How porn rebuilds your brain and destroys your privacy

“The spread of pornography on the Internet is the most global experiment ever unconsciously carried out by mankind,” – so begins the report of American neuroscientist Gary Wilson at the TED conference in Glasgow in 2012. This report is a reaction to the report of the American social psychologist Philip Zimbardo (the very same man who conducted the famous Stanford prison experiment) “The Disappearance of Men.” In his speech, Zimbardo classified the sexual addiction in general and the addiction to Internet pornography in particular as a serious mental disorder that could lead to the disappearance of a human being as a species.

In response, Wilson was more optimistic. He told not only about the destructive influence of Internet porn on the human brain, but also about the sudden disappearance of unwanted symptoms, and about the biological bases of both processes.

Generation of the left hand

According to Canadian psychologist Simon Lazheness, boys are beginning to look for pornography at the age of 10 years. Internet pornography is perceived as more exciting than traditional, traditional types of porn, which mankind has been fond of in the past. “Why is that so?” Wilson asks.

Firstly, Internet porn is very diverse. In the study conducted by Australian scientists, the most rapid excitement was not just a nudity, but its constant renewal. Subjects were forced to watch porn on 22 screens. When the screens had the freshest clips, the erection (and subjective excitement) grew fastest. “Nature cares about males to fertilize ready-to-mate females as long as there are new females around,” says Wilson. “The better you know the partner, the more time passes before ejaculation.”

This phenomenon in psychology and biology is known as the Coolidge effect: males show the highest sexual activity in relation to the newest of the ready-to-fertilize females. The very notion comes from the joke that the 30th US President John Coolidge dismissed when he visited the poultry farm. “And what about you, does every cock serve the same chicken?”. “No, for every cock we have a few chickens!” “I need to tell Mrs. Coolidge about it.”

Without the effect of Coolidge, Internet pornography simply would not exist. We are programmed to consider each new female appearing on the monitor as an opportunity to continue the genus. With each new picture, the brain ejects the neurotransmitter dopamine. It causes a sense of pleasure and affects the processes of motivation and learning. Until new images appear before the person, he will continue to click on them, and dopamine – to be developed. With Internet porn, a man can see more attractive women in 10 minutes than his ancestors observed for a lifetime.

But our brain is the same as that of the people of the Stone Age. With regular viewing of porn, the human brain begins to rebuild itself under constant exposure to potential sexual partners. We develop strong associative links between sex and the circumstances of using your Internet harem. You must be alone; peek behind an unsuspecting woman or couple; regularly click the mouse; you should be able to enter a search query for the next dose of stimulant material. Windows with the material should be several, they must be constantly updated, there must be a slider for rewinding the boring fragments. As one of the young people interviewed by Wilson noted, we are the first generation to learn how to masturbate with the left hand.

A porn student does not understand

In real life, sex is happening in a completely different environment. Here, social rituals involving communication with oneself and certain mental efforts on your part are important. You must touch other people and be ready to be touched. In this sex, smells and pheromones are important, and an emotional bond is developed with the partner. So what happens when a young man, addicted to virtual porn, still finds himself a companion of life from flesh and blood? Psychologists can not answer this question definitely.

porn-destroys-your-privacy
porn-destroys-your-privacy

In 2009, the experiment Simon Lazhenessa decayed due to the fact that the scientist could not find any student who is not familiar with Internet porn. So in any study of this kind, there will be no control group – young people who grew up on normal sex and never looked at porn sites. This creates a huge blind spot in any experiment. Imagine if all the male people in 10 years started to smoke! We would think that lung cancer is absolutely natural for men.

Refusing the control group, Lazheness asked 20 selected students the question: “Does online porn influence your attitude towards women?” They answered: “No, it does not.” But they used porn sites for a decade … it’s like asking fish, does water affect its life?

In addition, the researchers did not ask the subjects about the symptoms that Philip Zimbardo described in “The Disappearance of Men.” In his work, Zimbardo describes the symptoms of addiction to porn, which is very easy to accept for the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, clinical depression or obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. In medical institutions, it is considered that all this is the result, and not the cause of dependence on Internet pornography. Therefore, pornoaddictam is prescribed the same medications as with ADHD or depression: psychostimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics … Both doctors and addicts themselves do not even consider the possibility that symptoms can be overcome by a simple correction of behavior.

