The Right Masturbation Advice

Printer-friendly version

No guilt, no problem?

ticking bombRecently a young man showed up on my site’s forum asking questions about masturbation. The same day, I read that a region of Spain is publicly promoting masturbation to kids with a "Pleasure is in your own hands" campaign. Not long ago, Britain’s National Health Service came up with a similar campaign sloganned, “an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.” Although well intentioned, are such efforts sound?

The fact is, orgasmic pleasure isn’t in our hands. It’s largely in our brains—the result of neurochemical bursts. Without them, orgasm would be no more memorable than burping. This has important implications for arriving at the ideal masturbation advice.

In a past post, I related what men have been sharing about how decreasing masturbation frequency can unexpectedly boost confidence, social skills, and even loving feelings. In this post, I’ll consider why heavy, shame-free masturbation can be as much of a ticking bomb as shame-laden masturbation.

Due to the way it affects our brains, masturbation entails two risks that everyone needs to understand from an early age.

1. Escalation Pitfall

Although masturbation is natural, it is also natural for the search for orgasm to escalate fairly easily. This is especially true if the stimulation associated with it is very frequent or intense. Examples of uncommon intensity might be masturbation accompanied by threats or the belief that one is “going to hell,” or masturbation to today’s extreme Internet porn. In contrast, normal intensity would be a child discovering masturbation around puberty without an artificial emotional charge. (This is not to say that masturbation can never become compulsive via guiltless self-discovery.)

Orgasm can produce not just a drug-like high, but also a neurochemical recovery period as the brain returns to homeostasis. The more powerful the blast of neurochemical excitement during orgasm, the lower the lows as the brain recovers. In some of us recovery may take the form of (mild or severe) lethargy, depression, anxiety or, in the sexually repressed, remorse (due to projection of distress onto a harsh deity). The result is often a desire to self-medicate with more masturbation. Many don't perceive the escalation tendency until they are free from orgasm for a period, and then return to it.

Today, “the more you do it the more you want it” is generally mistaken for healthy libido. Yet it’s probably more akin to comfort eating. Labeling it as healthy simply because it’s natural averts investigation of its consequences. We warn parents and kids of the risks of compulsive junk food consumption or compulsive video gaming—but we’re unwilling to suggest moderation in masturbation, even though the same primitive brain mechanism fuels all compulsions.

It’s simpler to tell kids to eat their veggies than explain that masturbation can relieve sexual tension in the immediate term—yet make subsequent sexual frustration worse. Perhaps more family discussions should revolve around the brain’s delicate reward circuitry and how it can bleep misleading “yes” signals. Remember those rats that were wired so they could press a lever to stimulate the reward circuitry (much as an orgasm does)? They hit the lever until they dropped.

Freud pupil, Rudolf von Urban (Sex Perfection and Marriage) advises that if kids are made aware the “escalation snag” (and never shamed about sexuality), they will work out the challenge of finding the ideal amount of masturbation for themselves. After all, we humans possess more gears than “fifth” and “neutral” when it comes to sexual activity. Kids can flex their self-discipline muscles to come up with a masturbation interval that doesn't escalate, or let wet dreams run their course, or get more vigorous exercise, or find a sweetheart. (Holding hands, adoring someone, and hanging out together are very soothing for pair-bonder brains like ours, even when intercourse isn't an option.)

However, without information about how sexual frustration can escalate when one tries to exhaust it each time it arises, kids can be thrown onto a treadmill without controls. If they do slip into compulsion, they have no idea why it happened, how to restore balance, or what recovery will be like. In fact, they may not even know their behavior is compulsive, because frantic, frequent masturbation currently seems the norm. If you are eating Twinkies and chips every meal because your friends are too, you might not think to ask why your cravings for sugar and fat are so intense.

This is not a minor point. Heavy porn users who choose to cut back often experience intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. They don’t understand that such symptoms are normal. They also don’t know that it takes substantial time for the brain to reboot (restore equilibrium).

Surprisingly, even if they were not raised in sexually repressive homes and feel no shame about masturbating, some conclude that withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, emptiness, irritability, brain fog, headaches, intense cravings, and so forth are somehow the wages of sexual repression, rather than a predictable result of its opposite. Ignorance makes cutting back seem like a dangerous course, so escalation seems the only option.

