How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life

Always young. Always beautiful. Always new. Porn keeps dopamine surging in the brain. But at what point does chronic stimulation become chronic dissatisfaction?

If you’re married and using Internet porn regularly, your sex life—the one with your wife—is probably a lot less satisfying than it could be.

You probably know that from an evolutionary standpoint, a man is rewarded for spreading his seed. But your wedding vows have an evolutionary purpose, too: they increase the chances that your joint offspring will have two caregivers, thus improving the odds that your genes will survive.

Internet porn, it turns out, messes with both these instincts. The endless variety and overstimulation may initially help you get more excited during sex, but over time it has the opposite effect: porn can dull your ability to please, and be pleased by, your partner.

When free, streaming porn became available, psychiatrist Norman Doidge, in The Brain That Changes Itself, noticed something unsettling among his porn-using patients:

They reported increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, spouses, or girlfriends, though they still considered them objectively attractive. When I asked if this phenomenon had any relationship to viewing pornography, they answered that it initially helped them get more excited during sex but over time had the opposite effect.

Today’s porn can dampen your sexual responsiveness to your partner by over-activating three brain mechanisms. First, an ancient biological program in the brain overrides natural satiety when there are lots of mates begging to be sexed. Your brain perceives each new individual on your screen as a valuable genetic opportunity. Second, too much stimulation can numb the pleasure response of the brain for a time, pumping up cravings for more novel stimuli. Therefore, a familiar mate—your spouse—appears less and less enticing. And finally, too much stimulation of the brain’s sex and mating circuitry obstructs the mammalian instinct toward monogamy.

The result? Indifference.

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Meet the Coolidge Effect (or, What You Have in Common With an Oversexed Rat)

Consider what happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat. First, there’s a sexual frenzy. Half a dozen copulations later, the fireworks fizzle. Even if she wants more, he’s not interested. His brain chemistry whispers, “Roll over and snore.” However, if a new female shows up, his exhaustion will miraculously fade long enough for him to gallantly attempt his fertilization duties. You can repeat this process with fresh females until the male nearly dies of exhaustion.

His renewable virility is not indicative of an insatiable libido. Nor does it increase his wellbeing—although it may look (and temporarily feel to him) that way. He goes after each new female because of surges of dopamine in his brain. They command him to leave no willing female unfertilized.

 

Scientists know this biological program as the Coolidge Effect.

Dopamine, the “gotta get it!” neurochemical behind all motivation, is central. Without it we wouldn’t bother to court, pursue climax, or even eat. When dopamine drops, so does motivation.

The more the rat copulates with the same female, the less dopamine he gets for his efforts—until he heads for the recliner, toting the remote.

Consider this graph. The fifth time a rat copulates with the same female, it takes him 17 minutes to get off. But if he keeps switching to novel females, he can do his duty in less than two minutes, five times in a row.

 

Unlike rats, humans are pair bonders. We’re wired, on average, to raise offspring together. But that doesn’t mean the Coolidge Effect isn’t strong in us, too. One man said,

I watched a documentary on guys with extremely expensive “love dolls.” One guy had so many that he was running out of room in his home. Even though these were dolls, he had already started to see them as girls he had spent enough time with. Probably why guys collect so much porn. I thought I was amassing some wonderful database of pleasure. But I can’t remember ever actually going back. The compelling part is the new image, the novel image … the novel love doll.

The uniqueness of Internet porn can goad a user relentlessly, as it possesses all the elements that keep dopamine surging. The excitement of the hunt for the perfect image releases dopamine. Moreover, there’s always something new, always something kinkier. Dopamine is released when something is more arousing than anticipated, causing nerve cells to fire like crazy.

In contrast, sex with your spouse is not always better than expected. Nor does it offer endless variety. This can cause problems because a primitive part of your brain assumes quantity of dopamine equals value of activity, even when it doesn’t.

Indeed, porn’s dopamine fireworks can produce a drug-like high that is more compelling than sex with a familiar mate. In a Playboy interview last year, musician John Mayer admitted he’d rather jerk off to images than have sex. He explained,

Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s expectations. How could you be constantly synthesizing an orgasm [with a person] based on dozens of shots? You’re looking for the one … out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back and continue your shot hunt and continue to make yourself late for work. How does that not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It’s got to.

 

Mayer is slave to the Coolidge Effect. His brain lashes him with dopamine each time he clicks to a novel “mate.” Keep in mind that dopamine is the hook in all addictions.

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Why Isn’t My Spouse Doing It for Me?

Why does your beloved start to look to you like cold oatmeal, even if others see her as homemade pumpkin pie? One factor may be the degree of abnormal stimulation of Internet porn.

Too much stimulation can actually numb the pleasure response of your brain, producing a variety of symptoms. We know this from recent research on gamblers, overeaters, and, of course, drug users. The brain starts to respond more weakly to whatever dopamine is around—such as that produced by your spouse’s “Honey, it’s date night.”

Dopamine is the gas for your desire engine. Blunted sensitivity means that even if you have plenty of gas, your V-8 is only running on four cylinders. Your numbed brain simply doesn’t respond to her as it did before.

Lack of desire was a factor in the failure of my marriage, and the failure of a relationship subsequent to that. I am in my late 30s, have used porn heavily since my teens, and have blamed my problems on partners (“I’m just not attracted to you,” “I wish you were more responsive”), the newness of partners (“I need to give my body time to catch up to my brain,” “I need to get over my ex”), fitness levels, diet, age, stress, performance anxiety …

Like a lot of men, I went to a doctor, got a physical that ruled out any serious medical conditions, and got Viagra. Once my marriage failed and I was single again, porn use went into overdrive—at least once a day and often two or three times. But when I realized I could no longer even masturbate to orgasm without porn, something clicked. Cause and effect seem blindingly obvious now, of course.

I’m with a new partner to whom I am very attracted and with whom I am very comfortable sexually—but I still cannot perform. Thankfully she is open to frank discussions about this stuff.

Ironically, even if sex with your spouse isn’t calling to you, you may feel intense cravings for something hyperstimulating (novel, risky). You keep slamming down that dopamine accelerator because your brain desperately wants to feel good again. As comedian Bill Maher once observed, that’s what led Hugh Grant, who had Elizabeth Hurley at home, to end up with “Marvin Hagler in a wig.”

Why would we have evolved to be more dissatisfied after particularly intense stimulation? It may be that this mechanism drove our ancestors to override their natural satiety during mating season, or when high-calorie food was around. Think the Coolidge Effect on twin turbos.

For example, when a guinea pig broke into a cage of females, he managed to father 42 pups. (When apprehended, he slept for two days straight. Brains need time to recover from such intense stimulation.) When we flood our brain with too many visuals of mates begging for our sexual favors, our brain perceives a similar genetic bonanza and obligingly drives us to binge by subtly numbing our pleasure response.

Unless you understand this hidden brain mechanism, which urges you to step on the gas even when you’ve had more than enough, it’s hard to connect an insatiable libido with a less responsive brain. After all, it feels like your libido is getting stronger. The reality is that neurochemically induced dissatisfaction deep in the brain is urging you to seek more stimulation.

Clues that your libido thermostat has been readjusted would be: you feel restless and dissatisfied more of the time; want kinkier sex with your mate; find your mate less attractive or compelling than the Internet; need more extreme material; and so forth. Experts call this effect “tolerance.” It can indicate an addiction process at work in the brain.

I’ve started speaking to my ex again. I explained that I wasn’t distant because I found her sexually uninteresting, but because I had been watching so much Internet porn that she’d have needed to be juggling with her feet, sucking off a horse, and rimming a [transsexual] for me to be fully engaged during lovemaking.

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How Does Porn Interfere With My Instincts for Monogamy?

If pair bonding benefits us and our offspring, then why are we so vulnerable to becoming hooked on the dopamine rush of novel cyber “mates?” Paradoxically, it’s partly because we possess the brain mechanisms to fall in love. This ability to pair-bond is completely dependent on blasts of dopamine goosing our love circuits. In the 97 percent of mammals that are promiscuous, these brain circuits for lasting bonds are missing.

When scientists compared the socially monogamous prairie vole with its promiscuous cousin, the montane vole, they discovered two curious things:

  • Animals that form pair bonds, or fall in “love,” are more prone to addiction. They get a bigger dopamine blast from addictive substances. This may be why many of us are easily lured by dopamine-producing substances and activities such as Internet porn and gambling.
  • Even more telling is what didn’t happen when scientists artificially flooded the pair bonders’ brains with chemical stimulation. These naturally monogamous animals no longer formed a preference for one partner. The artificial stimulation had hijacked their dopamine-dependent bonding machinery, leaving them just like regular (promiscuous) mammals.

Having a brain that’s sensitive to the high of falling in love supports your pair bond. You get somewhat “hooked” on your mate (provided there’s no scientist drugging you). Ideally, you stick around snuggling just as you evolved to do—because there isn’t a lot of other temptation. (Of course, if temptation falls in your lap, your genes may crack their dopamine whip.)

It’s evident, however, that the same sensitivity that urges you to fall in love becomes a vulnerability when you’re saturated with hyperstimulating sexual goodies. Suddenly, the circuitry your pair bond depends on is inundated with dopamine associated with stimuli other than your mate. It can make a mate uninteresting, and override your normal satiation mechanisms.

 

Far from just “rubbing off,” we chronic masturbators generally engage in a practice we call “edging”: bringing ourselves to the brink of orgasm repeatedly, without ejaculation. [Thanks to porn,] we can sustain extremely high levels of sexual arousal literally for hours. I am an active participant in several masturbation-focused Internet groups, and moderator of one.

Many of us go so far as to abandon partner-sex, even while the partner remains available and willing. We’ve also coined the term “copulatory impotence” for the common phenomenon of being able to get it up to Internet porn, but not for a partner.

Does this mean everyone who views porn will give up on his marriage? Of course not. However, support for the hypothesis that supernormal stimulation—even in less-stimulating versions than Internet porn supplies—interferes with human pair bonds has already shown up in research.

According to a 2007 study, mere exposure to images of sexy females causes a man to devalue his real-life partner. He rates her lower not only on attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence. Also, after pornography consumption, subjects in a 2006 study reported less satisfaction with their intimate partner—including the partner’s affection, appearance, sexual curiosity, and performance. Moreover, they assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement.

Obviously, if you want to stay married in reasonable contentment, you make your task easier by choosing not to trigger perception shifts that cause your partner to look like Hamburger Helper.

So, what’s in it for the contented pair bonder? Aside from only having the expense of maintaining one household, he gains health benefits. For example, research shows that intercourse has more beneficial effects on the body than masturbation. It releases neurochemicals that reduce stress better, and the benefits linger for days. Also, daily warm touch between couples benefits men by lowering blood pressure.

The Internet can’t do that. As one man observed,

In the long run, fantasy based on pornography creates stress. Craving the unattainable is just hollow and unsatisfying.

In contrast, relaxed intimacy with an emphasis on affectionate touch not only soothes, but also automatically strengthens bonds.

During the middle years of our marriage, I quit worshiping my wife. Instead there was plenty of yoni to worship, courtesy of the porn industry. Always young. Always beautiful. Always horny. Always new. Always able to get an orgasm. And never fulfilling. I recently unplugged totally from porn, and I have returned my wife to her pedestal. Our marriage has come out of a long stale period and is rejuvenated. We are closer than we have been for years, in bed and throughout the day. I am really enjoying the long, slow, non-goal-oriented lovemaking that never really ends—we just take a break and start again the next day. I feel better, and my libido seems to be present more continuously.

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How Do I Get the Magic Back?

You can re-link your sexual arousal to your spouse. Stop climaxing to stimuli that produce more dopamine than she does. Remember, a primitive mechanism in your brain always urges you to focus on the option that releases the most dopamine. It doesn’t care what best eases your stress, protects your health, or sustains your relationship. When an e-babe beckons, your brain assumes you’re in the gene-spreading business—a top priority.

Extreme stimulation can innocently tarnish your appreciation of your spouse by messing with your brain’s pleasure center. It’s up to you now: simply understanding our atavistic programming is the easy part.

Since I stopped masturbating to porn a couple of weeks ago, things are changing. When I see a woman with long hair walk by in a nice skirt or dress, I get that physical rush of energy. Used to be I needed a stronger pornographic fantasy from the Internet to get any type of arousal.

In another few weeks even his wife will give him a rush.

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More From Our Special Marriage Section:

Even stellar relationships lose their spark over time; here are the ingredients of a lasting, fruitful partnership, and techniques for weathering the the stormy times: What Your Marriage Needs to Survive

When Tom Forrister transitioned from female to male, his same-sex marriage became a federally-recognized, “traditional” marriage. The one constant was the bond he shared with his wife: My Exemplary, Everyday Marriage

Guys may think leaving is the right thing to do for the sake of the family, but according to family lawyer David Pisarra, there are a few things they should know before—and after—they walk out that door: A Guy’s Divorce Survival Guide

Encouraging princess culture—however innocently—contributes to the sexualization of girls. Men can be part of the solution to the “princess problem”: Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls

The night­mare of fam­ily court is enough to deter a guy from even think­ing about tying the knot. Marriage: Just Don’t

For all the stories written by and for women on this issue—and there are few—men are more likely to be absent from the public dialogue about intentional childlessness. Why aren’t men’s stories also being heard? Two Is Enough

Men are more promiscuous than women, but that doesn’t mean we should buy the cultural fallacy that men are programmed to cheat; the vast majority of men are happily, naturally monogamous: Are Men Natural-Born Cheaters?

Tom Matlack talks to married men to find out when they knew their wife was “the one”: She’s the One

As Gabi Coatsworth’s son’s bipolar disorder gave way to full-blown manic episodes, she watched her husband slip deeper into drink and detachment: Reading Between the Silences

Monogamy sounds like “monotony,” but it doesn’t have to be monotonous. Hugo Schwyzer explores how we can have the security—and the novelty—we desire in our relationships: Red-Hot Monogamy

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—Photo jguild12/Flickr

About Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson

Gary Wilson has taught anatomy, physiology, and pathology for many years. His wife Marnia is the author of Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Among other projects, they host the website Your Brain on Porn.

Comments

  1. Good article. I would also wager that this eventually leads porn users to seek out sex tourism or even brouse escort sites to pay hundreds for a half hour with a real woman. It IS lilke a drug, that goes from stable images, to vids, to live webcam sex and for some, to hookers. To others maybe it goes the way of those sex dolls.

  2. “porn’s dopamine fireworks can produce a drug-like high that is more compelling than sex with a familiar mate.”

    My initial thought was that this seems to defy conventional logic, as most people who masturbate are doing so because they aren’t getting any.  It just surprises me that any man would actually choose masturbation over the real thing.  Then I read this:

    “research shows that intercourse has more beneficial effects on the body than masturbation. It releases neurochemicals that reduce stress better, and the benefits linger for days. Also, daily warm touch between couples benefits men by lowering blood pressure.”

    I appreciate the discussion of brain chemistry, yet how does porn addictiveness compare with other things such as coffee, tobacco, heroin?

    Although there is a lot of extreme porn out there, there is little basis for any suggestion that masturbation / porn is a gateway to more extreme behavior.

    If men were getting regular sex to fulfill their desires, there would be no need to seek out alternatives.

    • QUOTE: “Although there is a lot of extreme porn out there, there is little basis for any suggestion that masturbation / porn is a gateway to more extreme behavior.”

      Hmmm…We never suggested that it does. In fact, we believe today’s porn takes the starch out of a lot of guys. Consider this recent headline:

      Young men, couples shunning sex, The Japan Times, January 14, 2011
      “According to the results of the September poll, released Wednesday, over a third of men aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex, double the figure from 2008, and over 40 percent of those married have been sexless for at least the past month.”

      • The comparison is not very good. There are other factors at work here also. I would NEVER put anyine on a pedistal either because they are human not a machine.

    • @Denis
      Well its true – i was with someone who would prefer to wank over porn than have sex with me, his high-libidoe’d girlfriend. It was infuriating and upsetting. I did not understand why he’d prefer a screen to actual real hot steamy sex!! bonkers if you ask me. He’s sthe only man i’ve met who was like that though. don’t want to meet one like it again!

      Yeah, as for the article with regard to putting his wife on a pedestal. Oh dear. Pedestals are not a good idea.

  3. Gary Wilson says:

    Thanks for raising the issue of how the addictiveness of Internet porn compares with the addictiveness of other things. To understand the biological reasons for porn’s addictiveness, watch the “Your Brain On Porn Series”: http://yourbrainonporn.com/your-brain-on-porn-series

    In the last year, three studies in other countries (Israel, Germany and France) have concluded that there is adequate evidence to classify compulsive Internet porn use as a bona fide behavioral addiction. So far, American sexologists have been sluggish about rethinking this issue. Perhaps when researchers actually start looking at the brains of porn users, it’ll settle the issue. However, even here there’s increasing evidence that other superstimulating behaviors (gambling, gaming, fattening foods) can produce brain changes that that mimic addiction to drugs. (List below)

    So, here’s the illuminating question: If those activities cause such brain changes, how can Internet pornography not do so?

    1) Internet porn produces lots of dopamine (sexual arousal, hunting, novelty).

    2) Users can keep their dopamine high for longer periods.

    3) Unlike food, porn doesn’t trip our satiation mechanism. That is, you may get tired, but you won’t get full, overdose, or get sick.

    4) Users can always escalate to something more stimulating/shocking/exciting.

    There’s growing evidence that those addicted to Internet porn experience dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms–indications that their brains have undergone changes as part of an addiction process. (http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.WITHDRAWAL.pdf)

    These and many others can be found at:
    http://yourbrainonporn.com/research-articles-and-abstracts

    -Fatty foods may cause cocaine like addiction (2010)

    -Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward (2007)

    -How Drug Addictions, Unhealthy Food Cravings are Similar (2010)

    -Dopamine release in ventral striatum of pathological gamblers losing money (2010)

    -Pathological gambling is linked to reduced activation of the mesolimbic reward system (2005)

    -Changes in cue induced prefrontal cortex activity with video game play. (2010)

    -Brain activities associated with gaming urge of online gaming addiction. (2009)

  4. Rick Umbaugh says:

    This is just stupid pseudoscience. There are people at the Univeristy of Montreal whose valid research is showing that porn is actually good for you, chemically and psychologically, particulaly if you don’t have a sex partner at the moment. There is an economist who did as study on raper and child sexual abuse who has shown that when the internet made porn readily available both of these things wen down. There was a big push a couple years ago to show that porn causes domestic violence, but the research was so biased and badly designed that when legitimate researchers studied the phenomenon they discovered that porn can stimulate violence is men already prone to violence, that it won’t make a non-violent person violent, even BDSM porn.

    As to the business with wives being neglected because of porn I would like to suggest that it takes three to have a cheating situation. Perhaps if these wives would help to make the real experience of sex with her more interesting her husband would not need the porn. The real thing is always more interesting than beating off.

    There is a sex therapist who has published a book on sex therapy which suggests in one fo the included papers that most sexual problems later in life have to do with sexual boredom. Porn can help with this as it can suggest ways in which a couple can break out of their routine and perhaps bring some of their secret sexual fantasies to life.

    Lastly, I would also like to suggest that the only people in this world who have trouble telling fantasy, which is what porn really is, from reality are moralist feminists and members of the religious right.

