The Dangers of Porn & Masturbation

 

Porn in the 21st Century

In today’s society we have access to an unlimited source of sexual entertainment with thousands of different women on a daily basis we can see doing all sorts of naughty things. No matter how far your imagination might stretch you will find it online. In the early days people would be lucky if they would see a dozen naked women (having sex) in their entire lifetime. We on the other hand will probably average in the millions- all due to the digital era. In the Western world, there probably isn’t a guy alive who doesn’t watch porn or at the very least, saw an adult movie even if it wasn’t purposefully. We’re bombarded with porn everywhere and it is said that the average guy starts looking for porn at the age of 10 which means that we form an early habit of using porn to satisfy our most inner urges.

When Porn Becomes a Problem

Because porn is so ingrained in our daily lives we tend to overlook the negative effects porn can have on our mental and physical well being in the long run. We simply don’t even recognize the role it plays in our lives anymore because we don’t know any better. For most of us, porn has become a ‘must’. We’ve conditioned ourselves to crave porn when we want to masturbate because that is how we’ve wired ourselves to act. We need it. After all, what is masturbation without porn (when you’re not with a partner)?

Without the extreme visuals, the ability to multi-task and the visual overexposure some of us might not even be able to even get a good erection. This is because we are slowly desensitizing ourselves from a psychological point of view. The more you ‘consume’ porn, the higher your arousal threshold, the more and extreme forms of porn you’ll need. It’s no mystery that porn dependency often leads to ED and PE problems further down the road.

Watching porn is all about extremes, being alone, objectification and extreme variety whereas ‘real sex’ is more balanced. It’s more about ‘togetherness’, getting touched and real connection- even if it’s just for one night.

Porn & masturbation are mostly habits that rely on self-centered action, at a rapid pace with extreme amounts of variety and visually enticing images. On the other hand ‘real’ sex, though it obviously has many forms, is more about balance, happens at a slower pace, with less extreme visual images. It’s about giving, taking and connecting.

Frequently masturbating to porn can and often will result in PE problems further down the road and frequent porn sessions will often impact your psychological threshold- result in ED problems. It’s not rocket science, but I feel it’s about time someone pointed this out and since nobody does so I feel it’s my duty to be 100% honest about this. To illustrate my point take a look at the Arousal Threshold (AT) below:

Interpreting the AT model:

1). ED problems: watching porn regularly will desensitize you psychologically meaning what turned you on a month ago might not be enough the month after.

2). PE problems: rapid masturbation where you are focused on the porn you are watching will condition your body to ejaculate prematurely.

The Neurobiological Effects of Watching Porn

If we take a closer look at what happens when we watch porn we can see why it can become such a powerful addiction. There was a paper published in 2006 by Grant & Brewer named ‘The Neurobiology of Substance and Behavioral Addictions’ that showed exactly what happens to us at a neurobiological level when we are dealing with substance abuse and other behavioral addictions15. Looking at this research, we can immediately see why porn can be so addictive.

When we see an enticing new image a chemical called dopamine is released by the brain which is a chemical that plays a major part in how we experience pleasure, bliss and general happiness. This means that when we see or experience something new when it comes to our world of sexual stimulation, this chemical is released, causing us to feel good. Because porn provides us with a constant flow of variety when it comes to sexual acts, girls and other enticing images we keep going because the dopamine is released repeatedly when we are surfing for porn. Click. Click.

Every new image causes a new release of dopamine which ultimately is our biochemical ‘reward’. Interestingly a study by Haber & Knutsen (2010)16 has confirmed that our so called ‘Reward Circuit’ shows a high resemblance with primates.

Normally with the release of dopamine we experience a point of satiation. However, if we continue to stimulate the release of dopamine (by watching porn) we override that system which causes our natural ingrained ‘stop system’ to ‘give up’. In a TedX talk in 2012 Gary Wilson17 illustrated this perfectly and I highly encourage you to take a look at the content Wilson has put out there. The guy is amazing.

Wilson stated the following:

Excess consumption (dopamine release) —> binge mechanism —-> more cravings

This is exactly why porn can be so incredibly addictive. We wire ourselves in such a way that we don’t have a system anymore for controlling our behavior because the biochemical need is still there. We are but a slave to our biochemical cravings in that case.

Ultimately, if we continue with the behavior we risk the following as Wilson rightfully pointed out: desensitization (of the pleasure response). This has been confirmed in many studies where brain receptor activity has been monitored in various substance addicts. Slowly the dopamine receptors decrease in sensitivity which means we need more ‘biochemical’ stimulation which leads to continued substance abuse in more extreme forms to get the same ‘effect’.

Are You Addicted to Porn?

Hopefully you’ll know why watching (too much) porn can turn into a serious problem at some point in time. So how do you know whether you are addicted to porn or at risk of becoming so in the future? When do you officially declare someone a ‘porn addict’? It’s difficult to tell because we are all wired differently genetically speaking so one might have a bigger predisposition to become addicted to porn than others purely due to the genetic predisposition for dopamine releases. However, that does not mean you can just give up because you think you are.