2. Unwanted Learning

An orgasmic blast is a powerful learning experience because our genes want us to remember everything connected with making babies or even practicing. However, our hunter-gatherer brain evolved when sex with a novel partner was a rare genetic bonanza. Today, a kid on the web can vicariously participate in dozens of highly stimulating sex acts in one afternoon without even taxing his own, (previously) more limited, imagination.

The more dopamine released during an orgasm the more value the brain assigns to the event. Obviously, watching sex with goats doesn’t necessarily merit being recorded as a valuable experience, but try telling your limbic brain that!

bathroom sexThis same learning/wiring process can produce repercussions more tragic than goat flashbacks. For example, “forbidden” and “sinful” (that is, risky) sex jolt the brain with both dopamine (“gotta get it!”) and adrenaline (fear). This is how sexual repression can infuse otherwise normal sexual activity with a memorable drug-like aura. To gain a sense of just how good "risky" can feel, see Why bathroom sex is hot, in which a man laments being out of the closet because he longs for that altered state.

Today’s Internet porn can swiftly rewire the brain. Extreme porn produces a neurochemical wallop, particularly in young, plastic brains. Moreover, it’s always novel. Research reveals that novelty-on-demand is exceedingly enticing—and habit forming. (It’s also behind the lure of slot machines.) The upshot is that computer users around the world, who are masturbating to shocking (to them), ever-novel explicit sexual acts, are now experiencing the kind of neurochemical supranormal stimulation—and bumpy recovery period—that was formerly reserved for folks from sexually repressive households.

Most users are slow to make the connection between the highs and the lows. However, the problem of acute distress after intense sexual stimulation is attracting new attention. Hundreds of men have recorded debilitating symptoms after orgasm, using a detailed online form available at the Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) forum.( YOUTube video about POIS) They are disheartened and angered by dismissive health care professionals, who barely listen to their reports because textbook lore—inspired decades before today’s flood of highly erotic stimuli—maintains that orgasm can never cause problems (except due to childhood repression). Since the POIS forum’s inception a few years ago, this obscure web discussion has drawn half a million visitors. Its founder also mentioned that a common denominator of most of the sufferers is very frequent masturbation earlier in life. *

child smokingAs Thomas Paine once observed,

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

Masturbation itself is not wrong, but too shallow an understanding of how it can affect the brain may prove to be no small oversight. This error was understandable when we knew very little about our reward circuitry, when we believed shame was the only means of making masturbation a self-defeating obsession, and when supranormal sexual stimulation was not as ubiquitous—and therefore over-stimulation less commonplace (pre-Internet).

Today, however, “Masturbation is normal, so don’t feel ashamed” may simply not be adequate information for kids seeking answers. Innocently acquired habits can get in the way of forming healthy relationships. Is it time to set aside our codified assumptions and reopen a discussion about masturbation education with an emphasis on the importance of balance?

__
* Quite apart from the issue of excessive stimulation causing debilitating dysregulation, institutionalized ignorance causes misdiagnoses. One man’s symptoms were exacerbated by a drug called Reglan, which had increased his prolactin levels to ten times normal, thus suppressing dopamine and making recovery after orgasm last for several weeks. He had to uncover the problem himself. His very learned, otherwise competent, academic endocrinologist hadn’t bothered researching his symptoms (beyond checking for prolactin-related tumors), possibly because his patient's symptoms "were no doubt just due to earlier sexual repression."

The patient adds:

The science of endocrinology simply doesn't understand hyperprolactinemia (abnormally high prolactin) in men, only in women. The medical schools give prolactin-in-men no attention at all, typically one very short paragraph in the textbooks. This was confirmed by the endocrinologist's student-in-residence. Endocrinology's approach to abnormally high prolactin in men is to MRI-scan the pituitary gland for tumors. If none found...move on. Thankfully, this physician was secure enough in his practice and teaching-tenure to "partner" with his patient! Very little research was needed to uncover the obvious: Rx drugs, especially Reglan, are usually the culprit." !

Comments

Given the p/m world epidemic

Given the p/m world epidemic nowadays, "no guilt, no problem" isn´t really a smart message. Of course, we know there are social groups profiting largely from this message, while others with way less power are being dramatically exploited/ fooled.

About guilt: it has become kind of universal truth since Freud that guilt is always bad. But isn´t some amount of guilt required for social life? What keeps us from murdering is only law or also repression/ or the pre-view of guilt ? And is there no guilt envolved when the question is exploiting another human being?