    Rick Umbaugh, MA
    qui bene amat bene castigat

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Rick. So, are you saying that heavy use of today’s extremely stimulating Internet porn does not have the power to increase habituation between partners? Because that’s the subject of our post, and it’s tiresome to read off-topic replies about domestic violence, rape rates, etc. —particularly replies that incorrectly assess our backgrounds (we’re not religious) and knowledge. Feel free to tell us which bits of the science we cite are “pseudo,” and be prepared to continue the discussion in-depth.

      The argument that porn helps with sexual boredom is short-sighted. Any sex aid can force an orgasm if the stimulation is intense enough. But that doesn’t necessarily improve the long-term harmony of the couple…a point that is often missed. Such “cures” show a lack of knowledge about how superstimuli can numb the brain’s pleasure response, speeding habituation.

      Of course porn is fantasy. So are video gaming and gambling, in a sense…and both are proving to be addictive. So?

      • Rick Umbaugh says:

        The area of sex research has been tainted with a lot of bad research and frankly pseudoscience. The religious right and the feminist movement have produced a great deal of badly designed research which purports to prove their opinions primarily by biasing the sample, only interviewing domestic violence victims whose abuser used porn, but not any of the millions of people who have used porn to enhance their sex lives. This is pseudoscience and journalists fall for it all the time.
        Specifically to the paper, I find two parts of it to be guilty of pseudoscientific abuses. The most obvious one is the assertions about porn addiction. While I have no problems with interviewing people who believe that they are addicted to porn about their addictions, the fact that there are millions of people who use porn who don’t get addicted tells me that there is something else going on in addiction than the behavior to which the addiction attaches itself, more on this below.
        The other thing that bothers me is the assertion that monogamy is “hard wired” into the human brain. You do not provide any citation (yes, I know it is journalism) which would allow me to check the research. When making scientific assertions, I would assert, this should be common practice. It is easy to make assertions like this, but difficult to prove, so where are you getting the proof to demonstrate this assertion.
        Beyond this, I would point out that even a cursory study of human history and even contemporary societies would quickly show that monogamy is a social phenomenon, not a physical one. Islamic society, Mormon tradition, the Bible, the modern polyamory movement and even the study that you cited as reported by the Discovery Channel would seem to refute this assertion. The fact that you simply accepted the proposition that monogamy is hard wired without any attempt to bring up these obvious refutations to it is, at least to me, pseudoscience, although to be fair I may have over reacted and should have simply called it bad science.
        Now, to the idea of porn addiction. I did a paper on sex addiction a couple years ago and what I found was that addiction has nothing to do with the substance of behavior. This research began with my study of Patrick Carnes’ investigations into sex addiction. In his book Contrary to love (Carnes, P., 1989. Contrary to love: Helping the sex addict Minneapolis, MN: CompCare Publishers.) Carnes did some good work in trying to find why someone becomes addicted to sex (and this directly applies to the so called porn addiction). He found a lot of proof that addictions are not exclusive to the behavior or substance the addiction attaches itself to. For instance, in Carnes earlier book (Carnes, P., 1992. Don’t call it love: Recovery from sex addiction. New York: Bantam Books) he found that Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, acquired a sex addiction after he had conquered his alcoholism (pp 34-35).
        I also discovered a paper on shopping addiction which found much the same issues (Hirschman, E. C., 1992 . The consciousness of addiction: Towards a general theory of compulsive comsumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(2), pp. 155-179). Hirschman actually conducted her research in the way that research on the nature of all addictions should be conducted. She not only interviewed those who were self identified addicts, but also those whose behavior was similar, but not the same as addicts (The difference is choice and compulsion). While Carnes didn’t use Hirschman’s research design, his discoveries from interviewing sex addicts give a good reason why Hirschman’s research shows what it shows.
        I would assert that a person with the so called porn addiction is really suffering from a personality disorder and that he or she will become addicted to anything as long as this disorder is not addressed. If the people who are doing research on porn addiction would use Hirschman’s research design of interviewing now just the addicts but also have a control group of people who use porn but are not addicted to porn, they would find much the same thing. Hence, the addiction claim is bad science as it only is done to reinforce the researcher’s prejudices about porn.
        Lastly, I would like to suggest that any research which simply reinforces the so called “common sense” ideas about sexuality, it is has to be looked at very closely. There is so much sex negativity out in the conversation today, promoted by the religious right and the sex negative feminists, that most of it is going to have the problems I have pointed out above and frankly, this article has made that mistake.

        If you are interested I will send the paper to you, it is too long to be posted here.

        • Thanks for taking the time to spell out your views, and concerns about the feminists and religious right. Just to clarify, we are not suggesting porn be banned. We’re suggesting users be better informed of Internet porn’s potential effects on the brain and perception.
          First, we agree that all of the porn research to date cannot be sound. Our main reservation is that most of it predates the hyperstimulation of today’s free, streaming, limitless Internet porn. But existing porn research also conflicts, and, just as you say, too often it does so according to the agenda of whoever is asking the questions and selecting the test subjects. This is one reason we hope that researchers will soon start looking into the brains of heavy porn users. While there are no guarantees in life, that kind of evidence seems more likely to settle arguments than opposing sociologist questionnaires.
          We should all question badly designed research, and the problem goes both ways. I participate in an academic list of sexologists, and it truly frightens me how they blindly accept any conclusions with which they are predisposed to agree, and pick apart the studies that conflict with their preconceptions…all in the name of science. For example, Lajeunesse’s “survey” of two dozen college-age males, asking whether porn caused them problems, was hailed as proof of porn’s harmlessness. Yet, not only was Lajeunesse unable to find a control group, he also seemed unaware that most of the users suffering the most surprising symptoms from today’s porn (uncharacteristic desire to isolate, escalation to uncharacteristic sexual tastes, ED, inability to control porn use and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit) are in their mid to late twenties. In short, Lajeunesse didn’t ask the right questions of the right people, and yet not one of the academics raised the least objection to the design of his study.
          Second, we totally agree that some brains are more susceptible to addition, including Internet porn addiction, than are others. Novelty-seekers and impulsives (people with low dopamine receptors in key regions of the brain) would certainly fall into that category. However, we think there’s increasingly strong evidence that even “normal” brains are susceptible to dopamine dysregulation where superstimulating versions of natural reinforcers are concerned. At the very least there’s sufficient evidence to justify brain scans to find out.
          We say this for several reasons. 79% of Americans are now overweight (and about half of those obese), even though our ancestors seldom were. Only a small minority can possibly have the disorders you point to, so the rest are falling into an addiction process for other reasons. New research on other stimuli suggests that brain changes in the reward circuitry—likely due to the clash between our brain and our environment—are a prime cause.
          Our brains evolved when scarcity was common, so we are wired to grab calories without thinking. When rats were offered unlimited access to superstimulating foods (frosting, sausage, cheesecake), nearly all the animals binged to obesity. In both rats, and later humans, a key change was a decline in dopamine receptors (D2) in the reward circuitry of the brain. This caused human and rat brains to become less sensitive to dopamine—driving overconsumption. Lower D2 receptors are a hallmark of all addictions. (Studies: Rats – Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats– 2010, Humans – Weight Gain Is Associated with Reduced Striatal Response to Palatable Food– 2010 http://yourbrainonporn.com/garys-research-food-addiction)
          As you probably know, drug addictions only entrap about 15% of users—animal or human. The rest find drugs, or their effects, aversive. Yet an abnormally stimulating version of a natural reinforcer (food) hooked nearly all animals tested. Today’s porn is an abnormally stimulating version of another natural reinforcer: sexual arousal. We’ve explained above why Internet porn is so much more stimulating to the brain than static porn of the past. And who finds erotica aversive? Hardly anyone, right? So, there’s a good chance that most of us, like the rats confronted with superstimulating food, are at risk—and particularly men, due to brain differences we’re happy to outline another time.
          Moreover, if gambling and gaming are turning up the evidence that indicate drug-like brain changes (which also showed up in the binging rats), how can anyone be confident that Internet porn is not causing similar changes in heavy users? Why would Internet porn be an exception? Users seem to find it extremely compelling.
          There’s another reason we believe today’s porn has the power to hijack some normal brains (as opposed to only those with other disorders). Strongly addicted people informally report surprising benefits when they leave porn behind. (http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.BENEFITS.pdf) Sure, some still have personality disorders of the type you studied. But many apparently don’t. They become emotionally healthy surprisingly quickly once they stop overtaxing their reward circuitry with sexual hyperstimuli. Why would this be happening if only those with disorders are vulnerable to addiction?
          Is it possible that healthy people, like healthy rats, are dysregulating their dopamine simply by overusing superstimuli? We hope our hypothesis is wrong, but if it isn’t, then the percentage of those affected is likely to increase—given that today’s porn users are viewing extreme material earlier and earlier, and the material itself is growing more stimulating.
          Incidentally, from what we’ve heard from guys recovering, porn addiction is not the same thing as sex addiction. Porn is the stimulus that people get hooked on. Masturbation may reinforce the addiction, but it’s the constant novelty, seeking and shock value of porn itself that furnish the most compelling dopamine highs. Heavy users will often give up masturbation more willingly than the buzz of Internet porn. So, although we’re happy to read your paper, I suspect it is too unrelated to tell us much about who is, or, more specifically who is not, susceptible to addiction to today’s porn.
          Regarding monogamy, we think you’ve made the common error of confusing “pair-bonding” with “sexually monogamous.” No mammals are sexually monogamous, even among the three percent who pair bond. Pair bonders are known as “socially monogamous.” That is, they typically pair up to raise offspring together, but there are occasionally some genes exchanged on the side in extra-pair couplings. This doesn’t mean every member of the species pairs up. There are always outliers, of course.
          We humans fall in this pair-bonder category. If humans weren’t pair bonders, no one would ever fall in love or make movies about it. We’d all be as promiscuous as bonobos and would lack the brain circuitry even to conceptualize lasting union. You may want to have a look at this academic paper: “The Evolution of Coupling,” http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/haselton/webdocs/PillsworthProofs.pdf. I’d be happy to suggest additional citations, as this is by no means an isolated authority. The concept that humans are pair bonders (who often cheat) is well established. To point out that men who can afford more than one wife will acquire one if their cultures permit doesn’t prove humans aren’t pair bonders. It just proves that we’re wired to grab novel mates when we can, which is part of what drives porn addiction, as pointed out in our article. Yet even in polygamous societies, the overwhelming majority of adults live in pairs.
          I hasten to add that our pointing out that humans are pair bonders does not imply that pair bonding is morally superior to any other lifestyle. When TGMP asked us to write this article they wanted an article on “the effect of porn on marriage.” In other words, the article is addressed to people who, for whatever reason, are interested in pairing up, or at least knowing how today’s porn may be impairing their ability to pair bond.
          The claim that monogamy is merely a social construct is rapidly losing steam, as scientists have already begun to isolate the actual mechanisms in the brain that are responsible for pair bonding in mammals. As pointed out in our article, it is this very brain circuitry that makes pair bonders especially vulnerable to addiction. We included research about pair-bonding mammals in the article, and if you want to understand more about the brain mechanisms behind pair bonding, you will want to start with the research on voles.

    • By using the rape and child porn analogy, you unwittingly reaffirmed one of the points of the article – looking and masturbation decrease the doing. So…we can conclude that this can be good sometimes and not good other times.

      Don’t see how it’s all the woman’s fault if her mate is jacking off to porn all the time.

      • “Don’t see how it’s all the woman’s fault if her mate is jacking off to porn all the time.”

        Of course, if the wife cuts her husband off from sex, then it is completely the wife’s fault.

        • But what if a wife cuts off sex because her husband is emotionally unavailable, for example? Now, a person could become emotionally unavailable for many reasons, but it’s ridiculous to suggest that it’s all the wife’s fault. Relationships generally require give and take. Your response is ridiculous and overly simplistic.

    • @Rick “Per­haps if these wives would help to make the real expe­ri­ence of sex with her more inter­est­ing her hus­band would not need the porn.”

      So, If I like to watch swinger porn and wish to make this happen with my wife, why should she agree to lower her dignity just to make a scene I have seen in the cyber world a reality. If the billion dollar industry has made women sexual objects why should women go with the demand of man?

      The effect that when I look at porn for an hour and masturbate is not same when I have sex with my wife for an hour and ejaculate. In sex with partner, there is more than sex to it yet porn is quite contrary.

      • Rick Umbaugh says:

        First of all, the idea that sex is a dignified activity is a part of the problem. Sex is not dignified. Sex is about two animals mating, with all the messiness and all the mental risk that this entails. The idea that she is too dignified to participate in anything other than missionary, reproductive sexuality is not the kind of flexible communications skills that moden couples therapists talk about. It is the residue of the victorian anachronisms that still infect the culture.

    • “Perhaps if these wives would help to make the real experience of sex with her more interesting her husband would not need the porn”

      You could just as easily say “perhaps if these husbands would make the experience of sex with him more interesting their wives would want to fuck them.” You could go round and round.

      • Rick Umbaugh says:

        Precisely, which is why we need more sex positive education, and there is a lot of good sex education out there, primarliy in San Francisco, but in other places as well. Sex is a learned behavior and so it needs to be taugh, and not just the plumbing we get in middle school, but the entire range of sexual behaviors.

  5. I first heard of the “rat experiment” back in 1972 in a class on psychology except that version of the story went like this:

    Test #1: A ram in heat was put in a pen with a sheep. The ram attempted to copulate 7 times in 1 hour.

    Test #2: A ram is put in a pen with a sheep. After the ram copulates with the sheep, the sheep is removed and a different sheep is put in the pen. The ram attempts copulation 14 times in a half hour.

    So far, I have been unable to confirm this with Google but I’ve never forgotten the story so I’m not making it up.

    As for the hysteria:
    Anybody who smokes a marijuana cigarette will become a heroin addict. Anybody who picks up a drink will become an alcoholic. Anybody who places a bet will end up with a gambling problem. Yes, there are people with problems but doesn’t mean everybody has a problem. FYI: According to the World Health Organisation, 4% of drinkers have diagnosable alcohol use disorders.

    I worry about the hysteria surrounding this issue. Your article says this is bad for men and yet Oprah has “experts” on talking to women about using porn and vibrators as part of their masturbation to get in touch with their sexuality. If I use the word pornography, everybody freaks out but if I say erotica everybody thinks otherwise.

    My investigation: http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/11/pornography-investigation.html

    As for dopamine, if somebody looked at porn and their dopamine didn’t get triggered, I’d classify them as either blind or dead. But don’t’ take my word for it.

    Porn Causes Brain Damage
    Rebecca Goldin, Director of Research, holds a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Mathematics, and a B.A., cum laude from Harvard University.
    http://stats.org/stories/porn_causes_brain_damage_apr04_06.htm

    I don’t believe for one minute that there is a one size fits all. I do believe that this entire issue has now taken on such gigantesque proportions that now, due to a few alcoholics, the vocal minority want to re-institute prohibition and we all know that didn’t work.

    • Great sheep story. The Coolidge effect is a powerful program. The rest of your post, however, seems to be cut and pasted from some other rant. We’re talking about porn’s potential effects on relationships here, not the debate about erotica vs. porn. FYI, women are starting to report that regular vibrator use numbs the responsiveness of their genitals. Since the experience of arousal and orgasm arise in the brain, it’s likely they’re running into the same problem we’re talking about: supranormal stimuli (things the likes of which our ancestors’ brains never confronted as they evolved) can numb the pleasure response of the brain, leading to increased dissatisfaction and horniness.

      • Oh please: Betty Dodson.

      • Marnia
        I need to correct myself, correct my message. I concur with your conclusions. If a man masturbates a lot or too much, there is a good chance he will not be able to perform when the curtain goes up. That stands to reason. If a woman uses a vibrator a lot or too much, yes she can desensitize herself. Yes if any of us get fixated on our fantasies whether through porn or otherwise, the young, the beautiful, the unattainable, I fully agree there is a risk that reality no longer cuts it (supranormal stimuli). If anybody wants to have a glass of wine with their meal, go ahead. However if they then kill the entire bottle, well that is a problem. Everything in moderation. I guess I sometimes feel in these discussions, which believe me are well documented with scientific fact and arrive at their conclusions more than adequately proven, like I am the guy wanting to examine the robust bouquet of a 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon only to find out that the topic of conversation is alcoholism. Oops, wrong social gathering.

        I come back to everything in moderation. I’m just worried that some want to enact prohibition to deal with the problem of the few.

        A few years ago, a friend and I were sitting out on a terrace having a cup of coffee as we watched various people walk by. Please picture two 50 year old men. At one moment, a rather attractive young lady of 25 or 30 walked by. I leaned over to my friend and said quietly, “Hey Dennis. Look at that woman over there. She’s wants it. [a pregnant pause] Just not from us.”

        We had a good laugh over that and it is that middle of road moderation that I was trying to talk about. Fantasies are fantasies for a reason. We live in reality. Everything in moderation. Enjoy your glass but don’t kill the bottle.

        • Everything in moderation, except for cocaine and heroin which are very addictive.

          Masturbation, not so much. I’d be surprised if there were that many men that spent a significant amount of time masturbating. It’s not that addictive and hours each day has got to be painful.

      • Yep, vibrator-use can absolutely desensitize a woman. I started using one in college, thinking I was a modern, sexually-empowered woman, and couldn’t believe how effectively it got the job done. It worked TOO well. I quickly found that within a month, I could no longer orgasm with my boyfriend, and a few months after that, I couldn’t even do it with my own hand any longer. The vibrator went in the trash and my responsiveness came back in few weeks. It’s funny, but even now, a decade later, I still sometimes miss the intense stimulation. However, I definitely do not miss having the sexual responsiveness of a rock.

        I’ve stayed away from internet porn for the same reason — it’s too stimulating and I know I would quickly get hooked. I tried masturbating to it once, and I literally came in less than one minute (not at all like real life!), the stimulation was so intense. Real-life sex will never be able to measure up to that. Perhaps I am just one of those people who easily gets hooked on dopamine surges, but I know myself well. If I started regularly using internet porn, I would end up as one of those people who can no longer get turned on without it. No thanks. I try to keep my sex-life organic.

  6. T. Richel says:

    This is an interesting article and very practically useful. I wonder how other motivations for porn use, such as using it to compensate for lonliness in non-partnered males, would play into this framework.

  7. “I have returned my wife to her pedestal.”

    That’s the one part of the article where my heart sunk and I felt really sad for you. If she’s on a pedestal then that means you’re not and it sets you up for sexual manipulation (honey-do = sex). Dopamine deprivation and reward is the perfect way to train a dog, but rather cruel for humans.

    A simple touch, a tender thought, the smell of flowers and a bright sunny day all produce dopamine. However, the use of the term addiction so loosely is absurd. I don’t dispute the existence of people with severe sexual problems and addictive tendencies. I just think they are a very small percentage of porn users. Most men would prefer a real woman, but if they can’t get one then they’ll take the matter into their own hands. It’s a way to avoid being treated like a dog.

    Do you have any “good data”™ on the pervasiveness and characteristics of porn “addiction” as compared to lax of sex partners?

