Pornography Addiction - Stop Fapping Around!
In hindsight, a fair number of things that were said by figures of authority during my time at school were highly dubious. After having lived through (and subsequently overcome) a Dionysian early adulthood there is one narrative that stands out as more harmful than the rest and that is the idea that watching porn while masturbating is healthy. Forget the useless drug talks that seemed to raise an interest and a sense of mystery around substances rather than deter students from them. Sex education talks, that were otherwise perfectly informative and helpful, failed to touch on the dangers posed by pornography in the digital age. Any rational person can surmise that children and teens who expose themselves to highly graphic and visceral x-rated material run the risk of corrupting their natural sexual development. Beyond adolescence, these individuals may very well carry these distorted views on sexuality and relationships throughout the rest of their lives. Outside of damaging and warped perspectives, porn, just like any other highly pleasurable activity, has the propensity to be addictive.
Our brains contain a reward system that is meant to encourage us to do healthy things conducive to our survival. This system releases feel-good chemicals into our brain, such as dopamine, when we engage in something that our brain perceives as productive. Unfortunately for us, our brains can be fooled. While watching porn, the brain pumps out dopamine as if it were responding to a real sexual encounter with a real sexual partner. When dopamine is released into the brain, new pathways are formed so that our brains remember a given pleasurable experience and we are in turn more likely to seek out that experience again. As an individual perpetually engages in such an activity, their brain develops tolerance and increasing amounts or degrees of intensity are needed to produce the initial pleasant sensation. In the context of porn, this means that heavy users will begin to watch for longer periods and seek out new, exciting and often times unhealthy stimuli. This often means seeking out content that is more intense, i.e. hardcore porn. This is problematic outside the addictive cycle as hardcore porn is more objectifying of women and often more perverse, which in turn creates unrealistic expectations of real-life sexual encounters. The result of this is that porn users are often left unsatisfied by their real-life sexual partners and may begin to prefer sexual gratification from porn over intercourse. Researchers from the University of Antwerp in Belgium have found a negative relationship between the amount of porn watched and the extent of erectile dysfunction in men.
Not only do users of porn risk having reduced self-esteem due to the aforementioned issue, their partners are also likely to suffer from self-esteem issues. Porn sets totally unrealistic standards when it comes to sexual encounters and relationships. Lengthy clips featuring artificially attractive actors who perform superhuman acts can only beget feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
The extent to which porn has become normalised is scary. According to their 2019 insights report, PornHub (the world's most popular porn site) received 42 billion visits throughout that year. That is an average of 115 million visits per day! For every minute that passed in 2019, 2.8 hours of video footage were uploaded to PornHub. Any form of education around sexual health must address the negative effects of porn when encouraging masturbation. Failure to do so in an age where every form of sexual depravity is just a search term away is causing untold harm to the relationships and sexual health of countless young people around the globe.
PornHub 2019 Insights - https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2019-year-in-review
University of Antwerp Erectile Dysfunction Research - https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/934320