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“No Fap” - the name for the practice of
giving up pornography and self stimulation

as a means for self improvement.
Easily the most frequently requested topic
on this channel, so here it is.

Before we start I want to clarify that masturbation
by itself or even pictures of naked people

are not necessarily a problem.
This discussion is about the brain changes
made by high speed internet porn - a recent

phenomenon that didn't exist until around
20 years ago.

Naturally, any discussion about porn is going
to start with a bit of cell biology.

We are made up of two types of cells, the
germ cells and the somatic cells.

The germ cells' job is to hold and spread
genetic material.

The somatic cells' role is essentially to
protect the germ cells and make sure they

are able to do their job.
What you consider to be yourself, your body,
is the soma.

What nature wants the soma to do is to live
long enough to allow the germ cells to pass

the genetic material off to a new soma.
Whatever DNA resides in your body arrived
there thanks to the perpetual relay race a

countless number of somas took part in before
you or your ancestors came into existence.

Nature's expectation for you is to pass
the baton to what will be the next soma carrying

the precious genetic material.
The point of this is to highlight just how
high on the priorities list sexual reproduction

is going to be for living things.
Take for example the small, mouse-like creature
called an antechinus.

The males have very short lifespans, because
at a certain point they will have finished

making all the sperm that they can and lose
the ability to make anymore.

When they reach this point, they will aggressively
mate with as many females as they can.

Tirelessly having sex hours for on end to
the point that their fur falls off, they bleed

internally and their immune system fails,
leaving them riddled with gangrene.

And they will then continue to have sex, until
they die.

Luckily, us humans naturally do not lose the
ability to produce sperm and we are very keen

on staying alive.
We have a very strong imperative to protect
ourselves, to feed ourselves, to survive - and

many mechanisms are set in place to motivate
us to do so.

In particular, the brain has within it the
all powerful dopamine system.

It's there to motivate you to do the things
that would help you survive.

And of course reproduction is the other very
strong imperative.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the dopamine system
seems to be much more reactive to chances

for reproduction.
Comparing a 1999 study from the University
of Cagliari to a 1997 Study from the University

of British Colombia, we can see that the dopamine
output from sex is about twice as strong as

what you get from food.
If we go all the way back to the Paleolithic
era when the hardware for the human dopamine

system - the brain was being developed , these
reproductive opportunities didn't come very

often.
As James McClellan says in his book "Science
and Technology in World History," "Over the

entire 2 million years of the Paleolithic,
beginning with the first species of Homo,

population density remained astonishingly
low, perhaps no more than one person per square

mile..."
Potential reproductive opportunities would
have been very limited simply by the fact

that there weren't that many people to reproduce
with.

So, the brain developed certain strategies
to maximize reproduction.

For example, an animal will reach a sort of
sexual satiation after having sex multiple

times with the same mate.
And, you will see a decline in dopamine that
matches the waning motivation.

However, if you introduce a totally new partner,
then the dopamine and the motivation to have

sex will shoot back up- this is a great strategy,
it would maximize the total potential babies.

This is known as the coolidge effect.
"As you can see from this Australian experiment,
subjects watched 22 porn displays.

See that spike?
That's where researchers switched to porn
the guys hadn't seen before.

The result?
Subjects' brains and boners sprang to attention
again.

It's not mere nudity, but novelty that sends
arousal skyrocketing."

And herein lies the appeal of high speed internet
porn.

It takes advantage of this programming by
giving you instant access to a virtually limitless

supply of new mates engaging in whatever novel
position or fetish you like.

Nowadays, in 30 minutes, you can see more
members of the opposite sex erotically displaying

themselves than the total number of humans
our ancestors could see in their lifetime.

Not to mention the number of those humans
they'd actually get the chance to have sex

with is much lower.
In this way, novelty packed internet porn
takes advantage of your brain's programming

to keep your attention for hours on end.
The wasted time is unfortunate, but the real
problem is how each porn viewing session changes

and molds your brain.
I think most people are familiar with the
fact that the brain is plastic - it can change

based on your environment and your behaviors.
But it's not often apparent how powerful
this plasticity is.

In Norman Doidge's book “The Brain that
changes itself” he describes how In certain

stroke patients who lost function in their
limbs, doctors thought recovery was impossible.

If a muscle atrophied surely you could re-strengthen
it, but since the stroke knocked out the portion

of the brain controlling that limb, surely
nothing could be done.

A new strategy was put into play.
By doing things like putting a patient's
good hand in an oven mitt and taping it up

with duct tape, patients had no choice but
to attempt to use the dysfunctional limb.

After much frustrating practice, their brains
started to change in response to this behavior.

The brain reconfigured itself to map different
areas of the brain to the task of controlling

that limb.
This would be like being able to use the fingerprint
scanner to control one portion of your smartphone's

screen after you cracked it.
This remapping of the brain produced remarkable
recoveries of function in the stroke patients'

dysfunctional limbs.
Before, this type of recovery was thought
to be impossible.

Over many other incredible examples throughout
the book, Norman Doidge demonstrates how the

brain can adapt itself to actually “get
better” at almost anything, positive or

negative, by actually changing its physical
structure.