    • I agree that loneliness is a big factor behind porn use. Finding really useful statistics, however, depends on overcoming the assumptions of those collecting them. For example, I, too, thought loneliness caused porn use, and I’m sure it does. Yet I have been amazed by how many guys, who were using porn heavily and isolating, change fairly radically when they stop using porn. It’s really remarkable. Rather quickly, they’re more comfortable in social settings, more at ease around women, more likely to flirt, date, have sex. One calls it “getting his swagger on,” and it’s truly inspiring to see. I recounted this phenomenon here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201001/was-the-cowardly-lion-just-masturbating-too-much

      Also, even if someone is without a partner and masturbates from time to time, it doesn’t mean he’s better off using Internet porn to do it. He may be better off with his hand and his imagination than the superstimulation of hours of novel erotica. Superstimuli have effects on the brain that standard sexual activity of the past did not. Paradoxically, superstimuli can increase horniness because of the brain changes outlined in our article. There’s a good chance our ancestors didn’t masturbate nearly as much as we did, for example. http://yourbrainonporn.com/masturbation-fantasy-and-captivity

  8. What I find interesting is that it hasn’t been mentioned that women enjoy pornography too. I know this because some of them actually tell me they like it. However, this topic is only considered from the perspective of men using porn. I know it’s the Good Men Project, but why not address that too?

    • When we’ve written gender neutral articles, the editors here have altered them to focus on men. That’s fine with me, because I like men. Alas, the editor also changes the titles of our articles. Our title for this one was “Porn, Novelty and Dissatisfaction.” No dire warnings, just information.

  9. I think the bottom line is everything in moderation.

    If you’re addicted to porn—hell, if you’re addicted to anything—it’s likely to hurt your relationship. If you need porn to function and can’t get it up with your spouse, obviously that’s a problem. But I occasionally view porn yet I think my wife is the hottest piece of ass I’ve ever seen. The porn (and subsequent masturbation) is a bridge really. My libido is much more prominent than hers. It’s not ideal, but nothing is ever perfect. So when she’s not feeling it, I quite literally take things into my own hands. But that doesn’t decrease my attraction to my wife or take away from our sex life at all.

    On an unrelated note, this article focuses on men who use porn. Where are the women who love porn? I know they’re out there. Also, at no point do you take into account men who are still attracted to their wives, but have no sex because she’s uninterested. I don’t blame a guy at all for turning to porn in that scenario. My point is there are a myriad of circumstances in life that are unaccounted for in these studies.

    • It’s great that your attraction to your wife stays strong. Unfortunately, many users of superstimuli (of both genders) find it *does* alter their perception.

  10. Hi this is not fully on topic but it is rel­e­vant to any dis­cus­sion about men.
    Mark Simp­son a British author and expert in mas­culin­i­ties has repub­lished an essay of his on misandry.
    I thought some of you may be inter­ested to read it.

    http://www.marksimpson.com/blog/2011/02/09/misandry-the-acceptable-prejudice/

  11. Wow, to not have a sick libido all we needed was a loving sexually compatible partner! Sarcasm is cheap, but so is another rehashing of the ‘too much of a good thing’ truth we all know. A shame that truth is very happily married to the ‘nobody’s perfect’ truth. Any solutions for the unattractive and socially inept and nonetheless lonely people who still need something besides exercise to do with their libido?

    • Yes, here are some practical suggestions: http://yourbrainonporn.com/tools-to-connect-with-others Also, when men stop watching superstuds on cialis for hours a day, they tend to see both themselves and the women around them as more attractive. One guy who had used porn heavily for 20 years stopped, and within a few months he wrote about how surprised he was one day when the thought popped into his mind, “I’m not half bad looking” for the first time ever (according to him). Still a virgin at 37, he was living with a woman and having sex within a year after that. So be optimistic. :-)

  12. …still, I admit I was interested to see that monogamy and addiction DO correlate.

  13. It’s true that people can become addicted on anything. But when this argument is used as a means to deflect the issue of porn specifically, I suspect that these people don’t want to admit the special and specific affects porn has ( something sexual and transcendent to human sexuality) vs something like drug use that has nothing to do with how men and women relate to each other both sexually and emotionally. This is not to minimize other addictions. But if you can’t be real and honest about the addiction to pornography specifically without saying “people become addicted to drugs too!”, then you’re not ready to take an honest look at how porn specifically affects a people, sex and relationships.

    I have one question for the men that think the comments in the article are unfair. I sense that some of you think that studies done on addiction to porn is an attempt to minimize men or male sexuality. But what is porn if not an attempt to minimize women as submissive second rate citizens? I don’t think any one of us could deny that porn isn’t the best representation of women, or men for that matter.

    No man wants to be, or deserves to be, minimized. As men, you want respect and as a human being, you deserve respect. Keeping that in mind, what about pornography respects women? In general, porn doesn’t treat women very nicely. Often in porn women are either objectified or dismissed based on their body parts or age. Most women in porn fit into a very limited age range and body type (excluding fringe fetish appeals) where as men of all ages are viewing them, from sons to fathers. How do you suppose this logically makes women feel? To know that when men need sexual stimulation, then turn to the newest and younger version? How do you think it makes women feel to know that the quantity of women men desire is always at odds with her one lone place in a man’s life? It’s a tough world. All day we have to deal with the beautiful woman our man can come across through work, through just walking in the street. And when we go home at night, a woman can’t even find any relief of safety there. Because at her man’s finger tips is a cornocopia of beautiful young willing women that will cater to his every whim. Even in our own homes we have to compete against the world on a level most men don’t because most women do not seek out images of other women like men seek out images of men. So maybe you guys can give women a break. And open your minds to the struggles women go through as well as your own struggles. This isn’t just an issue about feeling horny and wanting to satisfy that need. Your actions, how you respond to other women in real life or in pictures WILL affect your partner on some level.

    Often through porn, women are referred to in sexually derogatory names. Often through porn, a woman’s sexual appetite, the things she is willing to let a man do to her, the way her body looks, are the most important things about her. Women are projected submissively in porn more times then not. There is nothing in porn that is about truly satisfying a woman in the ways real woman want to be satisfied vs. a woman putting on a male fantasy. In porn there is nothing in porn that speaks about women’s hearts or minds. In porn, there isn’t a celebration of real female sexuality because it’s clouded by what media executives know men will respond to: a hyper-masculine response to sexuality in a hyper-feminine body. How often have men praised women for acting more “porn-starish”. Instead of praising her for being more of HERSELF. In porn, there isn’t any real respect for women because women are the sum of the pleasure they provide.

    If you as a man want respect, love, commitment; you have to be willing to show women that you respect, love them and are committed to them in turn. If you as a man feel slighted and minimized by claims of the affects of porn on men in currently culture, then take a minute to think of how women feel slighted by stereotypical projections of themselves through porn that men LOVE. Often these depictions minimilze women in every way possible.

  14. I came here today after reading this yesterday to say how impressed I am/was with this article. To me it is one of the calmest, most objective and frankly compassionate pieces of writing on this issue I’ve seen. To log on today to see these accusations of “hysteria” is odd. First, accusing a woman of “hysteria” is so 1800s and well, just weird. There is nothing like that here. Second, if anything would fit hat term it might be the defensive posture of those who don’t want what is so obvious to be true. This isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about information so we can make choices that lead to what we want to achieve in our relationships. That seems pretty dispassionate and helpful to me. Thanks for a great article.

    • Agreed. It doesn’t demonize anyone at all and yet the defensive comments accusing the authors of man-hating and hysteria are in full force. And of course the old “Here is my anecdote to disprove your data!”

  15. Punchline: Women’s sexuality good. Men’s sexuality bad.

  16. Just to enlightened the uninitiated, these are the same shining academic stars that suggested putting your sons on a “masturbation schedule.”

  17. Danny Friendly says:

    Thank you for the post Please interpret my silence agreeing

  18. wow what a load of horseshit. remember folks, just cause it sounds scientific doesn’t mean it is

  19. FOR PETE"S SAKE! says:

    First of all… There is nothing saying anything about male sexuality.

    Are you saying that instant access to porn 24/7 is ‘male sexuality’… Really?

    Then ‘male sexuality’ is something that only is maybe…. 15-20 years old… What was male sexuality like before that? VHS tape? COME ON!

    You are living in logical fallacy land. There was nothing in the article that claimed women were perfect. Plus, this site is about MEN… not women. This is not the site for WOMEN bashing. If you want that… there are tons of other sites… in fact, most of the internet.

    • Wait!! There is another item not discussed. Non addictive personality is not as effector if at all. Buit the sexual for new females is unabated,, Men should not be catering to anti male views. The best is the books by pimps which does in many ways validate the :social monogamy as well as the sexual non monogamy of human males. But it is different in dynamics than were expressed by the author.

  20. I can testify that everything that has been writting on this subject is true and I have experience this myself. Porn has affected my life really badly. It really does numb your brain response towards real naked women. If you want to have a good sex and love life, you should QUIT porn if you use frequently. I don’t think it will affect you badly if you watch it ones a while as entertainment but if you watch it a lot for a long period of time, it will have some really bad effect on your brain. The truth is that most people, doctors and psychologist are not really aware of this because internet PORN has just exploded in the last 15 years so are generations are the first to start to show symptoms out of this. People are unconsicous of the effect. I believe that in 25 years from now, everyone will know this and it will be well a known fact like the earth is round and not flat lol. The decision is up to you, but after all the frustration I have been living in my real sex life because I had a hard time to feel turn on during real sex it becomes clear to me that PORN is the reason. I have enjoy watching porn for the last 10 years and I have decided since last week to stop it for the rest of my life.

  21. “During the middle years of our marriage, I quit worshipping my wife …”

    Any man who worships his wife needs to start using more porn, quick.

  22. A thoughtful and interesting article. I always suspected that porn created certain sexual ideals so unattainable to most that their influence might create a certain psychology in heavy users that would make it difficult if not impossible for them to realize a satisfactory sexual relationship with an actual woman (who they CAN get). The studies pointing to physiological influences is confirmation of sorts, and perhaps the biochemical cause of the psychological effects of heavy porn use.

    A pity that there are so many defensive comments in the thread, but I find that interesting, as well, because the author didn’t say porn as a whole is bad, just that the heavy use as is so common today may have biological consequences that are not in alignment with most men’s life goals and aspirations. They protest too much. The subject is about brain wiring in mammals, it’s not a moral or condemning treatise on pornography. So take it easy, guys. Nobody is trying to take your joy stick away or make you feel bad about what you like.

    I applaud Good Men for having the cojones to discuss. 😉

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      One of the issues that bugs me is that porn doesn’t create sexual ideals. Instead, it often features unattractive kink that I’m not convinced that men naturalistically desire. Too frequent anal intercourse, facuial ejaculations, degrading language used on women, and so forth. This all does seem to have a ratcheting effect, however, so that may indicate an addictive pattern generally.

      This year’s porn has to be more extreme than last year’s, or it loses out. There are definitely sexual addicts to porn. No question.

      Casual utterances by my students I’ve overheard may indicate that young people are using porn as a model for real sexuality– when it’s the un-sex in actuality.

      I think erotica ias possible, and sometimes happens in porn, almost accidentally.

      • I’m 29 years old and I only recently came to terms with a simple fact: The things that mainstream porn says that I should like… I don’t like. Mainstream porn says that I should be looking for a woman with the proportions of a Barbie doll. I’d rather be with someone curvy. Mainstream porn says that I should be thrilled about the prospect of anal sex. I’m not particularly enthused about it. Mainstream porn says that I should dominate my partner, that I should *fuck* and she should *be fucked*. I prefer gentler, shared experiences, where we’re equals.

        So yes, porn does often lead to unrealistic views of sex. There is porn that is better, though, even though it runs up against the other problems mentioned in the article.

    • I liked your response until you said, “I applaud The Good Men Project for having the cojones to discuss.” Very male chauvinistic and very offensive.

      Please don’t equate courage with maleness.

    • james caan says:

      I completely agree with you. For the last 8 years I have used porn almost every day. There came a point when I could no longer masterbate without porn or even have sex without watching porn simultaneously.

      Just last night I visted this a sexual partner of mine and she could not get me to cum. During this period I was able to get her to cum multiple times. Months before I had 2 ladies in my bed and I was still unable to cum, but I satisfied them both.

      This is not good and I have decided not to watch porn any more….I may take a peak now and then, but no more porn used to get me off. I have destroyed relationships in the past, and it probably was because of my porn usage.

      Guys we need to wise us. Let’s love our women and treat them right. Porn is not good for us.

      James Caan

  23. Thanks for this. My boyfriend has long struggled with a porn addiction, and a few months ago, he was able to break from it. I still struggle with the damages done. His addiction killed my self-esteem, and nearly killed our relationship. Reading articles like this one really help me to understand his addiction, and why he was doing it. They also help me to move on a little bit.

  24. The article’s rationale is all about straight porn, and those whose sexuality is built around extending their gene pool. As a gay man in a long-term sexually satisfying relationship and using porn, my experience is quite different. This article seems either to have nothing to say to me, or to attempt to extend its analysis based on hetero assumptions. The comments appear to me to be based on either experience or assumptions that folks are eager to confirm with an article like this. The article’s hetero bias is one I’ve experienced before in this site.

  25. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    1. “Edging” is also called Tantric Yoga.
    2. There is no such thing as “the monogamy instinct.”

    Sorry

    • Gary Wilson says:

      to Henrey
      Are you suggesting that Tantric masters would advise edging to internet porn for hours? I never read that in the ancient texts.

      You are incorrect about “no monogamy instinct”. In fact, the brain structures and neurotransmitters that, when activated, cause social monogamy have long since been identified in prairie voles. Further studies found these same neurotransmitters and structures functioning in other socially monogamous mammals. Humans are socially monogamous. Only 3% of mammals are socially monogamous, which means capable of forming a pair bond. The ability to form a pair bond is purely biological. Either an animal has what are called the ‘neural correlate’s to form a pair bond, or it does not. The other 97% of mammals are classified as promiscuous. This means humans are capable of forming a pair bond (falling in love). Keep in mind that no species of animal appears to sexually exclusive.

      I would suggest reading our PT article on this subject: Committed Relationship: Like It Or Not, You’re Wired For it. (Pair bonding is a biological program not a cultural construct.)
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201103/committed-relationship-it-or-not-you-re-wired-it

      In addition, there are hundreds of research studies on the neurobiology of pair bonding, bonding and attachment. Here are a few to start with:

      The neurobiology of love
      http://www.soc.washington.edu/users/brines/biooflove.pdf

      Anatomy and Neurochemistry of the Pair Bond
      http://www2.gsu.edu/~bioazm/pdfs/Young%20et%20al%202005.pdf

      The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love
      http://www.kyb.mpg.de/fileadmin/user_upload/files/publications/attachments/Bartels2004_maternalLove_%5B0%5D.pdf

      Romantic Love A Mammalian Brain System For Mate Choice
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764845/

      Monogamy gene found in people
      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14641-monogamy-gene-found-in-people.html

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        Hi Gary,

        I’m a sociologist who is studying biological issues as possible partial explanations for human behavior. I’m sorry to have left such brief and probably cynical comments. My understanding, though, is that humans are right on the line between monogamous and polygynous species, based on testicle and penis size, considered in comparison to body mass. The line about tantic sex was meant to be funny, but my understanding is that sexual tantra is, in fact, many times practicing what’s called “edging” here, but typically with a partner.

        Thanks for the URLs. I do promise to read them, and they look interesting. I’ve been fond of some of the Freudian literature, but am venturing (and am just really at the starting point) into more empirical studies.

  26. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I think I see the problem with the article’s argument. I think humans tend to be emotionally monogamous during limerance, which is hardly mating for life. I think the authors are correct when they talk about a dopamine mechanism similar to that of voles pertaining to humans. The problem is that human males, at least, are capable of being in limerance with one woman and mating with another anyway. I believe that they are unlikely to get into limerance with the second one, however, as long as the are in love with the first. But it doesn’t insure monogamy by any means.

    Humans are much longer-lived than voles, so it’s not a surprise when the seven year itch comes along and makes partners of either sex look less attractive. Marriage can certainly be renewed, of course, but depending on the vole comparison is too reductivist for human mating.

    • Gary Wilson says:

      I think you are missing some major points of the article. Our argument is not that humans are sexually monogamous, as most are clearly not. Our argument is that we have the brain programs for social monogamy, and this has many implications. Our GMP blog will have further articles on this sticky topic, so you may have to wait for all our thoughts on this.

      The linked article was written in response to the argument that only culture separates humans from bonobos. Others contend that if we simply adopted bonobo behaviors, the world would live in peace, harmony and love. I can hear “this is the dawning of the age of aquarius” playing in the background. Our neurobiology is not the same as a bonobo, so neither are our behaviors, drives or social structures. One cannot learn about a pairbonder (humans), from studying an animal that never pairbonds (bonobos, chimps, snakes, etc.).

      We contend that:
      1) Humans are socially monogamous mammals, but not a sexually monogamous species. (as stated, there are no sexually monogamous species)
      2) As socially monogamous mammals we possess neurological programs that when activated cause love and pair bonding with a significant other. These bonds can last an entire lifetime for some.
      3) Specific behaviors and practices can enhance or erode this neurological based pair bond. “Bonding behaviors” enhance the pair bond. Overstimulation is another behavior that can lead to the Coolidge effect, habituation to a partner (as you described), and erosion of the pair bond.

      All the above, and much much more, is the basis of our book – Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships
      http://www.reuniting.info/cupids_poisoned_arrow

      The voles are short-lived, yet monogamous primates have relatively long lives. You can read about Tamarins and what behaviors they engage in strengthen their pairbonds.
      Why are pair-bonding tamarins and humans different from chimps?
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201011/staying-in-love-monkey-style

      Humans add layers of mental complexity to their relationships, but all animals run the basic programs for parent-child bonding, attachment, and pair-bonding. “Love” appears to be the same in all mammals. Our contention is that one can alter brain biology with certain behaviors, and by pass the larger rational brain and target the limbic brain that controls love and bonding.

      You can read more about what strengthens and what may erode pair bonds in these articles:
      The Lazy Way to Stay in Love
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-lazy-way-stay-in-love
      An Uncanny Love Potion
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201007/uncanny-love-potion

      Besides yearning to be with that special one, there are other implications for us as pair bonding mammal. One being that pair bonders are more vulnerable to addictions, and probably other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
      Are Pair Bonders More Vulnerable to Addiction?
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200911/are-pair-bonders-more-vulnerable-addiction

      We agree with you that love can be fragile, indeed. Learning what behaviors directly speak to the limbic brain to strengthen bonds, and what signals can urge mates to separate is our message.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        One of the Love’s Poisoned Arrow pieces talked about ED. I wanted to add the caveat that (as a well-known defender of Viagra here), I don’t think all ED is a result of porn addiction. Mine is probably related to high blood pressure medication. I endorse the business about Karaza (this was the technique the Oneida Colony used to prevent pregnancy.) I think I’ve used this very technique in every long-term relationship I’ve had. I was always a reluctant ejaculator anyway. I think women vary in appreciation of this (although the best three sexual relationships I had were characterized by hours-long lovemaking.) Some are like proverbial men– one pop and they want to get up. Some are continuous climaxers– they’re climaxing even if you’re not– and this is their nature– not something they can apparently change. My experience with both of these types is that they do seem to go someplace else during intercourse– so intimacy gets lost.

        I think women (this is just my experience) who meet one emotionally can go for hours in non-climactic sex. So, interesting pieces.

