But society shames that outlet, attaching emotions such as guilt and repression, and drawing a tenuous connection to an eventual loss of self-control. It does not directly address what should be considered a healthy libido, only that by refraining from any sexual activities at all the brain will somehow eventually reset to a "natural" state, which seems to be defined only by a lowered interest in sex.
The part where the author describes his experience sharing his porn with his partner I found especially disturbing. His partner expressed outright disgust, and then described what followed as mere "fucking". This does not properly address the facet of the libido that demands fulfillment without the pressure of a performance. Men are under tremendous pressure to perform with almost every sexual act, even with long-time partners, and sometimes it's easier, simpler, and more appropriate to fill those needs alone with non-judgmental and even wholly private materials.
I would assume most religions do condemn porn but mainstream US society is not religious.
Mainstream US society is fairly accepting of porn. The fact that it's joked about is basically evidence of this. Nobody jokes about e.g. getting caught fucking children, which IS condemned by mainstream US society.
The point is anytime somebody talks about having a problem with porn, there is some kneejerk reaction about how he is just confused by an unenlightened puritanical society, as if he is incapable of deciding for himself whether or not porn is negatively affecting his own life.
Only 17% of Americans are non-religious.
And only 19% of Americans say religion is not very important to them (including the 17% who are non-religious).
A majority, 55%, of Americans say religion can solve "all or most of today's problems."
Perhaps more pertinent, a minority of Americans consider pornography "morally acceptable." Even among Americans ages 18-34.
Yes, as would getting walked in on having sex with a partner. But in which of those three cases would the joke be on the person getting caught?
> mainstream US society is not religious.
You might be filter bubbled. Most polls I have seen show at least 70% of Americans consider themselves religious.
> Nobody jokes about e.g. getting caught fucking children
Except for lots of comedians, and in fact, the humor comes directly from the fact that society shames the practice (rightfully so).
Caps are not my emphasis. Glorious Waco, TX. Two miles away was a billboard of a mother discarding a baby into a garbage can for some anti-abortion campaign.
The one I mentioned was near 18th and I35 on the way towards the Planned Parenthood clinic. Haha.
As for the concept of porn itself, it's relegated to other bedroom topics and just doesn't come up in "polite" conversation.
Only in liberal, upper middle class, circles. Which of course includes most of the wannabe upper-middle-class talking heads and journalists.
Middle class society don't share the "empowered, sexy" view for porn on women at all.
I haven't personally observed this, but our society certainly shames the women who perform in pornography.
It's a society of hypocrites and puritans.
I don't have a useful personal contribution, I guess. I'm used to closing my eyes and imagining things. My stuff's better than porn, anyway.
The one part that grinds my gears: we're all well acquainted with the stench of amateur pseudoeconomics, amateur pseudopsychology, and amateur pseudosociology that infest every Internet discussion like a splotchy, shouting Bill O'Reilly discussing the movement of tides. Move aside, fellas, here comes amateur pseudoneuroscience:
>I posted this on Your Brain Rebalanced, and someone pointed out the obvious to me: neurons the fire together, wire together, and if I was still indulging those fantasies, I was still keeping those reward pathways strong.
Yeah, if you don't activate the 5-ht4nonsense receptor for a little while, stupidtonin production returns to normal levels. Check, please.
By all means, share your experiences, what works and doesn't, but don't get attached to your claims as though they're related to some fundamental law of neural processing. The brain is a mighty complex thing, and two-bit highdeas about the effect of a fantasy aren't helpful and may distract from real self-improvement. Just pay attention to what is actually happening when you do things.
Though I think the article's barometer is off: the question is not "do you have weird fantasies at all anymore". You have memories, memories don't go away unless you do something stupid. The question is "are you fulfilled by having sex with your partner". In that vein, remember this:
"Ambition is the death of thought" ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Oh, most importantly: stop thinking of sex as a performance. It's not. A partner, male or female, who expects otherwise is a bad person.
I think that's a bit off and the answer is far simpler. I have sex regularly with my wife and still consume porn, as do many others. I have a child. I don't think you could describe my sexual performance, which I assume is meant in the evolutionary sense, as poor.
