote hunkering op. Door de verlaagde dopamine-spiegel, en de verhoogde gevoeligheid, is het veel voorkomend dat mensen terug vallen.
3. Hypofrontality
Wilson: “Het natuurlijke brein heeft wilskracht in zich, die je gewapend maakt tegen verslavingen of verleidingen die je eigenlijk niet wil. Het kijken van porno daarentegen leidt tot veranderingen in de frontale kwab – en de verhoudingen van grijze en witte stof, wat ervoor zorgt dat de impulscontrole verminderd wordt en de mogelijkheid om gevolgen te overzien verzwakt worden. Je hebt kortom (tijdelijk) minder kracht in je om heftige verleidingen te weerstaan.
4. Disfunctionele spanningen
Het kijken van porno zorgt ervoor dat je – na het enkele dagen niet te kijken – een stresshormoon aanmaakt, genaamd noradrenaline. Deze stof zorgt ervoor dat je veel stress krijgt bij onthouding.
Hoe te stoppen met porno?
Wilson: “Aanvankelijk zorgt het stoppen met porno voor bijwerkingen. Hersenen kunnen niet langer vertrouwen op intense, kunstmatige dopamine-shots. Tegelijkertijd stijgt het stressniveau en is de controle over je gedrag verzwakt. Het geeft jongens het gevoel dat ze beter af zijn mét porno dan zonder. Maar als je de kennis hebt dat deze symptomen tijdelijk zijn, is het beter te doorstaan. Het goede nieuws is daarbij dat hersenen plastisch zijn en dat ze in enkele maanden tijd hergeprogrammeerd kunnen worden.”
Steekproefgewijs heeft yourbrainonporn.com onderzoek gedaan naar het geluksgevoel van mensen die afkicken. Het laat zien dat met name de eerste weken 'moeilijk' zijn. (De horizontale as beschrijft het aantal dagen, de verticale het geluksgevoel)
Wilson raadt aan om permanent te stoppen met elke vorm van kunstmatige stimulatie en (minstens tijdelijk) te stoppen met zelfbevrediging. “Je hersenen moeten opnieuw opstarten en dat gebeurt door ze rust te geven van elke kunstmatige stimulatie, inclusief porno, fantasieën, erotische verhalen, sekschats. Om dit gemakkelijker te kunnen doen, is het raadzaam om masturbatie drastisch te elimineren of te verminderen. Stoppen met masturbatie verdiept en versnelt het proces van afkicken. Jongens die van porno afgekomen zijn, zijn nagenoeg allemaal jongens die niet masturbeerden tijdens hun ‘reboot’."

Original article

"NoFap: Why A Growing Number Of Males Are Refusing To Masturbate"

Guy on bed with laptop and sockSubreddit NoFap Movement Takes The World By Storm

You may have wondered why internet porn has become so freely available on the internet these days, if you're a young male with a little bit of spare time on his hands, no pun intended, then it is pretty easy to fall into a dark spiral of daily wankathons in the comfort of your own bedroom.

Sites likes YouPorn, PornHub and Youjizz see millions of hits a day from males looking to feed their needs. To put it in perspective, according to Viewzone here are the figures. 

  • 420,000 pages of pornography on the internet
  • 4,200,000 pornographic websites
  • 68,000,000 search engine queries for porn every day. 

But that shouldn't be a problem right?  Maturation is natural and its actually good for you? Well, in the advent of porn sharing sites, there seems to be a huge problem emerging which is having a devastating effect on men ranging from depression, anxiety and low self esteem.

So we live in internet land, as with the nature of the internet if there is a problem, there is always a solution around the corner, that solution has come in the form of NoFap.  For those of you who are not familiar with NoFap it began with a single post of Reddit in 2011 with the title 'When men don't masturbate for seven days, their testosterone levels increase by 45.7%.   

The comments then became more focused on Reddit users challenging each other on how long they could go without masturbation, resulting in the birth of the NoFap movement and the official NoFap subreddit.

So who is benefiting from NoFap?

According to NoFappers or Fapstronauts, as they prefer to be called, the benefits far outweigh watching porn and maturation or PMO (Porn, Masturbation, Orgasm), these benefits range from increased energy, confidence, improved work performance, improved perception of women and many others. 

Fapstronauts and Reddit users said this: 

Izarst(Reddit User)

I JUST FEEL FUCKING AMAZING. No other way to express it.

T_nyDubs (Reddit user)

Love filling my mind and my heart. Love of myself, love of life. Results in more welcoming, powerful, and confident body language, which people around me absolutely love.

First I thought "well this is a great way to get laid, because I'm like a girl magnet now," but then it just became "whatever... that's not why I do this." Don't get me wrong, I love getting laid, but primary motivation is me and fixing myself in my relationship with the world, not just some part of it.

killajoy714 (Reddit User)

Insane confidence, don't give a f**k about what others think about you, easy to maintain eye contact, more respect from guys, more attention from girls, more strength and endurance in the gym, feel extremely happy and positive, brain is more efficient, less retrieval failure, clearer/brighter face and skin (cold showers and getting some sun), more productive, more energy, increased desire to study and learn, willpower increases significantly, easy to get rid of negative influences, and a deeper voice.

NoFap Isn't actually a new concept: 

So how cannot cracking one off for 250 days really be the trigger for all of the above benefits? The answer might be in understanding the body's energy points or chakras. If you dig a little deeper, NoFap is nothing new, in fact, if you go back into ancient history there where civilisations who understood the concept. An older term, which was highlighted in Napoleon Hill's bestseller 'Think and grow rich', called it 'Sex Transmutation'. 

The theory was, by not releasing your sexual energy through forms of masturbation or sex, the energy would need to find alternative routes to escape the body, resulting in the energy channeling though more productive ways ie work, creative pursuits and relationships. 

It didn't stop there; Nofap was an important form of self control for Greek athletes too. The ancient Greeks decided that sex before a contest was a bad idea, they viewed sperm as a source of masculinity and strength and they decided it was something you needed to win!

Porn and your Brain

Fapstronauts often refer to this website Yourbrainonporn.com which is used as a resource which delves into the relationship between Porn and the human brain.  It suggests the long-term problems that actually harm you and can result in your brain being rewired. A study, which was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry linked the use of pornography to reduced volume in parts of the brain that is linked to rewards and motivation. 

"We found that the volume of the so-called striatum, a brain region that has been associated with the reward processing and motivated behavior was smaller the more pornography consumption the participants reported", lead researcher Simone Kuhn told Reuters.


If you are a hopeless porn user and want to be successful, not depressed and confident, then it seems the odds are pretty much stacked against you. The NoFap movement is actually seeing real-time results with countless YouTube videos from Fapstronauts who have achieved over 90 days without masturbation expressing how good they feel. That coupled with the fact that it's also been tried and tested by ancient civilisations across the globe, it may actually be worth a try.

Original article

"Porn and the Threat to Virility" (TIME)

In case you missed this TIME cover story about porn-induced sexual dysfunctions, it is no longer behind a paywall. Read it here.

The text:

Noah Church is a 26-year-old part-time wildland firefighter in Portland, Ore. When he was 9, he found naked pictures on the Internet. He learned how to download explicit videos. When he was 15, streaming videos arrived, and he watched those. Often. Several times a day, doing that which people often do while watching that genre by themselves.

After a while, he says, those videos did not arouse him as much, so he moved on to different configurations, sometimes involving just women, sometimes one woman and several guys, sometimes even an unwilling woman. "I could find anything I imagined and a lot of stuff I couldn't imagine," he says. After the appeal of those waned, he moved on to the next level, more intense, often more violent.

In his senior year of high school, he had an opportunity to have actual sex, with a real partner. He was attracted to her and she to him, as demonstrated by the fact that she was naked in her bedroom in front of him. But his body didn't seem to be interested. "There was a disconnect between what I wanted in my mind and how my body reacted," he says. He simply couldn't get the necessary hydraulics going.

For a limited time, TIME is giving all readers special access to subscriber-only stories. For complete access, we encourage you to become a subscriber. Click here.

He put it down to first-timers' nerves, but six years went by, and no matter which woman he was with, his body was no more cooperative. It responded only to the sight of porn. Church came to believe that his adolescent Internet indulgence had somehow caused his problems and that he had what some are calling porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED).

A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic--more prone to permanent change--than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning. The results of the experiment, they claim, are literally a downer.

So they're beginning to push back, creating online community groups, smartphone apps and educational videos to help men quit porn. They have started blogs and podcasts and take all the public-speaking gigs they can get. Porn has always faced criticism among the faithful and the feminist. But now, for the first time, some of the most strident alarms are coming from the same demographic as its most enthusiastic customers.

Of course there are much broader concerns about porn's effect on society that go beyond the potential for sexual dysfunction, including the fact that it often celebrates the degradation of women and normalizes sexual aggression. In February, these issues led British Prime Minister David Cameron's government, which had previously asked Internet service providers to filter adult content unless a user opted in, to begin the process of requiring porn sites to verify the age of their users or face a fine. Shortly afterward, the Utah legislature unanimously passed a resolution to treat pornography as a public-health crisis. And compelling new research on visual stimuli is offering some support to the young men's theories, suggesting the combination of computer access, sexual pleasure and the brain's mechanisms for learning could make online porn acutely habit forming, with potential psychological effects.

For Gabe Deem, 28, porn was as much a part of adolescence as homework or acne. "It was normal and it was everywhere," he says. He grew up in an era when what used to be considered X-rated was becoming mainstream, and he and his friends used to watch explicit videos constantly, he says, even during class, on their school-issued laptops. "It wasn't something we were ashamed of." Deem, who lives in Irving, Texas, is the founder of Reboot Nation, a forum and online video channel that offers advice and support for young people who believe they are addicted to pornography, have sexual dysfunctions as a result and wish to quit.

He's a little different from many of the porn activists, because he was sexually active at a young age and consumed porn only as a side dish. But it came to dominate his diet, and some years after high school, "I got with a gorgeous girl and we went to have sex and my body had no response at all," he says. "I was freaked because I was young and fit and I was super attracted to the girl." He went to his doctor. "I said, I might have low T," Deem says, using slang for a testosterone deficiency. "He laughed."

Many of the details of his story are confirmed by his girlfriend at the time, who would prefer to remain anonymous. "He would try to start something, and then in the middle he would say, 'I think we should wait,'" she recalls. "I was just really confused and I would think, Does he not like me? What's going on?" It took nine months after he told her about his problem for him to be able to perform with her.

Having a partner with ED isn't the primary problem most young women face with porn, and only a fraction of women report feeling addicted, yet they are not immune to the effects of growing up in a culture rife with this content. Teen girls increasingly report that guys are expecting them to behave like porn starlets, encumbered by neither body hair nor sexual needs of their own.

In April 2015, Alexander Rhodes left a good job with Google to develop counseling and community-support sites for those who are struggling with a porn habit. He had started the NoFap subreddit--a list of posts on one subject--on the popular website Reddit and a companion website called NoFap.com in 2011, but it's now a full-time endeavor. (The name derives from fap, Internet-speak for masturbation.) The 26-year-old says his first exposure to porn was a pop-up ad--no, really, he swears!--when he was about 11. His father was a software engineer in Pennsylvania, and he had been encouraged to play with computers since he was a 3-year-old. "For as long as there had been an Internet, I had relatively unfiltered access," says Rhodes. The ad was for a site that showed rape, but he says he only understood there was a naked lady. Pretty soon he was printing out thumbnails of his image-search results for "women's tummies" or "pretty girls' boobies." By the time he was 14, he says, he was pleasuring himself to porn 10 times a day. "That's not an exaggeration," he insists. "That, and play video games, was all I did."

In his late teens, when he got a girlfriend, things did not go well. "I really hurt her [emotionally]," says Rhodes. "I thought it was normal to fantasize about porn while having sex with another person." If he stopped thinking about porn to focus on the girl, his body lost interest, he says. He quit porn a couple of times before finally swearing off it for good in late 2013. His two sites have about 200,000 members, and he says they get about a million unique users a month.

These men, and the thousands of others who populate their websites with stories of sexual dysfunction, are all at pains to make it clear that they are not antisex. "The reason I quit watching porn is to have more sex," says Deem. "Quitting porn is one of the most sex-positive things people can do," says Rhodes. One online commenter, sirrifo, put it more simply: "I just want to enjoy sex again and feel the desire for another person."

Do their claims of porn-induced ED have any merit? Recent statistics suggest some correlation. In 1992, about 5% of men experienced ED at age 40, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). A study in the July 2013 Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 26% of adult men seeking help for ED were under 40. In a 2014 study of 367 U.S. military personnel younger than 40, a third reported ED. And a 2012 Swiss study found the condition among a third of even younger men: 18 to 25.

Of course, there could be any number of reasons for these findings. Since the advent of Viagra and similar medications, awareness and acceptance of erectile dysfunction is much higher, and thanks to all those TV commercials, the stigma is correspondingly lower, so more people may be admitting to it. Diabetes, obesity, social anxiety or depression can also cause the condition, as can drug or alcohol abuse. As these have risen among the young, so may have instances of ED. But urologists aren't willing to rule out that pornography could be partly to blame. "I think it's possible," says Dr. Ajay Nangia, former president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology. "There's a kind of desensitization of these men, and they only reach the point of feeling stimulated when sex is like it is on a movie."

If the causes of the spike in ED are up for debate, the unprecedented access to porn via streaming video in the past decade is not. The advent of video sites that, like YouTube (which launched in 2005), allow users to upload, aggregate and organize videos has transformed the way people encounter porn. There's a staggeringly diverse array of free explicit content that's constantly expanding because anyone, from amateurs to professionals, can put a video online. One independent web-tracking company clocked 58 million monthly U.S. visitors to adult sites in February 2006. Ten years later the number was 107 million. One of the world's largest adult sites, Pornhub, an explicit-video-sharing site, says that it gets 2.4 million visitors per hour and that in 2015 alone, people around the globe watched 4,392,486,580 hours of its content, which is more than twice as long as Homo sapiens has spent on earth. Porn is so ubiquitous, it has spun off memes, including Rule 34, which says, "If it exists, there is porn of it." (Leprechauns? Check. Pterodactyls? Check. Pandas? Check.) The Internet is like a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant that serves every type of sex snack.

And the young are devouring it. Almost 40% of British boys ages 14 to 17 said they regularly watch, according to a February 2015 study by the University of Bristol. Chyng Sun, an associate professor of media studies at New York University, says nearly half of the 487 men she surveyed in one study had been exposed to porn before they'd turned 13. A study in the Journal of Sex Research puts first exposure at, on average, 12 years old for young men.

A massive social shift involving the health of young people usually prompts a robust round of research to assess what's really going on. But in this case, not so much. It's hard even to get funding to study how widespread porn use is, says Janis Whitlock, a former sex educator who is now a researcher in mental health at Cornell University. NIH staff reportedly advise researchers against using the word sexual in their funding applications if possible. Neuroscientist Simone Kühn, whose study on porn watching and brain structure was published in the esteemed JAMA Psychiatry, says her employers at the Max Planck Institute were unhappy to be associated with it.

The lack of research is exacerbating a bitter fight in the academic community about the effects of excessive porn use. And there's not a lot of hard science to decide the outcome.

The young porn abstainers do have an unlikely guru: Gary Wilson, 59, a former part-time adjunct biology professor at Southern Oregon University and various vocational schools and the author of Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction. His website, yourbrainonporn.com, or more commonly YBOP, is a clearinghouse for information that supports the link between heavy adolescent pornography use and sexual dysfunction. Many people find him through his 2012 TEDx talk, which has more than 6 million views.

YBOP contends that watching too much onanistic material in adolescence affects the brain in multiple ways. "Porn trains your brain to need everything associated with porn to get aroused," Wilson says. That includes not only the content but also the delivery method. Because porn videos are limitless, free and fast, users can click to a whole new scene or genre as soon as their arousal ebbs and thereby, says Wilson, "condition their arousal patterns to ongoing, ever changing novelty."

A heavy porn schedule and the resulting sustained high levels of dopamine reinforces these patterns. "The result in some Internet porn users is higher brain activation to internet porn, and less arousal to sex with a real person," Wilson argues. And then there's habituation: the need for more to get the same hit. "Extreme novelty, certain fetishes, shock and surprise and anxiety--all those elevate dopamine," he says. "So they need those to be sexually aroused."

Other researchers are dismissive of any link between porn and erectile dysfunction."In the absence of supporting scientific data, the strength of [these young men's] belief that porn causes ED is not evidence for the validity of their belief," says David J. Ley, a clinical psychologist and the author of The Myth of Sex Addiction. "The overwhelming majority of porn users report no ill effects. A very, very small minority are reporting these concerns about ED."

Ley points to recent studies of young men who use porn, like a 2015 paper in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, in which researchers from the University of Zagreb in Croatia analyzed studies of about 4,000 sexually active heterosexual young men in three European countries and found only a very slight correlation between pornography use and erectile problems. (And only in Croatia.) Another found that porn users who were religious were more likely to think they were addicted. Nicole Prause, a psychologist and neuroscientist, as well as CEO of Liberos, a brain research company, also believes PIED is a myth: "An overwhelming number of studies have shown that the strongest predictors of ED continue to be depression and drug use."

For the young male activists, however, Exhibit A is always their own physiology. "If you can get a boner with porn and you can't get a boner without porn, that's about as hard as evidence gets in my opinion," says Deem of Reboot Nation. He crosses off every other reason for his sexual dysfunction. Inexperience? "I've been a sexually confident and experienced guy since the age of 14," he says. Obesity? He's a certified personal trainer with, he says, under 10% body fat. Drug use? He claims to have smoked about five joints in his life. And his ED couldn't have been due to performance anxiety, because he says he couldn't get aroused even when masturbating offline on a relaxed Sunday afternoon. "I ran back to my computer to double-check. I turned on porn and bam!"

Beyond the issues facing these young men, there's emerging research that should give every porn user pause. A 2014 fMRI study from the Max Planck Institute found that habitual porn use may have an effect on the brain. "The more pornography men consumed, the smaller the brain striatum, the reward center of the brain," says Kühn, the author. "And those who watched more pornography showed less response to pornographic pictures in the same area." Another study showed that more-frequent porn users were more impulsive and had less ability to delay gratification. And a brain-scan study out of the University of Cambridge in 2014 showed that men with compulsive sexual behavior responded to explicit clips in the same way users of drugs respond to drugs; they craved them, even if they didn't like them.

The lead researcher in that study, neuroscientist and neuropsychiatrist Valerie Voon, says many of her heavy-porn-using subjects report having erectile issues. But she and Kühn both note that none of this is proof that porn shrinks brains; it could be that people who have smaller reward centers have to watch more porn to get the same thrill. "I would be cautious about using a single imaging study to imply that there has been 'damage' to the brain," says Voon. "We just need more studies."

The porn-addiction debate is a rancorous subset of a disagreement in the medical and scientific communities about whether it's possible to classify so-called behavioral addictions, like those to gambling and eating, in the same category as substance addictions, like those to alcohol or prescription drugs. Prause argues that using the word addiction to describe what could simply be a high sexual appetite is unhelpful and may be worsening the problem by stigmatizing it.

But to Voon, who studies addictions, compulsive porn watching sure looks like one, even though it has different properties, including a higher appetite for novelty than other addictions. "It's possible that the combination of pornographic stimuli being highly rewarding in addition to the novelty might have some kind of greater effect," she says.

Brian Anderson, a cognitive neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, has an intriguing theory. His specialty is habit formation; in February his team released a study showing that visual stimuli that are linked to a reward are harder to ignore when they are encountered again. When the brain detects evidence of the enjoyable stimulus, it pays more attention and blocks out other stimuli. "Your brain is wired to develop those patterns, and when you tie them to something like porn it can be very disruptive and difficult to break," says Anderson.

He hypothesizes that the visual nature of porn makes it particularly appealing for the brain. "It lends itself to a strong and quick attention bias," he says. "The brain is going to learn that association very quickly." And because people's modern lives are very computer-heavy, there are reminders of porn everywhere. "There probably comes a point in time," he says, "where you open up your browser and you just start thinking about porn." (And that's before virtual-reality tech takes things to a whole new level.)

Since the teenagers guzzling all that porn are digesting it in a brain that is still developing, it's possible they are particularly susceptible. Philip Zimbardo, emeritus professor of psychology at Stanford University (and the guy who did the famous Stanford prison experiment), notes that porn often goes hand in hand with video games and is similarly finely tuned to be as habit-forming as possible.

"Porn embeds you in what I call present hedonistic time zone," he says. "You seek pleasure and novelty and live for the moment." While not chemically addictive, he says, porn has the same effect on behavior as a drug addiction does: some people stop doing much else in favor of pursuing it. "And then the problem is, as you do this more and more, the reward centers of your brain lose the capacity for arousal," he says. At a time when young men are at their physical peak, he says, all the inactivity may be contributing to the unexpected sexual dysfunction.

Noah Church devotes about 20 hours a week to trying to help others eliminate porn from their lives, or at least to cut out the habit known as PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm). He has written a free book about it, Wack, runs addictedtointernetporn.com and counsels people via Skype for a $100 fee. Rhodes, meanwhile, tries to help guys get their mojo back by arranging "challenges," during which young people try to abstain from PMO for a certain span of time. There are different levels of abstinence: the most extreme (known, ironically, as "hard mode") is keeping away from any sexual activity, and the least extreme is having all the sexual encounters that present themselves, including those that occur alone, but without visual aids. Deem's site offers similar strategies, along with a lot of community support and educational materials. A group of young men from Utah have started an organization called Fight the New Drug, which has a free recovery program for teens called Fortify.

The young men who wish to reboot their brains describe similar consequences as they titrate off the habit. Some of them have withdrawal-like symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness. Many of them talk about "flatlining," a period of joylessness, zero libido and even shrunken genitalia that can last several weeks. "I felt like a zombie," says Deem. Older guys have reported similar symptoms, but they generally recover faster, possibly because they had more sexual experiences in real life. Football player turned actor Terry Crews recently posted a series of Facebook videos about the damage his porn habit did to his marriage, and his life, though not his virility. He went to rehab. Others report bouncing back more quickly. "I felt more focused, awake, socially confident, connected to others, more interested in daily activities and more emotionally sensitive," says Church. "I started feeling these changes very soon after quitting."

Because consuming porn is often done on impulse, NoFap's newest product is an online emergency button, which when clicked takes users to a motivational picture, video, story or advice, like this: "PMO is not even an option. The way eating yellow snow is not an option. It doesn't even factor into the decisionmaking process." The Brainbuddy app, which was developed after a young Australian named David Endacott noticed how difficult it was for him to give up porn, offers a series of alternatives--an activity or an inspiring video. Not watching porn is only half the battle, he says. The brain has to develop new and different pleasurable associations with the computer. Like a Fitbit, the app also tracks how many days users have gone without resorting to the habit. It has had more than 300,000 downloads so far.

The one thing that these young men are not suggesting is an end to porn, even if that were possible. "I don't think that pornography should be legislated or banned or restricted," says Rhodes. In any case, legislating porn has always been fraught, and today that's not just because of the First Amendment but also because of technology. One challenge facing the British proposal to force porn sites to verify the age of their consumers is figuring out how to make that work without invading adult privacy and despite the ease with which most teenagers can subvert online filters. (Reports showed that 1.4 million unique visitors to adult sites in Britain were under the age of 18 in May 2015, after Internet providers' opt-in filters were in place.) Although one U.S.-based site, Pornhub, has pledged to adhere to the new British rules, the industry is dubious about the health claims. "My No. 1 gripe with the porn industry is that they have been generally unaccepting of the whole porn-addiction recovery movement," says Rhodes. "They really trivialize it." (Pornhub declined to answer any questions about legislation or health concerns for this story.)

"As an industry we have seen a lot of moral panics," says Mike Stabile, communications director for the Free Speech Coalition, the adult-entertainment industry's trade association. "There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reputable science. Should something emerge it might spur discussions." The industry is not in favor of the British approach that makes Internet users opt in to adult content rather than opting out, says Stabile: "Those filters can block access to LGBTQ groups and sex-education sites." But that's exactly the model that state senator Todd Weiler is hoping will be used in Utah. "We've changed how we've approached tobacco, not by banning it but by putting reasonable restrictions in place," says Weiler. He'd like places like McDonald's and Starbucks--and even libraries--to filter their wi-fi so that they would be porn-free.

Providing a counternarrative for teens about the porn they'll inevitably encounter, despite whatever filters are put in place, is a key goal of the young activists. "Thirteen- and 14-year-olds have access to unrestricted and endlessly novel Internet porn way before they discover that it could potentially have harmful side effects," says Rhodes. Deem points out that he stayed away from cocaine because he was taught it would harm him. He'd like to see porn treated the same way, with schools teaching about the possible side effects of pornography during sex ed. "I would tell my son, I'll be straight up with you, all superstimulating things, like Internet porn, junk food and drugs, can be fun and pleasurable, temporarily," says Deem. "However, they also have the potential to desensitize you to normal, natural things and ultimately rob you of the one thing you thought they would give you, the ability to experience pleasure."

Introducing porn to sex ed at school would seem a quixotic quest. Sex education is already the source of much conflict, and schools do not wish to be accused of introducing kids to pornography, even if the science of its effects were settled. Parents too are wary of broaching the subject, afraid of what questions might be asked. But curiosity abhors a vacuum; online porn is becoming de facto sex ed for many young people.

Whitlock, the former sex educator, says she has been surprised by how reluctant her erstwhile colleagues are to speak up about porn. She believes that because sex educators were fighting a negative image of sex for so long during the years of abstinence-only education, they're allergic to anything that questions sexual appetites. She has found that even asking students to reflect on what their watching habits are doing to their mental health is met with pushback. "It makes no sense to me," she says. "It's like saying if you question the value of eating Dunkin' Donuts all the time that you're 'food negative.'"

An ideal way to deliver the message might be online, but ironically, many of these efforts are thwarted by porn blockers. That's a problem for Brainbuddy. Its creator feels it's important to get it to the 12-and-older crowd, but users must be over 17 to download it.

The shame around a compulsive porn habit makes asking for help difficult, even though neuroscientists say it could happen to anyone. Then there's the reverse stigma for young men who speak against the genre in a culture that celebrates sexuality. Deem and other advocates know they are walking into a headwind of apathy, antagonism and ridicule. But they're not dissuaded. "If anything is going to change," says Deem, "it's going to have to come through the guys who went through the trenches, who were actually clicking the tabs and watching the hardcore porn when we were 12."

One of the newer NoFap members (known as Fapstronauts), a 30-something gay man just starting a 30-day challenge, puts it this way: "When I think about it," he writes, "I've wasted years of my life looking for a computer or mobile phone to provide something it is not capable of providing."

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly characterized those who received payment for their advice.



"SuperNormal Porn" podcast

Real or synthetic?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)

"THIS" Magazine features an article on NoFap

Cover of "THIS" MagazineFOR 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.

Don’t touch

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.”

Scan of articleThe 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.”

THIS.ORG | November/December 2012

"Talk About Sex" (interview with Gary on Santa Fe's KVSF)

"Talk About Sex" logo"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.

KVSF logo

They also consider such questions as, "What can parents can do to help their kids navigate?"

Listen to the show

"The ultimate guide to quitting porn. 25 powerful steps to block porn websites and beat porn for good"

collage of porn wordsPeople addicted to porn succeed in overcoming their porn addiction in two ways: First, they need an effective plan with actionable ideas to give them the tools and confidence that their recovery from porn will last. And second, they need to believe it will work.... Read this guide by Tim Simon of Stop Procrastinating.

'I Gave Up Porn Cold Turkey, and It Was the Best Thing I Ever Did '

guy with EDI couldn't get it up. It had nothing to do with my girlfriend at all. She was beautiful and sexy, but once it came time to get down to business, well, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. And I was way too young for this shit.

Yea, waaaay to young for this to be happening. Like, WTF? Which is why I casually mentioned my little "problem" to an old friend one night as we watched football. He turned, and bluntly asked: “How much porn do you watch?” Now, I work full time from home. Asking me how much porn I watch was kinda like asking Homer Simpson how much beer he drinks. Not that I was addicted, mind you, but I was a very heavy casual pornography user.

And that, he said like a great wise oracle, was my problem. He directed me to some Internet forums about porn-induced erectile dysfunction, and I found that I wasn’t alone.

Impotence: it's not just for Stan Zbornak anymore

Sure, once upon a time impotence was only a problem for the guys who dated the Golden Girls. But lately, it's started to affect dudes who don't look like they belong in a Viagra ad.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that a terrifying 30% of men 18-25 suffered from erectile dysfunction. And that wasn’t just after a long day of popping Molly and watching Skrillex. This was up from a reported 1% in the famous Kinsey study of 1948.

Meanwhile, another study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 54% of sexually active males 16-21 reported some sort of sexual difficulty, including erectile dysfunction. A far cry from my memories of REALLY not wanting to stand up when the teacher called on me in history class. But why?

High-speed porn, that's why

When I was a teenager, we were lucky to find an old copy of Playboy under a park bench that you'd use to jerk off for, at least, a month. Now? Thanks to high-speed broadband, guys actually do read Playboy for the articles. Today, adolescents can virtually experience more people and weird sex acts in an hour than anyone not named Gene Simmons does in a lifetime. And all this exposure to rapid-fire porn means young men are becoming hardwired to get turned on by it. With one serious consequence -- they have more problems getting it up when the sex is REAL.

Dancin' with Mr. PornHub

Now for a little science lesson -- stay with me here. Porn affects your brain in two ways: through sensitization and desensitization. This video sums it up nicely, but if you're at the office and don't want to watch a movie about porn screwing up your brain with your coworkers, that's cool, I get it -- I'll run through the highlights:

Sexual arousal is the No. 1 activator of the reward center in your brain, and it leads to the release of dopamine, which makes you feel good. Eventually, though, your brain hardwires itself to know when to release said dopamine. The nerve connections in the pathways associated with watching porn get stronger, the connections in the “actual girl” pathways get weaker, and all of a sudden instead of getting turned on by your naked girlfriend, you're turned on by the startup sound on your MacBook. This is known as sensitization. 

Desensitization, on the other hand, occurs when your brain finds the constant flow of dopamine abnormal, and adjusts to the problem by either decreasing the number of dopamine receptors, the flow of dopamine, or both. What happens then, you ask? To paraphrase Axl Rose, a little won’t do. As in, watching just a little porn will no longer do it for you. No, you have to watch more and more to get your dopamine fix and before you know it, instead of clicking “Hottie Having Sex on a Pool Table” you're watching “Hottie with Four Goats and a Rabbi" 11 times before dinner.

Girls like guys who don't like porn

Once I learned this, I was done. Finished. I quit porn cold turkey. And you know what? Like some weird vodoo magic, within weeks my erection problems were GONE. Not only that, I was more aroused when I saw my girlfriend and our sex life got better. Ironically, we broke up anyway -- for completely unrelated reasons! Go figure.

But guess what, it didn't matter. Because that's when I learned that ditching porn won’t just improve your sex life in a relationship, it’ll make you downright phenomenal if you’re single. [Note: By the way, I realize right now that I probably sound more like a Ronald Regan-era anti-porn PSA than a dude, like you, who enjoys a video or two before bed. That's cool. But hear me out.]
Perhaps the most telling quote from the video link above is from a guy who watched a lot of anime porn; he said, “I really just prefer girls as anime characters.” Yes, it has gotten to the point where a lot of dudes prefer their women as two-dimensional objects who don’t do much but fuck. But women know when you’re only chatting them up to try to get in their pants, and let's be honest, how often has that worked out for you?
When you stop watching porn, you stop imagining what the woman you're talking to at the bar looks like on the Back Room Casting Couch. You start to have actual conversations, and you start to listen. Pro tip: women find listening to be very sexy. And because your brain doesn’t associate sex with sitting alone in a room all day, your confidence goes up immeasurably. Confidence is also something women find very sexy.
You see where I'm going with this, right? More talking, listening, confidence -- this all leads to more dates and, eventually, more sex. And when it comes time to have sex, the pathways in your brain that link arousal with porn are weaker, the ones linking arousal with real women are stronger, and the excitement of actually being naked with someone is enough to get you going. Hot damn.

Now, try THIS free trial...

Quitting porn isn’t Viagra, nor is it Funky Cold Medina. It won’t cure all your problems with women, or stop you from referencing your ComicCon costume more than one time on a date. Nor will it help you get it up when you’ve had too much to drink.
But what it will do is make your sex life better. And if you’re having any kind of problem in the bedroom, whether it’s impotence or simply not getting any to begin with, challenge yourself to give up porn for six months and see how much better life gets.
And if it doesn’t, well, your old friends will still be there waiting for you on the Bangbus.

Original article on "Thrillist.com"

'Overindulgence: How Watching Porn Is Actively Ruining Your Sex Life' (Daily Elite)

Don Jon watching pornPornography has long been a staple of young men’s lives, and it has evolved over time. It has gone from hidden issues of Playboy under beds to an easily accessible, multifaceted industry on the Internet.

I’m sure half of the male readers right now have another tab open with porn, and that’s the problem.

We are, unintentionally, the generation of overindulgence. Why? Because almost every one of our problems have been solved by previous generations. It’s no longer about how, but how much.

Porn is the same way.

In the past, it was pretty impossible to get your hairy mitts on a pair of tits. Now, you’re an effortless click away from whatever your dirty mind desires.

Here’s the thing: Men are, by nature, disgusting perverts.

We can’t help it. That’s just who we are.

We need that release, and we will go to great lengths in search of it. Ideally, ladies are helping us with the process, but men are always looking for a way to do something quicker. And porn has drastically expedited that process.

Men can take matters into their own hands. Pornography and masturbation are the perfect pair. They are the “Turner & Hooch” of filth; you can’t have one without the other.

Men, and women too, can now play with their giblets at any time. It’s easy and fun, and it’s hard not to do it whenever you are just trying to kill time.

But there is a trade-off many, including myself, are discovering the hard way: There are serious side effects to continuous porn consumption.

Generation-Y is the vanguard of cybersex, and no one is talking about the damage because we are the first generation in human history to have this problem. Some of these changes have been seen in women, but the problem is much more prevalent with men.

It rewires your brain.

According to a study by Cambridge University, researchers have found “compulsive porn users react to porn cues in the same way that drug addicts react to drug cues.”

How it works is the brain has something called the reward circuit, which developed during simpler hunter-gatherer times to produce dopamine for naturally rewarding things like food, sex and connection.

However, there are extreme versions of these rewards, like high-calorie foods or a bombardment of boobs, that provide too much dopamine and can override our natural satiation mechanisms.

The reaction that triggers in your brain from porn is extremely similar to the reaction from drug abuse.

What happens is, your brain has a molecular switch that creates a binge cycle, promoting a craving to continue receiving that reward.

This extreme binge cycle of dopamine received through porn produces the same side effects drug addicts have: a numbed pleasure response, hyper-reactivity and the erosion of will power, as your frontal cortex changes.

Crazy, huh?

It misrepresents both genders.

Guys, not every woman has huge knockers. Women, not every guy is a packing a foot-long.

Guys, not every woman likes her lady parts getting jack-hammered away at. Women, not all guys are pizza delivery boys!

But seriously, there are several misconceptions that porn conveys to its viewers.

Here is what you must remember about porn: It’s not real. Porn’s main purpose is to entertain, not to show what making love is all about.

It is just shock entertainment designed to capture the horny consumer’s attention. The producers could care less about how accurate it is to real baby-making; they just want you to watch their video. It’s click-bait to masturbate.

The false notions created through pornography have a much more significant effect on women than men. Pornography presents women as plastic pieces of meat whose sole purpose is to get objectified and screwed.

For the longest time, I was convinced the only way women had sex was with ball-gags in their mouths.

I’m joking, but there are numerous violent themes women experience in pornography that are misconstrued as desires in reality.

These themes presented in porn change the attitude each gender has for one another. The attitude of men in particular tends to be more violent and hostile toward women after watching porn.

The best way to know what your partner wants sexually is to be open with her and talk about it.

Don’t just tie her up like a luau pig. Ask her if she likes apples first! Okay, I swear that’s the last joke.

You build a tolerance.

Like anything that elicits pleasure, porn can be addictive. And like anything addictive, you can build up a tolerance for it.

Heavy porn consumption is an arousal addiction, in which you need more or different ways to keep receiving the same high from a dopamine release.

In his TED talk, physiology teacher, Gay Wilson, explains that once you’ve seen the same cookie-cutter positions, your brain wants something different, merely for novelty, shock or surprise.

It starts out with a man and a woman, and next thing you know, there are eights dudes wearing masks, one woman and, for some reason, a pelican. Don’t ask.

It is known as the Coolidge effect, and dopamine levels surge for each novel image the viewer sees. Every new babe on the screen provides a new blast of dopamine.

This is how high-speed Internet porn varies from porn of the past: You can receive a new dopamine blast with a mouse click, constantly providing yourself with more and more pleasure.

And just like with all addictions, you may be in over your head before you know it.

Porn allows you to explore all of your curiosities, including ones you never imagined being interested in. Again, porn is not real sex; it is shock entertainment.

These novel or shocking porn videos don’t reflect the nature of real sex. The problem with porn addiction is there is no one to see the damage, no one to say whether what you are doing is right or wrong.

This is because people don’t really know what you’re going through unless they snoop your browser history.

One wipe of your search history covers your tracks, and your dirty little secret is safe.

It dilutes your real sex life.

In his TED talk, Wilson describes the differences between real sex and porn. Masturbation and porn focuses on isolation, “voyeurism, clicking, searching, multiple tabs fast-forwarding” and “constant novelty.”

Real sex focuses on “courtship, touching, being touched, smells, pheromones, emotional connection and interaction with a real person.”

Over time, your brain adapts to porn because, if you’re like me, it becomes exposed to it much more often than real sex.

Excessive abuse can not only change your brain, but it can change your dick. No joke.

That same Cambridge University study found “over 50 percent of subjects (average age: 25) had difficulty achieving erections with real partners, yet could achieve erections with porn.”

Erectile dysfunction is no longer your grandfather’s problem; it’s yours. Trust me on this one, I have had a couple of awkward nights where I had to give a bullsh*t excuse as to why I couldn’t keep on keepin’ on.

It’s not you, it’s me!

Through my own habits, I have been able to realize how even seemingly routine activities can have an impact on your sex life.

As I mentioned, porn is easier to access than ever before. Our generation also has access to unlimited photos and entertainment through social media.

When you think about how often a guy’s mind is bombarded with images of beautiful women every day, those beautiful women start to lose their novelty.