  27. If you consider the 4 basic needs (safety, variety, relationships, respect) I think you might get a different picture. From the viewpoint of safety, bonding for life with one person seems like a great idea. But that definitely inhibits the need for variety, thought is definitely strengthens the possibility of a stronger relationship. Perhaps it comes down to respect – if the person you with doesn’t make you feel needed or appreciated, then you will seek it elsewhere. The bottom line is that you need to find positive ways to meet all four needs that are in line with your ultimate 5th need, life’s purpose. If we are wired for monogamy, and it seems we are, then you must put forth the effort to ensure that all needs are being met in a positive way so that the need for “additional variety” never becomes an issue.

    • Good point. Staving off habituation is a challenge for most couples. It seems there are two ways to go about that. One is to try to increase variety with more, or more types of, stimulation; the other is to make the brain more sensitive so that subtler “variety” registers as thoroughly enjoyable. This is a topic we discuss at length in Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Here’s a synopsis of some key ideas: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200908/how-talk-cupid

  28. Thanks for bringing some light to this issue. My fiance has been porn-free for 18 months now and it is incredibly liberating for him, and for me. It really is just “him and me” in bedroom and I think that lays the groundwork for a happy marriage. I just wish we could get this message through to men at a younger age. We are both around 30 years old and lucky to have been able to reach this point despite years of the media telling us otherwise.

  29. Or more truthfully: how FEMINISM has ruined marriages:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plkeKMTDM9g

  30. If porn erases the desire for real women, I encourage every young man to watch it. This fiction beats the std infested twats anytime.

  31. furiouslysleeping says:

    This is an interesting article to be sure, but it seems filled with the kind of pseudoscientific gobbledegook that pervades all evo-psych explanations of behavior.

    At it’s core is a fairly (to me) uncontroversial thesis: porn will make normal women less attractive to you. (A straight male.) But this holds true for so many things in so many ways: media will make men and women less attractive in general. Escapist fantasy might make reality less attractive. Artificial flavoring and food might make ‘normal’ food less attractive. The list goes on. Manufactured stimulation is everywhere.

    Another problem I had was the distinction between ‘social monogamy’ and ‘sexual monogamy’, which was never really explored. The whole article really deals with people wanting to be sexually monogamous, but all the science seems to deal with social monogamy in animals. They are not the same. To put it crudely, I think many more marriages would stay together if everyone cheated but no one ever found.

    And finally, the article says only one thing about why sexual monogamy is desirable in the first place:

    “So, what’s in it for the contented pair bonder? Aside from only having the expense of maintaining one household, he gains health benefits. For example, research shows that intercourse has more beneficial effects on the body than masturbation. It releases neurochemicals that reduce stress better, and the benefits linger for days. Also, daily warm touch between couples benefits men by lowering blood pressure.”

    That seems kinda flimsy. I mean, has there been research is achieving lower blood pressure and better stress reduction via masturbation? Is there something intrinsic about masturbation that says it’s not possible (relative to sex with a partner)? Might it also not be simply that the prevailing social climate frames masturbation as lower status than sex, which causes all the other negative effects?

    • You’re right that engineered stimulation is everywhere, but it’s especially treacherous in intimate relationships because when habituation strikes, mates assume they’ve “fallen out of love.” As a happy primary pair bond ranks highest in importance to over all happiness (in a recent survey, at least), helping lovers to keep from wreaking on the shoals of habituation is a high priority. By understanding that habituation has a neurochemical component, which is to a degree under their control, they can better steer for the relationship results they want…or at least avoid speeding up habituation inadvertently with internet porn/vibrator use.

      As for your research questions, have a look at the research of Stuart Brody. This is a relatively new area, as for decades sexologists assumed that all orgasms are the same in their effects. Not so.

      YOU SAID: “Is there something intrinsic about masturbation that says it’s not possible (relative to sex with a partner)? ”

      There’s definitely research showing the benefits of affectionate touch and close, trusted companionship. Masturbation can’t supply those – unless you’re in love with your hand.

      YOU SAID: “Might it also not be simply that the prevailing social climate frames masturbation as lower status than sex, which causes all the other negative effects?”

      Our article is about porn use, not pornless masturbation. In any case, masturbation seems to be quite mainstream and no longer censored.

      It’s easy to label things “gobbledegook,” but that doesn’t help us respond to your conclusions. Could you be more specific about what you take issue with? Thanks.

  32. idumpedmypornlovinghusband says:

    WOW… there are a lot of wankers justifying their behaviour. The fact stands. Marriages and relationships are ruined by porn and in particular online AND offline porn addition. Do the math. Figure it out. Get your hand off your piece and onto the live, human piece in your bed.

  33. Is it just me? Or is it hilarious that there’s a Vaseline ad on this page?

    ???

  34. I am in the battle with eliminating the porn influences in my life. I struggle with the reason I find it appealing, My wife and I hit our 7 year itch. A wedge had started to grow. Now looking back I see it as cohabitation. The spark was dying. We now longer strived to be more for each other! We began to settle into our roles and out of respect didn’t ask for more, just found other things to do to stave off the urges. Chain reactions! Reactions to reactions and years later, suddenly its all my fault. One thing to remember, It takes two to screw up a relationship! If your spouse is engaged in “Other” activities its not ALL their fault! The “victim” may have started a chain reaction, creating a situation where given the right situation, they may not want to fight as hard for their hum drum marriage/ relationship! Never quit trying to be better for your significant other!

    • I feel you Steve. It does take 2 to screw it up. I am man and we are essentially visual creatures. I will not deny that. But after trying to keep things interesting in my relationship. The lack of interest from my partner has led me to seeking other stimuli. Purely because I am a man and I have needs too.

  35. This is an excellent article while focused on the effects of porn on partnered couples. As I single woman I have pretty much given up on trying to date right now.

    Note: **This is not an “uninformed feminist rant”, I am a long time regular porn user and understand in detail the ways porn has been changing over the past 20+ years.**

    It really does seem like single men have become much harder to impress and they commonly expect sex without bothering with any form of courtship. Most real women can not be prettier then the women in porn, nor do most of us want to be as selflessly accommodating as porn ‘actresses’. Expectations are going up about how we ideally would look and behave, while rewards for doing so seem to be going down.

    I miss the now ancient traditions of flirting, seduction, courtship and developing love and intimacy….
    “Dating” without those aspects is not worthwhile to me.

  36. The same is true of women using sex toys. Her brain and nerves become accustomed/addicted to unnatual stimulation which her husband (nor any other man) can compete with. Some of these women find it hard or even impossible to climax through regular sex and therefore have even less desire to engage in it. Men have not yet evolved the ability to vibrate and grow their penis to 12″.

    • Anonymous Vagina says:

      Dude, we get it. You hate vibrators and romance novels.

      So then why do you attack people (often women) who question porn use in men?

    • Okay, so I don’t use vibrators or read romance novels. When I’m in a relationship do I get to expect my boyfriend to not look at porn?

  37. All of this sound so rational and well thought, one of the best articles on the matter i ever read, thanks for explaining with so much base to me, but if i stop watching porn online, isn’t gonna make me more likely to cheat on my girl?

  38. I like how on the advertisements for this article is a young tart half-naked posing for American Apparel. Nice touch.

  39. Bouncyweee says:

    While I am aware that this article is written for a very specific audience of monogamous couples who are NOT hyper-sexual (like I am), I do feel compelled to point out a few assumptions that I find troubling. (And once again, I know I’m in the minority, but I want this viewpoint and voice to be heard.)

    Assumption 1) Women don’t like porn. I don’t generally watch it, but I did find myself going through my husbands little collection the other day for fun and getting aroused. I let him know, he came home that night, we watched some together, and then frolicked like teenage bunnies in heat. Some women do like porn, and I say, if you find some you like, watch it together! It’s fun. And no, I have no self-esteeem issues with those women. Why on earth would I want fake tits, too much make-up, long fingernails and bleached hair? And why would my husband want me to look like that? I know he thinks I’m the sexiest person to have crossed this here earth. (At least, he better. He’s watching me type this!)

    Assumption 2) You SHOULD be monogamous. Now, I am not a social scientist, so I lay no claims as to whether social or sexual monogamy is better, hard wired, created culturally, or anything else, BUT, the idea that human being are SUPPOSED to be monogamous is a toxic one to people who are decidedly not, like me. It was by far easier, healthier, and more honest to tell my husband (then, boyfriend) that I was not a sexually or emotionally monogamous person, and have him agree to let us be open. Which, we have been, successfully, for the past six years (two of them married). We are committed to each other’s well being, happiness, and future, but we take on lovers–I’ve had a long-term one for the past year– and we both truly enjoy it.

    Assumption 3) You will become addicted to porn or create unrealistic fantasies because of it. Most men I know watch porn every now and then, wank off, and then get on with their lives. It’s a non-issue. They do realize that it’s fake– for example, I cannot go for hours at a time. My vagina just won’t do it. It doesn’t matter; the men who truly make love to women love who they actually are. They appreciate that we don’t look like those porn stars. And since I don’t make the habit something forbidden or evil, it loses its allure. This is not to say that some men don’t fall prey to addiction (it takes all kinds!), but watching a little porn now and again isn’t going to tear you apart if you’re just smart about it.

    Assumption 4) All porn is the same. It’s not. I have porn that is real couples, not porn stars, telling their sweet love stories, and then getting filmed in the bedroom. It’s not paid, it’s not professional, and it’s certainly not faked. And it’s damned beautiful to watch. There are many types of porn out there, not just the raunchy free stuff you find through search engines.

    I have no idea if this will make it through the filter, but I wanted to let everyone know that there are two sides to every story. This is mine.

  40. In my experience, yes, but let’s be real that won’t stop men. *shrug*
    Even men who dont become “addicted” get weird ideas from it. Not to mention the really young guys are accustomed to the fake porn bodies. And this is me reporting from the front lines. In short, women cannot compete with porn, but men will not stop. If the wife/gf is offended he doesn’t care.

    And yes, men go for hours and hours. There are men who physically injure themselves from masturbating so much. But yet, they dont stop.

    Most women dont come from vaginal sex, and that has nothing to do with romance novels, vibrators, whatever. Speaking of vibes- i wonder if any man would give up porn if women gave up the novels and vibes. Me thinks not! Men think what they do is ok as long as they say I love you to the wifey/gf in the end. *roll eyes*

    Men dont like to be stereotyped as lust driven beasts, but they act like lust driven beasts. I don’t get it.

    • Because lust is natural, and not a problem in many cases. How about asking the man why he looks at porn or the woman why she reads the novel (or whatever each uses)?

      “Men dont like to be stereotyped as lust driven beasts, but they act like lust driven beasts. I don’t get it.”
      Women dont like to be stereotyped as golddigging beasts, but they act like golddigging beasts. I don’t get it. – Does that illustrate why it’s offensive? Because people are individuals and some men are lust driven (to excess I guess you mean), others aren’t. Unless you are inside the man’s brain, you will never know exactly why he does it just like I don’t know why women do some of the stuff they do. Maybe he watchs it simply to give visuals to aid in a fantasy where he’s actually picturing his wife/gf/crush. Maybe JUST the mechanics itself turns him on, maybe the woman and/or the man in the video are who he is fantasizing about. He might fantasize about having sex with 20 models or he fantasize about being in relationship and is single. It varies person to person, porn and toys/etc harm some relationships and enhance others.

      You’re also assuming these young guys are accustomed to these fake (I guess you mean surgically enhanced female bodies, and not all are. In fact many guys dislike the fake breasts, etc, they look at amateur porn of real couples having sex, a wide variety of body types and personalities, sexual positions, styles, etc. In personal experience I’ve found women to judge a woman’s body much harsher than a man, and yes there are some of each gender that do this but it doesn’t mean all do it. There are are plenty of women of all shapes and sizes with partners who love them and are 100% attracted to them, some of them look at porn and some don’t.

      Hate bad porn all you want but porn is a medium and it’s a very diverse medium, there is porn with men and women of all shapes, sizes, races, ages (stick to 18+ !). All manner of kinks and fetishes and quite “normal” behaviour too. I personally think some women’s magazines are as harmful as the portrayal of women in porn, the level of airbrushing, digital manipulation, diet guides make it downright insecurity builders. Quite frankly it’s disturbing the manipulation allowed in magazines, many of which are accessible to kids and the level of harm they must do is incredible.

      Btw, recent studies show men are just as insecure of their bodies as women are now so I guess it’s a cultural wide problem, and quite serious of both genders are bothered by it. Basically, there are more elements at play than just bad porn.

      • Thanks for pointing out that men’s self images are being destroyed too. We hear that all the time from heavy porn users. They think that because they don’t look like alpha males (in their estimation), because they don’t have giant porn penises, and because those penises increasingly are not standing up when they try to have real sex, they are not attractive enough to be “relationship material.” This drives them further into porn.

        The good news is that they are surprised and delighted when they stop using porn and suddenly notice women noticing them and flirting with them. Many also report feeling like alphas.

        You’re right that porn is not the only contributor to this tragic low-self-esteem phenomenon, but it is likely to be a major contributor given porn’s ubiquitous use among some generations.

        The suggestion that “all elements must be discussed, or no discussion is valid” would curtail the writing of any brief article. 😉 Your critique doesn’t successfully discount the points we’re making about the risks of today’s porn, in terms of its power to desensitize the brain. Its power has more to do with the constant novelty and searching it makes possible (each of which release dopamine with each click), rather than with “normal” or “abnormal” content. For more, see “Porn Then and Now: Welcome to Brain Training” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201108/porn-then-and-now-welcome-brain-training

        The original title we proposed to this piece was “Porn, Novelty and Dissatisfaction.” The editor made it more moralistic sounding.

        • The critique was for the comment above, not the article:P

          “You’re right that porn is not the only contributor to this tragic low-self-esteem phenomenon, but it is likely to be a major contributor given porn’s ubiquitous use among some generations. ”
          With this do you mean penis size or all body image images? From what I can tell of body issues it’s a mix of penis size which would be porn, but also the chiseled body look/low fat/large muscles that is basically in magazines, movies, tv shows.

          Would it be safe to assume that porn in moderation could be fine, like other forms of entertainment and stimulation? It sounds like the type of porn viewed and content in it also plays a large role, amateur content with a wide variety of body shapes and sizes is something I’d guess to be great for the medium instead of always the very narrow barbie type body.

          Maybe a good warning label is needed, or at least education as you are doing. Thank-you though for the article. Everything in life seems to be moderation is key :)

          • Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson says:

            Thanks for sorting us out. :-)

            Frankly, we think the viewer matters as much as the porn. So, as with alcohol, some people can watch a lot of porn with very little obvious effect. Others have brains that swiftly adapt to overstimulation. So “moderate” is relative.

            We don’t think warning labels will discourage teens, whose brains are wired to seek excess. See http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201110/why-shouldn-t-johnny-watch-porn-if-he-likes But we do think education about the agenda (food and sex at the top of the list) of the brain’s reward circuitry and its vulnerability in today’s environment is critically needed.

  41. You know what is even worse than porn, imagination and fantasies that will destroy any marriage. I just hop that I didn’t help pay for any of this. Good sex and a good marriage has nothing to do with porn. matter of fact sometimes porn can sometimes light a spark. The biggest problem is these stone aged Christian views that make sex a taboo. Here is simple reality that you do not have to spend time and wasted money on, we as couples make the difference. Marriage is work, and trying to find reasons why it never worked maybe you should just stand in front of the mirror. This article is a complete generalization. men who are late for work because they cannot leave the porn are not the norm. I would like to see the studies now on how porn has saved many a marriage, i know many couples who love it, enjoy it and who would laugh at this pile of written crap

    • *chuckle* We’re not Christian; this is a science-based piece. Just because you know couples who like porn doesn’t mean there are no couples whose relationships are suffering due to addiction-related changes induced by overstimulation. Maybe read through the other comments before replying.

      • The science in this piece is pretty sketchy–I’m sure the Coolidge effect is real in the sense that males are excited by novelty, but you don’t provide any actual non-anecdotal evidence that exposure to frequent novelty in the form of porn actually lowers one’s ability to be sexually aroused by a partner in a long-term sense (beyond the issue that men have a “refractory period” which means they can’t usually be aroused again immediately after a recent orgasm, which perhaps might mean a higher threshold for arousal even a day or more after an orgasm, so frequent masturbation could lead to trouble with arousal in sex–that could be the real problem for all these porn-addicted dudes). You make the comparison to addiction with references to the fact that both involve dopamine, but there is a fair amount of controversy among experts as to whether sex can actually be “addictive” in the sense of drugs like cocaine, see http://www.salon.com/2011/11/29/dont_believe_the_sex_addiction_hype/ for example–and if the brain has evolved to keep sex from being addictive, it seems plausible that sex also would not lead to common drug effects like depletion of natural dopamine and constantly needing greater levels of stimulation to feel normal (there’d be some good evolutionary reasons for us to have evolved to not be damaged by frequent sex in the same way we’re damaged by artificial drugs, no?) Until there is scientific evidence for specific claims about frequent orgasm leading to biological changes in the brain like dopamine depletion, it’s hardly good scientific journalism to make completely unsubstantiated claims like “Mayer is slave to the Coolidge Effect. His brain lashes him with dopamine each time he clicks to a novel “mate.” Keep in mind that dopamine is the hook in all addictions.”

        • Jesse: “Until there is scientific evidence for specific claims about frequent orgasm leading to biological changes in the brain like dopamine depletion”

          We made no claims about frequent orgasm causing addictive changes in the brain or dopamine depletion. This is your misinterpretation. Your post reflects a common misconception – and poorly considered argument – that porn addiction is about orgasm and refractory periods. Porn is a visual/ auditory stimulus. It is not orgasm, which last 10 seconds, that causes porn addiction – it is watching porn.

          We have addressed your all your points in our other posts.

          To understand porn addiction, please read the following 3 posts. Start with Porn Then and Now: Welcome to Brain Training
          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201108/porn-then-and-now-welcome-brain-training
          Porn, Novelty and the Coolidge Effect‏
          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201108/porn-novelty-and-the-coolidge-effect
          Sexual brain training matters—especially during adolescence.
          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201110/why-shouldn-t-johnny-watch-porn-if-he-likes

          ———————————————————–
          The science isn’t sketchy and there is no controversy among medical doctors who treat addiction or neurobiologists who study addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine last year released their new definition of addiction, which stated the sexual-behavior addiction exists. It is well established that both drug and behavioral addictions involve the same mechanisms and the same brain circuits.
          See: Toss Your Textbooks: Docs Redefine Sexual Behavior Addictions.
          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201109/toss-your-textbooks-docs-redefine-sexual-behavior-addictions

          You can also read this article to understand the politics involved in the attempts to exclude sexual addictions. Did Addiction Politics Leave Us Stranded on a Slippery Slope? http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/did-addiction-politics-leave-us-stranded-on-a-slippery-slope/
          ————————————————
          As for evidence of Internet addiction (which includes pornography), several studies have been published this year, which establish that all the same brain changes seen in drug addicts occur in Internet addicts. In other words, the debate is over and the writer you cite has not kept up with the science.
          For a simple explanation see:
          Ominous News for Porn Users: Internet Addiction Atrophies Brains
          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201106/ominous-news-porn-users-internet-addiction-atrophies-brains

          Also see the ever growing list of Internet Addiction studies: Internet Addiction Studies: Summaries
          http://yourbrainonporn.com/internet-addiction-studies-summaries

          This one came out yesterday: Internet Addicts Experience Brain Changes Like Alcoholics And Gamblers, Study Says
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16505521
          ————————————————————–

          As for “arousal problems”, only one study has looked at the problem – the survey by the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS) confirmed porn-induced erectile dysfunction in young men. Italian urologists commissioned this survey when men in their early twenties arrived at urology clinics with unexplained ED. Upon questioning, doctors identified one common variable: heavy porn use starting in their teens. When that one variable was removed these young men slowly regained erectile function and libido.

