Here is the full transcript of filmmaker and artist Gregor Schmidinger’s TEDx Talk: How to Become a Sex God at TEDxDonauinsel Conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How to Become a Sex God by Gregor Schmidinger at TEDxDonauinsel
For most years of my 20s, I struggled with something that could easily be described as probably one of the most — or worst nightmares of a 20-something guy.
I suffered from ED, which is short for erectile dysfunction. This means I had a hard time — no pun intended — getting or keeping an erection or having an orgasm during intercourse. Whenever I thought about erectile dysfunction, I always thought that this might be potentially something you have to deal with when you’re older.
Yet, here I was experiencing it. And since I was ashamed of it to be honest, I kept it for myself for almost a decade. But little did I know that I was just one guy of many under the age of 30 suffering from a barely known global phenomenon.
It was at the end of 2012 that I got so frustrated with my situation that I finally wanted to confront it. So I went to a neurologist. He got a look at me, but he couldn’t find any physical cause for my ED so he suggested that probably it was performance anxiety. He subscribed me four pills of Cialis which is an erection enhancing drug just like Viagra in order to get my confidence back up.
So I gave it a try, and it worked. I did get an erection, I could keep it up for most of the time, but I still was unable to orgasm, let alone that I got dizzy and headaches. Thinking about having to pop a pill every time I wanted to have sex was not a solution that I wanted to live with.
So I did some more research on the psychological aspects of sexuality. And not only did I find out, or got awareness for the fact that the brain is actually the most important sex organ, I also stumbled upon first insights on how pornography can influence the brain.
You see, growing up as a gay boy in a small Catholic Austrian village, exploring one sexuality is — well, let me put it that way — limited. Luckily or coincidentally, when I hit puberty, the Internet became widely available. So this became my perfect outlet to explore my sexuality.
When I had my first time at the age of 16, I was already watching regularly hardcore porn movies online. Sometimes even on a daily basis, and most of the time, for more than one hour per sitting.
Since the sexual revolution of the 20th century, masturbation and pornography have mainly been freed of its moral constraints. So we were taught that masturbating and watching porn doesn’t do any harm. Don’t get me wrong, the sexual revolution was important and necessary, especially in liberating sexuality, but the belief that pornography can’t do any harm doesn’t seem to be quite true.
Countless experiences online and first studies paint a different picture, with the result that porn can indeed have a negative influence on the brain, and it does so by rewiring it, and especially a brain that is not yet fully developed.
The science is a bit complicated, but the concept is actually quite easy. You see, consuming pornography online is quite different than browsing through a Playboy Magazine. The Playboy Magazine has a limited amount of still images, whereas the Internet offers virtually abundant amount of hardcore porn videos. So a 15-year-old today can have more virtual sex partners in one sitting than one of his ancestors in a lifetime. So this leads to a hyper stimulation of the brain, this means more dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good — and this, in return, can again cause what is called a desensitization.
Or let me put it differently. At one point, reality starts to look pretty dull compared to what the Internet has to offer, which means the brain releases less dopamine, which then means a weaker and a shorter arousal, and this — and you might have already guessed it — can lead to erectile dysfunction. This is called porn-induced erectile dysfunction. It’s quite a mouthful. Again, no pun intended.
So once I knew what was wrong with me, this felt like a triumph. But the best part was yet to come when I got to know that this is reversible. Apparently all I had to do was to stop masturbating and watch porn for a total of 120 days. That sounds doable. This is called rebooting, and it gives the brain a chance to rewire itself, and in the process, cure erectile dysfunction or porn-induced erectile dysfunction in this case. Hallelujah!
So once I knew what caused my ED, and once I knew it was reversible, boy, was I ready to reclaim my sexuality! And not only I wanted to reverse my porn-induced erectile dysfunction; no, no, no, I wanted to make up for all the years I have lost. And I wanted to do that by, well, becoming a sex god.
So I thought about what is a sex god, and I came up with a list of characteristics that I thought a sex god should possess. On that list were: strength obviously — I mean, a sex god needs the six-pack, the strong biceps, large chest muscles — stamina, he, for sure, can go all night; high levels of testosterone which results in a strong libido; the ability to have multiple orgasms, rock-hard erections for as long as he wants, and basically, lots and lots of experience with different people knowing and having perfected all the sexual techniques there are. That was my goal.
So I made a plan, and I’ve started the Sex God Project online, where not only I wanted to write about my experience with porn-induced erectile dysfunction, but where also I wanted to document my progress of the journey. So I started — or I stopped to masturbate and watch porn, and I started to exercise regularly both strength and stamina, and I really was determined to get that six-pack because that is obviously super, super important for a sex god.
I did Kegel exercises which trained the BC muscle which should result in stronger erections. I researched different methods on how to boost one’s testosterone levels and had it checked regularly by my physician. So basically, I hunted down and tried to implement every possible technique I could find in order to transform myself into that vision I’ve created of a sex god.
After a couple of weeks, when I felt ready to test my progress, I noticed that despite the time and effort I have invested, I haven’t made much progress. Yes, I did revitalize my ability to get and stay aroused longer, but when it was time to put on the condom, I still experienced erectile dysfunction, I still couldn’t orgasm during intercourse. So I was crushed.
But then it slowly started to dawn on me that the Sex God Project had one big flaw. And the Greek philosopher Plato helped me to grasp the concept behind that. Maybe some of you are familiar with Plato’s allegory of the cave. For all of you who are not, let me explain.
Plato talks about people being in a cave and being chained to a wall; in this case, to a chair. They can see a shadow or shadows on the opposite wall, and these shadows are being cast by objects moved in front of a fire behind them. Now having lived in a cave for all of their life, and being unable to get up and turn around because of the shackles, they are oblivious to the fire, to the object, let alone to an outside world.
Now replace the cave with a room, the wall with a screen, and the shadows with pornographic imagery. And that was the problem: my experience of the sexual reality were the shadows for most of my life. So of course I tried to imitate the shadows; which are, in the end, nothing more than a distorted and abstracted version of a reality. For example, pornography limits sexuality to a passive and voyeuristic perspective whereas the reality of human sexuality is active and immersive, having a dimension of interpersonal connection which adds a dimension of meaning.