It goes from, “Good God, I would give up my first born son for a night with her,” to, “Yeah, she is alright. Here check out this model I follow on Instagram.”

When I combined the time I’ve spent looking at models on Instagram or Snapchat with my daily porn consumption, I was spending over an hour every day consuming images to please the head down south.

No wonder why I’ve had problems in the sack.

How can you fix it?

The craziest thing about all of this is when researchers initially tried to conduct studies on porn use, they couldn’t find any 18- to 25-year-old men who didn’t use porn.

I can attest to this. I have been an avid porn connoisseur for a decade now, and I can guarantee most guys my age have a similar track record.

The only thing that has been proven to reverse the damage is to go cold turkey.

There hasn’t been enough evidence conducted through real scientific studies to back this data yet, but groups like Wilson’s website and Reddit’s No Fap are grassroots examples that provide testimonials of first-hand success.

Most of the folks have seen results after one to two months, including increased sensitivity in their sex organs and a reversal of their erectile dysfunction.

Another promising result from quitting porn is a decrease in anxiety. As I mentioned above, porn is an arousal addiction, and arousal addiction symptoms are easily mistaken as ADHD, social anxiety, depression, performance anxiety and OCD. That explains why every boy in school has ADHD.

Here is a different way to think about it: When you watch porn, it is you, sitting in a chair, sweaty and naked, typically trying to fornicate with yourself to a glowing screen of images.

That is a very lowly state for the human to have evolved to, and you are so much better than that.

Use your imagination, or get out of the house and find someone who will do whatever your sexuality desires with you.

An old fashioned may be old fashioned, but it’s better than screwing yourself.

'Watching Adult Films Alters Brain Activity Similar To Drug Addicts, Alcoholics' (Medical Daily)

brain holePornography is a platform where both men and women can be comfortable exploring their erotic desires.

Watching it can boost your libido and even lead to happier and better relationships. Although one in three women in the U.S. regularly watch porn and 70 percent of men aged 18 to 24 visit porn sites at least once a month, watching it still remains a controversial issue. Antiporn advocates such as YourBrainOnPorn and a group called Fight The New Drug believe that porn use is a public health issue because of its effects on the brain.

But what exactly does it do to your brain? Several studies have shown porn consumption may rewire the brain, altering its structure and function, and causing addictive behavior to emerge. But are these brain changes a cause for concern?

Brain Chemicals and Porn


Both having sex and watching porn cause dopamine to be released in the part of the brain responsible for emotions and learning. In fact, it’s the one neurotransmitter that becomes the most active. “The main change is the flood of dopamine. Watching pornography produces a dopaminergic response,” Joe Schrank, an addiction specialist, and founder of TheFix.com and Loft 107, a sober living facility in Brooklyn, N.Y., told Medical Daily in an email.

It is this neurotransmitter that gives you the desire for self-pleasure, as its levels surge in response to  anticipation and expectation. But the brain begins to change as we repeatedly tap into this particular pathway by viewing porn — it becomes desensitized to the effects of dopamine. These effects were shown in a 2014 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which produced the first-ever brain scans of porn watchers. The German researchers found that the level of changes in the brain correlated with the amount of porn a person watched — the more they watched, the lower the activity was in their brain’s reward centers after sexual images were flashed on a screen.

This causes the brain to need more dopamine each subsequent time in order to feel the same effects. As a result, it can give a person a reason to watch more porn. Sometimes, however, the brain gets “worn out” and halts the production of dopamine, which leaves the viewer wanting more satisfaction with the inability to reach it, according to Gary Wilson, a physiology teacher, who discussed the topic during a TEDx talk. This can provoke the viewer to seek out more intense porn to get the same “high.”

“Brains respond to chemical change. When the dopamine is released and there is a sense of pleasure, the primitive brain sends the message to repeat the behavior for the desired feeling,” Schrank said.

He believes this is why addictions become so difficult to break. People tend to assume this is purely a behavioral issue; however, different brains respond to different stimuli, whether it’s shopping or pornography. Within the mind of an addict, there is always a constant need to feel that strong stimulation.

Oxytocin and Vasopressin

Other brain chemicals that are released during sex or porn include oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones are what help the person recall long-term memories. They work by forming a fond connection between your memory and the object that gave you sexual pleasure. This creates a wave of sensation throughout the whole body similar to being high.

Typically, sex causes the release of serotonin levels, which in turn leads to feelings of tranquility and relaxation. However, if the brain associates these feelings with a porn experience, it will subsequently direct a person back to porn each time sexual desire arises rather than a true sexual experience.

The Pornographic Mind vs. The Addict Mind

The brain of a porn user is often compared to that of a drug addict or alcoholic. A 2014 Cambridge University study published in the journal PLOS ONE found the ventral striatum — a brain structure that plays a role in the brain’s reward center, aka its pleasure pathways — lit up when an alcoholic saw a photo of a drink. In porn addicts, the study found similar brain activity, but although they wanted porn more, they didn’t enjoy it more.

The researchers also found three regions in the brain that were more active in people with compulsive sexual behavior, including the ventral striatum, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (responsible for anticipating rewards), and the amygdala (involved in processing the significance of events and emotions). These regions are also known to be activated in drug addicts when shown their drugs of choice.

Age also seemed to affect the level of brain activity in the ventral striatum while viewing porn. The younger the patient, the higher the activity level in their ventral striatum — this effect was strongest in individuals with compulsive sexual behavior. These findings were especially important, since the frontal control regions of the brain continue to develop into a person’s mid-20s. An imbalance in these regions may increase impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviors in younger patients.

Porn and Brain Size

The pornographic brain not only mirrors the activity in addicts, it also changes size in a similar way. In the same German study, researchers found that gray matter volume in the right caudate of the striatum was smaller among frequent porn viewers. Men who watched more porn also showed less activity in another area of the striatum, known as the left putamen, which lit up when exposed to sexual stimuli.

These brain changes are similar to those seen in cocaine addicts, who develop abnormalities in areas, such as the nucleus accumbens and striatum, which are responsible for learning, memory, pleasure, and reward. Despite these findings, it’s unclear whether watching porn is what causes these brain changes or if people with certain brain types just watch more porn.

Brain After Porn

While porn is certainly useful in helping us explore and learn about our sexual desires, these studies highlight the potential consequences on the brain of watching too much. For this reason, it’s important to remember moderation is key. “As with anything in life, striving for balance is key,” Schrank advised. “Brains need diversity of activity too.”

Original article by Lizetter Borrelli

'We can use brain power to help reduce demand for internet porn'

This article appeared in Scotland's newspaper, The Herald, a couple of days ago. Click on the image to read it.

It recommends teaching people how the reward circuitry of the brain works to help them take control of their lives.

'Youth and Pornography Addiction' (The Fix)

Keyboard with "Porn" keyLetting teens get their quick fix of sex on the net could cause long-term physiological and psychological damage.

Men younger than ever are reporting difficulty achieving intimacy in relationships and are struggling well into adulthood to regain normal sexual function, according to sex addiction experts.

High-speed Internet pornography, more specifically the addiction to seeking novel and increasingly shocking images, is to blame for these sexual problems, according to therapists who counsel men and boys as young as preteens.  “There seems to be a classic pattern that is emerging which is that the addiction to pornography develops in the adolescent years, stays hidden for a time, and not until the teen grows into adulthood and experiences serious marital conflict [does he] seek treatment,” said psychotherapist Matt Bulkley, counselor at the Youth Pornography Addiction Center in St. George, Utah. 

For the young men we've treated, they literally have to go on a porn diet for three to five months to get an erection again.

Young viewers of Internet pornography are more likely to suffer long term physiological and psychological damage lasting into adulthood because the exposure happened during a time when their brains were not yet finished developing, Bulkley explained. “In some cases, erectile dysfunction is the result of the brain being trained to be aroused by pornography,” he said.

The problems arise when a younger viewer who has not yet had any real life romantic or sexual experience learns the “birds and the bees” from watching pornography. Teens may immediately experience feelings of confusion, isolation and shame when they view pornographic content. When that teen moves into adulthood seeking a relationship, he may have problems with sexual interest, arousal and monogamy. “When it comes to understanding intimacy, porn is masterful at distorting what it is that is involved in a real relationship,” Bulkley said. 

How is Internet Pornography Addictive?

Scientists are just beginning to link heavy pornography viewing with the same pleasure-reward responses that occur in drug addiction. When viewing pornography, the brain releases large amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the same chemical that drives reward-seeking behavior in substance addictions, according to Psychology Today contributor Gary Wilson.

Wilson is co-author of the book, Cupid's Arrow, and the mastermind behind YourBrainOnPorn.com, a website that explores topics relating to neuroscience, behavioral addiction and sexual conditioning. In his article, “Why Shouldn't Johnny Watch Porn if He Likes?” Wilson shows how younger brains are particularly susceptible to the thrill-seeking effect of dopamine as compared to adult viewers. Teen brains are the most sensitive to dopamine at around age 15 and react up to four times more strongly to images perceived as exciting. On top of the increased thrill-seeking, teens have a higher capacity to log long hours in front of a computer screen without experiencing burnout. Additionally, teens act based on emotional impulses rather than logical planning. These traits combined make the adolescent brain especially vulnerable to addiction.  Pornography addiction during adolescence is particularly troubling because of the way neuron pathways in the brain form during this period. The circuitry in the brain undergoes an explosion of growth followed by a rapid pruning of neuron pathways between ages 10 and 13. Wilson describes this as the “use it or lose it” period of a teen's development. 

“We restrict our options—without realizing how critical our choices were during our final, pubescent, neuronal growth spurt,” Wilson wrote. “...This is one reason why polls asking teens how Internet porn use is affecting them are unlikely to reveal the extent of porn's effects. Kids who have never masturbated without porn have no idea how it is affecting them.”

Teens are left without an understanding of normal sexual behavior because they have been repeatedly exposed to the superstimuli of constant novelty and constant searching provided by Internet pornography. 

Lasting Effects of Internet Pornography Addiction at an Early Age

The very components that define Internet pornography—isolation, voyeurism, multiplicity, variety—also explain why online porn is more addictive and damaging than the pornography of yesterday. “There was a time when people looked at pornography in print magazines and some [viewers] were specifically drawn to it more than others,” psychotherapist Alexandra Katehakis told The Fix. “Then, over time, there was video pornography and that grabbed the brain differently than print did. Now, internet pornography is so powerful that it is literally rewiring the brains of men.” 

Young viewers are unintentionally training their bodies to become aroused by the unique conditions provided by internet pornography, explained Katehakis, who is also a certified sex addiction therapist and clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles. “What happens is when these neuronal networks start to fire together, they become wired together,” she said. “With internet porn, the images are so incredibly powerful and visceral that it is shocking to the system and a person gets a massive dose of dopamine...over time, they need more and more [dopamine]."

While most of those who identify as having a pornography addiction are male, females are also susceptible and can experience lasting damage as well, Katehakis said. 

The same principles apply—sexual response is wired to what was learned by watching porn. For females, this can distort perceptions of validation, pleasure and their role in sex. “Parents need to have conversations with their kids,” Katehakis added. “They need to talk about what is the purpose of sex, what is the meaning of sex and why people have sex.” Without those conversations, teens move into adulthood without real knowledge of healthy relationships. “Later in life there may be intimacy problems, the inability to connect with another human being and the inability to maintain a long-term monogamous relationship,” she said.

Seeking Help for Pornography Addiction

The stigma surrounding pornography addiction—many treatment centers do not yet recognize it—leads many of the afflicted to feel isolated and depressed which can heighten the need for the feel-good response triggered by the addiction itself. 

The simplest treatment may also be the hardest. “The most important thing to do is to stop looking at it,” Katehakis said. “For the young men we've treated, they literally have to go on a porn diet for three to five months to get an erection again.”

“Also, stopping looking at images isn't enough,” she continued. “Often a person can find himself still looking at images in his head. Some people can look at [pornography] like some people can have a glass of wine and not have another, while other people can really never look at it again.”

Centers which treat sex addiction will often also treat pornography addiction, although the two are very different: pornography involves pixels and not another human being.

“The main thing that the general population needs to understand is that [pornography] can really become a bon-a-fide addiction and to not underestimate the potential impact of this on a teen's life,” Bulkley said. Teens who are addicted to online pornography may show symptoms such as increased time spent in isolation, increased time spent viewing technological devices, changes in attitude or behavior such as hypersexual language or dress and decreased focus in school and other activities. 

Counselors at the Youth Pornography Addiction Center in Utah help teens reset their thinking by uncovering the underlying issues that existed before or were aggravated by the addiction. "An addiction is a coping mechanism,” Bulkley explained. “Rather than solving the problem, they turn to this temporary escape.” Helping teens create an action plan to identify problems and how to overcome urges is one formula used for outpatient counseling at Bulkley's center.

For more intensive treatment, the center also has a wilderness program where teens “detox” from not only technology and internet pornography, but also from the highly sexualized images that are prevalent everywhere from bus bench advertisements to cosmetic product packaging. 

However, as with many things, problems can be averted early on by having conversations with your family, Bulkley said. “Parents need to understand, like it or not, kids are going to be exposed to pornography...You can do everything you can to protect them, but with the sexualization of our culture and the ease of access, it's not if, it's when.”

“It's about having an ongoing conversation with your kids,” Bulkley continued, “and it really has to be an early discussion and ongoing dialogue that continues through their growing-up years.”

Sarah Peters has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Pilot and the California Health Report. This is her first story for The Fix.



65,000+ Reddit users flock to forum founded by atheist to quit pornography, masturbation

Thou Shall Not FapJuly 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com by John Jalsevac) – They’re called “fapstronauts”: men and women who, for whatever reason, have signed up to take the “ultimate challenge” and conquer the urge to masturbate (“fap” in Internet slang) and/or use porn, whether it be for a certain, set period of time, or permanently. And joining their ranks is quickly becoming one of the hottest new trends on the social media site Reddit.

The growing phenomenon recently captured the attention of New York Magazine and Nerve.com, and currently the leadership is in serious talks with Hollywood A-lister Joseph Gordon Levitt, whose anti-porn film Don Jon is being released later this year, to have him come on the site for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session (UPDATE: This has since fallen through). Meanwhile, a short film highlighting the negative effects of porn and/or excessive masturbation is in the works on Kickstarter.

Already there are over 65,000 fapstronauts, with hundreds more joining by the day. These modern warriors against sexual temptation have gathered together under the roof of a dedicated “sub-Reddit” (/r/NoFap), where members can request publicly viewable badges (operated on the honor system) that track how many consecutive days of “fapstinence” they’ve clocked in, share their favorite tips on how to resist the urge, encourage newcomers by describing the benefits of a life of Spartan-like self-discipline, and seek solace and encouragement to get up and dust off when they fall back into old habits. 

The rules are few and simple: read the disclaimer (participants take a noFap challenge “at their own risk”); be respectful; don’t post pornography or links to the same; be sensitive in describing the details of your sex life in deference to the more easily “triggered”; and finally, only mention religion when it directly relates to your motivation to take up the NoFap challenge. 

The unlikely beginnings of NoFap: founded by an atheist

The last rule surprises a lot of people, says Alexander Rhodes, the unlikely founder of the forum, and along with it a burgeoning anti-porn social movement (although he readily admits that the general idea of quitting masturbating for a period of time online long predated the creation of the forum). Most people naturally assume that any group that takes a negative view of porn, let alone masturbation, must have close ties to the Christian/conservative social right. But Rhodes can confidently assure them that this is not the case: he himself is an atheist.  

While it might seem odd that an atheist is leading a crusade against “fapping,” the first thing that Rhodes explained in an interview with LifeSiteNews is that that’s exactly not what he’s doing. While he acknowledges there are plenty of noFap members who might disagree (and they’re welcome to their opinion) he believes masturbation can be healthy in moderation. Porn, on the other hand, he takes a darker view of.

Like a large number of (arguably most) young men his age, the 23-year-old Rhodes grew up on porn, which he discovered online at an early age. While admitting that he’s unsure if the smut is to blame, he describes himself, without elaborating, as having been a “hyper-sexual” adolescent. When he eventually became sexually involved with real women, he says he found the sex shallow and unfulfilling, and, in time, he began suffering from delayed ejaculation (the inability to orgasm during normal sex with a real life partner - an increasingly common complaint amongst heavy porn users).

That all changed one day in June of 2011. That’s when a thread about a study that found that men who don’t masturbate for 7 days experience a 45.7% increase in testosterone levels hit the front page of a popular forum on Reddit, sparking intense discussion. The conclusions of the study appealed to the budding biologist (Rhodes recently finished a B.S. degree in the science), and after several Redditors floated the possibility of founding a NoFap forum, Rhodes took the initiative and did so, “in the 23rd hour of June 20, 2011” (in the somewhat dramatic wording of a brief history of the forum penned by Rhodes).

The rest, as they say, is history. In the beginning NoFap ran weekly and monthly NoFap challenges for a small handful of devotees. But as the numbers of fapstronauts rapidly grew, the administrators hit on the idea of the badge system, and now forum members have the freedom to set their own challenges based upon their own personal goals.

“Superpowers” for fapstronauts

But what’s the point of it all? Well, that depends on whom you ask. Rhodes prides himself on the diversity of NoFap’s membership, ranging from atheists like himself to die-hard fundamentalist Christians. “I think that nofap may be the most supportive community on the Internet,” he says. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Regardless of who you are or what your goals are, the members of nofap will try to support you and genuinely care for you and try to push you to succeed.” Even the aforementioned rule about religion isn’t meant to discourage religious fapstronauts, who are more than welcome to discuss their beliefs when relevant, but simply to reduce heated and tangential religious debates that detract from the core goal of NoFap.

It’s the dedication to the core goal, says Rhodes, that unites all the users: that shared commitment to quitting porn and masturbation for some higher cause, whatever that might be. And those higher causes can vary dramatically from user to user. For some - the extreme cases - it’s quite simply a question of “do or die.” As Rhodes describes it, “they’ve never had a girlfriend or a boyfriend and they sit in their basements all the time looking at porn and masturbating and they never go outside and they don’t have jobs.” 

For others it’s as simple as the novelty of seeing if they can do it, or, somewhat controversially, the belief that abstaining from masturbation will give them the confidence they need to “get laid” with a real-life partner (A common theme on NoFap is the back-and-forth exchange between those who complain about the “get laid” crowd, and those who complain about the complainers, arguing that there’s no “bad” reason to take up a NoFap challenge). For most, the motivations fall somewhere in between: a desire to take control of their sexuality, or to make better use of their time, or to enhance their personal relationships, or to follow the teachings of their religion, or all of the above. 

By all accounts, for most people it works. Many users even tout what they call the “superpowers” they acquired during a successful NoFap challenge. These include (but are not limited to): dramatic increases in social confidence, energy levels, concentration levels, mental acuity, motivation, self-esteem, emotional stability, happiness, sexual prowess, and attractiveness to the opposite sex. A surprising number of users also express relief that they no longer feel “creepy” when they meet or see girls on the street, and that they are less likely to discover sexual subtexts in totally innocent conversations or situations. Some credit NoFap with literally saving their lives after years of crushing guilt, failed attempts to reform, and hopelessness. 

Some do experience such dramatic results, admits Rhodes. But he is careful not to promise anything at all to fledgling fapstronauts. For him, the benefits were well worth it, but didn’t amount to anything like “superpowers.” The most noticeable effect was an almost immediate cure for his delayed ejaculation. On top of that, he experienced elevated motivation, and, perhaps most importantly, a significantly greater sense of intimacy in his real-life romantic relationships. Some others, he says, don't experience any benefits at all. 

As a scientist, Rhodes is hesitant to speculate about why he or other fapstronauts might experience any positive effects, explaining that what he and the other moderators are really holding out for is a large controlled study into the phenomenon by a well-known university. In his explanations he’s more comfortable using the language of evolutionary biology than philosophy or theology, and he promptly sends new fapstronauts to Youtube to check out the neuro-chemistry-based TedX talk, “Your Brain on Porn.” However, when pressed on why he thinks NoFap has enhanced his romantic relationships, he reluctantly responds. 

“As for me personally, it’s just a relationship is so much more than…it’s really hard to put into words. A relationship is so much more than sex, because sex….By taking away masturbation you are relying on your partner,” he says hesitantly. “I just felt a stronger bond, a stronger attachment. Like an infatuation, like a schoolboy crush. It just does something. 

“I’m not really sure what it is. You’re devoting yourself completely to your significant other instead of random pixilated girls on the internet who you've never met. It’s about enhancing your meaningful relationship, instead of establishing five-minute relationships with virtual girls online.” 

He then lapses into silence, and adds: “I don’t really know why. It’s science.” 

NoFap will “save the world”

Not all of NoFap's leadership team is equally circumspect. One of Rhodes’ fellow forum moderators - who, because of the amount of deeply personal information available on the forum, prefers to be known simply by his Reddit user name, FaplessAndFancyFree (“FAFF,” for brevity’s sake) - has more definite ideas about why NoFap is changing people’s lives.

(Read the complete interview with FAFF here: Can a Reddit forum change the world? This Catholic, and recovering porn addict, thinks so)

FAFF describes himself as NoFap’s “resident Catholic/conservative weirdsmobile,” and is as quick to cite (from memory) specific passages from the Catholic Catechism and Thomas Aquinas as Rhodes is to speak about evolutionary psychology.  But despite being surrounded with all the wealth of Catholic theology, including Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, from an early age, FAFF says he found himself in the same humiliating position as his atheist colleague: obsessed to the point of addiction with pornography and masturbation.

Ironically, he stumbled on NoFap the same way many other users do – while searching for porn to use for masturbating. What he found amazed him, and revolutionized his life: a group of mostly atheist and agnostic Reddit users who, without ever reading a lick of Catholic theology, were independently discovering, simply through personal experience, everything that he had learned from years of reading the writings of the Church. 

“They were -- often without realizing it -- reaching in the direction of sexual truths that I recognized from my catechism,” he says. “But they hadn't read this stuff in a catechism, hadn't been taught it from a pulpit or an NFP class or their parents. They were discovering it (slowly, in pieces) by having lived through it.  They were stunned by what they were finding, which went against what they'd been taught.  And they were no less stunned to discover, all of a sudden, that they were not alone in feeling this way.”  

But the thing that struck FAFF the most, was quite simply what he describes as the “joy” of NoFap users, “the joy of people who have just heard the good news of freedom from pornography for the first time.” This contrasted with what he had experienced in many religious-based sex addiction recovery programs, which he says tended to be too full of guilt and “self-flagellation” for “joy to take root.” While he wouldn’t necessarily recommend sending a Catholic teen with a porn problem to NoFap, due to some of the uncouth material and more bizarre ideas in circulation on the forum, he says that it proved to be exactly what he needed to get a handle on his problem. 

“I found the spirit of NoFap very attractive -- holy, in its violent and sometimes graceless way -- and their hope and joy proved a little infectious,” he says. “So, every time I felt the urge to read some erotica, I went there instead and dispensed advice and encouragement.” In time, the moderators of the community noticed their new highly active member, and invited him to join them in moderating the forum. The result, he says, has been “a time of unparalleled success in my long battle to learn chastity.” 

Much of the power of NoFap, says FAFF, is precisely its secular nature – the fact that, without ever even explicitly mentioning morality or ethics, its users are discovering profound moral truths, and making them available in an unthreatening manner to others who are deeply hurting and in need of those truths, but who might not be willing to listen if those same truths were told them by their local pastor. 

“NoFap does not impose,” he explains. “Officially, it does not even propose -- the mod team is scrupulous about keeping our Official Seal of Approval off any particular version of the program.  There is a lot of debate, but no doctrines.  We simply provide a space for thousands of young men and women to tell their stories, and then we invite readers to ask themselves: does any of this sound familiar to me?  NoFap does not cite the authority of revelation or philosophy or history or science.  Our sole authority is one's own experience, and, though that authority has a hard time reaching the clean, universally applicable conclusions we find in, say, the Summa Contra Gentiles, it's also the hardest authority in the world to impeach.” 

Which immediately brings to mind a famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s autobiography, Surprised by Joy, about the renowned Christian apologist's own failed and miserable youthful experiments with illicit sexual pleasure: “What I like about experience is that it is such an honest thing," he wrote. "You may take any number of wrong turnings; but keep your eyes open and you will not be allowed to go very far before the warning signs appear. You may have deceived yourself, but experience is not trying to deceive you. The universe rings true wherever you fairly test it.” 

At the same time, FAFF admits that NoFap, on its own, isn’t necessarily enough. As a Catholic, he says, he feels that he has been given an advantage over many of his fellow users. While they are left to fall back on their own willpower and resources, he knows that he of himself cannot possibly win the fight for sexual purity, and that ultimately it is an operation of gratuitous Grace. “One of the great cruelties of secular humanism is its suggestion that a person can shape himself into anything he wants simply by putting his mind to it,” he says. “NoFap is a great help for the 99% of the process that is simply putting your mind to it, but sometimes it misses that last 1% that has to come from somewhere else.” 

"I know I can't resist this temptation all on my own.  I am not in control of it.  Without help from some factor outside my control -- I recognize it as grace, others may call it good luck -- I will fail."

But for all of NoFap's flaws, FAFF can barely contain his enthusiasm for what the forum is accomplishing. “I think this movement is (slowly) going to change the world,” he says, with what might seem like a hint of hyperbole. But when pressed on the point he stands by his declaration, and explains:

“As more and more people experience the terrible effects of pornography on their communities, their families, and their spirits, arguments about science and scripture and philosophy and sex are going to continue, as they always have.  But lived experience bypasses the porn industry's stranglehold on academic sexology, skips right past teleological arguments about genitalia.  

“In the end, NoFap changes the world without ever winning an argument or even taking a position on anything.  We change the world just by asking the right questions.”


A Compelling Argument for Changing Your Porn Viewing Habits, by James Fell

hand on a computer mouseQuestion: When you read about Nike using child labor, did you stop buying their shoes? When you heard about how Wal-Mart pays some of the lowest wages in the U.S., and that they use nefarious business practices to put the competition out of business, did you cease shopping there? (Link to Original article)

Or what about McDonalds? They’ve been in the news recently about abhorrent working conditions. Will it stop you from quenching your McNugget thirst?

What about the building collapse in Bangladesh? Did you start checking labels to ensure you didn’t buy clothes made there?

I’m sure you’re a good person. You don’t think companies should be treating their workers so poorly. But if you continue to support these companies with a portion of your paycheck, then you’re helping to perpetuate the problems.

Welcome to cognitive dissonance: the stress that results from having your actions be in conflict with your beliefs.

And the solution to cognitive dissonance is often self-justification. It is a bit of mental gymnastics you use to diminish your responsibility, providing you with excuses to keep on doing what you do.

Wow. That whole intro was a serious downer, wasn’t it?

We humans excel at justifying our own behaviors. Now before you go thinking I’m some kind of guilt-tripping prince of guy who never does anything wrong, I have bought Nike, shopped at Wal-Mart, eaten Big Macs, and not cared where my clothes were made. Also, speed limits are for other people.

Now, let’s talk about porn.

Why? Why is fitness author James Fell talking to you about porn? Because it’s a health issue, and this is a health website. I wrote about how to find and keep a girlfriend already, and that was popular, so let’s see if we can drive some clicks.

By the way, I’m going to try and keep things kind of PG-13 here just in case my kids end up reading this. As an added bonus, perhaps you’ll feel more comfortable sharing it with someone who needs to read it.

So, I suppose I should tell you a bit about my history with porn. Never in my life have I watched it. Not once. Also, I can hold my breath for 15 minutes, I am Elvis’ love child, and I can fly.

It’s pervasive. After perusing a number of studies the data reveal that 70-80% of all men watch porn on a regular basis. Plenty of women like it too.

I’m writing this piece because a friend of mine posted a video entitled “Why I stopped watching porn” on Facebook, and a lengthy, contentious argument took place in the comments section. I witnessed plenty of butt-hurt; since we’re discussing porn here I should qualify that it was of the figurative variety.

The argument focused on the moral aspect of porn watching. Just like shopping at Wal-Mart, eating McDonalds, or running in Nikes, you’re supporting an industry that mistreats people. There is a dark, dirty and awful side to pornography production that sometimes involves rape, sexual slavery, abuse … I’m harshing up your next viewing session, aren’t I?

Eh, probably not. Sure, you love women and think they should be treated as equals and not abused or mistreated or objectified, but … cognitive dissonance! Enter: self-justification. Everyone else is doing it. The stuff is already out there. I only watch nice porn. I’m not into that rapey stuff.

Guilt-tripping to cease porn consumption has been around ever since that first photographer took an old-timey black and white photo of a naked lady. God is watching every time you touch yourself, and He is judging you. That’s someone’s daughter/sister/mother. It objectifies women. She’s on drugs. She’s faking it.

And it falls on deaf ears. I don’t expect any of these arguments to convince you to change your viewing habits. That’s why I used the words “compelling argument” in the title of this post; I’m choosing a different tack.

But what can compel you? The answer could be: self-interest.

I will repeat: this is about health. We’ve already established that you can justify your way out of caring about the health of the performers, just as you can not care about the child laborers who made your T-shirt, but what about your health? What if I could show you that there can be direct, negative consequences associated with certain porn viewing habits? Would it convince you to change them?

And I’m focusing on the word “change” and not “cease” because I’m realistic. I’m not asking you to desist all porn watching. I mean, if you want to stop completely after reading this, go big. But it’s sort of like alcohol: For most, I think it’s more realistic to focus on a path of moderation and limitation; an occasional indulgence that doesn’t create negative consequences in the rest of your life.

First, the Big Picture

Porn usage has a tendency to escalate towards more extreme versions. When I was a young teen, Playboy bunnies with a hint of pubic hair showing was awesome. Then one of my friends stole a Penthouse from his older brother, and that was even better. Then HOLY CRAP HUSTLER LOOK AT THAT!

Then, movies. Then, harder movies. Then … you get the idea. We build up a tolerance for the lighter stuff, and we seek something more extreme. After a while, you’re favorite stuff is watching redacted slamming redacted into redacted while redacted and she redacted then he redacted all over redacted.

Compare that to what happens in real life.

Say you’re an average guy with an average personality and an average income. Ergo, the myth perpetuated by pick-up artists of beautiful nymphomaniacs lining up to copulate with you ain’t happening.

Instead, you have an average girlfriend. Her sexual interests are fairly mainstream, and you have a happy sex life, because traditional sex with a real live woman is usually light years better than being alone with an Internet connection, no matter what’s happening on the other end of your high-speed wireless.

(Note: I’m referencing male-female relationships as my example because I’m a heterosexual male and this is what I know. I don’t judge anyone based on gender or orientation. Whatever floats your boat.)

But what happens when, after the initial thrill of your relationship wears off, you start to wonder why she doesn’t look like those implanted, perfectly made up, half-starved Barbies in the videos you watch? Female porn actors are known to engage in things like labiaplasty, bleaching of certain orifices and waxing to achieve some kind of camera-friendly ideal. How do you think your girlfriend feels about being compared to that? How does it make you feel when you make the comparison? And what about the fact that she’s uninterested in doing any of that “redacted” stuff? Will it make you bitter?

But what if you don’t have a girlfriend? Should you just go big on the porn usage?

Well, probably not. Because, one day, you may get that girlfriend you’re after. And she may become your wife, and those porn habits you developed when you were single might not be so good for your relationship.

Like I said, this is just the big picture. Now it’s time for …

The Science of How Porn Affects Your Brain

I’m going to encapsulate the work of the folks at www.YourBrainOnPorn.com as succinctly as possible. If you want more information on the subject, I suggest you check out their site. Here is some telling information from their About page:

This site is secular, although everyone’s views are welcome. It is primarily science-based, and no one here is trying to ban porn. This is not a commercial site, so don’t go looking for something to buy. You won’t find it.

The brain-on-porn is not a religious organization trying to guilt trip you. As I pointed out at the beginning of this piece, guilt isn’t going to help you change. This entire article is about helping you change by appealing to your self-interest, and Your Brain On Porn is about the science of how porn negatively affects you.

Okay, here are the basics:

  • Put a rat in a cage and give him a female to mate with, and he’ll go at her until he’s tired of that particular female.
  • Give him new females, however, and all of sudden he’s in rampant fornication mode again. You can keep giving him novel female subjects until he’s completely drained.
  • Humans aren’t that different, where novel mates compel us much more than a previous mate.
  • Each new mate creates a rush of dopamine. But reward circuitry in the brain generates less and less dopamine with the current female, and to get a bigger rush of dopamine again – something our brains are hardwired to seek – we need a new female.
  • Internet porn is especially problematic because novel females are easily accessed via a single click. At least when I was a teen you had to fast-forward the VHS tape for a while if you were bored with the scene you were watching.
  • It’s not just new females that Internet porn compels us to seek out, but new situations. Regular old missionary isn’t doing it for you any longer. You thirst for something even more novel. Hence, more extreme. Hence, redacted.

And here are some of the potential consequences.

First, you become desensitized to normal stimulation. The seeking of more extreme types of pornographic material makes it so that’s what you need to get your rush. And by “rush” I mean achieve erection and ejaculation.

Sure, it doesn’t happen overnight, but over years you may find that girlfriend less and less enticing because your porn-viewing habits have changed your brain so that she just doesn’t do it for you any more. That erectile dysfunction isn’t because of anything below the waist or even below the neck. It’s because you’ve trained your brain to seek supra-normal stimuli that practically doesn’t exist in the real world or in real relationships.

It can also lead to “hypofrontality,” which is an eroding of willpower. You have a decreased ability to control impulses and poorer decision-making abilities. Now we’re going beyond negative relationship consequences, this can be bad for how you conduct your entire life.

Your Brain on Porn alleges that you can become addicted it. Just like with food, I doubt that porn meets the full criteria to qualify as a true addiction. Nevertheless, it can be compelling, and breaking the habit is often challenging. If you need some added motivation to try, read this article to learn more about all the potential negative consequences associated with Internet porn.

Why Less is More

Again, I’m not trying to convince you to quit entirely, because I just don’t see that as realistic in most cases. If you’re a young man, chances are you watch the stuff pretty regularly, and maybe this article speaks to you about your viewing habits. Maybe you recognize some of the details provided as affecting your own life. Or maybe everything is just peachy. But if you’ve read this far, perhaps it is because deep down, you think there could be a problem.

Or maybe not. But just because there isn’t a problem today doesn’t mean there might not be a problem one day. I personally am a big fan of long-term relationships with one person. Heavy porn usage is not conducive to such a relationship being sexually satisfying. Probably. I’d much rather have no (or much less) porn and a great sex life than lots of porn and a mediocre or poor sex life.

So, ease off there young fella. Or old fella. Or woman.

You are not a rat. You do not have a rat’s limited cognitive capabilities. You have a highly developed brain. You can decide to retrain it. How? Well, here are a lot of details. But it basically boils down to: “take a break.”

Just stop for a while with watching it. Give your brain a chance to “reboot.” Again, I’m not trying to purge it from your life 100%, although if it has it’s hooks in you deep you may find that you need to go completely without if you find future viewing rapidly takes you back down the rabbit hole.

But after you feel like you’ve gone through a reboot, then what? Well, like I said, you can still use it as an occasional indulgence, but with a newfound understanding of the dangers it can pose, and how to use it “wisely.” There is a big difference between a couple of beers on the weekend and lining up tequila shots at the bar every night. So it also is with porn.

And yes, I know this flies in the face of the guilt-inducing abolitionist approach because porn actors are often mistreated. We already established that such an argument isn’t going to convince many people, so I’m focusing on self-interest and feasibility here. The side benefit is that if everyone dramatically cuts their porn usage, the industry will wither. It allows for less harm.

If you decide to go back to it after your reboot, use it with caution. Understand how it can lead to more extreme viewing. Decide to select just a single scene that is more in line with something that might actually happen in real life. A.K.A. 80s porn.

I’m only partially kidding about that last part.

If you take a break for a month or two and then use it infrequently, watching tamer stuff – and even watching the same scene more than once – can be plenty of stimulation. It’s when you become a frequent user and permit yourself to taste the full, sometimes horrific rainbow of what the naked Internet has to offer that it leads to problems.

So make the decision not to go down that road again. Keep your porn “a couple of beer on the weekend” instead of “daily tequila shots.”

And reap benefits.

Benefits? What Benefits?

Well, you’re probably going to be hornier for a real woman, and that’s a good thing.

If you’re single, it can get you out of the house. It can motivate you to go find someone to spend time with; someone who likes touching your fun stuff. Want some advice on that? Here’s my find and keep a girlfriend article again.

And if you already have a girlfriend – or a wife – it can improve your sex life with her, because you want to improve it. If you’re not continually sated via porn, and more importantly, if you’re brain is no longer programmed to rely on porn for sexual stimulation and release, then you’re going to be more willing to put some effort into your relationship, because your desire for a real person is higher.

I’m not talking about constantly pawing at her and begging for sex because you’re not jerking off nearly so much. I’m talking about treating her in such a way, both outside and inside the bedroom, that makes her want more sex and want to please you more, because you’re doing things that please her.

This is worth the effort, because while some may read things like “80s porn” and “mainstream” in reference to sexual interests as boring or lame, you need to go through a reality check. The first part is that all the wild stuff you’re seeing on your computer likely is never going to happen for you anyway, so all you’re giving up is a fantasy. And what you’re gaining goes far beyond the physical, and into developing a mental and emotional connection with someone else.

Sex is a lot more than just in and out. It’s tickling and talking and laughing and cuddling. It’s showers together and winks and smiles and comments like “I have plans for you later” that enhance blood flow better than Viagra.

And unlike what happens after you slam the laptop shut, real sex is something that can leave you with a lasting glow of happiness and satisfaction.

Link to Original article by James Fell - Follow James on Facebook and Twitter.

An Open Letter on Porn (John Gottman)

Pornography in relationships has been an issue for a long time. Even today, professional recommendations on how to manage the use of pornography still vary widely. I attended one workshop in a couples therapy conference that recommended to merely accept porn use, especially by men, as natural and harmless. While this may be an extreme view, many clinicians have suggested that if a couple uses pornography as a stimulus for intimacy, or if they both agree to read or view pornographic materials together, then porn use is fine. In fact, many professionals have thought it might increase relationship connection and intimacy. In the Bringing Baby Home new parents workshop, we initially took this view since our research had demonstrated that, after a baby arrives, relationship intimacy decreases and measures were needed to strengthen intimate sexual connection.

