Why Watching Porn Even if You Don’t Masturbate to it is Still Bad

This post was inspired by something G said last night: he said that porn didn’t impact him sexually each time he watched and that he didn’t masturbate to it so it wouldn’t affect his sex drive as badly as if he PMO’d. 

Gary Wilson, the man who gave the TedTalk on “The Great Porn Experiment,” is the host of a website called Your Brain on Porn. He wrote an article based on his book that has the same name as his website. Wilson says that watching porn without masturbating is just as bad as masturbating without porn and without ejaculation, or masturbating without porn and without orgasm. He also says that it is far worse to someone in recovery to watch porn and not masturbate or to rev up (masturbate with/without porn but don’t orgasm) because of what it does to your brain. It is far healthier to masturbate without porn and orgasm because it gets it out of the way, and you train your brain to not depend on false images for orgasm. 

If you took an intro to psychology class, you know about Pavlov’s dogs. He conditioned them to salivate at the sound of a bell because they associated that bell with eating so they started salivating becueee they were ready to eat. This is similar to what happens to your brain with porn. Dopamine levels can be elevated to higher levels with drugs, but moderate dopamine levels can remain elevated for awhile as well. There’s also a combination of both of these, which is what porn is. Edging is the idea of not doing a traditional PMO, and some addicts believe it is healthier because they’re not orgasming to porn. Gary Wilson, who has his Ph.D and who worked with Phillip Zambardo on men and pornography,  disagrees with edging and says it’s more dangerous. 

Edging involves the moderate levels of dopamine being elevated for some time (masturbation) and the drug-like elevation levels of porn on the brain. It involves exciting new visuals, searching for these visuals online and finding shocking/surprising genres. Edging causes your dopamine levels to be elevated for hours, and it makes you require constant visual stimulation which sex doesn’t always give. It tells the brain that porn is important and to keep looking at it. Besides making your brain addicted to porn, you’re doing more harm than good for your sex life. Wilson says it’s like spending your time hitting golf balls to be a great basketball player, and that besides playing the wrong sport you’re taking yourself out of the game of sex all together. You’re training yourself to be a voyeur and when your sex doesn’t match porn your excitement for sex as well as your erections weaken. It doesn’t have to happen every time for your brain to be addicted to porn. It usually is within some time of watching porn, and it depends on what you look at.

Dopamine is odd. It really shoots up when something is better than expected, but drops when expectations are not met.

– Gary Wilson, PhD.

This quote from Gary Wilson explains why a sex life with porn can fluctuate. If your partner exceeds your expectations sex is amazing, but if it isn’t as good as your porn, your erections are weaker and you aren’t as excited about sex. It can take months/years of being porn free to be able to obtain strong, rock hard erections again. Just like it takes months/years to recover from drug addiction. Porn is a drug because it is unnatural and damages our brains.

Here are some responses from men who edged with porn and what changed for them when they stopped:

“2 years ago I did my first no-fap challenge, just to see if I could do it, and got an enormous burst of energy from it. For 2 years I have been trying to replicate that feeling, and never succeeded. During these 2 years, each nofap trial I did was just to try to achieve that level of energy. My theory was that it was linked to not ejaculating, and testosterone and such. So I did nofap, but still looked at pictures of pretty girls, or porn, or edged…anything I could to boost my T-levels, without ejaculating…but without results. This time, I decided to do nofap, not for the energy, but because I was again tired of my daily PMO routine – and I would stick with it, in hard mode, even without superpowers. The result: I am totally energized now. My conclusion: For me, the “superpowers” seem not related to not ejaculating, or ejaculating less…but to not exposing myself to Porn, endless lists of bikini-babes, edging, fantasizing, or even touching myself. In short: if you want to feel “superpowers”: no porn, no pictures, no edging, no touching – go hard-mode for a few weeks.”

“Yes, in fact it’s worse. The reason is simple: instead of achieving orgasm and ending it, you train your brain to be bathing in chemicals for hours. It’s the worst thing you can do, bar none. The worst. If you began and realise what you are doing in time, stop or rush to the end. Whatever you do, don’t keep the pace. Most of us weren’t addicted to PMO, but rather to PEO.”

“Hi guys, just a little update here. I’ve been over at nofap and have managed to not fap since January 3rd. For the first month of nofap I looked at no porn at all. The improvements I was were unreal. More confidence, deeper voice, bigger dick (no joke). The second month in I started looking at bikini pics and softcore playboy like pictures. This still seemed ok but I started noticing that I didn’t want to go out of the house as much, and social anxiety started to increase again, just from bikini pics, what the fuck. I started to dive a little deeper last week and went to an old favorite porn site where I watched about 10 minutes of video. The dopamine rush was unreal. Heart pounding, shakiness, but I didn’t fap. The past week after watching that shit has been a disaster. Watching Netflix all day, not working out, blah. So anyway here I am, pornfree 5 days, nofap 90 something. No more porn for me, its not the jerking off, its the porn. Free yourself.”

Wilson says, “If you have chronic porn-induced ED, it’s unlikely that ejaculation was the cause your ED/DE – it was probably years of porn use. Internet porn is the stimulus that alters the brain, and, in some users, causes sexual dysfunction. Remember, today’s porn isn’t just addictive because it leads to the pay-off of orgasm; it’s addictive because users can employ it to raise dopamine continuously in their brain’s primitive reward circuitry…Your addict brain wants porn, so it will rationalize all sorts of scenarios, and watching without orgasming is one of its favorites – especially in those who are already suffering from difficulty climaxing or maintaining erections (due to excessive porn use). Since ejaculation is not the addiction, or the cause of the sexual dysfunctions, rationalizing porn use is potentially harmful.”

“A good urologist I consulted years ago, told me that edging is so bad because the semen returns and might “crystallize” in our prostate and that is why the pain and the blue balls, he told me that he was not accepted in the urology association because he said that masturbation can be the cause of many problems in the prostate, the other doctors told him that if men masturbate more frequently they will have more clients. Be careful, dude!!!!!! Btwm this doctor also told me that 10 years ago 90% of his patients were over 60 and now he is helping people as young as 16, many youngers are going to consult him. He blamed masturbation, porn and hormones, he has a treatment of needles to inject vital nutrients in the nerves of the penis, it is like viagra but even better, you feel like a bull.”

“The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, pg. 122). The automatic system signals the conscious mind, which may be focused on new goals, that a previous activity was left incomplete. It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and, if it is not finished, we experience dissonance. Best way to avoid fapping is to avoid starting. Close the browser. Open your eyes if you start to fantasize. Turn off the TV. Get out of bed. Zip it up. More importantly don’t start.”

So as you can see, watching porn without orgasming is just as bad, if not worse, than watching porn and orgasming. You’re rationalizing to yourself that it’s not so bad because you aren’t masturbating and/or orgasming. Wrong. You’re training yourself to require large amounts of stimulation in order to be satisfied, not just sexually but in all areas of life. At that point, porn isn’t even about masturbating and orgasming anymore, but rather about getting a fix. You require porn to feel normal, to deal with being bored because nothing is as exciting, and you’re in denial. Notice how porn addicts have trouble concentrating, are often depressed or anxious, have no desire to go out/be social, don’t want to work out, etc. If you remove porn from your life, you will have more energy, motivation and will be able to concentrate better. 

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