I personaly find it ridiculous that men are educated not to murder, because you need to care about the life of others, but can be free to exploit women. Different from Marnia, I think that, besides the the natural tendency to addiction porn is deeply envolved in moral values. To be more specific: envolved with misogenistic values made acceptable by a misogenistic society.

Creepycreature

In my view,

guilt simply does not work...and certainly not to keep *loving relationships* together. Mind you, it can keep couples in the same house, but if they're simmering with resentment, what good is togetherness?

This is why we have to solve the problem at a subconscious level, by giving the primitive parts of our brain the right signals. Only when we really *want* to be together with each other is a relationship truly nurturing. Otherwise it's at best stagnant or hypocritical, and at worst agonizing.

In other words, we might make more progress by changing our lovemaking habits so we don't promote habituation and the Coolidge Effect (burning desire for novel partners). And by learning bonding behaviors, so we perceive each other as delicious to stay close to.

Sounds like you have the second one down. Wink

pornography, freedom from guilt, understanding, need for nurture

To my view men and women should be taught to think about how their actions will influence their own development and others in the future. So much of life is lived without a thought of why? and what if? If society seems to be saying something's "normal" then it should be put under scrutiny. This is the only way advancement will be made. Evaluate, reflect and re-specify - mental evolution.

Just thinking about the genereal reasons why people don't murder:

Okay, guilt - people fear how they would feel after the event.
Because they wouldn't like someone to do the same thing to them. Dog eat dog is for... dogs.
Fear of reprisal.
Fear of getting caught.
Because in nearly all instances it isn't actually necessary.
Most of the time they have some semblance of "control" over their Id - although drugs and alchohol or extreme emotional respnses may temporarily make someone lose control.

But how would you arrange this list? I would suggest that "it isn't actually necessary" comes close to the top of the list along with the fact that most of us have learned not to like to cause pain to others linked with our self control - our ability to use reason over passion. Fortunately most of the time rational people do not have to confront people who are not in control for whatever reason, although at times it appears to be increasingly common.

I think it likely that we have evolved to treat others well (most of the time we do) because ultimately it is for the good of our species as a whole. A species that doesn't care for its own is doomed to failure. The fact that we have survived so long therefore shows promise for the future. A reason to be optimistic.

Continuing with the sub-theme of a "species that cares for its own", consider the elephant matriarch Echo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mrZV9iMbWU , studied for over 30 years as she led her family through thick and thin. Elephants remember each other, feel emotion for each other (positive and negative), support one another in the herd, rear each other's offspring and allow themselves to be led by a suitable matriarch. They mourn their dead and teach their offspring how to survive as part of a herd.

Humans are also a "species that cares for its own", hierarchies in our societies, economic privation vs privilege get in the way of this. Political, national and religious boundaries divide our Earth into a patchwork of nations, but we are all human and we cannot escape the fact that we thrive in societies that bond us rather than divide. It is such a shame that closed-minded greed means that the half of the world that can feed itself is worried that the other half will steal its bread.

It's like heaven and hell, not that either place exists in a supernatrual sense. Heaven is a place where people share, hell is a place where people don't. Have you heard that illustration about heaven being a place where people have learnt that for us all to do well we need to "feed" each other? If you haven't read it here: http://www.story-lovers.com/listsheavenandhell.html

Evaluate pornography in this context and it is easier to see why it is harmful. It divides men and women from their evolved patterns of survival - the fact that we should be nurturing each other. A fish cannot thrive without water. A man or a woman cannot thrive without the ability to bond with others.

Consider the millions of pornographic images and videos circulating on the internet, the media, magazines, videos etc; the huge industry that generates these images. The slavery it involves is just under the surface. Addicted men and women feed each other with hyper-stimulating material that cannot satisfy our need for nurture or our need to nurture others. It's a "substitute for love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIZSPwKY75w so well sung about by, of all people, Madonna :).

Answer: remove the pornography and replace it with openness; remove the guilt and replace it with understanding; remove the burden and live in freedom.

thanks for reading,

Brenmal

Audience?

Love the content although I couldn't tell from the heading or first paragraphs who the target audience is. Maybe parents of adolescents? I was always drawn to your articles that sounded like they were speaking to me and my problems specifically so I imagine other people are the same way.

