Porn being mainstream is part of what’s normalizing sex. However, porn has had heavy side effects for many people. These individuals are addicted to internet pornography and experience side effects that are both physical and psychological(1). There is growing evidence that addiction itself will actually change the way that your brain operates(2).
There are even communities that have formed to give these addicts support(3). It seems that indulging in too much porn may actually interfere with developing self-love and and sharing your love with others.
The rates of internet porn addiction have sky rocketed since the first tube site launched in 2006. This made high quality porn immediately accessible to anyone with a computer for free. In 1999 the rate of sexual dysfunction for men between 18 and 59 years old was 5%. By 2011 this rate had reached 14%, nearly triple of what it was twelve years earlier(1). These sexual dysfunctions included a decrease in sex drive, delayed ejaculation, and less sexual satisfaction. However, the most startling of these dysfunctions would probably be Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED). The first study done on PIED happened in 2007 at the Kinsey Institute. It was determined that the more often people watch porn the more difficult it gets to become aroused(1). Porn is able to tap into our brains on a primal level.
For sexual arousal to to take place, within men, there are two areas of the brain that need to be activated: the reward system and the hypothalamus. When we watch porn an intense surge of dopamine gets released into both of these areas. Porn is a supernormal stimulus, which is why it’s so effective. A supernormal stimulus is an exaggerated imitation of something humans have evolved to seek out(1). Porn does this by recruiting, and sculpting, women that fit beauty archetypes and showing us an act that we crave in order to procreate. Due to the fact that porn is so effective at activating the reward system of our brains it becomes self reinforcing and leads to compulsive use in porn addicts(1). These addicts can identify their addiction with a simple check list: a preoccupation with porn, a loss of interest with real life sex, withdrawal symptoms (such as irritability & resentment), using porn to relieve negative emotions, an inability to stop despite problems in life, and of course escalation to more and more graphic scenes(1). Similar symptoms happen across addictions, they are not unique to porn addicts.
There is an increasing amount of evidence surfacing that indicates addiction is a brain disease and that the brains of addicts operate differently from healthy ones. Every addict behaves in ways that are impulsive, obsessive, and that satisfy their cravings. All addiction warps the brain so that the person’s motivational hierarchies are rearranged. Once that happens the addictive behavior becomes most important to the addict. Quite often, the addictive behavior is a maladaptive version of behavior that would otherwise be beneficial to survival, such as sex addiction(2). In regards to porn addiction the addict develops the maladaptive behavior of replacing sex with masturbating to porn. As this behavior continues to develop the addict becomes sensitized to the porn, but also develops a tolerance to it. Thereby, causing the addict to raise the ante and watch more graphic scenes. As this tolerance builds the porn addict gets conditioned to replacing sex with visual sexual stimulation(1). Luckily all the evidence shows that porn addicts can break their cycle of behavior rather simply.
There a few online communities that have formed in response to internet porn addiction. The two most well known being yourbrainonporn.com (YBOP) and NoFap. Both of these communities provide advice, support, and tools in order to help people addicted to pornography that want to break that addiction. The process that porn addicts use to break their addictive behavior has become known, across groups, as rebooting. Rebooting is simply a block of time when someone will avoid sexual stimulation. YBOP does not have strict guidelines concerning rebooting, merely suggestions based on the experiences of others that have gone through the process(3). The YBOP web page about rebooting says that you should avoid all artificial sexual stimulation during a reboot, such as videos, images, or literature. This community has no firm position on whether you should avoid masturbation during a reboot. One of the features that impressed me the most about YBOP was the amount of links to research papers that they had regarding the effects of porn addiction(3). The NoFap community has its own approach to rebooting.
