The male brain evolved in a hunter-gatherer context but now lives in a technological world. Our brains have evolved to take advantage of opportunities to mate but cannot differentiate between opportunities we see on a screen and the ones that occur in real life. Due to widespread access to technology, millennial males especially (but not exclusively), have unknowingly hard-wired their brains to constantly seek out internet porn.
A growing mountain of scientific study and thousands of anecdotal experiences has to lead to the undeniable conclusion that today’s mix of pornography and technology has led to serious problems for individuals and society alike. Porn addiction is destructive, linked to symptoms of depression, social anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and performance anxiety.
Fortunately, the evidence also indicates that kicking the compulsion to indulge in porn and masturbation is not only an accessible goal for anyone struggling with the problem; but also serves to massively improve quality-of-life in areas you might not think related!
Find out why you have a problem with pornography and masturbation, and access the tools you need to realise the benefits of kicking the habit, with Whitestone.
Why Men Get This Problem – It’s Not Nudity, Its Novelty
It’s not unusual for completely straight males, who struggle with a compulsive relationship to porn, to regularly masturbate to videos of Gay sex.
This seems weird but actually, makes total sense. Here’s why:
The Coolidge Effect
Under normal circumstances, after having sex, a man needs a ‘cooling off period’ before he’s ready to go again.
If, after having sex, a man is introduced to a novel female who is receptive to sex, he will be ready to go immediately.
This is called the Coolidge effect, and it is seen in more than just humans.
The Coolidge effect is an evolutionary mechanism that promotes a male spreading his genes as much as possible. Most species can only successfully mate during a very specific time of year, so the best way to successfully pass along genes is to mate as often, and with as many females as possible during the mating season. The Coolidge Effect allows males to mate as much as possible by skipping their usual ‘cool-down period’, and with as many females as possible by only kicking in when a new receptive female is seen.
What The Coolidge Effect Has To Do With Porn and Masturbation
The neurological mechanisms responsible for the Coolidge effect are deep in the brain. Before we ever evolved the parts of the brain required for thinking and rationality, before our ancestors were even apes, way back millions of years when our species looked more like lizards than humans, is when this mechanism evolved.
At this point in our history, the Coolidge effect was pretty helpful at making sure we didn’t go extinct. Mating often and with lots of different females meant babies all over the place, and more babies meant more survival of the species.
At this point in history, things are different.
The part of the brain responsible for the Coolidge effect is really, really dumb. Just like this delightfully stupid lizard cannot tell the difference between real ants and the ones on a screen; our frustratingly stupid lizard brain-parts cannot tell the difference between a real mate and one’s we see in porn!
Just as the lizard reacts according to his evolutionary programming when he tries to eat them, men react according to their programming when exposed to porn!
But What About The Straight-Male Gay Porn Thing?
When a male mates, his brain rewards him with dopamine. This pleasure chemical makes him want to do it again.
Sex is good for survival, but not when you do it at the expense of everything else. If dopamine and pleasure are too consistent, an animal will do stupid things like choosing sex overeating and other stuff necessary for survival. To prevent being dead, the brain will ‘taper off’ dopamine release if a behaviour is triggering it too often.
For dumb lizards who don’t know how to problem solve, this gradual reduction in pleasure will lead them to other activities that will more reliably produce dopamine. Like eating.
Human’s do know how to problem solve, so we’re prone to working around this ‘tapering off’ by finding clever ways to ramp up the intensity of a stimulus. When it comes to the dopamine release of sexual arousal, we do this by watching more and more novel porn.
It starts with regular stuff, and then the regular stuff doesn’t do it. So then you move to the not-so-regular stuff, and then that doesn’t do it. Before you know it, you’re indulging in things you don’t actually take any pleasure from, for reasons you don’t understand, that only leaves you feeling confused and empty.
This is an addiction to porn and masturbation.
What Your Brain Does To You, and How To Turn It Around.
The Coolidge Effect and our neurological mechanisms for reward and habit forming evolved to help us survive, but with access to digital porn, they significant problems.
You probably don’t realise that what’s happening in your brain actively creates low self-esteem and depression. It reduces your motivation, your energy, your sensitivity to pleasure in other areas of your life. Compulsive porn use and masturbation create ‘brain fog’, impacting your cognitive capacities and ability to solve problems.
All of these symptoms can not only be halted but in many cases reversed when harmful patterns of indulging in porn and masturbation are stopped.
Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s made a whole lot easier when you have help. To access that help, all it takes is starting a conversation with Whitestone.
For those who are not yet ready to talk openly about a problem with porn and masturbation, we recommend NoFap as a helpful community and informational resource for those interested in accessing the benefits of kicking their bad habit.