Just my $0.02

It is interesting that guilt and fear play

such a role in shocking the memory into place. There seems to be very little out there on the "why" this may occur. Aside from knowing which neurochemicals are released with guilt and fear that make the situation "bad", "shameful", and "wrong" it would be helpful perhaps on the psychological/spiritual level to find an effective way to transcend guilty and fearful thoughts after some education on the "why" this happens (I wonder if there are parallels in the animal kingdom that can be researched).
Or, even better perhaps rewire the brain so that the old perception/pathway of the experience laced with fear and guilt gets replaced with a new one. I think the bonding behaviors mentioned in Cupids Poisoned Arrow may do just that as long as one can feel safe while exchanging/giving them.
For those that may have had early experiences of orgasm laced with fear and guilt and simply repeating those pathways for years and years on a daily basis, there may be a high probability that they do not ever feel safe and secure in a sexual relationship perhaps hitting a wall which paradoxically can not be climbed unless one does feel safe and secure in the sexual relationship.
How can this occur then? The only thing I have found so far, it seems, is to be with someone who you can exchange the bonding behaviours with (at first without intercourse) so one actually has the subjective experience that so many write about which when looked at scientifically must be the different neurochemicals (oxytocin being one) that in turn actually change your perception of that person as well as the whole experience/notions of sexuality.
This may especially hold true for younger persons that did not have "sweethearts" but went from porn laced with fear and guilt on their computer directly into a relationship (if they were even able to make that transition) where the sex act "is" the relationship and the mate has just been objectified to fulfill that role/pathway.

Thanks for your insights

One thought is that instead of looking at how we can keep our behaviors in place with less pain, we might want to try employing our brains to accomplish what they are designed to accomplish.

Experts agree that the pleasure pathways are in the brain to help us connect with others, not to help us become addicted to deadend behaviors.

We have, in effect, hijacked these pathways with drugs, porn, etc. Now these behaviors register as "valuable," so they're hard to let go of. But they never actually have served us as well as connecting with others for mutual nourishment potentially can.

masturbation without orgasm

Marnia, the central thesis of all your work is more or less that orgasm should be avoided. The men who use your site as masturbators anonymous typically masturbate to orgasm while looking at porn. But I think there is more than one website, not unlike yours, but for men who like to masturbate without orgasm. I can imagine that some women like it, too. So is there anything wrong with masturbation if it does not involve orgasm? How about if it does not involve porn? I think there are feminists here who love to invite men to feel guilty about just looking at porn, but I think you are above that. What if a man came here feeling addicted and guilty that he and his wife were having multiple orgasms a day? Would you then write articles about the dangers of heterosexuals intercourse?

I do not take this site or

I do not take this site or Marnias Ideas and thoughts like that at all. It is just to help break the addiction there has to be some time away from porn masturbation and orgasm. I can see the benefit of having as few as possible on the orgasm side. I also see what you mean about masturbation without orgasm or porn being OK. It is just for someone like me at this time there is no such thing. If I tried masturbation without orgasm or porn for a few days I would do a full relapse. I have tried it just does not work for me yet. From everything I Have read here and From what Marnia says there may come a time when things will be different.

feeling guilty about looking at porn. I am not sure if guilt is a good way to feel about it or shame. I do feel strongly that there is no good way to look at porn. There just is not a healthy way to use it. Just look around here. use all the links given. Look at all the sites around the web dealing with it. go to a meeting of guys with sex problems porn is mentioned. I know how much I used it. I know how hard it is to try and quit viewing it.

so I think masturbation sex and orgasm can be ok. It can be done in a healthy way.

I just do not see porn in that way. I thought it was ok for a long time. now I see absolutely nothing good about it and nothing good can come of it. those are now my feelings on porn. go back a year and I would have argued with that but now I know different.

Honestly, I don't think

sex with orgasm or masturbation, with or without orgasm, are "wrong" in the least. I think this would be clear if you read Cupid. Masturbation without orgasm covers a wide spectrum. On the one hand, this was considered a spiritual practice in various cultures, when done to "raise the sexual energy" for a spiritual end. (see http://www.reuniting.info/node/3299) On the other hand, just going near the edge of orgasm constantly can make dopamine uncomfortably high, leaving us restless and irritable. People have to find what works for them. Personally, I think having a partner is the easiest way to maintain balance.