The phrase “the medium is the message”
- coined by Marshall McLuhan, highlights the

problem with internet pornography.
The point of this phrase is that the way some
content or “message” gets into your brain

is just as important, if not more important,
as the message itself.

In our case, without the medium- high speed
internet, the message- sexual content, would

have far less power to instigate negative
changes in the brain.

Since the medium is so important, let's
first look first at how just the internet

itself can be addicting - even if you're
looking at totally safe for work content.

The previously mentioned neurotransmitter
dopamine is the door to addiction.

You can open that door with substances or
behaviors . It's not often clarified, but

dopamine isn't the pleasure molecule, it's
the molecule that controls wanting - the seeking

of pleasure.
Dopamine is released when you get a new or
unexpected reward, at first its purpose is

to make you learn what behavior got you that
reward.

After that step is done, dopamine is released
when you recognize that you are in a situation

where that particular behavior can get you
a reward.

Now, the purpose of this dopamine is to now
motivate you to do the behavior.

This is how drugs take advantage of the dopamine
system.

All drugs of addiction provide a massive dopamine
release - so your brain thinks you just received

the best unexpected reward ever.
So everything that led up to getting that
substance is strongly written into memory.

This is how addicts develop strong triggers
- they might see an alleyway where they bought

some narcotic in the past and their brain
will surge them with dopamine that says “Hurry

up and do the behavior necessary to get that
substance!”

In the same way your nose can get used to
a bad smell if you hang around it long enough,

the brain can get used to high levels of dopamine.
When the brain is frequently exposed to elevated
dopamine, the dopamine receptors decrease

- they downregulate.
And then, more dopamine is necessary to create
motivation.

Dopamine receptor downregulation is a universal
symptom of addiction.

So, the drug user loses interest in everyday
activities because they don't provide near

as much dopamine as the drug so they're
not motivated to do that activity.

The brain comes to favor the thing with the
highest dopamine payout and the wanting for

the substance gets stronger and stronger.
And, Behavioral addictions cause this same
dopamine receptor downregulation as seen in

substance addictions.
The internet's addictive power comes from
the fact that it is a novelty machine.

Novelty is something dopamine is particularly
reactive to.

New information is interpreted by your brain
as a reward, and this reward comes for very

little behavior.
You can get a new picture for a swipe on imgur,
fresh links for a click on reddit, and new

tweets for a scroll on twitter.
Very quickly your brain learns that, when
you're holding a smart phone, you can perform

a very simple behavior - a swipe of the thumb,
to get new information.

So, seeing your smartphone triggers a small
rise in dopamine, which motivates you to swipe,

and you get a reward - a new picture.
But the chance to be rewarded with a new piece
of information reappears as fast as your internet

can load the page.
Your brain understands that now, there's
another chance for reward, so your dopamine

rises again and the cycle repeats.
This never ending novelty keeps your dopamine
levels elevated, which leads to your dopamine

receptors downregulating and the other symptoms
of addiction come with it.

It might be hard to see how say twitter could
cause a surge in dopamine like heroin - well,

it doesn't.
It's the frequency of the dopamine rise
that's important here.

A quick thumb swipe is all you need to reinforce
to your brain that using the internet is a

valuable, important experience.
David Linden points out in his book “The
Compass of Pleasure” that Cigarettes hook

80% of those who try them, but heroin actually
only hooks a small minority of the users.

The cigarettes don't provide near as much
dopamine per puff compared to shooting heroin,

but with frequent multiple puffs and therefore
multiple rises in dopamine, cigarette smokers

can very frequently train the brain that smoking
is a very important experience.

Now, take this already addictive nature of
the internet and combine it with the fact

that our brains' most ancient programming
wants us to be super motivated by anything

sexual, and you start to see how internet
porn has such high potential for negative

molding of the brain.
"We predicted that based on the way sex causes
these reward chemicals in the brain to be

produced, that we would see some of the brain
scan findings that we find with drugs…

...And the latest research seems to be proving
him right"

Gary Wilson, author of the very thorough book
“Your Brain on Porn” and host of the website

yourbrainonporn.com, points out that studies
on internet porn all show that the users experience

the same brain changes as those suffering
from substance addiction: Sensitization to

porn, desensitization for other things, and
hypo-frontality - less activation in the prefrontal

cortex - the area of the brain responsible
for self control starts to shut down.

This means your reward circuit gets more responsive
and excited about porn, less excited about

everyday life, and it gets harder and harder
to control yourself.

Now you might be wondering how much is too
much, how many high speed porn sessions can

you have before your brain develops these
negative changes.

But that's not how it works.
The changes appear on a spectrum.
That is, you can use internet porn a little
bit and have a little bit of these brain changes

or you can use it a lot and the changes will
be much worse.

A study from Korea University showed that
in healthy young adults, marked sensitization

to video games developed in as little as 5
days.

The gamers weren't technically addicted,
but they found that their cravings to play

actually aligned with an observable elevation
in brain activity.

As for Internet porn itself, a study at Germany's
Max Planck Institute found that men who were

not classified as having an addition showed
addiction-related brain changes.