I don't mean to be crass, and this conversation is already pretty much there, but ejaculating is fairly similar to urinating. It fulfills a necessary bodily function of discarding old sperm. All primates do it and if you restrain yourself, your body will do it involuntarily (ie you'll have a wet dream).
Personally, I prefer not to have to change my underwear in the middle of the night, regardless of how pleasant the experience may be.
> For males who have experienced nocturnal emissions the mean frequency ranges from 0.36 times per week (about once every three weeks) for single 15-year-old males to 0.18 times per week (about once every five-and-a-half weeks) for 40-year-old single males. For married males the mean ranges from 0.23 times per week (about once per month) for 19-year-old married males to 0.15 times per week (about once every two months) for 50-year-old married males.
Your wife is having a lot of sex, then...
Yes. If one is to assume there's something as a "rich sexual performance" standard, people should aspire to.
I had a complete physical, mental, and spiritual addiction to alcohol. Parts of my life were falling apart around me and I was completely powerless to put down the bottle. Everywhere I went I had to have a plan as to how I would drink, and the possibility of being away from alcohol for a day threw me in fits of panic. When I did quit (years ago), I suffered from acute alcohol withdrawal, including delirium tremens, and had to taper off with benzos to prevent seizures. For me to successfully quit, I had to go to rehab and attend AA meetings everyday for months.
Nowadays I'm a big coffee drinker. If I forget to drink some sort of caffeine on any given day, I will get a headache sometime in the afternoon. I suffer physical withdrawal which is somewhat uncomfortable, but the fact that I could forget to have caffeine in the first place indicates a different sort of addiction than my alcoholism. If I wanted to quit, I would just have to go through a couple unpleasant days and be done with it.
As for nicotine, I've gone weeks, even months without any and haven't suffered withdrawal symptoms, but I enjoy it, so I use it on a semi regular basis, and have been for the last 6 years.
"Addiction" is a term which can describe a wide variety of conditions. As an alcoholic, I have a tendency to downplay addictions that aren't to dangerous substances. However, the author obviously has some mental obsession with pornography, he saw a problem with his porn use, and he felt like he needed some sort of external support to cope with and curtail his use. I don't think the term addiction is wholly inappropriate in his case.
What I don't like as much is applying the label of addiction to other porn users. I think it's up to the individual to be honest with themselves and decide whether they need to take drastic measures to curtail their porn use, whether it's a bad habit, or whether it's just another outlet and presents no threat to their emotional well-being.
a) Never drink coffee on Saturdays. The routine change makes it easy to skip coffee one day.
b) If a coffee free Saturday induces a headache, skip coffee for a couple of days.
This is, for me, enough to lower the volume of coffee I drink, thus maintaining an acceptable level (by acceptable I don't mean healthy, I probably still consume way too much caffeine; I mean controllable)
Until an article like this one considers the impact of its recommendations on productivity, the entire debate is on the wrong topic IMO.
I mean, I'm sure by some metric I'd live a better life if I never ate alone... but I'd also be hungrier, more focused on food, and almost surely less productive.
For whatever reason most people seem to think that orgasam sits separate from the other natural functions of the body. I don't. If I'm hungry I eat. If there's someone I can eat with, all the better. I don't see why that algorithm needs to change when it comes to sex.
Personally I find it kind of anthropologically fascinating that society has a natural impulse to record the reproductive act and view such recordings as a leisure activity.
Once you have kids you'll see what I mean. Last Monday night you'd think it was a camera technology convention, not a little league baseball game.
For better or worse, its only residual cultural Puritanism that stops my wife from showing everyone a video of when our kids were conceived, much as she has video of seemingly everything else involving them. (including when they were born, and I'm not kidding about that)
Have you also noticed that besides "the reproductive act" it records and views ALL kinds of acts as a leisure activity?
From war stories, to horror stories, political stories, court drama, to adventures, to comical incidents, stories about actual events, to a guy doing stupid things to himself (Jackass)?
Why would "the reproductive act" by any different?
Not to mention people rarely watch the actual "reproductive act". They watch sex. Including anal, blog jobs, tentacle porn, all of which are anything but "reproductive".
Because reproduction employs just one case of the total of sex expression / porn material, doesn't mean it has anything to do with it.