          Italian men suffer ‘sexual anorexia’ after Internet porn use
          http://armoniosamente.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/lanoressia-sessuale/
          Scientists: Too Much Internet Porn May Cause Impotence
          http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/02/25/scientists-internet-porn-cause-impotence/

          The key word to keep in mind is “variable”.

          My website (www.yourbrainonporn.com) links back to hundreds of forums and websites, in about 25 different countries. Only 5-6 of these links have anything to do with porn recovery. The rest are places that men gather and post, such as: pick-up sites, sports sites, cars, current events, exercise, bodybuilding, you name it. In addition to the many visitors to our sites, I have read thousands of threads, some with hundreds of posts, discussing unexplained symptoms in young healthy men using today’s porn. These young men (ages 15 -35) have nothing in common other than years of heavy porn use and increasing sexual dysfunction. When that one and only one variable was removed, they eventually regained erectile health. All experienced withdrawal symptoms when they stopped porn, and nearly all experienced similar time frame in healing.

          No other hypothesis is needed when changing a single variable (porn use) resulted in a change in condition(no more ED) for all subjects.

          Please read the following posts to get a glimpse of the problem
          Too much porn/masturbation cause ED (1500 posts, and growing)
          http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Mens-Health/Too-much-porn-masturbation-cause-ED/show/183203

          22 with porn induced erectile dysfunction? (almost 400 posts, and growing)
          http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Mens-Health/22-with-porn-induced-erectile-dysfunction/show/469209?page=1

          Thread -300 hundreds posts, and growing. Ask a recovering porn addict anything. http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=137504963

          • “We made no claims about frequent orgasm causing addictive changes in the brain. This is your misinterpretation”

            I didn’t say “frequent orgasm”, I said “frequent novelty in the form of porn” and “frequent sex” (which I meant to include the possibility of frequent masturbation).

            “Your post reflects a common misconception – and poorly considered argument – that porn addiction is about orgasm and refractory periods. Porn is a visual/ auditory stimulus. It is not orgasm, which last 10 seconds, that causes porn addiction – it is watching porn.”

            Again, I said nothing about orgasm being the source of addiction or dopamine depletion (and I was questioning whether there was evidence for physiological addiction or dopamine depletion in the first place). I only brought up refractory periods because I was suggesting that if men who frequently used porn were having trouble being aroused with partners, this could be the explanation (along with some type of psychological desensitization due to constant exposure to sexual imagery), *as opposed* to any sort of long term changes in the brain similar to what happens to the brain of drug addicts. I wonder how many of these men would find their problems completely vanished if they just laid off the porn for a week or two.

            “The science isn’t sketchy and there is no controversy among medical doctors who treat addiction or neurobiologists who study addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine last year released their new definition of addiction, which stated the sexual-behavior addiction exists. It is well established that both drug and behavioral addictions involve the same mechanisms and the same brain circuits.”

            “Involve the same brain circuits” is vague, anything activity one finds rewarding involves dopamine (reading a good book, going sailing etc.), but what I’m pointing out is that your article didn’t point to any evidence that “porn addiction” caused any of the types of long-term changes in the dopaminergic systems of the brain that are seen in drug addicts; the addictive behavior may be more psychological than physiological, so the fact that some doctors may treat it as an addiction doesn’t provide much evidence for the specific biological theories you discuss. Some of the links on internet addiction are interesting and may be a step in the direction of providing evidence for these biological theories, though they did not specifically study porn addiction (since a porn addict will probably spend a much smaller fraction of his waking hours on porn than an internet addiction spends on the internet, it’s not obvious the effects would be similar). Also this is rather new research and the interpretation of it is not agreed-on by scientists, for example the article at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-addictive-internet-use-restructure-brain suggests shrinkage of certain areas of the brain might just represent a type of neuroplasticity, the brain adjusting the size of different regions in response to regularly-performed tasks:

            ‘imaging neuroscientist Karl Friston of University College London, who helped pioneer the VBM technique, says gray matter shrinkage is not necessarily a bad thing. “The effect is quite extreme, but it’s not surprising when you think of the brain as a muscle,” says Friston, who was not involved in the study. “Our brains grow wildly until our early teens, then we start pruning and toning areas to work more efficiently. So these areas may just be relevant to being a good online gamer, and were optimized for that.” (Friston says London taxi drivers provide a telling comparative example of the brain’s ability to reshape itself with experience. In the 2006 study, researchers compared taxi drivers’ brains with those of bus drivers. The former showed increased gray matter density in their posterior hippocampi—a region linked to maplike spatial navigation and memory. That probably comes as no surprise to London cabbies, who spend years memorizing a labyrinthine system of 25,000 streets, whereas bus drivers have set routes.)’

            I also came across a study described at http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/religious-affiliation-and-brain-shrinkage-31022/ which shows that religious affiliation can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus–would you be so quick to confidently link this finding to addiction or pathology as you do with the internet addiction studies?

            And in your links I saw only a single study that provides some tentative support for your central claim that it is specifically the dopamine spike from porn that causes habituation and desensitization to sex–a study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21499141 on internet (not porn) addiction which found reduced striatal dopamine receptors in internet addicts. Certainly this is an intriguing result and if further work confirms it, this might well end up being seen by scientists as good evidence for the theory you propose (which I never said was actually incorrect, just speculative), but to claim that this theory is established science at present is a total misrepresentation. It’s also worth noting that correlation is not the same as causation, it could be that people who start out with reduced dopamine receptors are more likely to exhibit addictive behaviors rather than that the addictions actually cause changes in the dopamine system, as suggested by the research discussed in another article I remember reading a while ago on this site: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/addicts-are-super-human/

            Finally, did you look at the salon article I linked to? In it the clinical psychologist David Ley makes a pretty definitive statement about the lack of current evidence for claims about porn/sex addiction having a biological basis similar to drug addiction: “The thing that drives me craziest is that over the past year or two, [proponents of the sex addiction model] have started trying to use brain science to explain it. They’re now talking about morphological changes that supposedly happen in the brain as somebody watches porn or has too much sex. The reality is, careful scientists will tell you they are absolutely unable to identify any brain differences between these alleged sex addicts and non-sex addicts. The other thing that they’ll tell you is that the brain changes constantly — any behavior that a person engages in, especially repetitively, changes your brain. So, identifying changes related to this sexual behavior and distinguishing it from anything else is absolutely ridiculous.”

            • Yours is the typical response we receive: grasping at a few irrelevant trees while ignoring the entire forest. What you have ignored is that all anecdotal, clinical and experimental evidence points to the existence of porn addiction.

              Sexologists with no training in neurobiology, quoting other sexologists with no training in neurobiology, is hardly evidence. The real addiction experts (ASAM) have spoken.

              To let you know, 1) we already engaged in this “debate” with David Ley on ‘Psychology Today,’ and, 2) I read all the links you’ve posted, when they were first published. Same old straw men and red herrings. See the following PT posts on Ley:
              Exclusion of Internet Porn Addiction Makes No Biological Sense
              http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201112/exclusion-internet-porn-addiction-makes-no-biological-sense
              Addiction neuroscience is farther along than some experts believe
              http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201112/lets-not-forget-the-concepts-negligence-and-harm

              Citing Ley, who is promoting his new book (The Myth of Sex Addiction), while ignoring ASAM, is untenable. It may still sound reasonable to you, but that’s because you may not know enough neuroscience to understand that it’s completely outdated. As an argument, it’s like a chicken with no head…still running around, but doomed. ASAM members include many of the top addiction researchers in the world, along with thousands of MDs who specialize in addictions. You have not addressed ASAM’s public announcement stating that sexual addictions exist.

              Your arguments remind me of Ley’s. Comparing reading a good book to hours of porn-viewing a day is silly. He stated “chapstick use” was comparable to porn addiction. Do a Google search. Compare the number of sites, organizations, post and threads covering porn addiction with those about how to recover from “book addiction.” How can you compare the highest natural reward, and most important biological imperative to reading, in terms of power to reinforce pathological learning? The reward circuitry didn’t evolve for letters on a page…but it did evolve to zero in on mating cues.

              Question: Were there no alcoholics before addiction researchers saw the changes in alcoholics’ brains?? This seems to be your position.

              ——————————————————————
              THE FOREST
              —————————————-
              1) A very large group of individual claim to be addicted to porn.
              – Are you calling them liars?
              – What evidence do you possess to discount their experiences?
              – What evidence do you have to discount the experience of clinicians treating porn addiction?
              ————————–
              2) Porn addicts meet all the criteria for addiction as outlined in the new ASAM definition. ASAM’s primary message is that a collection of signs, symptoms, and behaviors indicate a specific set of brain alterations.
              The “four C’s” are one way to assess addiction:
              a) Inability to Control use
              b) Compulsion to use
              c) Continued use despite adverse Consequences
              d) Craving – psychological/physical

              Withdrawal symptoms are not necessary, but those recovering from porn addiction often suffer severe withdrawal symptoms. See http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.WITHDRAWAL.pdf

              Since you brought it up:
              – If not addiction, what possible brain mechanism accounts for all the signs and symptoms that indicate brain changes?
              – How do fundamental behavioral addiction “brain circuits” and “mechanisms” differ from substance addiction? (They don’t)
              – Please explain the neural substrates of psychological addiction and how it differs from physiological addiction.
              – Address ASAM’s argument that sexual addictions exist and must involve the same mechanisms as other addictions because of the way the human brain evolved.
              —————————-

              3) All brain studies done so far have found that Internet addiction causes the same brain changes as substance addiction. No exceptions. I’m not sure you understand that addiction is correlated with the simultaneous presence of a series of measurable major brain abnormalities. You seem to believe porn is somehow special and that each addiction has its own unique abnormalities. Where’s the evidence for that?

              -Sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, and disorganized white matter, are found in all addictions. Cite a brain study on Internet addiction that did not find one or more of these abnormalities.

              Many of the above brain changes are caused by a protein DeltaFosB. This molecular switch is behind sensitization, desensitization, and hypofrontality. DeltaFosB levels rise in response to chronic administration of virtually any drug of abuse. It is also observed after high levels of consumption of natural rewards – sucrose, high fat diet, and SEX.
              Role of ΔFosB in Addiction- NESTLER LAB
              http://neuroscience.mssm.edu/NeuroscienceLabs/NestlerLab/research_fosb.php

              This what you and the Leys of the world don’t understand. The commonalities of addictions have been figured out. The basic mechanisms for behavioral addictions, such as porn addiction, and drug addiction are the same, as are the primary circuits.

              (1) The “circuit” is: VTA – nucleus accumbens- prefrontal cortex.
              (2) The changes are: sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, disorganized white matter.
              (3) The molecular switch for these addictive changes is DeltaFosB.

              ASAM relied upon mountains of research data that point in one direction. Please cite evidence to refute this claim that behavioral addictions do not involve these same mechanisms.
              ———————–

              PS: The taxi cab example is nonsense. You cannot compare an increase in hippocampal gray matter, to a decline in white matter (loss of myelin). Loss of myelin is associated with addiction and the decreased efficiency and speed of nerve impulses. If loss of myelin were a normal teen development it would have occurred in the control group.

              PPS: Desensitization has been proved to be CAUSED BY ADDICTION, as it reverses itself during recovery. That is, dopamine receptors return during abstention (citations in articles previously posted). For example, this study shows normalization of addictive brain changes in Internet addicts. This refutes your pet theory that “that addictions don’t actually cause changes in the dopamine system.” Yes, some people are more vulnerable, but addictions cause a decline regardless.

              Brain correlates of craving for online gaming under cue exposure in subjects with Internet gaming addiction and in remitted subjects. (2011)
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22026537

              ———————————

              4) You did not address SIAMS survey on porn-induced ED. The Italian urologists stated seeing many young healthy men in their clinics with porn-induced ED. Only one formal survey has asked the question about youthful ED – and the conclusion is that porn use can cause sexual dysfunction.
              – Are the Italian urologists making this up?
              – What accounts for a 3-month recovery period?
              – Why are guys all over the Web/world reporting the same phenomenon?
              ———————————-

              5) You did not address the links with hundreds of men reporting porn-induced ED. You have not addressed that young healthy men, who reported all the signs and symptoms of addiction, including withdrawal, later report recovery from ED when they abstain for 2-5 months.
              – Are these men lying?
              – What accounts for all the signs, symptoms and behaviors that match having/beating an addiction?
              – What brain mechanism accounts for their severe withdrawal symptoms?
              – What brain mechanism accounts for needing 2- 5 months to regain erectile health?

              ——————————–
              RECENT BRAIN STUDIES ON INTERNET ADDICTION: ALL POINT IN ONLY ONE DIRECTION.

              Enhanced Reward Sensitivity and Decreased Loss Sensitivity in Internet Addicts: An fMRI Study During a Guessing Task (2011)

              J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Jul 16.

              As the world’s fastest growing “addiction”, Internet addiction should be studied to unravel the potential heterogeneity. The present study is set to examine reward and punishment processing in Internet addicts as compared to healthy controls.The results showed that Internet addicts associated with increased activation in orbitofrontal cortex in gain trials and decreased anterior cingulate activation in loss trials than normal controls. The results suggested that Internet addicts have enhanced reward sensitivity and decreased loss sensitivity than normal comparisons.

              COMMENTS: Both enhanced reward sensitivity (sensitization) and decreased loss sensitivity (lessened aversion) are markers of an addiction process

              Male Internet addicts show impaired executive control ability evidence from a color-word: Stroop task (2011).

              Neurosci Lett. 2011 Jul 20;499(2):114-8. PR China

              This study investigated the executive control ability of male students with Internet addiction disorder (IAD) by recording event-related brain potentials (ERP) during a color-word Stroop task. Behavior results showed that IAD students were associated with longer reaction time and more response errors in incongruent conditions than the control group. ERP results revealed that participants with IAD showed reduced medial frontal negativity (MFN) deflection in incongruent conditions than the control group. Both of the behavioral performance and ERP results indicate that people with IAD show impaired executive control ability than the normal group.

              COMMENTS: This study, like other recent fMRI studies on Internet addicts, showed reductions in executive control. Reductions in executive control in addicts indicate a decline in frontal cortex activity. this decline parallels loss of impulse control, and is found in all addictions.

              Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder. (2011).

              PLoS ONE 6(6): e20708. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020708

              Recent studies suggest that internet addiction disorder (IAD) is associated with structural abnormalities in brain gray matter. However, few studies have investigated the effects of internet addiction on the microstructural integrity of major neuronal fiber pathways, and almost no studies have assessed the microstructural changes with the duration of internet addiction.

              As one of the common mental health problems amongst Chinese adolescents, internet addiction disorder (IAD) is currently becoming more and more serious. Data from the China Youth Internet Association (announcement on February 2, 2010) demonstrated that the incidence rate of internet addiction among Chinese urban youths is about 14%. It is worth noting that the total number is 24 million.

              Conclusions: We provided evidences indicating that IAD subjects had multiple structural changes in the brain. The gray matter atrophy and white matter FA changes of some brain regions were significantly correlated with the duration of internet addiction. These results may be interpreted, at least partially, as the functional impairment of cognitive control in IAD. The prefrontal cortex abnormalities were consistent with previous substance abuse studies hence we suggested that there may exist partially overlapping mechanisms in IAD and substance use.

              COMMENTS: This study shows that those with Internet addiction develop brain abnormalities, which parallel those found in substance abusers. Researchers found a 10-20% reduction in frontal cortex gray matter in adolescents with Internet addiction. Hypofrontality is the common term for this change in brain structure. It is a key marker for all addiction processes.

              ————————–

              Reduced Striatal Dopamine D2 Receptors in People With Internet Addiction (2011).

              Neuroreport. 2011 Jun 11;22(8):407-11. Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University, Seoul, Korea.

              An increasing amount of research has suggested that Internet addiction is associated with abnormalities in the dopaminergic brain system. Consistent with our prediction, individuals with Internet addiction showed reduced levels of dopamine D2 receptor availability in subdivisions of the striatum including the bilateral dorsal caudate and right putamen. This finding contributes to the understanding of neurobiological mechanism of Internet addiction.

              COMMENTS: More evidence that Internet addiction exists. A reduction of striatal D2 dopamine receptors is the primary marker for desensitization of the reward circuitry, which is one the major changes that occurs with addictions,

              ——————-

              Gray Matter Abnormalities In Internet Addiction: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study (2009).

              Eur J Radiol. 2009 Nov 17.. Jiao Tong University Medical School, Shanghai 200127, PR China.

              This study aims to investigate brain gray matter density (GMD) changes in adolescents with Internet addiction (IA) using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis on high-resolution T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images. Compared with healthy controls, IA adolescents had lower GMD in the left anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, left insula, and left lingual gyrus.

              CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggested that brain structural changes were present in IA adolescents, and this finding may provide a new insight into the pathogenesis of IA.

              COMMENT: Adolescents with internet addiction have decreased gray matter in portions of the frontal cortex. Decreases in size and functioning the frontal cortex (hyporfrontality) are found in all addiction processes, and is related to declining D2 receptors. Another example of a non-drug addiction causing brain changes similar to substance abuse disorders.

              ———–
              Functional magnetic resonance imaging of brain of college students with internet addiction (2011)

              Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2011 Aug;36(8):744-9. [Article in Chinese]

              Objective:To explore the functional locations of brain regions related to internet addiction (IA)with task-functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

              Conclusions: Compared with the control group, the IA group showed increased activation in the right superior parietal lobule, right insular lobe, right precuneus, right cingulated gyrus, and right superior temporal gyrus. Abnormal brain function and lateral activation of the right brain may exist in Internet Addiction.

              COMMENTS: Those with Internet Addiction had markedly different brain activation patterns than controls.

              ————–
              Increased regional homogeneity in internet addiction disorder a resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging study (2009).

              Chin Med J (Engl). 2010 Jul;123(14):1904-8.

              Background: Internet addition disorder (IAD) is currently becoming a serious mental health problem among Chinese adolescents. The pathogenesis of IAD, however, remains unclear. The purpose of this study applied regional homogeneity (ReHo) method to analyze encephalic functional characteristic of IAD college students under resting state

              Conclusions: There are abnormalities in regional homogeneity in IAD college students compared with the controls and enhancement of synchronization in most encephalic regions can be found. The results reflect the functional change of brain in IAD college students. The connections between the enhancement of synchronization among cerebellum, brainstem, limbic lobe, frontal lobe and apical lobe may be relative to reward pathways.

              COMMENTS: Brain alteration found in Internet addicts that do not exist in controls. Synchronization of brain regions leading to reward activation.

              Impulse inhibition in people with Internet addiction disorder: electrophysiological evidence from a Go/NoGo study. China. (2010)

              Neurosci Lett. 2010 Nov 19;485(2):138-42. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

              We investigated response inhibition in people with Internet addiction disorder (IAD) by recording event-related brain potentials during a Go/NoGo task. Results show that the IAD group exhibited lower NoGo-N2 amplitude, higher NoGo-P3 amplitude, and longer NoGo-P3 peak latency than the normal group. The results also suggest that the IAD students had lower activation in the conflict detection stage than the normal group; thus, they had to engage in more cognitive endeavors to complete the inhibition task in the late stage. In addition, the IAD students showed less efficiency in information processing and lower impulse control than their normal peers.