More hours per week of internet porn viewing
correlated with a reduction in grey matter

in areas of the brain involved in motivation
and decision-making.

The nerve connections between the reward circuit
and prefrontal cortex worsened in sync with

increased porn watching.
Remember, the prefrontal cortex is the driver
of self control.

This is the hypofrontality we talked about
before, showing the connection between internet

porn use and impaired self control.
Gary Wilson points out that there are hundreds
of studies showing the addiction like brain

changes that come from using the internet
in a way that over-engages the dopamine system.

As of 2015 there were only 4 studies he found
that looked specifically at internet pornography.

But, they all showed the same negative brain
changes we just discussed.

And they also found:
-60% of compulsive porn users had Erectile

Dysfunction or low libido.
-Very high cue-induced reactivity in the reward
center - Meaning something like seeing a bikini

model while reading the news could set off
strong cravings to look at internet porn

-The users reported greater wanting and craving,
but lessened enjoyment of the experience of

looking at porn.
This is a key pattern seen in addiction to
drugs.

Other symptoms based on Gary's research
and user's personal reports include:

-Difficulty maintaining an erection for a
real partner, but no problems getting it up

for porn.
-Uncharacteristic, worsening social anxiety
or lack of confidence

-Inability to concentrate and extreme restlessness
-Depression, anxiety and brain fog

Several men have participated in a “reboot”
- the act of giving up internet porn to allow

their brains to reverse these negative changes.
This rebooting process is the point of “nofap”
Many of these men report impressive boosts

in confidence, reversal of anxiety and enhanced
concentration.

Some men diagnosed with ADHD found that their
symptoms drastically improved to the point

that they stopped relying on medication.
Gary says:
“There's good reason to believe these symptoms

can often arise from addiction-related brain
changes, as the reward circuit contains structures

that influence emotions, moods, cognitive
function, stress response, the autonomic nervous

system, and the endocrine system.
For example, many of the complaints such as
social anxiety, depression, low motivation,

ED, and concentration problems, have been
linked to low dopamine and low or altered

dopamine D2 receptors.”
When it comes to engaging with a real partner,
internet porn can rewire the brain to change

what it expects from a sexual experience.
While a heavy user of internet porn might
understand cognitively that their partner

is very attractive and they should be more
excited about the “real deal,” if their

brain has wired itself to understand sex as
a... rapid cycling through multiple partners

that provide no other sensory input than just
visual information on a screen... the experience

of real sex probably doesn't do much for
the reward circuit of that brain.

I remember when I first came across this concept,
what struck me was how much it reminded me

of this segment on Munchies about a South
Korean Mukbang star - Mukbang is a relatively

recent trend where people livestream themselves
eating.

There was a point in the segment where the
fans of the streamer BJ Hana got to meet her

in person over dinner.
The dinner was broadcasted as a replacement
for her usual streaming.

“But what about the fact that they couldn't
draw their eyes away from their phones - the

whole time they were locked into the broadcast
- that was their comfort zone, they still

had to have BJ Hana in that format.
They couldn't just enjoy the real thing
even though she was right there in front of

them.”
Now without commenting on whether these people
were already very socially awkward in the

first place, I thought it was very interesting
how even with vanilla experiences one could

be so used to reducing themselves to a voyeur
that they come prefer that rather than the

real deal.
Even without discussing the complicated nature
of dopamine, it's not surprising that internet

pornography has similar effects on the brain
as narcotics.

What we humans love to do is identify some
component of an experience that we like, isolate

that component from the rest of the parts,
and then amplify that one component as much

as possible.
Daniel Lieberman points out in his book “The
Story of the Human Body,” that the sweetest

thing (other than honey) an ancient hunter
gatherer could find was probably a piece of

fruit about as sweet as a modern day carrot.
Now you can buy a pound of granulated essence
of sweet for about a dollar.

Farmers in the andes chew coca leaves for
a mild boost in energy.

Extract that energy boosting power and you
wind up with the highly addictive cocaine.

And, Columnist Damian Thompson sums up the
situation with alcohol,

"As a general rule, the distilling of pleasures
is a quick route to addiction.

... In the mid-18th century, parts of inner
London suffered the world's first mass epidemic

of alcoholism.
... The gin craze was eventually stamped out
by legislation banning home distilling.

Once cheap gin ceased to be available, addicted
drinkers kicked the habit."

And, with internet pornograhy, we isolated
the experience down to only the visual component

of sex and then amplified that one component
with endless and instantaneous novelty.

Our ancestors' ancestors developed a very
effective method for making sure our genetics

would stay alive as long as possible.
In the case of humans, a big brain has been
a very effective tool for protecting the important

germ cells and the genetic information they
carry.

But, we're a little too smart for our own
good.

We learned how to exploit the programming
that paired survival and reproduction with

pleasure.
With a few taps on a magic rectangle, we can
access pure distilled pleasure, completely

separated from its original purpose: survival
and reproduction.

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為什麼色情改變大腦 (WHY Porn Changes the Brain | Science of NoFap [SFW])

2064 分類 收藏
陳柏志 發佈於 2018 年 3 月 26 日
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