In my opinion if you watch porn more than two times a week (yes you read that right) you are entering the orange zone (moderate risk of ultimately becoming addicted to porn or already being addicted to porn) which is also when things become dangerous. Note that we’re not talking about the number of minutes or hours here. This is pointless because what creates and solidifies the habit is starting up a “porn session”- not the actual time spent during that session, though this obviously matters once we get started.

Once you’ve wired yourself to act based on the habit of watching porn on a regular basis it usually doesn’t take long before you add another session, and another, and another. Oh look, she’s pretty cute too. You get the idea.

Before you know it you’re watching it because you simply don’t know any better, similar to smoking cigarettes, which can have a dramatic impact on your life let alone your sexual performance. Of course there are different ‘degrees’ of porn addiction out there. No matter how many sessions we average out on a weekly basis, we should be very wary of our porn & masturbation habits. Below you can get a rough indication on whether you are at risk. Note that these are rough estimates and may vary from person to person.

Symptoms of Early Porn Addiction

When you’re addicted to porn it usually impacts all areas of your life. I’m not preaching here from a conservative point of view, I’m helping you understand that regular sessions could harm you at some point.

The nasty thing is that you usually won’t notice it until your start to experience the negative side effects because it is similar to a dripping faucet; the effects are a result of a cumulative process.

Usually these side effects start out subtle, you might be feeling lazier than normally or maybe you don’t feel the need to really talk with women as much as you used to. This is all because you’re wiring your brain to be pleased instantly, with full visuals. It’s usually reflected in social behavior first and often begins with subtle withdrawal symptoms.

Usually the withdrawal from ‘the outside’ world and particularly social situations and women lead to feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, guilt, and eventually depression. This might sound extreme to you but it’s important to understand that these feelings are all happening covertly.

When we think about them though, it starts making sense. For example, if you ‘suddenly’ don’t feel the need to really talk with women anymore it could very well be that that is because you are already getting your daily supply of ‘naughty girlfriends’ everyday simply by going to a porn website and masturbate to one of your many ‘girls’. It’s important that we become more aware of the early warning signs before things get out of control. We need to be more preventive when it comes to our porn behavior and start regulating it in some fashion.

Here is a list of signals that could indicate that you’re either at the risk group or are already addicted at some level:

  • PE and ED in various degrees.
  • The inability to get aroused by girls in real life
  • Low need for sex with partner(s).
  • General feeling of powerlessness.
  • Social withdrawal symptoms.
  • The need for extreme forms of porn
  • Feelings of despair and even hopelessness.

There are many warning signals but these are some of the most common signs. Some might not be related to your porn (ab)use but related to something completely different. Though this could be the case, I strongly encourage you to take an objective look at your life and the symptoms described above and be honest with yourself.

When Porn Dependence Turns into a Nightmare

When we don’t listen to the (early) warning signals we start playing a risky game. There was a study conducted in 2009 to see how watching porn on a regular basis impacted the lives of a group of men over a longer period of time (18). The study explored how people on a self-help forum in Italy discussed the problems they had with porn and how it had impacted their lives. In this study many men with a porn dependency admitted that they felt they were losing control over their lives suffering from low levels of productivity, had problems concentrating, often experienced feelings of despair, bitterness, isolation, hopelessness, depression, and the list goes on and on. I hope I’m getting through to you.

What this shows us is that being dependent on porn won’t just influence you in the sexual arena of your life but will break down your own spiritual, emotional and physical health if you let it. Unfortunately the true dangers of porn abuse haven’t been recognized yet despite an increase in studies showing the devastating effects porn can have on our well being. Let us learn from the people that went before us and decide to change our lives for the better. You really don’t have a choice.

What If you’re Not Addicted to Porn?

You might be wondering whether you should treat this seriously because you seem to fall in the yellow (low-risk) category or feel like you got it under control. I’m not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, I’m only here to give you advice and educate and inform you about the potential risks associated with watching porn.

That said, I strongly encourage you to at the very least, try and abstain from porn even if you only have one session a week. There are thousands of people that posted testimonials online on how quitting porn has changed their lives for the better and so can you. Often things in life are about balance and the same goes for porn. However, if you truly want to improve your sexual abilities forever, stopping with porn is something I can’t recommend enough. Try it for a while and see for yourself how it will improve your sexual prowess and your life.

What Should We Do?

Whether you checked the table and feel that you might be already be addicted, at risk of becoming so, or simply want to have no sexual performance issues anymore you should decide here and now to work on improving this area of your life. Because we’ll learn how to create a good MBC we will ultimately reap the benefits because we learn to reconnect with ourselves and rewire our brain so that we don’t need the constant dopamine release to feel good. However, porn is only half of the problem. The other side is masturbation or more specifically, our masturbation habits.