Porn is about control. A person tells themselves a false story about their sexuality (even if they can't articulate it or form it into words) that goes something like "I am not satisfied with my current sexual experiences, but if I find the right type of images/videos/fetishes and watch them, I will be satisfied" -- The person fulfills their sexual desires through porn use, but then it doesn't satisfy and they are back for more the next time.
You can't control a real person as easily as porn and so the user continually goes back to porn. Over time the user prefers porn to the other person in the relationship (usually a woman). Women especially, will try to compensate for the gap by comparing themselves to the women in the porn videos, but to no avail and the woman feels more and more dejected.
Heavy porn use also leads to erectile dysfunction and other issues (even if not in a relationship). Some helpful info is here:
Then so is food, tv, computer use, and anything else that can create compulsive behavior. You're telling a very particular story about porn but it isn't the whole story.
>Porn is about control.
Which is why women find it so threatening. Sex is about control too. If your partner is giving out sex like they're dog treats for "good behavior" how is your position in life any healthier? In that context maybe porn isn't so bad after all depending on your relationship to it.
I would add that women also don't understand it because they don't operate visually as men do (with respect to sexual images).
Now, I'm not sure that's the best way to put it but the fact is that there is only a fraction of porn for women vs. porn for men. No market apparently?
If there was an innate need in women for porn and sexual images there would be a market created for it and there would be much more porn targeted to the female market.
Back in the day there was pretty much only 1 printed magazine with images of naked men "Play Girl". And some would argue that that was actually read quite a bit by gay men as opposed to women. But there were dozens of magazines which a man could buy. On a newstand at least.
If women were stimulated the same way as men someone would have exploited that, right? But they didn't.
Same with the internet. (Wouldn't want to guess at the ratio if anyone knows please post.)
If women were stimulated the same way as men you wouldn't have to cater to women. With that said, the number of women watching porn is astronomical. Stars like James Deen and Manuel Ferrara have gained a huge following because they are able to cater to female markets.
I do think more women avoid porn/erotica due to this 'disgust' towards porn in society.
Any remaining gap, I would assume is genuinely due to women having a lower libido.
The first thing I noticed is that most of the front-page articles are testimonials. Fortunately there was an article written by the author right at the start, however as soon as I started reading I noticed another problem. Almost every reference is to other articles on that same site, which themselves link deeper into the site. Occasionally I'd hit some articles from psychology today (psychology magazine, not a journal), and other popular media sources. I did not find any references to proper scholarly articles though.
A quick search of Google scholar turns up no articles to back up most of the major assertions he makes on here. Now that's certainly not enough to dismiss the site outright, but it's certainly enough to make me question what exactly he found, and how well he is interpreting the existing results. I have no trouble accepting the existence of porn addiction, but I do believe that making a case as strong as the one you seem to be making requires much stronger evidence than what you have presented.
Unless you're coming at it from a religious moral angle, porn has less potential for destruction than sex. Porn doesn't lead to STDs and unexpected pregnancy.
Erectile dysfunction is a physical dysfunction, not merely the lack of desire for sex. Stop giving men anxiety about their erections simply because they don't want sex all the time.
Obviously you should work on finding a consensual partner that shares your sexual interests, but in the absence of such a partner, I'm not convinced viewing pornography in moderation is destructive.
If that's what you really think, then you have a really fucked-up relationship to sex.
I don't think negative habitual behavior equals addiction.
Not to marginalize people who has problem with porn or food habits, but poor self-control and bad habits does not equal addiction in my book. I'm probably wrong definition wise, but I think this stance trivializes real addiction.
I mean, yes, dopamine and all that. Reward of negative behavior. But you make your own decisions in life. You're not an insect, you're a conscious human being.
I was under the impression that the definition used traditionally in medicine is that denial of the addictive substance results in physiological withdrawal symptoms; hence caffeine and heroin are addictive, but cocaine is not. [Edit: wrong about cocaine.]
Increasing tolerance is a feature of some definitions. "Drug seeky" and "drug keepy" are other features - people who hide bottles of alcohol around the house, or people who need to find more of the drug when their supplies are running low.
Saying that cocaine isn't addictive would be a strange definition of addiction.
Yes, I was wrong about that, as apparently there are withdrawal symptoms with cocaine.
Do you regard the human brain as belonging to the physical universe, or somehow apart from it? If the former, where and what is the "you" that is making the decision?