I *do* think orgasm has a hidden cost, of which most of us (myself included for much of my adult life) are unaware. Ignorance, is unfortunately not bliss in this case, as neurochemical fluctuations change feelings and partners' perceptions of each other...with the result that relationships suffer from unnecessary habituation and emotional friction. (see, for example, http://www.reuniting.info/orgasms_hidden_cycle)

I feel the contribution of this site's material is to help people become aware of the neurochemical reality of orgasm...and of their options. So, yes, what I share here is as relevant to couples as to single folk.

m78 I agree with Marnia:

m78

I agree with Marnia: that having a partner is the easiest way of gaining balance and enjoying one's sexuality with a fulfilling way. Bonding behaviors experienced on a consistent basis provides so many benefits.

However, with partners working long hours outside of the home, with the demands of child-rearing, self-pleasuring has a place - even within committed, monogamous relationships. Its not ideal, but practical.

To be successful with a self-pleasuring practice, moderation must be the key in order to counteract selfishness. Selfishness would frustrate the goal of sexual pleasure: communion with another person.

How to self-pleasure this way? Moderately, playfully, non-goal oriented, in a child-like way, meditatively.

Another Thought

m78

I think it is rather clear that the goal of Marnia's books is to better facilitate greater joy and unity in relationships. Bonding behaviors and Karazza provide a method to this end by loosening and weaking the cravings of the mind for the neurochemical delight of orgasm. Frequent orgasm probably creates a chemical dependence. Frequent orgasms leads to habituation and the coolidge effect.

Simply put, Marnia argues that one simply needs to slow down, touch and hug more, enjoy intercourse more by enjoying it regularly without the big bang at the end. Why? Because these behaviors do not create an addictive mind. An addictive mind is not a mind free to love and a mind free to really enjoy all of creation.

In other words, enjoy your porn, your self-pleasuring, and your orgasms, just use them moderately so that you don't become dependent on them since the the whole goal of sexual relationships is the harmonious exchange of love, presence, pleasure, acceptance, and fun.

m78 I'm sure it must be

m78

I'm sure it must be frustrating when people like myself paraphrase your ideas in slightly different ways that may in fact change them substantially.

If this has happened, I apologize, not my intent.

I tend not to want to apply your ideas in extreme ways because I find that impractical and possibly self-defeating. So, I argue for moderation and leave it up to others to determine what that may mean to them.

However, not everyone is moderate (and though I don't want to admit it, some people will never be moderate), so.... if one must choose between extremes, abstinence in orgasm or abstinence in drinking or abstinent in porn watching or in all the other wonderful, highly pleasurable erotic activities we have is probably better than indulgence, if one's goal is harmony, not procreation.

You agree?

Moderation

Moderation may also involve being in a commited relationship, and engaging in sexual intercourse without orgasm. Couples that experiment with non-orgasmic intercourse, and bonding behaviors often have surprising results. Although we suggest each person find their own balance, we still believe a post-orgasm cycle occurs in most everyone. It manifests itself in surpirsing and ofte hidden ways.
Another point, we really do not advocate pornography in moderation. I think pornography leads to separation between couples.

m78 I agree. Moderation is

m78

I agree. Moderation is different for each person.

I don't advocate porn either unless you like it. And if you do, well, do it moderately; and, find out what moderation means for you given your personal commitments.

See my response below as to the difficulty in defining porn. Where is it on the spectrum of erotic things?

m78 Gary, Do you think

m78

Gary,

Do you think pornography causes couple separation?
All porn or only some?
Can some porn be used moderately?
Once a week? Once a month?

Or, do you think pornography leads to other behaviors that cause couple separation?
If so, what behaviors?

Knowledge is power

[quote=Marnia]Men who recover explain that what changes as they recover is that they feel like they gain the ability to *choose* whether to pursue such triggers/cues again. While hooked, their limbic brain just takes over and many report "going on autopilot" and bingeing on porn/masturbation without any choice in the matter, or even against their conscious will. So regaining balance seems to put the frontal cortex back in charge. :-)[/quote]
I am reflecting on this today. I have had enough of masturbation without the added guilt trip; it has been liberating and informative, but I have explored it as far as I can over the last few days, and I have discovered that what bothers me now is the LIMITATION of ejaculatory orgasm. It's kind of the same thing over and over, its just the same intense sensation over and over again, it doesn't really change, even though my brain via my thoughts convinces me that if I just find the 'perfect' image that orgasm will be more intense. I've had enough of it now, but I wonder if my limbic brain has...Today is the first day this week that I actually want to stop, so I am interested to see how I go tonight. I think I will be ok, because I have done this before many times, so I kind of 'know the way back' to abstinence now. I learned alot with my experiment, and I wish to report: orgasm with ejaculation is limited. I want more than this. Day 1 :)

A Response to Gary Pornography Leading to Separaton

m78

I find it hard to perfectly define the limits to one's enjoyment of the erotic element in life that might cross the line and be detrimental to one's intimate relationship. For that reason, I find it more helpful to simply put the principle down -- moderation.

