Gary Wilson Discusses The Great Porn Experiment (Transcript)

June 19, 2014 12:44 pm | By More

Gary Wilson, the author of Your Brain On Porn, TED talks on The Great Porn Experiment ….

 

 

Gary Wilson – Author, Your Brain On Porn

Inspired by the last talker, I’m going to have a little song about Internet porn. No, just kidding.

The widespread use of Internet porn is one of the fastest moving most global experiment ever unconsciously conducted. Nearly every young guy with Internet access becomes an eager test subject.

Canadian researcher Simon Lajeunesse found that most boys seek pornography by age 10. Driven by a brain that is suddenly fascinated by sex. Now, users perceive Internet porn as far more compelling than porn of the past. Why is that? Unending novelty.

In this Australian experiment, it’s not mere nudity but novelty that gets arousals skyrocketing. Subjects watch 22 porn displays. See that spike? That’s where searchers switch to porn the guys hadn’t seen before.

What happened? The erections in their brains fired up. Why all the excitement? Mother nature likes to keep a male fertilizing willing females as long as any new ones are around.

In that top line the ram, he needs more and more time to make with the same old you. But if you keep switching females — the bottom line — well she’s not the same. He can get the job done in 2 minutes flat and keep going until he’s utterly exhausted. This is known as the Coolidge effect.

Without the Coolidge effect there would be no Internet porn. This old mammalian program the Coolidge effect perceives each novel female on a guy’s screen as a genetic opportunity. To keep a guy fertilizing the screen his brain releases the “go get it” neurochemical dopamine for each novel made or image. Eventually the ram will tire but as long as the guy can keep clicking he can keep going as so will his dopamine.

With internet porn a guy can see more hot babes in 10 minutes than his ancestors could see in several lifetimes. The problem is he has a hunter-gather brain. A heavy user brain rewires itself to this genetic bonanza so it carefully becomes associated with this porn harem. Such behaviors that are associated with this are being alone, voyeurism, clicking, searching, multiple tabs fast-forwarding, constant novelty shock and surprise.

As one young guy once asked: Are we the first generation to masturbate left handed? Now, real sex, in contrast, is courtship, touching, being touched, smells, pheromones, emotional connection, interaction with a real person.

Now, what happens when our guy finally gets with a real mate. Well, researchers don’t know much about the effects of Internet porn for several reasons.

In 2009, when Lajeunesse tried to study porn’s impact he couldn’t find any college age males who weren’t using it. So the first serious dilemma is that studies have no control groups.

Now, this creates a huge blind spot. Imagine if all guys started smoking at age 10 and there were no groups that didn’t. We would think that lung cancer is normal for all guys. Undaunted by his lack of non-users Lajeunesse asked 20 male students: Is Internet porn affecting you or your attitude towards women?

They answered: “No, I don’t think so.”

But they’ve been using it for about decade then pretty much non-stop. This is like asking a fish what it thinks about water? Which bring us to a second problem.

Researchers haven’t asked porn users about the symptoms Zimbardo described in “The Demise of Guys.” Arousal addiction symptoms are easily mistaken for a such thing as ADHD, social anxiety, depression, concentration problems, performance anxiety, OCD and a host of others.

Now, healthcare providers often assume that these conditions are primary perhaps the cause of addiction but never really the result of an addiction. As a consequence they often medicate these guys without really inquiring about if they have an Internet addiction.

Guys never realize that they could overcome these symptoms simply by changing their behavior.

Now, the third problem is it’s hard to believe that sexual activity can cause addiction because sex is healthy. But Internet porn is not sex. Internet porn is as different from real sex as today’s video games are from checkers. Watching the screen full of naked body parts won’t automatically protect one from arousal addiction.

In this Dutch study — here’s the title — they found that in fact of all activities on the Internet porn has the most potential to become addictive.

Here’s why.

This ancient program, the reward circuit, evolved to drive us towards natural rewards such as sex, bonding and food. As a consequence extreme versions of natural rewards have a unique ability to capture us. For example: high-calorie foods or hot novel babes give us extra dopamine. Too much dopamine though can override our natural satiation mechanisms. – [Continued on Next Page]

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