Can I just suggest that if you are not a conscious human being who makes choices, but instead, like a billiard ball, are whacked around by the myriad balls and cues you encounter in your meaningless existence, with thoughts caused by minds caused by brains caused by effects chaining back forever...
then being swayed by one more argument or not makes zero impact on your status. You remain a mere effect of your circumstances.
If you want to pretend to take part in a rational discourse, you should also pretend to be a conscious human being to whom discourse makes a difference and reasons can be better or worse as they conform to reality or not. Your alternatives are limited by the nature of the forum you've chosen.
I'm cautious about the new addictions, and I think there's some misunderstanding in sensationalising in pop therapy, but I can see how porn addiction or sex addiction can happen.
It's pretty well established that people can be addicted to gambling, and I don't see much difference between that and other non-substance based addictions. Gambling is more well known because it is so well tuned to exploit the addict.
In combination with external factors (like stress) I can totally see why people are returning to addiction again and again.
Most of the time, getting out of addiction takes more than your run-off-the-mill consciousness and self-control.
If you're not examining it in a scientific way, then you have no business making conclusions.
Remember your criteria for addiction doesn't match that of the medical community's, and for good reason.
Very well put. I am no expert in this subject, but it feels to me that the web is taking advantage of this pattern a little too much.
I am not just talking about porn, its social networks, video sites, gaming sites, aggregators all of which are being engineered to optimize for engagement.
Ask any serious WoW player how the game has impacted their life. From what people have told me, the social relations in-game are such that one becomes reliant on a group and vice-versa to advance in the game. Soon those reliances become responsibilities that start to overshadow real life.
Some anime is specifically drawn and written to take advantage of the type of person that would obsessively envelope themselves into their favorite anime's branding. Do a google image search for otaku, and you will immediately see the kind of profits people peddling 50 different editions of the same figurine must be raking in.
Take a look a bluelight.ru and erowid. The former is a forum for discussion of psychoactives the latter a index of chemicals and experience reports submitted by users. Instead of the harm reduction espoused, it encourages dangerous behavior in the name of 'sharing research'; which is just ingesting what could be a chemical without much human research and just writing about it. One wouldn't be compelled to put themselves in such a position if it wasn't normalized and encouraged by a community that was warped by a pattern of addictive behavior.
Grouphug.us is another example. Reddit certainly is as well. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc all provide that supplemental 'reward' of positive human interaction without the human component. Your brain isn't stupid, when actual human interaction doesn't provide the reward you WANT, it will learn where it can get it. Psychological addiction is quite the beast.
Today, someone can find a lab willing to synthesize a chemical for very cheap with the intention of selling it for a huge profit online. That person then posts on a board such as bluelight or erowid, where the first introduction of its ABUSE is documented. Users of the board are attracted to the novelty of the new substance, and are encouraged by the community to follow the behavior of 'researching and sharing' by acquiring said substance, ingesting, and then relaying back to the board about the experience. They are likely some of the first people in all of history to ingest the substance. If you don't think this is inherently dangerous behavior I don't know what to tell you. I don't think it detracts from their goal of harm reduction, but that element of the community exists and I do think it warrants more scrutiny than immediately dismissing my argument.
If you want to read a well researched book on the phenomenon, pick up Drugs 2.0 by Mike Power. It's on amazon's UK site.
As long as quasi-legal analogues and new substances are going to be sold as cheap highs in head shops and adult video stores and the like, which they most certainly are now that more and more designer drugs are being produced everyday, I certainly want knowledgable people sharing their bad, and good experiences with others.
If some people enjoy beta-testing new substances knowing their long-term safety profile is completely unknown, would you rather it be done completely in the dark, or at least with ideas of dosage ranges, knowledge of warning signs of overdose,etc etc.
While it's clear that Shulgin was more responsible than a lot of budding teenage psychonauts, that's not always the case (Lilly's use of ketamine comes to mind), and it's not clear what he was doing was inherently less dangerous. He was often the first person in history to test a substance.
"The height of my porn watching was my adolescence -- high school -- when each relationship felt like a splintering slat on a long rickety bridge. Porn didn't just serve as an outlet for my sexual frustration; it was a steadying beam to fall back on."
I wonder for how many men this is true.