              Comments: Subjects with Internet addiction needed to “engage in more cognitive endeavors” to complete the inhibition task, and demonstrated lower impulse control – which can be related to hypofrontality

            • “Sexologists with no training in neurobiology, quoting other sexologists with no training in neurobiology, is hardly evidence. The real addiction experts (ASAM) have spoken.”

              Are these “real addiction experts” making definitive claims that there is clear evidence that sex/porn addiction involves a change to the dopamine system in the brain? That’s the specific claim I’m saying is not backed up by enough evidence. I think those same addiction experts would probably recognize the existence of psychological addictions which are essentially very strong and hard-to-break habits or compulsions that interfere with other aspects of a person’s life, so the fact that they have recognized something as an addiction doesn’t necessarily imply they are endorsing the idea of these sorts of brain changes. For example, some people seem to be addicted to marijuana in this sense, even though I don’t think there is any clear evidence that marijuana is addictive in the way cocaine is addictive (a way which specifically involves changes in dopamine receptors).

              “Citing Ley, who is promoting his new book (The Myth of Sex Addiction), while ignoring ASAM, is untenable.”

              Again, I am not really discussing broad questions of whether “porn addiction” is real or not, or what it even means for an addiction to be “real”, I was just expressing skepticism about your specific claims about the role of physiological changes in the brain (especially in the dopamine system). So, I wasn’t citing him because I buy into every aspect of his critique of sex addiction, I just cited him because of his comments “They’re now talking about morphological changes that supposedly happen in the brain as somebody watches porn or has too much sex. The reality is, careful scientists will tell you they are absolutely unable to identify any brain differences between these alleged sex addicts and non-sex addicts.” Since all the brain studies you have cited are about internet addiction rather than sex or porn addiction, I don’t think you could say he’s factually wrong on this one specific point, nor is the ASAM’s identification of sex addiction as a psychological syndrome relevant to this (unless *they* make specific claims about neurological changes beyond those associated with any habitual behavior and learning).

              Also, please understand that I am not trying to make any assertion that there are *not* such changes in the brain/dopamine system in sex or porn addiction, I’m just saying that at this point the evidence doesn’t clearly say one way or another. If you talk to real scientists about their field of expertise, they generally always express a lot of caution about any claim where there isn’t really strong evidence to support it, even if they personally may have a hunch that it’s true and think that there is some evidence that provides tentative support for it. Good writing about scientific topics should imitate this cautiousness, and should not pretend to a false confidence about such speculations and tentative evidence.

              “Your arguments remind me of Ley’s; comparing reading a good book to hours of porn-viewing a day is silly. He stated “chapstick use” was comparable to porn addiction.”

              I never said anything about a book being comparable to porn addiction! I simply said that anything people find pleasurable and rewarding involves the dopamine system to some degree. So unless you have clear evidence that porn addiction had dramatic effects on the dopamine system, it’s unscientific to claim that just because we know the pleasure of porn involves dopamine it must have the same sort of potential for addiction and habituation as drugs that operate on the dopamine system.

              Please don’t lump me together with Ley or other “critics”, again I am not trying to make dismissive claims about porn/sex addiction not existing, or even claiming it definitely does not involve the sort of brain changes you suggest, just that any such claims about brain changes are fairly speculative and responsible science journalism should not claim false confidence in speculations.

              “Question: Were there no alcoholics before addiction researchers saw the changes in alcoholics’ brains?? This seems to be your position. ”

              No, of course I wouldn’t say that. Do you think if someone was presenting speculations about changes in alcoholics’ brains as established science in the days before there was any clear evidence that such changes were actually occurring, that this would be responsible science reporting?

              “1) A very large group of individual claim to be addicted to porn.
              – Are you calling them liars?
              – What evidence do you possess to discount their experiences?
              – What evidence do you have to discount the experience of clinicians treating porn addiction?”

              Again, my objection is solely to your presenting speculations about changes in the brain as established science. Such changes may or may not be occurring, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to make any strong claims about this at present; but even if they are not occurring, this in no way discounts the potential for psychological addiction. Again think of the comparison to marijuana, which has not been shown to be physically addictive in the way that cocaine is, yet clearly some people do become dependent on it in a way that can reasonably be called an “addiction”.

              “Since you brought it up:
              – If not addiction, what possible brain mechanism accounts for all the signs and symptoms that indicate brain changes?
              – How do fundamental behavioral addiction “brain circuits” and “mechanisms” differ from substance addiction? (They don’t)
              – Please explain the neural substrates of psychological addiction and how it differs from physiological addiction.”

              Scientists are comfortable with uncertainty, so “you have to present a complete counter-explanation or my explanation must by default be correct” is not a good scientific argument. I don’t have a complete theory of the neurobiological basis of all human behavior that explains why some habits are very hard to break, but that doesn’t somehow show by default that the brain mechanism for all hard-to-break habits and compulsions must be precisely identical to something like cocaine addiction. Until there is actual hard evidence that such habits/compulsions involve depletion of dopamine like cocaine, just presenting an argument-by-analogy and then saying “oh, you got a better explanation buddy?” when anyone expresses doubt is not the attitude of an open-minded scientist, it’s more like the attitude of a lawyer using rhetoric to convince an audience of a pre-established conclusion.

              “3) All brain studies done so far have found that Internet addiction causes the same brain changes as substance addiction. No exceptions.”

              None of the ones you liked to actually demonstrated *changes* over time, they only demonstrated some average differences between brains of internet addicts and those who weren’t addicted. Did you understand my point about correlation not necessarily implying causation, and did you look at the article I linked to about certain types of brain differences which are thought to predispose people to addictive behaviors? (the article on the good men project I linked to was itself a bit sensationalistic, but it linked to a New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24addicts.html which was better) An article on one such study at the British NHS website makes the same point:

              http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/01January/Pages/internet-addiction-brain-scan-changes-iad.aspx

              “Several news headlines have suggested that internet addiction can cause changes to the brain, but this description is inappropriate, as the study design did not look at changes over time. It looked at how the brains of problem internet users differed from those of people who did not report such a problem. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the heavy users had particular brain structures that made them susceptible to addictions, rather than that the internet actively changed their brain structures. Assuming that the associations found by this research are confirmed in larger studies, it would take careful examinations over time to tell whether internet addiction causes changes in the brain, or if underlying differences in those structures contribute to addictive behaviours.”

              Also, you say “all brain studies” but it seems the number is pretty small, your page at http://yourbrainonporn.com/internet-addiction-studies-summaries seems to show only 6 studies that directly involved looking at the brain rather than behavior, and except perhaps for two on reduced gray matter they mostly seem to look at different types of brain differences from one another, suggesting that most have not been independently replicated. And when you say “the same brain changes as substance addiction”, are you saying that all the differences found in these studies are also characteristic of substance addicts? For example, looking at the “Gray Matter Abnormalities In Internet Addiction” study, is it a recognized characteristic of substance addicts that they have reduced gray matter density in the same specific areas, namely the left anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, left insula, and left lingual gyrus? Similarly looking at “Functional magnetic resonance imaging of brain of college students with internet addiction”, is it a known characteristic of substance addicts that they show “increased activation in the right superior parietal lobule, right insular lobe, right precuneus, right cingulated gyrus, and right superior temporal gyrus”?

              “Sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, and disorganized white matter, are found in all addictions.”

              Here too I am not so sure scientists would confidently claim that substance addictions *cause* all these differences, as opposed to people with such differences having mental issues which may make them more likely to develop addictions (self-medicating and so forth). For example, the paper at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03566.x/pdf mentions disorganized white matter and says it may be a contributer to becoming addicted rather than an effect:

              “Adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD) have difficulties with cognitive, behavior and affective regulation and evidence of neurodevelopmental immaturity (see [1] for review; [2,3]). Such difficulties may indicate preexisting deficits that contribute to SUD or adverse substance use effects. Children and adolescents with psychopathology reflecting psychological dysregulation, such as disruptive behavior disorders [DBD: i.e. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD)] have been found to have white matter (WM) disorganization [4–6]. WM disorganization may indicate neurodevelopmental immaturity contributing to both psychological dysregulation and SUD (i.e. neurodevelopmental immaturity model). Alternatively, neurotoxic substance effects may lead to neurobiological deficits (i.e. substance effects model).”

              If this was a settled scientific issue, one would think the authors of the above paper (written for the journal Addiction) would be familiar with the evidence and not talk as though both directions of causation were viable hypotheses. Looking around reveals that white matter disorganization may also be associated with other mental issues they don’t mention above, like autism (see http://www.news-medical.net/news/20111206/Autism-linked-with-disorganized-structure-of-brains-white-matter.aspx ). Similarly hypofrontality may be associated with ADHD (see http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?Volume=156&page=891&journalID=13 ) and panic disorders and depression (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18833572 ).

              “Many of the above brain changes are caused by a protein DeltaFosB. This molecular switch is behind sensitization, desensitization, and hypofrontality. ”

              Do you have a link to a study which concludes this protein causes hypofrontality? That word isn’t mentioned in the link you gave. Also, the link you gave doesn’t seem to mention anything about the protein’s role in desensitization–is there evidence that increased levels of the protein lead to needing greater amounts of the same “rewarding” stimulus to be satisfied?

              “Desensitization has been proved to be CAUSED BY ADDICTION, as it reverses itself during recovery. That is, dopamine receptors return during abstention (citations in articles previously posted).”

              This would be a good piece of evidence for causation as opposed to correlation, can you point to which specific articles previously posted contained this sort of evidence of dopamine receptors returning in recovery from non-drug addictions?

              “For example, this study shows normalization of addictive brain changes in Internet addicts. This refutes your pet theory that “that addictions don’t actually cause changes in the dopamine system.” Yes, some people are more vulnerable, but addictions cause a decline regardless.

              Brain correlates of craving for online gaming under cue exposure in subjects with Internet gaming addiction and in remitted subjects. (2011)
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22026537

              I can only read the abstract, but it doesn’t mention anything about the dopamine system, it shows a different pattern of brain activation in current addicts and former addicts of online gaming. The abstract also doesn’t say if the former addicts were more similar to the control group than the current addicts in all respects, or only in the specific respect that “the IGA group had stronger activation over right DLPFC and left parahippocampus than did the remission group”. And has increased activation in these specific areas, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left parahippocampus, been associated with substance addictions in multiple past studies?

              And the idea that addictions don’t cause changes in the dopamine system is not my “pet theory”, just a possibility that I don’t think real scientists in this area would be so quick to say has been “proven wrong” as you do. Again I am not arguing *for* any particular explanation for addictive behaviors, I am just arguing for being realistic about uncertainties in this area.

              “4) You did not address SIAMS survey on porn-induced ED. The Italian urologists stated seeing many young healthy men in their clinics with porn-induced ED. Only one formal survey has asked the question about youthful ED – and the conclusion is that porn use can cause sexual dysfunction.”

              This one didn’t strike me as very strong evidence since it wasn’t published in any peer-reviewed journal and depended entirely on self-reporting–how would the men know whether their ED was caused by their porn viewing or whether it happened for other reasons, and how many of them had real long-term ED as opposed to just temporary problems getting aroused because they had been using porn within the last few days before attempting sex?

              “- What accounts for a 3-month recovery period?”

              The story you linked to at http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/02/25/scientists-internet-porn-cause-impotence/ didn’t say anything about a 3 month recovery period, where did you find that figure? It did include a comment by Carlo Foresta saying that “With proper assistance recovery is possible within a few months”, but there was no indication whether this was a typical time period needed for recovery or an upper limit.

              “You did not address the links with hundreds of men reporting porn-induced ED. You have not addressed that young healthy men, who reported all the signs and symptoms of addiction, including withdrawal, later report recovery from ED when they abstain for 2-5 months.”

              You’re saying hundreds reported that they needed months before recovering? There were a lot of posts on those threads, and while I didn’t read them all, from the random sampling of ones I did I think this specific claim would only occur in a small fraction of them. Likewise if “withdrawal” is meant to indicate something more than just psychological cravings, I didn’t see mention of withdrawal symptoms in any of the posts I looked at.

            • You have added nothing new to the conversation and still have not addressed the main arguments. Please read the ASAM statement and then my post again to get this very simple concept: If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck….it’s a duck.

              I’ll lay it out gain and more simply ( it is you who must provide peer reviewed research to refute my claims – as we have provided in all our previous links):

              1) The primary message from ASAM: a collection of signs, symptoms, and behaviors represent a specific set of brain alterations. This simple concept is the basis for clinical diagnosis.
              – If porn addicts exhibit the same set of signs, symptoms, and behaviors, they have the same set of brain changes as all other addicts.
              – It’s uncharacteristic for neuroscientists to make blanket statement – but they did. Where’s YOUR evidence to the contrary?
              – Simple clinical diagnosis….see the duck.

              2) ALL addictions both behavioral and chemical involve the same basic mechanisms, same named circuits, and same brain alterations.
              – That’s why ASAM confidently stated that sexual behavior addictions exist.
              – So to answer your question: Yes, ASAM is saying that ALL addictions, including sexual behavior addictions, involve a decline in dopamine signalling.

              3) These brain changes include, but are not limited to: Sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, frontal cortex disorganized white matter, high levels of DeltaFosB.

              4) ALL brain changes (and more) must be simultaneously present.
              – The presence of ONLY one characteristic (white matter disorganization) is irrelevant. Multiple sclerosis involves disorganized white matter, but no one is saying those patients are addicts.
              – Stop with the matter already. It’s ALL changes occurring simultaneously.

              5) Addiction processes CAUSE these brain changes to occur.
              -Thousands of animal studies have proved this. Human studies confrimed what was found in the animal studies.
              -Again, chronic high levels of DeltaFosB accumulating in the nucleus accumbens cause desensitization, sensitization and hypofrontality.
              -If you read the research on hypofrontality you’ll understand that desensitization leads to a decline in dopamine signaling into the frontal cortex. In turn, it leads to lower metabolism and loss of gray matter.

              6) If it’s psychological addiction then it’s not addiction as defined by ASAM. It does not involve all the brain changes. It is something else.

              7) All evidence gathered so far on Internet addiction (it’s more than 6 studies) has pointed in only one direction – addiction related brain changes, and the behaviors that reflect these changes.
              NOT just white matter disorganization, but sensitization, desensitization and hypofrontality were all found in those with Internet addiction.

              TL;DR – All addictions, whether chemical or behavioral, involve the same major brain changes in the same circuits, initiated by the same molecular switch (DeltaFosB). These universal brain changes are reflected in a constellation of signs, symptoms and behaviors. Exhibiting this constellation of signs, symptoms and behaviors indicates the underlying brain changes have occurred. If you cannot refute this statement with citations from brain research, you have no argument.
              ——————————————-

              Here’s the deal: Without ASAM’s new definition, or the SIAMS study; or the Internet addiction studies, I would still claim that 1) porn addiction exists; 2) it has all the same brain alterations as other behavioral addictions; 3) it can led ED in healthy young men.

              Why?
              – Because porn addicts have all the characteristics of drug addicts, and all addictions involve the aforementioned alterations.
              – Like all mental health disorders, addictions are diagnosed by assessment of signs, symptoms, behaviors, and history, not with brain scans.
              – I have read of thousands of posts on hundreds of websites from 25 different countries describing porn addiction and porn-induced ED
              – Over the past 5 years we have seen countless porn addicts (most with ED) exhibit symptoms, including withdrawal symptom, that rival drug addiction, go through recovery and have ED, social anxiety, depression, ADD, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue all disappear

              See this page and read these many accounts 1) Tales of Porn-Related ED (8 pages) 2) ED recovery stories (7 pages)
              http://yourbrainonporn.com/erectile-dysfunction-question

              See this page for longer descriptions of porn addiction and recovery
              http://yourbrainonporn.com/rebooting-accounts

              See this page and the PDF for withdrawal symptoms.
              http://yourbrainonporn.com/what-does-withdrawal-from-porn-look-like
              http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.WITHDRAWAL.pdf

              See this page and the PDF for benefits experienced when people stop using porn.
              http://yourbrainonporn.com/what-benefits-do-people-see-as-they-reboot
              http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.BENEFITS.pdf

              The above represent a small fraction of what we have seen.
              ——————

              I’m curious: Why are you attempting to debate this issue? Why take on ASAM and the top addiction researchers in the world? In other words what point are you ultimately trying to make?

              If you are a psychologist you are in a position to help addicts in ways neuroscientists cannot. (They often favor neurochemical solutions, which are not yet fine-tuned and have lots of side-effects.) Addiction is an attachment disorder. It not only affects those with this disorder, but also causes it, by isolating people and numbing their brains to the pleasures of socializing. Addicts really benefit from human support, rather than (or in rare cases in addition to) psychotropic drugs.

              The psychology profession has much to offer here, but they dig their clients’ holes deeper if they cling to their pet theories, and don’t correctly integrate the latest science. The science, when clearly explained to the addict, empowers him to make changes. He learns what signs indicate that these changes are in progress, and what signs indicate that he is healing. He learns that desensitization (and other addiction-related brain changes) are generally reversible. He learns that his libido may get worse before it gets better, and what other withdrawal symptoms he may experience. He learns how important exercise and healthy connection with others are to maintaining his future balance.

              We hear from men often who have made no progress for years…until they learn the science and read the experiences of others. This is hard to do in the mainstream media, because of prejudices in favor of “Internet porn is no different from viewing National Geographic.” Psychologists can really have an impact on client wellbeing, but not while they remain in denial about what’s going on in porn addicts’ brains.

    • Calm down. If you were a porn/sex addict then you would understand; be thankful that you are not – it is torture.

    • Hey buddy you misinterpreted the article.

  42. anonymous says:

    Thank you for this informative article. I’m a healthy 29 year old male and I’m finally coming to terms that everything that was reported in this article is very true, at least for me personally. I discovered porn at a very young age and I blame it and my self for prematurely ending a lot of my past relationships. Even before my I got my first serious girlfriend I already had been exposed to swingers, shemales, lesbians, and everything else you can think of. And this was pre internet days, like right when dial up was starting. Anyways, long story short, the thrill I got from real relationships would always be overcome by newer and more exciting porn that I discovered. I thought the problem was that my girlfriends werent kinky enough eventually. I dated a few really kinky girls, but it still wasnt quite as good as I had imagined. In my heart, I’ve always been a romantic, so this idea of non monogamy and attraction to slutty girls was always at opposition to what I wanted in my heart, which was a romantic monogamous relationship. I started getting ED around age 23. I blamed it on my girlfriend being slightly over weight at the time, it also freaked me out. It had never happened before. I ended it with her, but it happened again with the next 4 girlfriends. I never knew how I was going to perform, it was hit or miss and it made me feel like a failure and I felt bad for making the girls I was with feel like they didn’t turn me on. I was still able to get off to porn though. Porn was always my back up, it relieved my anxieties. But now I’m 29 and in the past year or so, I’ve noticed that I often can’t even get fully erect when I’m masturbating to porn now. It takes a long hard search for that one special video thats kinkier than the rest, just to get off. I thought about going to get viagra a long time ago when I was probably 25. I know a friend who uses it regularly. he’s the same age. Sometimes I get disgusted with myself just because of some of the things I’ve gotten off to that I wouldnt normally have any interest in. I’ve let this go on for too long. Having a real meaningful relationship and a great sex life is too important to me to let porn get in the way. I’m going to try my best to limit my exposure to porn from now on, especially when I’m in a relationship. It’s hard when your single, but you have to keep your mind occupied with other things, being productive instead. Thats another thing. thinking about all the time I’ve wasted looking up the perfect porn, its a shame. I hope I can turn a new leaf, and I wish all the best to anyone else struggling with similar problems.