Recently however, research on the effects of pornography use, especially one person frequently viewing pornographic images online, shows that pornography can hurt a couple’s relationship. The effect may be true, in part, because pornography can be a “supernormal stimulus” (see Supernormal Stimuli by Deirdre Barrett). Nikko Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, described a supernormal stimulus as a stimulus that evokes a much larger response than one that has evolutionary significance. One effect of a supernormal stimulus is that interest wanes in normal stimuli. Tinbergen studied male stickleback fish who would naturally attack a rival male that entered their territory during mating season. He created an oval object with a very red belly, more intensely red than the natural fish. The fish fiercely attacked the mock up and subsequently lost interest in attacking its real male rival. Now the supernormal stimulus evoked a reaction, but not the normal stimulus.

Pornography may be just such a supernormal stimulus. With pornography use, much more of a normal stimulus may eventually be needed to achieve the response a supernormal stimulus evokes. In contrast, ordinary levels of the stimulus are no longer interesting. This may be how normal sex becomes much less interesting for porn users. The data supports this conclusion. In fact, use of pornography by one partner leads the couple to have far less sex and ultimately reduces relationship satisfaction.

There are many other factors about porn use that can threaten a relationship’s intimacy. First, intimacy for couples is a source of connection and communication between two people.  But when one person becomes accustomed to masturbating to porn, they are actually turning away from intimate interaction. Second, when watching pornography the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control with the partner. Thus a porn user may form the unrealistic expectation that sex will be under only one person’s control. Third, the porn user may expect that their partner will always be immediately ready for intercourse (see Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski). This is unrealistic as well. Research has revealed that genital engorgement leads to a desire for sex only 10% of the time in women and 59% of the time in men. Fourth, some porn users rationalize that pornography is ok if it does not involve partnered sexual acts and instead relies only on masturbation. While this may accomplish orgasm the relationship goal of intimate connection is still confounded and ultimately lost.

Worse still, many porn sites include violence toward women, the antithesis of intimate connection. Porn use can become an actual addiction with the same brain mechanism activated in other behavioral addictions, like gambling (see Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson). Pornography can also lead to a decrease in relationship trust and a higher likelihood of affairs outside the relationship. Many porn sites now offer an escalation of sexual activity beyond simply viewing porn that includes actually having sex with other individuals. Finally, the support of porn use is reinforcing an industry that abuses the actors employed to create the pornography (see The Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges).  

We applaud major media outlets like Time Magazine that have joined the anti-pornography movement. Their April cover story titled Porn and the Threat to Virility dives into how modern men who grew up watching porn as children and teenagers have started a movement against it, hoping to shed light on the sexual material’s power to harm Americans.

In summary, we are led to unconditionally conclude that for many reasons, pornography poses a serious threat to couple intimacy and relationship harmony. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our readers around the world to understand what is at stake.

Original article

An in-depth look at porn addiction by projectknow.com

By its very design, online pornography is meant to be highly titillating to visitors. It's easy to understand why internet porn poses a significant risk of addiction: it induces a state of hyper-stimulation, provides constant novelty, is highly accessible, costs nothing, and can be used in the privacy of one's home. Online porn is so stimulating, it can make existing sexual relationships seem inadequate in comparison, and the quality of porn addicts' relationships - and lives - may suffer as a result. Visit progectknow.com for the full article and infographic

A community support group on Reddit.com, known as NoFap, has begun to push back against their own addictions by voluntarily abstaining from porn use. These participants recognize that porn use has become a problem in their lives and, together, they're making an effort to regain a sense of normalcy and control over their addictions. Here, we'll explore the demographics of these users, the consequences porn addiction has had for them, and their experiences with giving up porn.

The highly addictive elements of online porn

What makes net porn different?

Internet porn has several aspects that distinguish it it from other pornography as well as other addictive substances. Unlike porn in other media, net porn doesn't come in physical formats that must be acquired (and concealed), carry a high cost of ownership, and offer little in the way of variety before becoming "stale". Online porn is potentially endless, and often free – users are not limited to whichever magazines or DVDs they can afford. And unlike addictive drugs, for instance, most internet porn is fully legal to view. The barriers to accessing net porn anytime, anywhere, are largely nonexistent: it's always just a click away.

The internet is ubiquitous, its contents on-demand, making it the perfect medium for the porn industry. It has also demolished any social barrier of having to purchase porn in-person from a shop or adult store – internet porn allows its viewers to remain safely anonymous (or as anonymous as anyone can be online) in the comfort of their own homes. WebMD reports that an astounding 420 MILLION web pages contain pornographic material. YouPorn.com, the second-largest porn site on the web, receives 100 million page views a day, and serves 4,000 VIDEOS a second during its peak hours. This one site receives an astounding 2% of the internet’s total traffic.

Our novelty-seeking sex drive

Male sexual response follows a well-established pattern known as the Coolidge effect. As demonstrated in rats and other animals, a male will enthusiastically have sex with a female he's been newly placed with – but before long, he'll become accustomed to her, and less interested in sex. However, if she's replaced with a new female, the process restarts, and the male will once again be just as enthusiastic about having sex with her as he had been with his previous mate.

This is a novelty-seeking behavior: a new female mate is largely more stimulating and exciting than mates that the male has been with before. The effect is so pronounced that, with new females, the post-sex refractory period of males is substantially reduced - allowing them to have more sex, more frequently. While this effect is most prominent in males, it's also been observed in females to a lesser extent. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/doing-what-you-evolved-to-do)

How these elements combine

The features of internet porn are perfectly poised to take advantage of the Coolidge effect. Were it not for this novelty-seeking effect, net porn viewers would settle on the first few scenes they enjoyed, and never seek out anything else. But this isn't the pattern that's observed, as indicated by the continuing boom in the online porn business. Porn viewers have the opportunity to browse through as much new porn - “new mates” - as they wish, for as long as they wish. This provides a constant source of novelty.

This pattern of response to porn has been scientifically proven. In one study, sexual response steadily decreased as men were shown the same adult film 18 times in a row, but their arousal once again peaked as they were shown a new film the 19th time around. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/doing-what-you-evolved-to-do) With the vast amount of porn online, and all of the different niches available, viewers will never run out of novel porn, and this state of heightened sexual response can be maintained indefinitely. This phenomenon, where modern technologies take advantage of our evolutionary tendencies in an exaggerated way, is known as a supernormal stimulus, or “superstimulus”. It is the kind of overwhelming stimulus that the human mind simply did not evolve to cope with – just as unnaturally sweet foods drive us to keep eating unhealthy amounts of them. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/garys-research-intense-sweetness-surpasses-cocaine)

The endless stimulus of porn has a real impact. Today, 42% of male college students report that they regularly visit porn sites, one in five feel controlled by their own sexual desires, and 12% of them spend 5 or more hours watching internet porn every week.

Its impact on sexual behavior and relationships

Like any addictive stimulus, continued use of net porn appears to induce a degree of tolerance and desensitization. This heightened state of arousal becomes normal - a new baseline. Acquiring the same “high” now requires more effort. This further perpetuates the cycle of seeking out new porn, and the addiction is real: using internet porn is the single strongest predictor of compulsive internet use. It’s more addicting than any game or social website, striking right at the heart of one of our evolutionary imperatives.

The behavior of porn users precisely matches the predictions of the Coolidge effect. Against this desire for novelty, traditional monogamous relationships with a single partner often cannot compete. This normal stimulus, a single mate, is not enough for someone who's used to the constant novelty of online porn. Just as with the rats, porn users can experience delayed ejaculation, as well as a selective impotence – one that occurs while with their partner, even when this is not an issue for them when viewing porn. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/dr-oz-show-addresess-porn-induced-ed) Even their porn use may become less satisfying to them, no matter how frequently they use it, often leading to more fetishistic or deviant porn content. Their addiction leaves them unable to stop, and all of this can greatly compromise their relationships as well as their enjoyment of sex. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/doing-what-you-evolved-to-do

Reddit's NoFap community and their goals

Why NoFap?

The Reddit community NoFap is a support group for users who have chosen to abstain from masturbating – what they describe as “the ultimate challenge”. The users of NoFap now number over 73,000, with 4,000 joining in the past month alone - over 140 each day. These users have given up masturbation for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They believe their masturbation is causing undesirable psychological effects, such as depression and social anxiety  
  • They feel it’s sabotaging their chances of finding a partner
  • They feel masturbation is compromising the quality of sex in their current relationship
  • They feel their masturbation or porn use represents an undesirable lack of self control

Cooperatively, NoFap users aim to fight back against the ill effects of internet porn addiction.

NoFap is not a religious or moralistic movement, and the NoFap board specifically prohibits posting material pertaining to religion. Rather than being devout, NoFap exists as a community outpost which stands in contrast to the prevailing attitude of wider culture: that porn use is normal and healthy.

NoFap as a support method

The NoFap board largely functions as a support group for its participants. Given the difficulty of resisting innate sexual urges, as well as sharing a common struggle with giving up porn, this community support is crucial to helping its visitors be successful in their attempts. Many who post are newcomers, and they are celebrated and welcomed with open arms. Others post of their struggles with relapsing and tales of how masturbation has caused problems for them. Still more share their success stories of how forgoing masturbation has improved their enjoyment of their lives.

The attitude of NoFap users is largely one of sympathy: these are all users sharing in the same experience and struggle, and they know how difficult it can be. Support and camaraderie are the prevailing atmosphere on NoFap. It is also completely voluntary: NoFap users participate of their own initiative, without trying to recruit others to abstain from porn.

Speaking the language of NoFap

NoFap users have developed their own jargon to describe their shared experiences of abstaining from porn. Their new vocabulary includes: (http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap/wiki/index#wiki_glossary)

  • Fapping - the act of masturbation.  
  • Fapstronaut/Femstronaut - a male or female NoFap participant.
  • PMO - “porn, masturbation, orgasm”, the ongoing cycle of porn use that NoFap seeks to escape.
  • Death grip (male)/Death schlick (female) - excessive physical stimulation during porn use, potentially causing a decrease in sensitivity.
  • The surge - a peak in energy and sex drive that occurs after 1 – 2 weeks of abstaining from masturbation
  • Flatlining - a period of almost-absent libido that occurs after 2 – 6 weeks of abstinence.
  • Chaser effect - an urge to masturbate that occurs 1 – 3 days after having sex.
  • Reboot - the quoted amount of time it takes for the brain to return to normal after abstaining from porn, about 2-4 months.

NoFap users also vary in their goals: while some aim to retrain themselves to focus on sex with a partner, others believe that breaking their addiction requires abstaining from any sexual release in any context. It's common for NoFap users to keep a running total of how many days they've avoided masturbating, listed next to their usernames.

Who are the Fapstronauts

In response to a 2012 survey, 603 NoFap participants provided their demographic information, reasons for participating, perspective on porn use, and their sex lives before and after the NoFap program.

The demographics of NoFap

The NoFap userbase is overwhelmingly male - 90% are straight men. Most Fapstronauts are in their teen years or early 20s: 58% are aged 20-29, and a further 31% are aged 13-19. Remarkable as it is, nearly one third of users are teenagers, already struggling with the effects of porn addiction. Only 11% of users are in their 30s or older - porn addiction is largely a problem of youth.

The sexual habits and symptoms of porn addicts

Most NoFap users are either between relationships, or have never been in a relationship: 75% are currently single, and almost 50% have never had sex in their lives. Fapstronauts report becoming regular porn users at a surprisingly young age. 53% developed a regular porn habit during age 12-14, and a further 16% started before they were 12 - their problem often begins before they’re even out of middle school.

A majority, 59%, spend a remarkable 4-15 hours per week on porn, while another 24% spend 1-3 hours a week. 64% report that their tastes in porn have become more extreme or deviant - and among them, about half are ashamed of this. Most notably, an early start predicts a worse porn habit in the long term. Fapstronauts who started watching porn before age 10 were 3 times more likely than others to masturbate four or more times a day.  

The most common sexual symptoms experienced by NoFap users include erectile dysfunction, decreased sensitivity and pleasure, disinterest in sex, and difficulty reaching orgasm during sex with a partner. Among 27-31 year olds on NoFap, 19% suffer from premature ejaculation, 25% are disinterested in sex with their partner, and 31% have difficulty reaching orgasm. 34% experience erectile dysfunction, and 37% have decreased sexual sensitivity. Sexual dysfunction is the norm on this community; only 27% of Fapstronauts have never experienced any of these symptoms as a result of their porn addiction.

Not all Fapstronauts consider themselves addicts, and those who do have rather different experiences with porn. Among those who do see themselves as addicted, 72% watch over 4 hours of porn weekly; only 40% of non-addicts do. While 42% of addicts masturbate twice or more daily, this falls to 20% among those who don’t feel they have an addiction. And although 40% of addicts report that their porn preferences have become more deviant and extreme, a mere 20% of non-addicts say the same. Many Fapstronauts are clearly aware that the extent and severity of their habit has become a serious problem.

The reboot: Detoxing from net porn

When Fapstronauts give up porn, they often have similar experiences with their recovery. 35% say that they clearly experienced a “surge” of energy and sexual drive about 1 - 2 weeks after quitting porn, while a mere 31% said they didn’t feel this at all. And a further 30% report the “flatlining” of their libido during the 2 - 6 week period - the downward adjustment of their sex drive to a normal level after an extended period of porn-induced overstimulation.

Most experienced a notable reduction in their sexual symptoms of porn use - 60% of them felt their sexual dysfunctions had improved due to following the NoFap program. And their recovery wasn’t limited to sex. 56% of self-reported addicts became more willing to flirt with women, and 60% of Fapstronauts overall felt that they had gained a better knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses. 67% even had an increase in their energy levels, as well as their productivity. For these former porn users, giving up this habit seemed to free them to accomplish more with their time and energy, and their lives improved as a result.

Recovery is possible

Internet porn is, in many ways, the perfect trap for the human sex drive, feeding its viewers as much instant stimulation as they can handle and making them hungry for more. For today’s generation of young adults, porn use has become an accepted norm - but it may not be as innocuous as most people believe. Porn has a dark side for many of its viewers, an impact measured in countless hours spent in front of a screen, widespread sexual dysfunction, and an overall lack of fulfillment.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As shown by a community that’s taken the initiative in recognizing their problematic porn habits, this need not be a lifelong addiction. Not only are an increasing number of people choosing to quit using porn - they’re proving that they’re better off for it, in their relationships, their happiness, and their personal success. Porn isn’t the only option here, and as our intrepid Fapstronauts demonstrate, recovery can be the greatest pleasure of all.

Survey Data:;

  1. http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap/comments/updy4/rnofap_survey_data_complete_datasets
  2. http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/porn-novelty-and-the-coolidge-effect
  3. http://men.webmd.com/features/is-pornography-addictive
  4. http://www.extremetech.com/computing/123929-just-how-big-are-porn-sites/2
  5. http://www.covenanteyes.com/2009/11/24/why-are-so-many-christians-addicted-to-porn/
  6. http://www.nofap.in/glossary/
  7. http://stattit.com/r/nofap/
  8. http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap/wiki/faq#Benefits
  9. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2428861/Porn-addicts-brain-activity-alcoholics-drug-addicts.html

Andrew Sullivan on "The Great Porn Experiment"

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.


... 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.

At Its Core, We Kind Of Surprisingly Support The No-Masturbation Movement

guy and computerBy
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

CBC Radio - Winnipeg Interviews Gary

porn userCanada is considering requiring Internet providers to filter porn content. Radio host Marcy Markusa and Gary discuss the unique aspects of today's Internet porn.

Listen to 8-minute interview

Carson Bench interviews Gary on Community Connections

kskq logoWondering what effect today's highspeed Internet porn is having on heavy users?

Carson Bench interviews Gary on Community Connections

Could You Give Up Porn For 90 Days? (Esquire - UK)

Porn screen"... Increasing numbers of men who have reached their early twenties having grown up on this diet of unlimited porn are reporting some draw backs, including a decreased interest in “real” sex, an inability to ejaculate during it and – worst of all for most – erectile dysfunction. ... None of these fears about pornography are new. The difference is that they’re not being voiced by a Mary Whitehouse figure or the Church. They’re coming from young men themselves. From us."

Article: "No single vice causes so much mental and physical debility,” began a section of a popular home medical guide published in 1921, “than masturbation. It impairs the intellect, weakens the memory, debases the mind, ruins the nervous system and destroys body, mind and soul."

Its author, Isaac D Johnson, wasn’t saying anything particularly new. At the turn of the 20th century, moral panic about masturbation was so widespread, everyone from the Boy Scouts of America to Kellogg’s – who sold Cornflakes on the basis they were a “non-stimulating” dietary option for adolescent boys – was telling young men to keep their hands out of their pants.

Believing it to cause everything from acne to depravity, the anti-masturbation movement saw the creation in 1876 of such devices as the “Stephenson Spermatic Truss”, a metal cage that fitted like a pair of boxer shorts and made an erection physically impossible (or at least, extremely painful).

Like something from a Game of Thrones torture scene, there was even, in 1903, the development of an electrified version that would frazzle your penis like a fly if it dared venture upwards.

Then came a couple of world wars, and fears for young men shifted from whether they were pulling the chicken, beating the bishop or indeed spanking the monkey to whether they would be killed overseas.

The sexual revolution of the Sixties and Seventies also left the Church and other self-appointed moral arbitrators, at least in the West, with far bigger enemies to battle than the humble tug – pre-marital sex, the pill and a softening of attitudes towards homosexuals to name just a few.

By the Eighties and Nineties, masturbation was viewed – and taught in schools – as being a healthy part of human sexuality. The war on jerking off was over, and boys and men of all ages could relax.

Until now. In 2014, a new kind of anti-masturbation movement is beginning to stir across the US and Europe. Thousands of young men are again starting to believe that wanking is bad for them, and they’re voluntarily opting to quit.

They don’t consider it immoral. They don’t think it’ll drive them insane. Instead they’re hopeful it will empower them to have more and better sex. And the reason is a desire to escape what has become utterly intrinsic to masturbation in the internet age: free, unlimited, high-speed hard-core pornography.

For most men, our earliest memories of porn are a source of amusing nostalgia. The Penthouse found under your dad’s bed. Freeze-framing Basic Instinct to get a better peek between Sharon Stone’s legs. Staying up late to watch Eurotrash with the sound down.

For me, now a 29-year-old, it was my friends at school circulating a floppy disc containing images of Geri from the Spice Girls’ early glamour modelling days, downloaded via the painfully slow 56k dial modems we’d just begun to acquire.

My generation were on the very cusp of the internet age, when access was still restricted to a shared family computer and PornHub, RedTube and the rest were still just a twinkle in some Californian entrepreneurs’ eyes.

But here’s the thing about the generation of 10-13 year old boys who came just after me – those born after, say, 1992 – and all 10-13 year old boys since: chances are any one of them can see more naked women on their phone in 10 minutes than most grown men in history saw in their entire lifetimes.

They can also, of course, see women performing acts most men in history would never have dreamt up, let alone witnessed. And unsurprisingly, in overwhelming numbers, this is precisely what they choose do.

The government, slowly waking up to the issue, issued a cross-party report in 2012 that revealed one in three boys of this age had viewed explicit material online, with four out of five becoming regular uses by the time they were 16.

One reaction to this is a sort of generational jealousy, like looking at PlayStations and iPads and ruefully remembering you had to make do with a Commodore 64.

But increasing numbers of men who have reached their early twenties having grown up on this diet of unlimited porn are reporting some draw backs, including a decreased interest in “real” sex, an inability to ejaculate during it and – worst of all for most – erectile dysfunction.

At the same time, the young women they’re sleeping with are reporting their own problems, chiefly unrealistic expectations for things like anal sex, facials and general “porn star” behaviour: pressure to look and perform in ways they’re often not comfortable with.

None of these fears about pornography are new. The difference is that they’re not being voiced by a Mary Whitehouse figure or the Church. They’re coming from young men themselves. From us.

On 16 May 2012, a video of a Ted Talk called “The Great Porn Experiment” was placed on YouTube, and has been watched two-and-half-million times since. In it, a retired physiology teacher called Gary Wilson claims: “The widespread use of internet porn is one of the fastest moving global experiments every conducted.”

His argument is that we don’t know what happens to young men when they can watch an unlimited amount of pornography – both in terms of volume and variety – before they’ve had any kind of real-life sexual experience, because it has no precedent in history. Only now are the “guinea pigs” of the internet era reaching the age where they can tell us.

One of the biggest places they’re gathering to do so is on an online community hosted on the popular social media website Reddit, called “NoFap” (“fap” is an American term for masturbating).

NoFap is an online support group and resource for anyone jaded by their porn use. It sets a challenge of giving up internet porn and masturbating altogether for 90 days (for the internet generation, one barely exists without the other, and any attempt to masturbate will almost inevitably lead to watching porn).

During this period of abstinence, users say, men can expect to first “flat line” – where their interest in sex vanishes almost altogether – then begin to experience “superpowers”, which include everything from a greater interest in the opposite sex and improved self-confidence to more energy and alertness in everyday life.

By internet standards, NoFap is an incredibly positive and earnest place to hang out. The users, of which there are now more than 100,000, post updates on their progress, share their difficulties and ask for help when they fear a “relapse” is imminent.

The language they use is steeped in both self-help jargon and amateur-psychology – “Porn has made people like puppies and this place is like reclaiming back our lionhood. Bravo lions,” reads one comment, “Our dopamine receptors start healing, our sensitivity is coming back,” claims another. (With such a rapturous following, NoFap is sometimes accused of being like a cult.)

But buried beneath all the cheerleading and posturing are some genuinely upsetting and often quite touching anecdotes from young men who believe porn is bad for them, usually in two ways: the amount of time it takes up – often several hours at a time, usually late at night – and the nature of the material they are viewing.

One member I speak to, Will, is a 25-year-old risk analyst from the UK. He explains how, growing up, he found himself attracted to “big women”, a predilection that escalated thanks to his internet use.

“I found myself gravitating towards the darker side of that particular fetish – things like force-feeding and men being ‘squashed’,” he explains. “There are videos online of porn actresses who are so overweight they can barely walk. The thought of these women being so large turned me on.” He adds: “Afterwards, I felt incredibly guilty. Being so big you can't walk more than a few yards? There's no enjoyment in that life.”

Will’s story is typical of those you read on NoFap, where young men claim to have “graduated” over the years from looking up naked pictures or vanilla videos to extreme or niche tastes.

Another YouTube video that has become required viewing in NoFap circles is of a Ted talk by an annoyingly young and handsome Israeli gender studies student called Ran Gavrieli, who sets out to explain why he decided to quit.

“I stopped watching porn because it brought anger and violence into my sexual fantasies that were not there originally,” he begins. “What porn is showing us 80–90 per cent of the time is sex with no hands involved. No touching, no caressing, no kissing. Porn cameras have no interest in sensual activities. They are only into penetration. This is not how we authentically desire.

“Before porn, I used to fantasise about a scenario in which I would meet a woman, what I would say to her and what she would say to me. But porn conquered my mind. I lost my ability to imagine. […] I found myself closing my eyes trying to masturbate, trying desperately to think about something human and not making it, because my mind was bombarded with all those images of women being violated.”

The reaction in the comments below the video is a typical mix of gratitude and support and dismissive anger (“clueless pawn of the femino-christian mindset”), though with more than 2.4 million views and strong endorsements throughout the NoFap community, it’s an experience that is clearly hitting a nerve. The question now confronting the scientific community is why exactly this modern phenomenon is occurring. Could evolutionary biology be to blame?

Dr Thaddeus Birchard is an expert in psychosexual therapy and the founder of the UK's first sex addiction treatment programme at the Marylebone Centre. From his office in central London, lined with hundreds of books on human sexuality (and a copy of JK Rowling’s <The Casual Vacancy>, presumably as light relief from all the Freud), he treats men with all forms of sexual addiction, including internet pornography.

“The human brain craves novelty,” he explains, with the soft-spoken but assertive tone people in his current profession (and his previous one in the pastoral ministry) require. “That’s why couples have sex when they go away for the weekend, when they’ve not had sex for months. And you get endless novelty on the internet.”

Birchard likens it to playing a slot machine (the mental state of a sex addict is highly comparable to that of a gambling addict). "You go on internet porn and you don't know when you are going to get the hit. You could look at a dozen pictures or videos, and suddenly there is a hit. Or look at a hundred, and there isn't."

This quest for new experience explains why heavy porn users eventually explore fresh versions of what has aroused them in the past – and online, "fresh" usually means "more extreme". What makes it even more powerful is that during sex, solo or otherwise, we're programmed not to think about whether we'll regret what we're doing later.

To help me understand what happens to the human brain while watching porn, he draws a rough outline of a head on a large sheet of paper. He sketches the limbic system – the bit that processes our impulses; and the frontal cortex – the bit we need to override those impulses with rational thought.

Porn appeals to the former, and his job, in a pitiful oversimplification, is to help people get better at using the latter. (By the end, my own head feels it has been scribbled in, but I gratefully take the sketch and fold it into my pocket.)

“Arousal shuts down our capacity to think about consequences,” Birchard  says. “It’s designed to do that. Mother Nature intends for you to maximise your DNA, and you do that by frequent ejaculation in as many places as possible. It’s a literal shutting down, so you stop thinking about your wife, or going to work in the morning at seven, and stay on the internet until four in the morning.”

Even still, the amount of time internet porn takes up or how much men regret the nature of what they look at isn’t the real problem for most of the young men on NoFap. The real problem is how it affects their behaviour with women.

Alexander Rhodes launched NoFap as a bit of joke a few years ago, but now takes the task of helping men quit pornography very seriously. A 24-year-old web developer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he views pornography as his generation’s version of cigarettes — something harmful and addictive that we’re learning the consequences of in retrospect.

His own story, which he discusses openly, exemplifies what really horrifies the young guys who have followed him into abstinence. While many of the NoFap community are clearly social misfits who, whether it is placebo or otherwise, have found quitting porn has given them the confidence to approach women for the first time, others are more like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in Don Jon, his film on the topic of porn addiction – normal guys who bag hot girls (well, perhaps not quite as hot as Scarlett Johansson, but that’s Hollywood) and then find they prefer porn to what’s waiting for them in bed.

Like almost every man of his generation, Alex started looking for porn around 11 and by the time he was 19 “was watching the highest-resolution and most extreme stuff available.” Specifically, this meant “Gang-bangs and many other niches of hard-core porn. I liked watching women be degraded.”

“For years I was never able to orgasm from sex – I had to masturbate myself to orgasm with my partners, often while fantasising about porn,” he continues. “There was no focus on the actual beautiful woman in front of me – it was strictly a race to orgasm. Although I would consider myself a good boyfriend outside of the bedroom, I simply detached and depersonalised my partners as tools to achieve orgasm.

“My mind completely separated emotion, empathy, intimacy, love, affection, and all other virtues from sex. And my expectations made my partners feel objectified, used, and ‘not enough’”.

Rhodes – like risk analyst Will and most of the men I spoke to through NoFap – says his porn use did not just cause the end of his relationship, but ruined his enjoyment of sex altogether.

These are all men who have not yet reached their late twenties.

Despite all the depressing accounts of relationships ruined and sex drives scuppered, the dominant message that emerges from NoFap and similar male-led anti-porn websites is actually positive. More than anything, they want to talk about how quitting porn has turned their lives around.

These are the excitable declarations that make up most of the forum posts – men reaching new milestones in abstinence and wanting to brag about it, in the nicest possible way.

They range from seemingly plausible claims to a reinvigorated mojo and greater vigour, energy and alertness, to frankly daftly assertions like “my posture is better” and “my immune system has gone through the roof”.

Key to this message is the belief, shared by NoFap and yourbrainonporn.com, the website run by Gary Wilson, that by quitting men can “reset” their brains and return their sexuality to “normal” levels, diminishing the appetites artificially encouraged by heavy porn use.

This is something there is very little scientific consensus about, partly because case studies are only just beginning to emerge.

Dr Birchard, for one, is dubious that abstinence alone can work. “I think [NoFap] is a simplification of the work that we do,” he says. “Twelve step programs suggest a celibacy or abstinence contract as a temporary measure, really just to help you realise you’re not going to die if you stop doing the thing you’re addicted to.

In my experience, some people find it helpful, some people don’t, but it’s rarely enough to solve a deeper rooted problem on its own.”

Nor does he subscribe to the idea upheld in NoFap that certain porn viewing habits – watching gay porn when you’re straight, for example – can be the result of novelty seeking and “too much porn” alone.

“It could be someone has a sliver in their sexual template of, say, an interest in transsexual people, but because they can look at lots of pictures of transsexual people, they will find it being reinforced. But I don’t believe any sexual tastes come from nowhere,” he says.

Some NoFap users would vehemently disagree, but for Dr Birchard as well as their other critics there’s a smack of American puritanism to it all, a mind-set that still sees desire – particularly certain types of desire – as sinful, and in his words, “presents a value system in pseudo-scientific language.”

And yet NoFap and its associated groups claim to be secular. As Rhodes puts it: “I encourage people to have tons of awesome pre-marital sex – how is that possibly religious? Or anti-sex?”

Could it be that the scientific community simply doesn’t understand the scale of what young men are dealing with, something that, according to yourbrainonporn.com is “about as comparable to the porn older men grew up with as today’s computer games are to playing chequers”?

Mark Queppet, the founder of scheme linked to NoFap called the “Sacred Sexuality Project”, believes so. “I’m continually disappointed in sex therapists,” he tells me. “They seem to be largely ignorant of how high-speed internet pornography has the ability to affect our brains.”

A shaven-headed 24-year-old from Massachusetts who recovered from his own porn addiction and now works as a life coach, Queppet has a world-weary air and a self-possessed manner unusual for his age (he is a Christian, but like Rhodes, insists it doesn’t inform his project, despite its name).

In discussing his work and aims, he makes one particularly sad observation: “Today people use porn as a mood modifier,” he says. “If you are feeling bored, anxious, lonely, angry, sad or have any other negative emotion, you can turn some porn on and instantly escape from that discomfort.”

In other words, men are not seeking out porn when they’re happy and horny and in need of some relief, but using it to anesthetise themselves from the emotional ups and downs that come with being young.

According to psychology, the male sexual template is set between the ages of seven and nine, before being activated in adolescence. It is during these tender years that a lifetime of sexual tastes and expectations are set.

Whenever I discuss internet porn with men of my own age, a familiar sense of having "dodged a bullet" always emerges: a quiet gratitude that we grew up in the final years of the pre-internet age, when we’d discreetly scan the shelves of Blockbuster for a film with "sex/nudity: strong" on the spine and flick hastily through the Sunday Sport desperate to see a pair of breasts.

Gratitude, more importantly, that by the time internet porn arrived, we had already clumsily navigated being alone and naked with a woman for the first time, stunned with wonder rather than dumbstruck with disappointment.

Original article by Sam Parker


Do You Need A Sexual Reboot?

"The Guardian reported on research that suggests porn addicts experience brain changes similar to drug addicts."

Sometimes studies and research can bring amazing news to light — like how beer actually has some health benefits — but other times, they can dispel ideas we've held as truth for years.

For example, there are several misconceptions about masturbation and, unfortunately, many of the positive assumptions have inaccurate foundations. Masturbation doesn't necessarily help your sex life or ward off prostate cancer, and there is such a thing as too much of it. Just like most things in life, it’s possible to do something to an excess, and it can become detrimental to your health.

Consequences of Excess

If you spend too much time masturbating, you might start experiencing some not-easily-recognizable side effects. For example, your testosterone levels may be lower, which means that when you’re out at a bar, you’ll be less likely to approach women. You also might find it harder to reach orgasm with your partner (which is a little more noticeable).

If you suspect your frequency of masturbation may be having a negative influence on your life, it’s important to look into what these effects may be and what you can do about them. Even if you consider yourself an addict, there are ways to cut back and help alleviate your problems.

The Science of Addiction

The Guardian reported on research that suggests porn addicts experience brain changes similar to drug addicts. The study, done by Cambridge University neuropsychiatrist Dr. Valerie Voon, also found that porn addiction can actually cause an alteration of sexual tastes.

In the pleasure center of the brain, dopamine is released when goals are accomplished. It’s also released when someone is sexually excited or sees something sexually novel. Because pornography is full of novel sexual “partners,” it fires the reward center of the brain.

Changes in the brain can occur after repeated mental experiences; when dopamine is released while watching porn, the images get reinforced, which can change sexual taste. Porn allows the viewers to experience “sex” without having to go through the work of courting someone, so there’s no work to accomplish the goal usually associated with dopamine release.

Meet the Fapstronauts

A group of people on Reddit are striving to meet their personal goals, whether they’re cutting back on masturbation or eliminating porn from their lives. More than 75,000 people subscribe to the subreddit (a specific sub-page of the site) called /r/NoFap (“fap” meaning “masturbation”) where they offer each other support and share their advice on how to give up masturbation, porn or both.

Check out the ProjectKnow infographic about the NoFap survey's findings.

A survey of 1,500 /r/NoFap participants reveals interesting insights about the subreddit's users and their experiences. For example, 90% of respondents are men, and 69% started watching porn before age 14. Before taking on /r/NoFap-related goals, 59% of respondents watched porn for four to 15 hours a week.

The Cycle of Rebooting

A large number of subscribers “reboot” in order to break out of their typical masturbation or porn-viewing routines. Rebooting involves between two to four months of abstinence from masturbation and porn in order to “reset” the way you think about sex.

Many of the survey respondents experienced similar effects while in the process of rebooting. For example, 35% said they went through “the surge,” which involves an increase in energy and sex drive about one to two weeks after the person stops masturbating.

Another common occurrence is “flatlining,” which involves a temporary and dramatic decrease of libido. About 30% of respondents experienced this two to six weeks into their abstinence from masturbation. This stage can be alarming as most people don’t want to lose their sex drives altogether. But others have found flatlining meaningful.

Reddit user “nowboarding” posted in /r/NoFap about his flatlining experience and said: “Flatlining has actually turned out to be a godsend for me… It tells me I’m doing something right. For the first time since I started masturbating, I feel like I’m on top of my sexual arousal in non-sexual situations!”

Rebooting Benefits

So when /r/nofap participants accomplish whatever particular goals they set for themselves, what is the result? Why is it all worth it? For starters, 60% of survey respondents said they experienced improvements in their sexual disfunction, while 67% reported increased levels in their overall productivity and energy.

Their social and personal lives benefited, too. Sixty percent said they developed a better understanding of what their strengths and weaknesses were. Of the addicts who took the survey, 56% were more willing to talk to women. 

If your habits regarding porn or masturbation are negatively affecting your life, it may be time to explore ways to reduce your participation in those activities — you may find yourself healthier and reinvigorated.

ProjectKnow.com is a resource site for learning about addiction, and a service to connect those suffering from addictions and other compulsive disorders to treatment providers. Part of the goal of ProjectKnow is to create compelling content that helps to generate awareness around addictions of many types.

Original article

Does internet porn ruin relationships? Or is it another way for couples to try new things in the bedroom? (Daily Mail-UK)

Porn is spiraling in popularity - but do we truly know the consequences it could have on our relationships? Curious husbands looking at sexual fantasy videos online have often been the cause of many painful divorces and break-ups.

But research has also found pornography increases sexual knowledge and makes people more open-minded about trying different things in the bedroom.

Sam Carr, lecturer in education from the University of Bath, says it's all a matter of perspective.

The world of internet pornography is a pervasive and wide reaching technology, growing at a breathtaking rate. It is a $13 billion-a-year industry in the US. 

Nine out of 10 boys in America are exposed to it before the age of 18, and men are 543 per cent more likely to be users than women. 

By 2017, over a quarter of a billion people will use mobile porn sites worldwide.

With such an enormous audience, it is not possible to make generalisations about whether internet pornography is good or bad. 

Clearly, it's a matter of perspective. Reviews have linked pornography consumption with positive effects such as increased sexual knowledge and more liberal sexual attitudes. 

But how does it shape our intimate relationships?

British Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed concern that internet pornography could be warping ideas about sex and relationships, and scientific evidence in this area tends to support his view. 

Links between pornography consumption and intimate relationship problems (although data typically refer to heterosexual, monogamous relationships) are well established.

Pornography consumption has been associated with increased marital distress, risk of separation, decreased romantic intimacy and sexual satisfaction, a higher chance of infidelity, and compulsive or addictive sexual behaviour. 

However, this does not automatically imply that internet pornography causes relational difficulties. 

Pornography consumption may equally be caused by them.

But if consumption does dampen romantic intimacy then it will be important to understand how. 

Harvard Psychology Professor Deirdre Barrett has suggested that internet pornography is a version of what scientists call a 'supernormal stimulus'. 

That is, an artificial exaggeration of the environmental factors from which we have naturally evolved to become sexually aroused.

Instinctive behaviour across a range of species can be hijacked when researchers create supernormal versions of normal stimuli. 

For example, while a female bird's natural instinct is to nurture her small, speckled eggs, she will abandon them when presented with the option of larger, more heavily patterned artificial exaggerations of her eggs. 

Over time, she will lose interest completely in the normal eggs, as though her instinct towards them has been overridden by the supernormal ones.

In a similar (but more complex) way, internet pornography offers users a supernormal sexual experience. 

On one level, they become aroused by watching supernormal bodies having supernormal sex. 

On another level, they become accustomed to selecting these supernormal, virtual experiences from seemingly infinite options and have the possibility to refine, replay, pause, and rewind these virtual sexual experiences at will.

A major concern for sex and relationship therapists and researchers is that real people's responses to real sex can indeed be dampened by overexposure to virtual sex. 

In his TED Talk, The Great Porn Experiment, Gary Wilson discusses arguments and evidence in support of porn induced erectile dysfunction. 

He highlights issues such as a numbed pleasure response and addictive craving for 'hits' of pornographic material in heavy users.

The ways in which family life can be affected by these issues can be very powerful, too. A paper by sex therapist, Paula Hall, outlines the following typical case.

Tim was a 36-year-old man, married with two children aged one and three. 

He initially presented with erectile dysfunction but detailed assessment revealed that he had no problems with erections to pornography which he was now accessing most evenings for three or four hours at a time.

He was very aware that his pornography use was getting in the way of him having sex with his wife and realised he'd got himself into a Catch 22. 

Watching increasingly hard-core porn was making him feel numb when having sex with his wife, but because sex with his wife was now so difficult, he was watching even more porn. 

In fact, the only times he could get an erection with his wife now was if he fantasised about porn which left him feeling guilty and distant from her.

Dampened responses to normal sex can result in intense feelings of guilt for users when sex with their partner isn't as arousing as supernormal sex. 

There can also be attempts by users to make normal sex supernormal, either through fantasy or by manipulating reality.

Studies have also documented a deep rooted breakdown in trust and attachment, connected to the fact that partners frequently experience pornography consumption as a deceptive form of betrayal and infidelity. 