Here there is one more problem: very few people believe in sexual addiction as a mental disorder. After all, sex is something healthy, even necessary for every person! But Internet pornography is not sex. “The difference between online porn and sex is the same as between modern video games and checkers,” Wilson said. According to a study by Danish scientists in 2006, viewing pornography is the most addictive of all types of online classes. Biologically, this is simply explained: our brains are programmed to give rewards for actions necessary for survival. Sex, food, communication. In the modern form, these phenomena are exaggerated to the limit: porn instead of sex, super-calorie fast food instead of food, social networks instead of ordinary communication.



Eating high in calories or naked on the cover immediately causes a release of dopamine. Excess dopamine drowns in-built saturation mechanisms. If you give lab mice unlimited access to sweets, sausage and cream, almost all of them are dangerously fat. That’s why four out of five Americans suffer from obesity: they are addicted to eating. For comparison, dependence on drugs or alcohol is produced only in 10% of subjects – it does not matter whether they are laboratory mice or humans.

Fighting against self

The once unlimited consumption of food or sex was an important evolutionary advantage. To formulate this it is possible simply: “Fly, while they give!” Wolves eat 10 kilos of meat from every dead deer. During the mating season all animals show increased sexual activity … but what if the mating season never ends up like this?

From constant doses of dopamine, FosB protein accumulates in neurons, which leads to structural changes in the brain. First, getting pleasure from the surrounding life is becoming more difficult. Then you start to react only to porn – everything else in comparison with it seems dull and boring. Finally, you have lost willpower – and this is already a change in the frontal cortex of the brain. Before us, the mechanism of developing any dependence – no matter, from sex, gambling, food or heroin.

But in the process of working with people who were dependent on Internet pornography in the past, psychologists made an important discovery. If a person stops consuming porn, the brain gradually returns to normal. There is already a control group: people who voluntarily stopped watching porn on the Internet. Wilson calls this discovery “The Resurrection of Men” – by analogy with the “Disappearance” of Zimbardo.

“You probably want to ask why a normal man can decide not to view pornography,” Wilson grins. “The answer is simple: erectile dysfunction.” The Internet kills the potency of young people. This is confirmed by the study of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, held in 2011. Porno-addicts are no longer helped even by Viagra-if she ever helped them at all. Drugs for the treatment of impotence are only below the belt, and after all the problem is in the brain. The brain sends weaker signals to the genitals. It all starts with a weakening reaction to porn, then there is a general decrease in potency, and then the porno addict is generally unable to achieve an erection.

Lessons can be learned three. First, the classical mechanism of any addiction is shown above. Secondly, Internet pornography and “Playboy” are different phenomena. After all, there has never been a mass impotence among young men in the history of mankind (in spite of the fact that the Playboy exists since 1953). Thirdly, only the erectile dysfunction of the way to get the porno addict to think and stand on let the corrections. Less significant symptoms are simply ignored.

For example, Wilson leads a young man of 20 years, the last 8 years he met with psychologists and psychotherapists. He was depressed, anxious personality disorder, memory disorders and other mental disorders. He was prescribed psychostimulants, tranquilizers and antidepressants. He was expelled from two universities and twice fired from his job. With social anxiety fought smoking marijuana. There were many women in his life, because he was good-looking and was rotating in a respectable society. But they quickly disappeared because of the strangeness of his behavior. Internet porn, he was seriously fond of 14 years. From the age of 18 began to try to change something in his life – and realized that all his problems are porn.

Two months before the conversation with Wilson, our hero completely stopped watching Internet pornography. It was not so easy to throw, but he managed to do it. Since then, the young man has stopped using all medicines, his memory and attention have improved, the potency has become all right and he has become a real magnet for girls. The soul-saving part of his speech Wilson ended by mentioning the group “Fapstronavta” on the site reddit.com, whose participants in life have only one goal: to hold out without masturbation for 90 days. At the time of the performance, the group had 5,888 people.

Unfortunately, people of twenty years of age get the potency back much more slowly than older men. If a fifty-year-old man is all right in a couple of months, then the young man can recover 4-5 months to restore mental and physical health. According to Wilson, the point here is that adults did not start their sex life with Internet porn. Sexual problems began only when they were given high-speed Internet.

Adolescents also start from the Internet, and at a time when their brains are able to produce record amounts of dopamine. It should also be taken into account that in adolescence, the often used neural circuits are fixed in the brain and the unused ones are eliminated. By the time you get to 22, this can lead to unpleasant consequences if you inadvertently watched a lot of extreme pornography or pornography that does not quite correspond to your current sexual orientation. “Fortunately, the human brain is very flexible and plastic. If a young man quits watching porn, sooner or later everything should return to the original biological state. “

How porn rebuilds your brain and destroys your privacy
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