It's interesting also to see this juxtaposed with the "All men are rapists" meme--one wonders if the absence of open affection, sexuality, and broken standards is promoting this sort of behavior and in turn perhaps causing the very thing that many authors claim to be afraid of.
Mind you, I'm not saying it's a good thing, or that it's without its downsides.
I just mean we should look at these things in perspective: if our dating culture (with all the head games) is so broken that some people have to go through years and years of phases where they just can't find a relationship that's both gratifying and sustainable over any length of time -- and btw this includes many people I know, even some very attractive people with plenty of sexual options on the table -- then maybe we should start talking about that, and how people can learn to do better for themselves (and their potential mates).
And not so much about the rather crude (if temporarily effective) medicines some people feel forced to use to get them through the darker stretches of depression and anxiety that they can't seem to help falling into, again and again. As a reward, it would would seem, of just wanting to find someone they can love, and be loved by in return.
PS, re: anti-depressants -- having worked in the pharma industry for a while, I'd recommend healthy, sex-positive, consensual amateur porn over these insidious, soul-numbing and possibly long-term toxic concoctions they market as "cures" to well, more or less the basic human condition, any day.
For what it's worth, I've been watching porn now an then and it didn't spiral into more and more kinky and what not stuff for me. I still prefer "playboy style" most of the time.
The thesis that porn worsens your sexual taste is probably the foundation for a lot of ideological campaigns...
At the 2003 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers meeting, two-thirds of lawyers reported that compulsive Internet use played a significant role in divorces over that year, and 56 percent of those divorce cases included a partner who had an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
i.e. one of the partners was using porn as a band-aid to ease the pain of a much deeper problem -- which typically takes one of 3 forms: (1) both partners love each other and are doing "everything right" but one has discovered, before the other it would seem, that they just aren't really compatible sexually; (2) they're still hot for each other, but other distractions (fighting, money, kids) are getting in the way; or (3) one of the other parts has "discovered" that they have a different chromosomal preference.
Nasty and potentially intractable issues, indeed. But porn watching by itself -- even excessively so? In comparison, not so much.
If one is "sexually incompatible" with his/her spouse, they should talk about it, recognize the issues, make compromises, and move forward. They should also recognize that while sex is meaningful and important, it can't be a deal-breaker for a marriage -- what happens when a partner contracts a medical condition that precludes their participation in intercourse? This should be recognized as a possibility going in, and people should realize that they can't allow sexuality to overwhelm and consume larger, more important pieces of their relationship. Pornography can cloud this crucial perspective.
That's fine for you. Other people have different priorities in their lives. And elevating the sanctity these abstract entities known as "institutions" to the point where they feel miserable, trapped, and unfulfilled do not count particularly high among them.
If one is "sexually incompatible" with his/her spouse, they should talk about it, recognize the issues, make compromises, and move forward.
That's fine for you, if those are your priorities. But what's fine for you isn't necessarily fine for other people.
They should also recognize that while sex is meaningful and important, it can't be a deal-breaker for a marriage ...
Again, maybe not a deal-breaker for you. But for other people... I think you see what I'm getting at here.
Have a different view? Can't commit to such a long time? That's OK. Marriage is not mandatory in a relationship (and for some people it's in fact detrimental). Just don't marry and live happy.
Is it lifelong and monogamous in every culture? No. It is in ours, though.
Is the definition being coopted for non lifelong pairings? I don't think most people marry with divorce in the horizon, so even if marriage allows for divorce, I think the public promise is still one of lifelong commitment.
No, that's historically what it has meant to be married. When married, if you have negative feelings, you are expected to resolve them peaceably and well. It is supposed to be illegal to just quit because you can't handle your own emotions.
Again, there are a handful of very basic exceptions where a dissolution of the union is allowable, but part of the reason marriage exists is to provide that relational stability -- marriage is about the covenant with society much more than it's about either of the spouses or their feelings, which disciplined, mature adults are expected to control.
>Again, maybe not a deal-breaker for you. But for other people... I think you see what I'm getting at here.
Yes, I see what you're getting at. You're arguing that marriage has no formal definition ("It may mean that to you, but...") and is therefore a meaningless abstraction in the macro sense. This is not the way things are supposed to be, but I agree that the prevalence of no-fault divorce makes it effectively realistic. This is a very bad thing.