In the above study, one wife described her husband's use of pornography as indiscriminate, virtual philandering and said that she felt like 'he's had a million affairs'.

Ultimately, as cultural anthropologist, Mizuko Ito, has suggested: 'We have created these technologies but it's not obvious how they evolve in and shape our culture.' 

Paradoxically, as connecting as technology may be, it is vital that we also understand and debate its role in creating and exacerbating disconnection.


Don Jon & Your Brain On Porn… Is Porn Making You Bad In Bed? by Alex Allman

The short answer to the question posed in the subject of this article is, “Yes, porn is probably making you bad in bed.”

For about 7 years now I’ve been thinking that the sex apocalypse is coming. And it seems like I’m not the only one who has noticed.

Now a lot of folks are waking up to what’s going on, and it’s becoming more common knowledge that porn is causing erectile dysfunction (and all kinds of other sexual dysfunction) in men. It’s also teaching men how to be bad in bed… but more on that later.

The new movie, “Don Jon”, written, directed, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the first time that porn addiction has made it into popular culture, and I think it’s an important and positive development that, if nothing else, will bring the conversation more into the mainstream. [informal review by guy on Reddit]

In the movie, Jon, a handsome lady’s-man, alpha-male admits that he likes porn better than sex with real women.  After sex, he always sneaks off after the girl has fallen asleep and has another quickie with his laptop.

I started noticing this 7 years ago, when I first sent a newsletter about women who can’t have orgasms during sex, and I got back a tsunami of emails from MALE readers asking if I could write a newsletter for MEN who couldn’t have orgasms during sex.

Just so you understand where I was coming from at the time… I had never even HEARD of men who couldn’t have orgasms during intercourse.  It was virtually unheard of in my generation. Sure, of course, men who couldn’t get erections for sex, I had been talking to them for years with great success.  And, sure, men who came too quickly during sex… I created an entire program for them…

But men who had trouble, or even found it impossible to have orgasms with real women was something new to me, but it wasn’t going to stay new.  3 of my 20-something friends called me up in the following week to ask the same thing.

One of them said he had trouble ejaculating with real women, and 2 said they always had to “finish themselves off” afterwards.  One of them also told me that in 6 years of sexual activity with many partners and 3 long term girlfriends, he had NEVER had intercourse without Viagra.

I recommended a list of things for these guys to try.  Everything I could think of.  One of them was, “maybe you should quit porn.”

Now, years later, the evidence is in and it’s clear:  Porn is re-wiring men’s brains to be bad in bed.

For the record, I enjoy porn as much as the next guy… Which is to say, I find it absolutely irresistible.

As the comedian said: “If you’ve seen one woman naked, you wanna seem them all.”

I have talked to men that don’t like porn and don’t watch it.  They do exist.  But the majority of men simply love looking at lots and lots of naked chicks involved in lots and lots of different sexual acts.  This, of course, turns out to be genetically wired into us.  

I don’t have exact numbers, but it appears that the majority of men who have consumed high-speed-internet porn are like me:  They find porn to be highly enjoyable, highly stress-relieving, highly escapist, and highly addictive.

Because high-speed internet porn didn’t arrive in my life until my late 30s, I was able to notice and track the changes it was making in my life.

I was in a relationship with a beautiful woman, but I would still regularly “binge” on porn, not only at the expense of my sex-drive for my partner, but also at the expense of my work and social engagements.

Perhaps I had more attention on noticing because of what I do for a living:  I was writing a sex advice newsletter… So I started examining what was going on, and I quit.

For men who don’t notice what’s happening, or for men who are young enough to have grown up on ‘net porn, their entire reality and their future ability to forge sexual relationships with women can be stolen without them ever realizing it happened.

Like most men, when Don Jon starts dating his “perfect 10″ woman, he still can’t stop watching his porn.  The fiction chose to ignore the usual facts though… Don Jon has no problems getting hard, he has no problem ejaculating, and the women he is with are sexually impressed with him.

That’s not generally the way it goes in the real world.

Right now there is excellent information out there raising awareness for men about how porn is causing ED (they can’t get hard or stay hard), and excellent information on how to quit porn and regain your libido, and re-wire your brain back to its normal state.  

The most important thought leader in this area is Gary Wilson, whose site, “Your Brain On Porn” is the center of the quitting-your-porn-addiction universe.

If you’re even a little bit interested in the science, the proof, and the results of what’s going on with men (especially young men) and porn, you will absolutely want to watch Gary’s TED talk:

There is an entirely other problem with young men, women, and couples that is also coming from porn… and that’s the massive dis-education about how good sex is done.

Young people learn everything they know about sex from porn with sad results.

As Cindy Gallop said in her 2009 TED talk, “Hardcore porn has become the de facto sex education.”

She talks about her experiences with younger lovers who had been badly educated by porn here:

Unfortunately, while she offers an alternative on her “Make Love, Not Porn” site, I think that in the end, while adding intelligence and a different idea for visual sex, she is also contributing to the library of home-made porn, which is it’s own “amateur” sub-genre.

In other words, I have some fear that she’s created a site that gives men permission to just watch more porn.

The fact is, porn is exquisitely well crafted for visual stimulation.  Unfortunately, that does not equate with what actually works for making each other FEEL great.

While masturbating to porn is a visual activity, sex is only partially a visual activity.  The other 4 senses are intimately involved, chief among them being touch.  And all 5 senses combined don’t make up even half of what fuels GREAT SEX…

Which is the emotional and mental aspects of love making.

I talked about this in one of my weekly videos, and Gary Wilson was kind enough to re-post it on the “Your Brain On Porn” Blog here:  Alex Allman On How To Masturbate

This conversation is really just beginning however.

We don’t know the full extent of the damage, or how much worse it might get.

As I write this I have at least 4 “colleagues” selling programs with porn stars teaching how to have better sex… based on the marketing premise that young people believe that porn stars would be experts on the subject of good sex… A very scary thought…

But damn good marketing, and they are making millions of dollars while men continue to get the wrong information about how to really have a great sex life and great sexual relationships with women.

Is porn the devil?

Nope, I’m sure it’s not.

Should it be censored?

I’m against censorship in general. But I do agree with anti-hate speech laws and I think we just don’t understand this problem well enough yet to have a ready answer. Like guns, I think pornography ought to at least be better controlled… and hopefully in a way that does not present an invasion of privacy for those adults that decide they want to continue to consume porn.

Can some men watch porn without it having a negative impact on their lives?

Probably. There are people who can do cocaine recreationally once in a while without it affecting their lives too. Though it does seem clear that porn has a much higher addiction potential than coke, and it ought to at least be treated with caution by any man.

Don Jon talks about a bunch of reasons for why he prefers porn to real women. He sums it up by saying that he can just “lose himself” with porn. What he never mentions is how EASY it is. How relaxing and calming it is to just let yourself be sexually stimulated without having to worry about judgement. Your computer never judges you for your kinks and proclivities.

There’s probably something important to learn there for lovers wanting to take Julianne Moore’s character’s advice in the movie, when she tells Don Jon that the best sex is when you “lose yourself in another person, and they lose themselves in you.”

The only way THAT KIND OF SEX happens is when you really feel free to be yourself. And that takes something special from your partner.

Using this article to judge your partner or make them wrong for their porn use is probably not going to be helpful in that regard.

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Sex Advice For Men, Sex Advice For Women

Entrevista Con Andrés Lomeña Cantos (Spain)

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ANDRÉS LOMEÑA: Algunos problemas sexuales como la disfunción eréctil no responden a motivos psicológicos, sino físicos. El incremento brutal en el consumo de porno habría modificado sensiblemente nuestras respuestas cerebrales al placer. ¿Cómo llegó a esas conclusiones?

GARY WILSON: Es evidente que la disfunción eréctil existe, así que también existen las causas psicológicas de la disfunción eréctil. Sin embargo, la disfunción eréctil por el consumo excesivo de porno en Internet también existe. Sabemos esto porque muchos hombres se recuperan al cabo de un tiempo cuando dejan de ver porno en la red.

Descubrimos esto cuando los hombres empezaban a recuperarse de la disfunción eréctil sin cambiar ninguna otra variable, sólo quitando la pornografía de Internet. ¿Cómo sabíamos que estaba en el cerebro? Había muchos médicos que lo probaron para la disfunción eréctil orgánica; algunos vieron que no era útil el asesoramiento en los episodios de ansiedad.

            El problema no es el clásico episodio de ansiedad porque las personas afectadas podían conseguir erecciones cuando veían porno en la red, pero no cuando se masturbaban sin esos vídeos. Al final, algunos no podían lograr erecciones, ni siquiera con la ayuda del porno en Internet. El episodio de ansiedad se limita a la incapacidad de hacerlo con otra persona.

            Esto se descubrió por un proceso de eliminación. Las únicas opciones que quedaban en los hombres saludables era el condicionamiento sexual y/o la adicción al porno. Había cambios estructurales y biomecánicos en el circuito de recompensas del cerebro.

            Hay más evidencias de que esta condición se da en el cerebro: casi todos los hombres experimentaron síndromes de abstinencia y patrones de recuperación similares. A los hombres les lleva de 2 a 12 meses recuperarse después de haber dejado el porno. Aquellos que empezaron antes con el porno tienden a necesitar más tiempo que quienes empezaron más tarde.

            Los hombres que surgieron en primer lugar se identificaron a sí mismos como adictos. Experimentaron síndromes de abstinencia severos cuando dejaron el porno. La mayoría pasó a materiales más extremos (un signo de un proceso de adicción llamado “tolerancia”).


A.L.: ¿Es el efecto Coolidge y su conexión con la pornografía su mayor contribución a este cmapo?

G.W.: Creo que la comprensión de que lo novedoso libera dopamina en el circuito de recompensas del cerebro es importante para el entendimiento de todas las variedades de adicciones de Internet. La estimulación sexual libera más dopamina que cualquier otra recompensa natural. Como resultado, la novedad sexual es especialmente atractiva.

            El porno en Internet puede definirse como un estímulo superior a lo normal por sus novedades sexuales ilimitadas. A diferencia de los mamíferos durante la época de celo, los consumidores pueden ver horas de porno sin activar un mecanismo innato para saciarse. Esto provoca un exceso de consumo crónico casi sin esfuerzo. Mírate esto: Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, 2010, by Deidre Barrett,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernormal_stimulus.


A.L.: ¿Cómo define el consumo de porno en su investigación? Lo digo porque el propio porno ha evolucionado en la red. Fabian Thylmann, fundador de sitios como Youporn, Pornhub o Tube8, podría ilustrarnos en este aspecto.

G.W.: El circuito de recompensa no sabe lo que es el “porno”. Sólo entiende de niveles de estimulación. Para una persona algo inocuo puede tener un alto voltaje sexual. Para otro, eso mismo puede causar aversión. Para otro, un material clasificado como X puede no provocarle nada a menos que haya algún fetiche. No hay forma de definir lo que es el porno.

            Cuando la gente “reinicia”, elimina (idealmente) toda excitación artificial para ayudar a reconectar su respuesta con las parejas reales.

            El acceso al porno ha tenido un gran impacto, por no hablar de la estimulación de la novedad “a un click”. Creo que la alta definición, el streaming, la abundancia de porno gratis, los smartphones (los jóvenes pueden obtener privacidad), en definitiva, el acceso ilimitado incrementa el porcentaje de la población en riesgo de desarrollar condicionamientos sexuales no deseados o adicciones. En otras palabras, cuanto más “caliente” es el porno, más fuerte es el estímulo... y más usuarios empiezan a competir con el sexo real en términos de estimulación.

            Los vídeos han tenido mucho más impacto que las imágenes. Con una imagen, el consumidor tiene que continuar usando su imaginación y a menudo verse como protagonista, pero con el vídeo está viendo a gente real hacer cosas reales. No sólo el vídeo le deja en el papel pasivo de voyeur, además condiciona su sexualidad sin ser plenamente consciente.


A.L.: Seguro que le han acusado de ser un moralista porque parece que propone la castidad.

G.W.: Sí, las personas me acusan de ser un moralista y de ser religioso, y muchas otras cosas que no son ciertas. No estoy seguro de cómo has llegado a la conclusión de que se propone la “castidad”. Tal y como yo lo veo, trata sobre personas volviendo a un funcionamiento sexual saludable. Los hombres pasan de no tener sexo (disfunción eréctil) o de tener un sexo insatisfactorio (eyaculación tardía, libido baja) a tener relaciones sexuales de nuevo con erecciones normales, deseo sexual normal y mucho más placer.

            Creo que la confusión procede del hecho de que la mayoría de los tíos (especialmente los jóvenes) con disfunción eréctil inducida por el porno tienen que dejar de masturbarse temporalmente. Para muchos, el uso del porno está tan asociado (“conectado”) a la masturbación que ni siquiera pueden masturbarse sin porno o fantasías porno. Eso retrasa la recuperación. La idea es dar a los circuitos relacionados con el porno un descanso mientras el cerebro vuelve a la normalidad para que los estímulos cotidianos lleguen a ser más excitantes. Esto es temporal y una vez que se han recuperado, la gente elige su propio camino.


A.L.: ¿Cuál es su disciplina exactamente y quiénes investigan temas similares al suyo?

G.W.: Lo que hago es fundamentalmente neurobiología. Mis ideas no son nuevas. De hecho, ni siquiera son mis ideas. Por ejemplo, en 2011 la American Society of Addiction Medicine (3000 médicos e investigadores sobre adicción) hicieron públicamente una nueva definición de adicción. Dijeron que la adicción es una única enfermedad cerebral, ya sea algo químico o del comportamiento. Todas las adicciones comparten los mismos cambios cerebrales fundamentales, los cuales pueden diagnosticarse por signos, síntomas y comportamientos específicos. Estos médicos mencionaron específicamente la comida y las adicciones del comportamiento sexual. Mira estos enlaces: http://www.asam.org/advocacy/find-a-policy-statement/view-policy-statement/public-policy-statements/2011/12/15/the-definition-of-addiction y http://www.asam.org/docs/publicy-policy-statements/20110816_defofaddiction-faqs.pdf?sfvrsn=0

            Desde mi punto de vista, la adicción al porno de Internet es sólo un subconjunto de la adicción a Internet, más que un subconjunto de la adicción al sexo. Ya hay estudios sobre el cerebro de los adictos a Internet, muchos de los cuales incluyen el consumo de porno. Todos muestran los mismos cambios cerebrales relacionados con la adicción vistos en otros tipos de adicciones. Mírate los estudios sobre adicción a Internet.

            En esto me acompañan: Norman Doidge, autor de El cerebro se cambia a sí mismo. Carlo Foresta, jefe del departamento de antropología de Padua o Donald L. Hilton MD, autor de Pornography addiction: a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity.


A.L.: ¿Tan importantes son sus diferencias con el psicólogo Philip Zimbardo?

G.W.: Eso es un malentendido. Mi conferencia TED extendía su llamada a la acción para controlar la adicción a las diversas excitaciones. No le contradije, más bien le apoyé. Zimbardo recomienda mi web en su libro y respetamos sus esfuerzos para alertar al mundo de este problema.


A.L.: ¿Qué piensa del DSM-V? ¿Debería incluirse la adicción al porno en el manual de trastornos psiquiátricos?

G.W.: Sí, creo que hay una gran evidencia para incluir la adicción a Internet (y de este modo la adicción al porno de Internet) en la sección de adicciones del comportamiento del DSM-V. El DSM-V está siendo demasiado conservador. En parte, esto parece deberse a una falta de voluntad por categorizar cualquier comportamiento sexual como una adicción. Esto puede sonar a política, como ya digo en el artículo Porn and DSM-5: Are Sexual Politics At Play?

            En general, estamos de acuerdo con los National Institutes of Mental Health: los científicos necesitan considerar la psicología de la adicción y del condicionamiento sexual antes que adherirse a la visión del DSM. Lee el artículo sobre el anuncio del NIMH acerca de los fallos del DSM: http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/national-institute-mental-health-nimh-dsm-flawed-and-outdated


A.L.: Participará en la revista que van a sacar sobre porn studies?

G.W.: No soy un académico y es muy improbable que el comité de esa revista esté interesado en algo de lo que tengo que decir. Mírate mi artículo: Drumroll: An Academic Journal For Porn Fans.


A.L.: ¿Va a publicar un libro de todo esto?

G.W.: No. El fenómeno del porno en Internet y sus efectos en el cerebro de los usuarios va demasiado rápido como para codificarlo en un libro. Todo lo que puedo hacer es actualizar las cosas en mi web. No sólo está cambiando rápidamente la tecnología de transmisión del porno; también lo hace la nueva ciencia del cerebro y del condicionamiento sexual.

            Además, quienes necesitan esta información no necesitan leer libros. Buscan las respuestas en Internet.


A.L.: ¿Con qué nos quedamos como conclusión?

G.W.: Lo que suelen ignorar los expertos en porno mainstream es:

1. Las revelaciones de la neurociencia en el cerebro adolescente y sus vulnerabilidades.

2. Las revelaciones de la neurociencia en el condicionamiento sexual (la adicción interrumpe ciertos mecanismos cerebrales).

            Ésta es la información que los jóvenes usuarios del porno (y sus tutores) necesitan comprender cuanto antes. Mira el vídeo de Internet: Adolescent Brain Meets Highspeed Internet Porn.

1 de julio de 2013

Andrés Lomeña

More items in Spanish:

Spanish Translation of YBOP Presentation

¡¡¡Fap, fap, fap!!!

Pornografia online pode se converter em vício e destruir vida afetiva e social

Exploring The Impact of Internet Pornography on The Brain with Gary Wilson (Shrink Rap Radio)

Shrink Rap Radio logoDavid Van Nuys, Ph.D. interviews Gary about internet porn, its effects on adolescents, neuroplasticity, "Don Jon" and more.

Visit "Shrink Rap Radio" for more programs.

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment"

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Transcript of The Great Porn Experiment - TEDx Glasgow

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:

  • First, they tell your brain that you’ve hit the evolutionary jackpot.
  • Second, (very important) they trigger a molecular switch called…

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.

  1. First a numbed pleasure response kicks in - so everyday pleasures leave our porn addict dissatisfied (desensitization).
  2. At the same time, other physical changes make him hyper-reactive to porn (sensitization). Everything else in his life seems boring, but porn really fires up his reward circuit.
  3. Finally, his willpower erodes – as the CEO of his brain, the frontal cortex, becomes inhibited.

 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:

  1. First, Foresta is describing a classic addiction process: gradual desensitization of the reward circuit.
  2. Second, Internet porn is qualitatively different from playboy. Widespread, youthful ED has never been seen before.
  3. Finally, ED is often the only symptom that gets these guys’ attention. The question is, "What less obvious symptoms are they missing?" Most don’t figure that out until after they quit.

--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.


Generation XXX: What will happen to kids raised on porn? (Canada)

xxxIt's been termed a social experiment — a whole generation growing up with free and easy access to online pornography. Those behind a symposium at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Monday morning call it an abject failure.

Beyond Borders is presenting Generation XXX: The Pornification of our Children along with its media awards and Rosalind Prober hopes the conversation shocks people into action.

"It's really a call to alarm for the public," Prober, co-founder of the children's rights advocate, said. "Enough is enough. We have to address it."

A recent study suggested that 90% of children between the ages of eight and 16 have viewed porn online, many while doing homework. It put the average age of a child's first access to porn at 11. Some are seeking it out, while others may come across it accidentally, but the fact is it's everywhere.

"It's more accessible than it's ever been, it's free, it's anonymous and it's right there in their pocket if they have a smartphone," said Gabe Deem, a 26-year-old recovered porn addict from Texas who'll speak at the symposium.

And we're not talking about finding your father's Playboy, either. What used to be termed softcore porn has gone mainstream in movies, television, music and video games. Porn stars are now celebrities and celebrities occasionally make porn. Terms like MILF and money shot are well-known and widely used.

Today's porn is invariably hardcore, simulating any number of illegal activities while amping up the violence and degradation.

"Part of the problem is we can't show it. If we could show what kids are seeing people would be alarmed," Probed noted.

The greatest risk to youth would be through an online predator who lowers their target's inhibitions through porn before attempting to make contact. "Sexting" between youth, especially sharing pictures beyond the original partners, could also be interpreted as child pornography.

But also concerning is what the continual consumption of online porn is doing to growing minds and interpersonal relationships at a time where social media use often trumps personal contact and many kids are first learning about sex through pornography. Self-image is at risk when teens feel they have to compete with what's onscreen, in both personal appearance and sexual experience.

"Porn is clearly influencing boys' and girls' expectations of what they need to do and what they need to look like," Deem said. "Porn is morphing teens' tastes."

Cordelia Anderson, a speaker coming from Minneapolis who has nearly 38 years of experience advocating for healthy sexual development, said today's "exploitative material" presents "all kinds of barriers to individual, relational and collective health."

"The message to girls is that the way to show they're liberated is to just take it. Whether someone feels any pleasure is irrelevant in a pornified context," she said, noting porn also creates a "dominant narrative" that's unhealthy for males.

"We don't see any kind of caring, we don't see intimate conversations, there's no sense of relationships. It's almost always women being a set of orifices for men to penetrate or a group of men to penetrate," Anderson said.

"This isn't helping our sexuality; this is hijacking our sexuality."

What to do about it is less clear. Anderson suggests more comprehensive sex education as well as more positive images to counter the violent and degrading ones. Filters can be helpful, but kids and the industry tend to find their way around them should they wish. Prober suggests an opt-in system like has been proposed in Britain, which has opponents crying censorship.

Regardless, Prober said it's time for the public to pressure the industry and government to help protect our children, and also time you spoke frankly and directly with your kids about it.

"Should parents today be talking to their children about pornography? Absolutely. There's no reason not to. It's there, they're seeing it, and it's not nice."

Like an 'unlimited supply' of drugs in teenagers' hands

Gabe Deem's penis had hit rock bottom.

Raised on a steady and increasingly shocking diet of online porn, the now-26-year-old from Irvine, Texas, found himself unable to perform despite an opportunity with a woman he found quite attractive.

After eliminating many of the possible reasons why he couldn't achieve erection, Deem was left to conclude he suffered from severe porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

"My body felt like it was in an alien experience," was how Deem described it.

He swore off porn, but needed nine months to return to normal sexual function. Along with sharing his story as a public speaker, Deem now counsels youth and operates Reboot Nation, an online community which helps users overcome problems related to porn use.

Deem began masturbating to magazines at eight, moved on to softcore porn by 10 and was 12 when high-speed Internet hit the scene, providing an "unlimited supply" of material.

All that experience trained his brain to prefer the solo experience over an actual human partner to the point where he could only achieve erection by viewing porn.

"Internet porn has a never-ending novelty which keeps the dopamine soaring in the brain, which is where you're looking at brain changes," Deem said.

Deem said recent studies have shown porn users' brains lit up in a similar fashion to drug users when they're watching. For him, the side effects were comparable — a loss of motivation, an inability to concentrate and a declining interest in healthy sexual relationships.

"The good news is when you unhook from porn, some of those acquired tastes reverse themselves," Deem said.

He now works to educate youth on the potential risks involved with his former modus operandi.

"Internet porn is really screwing with a whole generation of younger users who aren't aware of its negative effects."


Original article

Gnostic Media Interviews Gary Wilson

How Internet Porn Can Damage Your Inner Game and Sexuality with Gary Wilson (DatingSkillsReview.com)

Visit DatingSkillsReview.com

Note: While Gary discusses the implication of a lot of academic research on addition and sexual arousal, he is a science teacher, not an academic researcher.

How Porn May Be Changing Your Brain

TruthDigRecent headlines have (falsely) predicted that porn shoots may be shut down in light of HIV scandals. What’s not being mentioned is the addiction that is becoming more widespread within our society. With easy access to unlimited Internet pornography, watching it can turn into a very destructive addiction, especially for young people.

According to psychotherapist Matt Bulkley, founder of the Youth Pornography Addiction Center, young viewers are much more likely than older ones to suffer long term physiological and psychological damage. Although it can have negative effects on all ages, they tend to be especially prevalent among teens. The reason for this is that their brains haven’t fully developed yet and they don’t understand the intimacy and euphoria of sex in a personal way. In its place is the modern day fantasy of Internet porn, a fantasy that when exposed long enough can require more time and needs to become more and more extreme to keep its sense of thrill.

Although for most, watching porn isn’t some destructive force that instantly becomes a downward spiral for addiction, it is still an issue that should be taken seriously and looked at with precaution. Pornography viewership is not just used as a way of pleasure or leisurely activity; it’s beginning to function as other addictions on a widespread level. It creates the same pleasure-reward response by releasing large amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain that would occur from a drug addiction. The reason why this can be especially powerful among teens, The Fix quotes Psychology Today contributor Gary Wilson as saying, is that:

“Teen brains are the most sensitive to dopamine at around age 15 and react up to four times more strongly to images perceived as exciting. On top of the increased thrill-seeking, teens have a higher capacity to log long hours in front of a computer screen without experiencing burnout. Additionally, teens act based on emotional impulses rather than logical planning. These traits combined make the adolescent brain especially vulnerable to addiction.  Pornography addiction during adolescence is particularly troubling because of the way neuron pathways in the brain form during this period. The circuitry in the brain undergoes an explosion of growth followed by a rapid pruning of neuron pathways between ages 10 and 13. Wilson describes this as the “use it or lose it” period of a teen’s development.”

Porn is different now from any other time in history. Simple images and videos start to become banal and in its place is an unlimited, fetishized, new disturbed reality. The power is that much more influential and for many this addiction becomes an endless urge that can never be satiated. According to psychotherapist Alexandra Katehakis, founder of the Center for Healthy Sex, “Now, Internet pornography is so powerful that it is literally rewiring brains.” Read more on the effects of pornography addiction here and visit here if you want to know some current methods for youth porn addiction treatment.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman


How porn can shatter your mental performance with Gary Wilson (Upgraded Ape)

Upgraded Ape logoWant to have more motivation, eliminate brain fog and improve cognitive performance? Then you need to learn about how porn affects your brain.

Listen now

Hyper-Sexualization: Why Our Culture Is Sex-Obsessed and Why We Need To Chill Out

model before and afterSex is a good thing.  I want to stress that before I even begin this article. I honestly believe that in the proper context and when used in moderation sex is both healthy and extremely enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with sex in and of itself.

If it weren’t for sex neither you nor I would be here at this moment, so don’t confuse this article as being anti-sex.

The problem is that I believe our culture is hypersexualized to the point where it’s having overtly negative effects on our society.  Sex sells and it is used to sell everything from hamburgers and automobiles, to weight loss pills and hollywood blockbuster movies.  It’s so prevalent that a lot of us have seemingly become numb to it and just let it flow freely into our minds. This is a bad thing for several reasons, but let’s start with the most obvious perpetrator.

Pornography is widely and massively consumed nearly everywhere that there is an internet connection. Everyone wants sexual arousal and pleasure, and with the creation of internet porn you can get that pleasure whenever you want, wherever you want, and at virtually no cost to you. With the creation of the smart phone pornography is even more mobile than ever before.

The thing about pornography is that human beings are not designed to be able to get gratification that frequently or regularly.  Just like how the recent abundant access to fatty and sugary foods (which used to be rare and hard to come by) has lead to an overconsumption and various health problem, so too has the very recent abundant access to pornography.

Here’s a lecture on exactly why this is a problem:

Pornography not only demands constant re-gratification, it also leads to fetishizing and more “extreme” versions of porn in order to continually get that fix. Similar to a gateway drug, the next hit needs to be a little better or more intense than the last one.  Upon regular exposure to pornography regular sex can become vanilla and so must be perverted or spiced up in some way in order to  get any pleasure from it. While clearly this is not true of everyone, in the more extreme cases a lot of sex offenders can trace their misconduct back to either some form of sexual abuse done to them or to excessive and early exposure to sexual material.

Walking away from pornography for a moment, let’s talk about the sexualization we see in advertisements, magazines, and in TV all the time. READ MORE

Inside NoFap, The Reddit Community For People Who Want To Be 'Masters Of Their Domain'

Inside NoFapEvery day, a group of men and women around the world digitally congregate at a Reddit board called NoFap to specifically discuss not masturbating. Yes, just like the famous Seinfeld episode, "The Contest" – Jerry and the gang bet $100 to see who can remain "master of their domain" the longest. It's a community called NoFap, and it has its own theories, ideology, and mutual support.

"Fap" is a bit of Internet vernacular for the act of self-love. It first appeared in a 1999 web comic called Sexy Losers to denote the sound of a character pleasuring himself. On UrbanDictionary, it's the "onomatopoeic representation of masturbation." So "NoFap" is exactly what it sounds like.

There are currently more than 81,000 members of this community. They call themselves "fapstronauts," and attribute a number of major life changes to the practice, such as increased confidence, concentration, motivation, libido, and even penis size. For some it's a means of addressing concerns with their porn consumption, while others see it as a means to healthier relationships.

Still others engage in it as nothing more than a heavy-duty test in self-control.

How it started

"I've been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. Asking a girl to prom, starting and holding conversations with strangers, being able to achieve when most people just throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity." -cjclear789

A June 2011 post on Reddit linked to a study from the National Institute of Health. The takeaway from that study is a simple one: when men don’t masturbate for seven days, their testosterone levels increase by 45.7%. This inspired a weeklong challenge among Redditors, one of whom eventually posited that "fapstinence" could be a powerful motivational tool.

Things snowballed from there. The official NoFap subreddit was established and a standalone site appeared a year later at NoFap.org. Users now had a place to gather and discuss their various approaches to systematically not masturbating, as well as document any changes that they credit to NoFap.

nofap age breakdownStraw Poll

A recent age breakdown of fapstronauts (click to enlarge).

Who is NoFap for?

There are as many stories about becoming a fapstronaut as there are community members themselves. It's quite literally for anyone who wants to give it a try.

"For porn addicts, it is about recovery," NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes told us. He's a 24-year-old web developer in Pittsburgh, Penn. "Some fapstronauts are here to improve their interpersonal relationships, whether it be for a marriage, a relationship, or single life. For others, it is simply a challenge of willpower – to seize control of your sexuality and turn it into superpowers. There are many, many different reasons to join but we’re all on NoFap with one goal – to help each other abstain from PMO (porn/masturbation/orgasm)."

It's not a gender-specific idea, either. NoFap women are called "femstronauts."

Here's Rhodes again:

"Women are absolutely welcome, although the vast majority of us are guys, mostly in our 20s. I’d estimate that the NoFap community consists of 5% females, and although NoFap hosts hundreds of femstronauts, there is still a lot to learn about their experiences with the NoFap challenge. Pornography clearly is not a male-only problem [...] It seems like many of them are experiencing nearly identical problems that the men on NoFap report."

Although NoFap crosses gender lines, it may not be the difference-maker you need. As with any attempt at life improvement – working out, learning a new skill, whatever else – this isn't some magic bullet for changing your mood or outlook. Rhodes explained that "for some people, abstaining from porn and masturbation is absolutely life-changing. For others, it results in absolutely nothing. 'Your mileage may vary' is a term which we use constantly."

There are a few hundred female NoFap members as well.

The theory of NoFap

"I feel completely different. I just like myself better. I feel happier, more confident. I know that [it] doesn't magically make one happy and confident; it's the changing of one's mindset that does that." -indy175

A NoFap challenge consists of setting an intention to abstain for a certain amount of time, then riding it out. Participants report diverse and overwhelmingly positive results from their efforts, like increased confidence, reduced anxiety, improved focus, and even seemingly being more attractive to females (you're inherently confident at having conquered something big and women like confidence).

Rhodes chalks these radical changes up to a concept in biology called inclusive fitness. It deals with the number of offspring an organism has and their ability to take care of new offspring as they arrive.

"While [regularly having sex] in a mated pair, a males' testosterone levels decrease, which causes morphological changes that adapts them to be better fathers," Rhodes suggests. "When they are not regularly partaking in sexual activity, the testosterone levels rise, causing them to be more aggressive and better adapted for 'single life.'"

The hypothesis is that masturbation tricks your body into thinking it's reproducing. And if your body thinks it's "reproducing" a lot, it's not going to feel terribly compelled to stay sexually competitive.

How not to do it

A lot of NoFap advice is about how to reconquer your domain when you feel the borders slipping, so to speak. Here's what Rhodes says to do if you get "the urge" and want to fight it:

Get away from the computer and do something else that isn't what you shouldn't be doing. Is it your ultimate life goal to abstain from pornography or masturbation? Of course not! Pursue what you’re actually passionate about. If you fill up your schedule with cool things that matter to you, abstaining from PMO will be a lot easier.

Raise your awareness. Giving in to urges is always a conscious rationalization. Learn to recognize whenever this process is occurring. Whenever you are craving to dive back into porn, your mind is simply trying to justify a non-logical emotional decision that it has already made. Simply recognizing this may be enough to beat the urge.

If you're contemplating taking the plunge, Rhodes advises patience. He says participants should completely buy into the process ahead of time. NoFap challenges are "a marathon, not a sprint":

If you do not have a good reason for why you are doing this, you are probably not going to last ... You have to ask yourself before you start: Why do you want to do this? What are your goals? What type of person do you want to be? Usually the answers to these types of questions revolve around a central concept – something I like to call your "higher purpose." This higher purpose varies for all fapstronauts. Maybe you want to do this for someone you love, to combat loneliness, and a multitude of other reasons - but most importantly for self-improvement.

What Internet porn does to your brain

Fapstronauts will frequently cite YourBrainOnPorn, an Internet resource that catalogs research on the relationship between porn and the human brain. It puts forth the idea that porn is a long-term problem that can rewire your brain, and that porn is far more harmful than one would think.

Perhaps the most tangible effect of overconsumption of porn (for men) is porn-induced erectile dysfunction, PIED. It's not an officially established medical condition but early research suggests there's some evidence for the idea that it is possible to overstimulate yourself with porn to the point that your plumbing starts working (or not working) differently.

That's a more extreme example and certainly doesn't affect everyone, yet Rhodes acknowledges that porn may serve a concrete purpose for some. In our conversation, he likened it to cigarettes – "generally harmful to health and society," but "not the worst thing in the world for some people."

"I do have trouble thinking of positive things about pornography [but] I am not calling for porn to be banned or regulated," said Rhodes. "I think people should be educated about the negative effects it can have on some people. The only thing I am currently actively advocating is education."

The sense of community and encouragement is strong.

Brothers who understand the struggle

"[It's] more than just a fad, challenge or community to me. [It's] a lifestyle. It's like being reborn after years of death." -effancy

Instead of swimming through a sea of jokes, an outsider browsing the NoFap subreddit will notice that fapstronauts are pretty much entirely positive and constructive in their attitudes toward each other. New initiates are welcomed warmly. Men are "brothers" who "understand the struggle." The minority community of women seek each other out and offer male members points of view from the other half of humanity.

Fapstronauts are there to congratulate each other when they get phone numbers from three girls in a day just as they're there to talk through their frustrations.

Rounding it up

People struggle with all kinds of demons – drugs, alcohol, family, emotions. For some, masturbation could be a problem on the same level. While some may not understand it as a "problem," looking at it like that misses the point anyway. There is no specific downside to fapstinence, and those who sincerely commit to NoFap frequently go on to describe interpersonal improvement on some level.

One user, "borninthenorthwest," described how it altered his life and attitudes:

My relationship with porn began at the age of 13 with nude Playboy photos of Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy. This was in the days of dial-up Internet, and I was initiated by my childhood best friend at the time. Although this did not seem pornographic, relative to what my peers were beginning to look at, I now see that this was the beginning. It began a cycle where every woman I met was judged by these photogenic standards, and felt no real attraction towards most girls in high school, despite being popular and well-liked for my prowess on the guitar. Enter college...

Going to a music school where I once again was a star, it became easy to retreat into the thing that brought me recognition (the guitar). But as I began to retreat, I continued to fill a sexual void with airbrushed photos of playmates and celebrities, which had now become a major weakness. Not so much pornography, but the cultural objectification of beauty ...

The man found himself unable to relate — or even be interested in — real-life women. "None of the girls I met in college could compare to the standards in my own mind. What few girls I was attracted to, I felt incapable of asking out for a date, and often would simply fantasize about them instead. In my imagination, there were no problems."

He was probably addicted to porn, he admits: "After college things took a turn for the worse when I graduated to more graphic forms of entertainment. By 31 I found NoFap."

It helped him get back to reality, he says:

Since then my relationship with both pornography and far more innocent triggers is vastly different. I no longer use porn at all, and no longer place the celebrity notion of beauty on the pedestal either, and am interested in real life and real people, slowly but surely engaging in reality.

It might be that NoFap represents such a dramatic lifestyle change for its participants that it forces them to develop new and better habits that would otherwise be lost to the time required for that other hobby. But let's not forget that all-impotant NoFap soundbite: Your mileage may vary.

Internet porn: an entirely new child's game (Sydney Morning Herald)

guy at computer"What attracts you physically in a man?" Someone asked me recently. Naturally I replied that the sexiest thing about a man is what's inside his head. Naturally I didn't hear from him again. (This was almost certainly a blessing.)

But it's amazing how determinedly we pretend that sex is a body thing – a sport, really, with all the competition and expectation so implied – when in fact it's almost entirely mental. This is especially interesting now, since it seems our mental sex-tools are morphing, generationally, in a way that could yet wreak Gaia's revenge on humanity.

I'm no expert. Indeed, I regard the very idea of a sex expert as faintly repulsive and itself symptomatic of just how deeply we undermine our own best interests.

Further, to be female and say anything publicly about sex, other than "more, harder, longer," is to invite the wrath and ridicule of the trollosphere; to be labelled wuss, wimp and wowser. So I'd not be sticking my head above this particular parapet if there weren't plenty of experts saying it too: internet porn is rewiring children's brains away from sex and, more importantly, away from love.

A young man seeking professional help for erectile dysfunction is still likely, these days, to be given Viagra and told to masturbate with pornography, as though a few minutes in a dark room with a colourised postcard should revive the taste for a peachy bottom. But such remedies are hopelessly, 180-degrees antiquated.  

Quite likely porn – internet porn - is the problem, not the solution. It likely originates a decade back, in childhood, and is likely a dysfunction not of the penis, but of the brain. Putting such a boy in front of porn is like giving your drug-addled kid heroin.

We're so messed up about children and sex. On the surface, an adult can barely photograph a child without suspicion of paedophilia and if children's literature even mentions flirting or nudity it will face school-and-parent lockout.

Yet in the real world every bus ad and TV soap is awash with meaningless sex and many children, especially boys, are hardcore internet porn regulars by third grade. 