The community known as NoFap is similar to YBOP, in that it is set up to help recovering porn addicts. However, they do approach the process of rebooting in a different way. NoFap has organized their style of rebooting as if it were a game or challenge. The individual sets the parameters of this challenge, such as the duration, and NoFap has come up with levels that each challenge can fit into. P-mode is a challenge where the addict will only abstain from porn. PM-mode is the next level where the addict abstains from porn and masturbation. The highest level is PMO-mode where the addict abstains from porn and orgasms of any kind(4). The NoFap community also wants to keep their members from being discouraged if they slip up. If that happens during a challenge the challenger is encouraged to reset. Once they reset their challenge they just have to start the from the beginning. Just like starting over a level in a video game. In addition to their main website NoFap has a subreddit and an app that provides their community members with support. The NoFap app installs on your phone as a series of buttons. The buttons read Emergency, Rejection, Depression, and Relapse. Each button will give you different forum posts, inspirational quotes, or memes to support you in your challenge(4). During my own rebooting I used the NoFap app and found it to be quite helpful.
A short time ago I came to a realization about my masturbation habits and porn consumption. I grew up with the internet and I was a teenager when the first tube site launched in 2006. For nearly the entire time that I had been masturbating I had been watching porn. One day I stumbled across the NoFap subreddit and I decided that I wanted to challenge myself. I decided on some parameters for this challenge and decided to get to it. I set up a 90 day challenge that would be set on P-mode. I also decided to record this challenge in my blog under the title of ‘NoFap Style Challenge’. I put the NoFap app on my phone, which I put to good use whenever I got the itch for porn.
I was able to avoid any kind of porn for those 90 days, although I continued to masturbate. At first it was very difficult to masturbate without porn, so I had to force myself to do it for the first couple weeks. As time went on I became used to not using porn I began to focus on the act of making love to myself. The sensations became more intense, my self esteem increased, and my general confidence grew. I also noticed that some physical changes. My sex drive has grown to new heights, I ejaculate before the twenty minute mark, and I get so much more turned on during sex now. I also noticed that by redirecting my focus inwards my self-love started to increase. My 90 day challenge ended on October 7th, 2016 and I have watched porn twice since then. I have next to no interest in watching it any more. Whereas before I watched it nearly everyday. …
There is a rather flippant attitude towards porn in modern western civilization. We should actually be viewing porn as if it were a drug with consequences, like alcohol. Too much porn will not only build a mental wall that keeps your orgasms from reaching unknown heights, but it will also fill your body with sexual dysfunction. This challenge has taught me about the poisonous temptation that is porn.
Because internet porn only became so available within the last decade we are only just learning about its full effects. Studies within the last few years have been showing us how much porn effects the human body and mind. The human brain evolved to seek sex and porn taps into that primal drive. So much so that porn addicts begin to prefer masturbating with porn rather than having actual sex(1). As we are learning more about porn addiction we are also learning about addiction in general. Recent evidence shows all of us that addiction changes the neurons that activate in response to stimuli(2). These studies, as well as my own ‘NoFap Style Challenge’, have shown me how porn is able to creep into our minds and bodies and poison us. The normalization of sex that porn promotes is a good thing, but too much porn will push you away from real sex. You will become isolated and acquire a sick mind, body, and soul.
- Park, Brian Y., Gary Wilson, Jonathan Berger, Matthew Christman, Bryn Reina, Frank Bishop, Warren P. Klam, and Andrew P. Doan. “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunction? A Review of Clinical Reports.” Behavioural Sciences 6(3) (2016): 17, accessed October 21, 2016. doi:10.3390/bs6030017.
- Phillips, Bonnie, Raju Hajela, Donald L. Hilton Jr. “Sex Addiction as a Disease: Evidence for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Response to Critics.” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 22 (2015):167-192, accessed October 22, 2016. doi:10.1080/10720162.2015.1036184.
- “Rebooting Basics: Start Here,” accessed October 23, 2016, https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/reboot_your_brain
- “NoFap: Get a New Grip on Life,” accessed October 23, 2016, https://www.nofap.com/
LINK – How Porn is Poisoning You