Studies have shown that pornography physically alters your brain (not in a good way)Watch
This might be TL;DR for a lot of people, but it's worth reading as it might affect your views considerably. Since giving up porn I have more energy, more motivation, and am a lot more confident around the opposite sex as well as larger groups of people. Women look a lot more attractive to me now as well. I am enjoying life a lot more and generally feel happier. I recommend skimming through this post to see if giving up porn is something you might consider.
COMMENTS: Published in JAMA Psychiatry (May, 2014), this was the first brain-scan study on porn users. Researchers found several brain changes, and those changes were correlated with the amount of porn was consumed. The subjects were moderate porn users, not classified as addicted. In this study, experts at Germany's Max Planck Institute found:
1) Higher hours per week/more years of porn viewing correlated with a reduction in grey matter in sections of the reward circuitry (striatum) involved in motivation and decision-making. Reduced grey matter in this reward-related region means fewer nerve connections. Fewer nerve connections here translates into sluggish reward activity, or a numbed pleasure response, often called desensitization. The researchers interpreted this as an indication of the effects of longer-term porn exposure.
Lead author Simone Kühn said - "That could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system."
2) The nerve connections between the reward circuit and prefrontal cortex worsened with increased porn watching. As the researchers explained, "Dysfunction of this circuitry has been related to inappropriate behavioral choices, such as drug seeking, regardless of the potential negative outcome." In short, this is evidence of an association between porn use and impaired impulse control. This may indicate hypofrontality.
3) The more porn used, the less reward activation when sexual images were flashed on the screen. A possible explanation is that heavy users eventually need more stimulation to fire up their reward circuitry. Said the researchers, "This is in line with the hypothesis that intense exposure to pornographic stimuli results in a downregulation of the natural neural response to sexual stimuli." Again, desensitization is common in all kinds of addicts.
Simone Kühn continued - "We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward." Kühn says existing psychological, scientific literature suggests consumers of porn will seek material with novel and more extreme sex games. "That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation."
The above findings dismantle the two primary arguments put forth by porn addiction naysayers:
- That porn addiction is simply "high sexual desire". Reality: The heaviest porn users had less response to sexual images, thus less " sexual desire."
- That compulsive porn use is driven by "habituation", or becoming easily bored. Reality: Habituation is a temporary effect that doesn't involve measurable shrinkage of actual brain structures.
To sum up: More porn use correlated with less gray matter and reduced reward activity (in the dorsal striatum) when viewing sexual images. More porn use also correlated with weakened connections to the seat of our willpower, the frontal cortex.
Keep in mind that the results of this study are consistent with over 70 recent brain studies done on internet and videogame addicts by addiction neuroscience experts. In all of these studies, the results demonstrate profound brain changes from overconsumption of internet stimuli.
Cambridge University study
Direct link: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0102419
Comments: The long-awaited Valerie Voon study highlighted in the UK documentary "Porn on the Brain" is finally out. As expected, Cambridge University researchers found that compulsive porn users react to porn cues in the same way that drug addicts react to drug cues. "Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours (2014)"
But there's more.
Compulsive porn users craved porn (greater wanting), but did not have higher sexual desire (liking) than controls. This finding aligns perfectly with the current model of addiction, and refutes the theory that "higher sexual desire" causes compulsive porn use. Drug addicts are thought to be driven to seek their drug because they want – rather than enjoy – it. This abnormal process is known as incentive motivation. This is a hallmark of addiction disorders.
The other major finding (not reported in the media) was that over 50% of subjects (average age: 25) had difficulty achieving erections with real partners, yet could achieve erections with porn.
Finally, researchers found that younger subjects had enhanced reward circuit activity when exposed to porn cues. Higher dopamine spikes and greater reward sensitivity are major factors in adolescents being more vulnerable to addiction and sexual conditioning.
The results of the first Cambridge study, and the Max Planck study (Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn (2014), provide very strong support for hypotheses put forth here on YBOP from its inception in 2011.
Together the 2 studies found:
- The 3 major addiction-related brain changes discussed in YBOP videos & articles: sensitization, desensitization, and hypofrontality,
- Less arousal to sexual imagery (the need for greater stimulation).
- The younger the porn user the greater the cue-induced reactivity in the reward center.
- Very high rates of ED in young, compulsive porn users.
Specifically, researchers found strong evidence of sensitization in compulsive porn users. Sensitization is hyper-reactivity to cues that leads to craving to use, and is considered to be the core addiction-related brain change. A large body of evidence suggests it's caused by the accumulation of DeltaFosB. Sensitization is assesed through using fMRIs to measure activity in specific reward circuit structures when subjects are exposed to cues - in this case sexual films. As lead researcher Valerie Voon said:
"There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behaviour and healthy volunteers. These differences mirror those of drug addicts."
Another key finding is that compulsive porn users did not "like" the porn any more than the control group. This aligns perfectly with the addiction model as addicts experience strong cravings to use (wanting), but don't like "it" (whatever "it" may be) as strongly.
The researchers also asked the participants to rate the level of sexual desire that they felt whilst watching the videos, and how much they liked the videos. Drug addicts are thought to be driven to seek their drug because they want * rather than enjoy * it. This abnormal process is known as incentive motivation, a compelling theory in addiction disorders.
As anticipated, patients with compulsive sexual behaviour showed higher levels of desire towards the sexually explicit videos, but did not necessarily rate them higher on liking scores.
The above finding contradicts the argument that individuals having difficulty controlling their porn use simply posses higher libidos and like sex more than the rest of the population.
The Cambridge study arrives on the heels of a German study which correlated several brain changes with the frequency and years of porn used. Both studies simply confirm what 70 Internet addiction brain studies have shown - that the internet can induce pathological learning (addiction), and can cause the same brain changes as seen in drug addicts.
ED = Erectile Dysfunction
YBOP = yourbrainonporn.com - a website showing the effects of porn on user's brains. This is where I copied and pasted the comments discussing these studies from. I would've mentioned this earlier but didn't want people dismissing the independent evidence because of the admittedly biased discussion source. This is why I've linked the actual papers so people can read through them themselves if they feel the need to.
You sometimes don't know you're addicted to something unless you try to give it up. Why not have a go at giving up porn?
I know what's more important to me.