Studies report that around 90 per cent of children between eight and 16 have watched porn online, and about half do it regularly. Parents and schools  worry about party drugs but the fact that boys aged 12 to 17 are the largest consumer group for this multibillion-dollar industry suggests that porn – or the dopamine it generates in the brain – is the modern child's drug of choice.

Of course, all children are curious about sex. That's given. What's new is the lethal mix of access and screen-based dissociation. From the age when previous generations began looking up dirty words in the dictionary – hoping for "bum" but having to settle for "bottom" or "buttock" - or examining each other's genitals, current children have ready access to an infinite supply and variety of what Erica Jong called the "zipless f---".

Internet porn is doubly dissociative. There's the screen-distancing effect, then there's the emotionlessness – misogyny, brutality and outright violence – of the content.

These factors – supply, variety, anonymity, disengagement – make internet porn an entirely new game; what educator Gary Wilson calls "one of the fastest moving and most global experiments ever unconsciously conducted".

The brain is key. The male brain is evolutionarily wired to spread seed, perceiving new female flesh as genetic opportunity. So, says Wilson, it's not nudity but novelty that gets arousal skyrocketing. This is the Coolidge Effect, and it occurs in most species and for obvious evolutionary reasons. But, like calorie craving, it is now having anti-evolutionary consequences.

Where the ram in the field, or the man on the Clapham omnibus, will eventually find his desire for novelty limited by opportunity, exhaustion or (last resort) decency, the screen-front 10-year-old can find fresh pastures as long as he can keep clicking. Wilson quotes one young man asking, "are we the first generation to masturbate left-handed?"

In The Demise of Guys, Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan note that many conditions for which boys and young men are routinely medicated - ADHD, OCD, social anxiety, performance anxiety, depression – mimic arousal addiction. If your kid's on Ritalin, check his internet habits.

The brain's pleasure centre floods with dopamine. Next day it wants more, and more. Over time, three things happen. One, habituation requires ever-greater doses for the same pleasure; more, weirder, nastier. Two, the pleasure becomes strongly associated not with talk, flirtation and courtship but with solitude, gloom, voyeurism, screens and emotional disengagement. Three, the neural pathways re-shape accordingly.

It's an addiction known as "porn brain". Young males are made morose not just by erectile failure but by failure of desire: inability to want real girls, real smiles, real touch. Normalise this across a generation and you're not only changing social patterns, you're effecting serious population control.

Brains do recover. It takes months or years of cold turkey. No porn, period. Older men recover more quickly, because their porn exposure has been less online, and less during childhood. Young males are the worst affected.

I've never been much bothered by porn. What I've seen was ugly and stupid, arousing (in a superficial sugar-hit kind of way) but icky. So I've tended to a consenting adult's tolerance.

It's now clear that won't cut it. Neither will Viagra, since the problem is well above the belt. Scientists – and for some bizarre reasons we've made sex the province of scientists, not poets – insist that, even in the brain, sex is still physical; electrical impulses, feedback loops and neurotransmitters.

I suspect not. But in the end the metaphysics matter less than our courage to deal truly with our children. We steer them from other cheap thrills – trans-fat donuts and crack cocaine – but with porn there's that boys-will-be-boys shrug. 

Yet, if porn brain persists, boys will not be boys at all. They'll be ghosts, never glimpsing the truth that few things are as erotic as love.


Original article

Interview on "The Art of Charm"

Jordan Harbinger, host of The Art of Charm website, interviews Gary.

Interview with Rabbi - Aliya Institute

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.

Listen to internet radio with youthtalk on Blog Talk Radio



Is Iceland right to ban online pornography? Truthloader LIVE (Debate)

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.

Is Internet porn ruining your sex life? (CBC Toronto/Ottawa)

CBC logoCBCRadio program asks "How has porn affected your relationship?" Good range of callers and excellent therapist guest. (51 minutes)

Listen to show

Is Watching Porn Bad for You? TheNewMan Podcast interviews Gary

porn problem
Is there such as thing as too much porn? Could watching porn alter your brain chemistry and screw up your life? And why are so many younger men struggling with erectile dysfunction? Gary Wilson runs the website YourBrainOnPorn.com and is here to discuss the facts about pornography, how it affects your brain and mojo, and what to do if you’re addicted to porn. Podcast: Download

In this interview:

  • How much is too much porn?
  • Is porn bad for your brain?
  • Why younger guys are struggling with erectile dysfunction
  • Why older guys recover faster
  • Why men are no longer attracted to “real” women


  • The difference between high speed internet porn and your dad’s Playboy
  • What porn addicts and meth addicts have in common
  • The brain chemicals and porn addiction
  • Why it’s not about the orgasm
  • How to have real excitement with real sexual partners
  • How to gain more confidence, clarity, and motivation

See Gary’s TEDX talk “The Great Porn Experiment” 

Is porn desensitizing men to violence against women? (The Star, Canada)

By: Mark Mann special to the star, Published on Sat Nov 01 2014

Why do men get off on seeing women get hurt?

Restlessly pacing the halls of online pornography, sooner or later you see things you wish you hadn’t. You open a door and stumble on a scene of violent intensity in which someone is hurt, degraded and viciously insulted.

You hurry on, but the next room is the same, and the one after that. Instead of an escape, the seductive world of porn starts to feel like a prison run by gangs of angry men for whom the best sex is also the harshest and most punishing.

The brutal side of porn used to reside in the backrooms of porn shops; now it takes pride of place on the front pages of the most popular free sites.

The acts that have been named in the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi — striking, choking, abusive language — are common features of the most ubiquitous porn online. One study found that 90 per cent of scenes on top-rated porn sites contained acts of aggression.

Given the rates of porn consumption (as much as 30 per cent of all bandwidth, or one third of the Internet), it’s safe to say that many people are witness to the kind of behaviour that Ghomeshi is accused of.

U.S.-based sociologist and anti-porn activist Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, tracks the increased violence in porn, whereby scenes of outright abuse and assault are celebrated by a growing number of compulsive users.

Dines studies the ways that porn eroticizes violence and asks the basic question, “Why do men get off on watching women get hurt?”

The term that’s often given to extreme hard-core porn is “gonzo,” and the quickest way to understand the mentality that drives gonzo porn is to visit the message boards where viewers discuss their favourite scenes, such as the forums on Adultdvdtalk.com. To read these comments out of context will make your heart beat faster; they are so hateful, it’s disorienting.

While the porn consumers who comment on message boards are a minority, according to Dines they accurately reflect the essential concern of gonzo, which is to push women up to and beyond their limits of tolerance for pain and discomfort. Viewers want to see the moment when the performer is completely overwhelmed.

Dines, who has been interviewed several times by Ghomeshi on Q (“He was incredibly on my side — it was amazing,” she says, expressing her shock at the allegations), contends that gonzo contributes to addictive porn consumption. “There’s something about that toxic mix of violence and sex that leads to a greater level of habituation,” she says.

The porn industry’s responsiveness to its best customers may help to explain the rise of violent porn, but whatever the cause, few dispute the trend exists, even within the porn business itself. Mike South, a pornographer in Atlanta, Ga., who helped spearhead the first wave of gonzo porn in the ’90s (back when the term referred to personality-driven porn rather than violent porn), is very critical of much of the content now being produced.

South claims the kind of porn that is common today — what he calls “train wrecks,” when the performer passes out, vomits, or otherwise falls apart on camera — would have landed pornographers in jail even as recently as the ’90s. But as the industry grew, the obscenity guidelines receded. Part of the problem, he says, is lack of education about the risks of certain practices.

For example, South describes a time when choking women to the point of unconsciousness became a popular fad. “They thought it was breath play,” he says. “They didn’t realize that when the guy cuts off blood flow to the brain, he’s essentially creating what is very much akin to a stroke. It’s a stupid practice!”

South says he raised hell about it until eventually reviewers started agreeing with him and producers backed off.

South misses the days “when porn was fun” and porn movies still told stories. “Now with gonzo porn, even at its most basic, you’re just watching two nameless people having sex on screen,” he says. “There’s no sense of identity; there’s no sense that they’re even real people.”

According to Dines, even though gonzo porn stopped telling stories, porn itself still tells a story: some women are whores by nature, always ready for sex and eager to do whatever men want, no matter how painful or degrading. They prefer to be treated with contempt, and they have no sexual imagination of their own.

The story porn tells about men is even simpler, as she writes in Pornland: “Men in porn are depicted as soulless, unfeeling, amoral life-support systems for erect penises who are entitled to use women in any way they want.”

Despite how horrifying it sounds, there’s no denying people are drawn to violent porn, and they keep coming back. One possible explanation for the popularity of gonzo comes from the addiction model of porn consumption.

At its most basic level, it suggests porn images give viewers a brief dopamine rush. But just as occurs with substance abuse, the compulsive porn user slowly becomes desensitized and needs a stronger dose to get the same high. That means finding more stimulating material. For some desensitized users, violence provides the extra excitement.

While this theory has been popularized by such sites as YourBrainOnPorn.com, many people take issue with the addiction mode and the narrative it provides. Toronto-based sex and addiction therapist Beth Mares points out that this theory doesn’t take into account the whole picture. “Whatever may be going on in the brain, it doesn’t mean that anybody who uses pornography is going to become addicted by those means,” she says. “People tend to get into obsessions, such as sex or pornography addictions, when they can’t cope with their world.”

Even though Mares and many others are wary of describing addiction in those neurological terms, largely because the research is so new and so limited, she has observed that compulsive porn users often feel a sense of frustration that leads them to search for novelty. When porn ceases to excite, obsessive porn users will look for something more extreme that might excite them more. “But then it loses its impact,” she says. “There’s only so far you can go.”

In this, Dines believes, the porn industry has sowed the seeds of its own destruction. “It’s become so hard-core so quickly that you now have an increased consumer base who are desensitized and bored. They’re always on the lookout for something new: something more extreme, something more bizarre. But there are limits to what you can do. You can’t actually kill her. There’s not much left to do to her apart from kill her, to be honest with you.”

According to Dines, that sense of boredom can also lead to child porn. “One of the things they’re finding is that a lot of the men who are bored and desensitized are turning to children,” says Dines. She clarifies that these men don’t fit any of the standard descriptions of pedophiles, and that they attribute their own shift in behaviour to porn.

Dines interviewed several men who’d been imprisoned for raping children. She asked them why they turned to children later in life, and they all said the same thing: “I was bored. I wanted something different.”

Though both Mares and Dines describe how porn creates a need for extreme stimulation, Mares feels that anti-porn activists exaggerate porn’s impact. “There’s a lot of unsubstantiated talk about pornography leading people to act it out,” she says. Inflating porn’s influence on behaviour can lead to censorship, which Mares believes is detrimental for a democratic society. “You don’t need to regulate what people watch,” she says. “You can have health regulations in an industry.”

Alarmism also threatens the BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) community and those who enjoy consensual kink. Though BDSM practitioners engage in stylized forms of violence and explore the interaction of pain and pleasure, Calgary-based dominatrix Lady Seraphina is adamant that there’s no violence whatsoever in BDSM. “When we talk about consensual kink, there’s pleasure for both partners,” she says. “And where there’s pleasure for both partners, it’s not violent.”

Lady Seraphina asserts a clear distinction between porn and practice: pornography doesn’t initiate, inflate or inflame a person’s interest in BDSM, she says. “There’s no indication that porn and BDSM have anything to do with each other.” Just as people can watch action movies without shooting up a crowd, they can watch violent porn fantasies without acting them out.

Toronto-based sexologist and TV personality Jessica O’Reilly agrees most people can distinguish between fantasy and reality, though she acknowledges that porn-based expectations can sometimes play out in people’s relationships.

O’Reilly, who has a PhD in human sexuality, cites Cindy Gallop’s site Makelovenotporn.com, which was created to counter the unpleasant and demeaning demands that men sometimes acquire from their porn-watching. “I think porn offers very limited, inaccurate representations of bodies and sex acts,” says O’reilly. “It can reframe our erotic scripts to include a more narrow range of acts and bodies.”

O’Reilly is adamantly pro-porn, however, and challenges the idea that the industry is focusing on gonzo. “What I see is a broadening of the porn genres to include feminist and amateur porn,” she says. “Seeing people engaged in sexually explicit activities is really important. I can’t think of any other physical activity in our lives that we practise without observing first. You don’t play football without watching a game.”

For Dines, the real problem isn’t porn’s impact on behaviour but people’s ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. “We’re not born fully formed human beings with all our tastes set,” she says. “We are cultural beings who wander through our society and our culture picking up cues and norms and values, and those shape who we are.” Dines asserts that if porn doesn’t affect people, then everything we know about human behaviour is wrong.

She continues: “If sexuality is constructed via the culture, then arguing that porn has no effect is like saying that advertising has no effect. We accept that the food industry shapes how people eat, and the clothing industry shapes how people dress. Why would the sex industry be any different?”

But no matter how well porn users can defend themselves against porn’s false messaging, everyone agrees children are the least likely to be adept at making the distinction between what’s real and what’s not. Few will celebrate the fact that porn has become the primary source of sex education for generations raised on the Internet, who often encounter porn — and presumably gonzo porn — by the age of 11 or 12.

No one is more pro-porn than Atlanta pornographer South, and even he states the matter very candidly: “There’s just something about the plethora of violent porn that is disturbing to me, particularly when you consider its ready availability to people who are under the age of 18.”

If children are watching hard-core porn, they are likely watching it on a site owned by the world’s largest porn provider, a company called MindGeek. As was reported in a recent article by David Auerbach in Slate, MindGeek operates more than 100 sites with a total bandwidth that exceeds Twitter, Amazon or Facebook.

The company, which was founded by Canadians Stephane Manos and Ouissam Youssef in 2007 and now has offices in Montreal as well as all over the world, owns many of the popular “tube” sites, such as Pornhub, YouPorn and RedTube. These sites are very easy to access: they’re free, they rank high in Google searches and they offer an endless stream of new content.

South believes that if companies like MindGeek were forced to put up an age-verification firewall (essentially, requiring a credit card number), as gambling sites have had to do, they would fail.

He doesn’t want to see the porn industry fail, of course. He just wants to see it take responsibility for itself, and to leave behind the violence for a more sex-positive approach.

But for Dines, the two sides are irreconcilable. “My argument is that I’m pro-sex, and that’s why I’m anti-porn,” she says. “You can’t be pro-porn and pro-sex at the same time. You have to pick one.”

Mark Mann is a freelance writer based in Toronto. His essays and feature stories have appeared in Report on Business, Reader's Digest, The Walrus, Maisonneuve and others. He also reviews the arts for various online publications.

Original article

Is pornography changing how teens view sex? The Toronto Star (2013)

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.

By: News reporter, Published on Mon Apr 22 2013

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.”



Lindsay McKinnon Interviews Gary and Marnia

London Times feature by Gary Wilson - "A cure for porn addicts who have lost that loving feeling"

Sunday Times logoYoung men are finding that addiction to hardcore videos is harming their physical ability to have real sex. Gary Wilson explains how science and online discussion groups are helping them to quit

In 2007, something strange happened on the internet. I know, something strange is always happening on the internet. But this wasn’t a viral sensation that came and went in a few weeks. Hundreds and then thousands of people, mostly male, mostly young, started questioning the effects of online pornography. On websites for body-builders, ‘pick-up artists’, medical-advice seekers, car enthusiasts, even guitarists – wherever men gathered online – conversations turned to porn and what it was doing to them.

I first met some of these men when they showed up on a forum on sex, mating and bonding run by my wife, Marnia Robinson. They complained of delayed ejaculation, inability to climax and erectile dysfunction (but not with porn), porn fetish tastes that had morphed beyond recognition, and loss of attraction to real partners. Some were convinced they were addicted.

As an anatomy and physiology teacher, I had been keeping up with the biological discoveries about the physiological underpinnings of our appetities and how they can become unbalanced. Addiction is a controversial word. But the neuroscience is remarkably unambiguous.

Researchers will tell you that both behavioural and drug addictions involve the same brain mechanisms. Whether you take cocaine, gamble or are captivated by internet action, the chronic elevation of your dopamine (the “the go get it” neurochemical) risks bringing on a well established set of core brain changes. Hundreds of neuroscience studies on behavioural addictions – including more than seventy on internet addicts – show all the same addiction-related brain changes seen in substance addicts. (Toxic drugs cause additional effects as well).

From a neuroscience perspective, something epic occurred in 2006. Galleries of short porn clips appeared featuring the hottest few minutes of an unending supply of videos. Sexual stimulation releases the highest natural levels of dopamine, and these “tube sites” (they stream instantly like YouTube videos) could amplify and prolong arousal with surprising, shocking and anxiety-producing content, all of which release dopamine. The porn industry had perfected an addiction hazard that was far more potent than Playboy, VHS, or dial-up because users could keep dopamine elevated just by tapping a screen.

A paradoxical effect of too much dopamine is a drop in sensitivity to it, so as a user slips into addiction everyday pleasures pale. He searches even harder for something “hot”. Meanwhile his brain tightly wires itself to whatever “rewards” him with the biggest dopamine blasts. If that’s porn, eventually he may not be able to climax without constant novelty.

I shared with the visitors to my wife's forum some of the latest neuroscience findings on neuroplasticity and addiction. Armed with an account of “how the machine works” that drew on the best available neuroscience, the men on the forum realised that there was a good chance they could reverse porn-induced brain changes simply by quitting. Why wait for an expert consensus about whether internet porn was potentially harmful or not when they could eliminate it and track results?

To everyone’s astonishment, grave symptoms generally reversed themselves within months. A trickle of self-reports became a steady stream. Along the way, the men learned, and shared, critical insights about recovery – brand new discoveries that made the return to balance less harrowing for those following.

Soon, the majority of those seeking solutions for unexplained sexual dysfunctions were younger men. They set up anonymous forums to support each other. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of members in such forums worldwide. And yet the entire phenomenon has, until now, remained beneath the radar. We may pride ourselves on our open, “sex-positive” culture. But men tend to keep quiet about erectile dysfunction caused by porn use. It lacks rebel glamour.

This year, addiction neuroscientists at Cambridge and Germany’s Max Planck Institute began to study internet porn users’ brains. Not surprisingly, they found telltale addiction-related changes. Porn addicts’ brains lit up in response to porn-video clips much as cocaine addicts’ brains light up for powder.

More than half of the Cambridge addicts (average age 25) reported difficulty with erections or arousal with real partners though not with porn. And the Max Planck study found that years and hours of porn use correlated with loss of grey matter in the brain’s reward system (which runs on dopamine). Lead researcher Kühn stated that study results ‘could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system.’ Interestingly, none of the Max Planck subjects met the diagnostic criteria for addiction and yet their brains evidenced the kinds of changes seen in drug addicts.

The Cambridge researchers also found that the younger the user, the more powerfully his brain responded to porn clips. Adolescents have lower baseline dopamine, which makes day to day life seem boring. If you’re a parent of teens you’ll probably have gathered that already. But their dopamine spikes higher than adults’ in response to thrills. They naturally seek out anything that promises these exhilarating hits. This mechanism drives all young mammals to explore new territories and avoid inbreeding.

Today’s smartphone-wielding adolescent need never leave his bed to experience an endless dopamine drip in the form of novelty, sexual stimulation and risk-taking (edgy porn, cam-2-cam, sexting). He thinks he’s learning about adult sexuality, but he’s actually training for an entirely different sport: screens, isolation, constant novelty, fetish porn and watching other people have sex.

His situation is even more precarious because, by adulthood, his brain will have pruned away billions of nerve connections based on the use-it-or-lose-it principle. Real sex, when it finally occurs, may feel like an alien experience.

The effects are now showing up in some ominous statistics. Fifty-four percent of 16-21 year old Canadian males report sexual problems: low libido (24%), problems with orgasm (11%) and, most commonly, erectile dysfunction (27%).

Urology professor and President of the Italian Society of Reproductive Pathophysiology Carlo Foresta has been conducting ongoing surveys of teens. In 2013, 10.3% of his participants reported low libido. In a mere eight years, that rate had jumped 600% from 1.7%, and teen sexual dysfunctions had doubled. Foresta’s upcoming study of males 19-25 shows higher rates of erectile dysfunction and far lower sexual desire in heavy porn users compared with occasional users.

young guy watching screenOn the forums I monitor, young men need months longer to recover erectile function than men who did not grow up with streaming porn. I am not interested in telling people what to do and I don't want to start banning things. But modern pornography poses serious risks to its users. It is past time we understood them. Mindless identification of porn with sexual liberation is every bit as unhelpful as prudishness. Let’s start from what we now know about the effects of porn on the brains of those who use it and work from there.

Photo caption: Young men have found the physical changes they experience can be reversed if they give up net porn

Gary Wilson is the author of the e-book Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction.

Published: 21 September 2014

Men'sHealth News

How Porn Kills Your Sex Drive

(Cómo la pornografía puede afectar tu libido: la anorexia sexual)

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.”

Most Viewed UK TEDx Talk: "The Great Porn Experiment"

TEDx speakers' favourite TED talks of all time (The Sydney Morning Herald)

TEDx Sydney takes place on Saturday at the Sydney Opera House. We asked some of the speakers involved to nominate their favourite TED talks of all time.

Nicole Vincent, neuroethicist Favourite TED: The Art of Memory, by Daniel Kilov

I write lists to remember stuff. Yellow post-it notes, whiteboards and gadgets that go “bling” are my enhancers of choice for a memory like Swiss cheese.

Daniel Kilov’s talk has similarly profound effects on memory, but it's more portable than my whiteboard, and safer than Ritalin, Modafinil, or tDCS (look them up).

Australian memory athlete Kilov not only demonstrates one of his techniques by teaching viewers the names and order of our Solar system’s planets, but he also skillfully explains how teaching school children the art of memory would transform education. And unlike pills, gadgets, and whiteboards, Kilov's talk is free.

post Ensemble, a collaborative performance ensemble Favourite TED: Being Silly, by Sam Simmons

We like this talk firstly because of the baffled laughter as you can hear the TED audience attempt to contextualise the talk. “Is this man crazy?” they ask. “Why is he yelling at us?” “Does he have a point?” “Is he really concerned about someone’s view being obscured by a rake?” You can hear the questions in the upward inflection of their laughter.

And by the end, he’s actually got a bloody good point. We take being silly very seriously. Silly doesn’t get enough airplay, and a pair of bread shoes can do no wrong in our book.

Barry Traill, zoologist and conservation advocate Favourite TED: Underwater astonishments, by David Gallo 

I’ve loved the bush and its wildlife since I was a kid and that’s been both a great joy for me and my life’s work. Initially I tended to focus less on marine life, but more recently I’ve been doing work to conserve our seas. It’s been a revelation to me how exquisite and extraordinary marine life can be. This TED talk by David Gallo is a delightful romp showing sea creatures in love, in conflict and making a living.

Jihad Dib, school principal Favourite TED: Every Kid Needs a Champion, by Rita Pierson

In any walk of life, building relationships is the key to any successful interaction. In relation to school, the importance of high quality relationships cannot ever be underestimated. It's the relationship that forms building blocks for success in life.

Once I had seen it, I showed our staff Pieterson's talk in order to affirm to them, the great work they do in building relationships with students and the importance of being their champions on a daily basis. They saw that teachers who believe in kids and never give up on them is an internationally recognised trait of outstanding practice. In inspiring one another, educators always look to the best practice and what I love about this talk is the fact that Pieterson acknowledges that it is not always the policy but the delivery and human connection that makes the greatest difference in a school; after all, we are in the people business first and foremost.

Listening to Pieterson's talk is the shot in the arm all teachers need whenever they question the value of their work and the impact they can have on students others do not believe in. This is best highlighted through Pieterson's mother, a great teacher who understood that teaching is so much more than just standing in front of a class delivering an academic lesson. Teaching is all about valuing individuals and giving to others what you would want for your own children.

The most viewed TEDx talk of all time Tom Thum at TEDx Sydney, 2013

The most viewed Australian TEDx talk of all time Well, Tom Thum. But the biggest “talk” was Modern Warrior: Damien Mander at TEDxSydney, 2013

The most viewed UK TEDx talk From Glasgow, The Great Porn Experiment: Gary Wilson


My Year Without Porn: Some Surprising Lessons

DanSince I quit watching porn a year ago, I've become more present in the moment, more loving, and a better friend to the women in my life.

Update: Article by this man - Courage to Quit: How I’m Outgrowing Pornography and Waking Up to My True Self


I remember when I first discovered internet porn—I was 17 years old. Fascinated by this world of unleashed sexual expression and fantasy, I couldn't get enough of it. As I grew up and began exploring my own sexuality, I discovered just how different watching pixels on a screen was compared to the intimacy of making love with another human being. I thought I'd outgrow my porn habit over time. But I never did.

According to a recent study, more than 70 percent of 18- to 34-year-old men visit porn sites in a typical month.

I didn't know it then, but porn had become an addiction. And, like most addictions, I was ashamed to talk about it or even admit it was a problem.

"Everybody watches porn," I remember hearing. It seemed so pervasive and culturally accepted that having an actual conversation about it was a total non-starter. So I kept it to myself.

I thought I had my habit under control. I thought I could quit porn whenever I felt like it. I even tried to quit a few times and then rationalized my eventual return to the addiction.

I didn't realize how much watching porn had manipulated my mind, warping my sexuality, numbing my feelings, and affecting my relationships with women. And I was not alone.

According to a recent study, more than 70 percent of 18- to 34-year-old men visit porn sites in a typical month. And it's not just guys watching sex online. It is estimated that 1 in 3 porn users today are women. Now, I want to be clear that porn use extends across all gender expressions, but for the purpose of this post I am sharing my experience with porn from the perspective of a heterosexual white man with more or less traditionally masculine ways of acting and speaking.

Let me also state clearly that I don't think all porn is bad. I've seen some great videos of couples engaging in intimate and respectful sexual encounters—of course, these are usually found only on feminist porn sites or in the category on mainstream porn sites called "female friendly" (It's interesting to note what the category name "female friendly" implies about all the other categories). But I'm not here to judge anyone else for what they choose to watch. I'm simply sharing the impacts that porn has had on my life and what has changed for me since I've stopped using it.

To me, what is worrying about porn is not how many people use it, but how many people have found themselves addicted to it.

Impacts of porn

One of the best of the many studies conducted on the impacts of porn on men and women in society is a report by psychotherapist Gary R. Brooks. It documents many effects of porn, including three that strongly resonated with my experience:

It got to a point where I felt physically ill watching the videos, and yet I kept watching.

1. Violence against women. This includes an obsession with looking at women rather than interacting with them (voyeurism), an attitude in which women are viewed as objects of men's sexual desire, and the trivialization of rape and widespread acceptance of rape culture—fueled by fake depictions of women in porn videos often pretending to desire violent and abusive sexual acts. (Numerous studies have documented links between porn viewership and increased instances of sexism and violence toward women. Here is one source.)

2. Numbness and disembodiment. This can include erectile dysfunction, inability to orgasm when not watching porn, detachment from your physical body, emotional unavailability and numbness, lack of focus and patience, poor memory, and general lack of interest in reality. Furthermore, these outcomes in men have been linked to boredom with their sexual partners, higher levels of sexual promiscuity, adultery, divorce, sexism, rape, abuse, and suicide.

3. Fear of intimacy. Watching porn contributes to many men's inability to relate to women in an honest and intimate way despite a longing to feel loved and connected. This is because pornography exalts our sexual needs over our need for sensuality and intimacy; some men develop a preoccupation with sexual fantasy that can powerfully impede their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships.

Why I quit watching

I always felt like a hypocrite watching porn. Here I was, a man who is striving to be an ally to women, perpetuating the very culture of violence and misogyny that I was ostensibly trying to fight. The reality was that most of the videos I found online had titles that included words like "bitch" or "slut" and showcased controlling behaviors that were rooted in a culture of subjugation and objectification, where women are nothing more than sexual bodies to be exploited and dominated by men.

My year without porn has helped me reconnect to my body and begin to develop healthy emotional expression.

When I am deeply honest, I have to admit I was both intrigued and disgusted by these images. By that time, my mind had been trained to find aggressive, misogynistic, and even non-consensual sex arousing. I found that this response was just one of many symptoms of a larger system of patriarchal oppression affecting my life. It is difficult for me to admit, but it got to a point where I felt physically ill watching the videos, and yet I kept watching. That's when I realized I was dealing with an addiction.

What I've discovered is that there is a whole spectrum of addiction, from a feeling of compulsion on one end to an intense dependency on the other. My porn addiction seems to have been pretty mild, since I did not experience any serious withdrawal effects. For some people with more serious addictions, professional support may be needed.

Last February, after a decade of use, I decided to quit watching porn for one year, both for the challenge of seeing if I could and for the chance to see how life might be different.

Today marks my one-year anniversary of life without porn. It hasn't been easy, particularly as a single guy, but what I've learned about myself through this experience has transformed my life forever.

Life after porn

Here are some of the things I've gained during my year without porn:

1. Integrity and love. Since dropping porn, I have restored a sense of personal integrity that had been missing from my life. Regaining this integrity has allowed me to move through a lot of my shame and find myself in a new space of deepening love for myself and others. I've also noticed that I am often able to stay more present with women now, rather than projecting fantasies onto them. This was hard to do when my mind was cluttered with images from porn videos. This newfound presence has also allowed me to begin to dismantle some of the subconscious sexism within me, helping me work toward becoming a better ally to the women in my life.

2. Embodiment and emotional expression. My year without porn has helped me reconnect to my body and begin to develop healthy emotional expression. I've begun to expand my sense of self by learning how to move out of my head and into my heart. After many long years void of emotional expression, I've reconnected to my tears. This release of suppressed emotional tension has unlocked a lot of joy in my life. All of this has helped me begin to shift my sexuality from physical detachment to true intimacy, presence, and embodiment.

3. Creativity and passion. Over the past year, I've started feeling more comfortable in my own skin. I've become much more willing to let go of control, to improvise, and to accept people's differences. I trust myself more than I ever have and, as a result, my sense of self-confidence has soared. I wake up every morning grateful to be alive, clear about my life's purpose, and passionate about the work I am doing in the world. My life today has a depth of authenticity and power that I never felt before.

Stepping up

Last week, many folks in my community and around the world engaged in conversations about ending the sexual violence and abuse that directly affect over a billion women across the globe today. Of course, women and girls are not the only ones hurt by sexual violence. I've heard stories from a lot of guys who are also affected by cycles of violence and abuse that got passed on through generations. It is important, however, for me to recognize that far more women than men are victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and that men account for a vast majority of all perpetrators.

It's time we begin transforming our pain into love by opening our hearts and reconnecting with our bodies.

As the Franciscan priest and compassion advocate Richard Rohr has written, "pain that is not transformed is transmitted." And this pain is often transmitted in the form of violence. So how do we, as men, break this cycle? It's clear to me that we will never transform our pain within a culture of silence. It is only by bringing our shadows to the light that we can diffuse the power they hold over us.

Over the past several years, I have heard a lot about inequality, sexism, and violence against women. I believe it is vital for porn to be a part of that conversation, particularly amongst men.

If we are serious about ending violence against women, then we must be willing to have open and honest conversations about how porn is affecting our lives.

I am committed to a world of love, respect, and safety for all people. I'm sick of all the shame, numbness, and secrecy surrounding porn and addiction. I’m saddened to hear about all the guilt people feel (from churches, parents, teachers, etc.) simply for wanting to express their sexuality in healthy and authentic ways. And I'm outraged by all of the violence, degradation, and exploitation of women. Enough is enough!

The only way we can transform the culture of violence is to make it transparent by speaking the truth about the ways that we consciously and subconsciously contribute to it. A culture of love and healing can only be built on a foundation of radical honesty and integrity, built from the ground up in our own lives.

Will you stand with me? It's time we start talking about the things we've been afraid to talk about, knowing we're not alone. It's time we begin transforming our pain into love by opening our hearts and reconnecting with our bodies. It's time we, as men, step into a more mature masculinity: one that recognizes the sacredness of the human body, one that creates intimacy and cultivates authentic connection and healing, one that is unafraid to love and be loved.


Additional Resources:

1. The Great Porn Experiment: Gary Wilson at TEDxGlasgow

2. Why I Stopped Watching Porn: Ran Gavrieli at TEDxJaffa 2013

3. Violence Against Women: It's a Men's Issue: Jackson Katz at TEDxFiDiWomen

4. Make Love Not Porn: http://talkabout.makelovenotporn.tv

5. Sexual Recovery: Pornography Addiction

6. The Good Men Project: http://goodmenproject.com

7. ManKind Project: http://mankindproject.org

Dan Mahle is a group facilitator, program coordinator, and occasional blogger on the topic of men and masculinity. His work reaches into many different arenas, from youth leadership and intergenerational collaboration to environmental justice advocacy and men's work. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

New York Magazine article "Hands Off": What a mess

My letter of April 15, 2013 to the journalist who had contacted me about this article.

Hi Molly,

RE: "New York Magazine" article "Hands Off"

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?

Best regards,


No fapping, please, it's making us ill (The Telegraph)

tissue boxCOMMENTS; This is a good article, but just to clarify: www.yourbrainonporn.com and my TEDx talk are about excessive Internet pornography use, not masturbation. I did not create r/nofap or any other forum.

Over 70,000 men have signed up to an online forum vowing to give up online porn and masturbation for at least three months, attracted by claims that doing so will improve their physical and mental health. Tom Cowell reports on a very modern support group

It seems a ridiculous thought. Titillation and porn are everywhere in our hyper-sexed culture. People appear to be at it constantly, so the question is absurd, like asking if you breathe too much or blink to excess. But a growing online community is turning away from masturbation, reporting incredible results from their self-denial: better sexual performance, greater confidence, and more mojo almost everywhere in their lives.

This movement’s spiritual home is the social sharing site Reddit, where enlightened anti-onanists gather on a page called NoFap (“fapping” = internet slang for masturbation, and no one quite knows why [Actually,

"fapping" is onomatopoeic.]). Over 70,000 subscribers have signed up for the page, where users can take The NoFap Challenge, foreswearing masturbation for 90 days or longer. It’s not a judgmental place, but supportive and almost off-puttingly compassionate: a kind of “W---ers Anonymous”.

So why are men doing it, and what happens when they do?

“Why” can be answered two ways: some see a medical problem in chronic masturbation, others a spiritual one.

The medical anti-masturbators’ high priest is Gary Wilson. Formerly of Southern Oregon University, Wilson runs YourBrainOnPorn.com and delivered a 2012 TEDx talk called The Great Porn Experiment - viewed over 1.3 million times on YouTube. He doesn’t say masturbation is bad per se, but that porn consumption and excess fapping can fuse into “arousal addiction”, because our caveman brains are drowned into madness by the 21st century filth-hose called the Internet.

Wilson argues the mammal brain responds to sexual novelty. Biologists call this The Coolidge Effect, ensuring we capitalize on all genetic opportunities to reproduce. But your poor brain can’t tell the difference between physical and digital crumpet. You ogle more naked women in ten minutes online than Genghis Khan did in a lifetime of pillage, but your brain doesn’t know that Internet porn isn’t “real”. Watching a video, your brain thinks it just hit the Darwinian jackpot. It releases dopamine, the “seeking” hormone essential to the brain’s reward/reinforcement system. Wilson says that to porn-addled brains, the dopamine says “binge… do this, and if possible, ONLY this, until you can’t do it any more”.

It’s the same impulse that makes you eat despite already feeling full, a way of ensuring you “get while the getting is good”. Your brain doesn’t know where your next meal or woman is coming from: it wants you to eat/ejaculate while you can. But dopamine numbs other pleasure responses, eroding your willpower and making you hyper-reactive to the stimulus that triggered it (i.e. video smut). Over time, heavy porn users can find themselves unable to sustain relationships, or even erections when there are other people “present”.

Other NoFappers don’t medicalise their masturbation problem, they spiritualise it. Mark Queppet runs the Sacred Spirituality Project, which invites men to forgo masturbation as part of a higher expression of sexuality. He harks back to a pre-broadband past when “men needed to be strong, successful, and good people in order to attract a desirable mate. However, pornography and masturbation allow men to forgo all of that stuff and skip right to hyper-stimulating physical pleasure. The world is full of potential discomfort and anxieties, and Queppet suggests masturbation is yet another means of instant gratification that stunts our spiritual growth. As he puts it, “the world needs more strong and passionate men… but sadly, they are still stuck in their room masturbating to their smart phone.”

So what happens when you go cold turkey? According to the Reddit group, it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever. Reddit user “Rantham” (760 days nofapping and counting) reports: “I'm full of energy, I'm focused, my mind is clear, women aren't objects to me, ALL of my relationships have improved, generally I'm just a better more caring person when I don't have this cloud over me.” Another user “NeverFappin” feels “like a complete bad-ass in many ways, I speak slower and with a deeper tone in my voice… I think pretty much every woman I see now is attracted to me so I guess that's pretty high confidence for you.” It’s no stroll in the park, though. Some NoFappers report a high incidence of depression, loneliness, and in the most extreme of cases, suicidal thoughts.

The lesson there seems to be, if you’re going to try this, however awkward the idea, don’t do it alone. Talk to your doctor, join up with an Internet community like Reddit, or team up with friends or co-workers for a group NoFap challenge. Now that would be an interesting staff meeting, wouldn’t it?

Original article

NoFap: One Small Step for Man The Witherspoon Institute)

NoFap, an anonymous online community devoted to helping its “Fapstronaut” members overcome their addictions to masturbation and pornography, lends credence to traditional moral teachings and offers important insights for defenders of sexual morality.

Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s been a bad year for sexual virtue. The Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly scorned the conscientious objectors to its notorious contraception mandate. The Second Circuit decided that the abortifacient morning-after pill should be sold over the counter to minors. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes, and it failed to protect the California voters’ referendum to the same effect.

In a realm that has far more cultural clout than any courthouse, Keeping Up with the Kardashians just aired its 100th episode, with no end to the series in sight. Magic Mike became the top-grossing dance film of all time—I use the term “dance” there terribly loosely—before announcing that it had its sights set on a stage adaptation. Speaking of stage adaptations, Kinky Boots won this year’s Tony award for best musical by dazzling audiences with its scantily clad transvestite charm. Even Downton Abbey decided that its third season needed some saucy same-sex attraction to spice up the storyline. And on top of all of that, this year saw the release of the final installment of the Fifty Shades trilogy, the “mommy porn” series that has now surpassed Harry Potter as history’s fasting-selling paperbacks ever.

With all of this loveliness in the background, you can imagine my astonishment when I stumbled across a new subcultural movement exploding on the internet, one whose express aim is to cultivate sexual temperance in its 70,000-some-odd members. NoFap is an anonymous online message board offering an unexpected beacon of hope in our sexually perverse age. That said, browsing around on NoFap is not recommended for the sexually squeamish.