  43. anonymous says:

    Thank you for this informative article. I’m a healthy 29 year old male and I’m finally coming to terms that everything that was reported in this article is very true, at least for me personally. I discovered porn at a very young age and I blame it and my self for prematurely ending a lot of my past relationships. Even before my I got my first serious girlfriend I already had been exposed to swingers, shemales, lesbians, and everything else you can think of. And this was pre internet days, like right when dial up was starting. Anyways, long story short, the thrill I got from real relationships would always be overcome by newer and more exciting porn that I discovered. I thought the problem was that my girlfriends werent kinky enough eventually. I dated a few really kinky girls, but it still wasnt quite as good as I had imagined. In my heart, I’ve always been a romantic, so this idea of non monogamy and attraction to slutty girls was always at opposition to what I wanted in my heart, which was a romantic monogamous relationship. I started getting ED around age 23. I blamed it on my girlfriend being slightly over weight at the time, it also freaked me out. It had never happened before. I ended it with her, but it happened again with the next 4 girlfriends. I never knew how I was going to perform, it was hit or miss and it made me feel like a failure and I felt bad for making the girls I was with feel like they didn’t turn me on. I was still able to get off to porn though. Porn was always my back up, it relieved my anxieties. But now I’m 29 and in the past year or so, I’ve noticed that I often can’t even get fully erect when I’m masturbating to porn now. It takes a long hard search for that one special video thats kinkier than the rest, just to get off. I thought about going to get viagra a long time ago when I was probably 25. I know a friend who uses it regularly. he’s the same age. Sometimes I get disgusted with myself just because of some of the things I’ve gotten off to that I wouldnt normally have any interest in. I’ve let this go on for too long. Having a real meaningful relationship and a great sex life is too important to me to let porn get in the way. I’m going to try my best to limit my exposure to porn from now on, especially when I’m in a relationship. Best of luck to anyone else going through something similar. We men have to go back to reclaiming our manhood. Masturbating to a computer image is not what nature intended for us.

  44. DisturbedDude says:

    Hello,

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for publishing this article. Even though it may not hit the front page of every single newspaper, it will have done a great service for those of us men (and possibly women as well) who would benefit from reading this and are wrestling with the long-term effects of pornography. You do NOT have to be a Christian to find that pornography can actually hurt your sex life with your SO or spouse. And the best part about this article is that it doesn’t break new ground; plenty of medical and general science journals have been written on this topic in the past. This article sheds some new perspective on the topic in a way that’s understandable and accessible to us all.

    BTW, I read through some of Jesse M’s comments, and I have to say that his add absolutely nothing to the discussion. They just poke holes at inconsequential points and employ cheap straw men attacks. In other words, I have to wonder whether he’s some kind of shill out to prove something.

    Your article starts and ends on an objective note. It provides the facts, and your follow-up comments provide further sources.

    That being said, I’m turning a new leaf. I’m starting with a clean slate. No more masturbation to pornography. No more rationalizing to myself that I can have a healthy sex life if pornography has been destroying it these past few years. I want no more of it. I’m done.

    Thank you,

    A Passing Stranger

    • Good for you, and good luck. I’m on the same journey. It’s one day at a time. I’m grateful for this article, and to discover I’m not alone. We will succeed.

  45. Amazingly I have been watching pornographic videos for over a decade on the internet and I can tell you that I have suffered no noticeable loss of libido in all that time. I am a 45 year old happily married man of 24 years and while I tend to like teen porn I still find my wife very sexually appealing and our sex life very satisfactory. I am sure some men will wane in their desires but if men and women are educated their sex life can include plenty of good hot porn videos on the internet and still keep their marriage together and even spice it up from time to time.

  46. What if I only masturbate to my own homemade porn? Will I be more or less addicted?

  47. Humans are not instinctively monogamous. Sex at Dawn is a mighty interesting book.

    Also, my (extensive) research supports Jesse M. However I am not going to sit here and debate it. I have better things to do, I just wanted to “tip my hat”.

    • Thanks for dropping by and letting us know your extensive research supports Jesse, disproves porn addiction, and negates The American Society of Addiction Medicines new definition of addiction that sexual behavior addictions exist. See- http://www.asam.org/advocacy/find-a-policy-statement/view-policy-statement/public-policy-statements/2011/12/15/the-definition-of-addiction

      Care to share any of it?

      Sex at Dawn is riddled with errors, purposeful omissions and cherry picked citations. You can read L SAXONS review, and long debate that follows (Including author Chris Ryan) which shreds it apart and points out Ryan’s misuse of science.
      http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Dawn-Prehistoric-Origins-Sexuality/product-reviews/0061707805/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_2?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addTwoStar

      An anthropologist who specializes in hunter-gatherer mating strategies had enough of Sex at Dawn and wrote a review in a peer-reviewwed academic journal. He concludes that “Sex at Dawn” is “a distorted portrayal of current theory and evidence on evolved human sexuality.” His review seems to line up with the remarks of LSaxon on Amazon. Hmmmmm…

      Evolutionary Psychology Journal ( http://www.epjournal.net/ )

      The 11 page review can be found at http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP093253352.pdf
      “The Human That Never Evolved, A review of Christopher Ryan and Caclida Jethá, Sex at Dawn”

      Quoting from the review:

      “While numerous reviews have been presented in newspapers, magazines, and websites, I have failed to find one review in an academic journal or by an evolutionary scientist (those who might be expected to give the most informed type of assessment of content). The public—in many cases unfortunately, but understandably—is largely educated in science through popular expositions such as this, and therefore it is crucial that researchers in the pertinent fields not ignore such publications or shirk from weighing in on the issues. In this review, I address what I see as biased reporting of data, theoretical and evidentiary shortcomings, and problematic assumptions misleadingly put forth”

      “Is this book likely to open the eyes of scientists and make them realize that the emperor has, for so long, not been wearing any clothes? Will it initiate a major revision of perspective and research on the evolution of human sexuality among scientists? The answer to both is “no.” But, as mentioned at the beginning of this review, books like Sex at Dawn inform the wider public of the goings-on in academia. In this case, a distorted portrayal of current theory and evidence on evolved human sexuality is presented, and for this reason it deserves more attention from those on the inside.”

  48. This is obviously a high quality article – keep it up! Let me contribute one tiny thing….

    That anecdote about the husband who ‘put his wife back on the pedestal’ as a result from abstaining from porn? Maybe most men don’t want to put anyone on a pedestal, ever. Most men will have few sex partners in their life and it seems inevitable that those few would be ‘worshipped’ if they perceive that to be all they have.

    It’s the flipside of the argument that porn makes us think we have too many available sex partners, leading to averse behavior. From my perspective, the ‘argument’ I just gave is a reason *for* porn, if *only* it could (or if it can) be withheld from becoming an addiction.

  49. Anonymous Jack says:

    Well written article. I’m living what the article has outlined. I’ve substituted internet porn for my lovely wife. It’s something I’ve tried to reverse but a week without it and I’m lured back. I wish I never started.

  50. Just wanted to say that that was a fantastic article, superbly written. Reason i ended up here is because of my addiction and its effects on my relationships. Just hope i can turn it around. Its hard. ahem.

  51. A couple of posters are debating the science in this article, but I can tell you from personal experience, this article is an accurate description of my life over the past two years. Science or not, the descriptions of porn addiction could have come from an interview with me.

    My addiction to porn has caused a lack of sleep, stress at work, too much money spent, a lack of being aroused during sex with my wife, and an overall feeling that “I’m not right with the world”. There were many times I felt lonely, because I couldn’t talk with people about what had become a large part of my life.

    To those who believe this article is a generalization, I would remind them that not everyone is addicted by the same things. Some people drink and never become alcoholics (me). But for those of us addicted to porn, it is with joy to discover an article such as this. The authors aren’t trying to be prudes; they’re writing so as to give hope that we can better our lives and our marriages if we understand the possible physiology concerning porn addiction.

    A couple of weeks ago I erased the porn off my hard drive, deleted the over 100 porn site “bookmarks” I had, and closed all webcam accounts. “Cold Turkey” seemed the only way I could begin the process of healing my addiction to porn. (I talk to God about this, but always believe that He should be working on world hunger, instead. After all, I have free will and should be able to turn this around.) So when I came across this article yesterday, it was as affirming a gift as I could have received. I thought about this article today, and it acted like a trigger, helping me stay away from browsing porn. No matter how I got to this article, I’m grateful for having read it. It’s been one day at a time the past two weeks, and this article will be helpful in this journey away from porn addiction. Thank you.

    • Where is the “testimony” that once the woman has “netted the guy” and married him, SHE is the one
      who suddenly does not wish or need (?) to have sex as much as he does? I thought that married guys turned to porn from this scenario — to avoid arguments with her over this.

  52. Quite possibly the most fun you can have without leaving out Pheromones

  53. Stephen Starr says:

    This article was something of a revelation. I thought I stumbled upon a straight men’s site this AM via Thomas Matlock’s NYT article, “Man I Need a Good Cuddle” and thus this article. I cannot speak for all gay men… only myself, but I observe my gay compadres as WAY behind the curve in understanding and responding to internet porn. It is a STAPLE of many gay men’s sex lives with no real understanding about how this might affect ability to connect with other men for intimate relationship. I don’t care to cry victim, but with little (albeit, growing) support of gay marriage, the deleterious affects of porn go unnoticed. Suddenly I am aware that we gay men, in our enthusiastic embrace of being “sex positive,” can be stuck in a bit of a dopamine swirl for much of our lives. Thanks for this honest exposure to some facts to add to the discussion!

  54. It is not just porn.
    Before I even discovered porn I wanted to sleep with different women. Not the ‘notches one the belt’ crap that we men get accused of but for the variety. Each women has a unique personality, a unique body shape, and is just different than the one before. And the thing is after a few times of being intimate I’d just want someone different. Not that the woman was not still amazing but I would just wonder what the next one was like.

    And the weird thing is in my relationships my actual love and care for the woman grew as time went on. I’d do more things for them and romance them more and snuggle more. I’d even take a bullet. But I was less interested in actual sexual intimacy with them.

    There were one or two that kept my interest but that was because I’d see them in spurts of a few months at a time and then they would be away for a while. And them being away reawakened the desire.

    Cannot say what affect porn has on all men. But I will say that it has made me less likely to even look for a relationship. I do have quite a few women friends with whom I share emotional intimacy and companionship, but as far as sex goes it is just so much easier to pop in a DVD, pull up a site or even just run through my memories of ex lovers and masturbate.

    And the fact that I discovered porn during a sexual drought. Ample women friends but no women interested in being my lover. The drought went on for years. So I just decided to be happy with friends and find my pleasure in self pleasing.

    I do not even look at pron on a daily basis. But for an hour or so every Friday and Saturday night when I do not have to work the next day, I take my time and bring up a site and let a couple go.

    It is just so much easier that way.

  55. Kirsten (in MT) says:

    Note to the editor:
    Regarding the title that appears in my browser header (Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn?) as opposed to the actual title of the article, please look up what the word “hardwired” actually means. Hint: it does not apply to what is being described in this article.

    • To Kristen (MT):The Original Title was “Porn, Novelty, and the Collodige Effect”.

      • Kirsten (in MT) says:

        I am only specifically pointing out a problem with the title that appears in the browser header (and possibly as a result) in the GMP tweet about the article. My comment does not refer to any other title that does not say “hardwired”. And I get that the authors don’t necessarily get to pick how the article is titled in this publication, which is why I specifically commented to the editor.

        Hardwired means something is built-in or is an intrinsic and relatively unmodifiable behavior pattern. If the brain becomes acclimated to certain stimuli that it was not previously acclimated to through prolonged or repeated exposure, and that process can be reversed in a matter or weeks to months abstaining from that exposure, that is not hardwiring.

  56. I discovered my husband is addicted to porn and masturbation after being married for 35 years. I figured his lack of sex with me was because of my weight, but after I researched, realized he was an addict who shut me out of his life. As a single guy, he was the geek, a virgin and probably used porn as his release. we had great sex – fantastic sex the first 20 yrs. Then a friend introduced him to the net and porn. The only reason he has stopped is that I caught him twice and threatened to leave. He hadn’t been sexual with me for many years by then but again, I believed it was all my fault. Since I caught him, he saw a therapist for awhile but stopped going to SA meetings because the men there had very severe cases of sex addiction – spending money on prostitutes, quick sex with many women, spending alot of money on porn, etc. So he shut himself off from any more sexual distraction. But in the meantime, he now has NO libido, NO sexual desire, NO need to even touch me or love me. I have become a housecleaner, shopper, financial adviser, chef and so very alone, all the time. His testosterone level is on the border of needing more and we are now considered senior citizens. But I am still ME – vibrant, needing, loving and willing. So do I divorce him because he never gets any help, not even to read an article about this? Or stay married and never have a rendez-vous with him, never be kissed and caressed, never feel special to the one person on this earth I love? How can he say ‘Love You’ when I am a stranger to him? The only human touch I get is from my hairdresser.

  57. I thought this article was helpful and does make sense, the only thing I did not appreciate is that is it only directed at men. I’m a woman and I have the same problem, that is why I looked this article up. I feel like one whole gender is ignored when you direct your words only for men, only referring to their “wives” or “girlfriends”

  58. annoymousfemale says:

    I am a normal, very-open minded 25 year old woman with a husband and a son. Our relationship was extremely healthy in the beginning and we had an exciting sex life…however, it has changed. My husband looks at pornography on the internet daily, sometimes more than once a day and our sex life is gone down hill. We have meaningless sex, I’m not even sure he looks at me or touches me when we are having sex. He is too busy fantasizing about porn. I have no problem with watching it together to spice things up, but when he has to go watch port before or after (yes, even after because he is not satisfied) it really hurts our relationship. He is also the type of person to not be open to talking about issues like this…at all. If anyone has any realistic advice please let me know. I do not want to see our relationship go down the drain because of this.

  59. Thank you for this article and the thoughtful and informed comments. My husband, George Collins, is a recovering sex addict and has been helping other sex addicts & porn addicts find their way out for the past 15 years. I work with wives and partners. Whether we end up calling this problem an addiction or not, at the end of the day, for me the vital key is the potential for the alleviation of suffering. The fact is that the compulsive use of sex or porn CAN be treated. These men, women, and families can find a better life. Suffering can be alleviated. My wish is that every person who needs help can reach out and find the help and support they need and deserve to find.

  60. Immorality always end up in self destruction…

  61. how much does a live in nanny cost says:

    Hmm i hope you dont get offended with this question, but how much does a site like yours earn?

  62. Can I quote you without worries of copy writing? I am a church leader and would like to share this information even copying off your information. Great info!

  63. Thank you for this. I belive internet porn is what killed my marrige. Thankfully we are both willing to start fresh with eachother, I know most men don’t get that chance. I feel like porn has made normal life difficult for most of us, and it’s past time we set it down and walk away. It’s time to see in color again, while we still can.

  64. Interested Reader says:

    Wow. Very interesting article! It is spot on.

    I’ve viewed porn on a regular basis for over 12+ years (after college). Initially it was due to curiosity having grown up in a strict, religious household. My parents never really had the sex talk with me.

    Over time I needed more and new things to bring me the same satisfaction. Nothing nasty that involved feces or blood but newly adventurous things. I thought that my high libido was just my youth and great physical shape. I’m sure that contributed but I definitely had regular (daily) marathon masturbation sessions. I could go for several hours.

    Over time I looked for new stimuli even though I had a gf. Online flirting and chatting and then phone calls. At first I felt guilty but then I reasoned to myself that I was never actually cheating. I had more and more sexual fantasies that I would play out in my mind.

    Several years on of continued behavior and I finally ended up cheating… several times. I’m ashamed of it and I feel incredibly guilty. I’m also married now with kids. I never thought I would be THAT guy.. scum. That’s how I ended up here. I wanted to learn about what happened to me.

    I won’t say that porn caused me to cheat. It’s not that simple and I think porn can have positive uses. I also think that exploration of one’s sexuality while young is fine.

    However, having been a cigarette smoker for a few years during college, I can say that there are certain addictive similarities that, looking back, I now notice. Not everyone has addictive behaviors but I believe I, and many others, do.

    In particular, there is the habit of an act (smoking, masturbation) that releases chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure. In time, our brains become desensitized to that experience and seek out more (more masturbation, more cigarettes/alcohol/etc). We seek new experiences (new sexual adventures, new drugs, binge drinking). And suddenly the line between doing something for fun and doing something because we can’t help ourselves has been incredibly blurred. I felt like that hamster mentioned above!

    While I was smoking, I asked myself whether I could quit today (for good) if I wanted to. I thought I could but I would fall off the wagon again. In time, I quit for good.

    I’m not advocating quitting masturbation. I think that might actually be detrimental.

    I’m advocating quitting porn… or at least scaling it to a point where it’s not interfering in relationships and the emotion bonds we have with each other. For me it went from a stress-relieving activity to reduced sex with my own gf/wife. Part of that is circumstance (having a child can kill your sex life) but people can get through this by putting extra effort into maintaining that spark.

    Personally, I’m going to reduce how much I masturbate. I used to do it daily.. several times sometimes. I actually look forward to scaling back and see how it affects my desire for my wife. I want to rekindle that excitement I had/have for her and I think I will find sex with her more pleasurable. I want to be faithful from now on. I’ve finally realized the cost of overconsumption of porn/sex imagery/fantasy/extramarital sexual behavior has cost me. I know that over time the physiological dependencies I had for porn will go away.

    • Sasha Libliu says:

      Thanks for sharing. It is hard to face oneself and walk out of it and I am glad you have done this. It gives kme hope for other guys out there.

  65. I am not an expert on subject but from my personal experience :
    porn and masturbation seem to make other things in life like studies,talking with friends,going out etc relatively uninteresting.

  66. this is all relate to celibacy .do we really need celibacy,yes why not look at the culture which kid’s r following unsatisfying hollow mind which make them apart from good education,social responsibility against his parents ….we must teach kid n adult for leading gud human life n that only happen we teach celibacy from tender age not when they adult …..tell him sex with ur chosen or chosen by parents girl not with freaky girl….

  67. You might want to see what women have to say. There is a site called http://www.wisechoice.net/wives that reports any number of stories of women and what they think and have experienced.

  68. I just can’t help myself not to swear here.
    You have a lot … and I mean A LOT of bullshit mentioned here, which are either took from poor research or bad interpretation.
    Humans, especially men are NOT monogamous… it is NOT in our instincts to stick with just ONE woman.
    As a psychologist helping old couples with relationship problems (couples that are together for more than 2 years), I do actually sometimes give advice to men to watch porn, as it helps prevent his need to “cheat” with other women, that ofc. if his woman doesn’t allow him to have safe sex with other women.

    I was expecting a site with some nice and objective info, but yet again I am dissapointed.