Masturbation

Masturbating and Watching Porn

When we launch up a quick porn-session it’s usually combined with a high urge to masturbate. This of course is quite normal; after all, we are sexually aroused. Taking a closer look, most of us masturbate in a similar fashion. We often use an extremely tight grip and then continue to pump away as if our life depended on it and ultimately, we cum. The build-up is that we keep clicking and looking for hot new images and videos (because we need the dopamine release) until we find one we like and climax to. We basically condition ourselves to not only last for a relatively short period of time but also climax on the images we like the most which is obviously not how it is in real life where the build-up is significantly longer. If you condition yourself to last a mere couple of minutes as a result of bad masturbation habits you’ll likely make life very hard on yourself.

I was definitely guilty of this for a long time. It’s not that I’m against masturbation but like I try to explain throughout this post, it’s time we dive into the rabbit hole and take a closer look at the underlying causes.

Bad Masturbation Habits

Not only do we create a physical predisposition to climax as fast as possible, we also create a psychological state where we view the entire process as a quick way of alleviating our sexual urges. This process intensifies the visual stimuli needed to get hard (hence ED is a result of this).

We create a self obsessed state where we feel the urge to cum and need to satisfy this urge on the spot. Maybe this is why a lot of women complain about most guys being incredibly self-obsessed during sex- we can’t help it! We often just do it to release some ‘tension’ which of course is fine, if it weren’t for the fact that we risk becoming lazy during the process. What do we mean by having a bad masturbation habit? It’s simply this:

Masturbating frequently with the sole goal of reaching climax as quickly as possible- usually watching porn at the same time.

We don’t masturbate to experience every sensation anymore we do it to release tension and reach climax and you and I both know that there is a lot more to it.

Psychological Conditioning

When we watch porn we focus almost solely on the image rather than the sensations we are experiencing making it a visual experience rather than a sensation based one. Too bad we don’t really experience the images actively since we reach a sort of zombie-like state. This zombie-like state is what can mess up our sexual health because during that time we can’t be in the moment. When you’re in this state you can’t monitor your level of arousal and weaken the MBC.

A while ago I read a book called ‘The Power of Habits’ by Charles Duhigg (19) who wrote a fantastic book about how we form habits and how we can change them. According to Duhigg there are three elements that ultimately result into a habit being formed namely: 1) the cue 2) the routine, and 3) the reward. In our case it could look like the following:

Assuming we masturbate to reach climax as soon as possible, the cue for future cases to masturbate (or have sex) will be the feeling of being aroused (horny). Therefore, next time we’re aroused we almost automatically trigger our mental routine to reach the same state of bliss afterwards engaging in the same routine to achieve that effect.

Because this routine becomes ingrained in our mind where we often cum within a matter of minutes it impacts our ability to last longer. Not only do we get in this zombie-like state where we can’t monitor our level of arousal we also enter the mental model where we’ve tricked our mind into believing that we need to cum quickly. Obviously by doing so we only feed our Caveman brain which is why we should refrain from doing so.

The problem here is not the cue but rather, it is the routine itself. Choke-gripping and pumping away, losing sight of the MBC, we create a habit where this is the routine that is repeated over and over with ultimately, ejaculation as a ‘reward’. Luckily, Duhigg explained how we can change our habits: by changed the routine and leaving the cue and reward the same, at least initially. That’s where we will tackle this problem.

The Power of Imagination

One last thing I want to add to the notion of masturbation is this: try to use your imagination again. Most of the guys out there think they need porn. This is a lie. It’s an old habit. Instead, try to relive old experiences again. Use your imagination to create visually vivid fantasies that seem to be true when you’re masturbating. You probably did it when you we’re younger so why can’t you now? Not only will it help you with your journey on becoming a sexual beast, it will also help you get more in touch with yourself again and you’ll learn to not rely on porn when you, for whatever reason aren’t with a partner and feel the need to release some ‘tension’.

Pour Conclure

  • A lot of guys without knowing it, have a porn dependency.
  • Slowly but surely, watching porn regularly could lead to erectile problems later on in both ED and PE form.
  • By watching porn on a regular basis we desensitize ourselves psychologically resulting in ED.
  • The bad masturbation habits accompanied while watching porn often lead to PE.
  • Decide to stay away from porn for at least 1month and see how it impacts your state of being and erections
  • Masturbation with the sole goal of reaching orgasm as soon as possible will result in PE problems.
  • Changing our habit routine will help us overcome the bad masturbation habit.
  • Use your imagination more often to get in touch with yourself (and improving ED).

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18. Cavaglion, G. (2009). Cyber-porn Dependence: Voices of Distress in an Italian Internet Self-help community. Mental Health Addiction. Vol 7. pp. 295-310

19. Duhigg, C. The Power of Habits (2012). The Random House Publishing Group: New York. For a review go to my website.

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