Hosted by reddit, NoFap is one of over 5,000 “subreddit” sites, where anyone can show up and create new posts, comment on old ones, and affect the priority of threads and comments by up- and down-voting other members’ contributions. Since its creation in 2005, reddit has received several billion pageviews. It has subreddits devoted to themes as diverse as professional soccer and My Little Pony. Celebrities including President Obama, Bill Gates, and David Copperfield have hosted chats on the site where users can “Ask Me Anything.”

Yet even amidst this endless diversity of reddit content, I am convinced that NoFap is the most interesting subreddit on offer today. Founded in June 2011, this community invites members to participate in what it calls the “fapstinence” challenge, to abstain completely from pornography and/or masturbation.

While each user, or “Fapstronaut,” decides for himself what his challenge will involve and how long it will last, for most, the goal seems to be at least ninety days, if not permanence, without either “P” or “M.” Those also abstaining from sexual activity with others forswear orgasms (“O”) altogether, an advanced version of the challenge that the gamers involved have dubbed “hardmode.”

The motivations driving this PMO-austerity are various, but commonalities emerge. Many Fapstronauts are young men—anywhere from eleven years old and upwards—who have come of age after the dawning of the internet, at a time when pornography has been ubiquitous like never before. Most of these men fell into lustful habits incredibly young, and have failed to excise these practices from their lives since. NoFap is, for them, a long-awaited opportunity to fight for freedom, among brethren who share both their wounds and the determination to mend them.

While in one sense there is nothing new under the sun, still, our technological developments, and the cultural trends they have shaped and been shaped by, present unprecedented challenges in the area of onanism. Our fathers cannot be blamed for failing to prepare us for this epidemic, of course, since often their best shot at acquiring even soft-core pornography as preteens was to shoplift a Playboy from a gas station. We have advanced from slingshots to the atomic bomb in a single generation, and the parental regulation necessary to contain the explosion could not have hoped to keep up. Still, the carnage remains, and it cannot be ignored.

Perhaps the link shared most frequently on NoFap is to Gary Wilson’s Your Brain on Porn, an anatomist’s breakdown of the biochemical forces behind the appeal of pornography. For all the divergences and disagreements on NoFap, nearly all members concur that internet pornography has been a scourge for our generation. Many testify that overcoming this vice has been harder than breaking addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and even heroin. One determined Fapstronaut summed up this common sentiment in a post entitled “Dear Porn Industry,” in which he banished pornographers from his life once and for all:

I am done with you. I hate you. I gave away my [f-ing] freedom to you. I gave you the key to define my sexual desires and expectations. I gave you permission to walk uninterrupted in my beliefs about relationships. I let you paint a picture of femininity and I ran by it. I gave you more authority over me than I ever gave my parents, my teachers, or my lovers—people who actually loved me.

Hard numbers are impossible to come by, but judging by the typical content of responses to religious posts, I would estimate that well over half of the Fapstronauts are atheists, or at least “nones.” NoFap’s founder, Alexander Rhodes, openly identifies as an atheist, so his motivations for the challenge and for establishing the subreddit obviously involve no acknowledged supernatural component.

For many, these natural reasons are more than sufficient inspiration. Fapstronauts long to master their desires rather than be mastered by them; or they want to experience real human friendship rather than waste away in front of a computer screen; or they want to make themselves worthy of the women they love; or they have gradually let their pornographic tastes get more and more extreme and hope to overcome these disturbing fascinations; or they admit to having used masturbation as an escapist drug and are resolved to face their problems head-on instead.

One of the most interesting things about NoFap is that its members are discovering not only the unfortunate consequences of PMO, and not even just its moral evil. They are also coming to see it as aesthetically repulsive. The Fapstronauts speak not just with regret, but with disgust. They constantly allude to the revolting perversion of these vices, captured so well by C. S. Lewis, in a quote that constantly resurfaces on the NoFap boards:

For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides . . . The danger is that of coming to love the prison.

Yet not all Fapstronauts are driven by thoughts as noble as those of Lewis. Indeed, many have terribly perverse objectives for the challenge. Their masturbatory habits have led to severe sexual impairments, and they hope that fapstinence will cure their erectile dysfunction; or they think staying away from porn stars will free them up for more frequent trysts with live women, helping them amass notches on the bedpost. The list could continue, but saying more seems unnecessary.

What are we to make of these depraved Fapstronauts? Does their perversity damn the movement entirely?

I am inclined to think not. They may on occasion make some disgustingly raunchy comments, and in a nobler age, this would be worth censoring ourselves against entirely. But to be frank, they say nothing most young men today have not heard in the locker room by their twelfth birthday. Filtering out the vicious inputs and exchanging them for virtuous ones—replacing pornography with iconography, as it were—is an excellent aim. But if Fapstronauts must suffer the occasional lustful cad in order to cooperate toward chastity in this honorable community, that seems to me a price well worth paying.

As to the question of how to understand those who are sacrificing one sin in order more effectively to commit another, this seems to me the perfect illustration of a point that J. Budziszewski has been making for years. One of the most important witnesses to the natural law—that set of moral imperatives binding on all and at some level known to all—is the natural consequences of violating its precepts. Says Budziszewski, “Those who cut themselves bleed. Those who give offense to others are hated. Those who live by knives die by them.  . . . Those who travel from bed to bed lose the capacity for trust.” We can now add to the list that those who lust after another in private are incapable of pleasure when they finally meet her face-to-face.

NoFap is far from perfect, but it is a powerful step in the right direction. Drawing men and women together in community to battle a vice that works through isolation, this subreddit goes a long way toward taking people out of themselves, and preparing them to lay down their lives for love of another. Even for those whose ends remain skewed, there is evidence, however limited, that the positive influence of their compatriots may ultimately effect a comprehensive change in their outlook.

Our side is not faring all too well in the “culture wars” we have been waging for the last half-century. Following Aristotle, we have become fond of saying that virtue leads to happiness, and rightly so. Yet for too many years we have tried merely to insert our arguments about flourishing into the public square, with inadequate sensitivity to the lived situations of those who are hearing them. As a result, we have found ourselves sorely disappointed with our arguments’ cultural fruits. This does not mean we should stop arguing, of course, but it does mean that we should both contemplate our approach and manage our expectations.

History would seem to indicate that arguing our way to single-issue victory, philosophically or politically, is something of a pipedream. Far more probable is that our culture will either be forced into a wholesale conversion of worldviews, or else, more likely, that things will continue to decline gradually, as we have watched them do for a quite a while. In the latter scenario, our hope should be that, eventually and amidst the mindless hedonism, a new secular subculture of virtue-oriented people will arise, not out of abstract moral interests, but simply because they want to be happy.

NoFap seems one such instance of a trend that we should pray to see much more frequently. These 70,000 members have all but rediscovered classical sexual ethics, merely by questing after genuine happiness, and finding the offerings of libertinism wanting by painful firsthand experience. Their achievements are individually significant, of course, and they should be commended for them. But their common realizations may ultimately prove far more so. Time will tell, but it may one day be said that the Fapstronauts have inadvertently taken one small step for man, and made one giant leap for mankind.

Michael W. Hannon is an editor at Fare Forward, a contributing editor at Ethika Politika, and the managing editor of The Thomistic Institute in NYC.

NoFap: One Small Step for Man

Porn and the Threat to Virility (TIME cover story)

Noah Church is a 26-year-old part-time wildland firefighter in Portland, Ore. When he was 9, he found naked pictures on the Internet. He learned how to download explicit videos. When he was 15, streaming videos arrived, and he watched those. Often. Several times a day, doing that which people often do while watching that genre by themselves.

After a while, he says, those videos did not arouse him as much, so he moved on to different configurations, sometimes involving just women, sometimes one woman and several guys, sometimes even an unwilling woman. “I could find anything I imagined and a lot of stuff I couldn’t imagine,” he says. After the appeal of those waned, he moved on to the next level, more intense, often more violent.

In his senior year of high school, he had an opportunity to have actual sex, with a real partner. He was attracted to her and she to him, as demonstrated by the fact that she was naked in her bedroom in front of him. But his body didn’t seem to be interested. “There was a disconnect between what I wanted in my mind and how my body reacted,” he says. He simply couldn’t get the necessary hydraulics going.

Read more

Pornografia online pode se converter em vício e destruir vida afetiva e social

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.

Original article


Pornography Addiction: The Hidden Struggle & How to Break Free

Sad guy sitting on a giant keyboardby 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.

What Is Pornography Addiction?

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.

A Range of Symptoms

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):

  • Tiredness
  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Insecurity
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Lack of interest in real sex
  • Lack of interest in anything other than porn
  • Poor academic performance
  • Relationship/marital issues
  • Employment issues and job loss

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.

A Note About Erectile Dysfunction

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?

The Dangers of Porn Addiction and Misdiagnosis

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.

Becoming Addicted to Porn

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.

Desensitization and Dopamine

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.

Recovery and Rebooting

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.

Original article

Pornography Can Ruin Your Sex Life (Mark Manson)

dubious girlA 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.

It caught my attention because not only had I struggled with sexual anxiety and had bouts of inability to perform in the past, but being a dating coach, I had talked to a lot of men who struggled with the same issues, men often in their 20′s and 30′s. A recent survey by Esquire showed 43% of men reported difficulty getting or maintaining an erection at least some of the time, with 24% reporting that they had difficulty “more often than I’d like to admit.”

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.

  • I had somewhat intense cravings to watch porn in the first few weeks. The cravings would come and go, often along with my sex drive. Some mood swings. And a few nights where I dreamt about pornography — no, not dreams about having sex, dreams about pornography. Yeah, fucked up.
  • When I did masturbate, I made a point to only fantasize about girls I knew or had met. Other times I did not fantasize at all. I absolutely did NOT fantasize about porn I had seen.
  • My sex drive was very erratic the first few weeks. Some days I would be unbearably horny and then I would be completely disinterested in sex for a few days after that. I didn’t limit my masturbation (some guys chose to do this), so this usually meant that I’d go 4-5 days without masturbating, and then go nuts and do it 3-4 times in the span of 24 hours. Sometimes it felt like I was 16-years-old all over again.
  • At around three or four weeks, my sex drive was high and remained that way. My aggression with girls increased, as well as my confidence being sexual around them. I felt little shame or hesitation pushing things further with them, whereas I may have been in the past.
  • I began to find normal, everyday girls to be more beautiful. Minor flaws and blemishes that used to bug me were now endearing and sometimes even sexy. I also noticed that my tastes changed a bit. I began to find the fake-titted, fake blonde, fake tan, tiny skirted, club-type girls less attractive and naturally beautiful girls to be more appealing to me. I started noticing things like skin, lips, eyes and hair more. And although I still love a nice pair of tits and ass, they’re no longer my sole criteria.
  • After one month, it was clear I was having better sex. I was performing better and enjoying it more and wanting it more often.
  • In the second month, I had no temptation and the benefits continued to increase.

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:

  1. Porn I used to enjoy now felt excessive, dehumanizing and honestly, not very attractive. There were a few videos I saw where I couldn’t believe I used to watch stuff like that.
  2. I appreciated and was far more turned on by the beauty of each girl and less by them getting fucked or gagging by a giant cock or what have you. The actual sex itself seemed far less exciting than just having a ridiculously hot naked girl on my screen.
  3. I couldn’t help but notice how unhappy and inauthentic the girls in the videos often were. Not to say I haven’t noticed some of the actresses obviously faking their way through a scene in the past, but this was deeper. Like you could tell they just weren’t very happy people and didn’t have much self-respect. I know this both a) sounds weird to be thinking about while getting your fap on, and b) should not surprise anybody. But it actually became so apparent that it was hard for me to stay turned on in some cases.

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 and 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. TC mark


Jun. 19, 2013 By Mark Manson info

Pornography Can Ruin Your Sex Life

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

It caught my attention because not only had I struggled with sexual anxiety and had bouts of inability to perform in the past, but being a dating coach, I had talked to a lot of men who struggled with the same issues, men often in their 20′s and 30′s. A recent survey by Esquire showed 43% of men reported difficulty getting or maintaining an erection at least some of the time, with 24% reporting that they had difficulty “more often than I’d like to admit.”

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.

  • I had somewhat intense cravings to watch porn in the first few weeks. The cravings would come and go, often along with my sex drive. Some mood swings. And a few nights where I dreamt about pornography — no, not dreams about having sex, dreams about pornography. Yeah, fucked up.
  • When I did masturbate, I made a point to only fantasize about girls I knew or had met. Other times I did not fantasize at all. I absolutely did NOT fantasize about porn I had seen.
  • My sex drive was very erratic the first few weeks. Some days I would be unbearably horny and then I would be completely disinterested in sex for a few days after that. I didn’t limit my masturbation (some guys chose to do this), so this usually meant that I’d go 4-5 days without masturbating, and then go nuts and do it 3-4 times in the span of 24 hours. Sometimes it felt like I was 16-years-old all over again.
  • At around three or four weeks, my sex drive was high and remained that way. My aggression with girls increased, as well as my confidence being sexual around them. I felt little shame or hesitation pushing things further with them, whereas I may have been in the past.
  • I began to find normal, every day girls to be more beautiful. Minor flaws and blemishes that used to bug me were now endearing and sometimes even sexy. I also noticed that my tastes changed a bit. I began to find the fake-titted, fake blonde, fake tan, tiny skirted, club-type girls less attractive and naturally beautiful girls to be more appealing to me. I started noticing things like skin, lips, eyes and hair more. And although I still love a nice pair of tits and ass, they’re no longer my sole criteria.
  • After one month, it was clear I was having better sex. I was performing better and enjoying it more and wanting it more often.
  • In the second month, I had no temptation and the benefits continued to increase.

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.

Relapse and Experimentation

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:

  1. Porn I used to enjoy now felt excessive, dehumanizing and honestly, not very attractive. There were a few videos I saw where I couldn’t believe I used to watch stuff like that.
  2. I appreciated and was far more turned on by the beauty of each girl and less by them getting fucked or gagging by a giant cock or what have you. The actual sex itself seemed far less exciting than just having a ridiculously hot naked girl on my screen.
  3. I couldn’t help but notice how unhappy and inauthentic the girls in the videos often were. Not to say I haven’t noticed some of the actresses obviously faking their way through a scene in the past, but this was deeper. Like you could tell they just weren’t very happy people and didn’t have much self-respect. I know this both a) sounds weird to be thinking about while getting your fap on, and b) should not surprise anybody. But it actually became so apparent that it was hard for me to stay turned on in some cases.

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 (lively podcast discussion)

They Met Online - photoPornography 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!

Listen to show

Re-Thinking Porn; The Internet Factor

LINK: Re-Thinking Porn; The Internet Factor

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 fire together, wire together

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.

Therefore if I use the same Niagara Falls analogy that I did with North Star, I have to admit the following:

  • While a fall off Niagara Falls might not kill you, it will inflict pain and suffering in the form of bruises, spinal injury, brain injury, bone fractures, etc. Internet porn won’t necessarily land you in hell but it inflicts the following:
        • Loss of libido
        • Impotence (can get it up for porn but not with a real partner)
        • Erectile dysfunction (with real human to human sex)
        • Delayed ejaculation (with real human to human sex)
        • Social Anxiety
        • Lack of confidence
        • Inability to concentrate
        • Depression and anxiety
        • Brain fog
        • Frequent masturbation (with little satisfaction and almost exclusively done with Internet porn)
  • While some people can survive interaction with Internet porn nobody comes out unscathed. Some are entirely lost down the wormhole.
  • Since Internet porn is how porn is accessed these days I’m jumping ship and saying it is unwise.

Good News

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.

        • Restored libido
        • Ability to get it up with a real partner
        • Ability to ejaculate with a reasonable time with a real partner
        • Social confidence
        • Ability to concentrate
        • Minimal depression and anxiety
        • Brain clarity
        • Ability to masturbate without porn

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.

See Also:

Your Brain On Porn

Overcoming Pornography Addiction with Tony Litster

Porn Addiction | Stop the porn addiction | Curethecraving.com

Porn, Pseudoscience and ΔFosB

Rethinking Ogas and Gaddam’s ‘A Billion Wicked Thoughts’

Porn for Mormons

The Masturbation Talk for Mormon Boys and Girls

Sexual Unhappiness is a Religiously Transmitted Disease

Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow

Red Bar Host Mike David Interviews Gary

Listen to show from 27 March 2012

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.

Sacrificing Sex for Porn

  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.

Old-School Sexuality

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.

See Gary Wilson at TEDx Glasgow 2012

The Great Porn Experiment

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.

More About Gary…

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:

Sex, Productivity and Motivation Part 06: Pornography

“Pornography? It’s a new synaptic pathway. You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of visuals. There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.” – John Mayer, musician.

Update: click here for part 7.

Pornography is one of those sex-related topics that wasn’t even considered in our initial research into human sexuality and its relation to productivity. Why? Well, for the most part, the viewing of pornography is a private thing – it’s not exactly the sort of things you discuss with your friends (ever feigned ignorance when a porn star’s name is brought up on conversation?) As a result, we never looked at the productivity implications until a couple of AE readers started asking questions about it.

The more we dug though, the more we found that it has a huge effect on society, on your behavior, and of course, on your productivity.

This being said, we can’t help but think that a lot of the naysayers about pornography and the adult entertainment industry are wrong – sure, there are implications to the availability of widespread pornographic content. Will it bring about the end of western civilization as we know it? Probably not.

This article is really written for men. Women are welcome to read too, but let’s face it – men are by far the largest consumers of pornography. If you want to know why, think back to the Coolidge Effect - it’s more pronounced in the male population.

If you have an hour or so to burn, check out the Your Brain on Porn Youtube Series - it’s a more detailed look at what we’ll be discussing here. Just take what is said with a grain of salt though – a lot of their content has been “edited” to make it politically correct and presentable, rather than practical.

Quick Summary

  • Productivity and porn is a simple equation. Less porn = less unproductive screen time = more productivity.
  • The problem with porn is that it’s a dopamine addiction. The more you watch, the more you want. At addiction levels, it’s a self-perpetuating loop that alters your brain chemistry and sexual behavior.
  • Women aren’t as affected by pornography as men are.
  • The basic solution is to stop watching pornography.
  • The time you spend watching porn is better spent with real-life women.

The Raw Mechanics

Screen Time

I think most people will agree that the male consumption of pornography tends to be accompanied by masturbation. It may eventually develop to a point where you consume pornography without masturbation, but for most people, the two are linked.

At the most basic, rawest level, less masturbation increases productivity, and less consumption of pornography is less time watching something unproductive.

In the long term, less reliance on a television or computer screen for entertainment means an increased ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, thus raising productivity levels too.


Less porn = less time passively watching a screen = less masturbation = more time to do other things.

Pornography and Addiction

Let’s look at some of the biology and neuroscience behind why pornography can be so problematic.

When you watch porn, it instructs your body to release dopamine into your system. Why? Well, there’s a sequence of things that happen that lead to this.

  1. The human body is built to binge on two things: food, and sex (reproductive opportunities). This is because in pre-agricultural times, these were two rare commodities that your body’s binge mechanism was designed to take advantage of. The modern variants are sugar and pornography.
  2. When you masturbate, your body release dopamine, culminating in orgasm which is a large hit of dopamine. Over time and repeated exposure, your brain begins to start releasing dopamine in anticipation of masturbation and orgasm – it essentially becomes wired to release dopamine every single time you watch porn.
  3. Because dopamine essentially motivates us towards specific behaviors, once this link is established, watching porn equates to dopamine release.
  4. An addiction loop is formed.

This is not the whole picture however. There are some very unique factors that make this loop possible in the modern day.

The first is the Coolidge Effect. If you remember our prior article on Love and Relationships, you’ll know that the Coolidge Effect is about seeking out new sexual partners even when you have access to current ones. What this means is that simply more of the same isn’t enough – you need variety and novelty when it comes to sex. This is where modern pornography comes into play – it offers unlimited variety with an unlimited number of new “partners”.

The second, is the unique nature of modern pornography. Modern porn is widely available, it’s typically free or low-cost and it can be consumed privately without social ramifications. More importantly, there is unlimited novelty and variety available on the Internet, with only the speed of your broadband connection being a limiting factor. Essentially, there are no limits to the consumption of pornography today, and as your brain seeks out more sexual novelty (the Coolidge Effect), online porn is there, ready to serve up whatever you’re looking for.

The third, is human brain plasticity. Most people don’t realize this, but our brains are extremely adaptable. Essentially, actions or behaviors are stored in what are called neurons, which can be thought of pathways to certain behavior. These neurons are very much like physical pathways – the more they are used, the more durable and marked they become. This is why human beings are able to learn through conditioning and repeated actions. With pornography, our brains learn certain patterns regarding sex after viewing. Because of the Coolidge Effect, once these patterns are repeated enough or become “worn out”, we seek out new pathways. This in turn produces a never-ending cycle of seeking out new and more novel pornography, which is essentially an addiction.

The nature of this addiction is similar to other addictions like comfort eating (remember that the brain is wired to binge on food and sex), but is different because novelty matters more than quantity.

Now you may be thinking – OK, this is nice to know… but are there any real problems from watching a lot of porn? Well, yes there are:

  • Watching porn takes time. It might not seem like a lot, but 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there… it all adds up to time that can be best spent doing other things.
  • As we’ve mentioned before, pornography paints an unrealistic portrayal of female behaviors and appearance. This obviously has implications for your relationships, and thus your life and productivity levels.
  • Pornography alters your sexual tastes and preferences over time. This one is really interesting. Think about it: if your brain is wired to seek out new and novel porn again and again and again… what do you think will happen when you’ve exhausted “normal” pornographic content? You start looking for more extreme fetishes and kinks – thus, the large percentage of men out there watching pornography that has nothing do to with their actual sexual likes or orientation. Case in point:
  • Increased chance of erectile dysfunction. Enough said.
  • Increased levels of social anxiety due to lower dopamine level between sessions of pornography (when you have high dopamine levels).
  • A lack of motivation. Probably from masturbation.
  • Bad real-world relationships due to a skewed view of the female gender.

Essentially, pornography alongside masturbation is about your brain seeking dopamine highs, not sex.


The simplest solution is what we’ve mentioned a couple of times above: stop watching porn.

Wave bye to your favorite pornstars. 

Wave bye-bye to your favorite pornstars.

There are obviously, some considerations though.

It is very possible that you will go through withdrawal problems in cutting back your porn usage. Just like a drug or other addiction, you need to be aware of this and know how to deal with it – because it’s going to take time. Our suggestion is to replace the cravings and urges with something productive – go work or produce something creative, or really focus in on your mission in life.

Numerous forums and support groups on the Internet recommend eliminating sex and masturbation during your “reboot” period. To be honest, neither Thanh or myself have/have had a porn addiction, so we don’t have any personal experience in this regard. From a productivity standpoint, cutting out masturbation is a good move – your productivity levels will go up. As for sex, well, some people say that no sex helps them get through the process. Our opinion is that normal, regular sex is a healthy thing (and has lots of benefits).

You may be wondering if it’s necessary to cut all porn from your life, or if it’s even a problem for you. Here’s a good test that is quoted across most forums and support groups dealing with the issue: can you get it up for a real woman?

If the answer is no, or if you would rather masturbate with pornography instead of having sex with a real woman, then you have a porn addiction problem.

Note: This is assuming that the real woman is sexually attractive by universal definition, not be what society says is an “attractive woman” at present time.

As for the issue of removing all porn – casual partaking is fine. And by casual, think back to when your parents got a new copy of Playboy once a month in the mail. You can bet that they weren’t flipping through the pages 24/7/365.

Benefits from No Porn

Obviously there need to be benefits to cutting back from porn for us to mention it. In addition to resolving most of the problems mentioned above, you also get:

  • More time to do other things. Less screen time with porn = more time elsewhere.
  • Less screen time in general. In our opinion, while porn is unique, you can easily substitute porn with your favorite TV series or video games. The more time you spend away from the computer for leisure, the more productive your time working at the computer will be.
  • You train your self-discipline by not watching porn and not masturbating.
  • You gain a more realistic assessment of female beauty. As we noted above, this is not about tricking your mind into believing that what society says is “female beauty” is right - it’s about recognizing that most “average” women in the world don’t look like porn stars.
  • Better connections with women. This is a maybe. Most men who stop consuming porn report that it makes their connections with women deeper. We’re ambivalent on this one, as we think it has more to do with men inflating women’s sexual attractiveness (and thus other traits) in the lead up to sex.

The Best Course of Action

This wouldn’t be Asian Efficiency if we didn’t offer some sort of step-by-step action plan to go about implementing all this. Here it is.

  1. Cut down on viewing porn, or eliminate it completely. We already know the benefits of cutting out masturbation, and if you do that, you’ll find your porn consumption drastically reduced too. Note: a little bit now and then with your partner is not a bad thing – more on this in our upcoming article on Asian Efficient Sex.
  2. Go spend more time with real women instead. This one is a hard idea to swallow for most “porn recovery” sites and support groups. Why? Because it indirectly encourages men to become ladies men, which in the current climate, is politically incorrect. Now whether this means spending more time with your girlfriend/partner/spouse, or whether it means spending more time hitting the bar/club scene flirting with real women, it’s up to you. All we know for sure, is that interacting with real women is better than watching porn.
  3. Get a more realistic perspective on sex. This leads on from #2 – the more you interact with women, the more you’ll realize just how much human sexual behaviors and “norms” vary. We’ve dropped hints and little pieces in our article series, but most people still don’t recognize that young (and old) men and women out there are playing out scenes from pornography on a daily basis. Believe it or not, there are men (and women) out there living out “fantasy” scenarios like threesomes, dating multiple women at the same time and sleeping with new women every other night.

In Closing

  • Less porn = less screen time = more productivity.
  • Porn addiction is a loop involving dopamine, the Coolidge Effect, modern pornography and your brain’s plasticity.
  • Women don’t have to worry about this as much.
  • Simple solution: stop watching porn.
  • Take the time you save by not watching porn, and spend it with real women instead.

Original article

Sex: Excessive pornographic exposure can screw you in the sack (Daily Emerald)

&#039;Playboy&#039; CoverShe was on the cover of a glossy magazine he’d found while playing in the neighborhood with his friends. “Playboy,” he read. Little did he know, "Playboy" Magazine would be the beginning of Gabe’s excessive consumption of pornography.

In middle school, he would stay up watching late-night music videos on MTV and BET and softcore porn on HBO.

 In high school, the world of pornography opened up with high-speed Internet — he could suddenly look at multiple websites at once, could explore different fetishes and watch hardcore videos. Gabe and his friends would sometimes look at porn together — even at school.

 At the time, Gabe didn’t think anything of his habit. Sure, a day didn’t often go by without him looking at it. But it was like any other media he consumed, such as video games or television. Besides, most adolescents did it, and he was curious, too.

 However, when Gabe was in college, something strange happened. Whenever he tried to have sex with his girlfriend, he couldn’t. As attractive as she was, he couldn’t get aroused. Erectile dysfunction at 23? Gabe didn’t understand.

 “It was like my soul was ripping out of me,” Gabe said. “I didn’t have performance anxiety, I wasn’t nervous, I knew it had to be the porn. Sure enough, when I started watching porn, I would instantly get an erection. It was then that I decided to stop … the pornography was doing more to my brain than I’d thought.”

 Pornography: It’s the entertainment of choice for millions of Americans. In 2006, its estimated revenues were just under $13 billion per year. Every second, the public spends $3,075.64 on its erotic allure.

 “It’s a billion-dollar industry, one that’s now more widespread than ever,” said Wendy Maltz, a sex therapist from Eugene.

 Maltz is the author of the book The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography. Maltz began writing the book after she noticed a prevalent trend in her practice, something she hadn’t seen before: Clients started walking into her office with problems caused by pornography — perhaps a man would come professing an unhealthy obsession with porn, or a woman would admit she was addicted to cybersex. Maltz attributes this trend to the arrival of high-speed Internet.

 “Pornography shifted from something we used as a way to add some spice to your love life, to something affordable that people can use anonymously — anytime, anywhere … it’s like vibrators are hanging from the ceiling,” she said.

 There has been heavy debate on whether porn is unhealthy. Can it be called an addiction? Can it be similar to an addiction to cocaine, gambling or alcohol? Can it really produce the porn-induced erectile dysfunction Gabe experienced?

 Maltz believes so.

 “I believe it’s similar to other forms of pleasure, such as alcohol or drugs,” Waltz said. “Heck, if I were having sex with my computer, I wouldn’t stop either.”

Gabe believes the term “addiction” itself can be confusing. Whether it’s technically an addiction or not, he said, it definitely carries consequences. Instead, Gabe wants to focus on how pornography’s intense stimulation alters the human brain.

“The brain gets flooded with arousing images and video,” Gabe said. “And it over stimulates your mind, and I don’t think it can ever satisfy you.”

And there is research that suggests Gabe might be right. Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of AsapSCIENCE made the video, “The Science of Pornography,” in which they narrate the possible changes in the brain that occur while a person watches porn. Sexual arousal releases dopamine in our brains — a chemical that motivates us to perform many actions necessary for survival: eating, exercising and even reproducing. So, when we experience high levels of dopamine in our brains, our brains communicate “more, more, more,” paving the way for addiction.

Although it’s not a physical substance, Moffit and Brown say the fact that pornography hits these pleasure circuits so directly means we react in some of the same ways as we would to a drug — we develop a tolerance to it, which perhaps forces us to explore more and more extreme images to satisfy our sexual appetite — and we can develop withdrawal for a period of time if we suddenly stop using it.

Gabe’s experience with pornography might be a testament to the medium’s messages. For him, it got to a point where pornography not only became an obsession, but something he couldn’t do without.

“It started with the pictures of the naked girls, then the softcore stuff, then the hardcore videos. It ended up getting to a point in which I was watching stuff I didn’t even want to watch, just for the shock value.”

“The Science of Pornography” not only talks about pornography’s addictive qualities, but also its ability to actually “mold our tastes and desires.”

Because pornography is so powerful, Carol Stabile, director of the Center of the Study of Women in Society, says that mainstream pornography could actually be used to our benefit. To Stabile, there is a lot of untapped potential in the realm of pornography. The medium, she thinks, can be used as an educational tool for both men and women. The problem, she said, is that mainstream porn caters to a very specific audience: men. It also produces unlikely expectations for sex.

Instead of producing porn in which both men and women are equally satisfied, mainstream porn tends to exaggerate the female orgasm (she always gets off during penetration) and glorify the male’s power and pleasure. The woman isn’t seen so much as a strong sexual agent herself; instead, she becomes the object upon which sex is completed.

“As a feminist, I have always been caught between the sex education and the sexual liberation dimensions of pornography — and then there’s also the overtly oppressive uses of it,” Stabile said. “But I think it’s true that most kids’ introduction to sex is through pornography — it’s accessible, it’s always there, it’s ubiquitous. And I don’t think that’s great. I think pornography, like other forms of media, has these unrealistic representations and norms. If that’s the first representation of sexuality, it’s problematic.”

April Haynes, a University of Oregon sexual historian, would agree with Stabile but takes it even further, saying diversification is what the porn industry is missing the most. Its limiting nature doesn’t even allow us to become as powerful sexual agents.

“Ultimately, I wish the porn industry included different sexual possibilities” said Haynes. “Now, you tend to see the same scene reproduced over and over — everyone is instantly aroused, there is a rush to penetration and orgasm is automatic. I think we should imagine what sex is in a more expansive way.”

It has been two years since Gabe stopped watching porn and he is happier than ever because of it. Today he dreams of becoming a public speaker, telling both men and women his story of pornography-induced ED with the hopes of communicating the “dark side” of pornography.

“I think it’s a very unhealthy habit, and I want to embrace sex naturally without porn influences,” Gabe said. “I’ve seen how it can affect me, and I want others to know about the possible dangers, too.”

Whether it’s the medium’s effects on the brain or its effects on our society, maybe there’s more to the world of pornography than we think.

http://dailyemerald.com/2013/06/06/sex-the-dark-side-of-pornography/ (Daily Emerald, University of Oregon)

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

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-...


Some Guys on Reddit Claim Quitting Porn Is Good for You (VICE)

guy looking at his faceIn the “boys only” part of sex-ed in year five, the teacher told us “if you masturbate, that’s okay—it’s totally natural.” I nodded knowingly and when the bell rang, sprinted to the playground to ask everyone what masturbation was.

Of course, over the next five or six years, I furiously made up for lost time. In the shower, on the family computer, even in the rickety bunk bed I shared with my twin brother (sorry dude). When I broke both my wrists jumping off the roof, my plaster casts weren't a setback, they were a challenge. It’s amazing what a determined 14-year-old can do with a thumb and a forefinger.

It was a golden age of jerkin’ it, reinforced by what the sex-ed classes and Men’s Health magazines had told us. “It’s natural” they said. “It’s good for your prostate.” We were doing something noble, something right.

But what if it was all a lie? What if shaking hands with the unemployed isn’t the refreshing tonic it’s made out to be? What if the near universal use of internet porn among young men is turning us into a bunch of low energy, reclusive social retards? That’s what the nearly 60,000 fapstronauts on Reddit’s r/NoFap board have been saying since 2011. Partly inspired by Gary Wilson’s TedX talk “The Great Porn Experiment,” NoFap is like alcoholics anonymous for masturbators. Instead of 12 steps, they have the “ultimate challenge” – no tossing the boss and no porn for 30 or 90 days.

NoFap is full of inspirational messages from guys and girls whose lives have genuinely changed since beating off. “I have a life that’s mine and I love it,” posts Redditor newblue52, who has been clean for 72 days. “I’m in the best shape of my life, my skin is clearer than it’s ever been, and I’m the most confident I’ve ever been. I have a girlfriend that’s wonderful, and after we have sex, I look at her in eyes and I can love her.”

The fapstronauts go even further, claiming that even if you don’t think you have an issue, it’s worth trying to quit—even for a short time. So, in the spirit of journalistic curiosity, clear skin and confidence, I decided to give it go.

It was harder than I thought. It’s not like I was even beating off every day before, but when you work from home, there’s always the possibility of a quick five knuckle shuffle. The first five days were easy. But on the sixth day I slipped. Let me tell you, the post-cum come down is desolate and shameful when all you’ve done is ruined a sock. It’s worse when you’ve let yourself down as well.

So it was back to the drawing board. When days six and seven rolled around again, I nearly hit the wall (and the ham). It was then that I started to get what the Fapstronauts are on about. Porn is addictive.

After I pushed through the one week barrier, things got easier. By the start of week two, fapping had ceased to register on my to-do list. What had started to register were the dreams—lucid, sticky dreams. I hadn’t had a wet dream since figuring the whole self-pollution thing out back in year 5, now it was like Game of Thrones XXX (minus the medieval hygiene) everytime I closed my eyes.

Thank god I’ve got a girlfriend. I was as horny as a 15 year-old, except without the aforementioned ability to jack off five times a day. It was like 40 Days and 40 Nights, except ten days shorter, with less romance, less Josh Hartnett, and whole lot more semen. Deprived of a release valve, I was blowing loads like Ron Jeremy, without the self-control. My girlfriend was flattered at first, then kind of grossed out.

But what I did notice was that I had a whole lot more free time. If you take half an hour a day to beat off, that’s three and a half hours by week’s end. My attention span was longer and I was more motivated, and though I never did get that flawless skin, I totally recommend the 30 day challenge. Hell, at very least, all the porn is new by the time you get back online.

Original article

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Porn, Junk Food, and the Internet (Huff)

Barbie and junk food"A wise man rules his passions; a fool obeys them."
--Publius Syrus

Given the rapid pace of technological change, one has to wonder whether or not our brains (and bodies) have been able to keep up with all the new stimulation that is available.

Some research suggests that a few of the things we enjoy today might be classified as "supernormal stimuli," a term evolutionary biologists use to describe any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which the response evolved, even if the supernormal stimulus is artificial. Are sources of superstimulation like junk food and porn more likely to hook us into bad habits? It is certainly a very muddy topic, but it's a question that I believe deserves investigating. After all, we've become increasingly surrounded by stimulation that wasn't available even a few years ago. Are my mind and body really ready for Flavor Blasted Goldfish and never-ending social-media updates?

Before we get into the research, let's summarize the concept a bit more clearly: What exactly is a supernormal stimulus? The brilliant comic below will explain the basics and will take you less than two minutes to read.

Be Aware: Supernormal Stimuli


























































(Comic by the insanely talented Stuart McMillen, published with his permission. More about Stuart and his work can be found at the bottom of the post.)

When Superstimulation Goes Wrong

Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize-winning ethologist, is the father of the term "supernormal stimuli." As noted, Tinbergen found in his experiments that he could create "artificial" stimuli that were stronger than the stimuli for which responses had evolved naturally, including the following examples:

  • He constructed plaster eggs to see which a bird preferred to sit on and found that they would select those that were larger and had more defined markings or more saturated color. A dayglo-bright one with black polka dots would be selected over the bird's own pale, dappled eggs.
  • He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.
  • He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.

In a very quick span of time, Tinbergen was able to influence the behavior of these animals with a new superstimulus that they found themselves attracted to and preferred over the real thing. Instinct took over, and now the animals' behaviors were a detriment to their livelihood because they simply couldn't say no to the fake stimulus.

Much of Tinbergen's work is beautifully captured by Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett in the book Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose. One has to wonder if the leap from these findings to human behavior is near or far, but Dr. Barrett seems to think that the link is closer then we believe, arguing that supernormal stimulation governs the behavior of humans as powerfully as that of animals. The hypothesis is that just as Tinbergen's quick introductions of abnormal stimulation to animals produced maladaptive responses, rapidly advancing technology may have created a similar situation for humans.

Can we really be "prepared" for some of our modern, highly stimulating experiences, given the limited amount of time we've had to adapt? It's very hard to say; you'll find excellent arguments from both camps. Here are a few common examples that are often brought into question. (Note: please read the full article. I'm not saying that you should never engage with the following, or that the examples below are conclusive, or that they are the "norm" -- not at all, in fact! I merely bring them up out of curiosity.)

Junk Food

1) The highly addictive nature of junk food is one of our generation's great concerns. Food is being engineered specifically to be more appealing than its natural counterparts. Is it any wonder then that when fast food is more thoroughly introduced to other countries, people start consuming it more often?

2) It could be argued that for a large span of time, humans had a relatively stable palette. Now a new food "concoction" comes out every week. How might this be affecting us? Some studies have suggested that foods like processed grain came about far too quickly and are doing quite a number on your mind and body.