    There is a healthy amount of porn and there is the unhealthy amount of porn, but then again it’s all RELATIVE. Some people watch porn as they have a tendency to be absolutely individualistic and sometimes even experience strong misanthropy. The misanthropy however isn’t caused by porn, as your articles might suggest.

    • How sad. You’re so bankrupt as a therapist that the only way you can see to strengthen attraction is to hook your clients on screens instead of each other? Isn’t there something inconsistent in that picture?

      As a alternative, maybe explore the power of attachment cues: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-lazy-way-stay-in-love

      What evidence do you have that using novelty-as-aphrodisiac is a sustainable solution to habituation? Sure, it provides a few quick orgasms in the short-term, but too much stimulation can also numb the pleasure centers of the brain…leading to a need for harder and harder material – not to mention the risk of wiring to pixels instead of real connection. See “Porn Is The Enemy of Great Sex” http://sexgodproject.com/porn-is-the-enemy-of-great-sex/

      Can’t help wondering what therapists did before highspeed porn came along. Maybe they had to come up with actual solutions.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be still in denial

  69. Madeira says:

    My husband and I share porn, we have similar tastes and fetishes and it’s a bonding activity for us. We’re both quite freaky but quite monogamous, and we use it to stimulate erotic fantasies and stories that we share with each other.

    • Mad – I enjoy seeing couples that can use porn to enhance their relationships and do not keep it this dark, dirty secret. When it becomes something to be hidden from your lover, then it becomes dangerous because you are hiding it. =(

  70. Curious Guy says:

    I would be interested to read about reasons why men consume unhealthy levels of porn. My personal experience is because my wife wants sex once every week or two. She is annoyed when I want to masturbate to her in between coitus. Porn solves one problem but creates another…

    • I agree with you. I think porn may be helpful at times. However, may I suggest that you find out why your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you. If you truly are seeking a resolution & not just a pacifier which checks you out of the most important relationship you have, then seek a constructive resolution…think.of it as an investment in yourself!!!! Seriously cause unless your wife simply doesn’t want to have sex in general (low sex drive) in which case you would have gotten the inclination before marriage & you are the one who said I do…then there is an issue that she’s unaware of or not sharing with you to preserve your feelings. Ask her, get a book, seek help from a pro, if you truly desire good sex with your wife…otherwise, it’s an excuse

  71. The irony about porn is that it can ruin a normal sexual relationship with your spouse. I can think of three strained marriages where porn is a big factor. Log off the computer and rediscover your real life partners.

  72. This is a great article, and describes many things I had difficulty with/still am having difficulty with.

    Since the age of 12 I have masterbated once a day at least, earlier to thoughts, but then I found out about internet porn, then the porn got more hardcore, and now not much turns me on really. Even when I had girlfriends I found it hard to achieve erection during sexual activity, even at 19 (Currently 22) due to internet porn desensitising me.

    The sentence “They reported increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, spouses, or girlfriends, though they still considered them objectively attractive” describes the feeling well.

  73. Worth watching this video about the science behind why porn is bad for you.
    The Great Porn Experiment: Gary Wilson at TEDxGlasgow
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU

  74. How can a website work so hard to fight the idea that men are a ball of unthrustworthy, unpredictable hormones and then come up with this evo-psych shit?

    I’m very skeptical of what experiments on animals can teach us about humans. As far as I’m concerned, humans (not just men) are not meant to be monogamous. When you’re not in lust (never said not in love) no more, go experiment with someone else and let your partner do the same! It is just us humans who made this a sin. It takes more balls than to blame it all on porn!

    I know some people who are cyberaddicts (why should WHAT they view make them so different than your porn addicts), and if they can bond more easily with computers than humans, it is because they had problems with humans in the first place. Just another cautionary tale on the “evils” of sexuality.

  75. anonguy says:

    There has long been a war waged on male sexuality everything from circumcision, and boy scouts, to corn flakes has been used to try and control men and keep them from touching themselves.

    Alfred Kinsey defined the nymphomaniac as “someone who has more sex than you do.”
    I find that pretty fitting here.

  76. anonguy says:

    In the great rat example that shows up each time one of sex shaming posts is made are the rats being shown porn?
    I only ask because it seems the rat with only one partner is lossing interest despite a lack of rat porn.
    This makes me think that as novelty is removed some loss of interest is normal….and not the fault of some boogiman named porn.
    Maybe that is why people like to spice things up now and then in the bedroom?

  77. The science in this is so bad I think it gave me cancer.

  78. Men need to grow the f— up and learn to find pleasure in human relationships with or without sex. A lot of men use sex to deal with feelings they don’t know what to do with, so this is why they can be detached while using the bodies of women as objects. Being taught they are superior has led to a sense of entitlement. Yet, regardless of what the ego tells some men, not all women want to fuck all men. We can be very selective.

    Most men who crave variety might be surprised to learn that a lot of women can live without sex with them.

  79. Gary Wilson says:

    To Sexademic:
    We never said this, but stating that humans aren’t rodents displays an ignorance of scientific method, neuroscience, and evolution. This reminds of Sarah Palin’s brilliant statement “Why Are We Wasting Money on Fruit Fly Research?”

    Scientists aren’t studying rat brains to help rats with their erectile dysfunction or addictions.

    Evolution conserves brain structures, hormones, and neurotransmitters. In rats, humans, and all mammals – addictions, sexual desire, erections and bonding involve the same brain structures and neurotransmitters. It is common knowledge that all mammals share a limbic system and reward circuitry, which possess the same mechanisms that are activated by the same hormones and neurotransmitters. If the author can name a limbic system function that we do not share with other mammals, I’d be interested.

    For example, recent research (2010) on rats with unlimited access to junk food demonstrated brain changes that were later found in human subjects. The changes humans and rats was decline in dopamine receptors (D2) in the reward circuitry of the brain. This caused both human and rat brains to become less sensitive to dopamine – producing overconsumption. Lower D2 receptors is a major hallmark of all addictions.
    Rats: Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats- 2010,
    Humans: Weight Gain Is Associated with Reduced Striatal Response to Palatable Food- 2010
    http://yourbrainonporn.com/garys-research-food-addiction)

    It’s silly to assume that masturbating to Internet porn everyday for long periods would have no effect on the reward circuitry, when overconsumption of junk food has been proven to cause drug-like changes.

    Porn use cannot be studied in animals, but our primate cousins will pay for monkey porn:“Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms (2005)</strong.
    To quote: “The study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms.”

  80. We are connected to rodents via the physiological mechanisms mentioned in the article. Of course we can think our way out of the conditioned responses that drive the behavior of other species, but many of us don’t — a fact made obvious by research available on-line for free. See for example:

    Reflexive testosterone release: a model system for studying the nongenomic effects of testosterone upon male behavior. Nyby JG. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May;29(2):199-210.

    I know that Gary and Marnia will read this, if they have not already done so. And I suspect they will continue to keep us informed.

  81. “It’s silly to assume that mas­tur­bat­ing to Inter­net porn every­day for long peri­ods would have no effect on the reward cir­cuitry,”

    Wouldn’t it become painful for “long periods” each day?

  82. I wish I got juice as a reward for doing things

  83. A couple of things bothered me about this article. Firstly, if humans are wired to long term monogamy why are we also wired to novelty-seeking and seed-spreading?

    Secondly, what studies were referred to that showed cause and effect? I have read several peer-reviewed studies on the impact of Internet porn and they all used convenience samples at a point in time so were able to show correlation but not causation. In these cases partner dissatisfaction might be linked to increase use of Internet porn, but it does not demonstrate that one has caused the other. Curious to know which studies are referred to as I am keen to read them for myself.

  84. We’d agree that human mating is confusing. However, it’s not either-or (either sexual exclusivity or random promiscuity) for any pair-bonding mammals. (Humans are pair-bonders.) That is, there’s a tension between (1) our innate desire to form pairs – at least for long enough for both parents to fall in love with the kid produced and (2) our innate attraction to novel mates. The latter tends to increase after the “honeymoon neurochemistry” wears off (2 years max according to researchers: Will Orgasms Keep You in Love? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201111/will-orgasms-keep-you-in-love ).

    The built-in attraction to novel mates (although not a strong influence on all humans) not only makes it possible for fertile women to move on to new mates if No. 1 comes to an untimely end, but also urges both men and women to fool around a bit on the side, or change mates. This increases genetic variety, and is also a way for women to garner more resources (to support offspring).

    Evolution doesn’t like monogamy, but two parents apparently serve our slow-developing, big-brained offspring. Hence the tension. And the tension may be worse today than for recent generations because sexual novelty is so available that youngsters are training their brains to need it for arousal. (Only) one partner quickly loses their interest (and even erections). Some are unwittingly training themselves to need novelty as an aphrodisiac by viewing Internet porn.

    It may be that sustaining contented monogamy is best done by approaching sex entirely differently than most of us do today: Trailer – Slow Sex – How sex makes you happy http://www.slowsex-derfilm.de/en/trailer.html

    Cause and effect? All studies are correlative. Obviously a study to assess the effects of porn by having half of the subjects regularly used porn for 10 years, and the other half not use porn, could never be done. The only type of experiment that could show cause and effect is to have regular porn users remove a single variable (porn) and report the effects. This experiment has been occurring informally on many forums with surprising results, such as: curing ED and delayed ejaculation, increased attraction to real partners, increased confidence, greater motivation, less anxiety and social anxiety, better concentration. Here are a few of the forums: External Rebooting Blogs & Threadshttp://www.yourbrainonporn.com/external-rebooting-blogs-threads

    Here are hundreds of long self-reports of the many benefits experienced by guys who eliminated porn use. Rebooting accountshttp://www.yourbrainonporn.com/rebooting-accounts Scroll down.

  85. Depends on what time period for evolution. Unless you have a pack system where alpha males impregnate the other females and protect them then the alternative is a pairing system where monogamy is handy to keep both parents providing for the offspring vs one having to do the child-rearing and hunting, etc. Human babies are also extremely immature compared to other animal babies (babies can’t walk for months and are very dependent) so the time needed for looking after the baby is greater and they can’t walk with you like puppies n kittens can. These days we have social security, etc which greatly help and humans in the past still had community to help raise the child but the requirement of 2 parents was still very high especially in times of warfare and when food was harder to get.

Trackbacks

  1. […] yet, as a recent porn hysteria post at The Good Men Project demonstrates, we still love clinging to these simplistic notions. The […]

  2. […] and ever­last­ing secu­rity at the same time. Phys­i­cal and emo­tional infi­delity—and porn addic­tion—usu­ally have their roots in that mix of the hunger for some­thing new and the fear of los­ing […]

  3. […] I ran across another porn is bad article on The Good Men […]

  4. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life and Marriage by Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson […]

  5. […] in Love Bites tweetmeme_source = 'confrontinglove'; tweetmeme_style = 'compact'; Share Email This I just read an interesting article – with many interesting comments – over at The Good Men Project about how porn can ruin both your sex life and marriage. […]

  6. […] Robinson and Gary Wilson probe porn’s secret recipe for keeping the high going. Key ingredient: the convincing illusion of so many willing participants […]

  7. […] Robinson and Gary Wilson probe porn’s secret recipe for keeping the high going. Key ingredient: the convincing illusion of so many willing participants […]

  8. […] Robinson and Gary Wilson probe porn’s secret recipe for keeping the high going. Key ingredient: the convincing illusion of so many willing participants […]

  9. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life and Marriage by Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson […]

  10. […] one article every week about how bad porn is and how "real men" don't use it (LOL). Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Getting Off And there are many many more. The comments are hilarious. The tsunami is coming, and […]

  11. […] This pesky dissatisfaction mechanism may have evolved, in part, to urge us to binge when a potential genetic opportunity is around (to assure fertilization). Above all, it increases the odds that we find novel mates especially alluring (the Coolidge Effect). […]

  12. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life and Your Marriage (by Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson, for The Good Men Project) http://goodmenproject.com/health/how-porn-can-ruin-your-sex-life-and-your-marriage/ […]

  13. […] link to some information. One article in particular I would like to draw attention to is entitled, “How porn can ruin your sex life – and your marriage.”  an article by Gary Wilson and Marina Robinson for the Good Men Project, they also run an […]

  14. […] facebook friend posted this article….I think it’s too good not to […]

  15. […] guess is that it probably has something to do with the increasing accessibility of pornography. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Naomi Wolf on Why Porn Turns Men Off the Real Thing — New York Magazine Pornography has a […]

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  17. […] time to actually listen to what I'm telling you and most importantly read these this article.. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Again, I know that most people here become VERY defensive of porn because they feel that it is ok […]

  18. […] actual problems in the relationship. It turns the male off of his female mate more, basically. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Reply With Quote   + Reply to […]

  19. […] this topic, showing how porn affects men's brain chemistry, and turns them off the real thing. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? And if you google, you will find much more on that. Its very harmful while in a relationship. And […]

  20. […] the male POV as the default, which amounts to the same thing; and studies indicate its effects impact the satisfaction of […]

  21. […] The ubiquity of pornography extends into the church. According to one estimate, “sixty-four percent of Christian men struggle with sexual addition or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to, the use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity.” 1 out of 6 Christian married men, use pornography to masturbate and in the year 2000, 33% of clergy have visited a sexually explicit website (I have also read statistics which suggest that use of pornography is greater among Christian’s who subscribe to traditional complementarian beliefs). This is a major problem, particularly when you consider how pornography rewires brains, creates unrealistic expectations and isolates pornography users from relationships and community. There is an interesting blog post exploring this dynamic over at the Good Man Project. […]

  22. […] novelty and everlasting security at the same time. Physical and emotional infidelity—and porn addiction—usually have their roots in that mix of the hunger for something new and the fear of losing […]

  23. […] but causes people to see their mates as less attractive and even less intelligent strangely: Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Reply With Quote   + Reply to […]

  24. […] Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread […]

  25. […] link page of articles on Internet Porn Addiction.  Some extremely interesting stuff in there!  Reports say that porn decreases your desire for real sex.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?  Our new, “wiser” […]

  26. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life and Your Marriage […]

  27. […] studies that show how porn is harmful to the individual, and especially to a relationship: Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Men's Porn Use Linked to Unhappy Relationships | Women & Self-Esteem | LiveScience Women as […]

  28. […] Robinson and Gary Wilson probe porn’s secret recipe for keeping the high going. Key ingredient: the convincing illusion of so many willing participants […]

  29. […] мали измени, текстот е целосно преземен од The Good Men Project.) input, textarea{} #authorarea{ padding-left: 8px; margin:10px 0; width: 635px; } #authorarea […]

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  31. […] However, I oftentimes find that men also aren’t that comfortable objectifying women, or at least us knowing about it. When I’m sitting next to a man and there’s a woman getting naked on screen or something sexual happening, it’s sometimes uncomfortable for both of us, not just me. And why do men hide their porn? Not only because they know how actually shocking and potentially harmful the images could be to people they love, but I think because deep down somewhere, they feel some shame at their inability to control their sexuality in a way that doesn’t include strangers having sex with each other on a screen. (More on porn addiction here). […]

  32. […] [How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life] art:manlig sexualitet| Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookGillaGillaBe the first to like this. […]

  33. […] Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Men and porn | World news | The Guardian http://www.socialcostsofpornography….ationships.pdf Fact: Pornography Is Harmful ADDICTION: The Science Behind Pornography Addiction (Senate testimony) Testimony Before Congress: The Science Behind Pornography Addiction BRAIN SCIENCE: Acquiring Tastes and Loves: What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love – Acquiring Tastes and Loves: What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love (Research) CHILDREN: How Adult Pornography Contributes to Sexual Exploitation of Children – How Adult Pornography Contributes to the Sexual Exploitation of Children (Research) CYBERSEX: Online Sexual Compulsivity: Getting tangled in the net – Online sexual compulsivity: Getting tangled in the net (Research) FAMILY: The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community – The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community (Research) INTERNET: Online Infidelity: The New Challenge to Marriages – Online Infidelity: The New Challenge to Marriages (Research) INTERNET SAFETY: US Internet Pornography: A Court Of Appeals Analysis – U.S. Internet Pornography: A Court of Appeals Analysis (Research) MARRIAGE: Couple Recovery from Sexual Addiction/Coaddiction: Results of a Survey of 88 Marriages – Couple Recovery from Sexual Addiction/Coaddiction: Results of a Survey of 88 Marriages (Research) MEN: Use of Internet Pornography and Men's Well-being – Use of Internet pornography and men's well-being (Research) PORNOGRAPHY LAWS: Fighting the Pornification of America by Enforcing Obscenity Laws (Law Review by Senator Orrin Hatch) – Fighting the Pornification of America by Enforcing Obscenity Laws (Law Review) PROSTITUTION: Backgrounder: Secondary Negative Effects on Employees of the Pornographic Industry – Backgrounder: Secondary Negative Effects on Employees of the Pornographic Industry (Research) PSYCHOLOGICAL: From Pornography to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm – From Pornography to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm (Research) RELATIONSHIPS: Pornography's Effects on Interpersonal Relationships – Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships (Research) RESEARCH: A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research on the Effects of Pornography – A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research on the Effects of Pornography (Research) SELF-IMAGE: Effects of visual and verbal sexual television content and perceived realism on attitudes and beliefs – Effects of visual and verbal sexual television content and perceived realism on attitudes and beliefs (Research) SEX TRAFFICKING: Links between pornography and sex trafficking – Links Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking (Research) SEXTING: Self Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Societal Response to Juvenile Self-Sexual Exploitation – Self Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Societal Response to Juvenile Self-Sexual Exploitation (Research) SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Predicting Sexual Aggression: The Role of Pornography in the Context of General & Specific Risk Factors Predicting Sexual Aggression: The Role of Pornography in the Context of General and Specific Risk Factors (Research) SOCIETAL: The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings & Recommendations – The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations (Research) STD: Mass Media Influences on Sexuality – Mass Media Influences on Sexuality (Research) TEENS: Adolescence, pornography and harm – “Adolescence, pornography and harm” (Research) WOMEN: The Impact of Pornography on Women: Social Science Findings & Clinical Observations – The Impact of Pornography on Women: Social Science Findings and Clinical Observations (Research) Reply With Quote   […]

  34. […] The Good Men Project has an article that is thought provoking reading. The author states that porn can more or less hardwire your brain to find porn more pleasurable than real sex over a period of time. The pleasure response is numbed and your spouse can be less enticing to you. You become indifferent to your mate, but not only that, you find that you need more porn and more stimulation to even be able to complete sex. […]

  35. […] Link 3—-> How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life […]

  36. […] Nowadays pornography is just a few clicks away and its negative effects on the brain are researched and documented. Another effect of pornography is that it created a new kind of sex culture in which the orgasm and […]

  37. […] growth of pornography in our culture is frightening.  It is damaging to those who consume it and it is damaging to those who make it.  What would it take to change the […]

  38. […] firstly – no matter what anyone says, porn is not harmless. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Basically it can rewire their dopamine reward system to prefer porn over sex. I have a long […]

  39. […] the culture peddles porn, it praises it as an aid to a healthy sex life. But in reality, it’s just the opposite. Men who regularly use porn report growing dissatisfaction with the bodies of their wives and […]

  40. […] you believe some recent reports, turning to porn to slake your thirst may have the opposite effect, exacerbating your desire for more extreme stimulation and reducing your attraction to your wife. […]

  41. […] Porn and partnership: When does chronic stimulation become chronic dissatisfaction? — The Good Men… […]

  42. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life […]

  43. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life […]

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