And this doesn't seem to be a very effective line of discussion, either.
Part of the covenant to society is that you will weather difficulties and remain committed to your spouse. A lot of types of "quick fixes" can cloud that perspective.
Maybe you are thinking of your covenant with god? See, though, that's a different thing from a civil marriage. In the eyes of the law, it's a partnership, and one that can be dissolved for 'irreconcilable differences'
Personally, I think this is the problem with calling civil marriage 'marriage' - It means an entirely different thing to various religions. (and different religions have different rules, too. A marriage under Muslim religious rules is rather different than one under Christian religious rules... hell, which denomination of Christianity or Islam can make a pretty big difference in the rules, too.)
This is a relatively recent development, and imo it's incorrect and demonstrates that the foundations of marriage as a serious social institution were dissolved a long time ago. The fact that people no longer think of marriage this way, and the further fact that our courts and laws have acquiesced to this ridiculous opinion, bode very poorly for the future of stable society.
>Personally, I think this is the problem with calling civil marriage 'marriage' - It means an entirely different thing to various religions.
No, again, this has nothing to do with religion at this point. Marriage is supposed to be legally binding. No-fault divorce is a new (and imo vastly problematic) thing.
No-fault divorce is the inevitable result of the fact that women can now be reasonably expected to support themselves without a man.
I doubt we'll ever agree on this, however, as you apparently see the destruction of meaningful marital covenants as an emancipation.
Does not follow.
No-fault divorce has caused higher divorce rates. You haven't offered any basis for claiming that those higher divorce rates harm either the women or men involved, let alone that they harm the women disproportionately as you imply.
One may enjoy breaking the windows of adjacent corporate complexes with a golf club to blow off frustration from a day at work, but that doesn't mean it's an acceptable outlet. Pornography can cause much, much deeper, personal emotional damage than acts of petty vandalism.
Not saying it's proven -- but there's nothing terribly ideological about it either.
Kind of like listening to bad music (or pretty much any kind of music over and over again) can stunt your musical development... or eating too much junk food can leave you with a taste for more and more of the same... it wouldn't surprise me that too much bad porn leaves some people with bad, or just immature sexual tastes.
And to the production of... lots and lots and lots of bad, nasty and just shockingly dull commercial porn.
sounds like adjectives for TV, most "journalist" websites, most computer games, most radio/music as per your example, most pulp paperback novel shovelware... all ripe for profitable tech startup disruption.
"pr0n that's not awful" would seem to be a perfectly valid startup goal. I have absolutely no idea how to get there, but I like the goal. Can anyone think of any VC funded startups on this topic?
This phrase itself has by now become "shockingly dull", too, though......
yeah, and I drink alcohol from time to time, and it doesn't spiral into binging and/or addiction. But just because that is the case for me, doesn't mean it's the case for others as well...
I think the individual is the one who decides whether they're addicted or not.
As I understand it, true porn addiction is when it interferes with your sex life to the point that you can't enjoy sex without it, when you want to enjoy it without it. Anything else is just a fetish.
I'm tired of watching society try to neatly categorize things as amorphous as sexual behavior. As soon as the "experts" have something to say, people find a reason to stop thinking about it.
My goal was to illustrate at least one uncontroversial use of porn that was positive. Someone willing to concede this point must then think more carefully about which uses of porn are positive and which are negative rather than dismissing them all as inherently negative.
At Brigham Young University in 2007, 21 percent of male college students reported watching porn "every day or almost every day."
If your psyche needs an addiction you will find one. It could be tobacco, porn, alcohol, or shopping, but nevertheless you will find your outlet for your addictive behaviour. Different addictions come with different consequences. Porn is a relatively safe addiction (well, I suppose it's possible to physically wear out your genitalia so that it begins to hurt?) so I don't get the title, really.
Pornography by itself, as strange as the video may be, is not a problem by itself.
I don't know what country / generation / family the author is from, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to come from there.
I talk openly with my friends and some coworkers about sex and pornography and I sure don't feel ashamed to do so!
Same with alcohol. Having a drink is perfectly healthy, but there are people who are addicted to the bottle.
"Addiction is an illness" -- and one can be addicted to things that are otherwise perfectly acceptable. This does not provide a basis for excluding pornography from the category of "things someone can be addicted to".