3) Food is one of the toughest things to struggle with because it's an absolute necessity. The problem with junk food is that it is a "superstimulating" version of a natural reward we are supposed to pursue. Food addiction is the real deal and a tough habit to break, because the triggers are ever present.

TV and Video Games

1) A quick peek in my home office would show a still-functioning Super Nintendo hooked up with Chrono Trigger ready to go. I don't think that video games cause excessively violent behavior (and the research agrees), but I do have to admit that it seems video games may be addictive for some people, and for certain personality types in particular.

2) Television addiction may cause some users to elicit the signs of a behavioral addiction: users often watch TV to change mood, but the relief that's gotten is only temporary and often brings them back for more.

3) You're likely not surprised to hear that computer games have been linked to escapism, but what you may not know is that some studies have found symptoms of withdrawal in a very small subset of subjects; they became moody and agitated and even had physical symptoms of withdrawal.


1) Probably the most controversial of all modern stimuli, pornography has been described as insidious in nature because it might skew the otherwise normal activity of sex. Porn has been linked to changing sexual tastes, and some argue that porn can become a "never-ending" supply of dopamine (though there are few conclusive studies done on porn and the mind).

2) There's a passage from a Kurt Vonnegut novel where a man shows another man a photograph of a woman in a bikini and asks, "Like that Harry? That girl there." The man's response is, "That's not a girl. That's a piece of paper." Those who warn of porn's addictive nature always emphasize that it is not a sexual addiction but a technological one. But could porn impact the way you view the real thing?

3) It's been suggested that pornography messes up the "reward circuitry" in human sexuality: Why bother trying to pursue and impress a potential mate if you can just go home and look at porn? This has been argued as the beginning of porn addiction, as novelty is always a click a way, and novelty is closely tied to the highly addictive nature of dopamine.

As psychologist Susan Weinschenk explained in a 2009 article, dopamine does not cause people to experience pleasure but causes a seeking behavior. "Dopamine causes us to want, desire, seek out, and search," she wrote. It is the opioid system that causes one to feel pleasure, yet "the dopamine system is stronger than the opioid system," she explained. "We seek more than we are satisfied."

The Internet

1) Unsurprisingly, psychologists are now giving serious consideration to the Web, recognizing that it may be a very addictive outlet. It allows unfettered control to engage in nearly anything, and some countries like Japan and South Korea have had serious problems with reclusive, socially inept individuals who have a very unhealthy Internet obsession. One story I read detailed a man who hadn't left his apartment in six months.

2) Social media has been shown to make many people depressed: They see the highlight reel of others and may feel worse about their own life. These pruned and often misleading looks into others' lives was never available before the Web. In spite of this, people can't stop checking them, thinking that they might be missing out on something.

3) Internet overuse may be hurting some people's ability to focus. The quick bursts of entertainment that the Internet provides, and the fact that information is always a click away, may, through overuse, cause a decrease in conceptual and critical thinking. Some have argued that the Internet can become a "chronic distraction" that slowly eats away at your patience and ability to think and work on things for extended periods of time.

What Should You Do?

This can seem like a lot to take in at once. But before you panic, freak out, and throw away all your Oreos and cancel your Internet subscription, please listen: Everything in moderation, just like your reaction to the information in this blog post. There is a lot of research that counters what we've looked at above. Explore books like The 10,000 Year Explosion for more from that perspective. In addition, consider that resources are all in how you use them.

Take the Internet, for instance. Sure, there are signs that in some ways the Internet might become a distraction, but think about its contributions. The Web is the best source in the world for information and knowledge, so how it affects you depends on how you make use of it. We are all perfectly capable of using and engaging with supernormal stimuli; the only reason I chose to highlight the extreme examples above was to show how things can go wrong with overuse, or misuse. That's right, you can put away your torches and pitchforks. I'm not the enemy of junk food, the Internet, and everything awesome. My one and only goal for this blog post was simply exploration of the topic.

In fact, the comic above had similar intentions. The artist, Stuart McMillen, articulately describes why you shouldn't be afraid of information like this. In many ways, it should be comforting:

In both cases, the main change is awareness. Awareness that the reason we are drawn to sickly desserts is because they are sweeter than any naturally-occurring fruit. Awareness that watching television activates the primitive 'orienting response', keeping our eyes drawn to the moving pictures as if it were predator or prey. Awareness that liking 'cute' characters comes from a biological urge to protect and nurture our young.

I have not removed supernormal stimuli from my life, nor do I intend to do so fully. The key is spotting the stimuli as they appear, and engaging the mind to regulate or override temptation. I echo Deirdre Barrett's conclusion that sometimes it can feel more rewarding to say no to the supernormal, than to cave into impulse. Only awareness will help stop the supernormal from becoming what is 'normal' in our lives.

(You should subscribe to Stuart's awesome newsletter to hear about a brand-new comic he has coming out in 2014. Also, be sure to stop by his website and check out his other comics.)

You Decide What's Normal

The "solution," it seems to me, is to simply avoid habituation. The real enemy here is complacency -- or allowing yourself to become a victim of your habits instead of the person in the driver's seat. C.S. Lewis has some insightful thoughts on this:

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.

It's my personal opinion that mini-sabbaticals are a great way to test small dependencies on anything. The ability to go without in regard to things we choose to do is important because it puts you back in control. Giving something up for just a small period of time can help you understand its place in your life, especially when it's an optional activity. If you try to stay away from something for just a few days and you find yourself becoming anxious and agitated, that could be your body telling you something important. If you can give it up "cold turkey" with no problem, that's important information too!

So no, don't panic and freak out. Just recognize that there may be many potential sources of superstimulation out there, and it's your job to make sure you are always in control.

"Those who do not move do not notice their chains."
--Rosa Luxemburg

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to wasting time on the Internet.

Follow Gregory Ciotti on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GregoryCiotti

Original article

The Demise of Guys by Zimbardo and Duncan

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.

The Impact of Porn on Men and Women in Societies (WEB.PsyD)

porn-that-bloody-addictionMost people have complicated and mixed feelings about pornography. I’m not interested in arguing about whether it is good or bad to watch videotaped depictions of human beings engaged in sexual acts. It’s fascinating from an evolutionary standpoint that mere images can excite any reaction at all, and also fascinating that more men than women seem to prefer this material.

Some issues worthy of discussion are the disparities of power, privilege, etc. abound in this material. Also, the way pornography is used and the shame felt that keeps many from seeking help when they find themselves addicted to porn.

Abuse of pornography and excessive masturbation is considered a process “addiction.” Individuals addicted to porn spend a great amount of time engaged in the pursuit of sex and romance than in the sexual act itself. The neurochemical and dissociative high produced by their intense sexual fantasy life results in ritualistic behavior and addiction. When pornography is used as a self-soothing coping mechanism, it is problematic. Avoidance of an underlying issue is often present.

The availability of pornography is tremendous given advances in technology and the growth of social media. Individuals can find porn blogs on a variety of microblogging platforms. They can upload amateur porn to video social media or video blogs. A nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that many American couples have found technology to be a source of tension in their relationship, especially when one partner learns of the other’s use of technology to access pornographic material. 4% of internet users in a committed relationship reported they have gotten upset at something that they found out their spouse or partner was doing online.

Evolution has not prepared your brain for porn. Cambridge University scientists were able to recognize a particular type of brain activity in the brain scans in compulsive pornography users. UCLA reports that hypersexuality disorder is a mental health issue. Many young men are claiming to have had a porn addiction and are eliminating or drastically reducing their use of porn in ways that make them feel happier and healthier. Others are finding porn use and abuse to be a cause of erectile dysfunction, difficulty with ejaculation, and problems in the bedroom with their significant other (See Your Brain on Porn). These reported issues are reasonable since an overload of a particular stimulus can lead to satiation, and the brain is somewhat altered in how it experiences pleasure.

Is there such a thing as porn addiction? WebMD has a nice summary article on this issue. And apparently, the difference between describing the behavior as a compulsion or an addiction is subtle, but important, says Martin Downs, MPH.


More Information

Porn-Induced ED Reboot Advice Vlog: Gabe Deem

April 17, 2014

by  •

The Men Who Would Not Wank

NoFap Panic ButtonIt has to be one of the strangest offshoots of the already strange web forum Reddit—an enormous virtual club dedicated to denouncing the evils of masturbation and porn and supporting those in recovery from their thrall. It’s an Internet message board that replaces the bathroom-stall tangle of negativity, sarcasm, and outright trolling endemic to the social web with a strenuous earnestness that you don’t often see outside of a church revival or an AA meeting. A place where self-love—prurient, sure, but long considered benign—is treated as a malignant force. Where thousands of strangers from all over the world congregate every day to talk about their most intimate feelings and darkest failings in the pursuit of one simple goal: Don’t jerk off.

This is NoFap, a three-and-a-half-year-old, 140,000-member Internet community, made up of mostly young, mostly sexually inexperienced men (for the uninitiated, “fap” is onomatopoeic Internet slang for the sound of male masturbation). As is true of any good web forum or self-help group, its beating heart is its testimonials, which follow the trajectory of the average 12-step confessional: innocent curiosity that curdled into consumptive addiction, sporadic indulgence that became a near-constant obsession.

“It didn’t get really bad til I got a smartphone in high school,” one young man, who goes by the screen name Final Fight, confesses to me. “Then it would be, like, as soon as I woke up. Then I would come back from school, maybe spend like three hours fapping. Six or seven times a day wasn’t unheard of.”

“I would touch myself not just if I was alone, but if no one was watching,” a married man in his 40s tells me in a private chat. “I’d have my hand in my pants at work, at church, at home, anywhere nobody could see. I masturbated on the freeway driving 80 miles per hour.”

“I jerk off and wind up being late for work or other functions,” reveals another of the site’s self-described fapstronauts. “I jerk off while I’m at work. I jerk off while my fiancée is in the same room with me. If she knew,” he continues, “it’d destroy my relationship with her. I’ve chatted with other guys from the Internet to share porn and chat about it. Afterwards, I feel like the slimiest, weirdest person on earth.”

For Alexander Rhodes, the group’s founder, the trouble with masturbation started at age 12, “just Googling ‘boobies’ and showing my friends.” and then, he says, “it just escalated from there. that’s the path. Eventually you start treating it like brushing your teeth.... You trick your body with biological shortcuts, and when you finally quit porn, your body’s like, ‘Holy shit. We haven’t had sex in six years! We should do something about this.’”

Rhodes was clearly not alone in his struggle against the temptations of porn and masturbation, and men from across the globe quickly joined his crusade. NoFap now stands as the 227th most popular page of the more than 500,000 on Reddit’s vast and disparate social network, ranking just above those for celebs and world politics (though, to be clear, still well below “girlsinyogapants” and “Legalteens”—this is, after all, Reddit, inventor of the nonconsensual cleavage photo known as the “creepshot”). Its users have more than tripled in number in the past two years, leading Rhodes to build an off-Reddit forum atnofap.com and begin planning language-specific sites to serve the movement’s fast-growing factions in Brazil, Germany, and China.

The advent and proliferation of Internet smut has meant that the need for a forum of this kind is huge, and only growing. Every second, nearly 30,000 Internet users are looking at porn, with 40 million Americans being regular porn users, 70 percent of men ages 18 to 34 admitting to monthly porn viewing, and 18 percent of men claiming addiction or “unsure dependence.” Among NoFap’s user base, the latter problem is worse: a 2012 study of nearly 1,500 fapstronauts revealed that 59 percent spend between 4 and 15 hours a week consuming porn. That same study concluded that nearly 90 percent of NoFap’s user base are in their teens and 20s: their generation was the first to come of age in an era of widespread home access to high-speed Internet—and the unlimited fire hose of porn that comes with it.

“High-speed Internet porn is a supernormal version of sexuality,” says Gary Wilson, a physiology lecturer who has become something of an online porn watchdog since his 2012 TED talk, “the Great Porn experiment,” went viral. In it, Wilson argues that “today’s young men can see more hot babes in 10 minutes than their ancestors could see in a lifetime.” he elaborates further now: “this endless sexual novelty—the clicking and clicking and clicking—you simply can’t compare it to a once-a-month Playboy.”

Wilson is but one of many academics and clinicians who are increasingly turning their attention toward the effects of Internet porn. Though there’s no clinical consensus that masturbation in and of itself is connected to negative health effects (including NoFap’s major bogeyman, erectile dysfunction), Wilson argues that the particular reward pathway activated by porn—sexual pleasure free of human interaction or effort—becomes available to men at an age when the human brain is most plastic, providing fertile ground for the seeds of addiction. “Researchers correlated average porn use with brain changes, and they found the more porn these guys used, the less gray matter they had in their reward circuitry. This implies that porn wears out your reward system.” He goes on to say, however, that little clinical research in this area supporting his theory is available, because researchers have struggled to find an adequate control group. that is: “We can’t find any college-age males who don’t watch porn.”

Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo has coined the term “arousal addiction” to describe a slightly different phenomenon: “Men are developing their sense of sexuality around porn, and it doesn’t include real people,” he explained in a recent forum on, naturally, Reddit. “so when they encounter a real live woman down the road, it will be a very foreign and anxiety-provoking experience. Instead of just watching a screen, now their communication skills and whole body have to be engaged, and there is another person there with her own sexual needs.” Or, as NoFapper Final Fight puts it, “Why think about real girls when I’m so busy looking at fake ones? It desensitized me.”

Although Zimbardo hastens to point out that plenty of—if not most—men have a healthy relationship with pornography and that masturbation is a normal biological urge, anyone with an Internet connection can agree that at the very least, the web has a way of seducing the susceptible away from the real world. So while some of NoFap’s posters seem to regard all masturbation as unhealthy, the site’s real enemy is more specific and, in some ways, more pernicious: the jackoff superhighway presented by Internet porn. Viewed in that light, NoFap is more than just a Reddit in-joke—more, even, than the largest anti-masturbation support group in the world: It’s an Internet solution to an Internet problem, a rare example of the digital circle-jerk attempting to correct itself.


Like so many Internet phenomena, NoFap started, in 2011, as a goof, or at least a lark. “I thought it was just gonna be a one-time thing,” explains Rhodes, a 25-year-old web developer from Pittsburgh. “It was an experiment based off this study from China that said less masturbation led to higher testosterone. I started this ‘challenge’ with about a hundred people. ‘One week of not fapping,’ we said. Then we went one month. And we started noticing our lives improving in amazing ways.”

Rhodes and his fellow fapstronauts believe that abstaining from porn, masturbation, and, in some cases, orgasms altogether (including those achieved with a partner) causes the body to “reboot to factory settings,” like a computer wiped of a virus. The successful fapstronaut supposedly has more willpower, an improved relationship with women (90 percent are straight men), and a host of other positive health effects: as NoFap’s tagline promises, they “Get a New Grip on Life.”

Of course, Rhodes is not the first sex-obsessed young man to realize that masturbating dozens of times a day may not be entirely productive, and NoFap is just one in a long line of anti-masturbation, pro–male purity crusades dating back centuries. But unlike fundamentalist Christians, conservative Muslims, and other groups that preach the ills of masturbation and porn consumption, NoFap isn’t religious in the slightest: Its ideology is purely practical, its scripture more likely to include Lil Wayne lyrics and Game of Thrones memes than Genesis verses.

In fact, the movement bears an uncanny resemblance to another bastion of unrelentingly positive, mostly secular self-help: Alcoholics Anonymous. NoFap employs a day-counter badge system that tracks a user’s number of “days clean” and displays it next to his user name. A participant may choose to pair with an “accountability partner” who can monitor his Internet history with software in order to keep him honest. Fapstronauts in need of immediate bolstering can turn to the emergency button, an Internet and android app (coming soon to iPhone) that displays big, color-block tiles labeled “Rejection,” “Depression,” “Relapsed,” and “Emergency” (with a tiny option for “Religion” in the upper right corner). Press a button—whatever applies to your particular strand of masturbatory angst—and the app generates an inspirational quote, Youtube video, or cleverly repurposed meme to instantaneously put you on track. It’s self-help clickbait—the methadone to porn’s heroin.

There’s even a subforum called NoFapWar, which transforms the quest to avoid masturbating into a war game of fapstinence attrition in which platoon leaders are selected, soldiers are recruited, and the team with the most men standing at the end wins. (If it seems juvenile, then so be it—whatever it takes to forgo porn and masturbation, one day at a time.) Though the forum is imbued with the nerdy humor and half-ironic jokiness that you’d expect from its membership, the occasional dark confession (one poster writes desperately about hoarding multiple terabytes of pornographic photos) is met with the kind of heartfelt support you’d expect at a group therapy session: It’s OK. Do the right thing. Delete the stash. You’ll get through this. We’re here for you.


Of course, some experts question the premise of porn addiction altogether. David Ley, a clinical psychologist and the author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, argues that the very concept is little more than an easy-way-out, media-hyped reaction to larger problems. “the term ‘addiction’ has lost its clinical usefulness,” he tells me. “It’s been hijacked by people pushing agendas: the media exploit our fear of sex to make money, religious groups use pseudoscience to gain followers”—and even decidedly nonreligious nonprofit groups like NoFap are driven to “use the porn addiction concept as a glossing over of more complex problems. they’re saying, ‘Porn is the problem. Not you.’ But of course, that isn’t true.” Ley argues that many obsessive masturbators may really be struggling with pathological obsession. “The porn was never the problem. The problem was their obsessive personality in the first place.”

Maybe so. but on a forum where a daily three-hour masturbation session is considered tame, clinical distinctions may not matter much. at his worst, Rhodes says, he was fapping 10 times a day. “I don’t really care what the science says. My experience says that Internet porn is a drug. It numbs your emotions. It’s a form of escapism, of running from your problems.” Many of NoFap’s adherents, he adds, fit a predictable profile: “A lot of young males who have never been in a sexual relationship.” More precisely, according to the 2012 study, 31 percent are in their teens; 58 percent are in their 20s; and 11 percent are 30 or older. Three-quarters are single, and nearly half are virgins.

As a 19-year-old who describes himself as “awkward” and traces a fraught and limited history with women, Final Fight fits that bill. “I’d trade all the porn I’ve ever seen for just one kiss,” he says. And for people like him, sex addicts anonymous or a regular therapy session may be overkill. In such cases, it’s hard to argue that reorienting excessive behavior into a positive life philosophy is a bad thing. If many of these so-called porn addicts are just run-of-the-mill nerds with limited contact with the opposite sex and what they deem to be an unhealthy relationship to porn, why shouldn’t they have a place where they can all come together in the interest of, ah, not coming?

NoFap is filled with success stories—tales of self-improvement ranging from weight loss to increased social confidence to finally getting a girlfriend. Cause and effect are hard to measure, of course, but when you come down to it, the overwhelmingly positive message of the movement may have a power of its own: Fapstronauts believe that they’re learning how to suppress their urges, respect and pursue tangible goals, and climb out of the depths of self-doubt to figure out who they are and form meaningful relationships. And maybe they’re right—maybe we’re in for a surge of young male productivity, a new era of sexually confident and iron-willed go-getters. Maybe NoFap really will usher in a golden age of male mindfulness.

At the very least, we’d have far fewer missing socks.

Original article

The Real Don Jons: How online porn has affected a generation (Entertainment Weekly)

Don JonIn the R-rated comedy Don Jon, opening Sept. 27, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a twentysomething New Jersey gym rat and self-styled ladies’ man whose ability to maintain normal relationships with women is hampered by his obsession with online porn. [informal review by guy on Reddit] While his girlfriend, played by Scarlett Johansson, swoons for the fantasies on display in Hollywood romantic comedies, Jon (Gordon-Levitt) wonders how the flesh-and-blood women he meets can ever measure up to the virtual vixens on his computer screen.

If this sounds like pretty racy subject matter for a mainstream movie—well, it is. But Gordon-Levitt, who wrote and directed Don Jon, says he was interested in exploring how the media shapes our perceptions and expectations. “Pornography is a huge, huge part of our media culture,” he tells EW in this week’s cover story. “The message Don Jon is trying to bring to light—and make fun of—is reducing people, especially women, to nothing but sex objects.”

Unless you happened to take a strict vow of celibacy around 1991, you know that the Internet is, to a large extent, one massive porn delivery system. By one recent measure, 30 percent of all data transferred across the web is some form of pornography, and porn sites attract more unique visitors each month than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined. What no one is quite sure about, though, is what effect this is having on us—and, in particular, on the generation of people reared in the Internet age. What kind of influence has growing up in an era of instantly accessible online porn had on men—and, for that matter, women—who are now in their 20s? Just how many real-life Don Jons out there are wrestling with the impacts of their porn use?

Gen-Xers and older Millennials can hazily recall those pre-Internet days when porn was still a titillating taboo, secreted away in the backs of magazine racks and curtained-off areas of video stores. “When I was a kid, the only way to see a naked woman was in Playboy or on HBO after midnight, or you’d watch Weekend at Bernie’s 2 and freeze-frame the shot when they pulled the bikini off,” says one 29-year-old who works in the film business. “Now while I’m driving I could pull up a hardcore pornographic video of three guys having sex with one girl and watch it immediately. That level of access is unbelievable.”

And, for most men, that instant gratification and the promise of never-ending novelty is nearly impossible to resist, especially if it’s all they’ve ever known. “For men, porn is kind of like video games — it’s an escape,” says “Jake,” a 25-year-old man from upstate New York. “There’s a scene in the trailer for Don Jon where Scarlett Johansson catches [Gordon-Levitt’s character] watching porn and I think, ‘You’ve got Scarlett Johansson in your bed, and you’re looking at porn?’ But guys do that. Porn is a way to retreat into a world where you are in control. It creates the impression that you are more in control of your sexuality than you actually are. So when you’re faced with a real woman, with real sex, with a real relationship, it can be very jarring.”

For those twentysomethings whose sex education was shaped primarily by Internet porn, it can come as a rude shock to find that the images of sexuality imprinted on their young minds are often at odds with what actual sex is like. “When I first started having sex, I tried to have sex like the guys in porn, because that was all I knew,” Jake admits. “I had a girl stop me and say, ‘You’re hurting me. I don’t like this. We’re going to stop.’ That was crushing. I thought I had to dominate her. I thought that’s what sex was.”

Actor Justin Long explored some of these ideas when he co-wrote the upcoming romantic comedy A Case of You, which features a character who chooses online porn over his girlfriend. “I’m probably of a different generation,” says Long, 35. “My introduction to anything like that was when I found a stack of Playboys from the ’60s and ’70s. But it’s so rampant now. Even on a less sexual level, I think the advent of all this technology has brought up a difficulty in interpersonal communication. It’s only going to get worse with people developing problems.”

Perhaps, but good luck getting everyone to agree on the exact nature of those problems or how widespread they may be. Men’s porn-consuming habits vary greatly, and studies on the effects of pornography are notoriously unreliable and often freighted with a particular religious, political, or ethical point of view. “There’s a pretty big divide in the sex world about even using the term ‘porn addiction,’ ” says Rebecca Alvarez, a sex educator based in Philadelphia. “There are people who say it’s real, it’s changing people’s brain chemistries, and it must be addressed. Then there are other people—the sex-positive people—saying that it’s a cultural phenomenon, and it’s just another way to pathologize sex. The research is not necessarily keeping up quite yet.”

That said, it’s easy enough to find plenty of guys who struggle with having unlimited, on-demand access to any form of sexual content their heart (or nether region) desires. Just surf over to Reddit, where an entire anti-masturbation movement—dubbed “No Fap”—has sprung up among mostly late-teen and 20-something guys who are trying, often with a sense of tremendous guilt and shame, to curb their use of porn. Nearly 75,000 self-proclaimed “fapstronauts” have committed themselves to the challenge of giving up porn for 90 days, if not longer. Those who have managed to tame their urges trumpet increased self-confidence, greater energy and mental focus, and improved relationships with women. “Here is one of the best things,” reads one recent post from a guy who’d abstained from porn for 25 days. “I AM ATTRACTED TO NORMAL/REGULAR (with a bit of defects) LADIES more than to FAKE PORN/MODELS! I like the incomplete, the non-perfect better — it’s HUMAN! IT’S LOVELY!”

Some see the “No Fap” phenomenon and movies like Don Jon and the recently released sex-addiction comedy Thanks for Sharing as signs of bigger problems to come for many men. Gary Wilson, a physiology teacher who hosts the popular site Yourbrainonporn.com and has delivered a TED talk on online porn addiction that has attracted 1.5 million YouTube views, thinks porn-obsessed twentysomethings represent the tip of a looming iceberg. “We’re seeing something we didn’t see in older guys,” Wilson says. “Their sexual tastes have been completely altered. I think the real problems are just about to start to show up.”

Women, of course, are also impacted by the ubiquity of online porn, but there, too, the picture is complicated. There’s no doubt lots of young women are bothered by the porn use of their husbands or boyfriends. “It makes you feel inadequate,” says one 22-year-old woman who works in the health-care industry. “You feel like ‘Why does he need to do this? What is porn giving him that our relationship isn’t?’ Ideally, for me, you would want them to watch porn zero times a week.”

That sentiment is hardly universal, though, particularly given how many women themselves spend time surfing porn sites. “There’s this idea that women are out there shaking their fingers, like, ‘Porn is bad and it’s something my partner is doing that I have to put up with,’ ” says sex-educator Alvarez. “But the truth of the matter is, from the research I’ve read, anywhere from a third to a half of porn consumers are now thought to be women.”

Disentangling the issue of porn from the emotions and value judgments surrounding it can seem nearly impossible. But in the end, Alvarez argues that it’s up to each individual, whatever their age, gender, or sexual orientation, to decide if their use of online porn is healthy or not. “I think if you see it as a problem for yourself, then it’s a problem,” she says. Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to agree with that assessment. “I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with erotic films, or showing sexuality in videos or movies,” he says. “It depends on how you do it. Not only does it depend on what those movies are, but how you as a viewer choose to watch it. Are you watching these images and concluding this is how real life should be?”

Watching Hollywood film images can distort our ideas of reality, too. The fact is, assuming there is some untold number of real-life Don Jons out there, most of them aren’t like Gordon-Levitt’s cocky lothario in the film, according to Yourbrainonporn’s Wilson. “His character is out there getting all these women, but that’s not really a good representation,” Wilson says. “For most of these guys, [heavy porn use] is really inhibiting their drive to go out and chase real women. It’s reducing their motivation. They go out to the club and they’re like, ‘Oh man, I’m just going to go home and turn on all the babes.’ ” He laughs dryly. “But that would not make a very exciting movie.”

—Additional reporting by Lindsey Bahr, Anthony Breznican, Samantha Highfill and Sean Smith Original article

The post-porn wave: why some young people are shunning videos of misogynistic sex (The Independent, UK)

laptop on a bedThere is concern in the UK over young people’s access to pornography: some want to block it, some want to see more vigilant age restrictions. Either way, the relationship that teenagers have with porn is rarely discussed with the nuance and patience it deserves. Today’s twenty-somethings are our lab rats: the first generation to go through puberty with unlimited access to online porn. The most interesting among them are those who now identify as post-porn.

Chris*, 24, watched porn to learn about sex: “I started watching porn when I was 13, firstly out of a curiosity; I didn’t know a lot about sex. It’s where I got my sexual education. I realise now there might have been a few side effects from that…When I was 17 and began having sex, four years of porn watching had given me a conception of what sex should be like. I had an idealised picture of what it would be like; an awareness of certain standards I would have to achieve in order for it to be ‘successful’”.

“I was watching a lot of porn that had anal sex in and developed an anal fixation. When I was with one of my first girlfriends, I would always hint, “Do you want to try this? I want to try this”. As soon as we actually did, I remember feeling so ashamed. She didn’t get anything from it; I got nothing from it. It wasn’t how I thought it was meant to be. That’s when it truly hit me; it wasn’t something that I actually even wanted.” 

Chris isn’t alone: a recent study into anal sex among young heterosexual couples found a “climate of coercion”  that echoes Chris’ experience: young boys wanted to copy what they saw in pornography, and pressured their partners to do so.

Chris is uncomfortable about the normalisation of aggressive content: “I developed a tolerance to the videos I was watching. I would seek out things that were more and more hard-core. There’s some really f****d up porn online, like incest imitation, that there’s clearly a large market for because you can’t avoid it. There are websites where you can access horrific compilation videos of women crying during sex… But, because you watch a lot of porn and build up a lot of tolerance, you can build up increasing desires to watch extreme videos.”

Read more:
Feminist porn: sex is about female pleasure too Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion' Don't get caught up on climaxing

Although porn audiences are predominantly male, with studies citing that men watch 72% of all online porn, women watch too. Thanks to the internet however, not everyone who sees porn is an adult.

An Italian study from 2006 found that young women’s porn consumption correlated with their experiences of forced, violent sex. This finding resonated with Lara, 21, whose teenage sexual experiences were directly influenced by the violence she saw in porn:

“Sex as displayed in almost all porn I have encountered is mostly focused on women having little control or power, and the connection between the two people participating is usually purely sexual and violent. Porn enforced my tendency to sleep with much older men, not to mention forcing myself to endure incredibly painful sexual experiences. None of it was remotely pleasurable for me. Since stopping, I no longer have abusive sex in which I am treated violently, or called degrading names.”

“Throughout my teenage years I ended up shaping myself into a sexual object. I was dressing like the women I saw in porn: bleaching my hair, wearing heavier and heavier makeup, tanning, all because of the image of sexuality I drew from porn.” 60% of teenagers surveyed for Channel 4’s The Sex Education Show stated that porn had affected their self-esteem and body image. 45% of girls said they were unhappy with their breasts and would consider plastic surgery, whereas 27% of boys expressed concerns about the size and shape of their penis.

Lara recalls the day she stopped: “I ended up watching a video where rape was simulated as part of the fantasy. After the actress stated that a family member raped her as a child, the men proceeded to violently choke and penetrate her. It was while this was happening that I couldn't watch it anymore…all I could notice were the expressions of pain on her face, and her screams masked as sounds of pleasure. I stopped watching it and afterwards couldn't stop thinking about how painful that sex must have been and how ruined she must have felt afterwards.”

Not all porn is violent, however, and not everyone gets off on violence. Feminist porn aims to present sex as enjoyable for both sexes. However, not all are aware the concept even exists:

“What’s feminist porn? I’ve never heard of that. It’s never been available on any of the websites I’ve seen,” says Chris. “It sounds to me that it would only be people that are already that way inclined who would seek it out, but the battle’s already won for those people. The majority of people are watching mainstream porn that doesn’t cater for that, and feminist porn won’t be winning those people over.”

If heterosexual porn is often aggressive, is gay porn any different? Saeed, 25, described the impact that porn had on his conceptions of sex: “Porn gave me an assumption that receptive anal intercourse is always painful. There’s ideas that when you’re a virgin and you’re being deflowered, or whatever, you have to get through it and get over it. All these things indicate that it will always be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. But it takes actually doing it to learn that. A lot of the f*****g, and I mean that, is very hard-core [in porn]. Rough and aggressive like meat being tenderized. There is material that does cater to the idea of a more gentle, emotional interaction, but by and large it is desensitized f*****g.”

“Gay porn almost always leads to anal intercourse. I believed that this is the terminus, this is what it has to be,” he adds. “In porn, that is the whole point, unless the title specifically refers to an act that isn’t anal sex. But in reality, a lot of men don’t do anal.”

Arguably, not all porn is realistic because some viewers want to indulge in fantasy acts they cannot, or maybe would not really want to, perform in reality. However Jake, 23, is alarmed that real people are involved, and even hurt, in the creation of someone else’s fantasy:

“One time I was watching and the woman was clearly not happy. It was pretty evident that she didn’t really want to be there. And it all came together in my head, I thought: “If that woman didn’t want to be there, how many women do want to be there?”. When you realise that person you’re using to fulfil your imagination is being put in a situation they don’t want to be, it’s like, hang on a minute, I’m having an erection over a girl who looks like she's being forced to have sex with some dude.”

“I don’t understand violent porn. Who wants to beat up a girl?,” he asks. “Even if it’s just a “fantasy”, guys are still sitting there watching it with an erection. What’s sexually appealing about that?”

Gary Wilson, a North American neuroscientist, might be able to answer. He created a website called Your Brain On Porn, which explains the effect that porn can have on the brain, addiction and erectile dysfunction.

Wilson claims the novelty of accessing limitless amounts of porn releases dopamine in the viewer’s brain. Porn users get hooked on the dopamine release and keep chasing it with more (and more novel, or extreme) porn. However, too much dopamine can lead to numbed pleasure response in other areas of life, a hyper-reactivity to porn and an arousal addiction. This finding is backed up by research from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, which recently found the part of the human brain that activates when people feel motivated or rewarded, shrinks and works less efficiently in regular porn viewers.

Wilson's website contains numerous testimonials from young men who report increased happiness, energy and self-confidence after giving it up. Among these young men is Richard. At 21, he was watching porn five to seven times a week. At 23, he believes regular porn use is a “mentally damaging habit”. Like any scientific theory, Wilson’s is hotly contested. However, Richard believes it:

“After I stopped watching porn, I was more likely to achieve climax during sex. I was saving time because I wasn’t wasting it on porn, and I also had more meaningful relationships and sexual encounters. Porn puts something very important in your life - happiness and relations with the opposite sex - on a virtual medium. It’s something you will not miss out of your life. It’s completely pointless.”

This year, a study from ATVOD found that in one month, 6% of children aged 15 or under viewed an ‘adult’ website and, over the course of 12 months, at least 473,000 children between the ages of six and 17 accessed an ‘adult internet service’. That’s a lot of young people watching porn, and the figures only took computer access into consideration; never mind smartphones and tablets.

As porn is such so diverse and often secretive, it’s unclear exactly how many people are shunning porn, as there are currently no studies or statistics. It is clear, however, that there is a growing number of young people who are willing to talk about how uncomfortable they are with both the content and impact of porn.

When asked about what should be done to help young people navigate their way through the vast realms of porn and sex, most dismissed David Cameron’s proposed internet porn filter, claiming that it wouldn’t work and wouldn’t address the real issues with porn use.  A more popular option was good quality sex education that allows young people to discuss porn. Currently, the Everyday Sexism project and the End Violence Against Women coalition are calling for exactly that with a petition that demands online porn is discussed in classrooms alongside consent and healthy relationships.

So are filters and bans just another way of avoiding conversations with young people about porn? We've been told it can become addictive and that it can increase tolerance towards sexually violent attitudes, but statistics from sites like PornHub and interviews with porn-addicted teenagers don’t provide much information about the confusing relationship that adolescents have with porn. Without a decent understanding and education on the topic, will the next generation of teenagers be consigned to great masturbation and confusing, harmful sex?

*In order to protect the identities of interviewees, no real names have been used. [Note: Gary Wilson is a physiology teacher, not a neuroscientist]

Original article by Janey Stephenson

This is your brain. This is your brain on teh Pr0n. Any Questions?

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.

Now I understand why Mr. Bardamu had felt the need to publicly swear off masturbation and eventually write an e-book about the topic.

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.

Too much porn affects the brain - Swedish

Comments: I am not a psychologist.

Too much porn affects the brain, Sweden - (Google translate version)

Porn Impotence

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
thomas.lerner @ dn.se

Ubiquitous assailant: The dangerous unasked questions surrounding pornography (2013)

Gabe DeemGabe Deem believes the dopamine rushes produced by pornography can rewire the brain and cause addiction. (Photographer: Chris Arrant, Copyright: Chris Arrant Photography)

This is part one in a four-part series. (Coming Monday: How pornography harms relationships. Coming Tuesday: Why laws to fight pornography aren't being used. Coming Wednesday: How couples break the cycle of addiction.)

LAS VEGAS — Tiffani’s blond hair falls around her face as she leans forward to sign another autograph. She scrawls a quick note on the glossy publicity photo then puts on a sultry smile as the fan comes to stand beside her for a photo.

His grin widens as she grabs his hands and wraps them around her body.

Gary Wilson, creator of YourBrainOnPorn.com, gives a TED Talk about the impact of high-speed pornography on the brain. (Provided by Gary Wilson) Gary Wilson, creator of YourBrainOnPorn.com, gives a TED Talk about the impact of high-speed pornography on the brain. (Provided by Gary Wilson)

"There you are," she says, as he finally steps away, several poses later. "Thank you, sweetheart."

The line to meet Tiffani at the annual Adult Entertain Expo in Las Vegas is more than a dozen people long — there are college-age young adults, overweight, balding men and even middle-aged couples. All of them hold cameras, some even snapping pictures while they wait, zooming in on Tiffani’s tight red jeans and sheer black shirt.

She'll do this for four days, as thousands of fans flood through the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to be part of the annual Adult Video Network Adult Entertainment Expo, the largest pornography industry trade show in the US that draws between 20,000 and 30,000 people each January.

Gabe Deem now speaks to kids about the impact of pornography on the brain. (Photographer: Chris Arrant, Copyright: Chris Arrant Photography) Gabe Deem now speaks to kids about the impact of pornography on the brain. (Photographer: Chris Arrant, Copyright: Chris Arrant Photography)

Formerly a back-alley, mafia-funded industry, pornography has exploded into a socially ubiquitous form of entertainment, evidenced by the throngs that roam the convention halls, snapping photos of their friends embracing porn stars to share via Instagram and Facebook.

Though Las Vegas is, by its own definition, a moral outlier, a growing number of experts are concerned with the way the entire country has accepted, and even embraced, pornography's cultural infiltration.

"The real issue is not whether (porn) has become worse," says Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University in New York who studies gender, sexuality and masculinity. "The thing that's most important is that it's far more pervasive with far less apology."

An estimated 40 million Americans visit a porn site at least once a month, and 25 percent of all search engine requests in the U.S. are for porn. The heaviest use is among young men: in a 2009 survey of 30,000 college students, more than 10 percent said they viewed pornography online from five to 20 hours a week, and 62 percent said they watched Internet pornography at least once a week. Another study by researchers at Brigham Young University in 2007 found that 21 percent of all college students said they watch porn “every day or almost every day.”

Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. She speaks around the world about pornography’s negative influence. (Provided by Gail Dines) Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. She speaks around the world about pornography’s negative influence. (Provided by Gail Dines)

Yet despite how "popular" pornography becomes, it cannot remain unexamined, say media scholars and medical professionals, who warn that failing to address the growing tangle of concerns — specifically the way pornography changes the brain — will come with dire consequences. Most children will have seen porn by the time they’re 11, if not younger, and 79 percent of that exposure will happen in the home — often through innocently misspelled words, pop-up windows or misleading websites, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Researchers have also found a correlation between early pornography use and early sexual behavior as well as links between the type of pornography consumed and the increased sexual aggression of the viewers. There’s also evidence pornography is damaging relationships: At a meeting in 2003 of the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers, two-thirds of the attorneys present said that compulsive Internet use played a significant role in divorces that year, and that in 56 percent of those cases one partner had an obsessive interest in online pornography.

Gabe Deem, who lives in Texas, believes that pornography became so addictive it affected his ability to function normally or have healthy relationships. (Photographer: Chris Arrant, Copyright: Chris Arrant Photography) Gabe Deem, who lives in Texas, believes that pornography became so addictive it affected his ability to function normally or have healthy relationships. (Photographer: Chris Arrant, Copyright: Chris Arrant Photography)

"This is a public health crisis — the fact that porn is now the major form of sex education in the western world," says Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston, and author of "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.” "The fashion industry shapes the way we dress, the food industry shapes the way we eat, how would it be possible that the sex industry is the only industry that didn't shape human behavior? How it shapes it is complicated … but you cannot walk away from those images unchanged. That's not how we operate."

Addiction chemistry

More than 1,200 miles away from Las Vegas, 25-year-old Gabe Deem sits in the back of the YMCA bus as it rumbles through a suburb of Dallas.

He's surrounded by high school students on their way to the local Y to get help on homework and hang out in a safe place until their parents can pick them up.

Most of the kids have their cellphones in hand, texting and tweeting as they talk.

During a lull, Deem glances across the aisle where a 12-year-old boy and his friend are scrolling through Instragram pictures on their iPhones. All of a sudden, there's a picture of a stripper.

"You gotta get rid of this," Deem tells the kid as he snatches the phone and quickly scrolls past the image. He tries to explain how looking at stuff like that will mess you up, but the boy shrugs it off. He's seen worse.

"There's nothing more frustrating when you're trying to give something up than having the whole society encourage it and say it's not a big deal," Deem says.

Deem’s curiosity with pornography began at age 8 when he found a magazine in the woods near his house. His interest grew when his family bought cable two years later. By the time he was 12 and they got high-speed Internet, he was hooked.

"My parents didn't put any blocks on," Deem says. "They had no clue I'd be doing that, and I was good at hiding it. I saw everything there was to see by the time I was out of middle school."

While there’s no scientific consensus on how porn affects the brain, there is a growing body of research on the subject. One of the most prominent voices on the topic is Gary Wilson, a former science teacher who started a website called YourBrainOnPorn. Wilson believes that viewing and masturbating to pornography can become addictive because that act produces dopamine, the brain’s natural reward for engaging in survival behaviors like mating, eating or conquering.

In animals, a male rat will mate two or three times with a female rat before his dopamine receptors are full and his sex drive is exhausted. However, scientists note that if the male rat meets a new female partner every few minutes, he'll try to mate until he nearly dies of exhaustion — the "Coolidge effect."

Pornography, Wilson believes, has a similar effect on the brain, tricking it into thinking sex is possible with an unlimited number of mates, releasing continual bursts of dopamine and causing a buildup of a learning-related protein in the brain called DeltaFosB. Animal studies show that when subjects engage in overconsumption, whether it's drugs, food or sex, DeltaFosB increases in cells in the brain's pathways, altering the brain's reward system, increasing incentive for the reward and serving as an indicator that addictive behavior is taking place.

“Sexuality is the most powerful natural reward our brain has, in terms of producing a dopamine spike,” says Donald Hilton, a neurosurgeon in Texas who has studied the effects of pornography use on the brain. “Critics who deny the existence of sexual addiction simply don’t understand the brain.”

Wilson started YourBrainOnPorn after he and his wife, who are not religious, began noticing a growing number of visitors to her healthy sexuality website identifying themselves as porn addicts with erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and loss of libido.

Wilson says these symptoms are cropping up in younger men because unlike static Playboy centerfolds or a single DVD, the Internet offers an unlimited number of novel "partners." And with continual dopamine rushes, the brain's receptors become so overworked they shut down, sending the user searching for harder images to feel any pleasure.

"Addictions are chasing after dopamine," Wilson says. "Addictions are wanting more, but liking it less."

Dr. Kent Berridge, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan, says that advances in neuroscience are leading to a better understanding of how dopamine affects the brain, and how it may lead to addictive behaviors. Three decades ago, he says, researchers thought the release of dopamine caused pleasure.

Yet, over time, they found it's possible to strip away dopamine and still have pleasure, and that boosting dopamine doesn't always mean increased pleasure, though it may increase behavior toward the pleasurable activity.

A study of patients with Parkinson's disease found that those individuals taking dopamine-producing drugs to help with depression reported increased sexual desires.

"This is first evidence that it could be an addiction-like thing for sex, but these are people being given dopamine-stimulated drugs," Berridge says. "Whether that happens in spontaneous sex addicts, that would be an open question. I think it's possible, I just think we don't know yet for sure."

Deem says he initially dropped out of college because he couldn't concentrate on anything besides porn and video games. Relationships weren't working and his sex drive was gone. Deem eventually decided to quit looking at pornography to see if he could “get back to normal.”

Wilson calls this a "reboot," a period of complete abstention from pornography, masturbation and sex to allow the body and brain to rest and recover.

Younger men are taking longer to "reboot" than older men, Wilson says, because older men didn't have their initial brain imprinting and education from high-speed Internet pornography.

Debating definitions

Not everyone buys the idea of a pornography addiction or its consequences, mostly because it's not in the DSM — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Health care professionals use the DSM to diagnose mental disorders, which are "described strictly in terms of patterns of symptoms that tend to cluster together," according to the APA website.

And that's where the APA differs from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, says Dr. Raju Hajela, director, Region IX (International) of the ASAM, and chair of the subsection of definitions.

"In our definition, behaviors are a consequence of the disease, they are neither the disease nor the cause of the disease," Hajela says. "In the DSM, the behavior is the disorder."

In the newest DSM-5 manuel, released in May after a 14-year review, a new category on behavioral addictions includes one entry: "gambling disorder."

Dr. David Kupfer, chair of the DSM-5Task Force, says an Internet Gaming Disorder was considered, but a work group determined "it warranted more clinical research and experience" before it could be officially included and was put in a "future study" section. Pornography addiction wasn't mentioned.

The nod to behavioral addictions is encouraging, but the DSM failed to address the huge problem of pornography, says Hilton, the Texas neurosurgeon who writes about addiction.

"Addiction is what occurs when a reward is pursued despite adverse consequences," he says.

Hilton compares two men, one who sits at a blackjack table for hours waiting for a financial pay-off with a man who stares at a computer all day waiting for an orgasmic pay off. They're both pursuing a reward despite negative consequences but under the new DSM-5, only the gambler would have an addiction.

While Berridge at the University of Michigan hasn't specifically studied pornography, he's interested in the discussion.

"I think it's very plausible that for some individuals each of these things (drugs, porn, gambling) is addictive," Berridge says. "But the question will be, in how many individuals? It's almost certain that the labels will be over-applied to people who don't quite fit that, and that's the danger we run with any label."

Deem says he doesn’t care how he's labeled, nor does he mind if people don't believe his story.

He's too busy mentoring his YMCA kids and arranging discussions at local schools to share how using pornography affected him.

And after 780 days of no porn and no masturbation, Deem says his mental clarity and powers of concentration are sharper than they've ever been and that his energy levels are sky high. He also says he’s happier than he thought possible.

"I know the pain of recovery and finding out that I basically screwed myself up by watching porn my whole life," Deem says. "If (someone) had told me (about the biological consequences), yes, that would have definitely been a help to me, so that's what I'm trying to do."

For more information visit:





Ubiquitous assailant: The dangerous unasked questions surrounding pornography http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865582634/Ubiquitous-assailant-The-dangerous-unasked-questions-surrounding-pornography.html

Ugraded Ape Podcast: Gary Wilson discusses addiction

Gary comes back onto the Upgraded Ape Show today to give us a deeper insight into the neurochemsitry behind addiction, including a overview of dopamine and the reward circuit. LINK TO THE SHOW



Was I Actually 'Addicted' to Internet Pornography? (The Atlantic)

delicious dopamineAddiction isn't a term to be thrown around lightly. But some argue that it's possible to become neurologically dependent on porn. I was staring at an inbox overflowing with emails about porn. Not spam, but hundreds of personal emails from people I'd never met, detailing their relationships with Internet pornography.

The emails were in response to a piece I wrote for Salon, in which I described the history of my Internet porn use. It began in pre-pubescence and continues to infect my intimacies today, despite an ongoing four-year boycott. Through the honesty of my digital pen pals, I found out I wasn't alone in having problems with porn or being disoriented about what that said about me. I mean, I'm not really a porn "addict" or anything, right? But if I'm not, then what am I?

Fortunately, some of my readers felt like they had discovered resources to understand, if not resolve, their porn-related tensions. This cadre of anonymous porn veterans pointed me towards a cache of research, which launched me on a rather academic investigation with some of the world's leading experts on "porn addiction," to find out what's been going on inside my head and what it says about who I am. 

What Happened to my Brain?

There's not a consensus on the science of how porn affects the brain, but there is a lot of information on the topic. So much that it can be difficult to sift through.

Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson, a science writer and science teacher who are married and the founders of YourBrainOnPorn, are leading voices in the space. They admit that they don't have the academic credentials, but think they've compiled some reliable information from years of following the research.

I sat down to watch Wilson's TED talk -- now viewed over 900,000 times -- with the proud skepticism of a recent university graduate. Wilson laid out his hypothesis: "natural addictions" arising from needs like food and sex have essentially the same neurochemical effect on the brain as drug-related addictions by hijacking evolutionarily useful mechanisms.

Wilson cites one such evolutionary mechanism called the "Coolidge Effect." This describes how male sheep typically take longer to ejaculate when having sex with the same ewe, but can ejaculate with a new partner in about two minutes every time. Wilson says that mammals developed tools designed for binging on natural rewards in case they needed to pack away food after a hefty kill or got their moment as Alpha male.

According to Wilson's theory, Internet porn perverted this evolutionary mechanism. It tricked my brain into thinking that I had the opportunity to procreate with limitless new mates, prompting repeated "hits" of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation. These persistent spikes of dopamine triggered the release of another chemical -- ΔFosB -- that's necessary for binging on rewards like sex and food.

With a reward like food I would eventually get full and my brain would cease its excitement for new bites. But the continuous stream of new sexual mates in Internet porn overrode my normal satiation mechanisms for sex, causing ΔFosB to accumulate in my brain. The accumulated ΔFosB ultimately led to physiological changes -- a numbed pleasure response, hyper-reactivity to porn, and an erosion of willpower -- that resulted in my cravings and addiction-like symptoms.

According to Wilson, Internet porn's power to sustain arousal with mass numbers of novel mates at-a-click has sensitized many people's brains to porn sex rather than real sex, leading to a wave of porn-induced brain-based sexual dysfunction. This is distinct from past pornography, because even fiends flipping through magazines could only fool their brain into thinking that there were a dozen or so different partners at a time with whom they could copulate.

Wilson contends that these new Internet porn "addicts" tend to exhibit specific symptoms related to these new conditions of porn, like compulsive novelty seeking and mutable (shifting) sexual tastes. This can further exacerbate stress if users' porn-based sexual fantasies morph to the point where they clash with their self-identified sexual desires or orientation.

Wilson's theory resonated with me, as did the trove of candid narratives of porn addiction and recovery hosted on YourBrainOnPorn.com that color the portrait of a user I can understand -- who can't get it up or can never cum, who watches gay porn or fetishes like "scat" despite having no real-world interest in those scenarios, and who spends hours a day masturbating with a tight-squeeze "death grip" that just can't be matched by vaginal sex.

While I was tempted to run with these corroborating accounts, I recognized that anecdotes were just that, and I wanted to see more rigorous investigations before drawing any conclusions.

The critics of YourBrainOnPorn.com feel the same way. They point out that there has never been a study that specifically examines the brain changes of Internet porn users with the scientific robustness of a randomized control trial, so the brain changes that Wilson and Robinson speculate are occurring in heavy porn-users have not actually been observed.

It's true, but that standard might not be feasible here. In 2009, University of Montreal professor Simon Lajeuness tried to set up such a study, but was thwarted because he "could not find any adult men who had never viewed sexually explicit material."

In lieu of such a study, Wilson and Robinson link to a slew of studies that show how the underlying brain changes observed in all addicts have already been seen in the brains of overeaters, compulsive gamblers, video gamers, and more recently in "Internet addicts" (including porn-watchers).

These changes include desensitization (reduced responsiveness to pleasure), sensitization (hyper-reactivity to addiction-related cues), abnormal white matter (a weakening of the communication between reward circuits and the frontal cortex) and hypofrontality (a decrease in frontal-lobe gray matter that is involved in impulse control and decision-making).

Still, the lack of scientifically rigorous research that isolates Internet porn users from other "Internet addicts" has forced Wilson and Robinson to cite testimonials -- and is why the couple's detractors cry "anecdotal pseudoscience!" and "mass hypochondria!" Sometimes, Wilson and Robinson do seem to get carried away, like by claiming that ex-Internet porn addicts are a valid, albeit "informal," control group to study this phenomenon (but, of course, they're not randomly selected, so there may be a common trait among these folks that made them use and stop using that could affect their results).

If the duo comes off as overzealous in their defense of the legitimacy of porn addiction, it may be because their counterparts are so dogmatically dismissive. Well-known sex therapist Dr. Marty Klein argues in The Humanist that these "addictions" are likely secondary to other root causes like bipolar disorder, OCD, borderline personality disorder, or just masturbating too much, and that focusing on porn masks the problem -- and the individual's responsibility to deal with his own immature decision-making. Dr. Klein categorically refutes the addiction model, stressing that most people who watch porn have no problem with it. He declares, "[U]sing porn does NOT cause brain damage, erectile dysfunction, or loss of sexual interest in one's mate."

Klein elaborated on his perspective on a January episode of the Savage Love Podcast with the celebrated sex advice columnist Dan Savage (who backs him up):

When a lot of people who label themselves as sex addicts or porn addicts say, "I'm out of control," what they're really mean is "You know, it would be really uncomfortable to make different decisions about sex than the ones that I'm making. When I'm lonely it would be really uncomfortable to not look at porn."

On air, Dr. Klein constructed a straw man of a porn addict who is too undisciplined "to stop looking at porn for five minutes," too unwilling to address the emotional roots of his behavior, and too socially inhibited to have a "decent" relationship alternative. I was feeling exhausted at the thought of contorting myself to fit this description, but gave up even trying when Dr. Klein informed me by email that I was more alone than I thought: "[I] do NOT see the epidemic of young men with porn-created erection problems that Robinson wants to help ... she's probably making a sampling error."

However, Dr. Klein's critics note that he has been defending pornography against censorship since the 1980s (apparently to the adoration of the industry; he is listed as a "porn star" on Adult Video News' website) and assert that he has not adequately taken into account just how different Internet porn is from its antecedents.

In academic circles too, the debate on the primacy of porn's role in problematic sexual behavior (as opposed to a secondary symptom or coping mechanism) is paramount.

Dr. Jim Pfaus of Concordia University, a leading researcher in the science of porn, claims that Internet porn can lead to chronic masturbation, but that the masturbation itself is the primary issue. Author Naomi Wolf quotes Dr. Pfaus in her book Vagina: A New Biography:

With each ejaculation, as with orgasm, you are turning on refractoriness. With each successive ejaculation, for chronic masturbators, the inhibition gets stronger -- because of the increased serotonin -- making it less likely for these men to achieve another erection, much less another ejaculation ... It's not the porn per se but its use in chronic and obsessive masturbation. The addiction is not actually to the porn but to the orgasm and the predictability of reward.

But this only makes sense if "porn addicts" are all chronic masturbators, using Internet porn to jerk off twice in a half hour or however long their post-ejaculatory refractory period is, which would override their natural sedation. I did not do this. And most testimonials I've read do not include this feature. I got in touch with Dr. Pfaus to get a more detailed explanation, but found that his theory rests completely on refractoriness.

Once again, the seeming disconnect between "experts" and the qualitative experience of my readers (and me) was leading me back to Wilson and Robinson. So were they right -- was I suffering from a physiologically based addiction? I wanted to hear it from the physicians and diagnosticians themselves.

In 2011, after a four-year process, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) released a sweeping new definition of addiction as a primary illness, not just a coping mechanism for something like depression. The definition also states that all addictions imply the same fundamental brain changes, sexual behavior addictions included.

Since then, the American Psychiatric Association has at least partially followed suit, determining that addiction no longer applies only to substances like alcohol, but also to behaviors like pathological gambling -- adding the newly-codified "behavioral addiction" category to the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

While the DSM committee is still far more conservative in its approach to behavioral addictions than the ASAM, this new category does create room for a variety of behavioral addictions to eventually be recognized by psychiatrists. Some argue that this is precisely the intention of creating the new category, especially since sex addiction and Internet addiction were placed in the appendix of the DSM-IV, pending further research.

Furthermore, labeling behavioral addiction as a disease in the DSM-IV is significant in and of itself because it implies that conscious choice plays little or no role in the state of such compulsive behavior, which gets at one of the ASAM's primary goals --extinguishing the moral stigma around addiction.

And the more I read, the more I felt myself letting go of my own self-stigma. Maybe this wasn't really all my fault. Maybe I deserved treatment. Maybe I shouldn't be so scared to tell people about it for fear of moral retribution. But the copious criticism refilled me with doubts.


I worried: was this new definition really just a slippery slope towards diagnosing anything we like to do a lot as a mental disorder, as some critics were saying? Could pathologizing sexual behavior lead to legitimizing "conversion therapy" for sexual deviants, as people like Dr. David Ley, the author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, feared?

But as I did more research, these fears seemed increasingly unfounded. In fact, the long history of politics around definitions of sex addiction made it seem, if anything, sex addiction (and perhaps porn addiction) would have been recognized much earlier if various vested interests hadn't dragged the debate.

Also, I wondered, if people are so afraid of calling my condition an "addiction," then what do they call it? And how are they defining it?

Well, one of the main alternatives that critics have used to describe my porn habits is "compulsion." But Gary Wilson of YourBrainOnPorn.com argues that compulsion implies the same fundamental constellation of brain events that promotes persistent overconsumption initiated by ΔFosB -- just to a lesser degree. He cites several studies that demonstrate how the level of ΔFosB in the brain correlate with the profundity of addiction-related brain changes. So, true compulsive behavior is addictive behavior.

Still, many continue to believe that this is a bottomless debate. That just like every other politicized question, there are two entrenched sides with endless arguments and counter arguments, definitions and redefinitions, shifting proofs and truths, and so we throw our hands up and say: I guess we just can't know.

But defaulting to agnosticism in the face of complicated evidence isn't neutral; it reaffirms of the status quo. And those troubled by their relationship with porn will continue to suffer without support, unsure of how to feel about themselves or how best to seek treatment.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Hilton, the author of Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction, gets this. He makes an incisive comparison in a paper for the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health to illustrate how the absence of randomized trials should not stop us from having a declarative opinion on porn addiction:

Where is the comparative prospective study with tobacco in children? The one that divides the kids, gives half cigarettes, protects the others, and follows them? It doesn't exist, of course, and never will, and therefore those so biased will still say that smoking is not addictive, even now.

Hilton argues that even though tobacco executives still tell Congress that smoking is not addictive, a "tapestry of research over the decades" has convinced virtually everyone that it is.

Personally, I do see a "tapestry" of evidence that porn addiction exists. Others may not. But I think that in a few decades, it's likely that most people will think of it as similar to eating disorders or gambling addictions -- yes, I have "chosen" to do destructive things, but it's because I have a condition, an illness, and it should be treated as such.***

Rich qualitative data and physiological evidence may never be enough to "prove" the existence or non-existence of porn addiction as was true with tobacco, so it's worth asking: would the consequences of formally recognizing "porn addiction" be good or bad?

In the aforementioned episode of Savage Love, Klein is upfront about his consequentialist bias, which is quite sympathetic:

I think a lot of the whole sex addiction movement is simply an attempt to pathologize sexual expression that somebody doesn't like. It's pretty easy nowadays to use that expression, "sex addiction," to say this person has a disease and with the addiction industry being so popular in this country, the infrastructure of handling that "disease" of sex addiction is all set up.

This is not a porn addiction model I would stand behind. We should stand guard against a hegemonic addiction industry and the over-pathologizing of sexual expression. But the prominent pro-porn addiction model folk don't advocate for this. Just about everyone in that camp prescribes therapy and a regimen of behavior change, targeting the emotional-psychological roots of the user's decision making while simultaneously curbing problematic behaviors.

Furthermore, addictions are often intertwined with other emotional and behavioral issues (which perhaps renders the "primary illness" debate a bit inane). But by denying the possibility that porn could be a primary factor in such troublesome behavior, we fail to support people who would benefit from targeting porn directly with cognitive behavior therapy or twelve step treatment programs to complement psychotherapy.

Tellingly, Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson also take a consequentialist perspective, and it's exactly why they push so hard for the addiction model:

We don't necessarily think everyone having symptoms from overconsumption of porn is "an addict," but we think the addiction model is still the best one for helping guys understand how they could have conditioned their sexuality in unwanted ways.

What Robinson and Wilson understand that Klein doesn't is that there are profound psychological effects of being unrecognized -- suffering, and being told it's either your fault, you're making excuses for yourself, or you're making it up altogether.

If we codify the category of "porn addiction," everyone will more accurately appreciate the potential power of porn to condition sexuality (brains are most plastic as teens, so be careful) and perhaps most importantly, porn users will be more precisely differentiated under the porn addiction umbrella.

If we know how different types of Internet porn use interact with various emotional conditions and stages of development, we can provide a rigorous conception of who fits this category and who might be better suited by another model.

Like Violet.

Violet is a reader I really connected with who wrote that although she is not addicted to watching porn, "I've been brainwashed so that anytime I experience erotic feelings they channel through mainstream hetero porn images" (she identifies as lesbian). She didn't experience "the involuntary impulse to watch or read porn," which is how she conceived of addiction, but instead she experienced "the involuntary internal hijacking of erotic expression, which I don't have a short term for at the moment."

Addictive behaviors are often classified as recreational use, abuse, and dependence. The earlier the use, the more profound the effects and the more difficult to treat. Maybe if this is officially recognized, I'll know if I'm a recovered porn addict, a porn abuser, or an early-stage recreational user experiencing an internalization of porn-based eroticism that has profoundly impacted what sexual stimuli I find salient (still searching for that shorter term). But for now, I'm allying myself with addiction.I am not advocating for victimhood or pathologizing sexuality, I just want to have my struggle recognized. I've been battling this for a long time alone. To get past it, I need to find affinity and support. To find that, I need this to have a name.

This article available online at:


We Must Teach Our Sons to Take Breaks From Internet Porn During Masturbation

[Post by physician mom]

Yesterday I talked to my teenaged son about when it is OK and when it is not OK to use internet porn during masturbation. He was grateful and relieved to learn the science about this and to know what he needed to do to protect his future sex life. He thanked me and gave me a hug. I gave myself an F for waiting on this because I have been too busy writing a book on human sexuality…

Boys, Masturbation and Internet Porn

Boys after about 13 years of age usually masturbate daily. If they are anywhere near the internet (smart phone, tablets, family computer or friends) they are using internet porn during this masturbation. Most boys realize their parents have no idea they are doing this and feel tremendous shame and guilt, not necessarily about masturbation but about the frequency of it and the porn involvement.

I have always been open about masturbation as being a normal process, including leaving our Pre-Seed lubricant in bathroom cabinets for the boys, keeping a stash of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions or Victoria Secret catalogues “on hand” in the bathrooms for the guys and always knocking when I entered their bedrooms.

We knew our older boys occasionally watched porn as a search of the computer history showed, but we always kept computers in public places (even laptops) and we had parental controls on our devices (not an easy thing when you are a Reproductive Physiologist).

But I blinked, and with the age differences between sons technology changed. This son has a smart phone… All our kids know any device they own is open for our review any time we want. When I finally got around to checking his phone travels I knew we needed to talk. And I knew what I wanted him to know.

How to talk to your sons

Here is the blue print for this conversation you can borrow to create one of your own.

  1. Find a time with just one son at a time with both parents in the home (if appropriate). My son’s step-dad was present for ours, but my son adores him.
  2. Bring it up while doing a task that doesn’t involve eye contact, but that is mindless. Men evolved to speak while walking and hunting or scouting – they speak more freely with less eye contact. Folding socks, raking the yard, frosting cookies…all good tasks for porn talk.
  3. Impart the following information, but offer pauses where they can speak or ask questions if they want.
  4. Let them know you just read some interesting information about porn use and how it impacts teenager’s sexual and brain development. Also speak in a way that lets him know you understand he is probably using porn during masturbation like most teenaged boys in America (one researcher tried to find porn virgins at a college campus for a study and could NOT).
  5. DO NOT ask if he is using porn or place any judgment around the conversation. Your goal is to inform him so he can make the best choices possible for his developing sexuality. You want him to listen and not to have to lie or be defensive.
  6. Separate masturbation from pornography. If you are a teen boy in America right now they are synonymous. A major goal for you will be to decouple these two things in his life and brain. Tell him it is normal for young men to masturbate frequently, even daily. Even at our house and with all the sex talk we have, my son still thought he was some kind of an addict because of the frequency of this in his life. “Normal as can be.” I assured him!
  7. Explain that using porn all the time to masturbate is dangerous for his future sexuality in the following ways:
    1. His body will fall into the habit of needing to see the porn images to become aroused and to ejaculate. This may limit his ability to respond to real women and partners later in life. He may later NEED porn to become turned on. This will decrease and limit his sexual enjoyment later in life.
    2. Erectile dysfunction in younger men who watch a lot of porn is common, as are Condom Associated Erection Problems. Most guys only use a condom during real sex…soon real sex and condoms become a turn off for these guys.
    3. His sensations during arousal and ejaculation will become heavily skewed towards vision and sound and less towards touch, which may make him less fulfilled by real sex later. That is not what you want for him. In fact, you want him to have amazing sex as an adult!
    4. The sex in porn isn’t real, it isn’t how women like to be touched and it isn’t how men perform. Reading about true female anatomy and eroticism can be sexy and fuel for his fantasies. Use some of his self pleasuring energy to learn about real sex and sexuality. He should also use his time alone to sense what he likes physically, to feel sensations in his body, and to imagine what he would enjoy with a real partner, or to relive scenarios in his imagination if he has become sexual.
    5. Science suggests that true addiction in a biochemical sense can occur from porn viewing masturbation versus good old “spanking the monkey,” which leads to some very real life impacts. It isn’t the masturbation, it is the habitual porn viewing and quick gratification, that causes the addiction.
  8. I wanted my son to also know that later as he grew older and had partners, if he didn’t wait at least sometimes for sex with his partner, constant self gratification by himself would lessen his enjoyment of partnered sex and take away from what he could find with another person. Anticipation can be hot!

Why breaks from porn during masturbation are important

If no one tells our sons to balance their masturbation with different types of imagery and sensory input, how will they know of the potential risks?

If we pretend internet porn with unlimited variety and quantities of content is just like dad’s Playboy, we are deluding ourselves. Our boys deserve better! I am glad I finally roused myself enough to remember that joking about sex now and then is not the same as having an informative parenting talk with actual solutions. Our suggestion: turn the porn off half the time or more. Our contribution to this goal: A new rule– your phone stays plugged into the kitchen island at night – it will be better for your sleep and better for your future love life!

To learn more check out: http://yourbrainonporn.com/porn-then-and-now-welcome-to-brain-training. I also thought that the movie Don Jon was a pretty good take on this subject!

Original post

Why It’s A Good Thing That Men Are Reflecting About Masturbation - TheFrisky.com

choked chicken“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.

by Josephine Ledger

Source: April 17, 2013 - The Frisky

Why teens are craving porn

thumbs up for pornBangalore Mirror Bureau | Oct 29, 2014, 08.53 PM IST

In a weekly three-part series, Dr. Anuradha HS, child and teen consultant, discusses porn addiction in teens. In the first instalment, she highlights the neuroscience behind itThe statistics of the porn industry keep changing rapidly but according to the current data, it is judged to be worth 57 billion dollars of which US constitutes 12 billion. Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises. Child pornography alone generates $3 billion annually.
According to reports, more than 80% of Indian high school students have been exposed to porn. In a survey of 300 children under the age of 13 in India, 67% admitted to accessing porn sites, most by their cell phones. (Cathnews India, October 12, 2011)

Teen brain and porn addiction
The adolescent brain is 'work in progress'. Neuroimaging studies indicate that the adolescents use the limbic system or the emotional part of the brain to interpret emotional information rather than the frontal cortex or the thinking part of the brain unlike adults which is why they may have trouble modulating emotional responses. The frontal cortex or the CEO of our brain matures throughout adolescence and undergoes pruning and re-organisation of new neuronal connections.

The reward circuit of the adolescent brain governs the pleasure and the award response and goes up to the rational brain. This is the part that gets activated when it comes to any addiction and dopamine is the craving-chemical that activates the reward circuit and makes the adolescent engage in repetitive behaviour leading to addiction. Dopamine makes the teenager want more and neurochemicals like the opioids help them feel the pleasure. With time the reward circuitry becomes numb and more and more dopamine is required by the individual to experience the same pleasure. This leads to more craving and finally addiction.
Studies show that the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography happens at 11 years of age. The largest consumers of Internet pornography are teenagers between 12 to 17 years old. It is also proven that 90% of teenagers view porn on the net while doing their homework.
Though the psychiatric world has not yet classified porn addiction as an 'addiction', evidence suggests that porn addiction produces changes akin to those seen in the brains of alcohol and drug abusers, gaming and food addicts. It also produces similar withdrawal effects like fatigue depression anxiety etc. indicating that porn addiction is a serious problem in teenagers and needs to be addressed. (For more information visit: yourbrainonporn.com/your-brain-on-porn-series OR pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/)

NEXT WEEK: Note the red flags and self-assessment tool.


Will quitting porn improve your life? (Maclean's - Canada)

guy shredding porn magazinesA growing ‘NoFap’ movement of young men are saying no to porn, and the masturbation that goes with it

Earlier this year, Armando, a 23-year-old technician from Oklahoma (who didn’t want to give his last name), was browsing the online news and discussion board Reddit when he clicked a button called “random.”

It took him to a forum filled with guys his age discussing what guys his age tend to discuss on the Internet: porn. Only, this forum wasn’t dedicated to sourcing the most explicit sites, but to how people could wean themselves off porn forever. Participants were asked to challenge themselves by giving up porn and masturbation for at least a week. Those who had done so claimed it gave them more energy and confidence and boosted their self-esteem, something they dubbed “superpowers.”

For Armando, who had recently broken up with his girlfriend, it sounded worth a try. His first attempt to give up what he considered a casual daily habit of surfing the web for porn lasted three days. So did his second and third. By his fourth attempt, Armando says he had come to the realization that what had once seemed like a perfectly normal pastime might not be so healthy after all. He’s been porn-free for two months. He has also remained “master of his own domain,” in Seinfeld parlance (after the episode where Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have a contest over who can refrain from masturbation the longest). He reads more and works out twice as hard at the gym. One day, after he’d read a book, exercised and taken two cold showers, he dug out the violin he hadn’t played since high school.

He’s now aiming to quit porn forever, convinced that his porn habit was responsible for the failure of his past two relationships. “It really messes up your mind for what sex is actually supposed to be,” he says. “It sets the hopes too high for normal men and women to be able to perform at that level. I believe that’s causing a lot of relationship problems among my peers.” He’s also gained enough confidence in his willpower to take on a new challenge: to stop smoking.

Armando is part of “NoFap,” a growing online movement among young men who pledge to give up both guilty pleasures for a period of time in hopes of improving their lives. (“Fapping” is Internet slang for masturbation.) When it started two years ago, it was a lighthearted experiment to test whether giving up porn for a week could make you more productive. Today, NoFap has grown to more than 80,000 members, many of whom pledge to swear off porn entirely, saying it contributed to low self-esteem, problems with women and lack of career ambition. Recent forum discussions include a debate on the effectiveness of male chastity belts (yes, they exist) and the best software to block Internet porn pop-ups. One post from a college freshman says giving up porn suddenly made him want to cuddle with a girl. “I just want to lie in bed, fully clothed . . . holding hands and being really close,” he writes.

“I’ve started to view myself the same way I view a heroin addict nodding off right after getting high,” writes another about his attempt to give up his nighttime solo activity. A professional guitar player announced that his month-long abstention from porn gave him the courage to get over his ex-girlfriend and focus on his music. “Every walk through a public place feels like I’m 14 years old again, searching for beauty, but not in an objectified way,” he writes. “My mind is more free for things that give me joy.”

Despite the evangelical tone, NoFap is fundamentally different from traditional campaigns that view masturbation as an assault on religious values. Instead, it is developing as a secular movement popular among young men, many of whom identify as liberal and atheist. The majority of NoFap members are men in their teens and early 20s, though there are women, too, says Alexander Rhodes, the 23-year-old web developer from Pittsburgh who founded the movement two years ago. He estimates about 60 per cent are atheists; the site is also home to a fair number of Christians and some Muslims, all in broad agreement that porn is harmful.

A significant number are teenaged virgins worried that their porn habits will ruin their future chances with women. They’re tapping into a broader cultural moment. A similar idea inspired Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon, where he plays a swaggering womanizer whose budding romance with Scarlett Johansson is nearly destroyed by his addiction to Internet porn.

While many adherents are ardently opposed to porn, they also tend to be vehemently against any form of online censorship. Rhodes describes himself as “an Internet-freedom zealot” who thinks the dangerous effects of porn are best dealt with in sex-ed class and not through government regulation. His views are broadly echoed by others on NoFap who say porn between consenting adults is both deeply harmful and an inviolable act of free speech.

“It’s made me realize that even Playboy, even Miley Cyrus doing her thing, isn’t healthy for anybody,” says James, a graphic designer from southern California, on Day 37 of his NoFap challenge. “But absolutely, I would defend it. She has every right to do that and Hugh Hefner has every right to do what he does.” Now 40, James (not his real name) was raised by parents who taught him masturbation was healthy and viewing pornography was a valid form of sexual expression.

But that was in the days when porn for teens meant sneaking off to see what was on late-night television. The advent of high-speed Internet changed the game, he says, allowing anyone with a computer to access an endless array of extreme content that he found both deeply destructive and difficult to resist.

Since swearing off porn, James says he’s noticed small but significant changes in his life. He realized his Internet habits had been feeding his social anxiety by allowing him to substitute online fantasies for conversations with real women. Shortly after joining NoFap, he found himself doing what he had previously considered unthinkable: sharing a casual joke with a female cashier at the grocery store. Recently, he fell into conversation with an attractive young woman in line. “Before, I would have probably just stood there stonily and wanted to talk to her but resented her for being hot,” he says. “Instead, she smiled at me, I smiled at her and we had a really nice conversation and ended up walking down the street for several blocks together. That never would have happened 37 days ago.”

Like others, James found his way to NoFap through an online video of a 2011 TED Talk by psychologist Philip Zombardo, leader of the 1971 Stanford prison experiment. (One of the most famous studies of the psychology of evil, the experiment divided 21 students into guards and prisoners in a simulated prison.) In his TED talk, Zombardo blames declining marriage rates and rising rates of school dropout among boys on the widespread effects of Internet porn. “Boys’ brains are being digitally rewired in a totally new way for change, novelty, excitement and constant arousal” that makes it difficult for them to commit to anything or anyone, he says.

That talk was followed by an independent TEDx Talk video last year by Gary Wilson, a past adjunct professor in anatomy at an Oregon university. In it, he claims porn is deeply addictive because it causes the brain to become desensitized to dopamine. The video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times and Wilson’s website, YourBrainonPorn.com, which he runs with his wife, a former Campbell Soup executive, has been the source for much of the scientific theorizing about porn addiction that gets passed around the NoFap community.

But the kind of definitive research that could explain what happens to the brain while watching porn simply hasn’t been done, says Dr. Richard Krueger, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s college of physicians and surgeons. Kruger helped revise the sexual disorders section of the latest edition of the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which doesn’t include sex or porn addiction due to lack of academic evidence that they exist. “The whole notion of what goes on in someone’s brain when they’re sexually excited is just starting to be evaluated,” he says.

He has little doubt porn addiction is real and will eventually garner enough attention to be recognized as a mental illness. But he’s skeptical it has the kind of universal neurological effects that some suggest. Other behaviours such as drinking alcohol or gambling are addictive to only a small minority of the people who engage in them—between one and 10 per cent, Krueger says. “I would argue for the same sort of hit rate with exposure to Internet pornography, that most people would do it and it won’t become a problem.”

Meanwhile, Rhodes is pushing ahead with his plans for NoFap. The movement now has a dedicated website and he’s working on an education and awareness campaign to reduce incidence of sexual assault. Though NoFap began as an experiment in productivity, it has morphed into a movement with a loftier goal. “My No. 1 goal in life isn’t to improve people’s sex lives,” Rhodes says. “I want society to value sex as something meaningful.”

For some, it’s already working. Midway through his NoFap challenge, Armando says he began noticing changes in the way he looks at women. “Before, whenever I’d see a woman, the first thing I would look for is what have they got hanging on back there, or how big are their breasts,” he says. “Lately, I’ve been catching myself looking at their eyes.”

Original article

Your brain on porn

fMRI of the brainA modern-day phenomenon is causing a stir on discussion and support sites – that of internet pornography ‘addiction’. Linked to mood disturbance, relationship difficulties and erectile dysfunction in some users, compulsive porn viewing does seem to share enough features with substance dependence to become a member of the addiction club, though this is still seen as controversial by some.

A study in JAMA Psychiatry (The Brain on Porn) enrolled 64 German men who regularly viewed pornography and took a look at their brains using scanning techniques. They found a significant negative association between hours of pornography per week and the volume of grey matter in parts of the brain. They also found other changes and speculated that the intense stimulation of the reward system may have caused the changes. Of course the changes could have been there before the porn use, making the porn more rewarding when they first started to view it. The authors thought the former theory to be more likely.

This is an evolving area where the science needs to catch up with the widely reported experiences of compulsive consumers of internet pornography. It’s also controversial. Raising concerns can be interpreted as taking a moral stance. Reddit Nofap is a support and discussion site where shared themes from experience are beginning to emerge with a frequency that his hard to ignore. Perhaps the greatest indicator that there is a need for more understanding and support of this phenomenon is the fact that a TedX talk from Glasgow (The Great Porn Experiment) by Gary Wilson from a couple of years back has had almost 3 million views on YouTube. It is quite remarkable in how clearly it raises and addresses the issues – without moral panic or hysteria. Take a look.
Original article