Obviously, what moderation may mean to me and to you will be largely dependent on our present habits and their effects on our brain chemistry. Also, are personal histories, genes, and other environmental conditions will be relevant.

Now, if you are arguing for a baseline, I'm curious as to what that baseline might look like. Isn't it all dependent on whether a person has an addiction or addictive tendencies.

I think making categorical judgments can be difficult. Also, categorical judgments are less persuasive since exceptions abound.

That is why I use the term "moderation."

If you have another principle -- let me have it?

Now, I realize that some things cannot be done in moderation in a healthy way -- heroin and other drugs, but I don't think porn ought to fall in that category. What about smoking pot or enjoying a shot of whiskey? Moderation possibility? Cake? A Blow-job?

Just to illustrate the concept, which activities are in, which activities are out?????

Nudity?
Nudity in Art, Nudity in Magazine, Nudity in the digital world?
Fantasy? Fantasy about one's spouse? Fantasy about another women? Fastasy about Same Sex Relationships?
Flirting? Flirting with one's spouse? Flirting with other women? Dirty Talk? Dirty talk to one's self, Dirty talk to one's spouse, Dirty talk with co-workers about sex, Dirty talk with people of same sex;
Exciting Communication but not overtly flirtatious?
Erotica in books or film? Homemade erotic videos?
Soft porn
Hardcore porn? (I'm not sure exactly where soft ends and hard begins.?)
Masturbation w/ porn
Masturbation w/out porn
Light Masturbation
Hard/Fast Masturbation
Mutual Masturbation with Spouse
Oral Sex (one at a time or simultaneosly)
Anal Sex;
Anal Sex as penetrator;
Anal Sex as the penetrated;
Back Mesages, Back Mesages down by one's partner, Back Mesages done professionally by someone else;
Cutting hair by a professional (highly erotic for me)
Head rubbing before hair cut (another highly erotic activities for me)
Breathing (feels so good)
Kegel exercises with Breathing and Pelvis rocking (again, feeling better)
Smell of your partner, Smell of another women,
Piercing, Piercing of nipple or vulva,

Again Gary, what activities are in, what activities are out?
What activities lead to partner separation, what activities do not?

Finally point******** if we live moderately and at the same time live in the present moment, there is little effect of the past on the present, since the our past activities did not cause such a disturbance to be felt in the present. Mix in a little bonding behaviors, a little less orgasm, and there you have it - a complete erotic life.

One more thing!!

m78

And, if you go a little too far once in awhile, I find a nice ice cube on the testicles and perivium (spot between anus and testicles) to work like a charm. Highly enjoyable!!

Moderation

m78

Gary,

After reading your post again, I think you agree that moderation is a good principle.

And, I think we agree that moderation is different depending on the person.

But I will argue that there is little value in replacing one extreme for another, unless, of course, that person has created such a strong habit that for a time abstinence may be the best course of conduct in order to fix the brain.

However, abstinence is an extreme and living an extreme may have more value than indulgence, but how much more value????

Addictions

m78

I don't want to get into a conversation about serious addictions. Those are exceptions because that lie on the extreme ends of the spectrum.

To deal with those extreme problems, one probably needs an extreme solution.

But the fun in life, is living in the middle, where all things are there to be enjoyed and loved and experienced.

It's very difficult

to see the effects porn has (on oneself, on how one sees a mate, etc.) except by going without it for an extended period. Even then, some people need to go back to it and watch how quickly their tastes escalate before they grasp the true hold it has on their minds. The importance of this discovery is that it can impair free will even as one insists that one is *exercising* free will by watching it. (This is true even in normal men, who *aren't* addicts.)

If you have a few bucks, download this documentary. (I think we did it through Amazon.) It's funny, fast-paced and was made by a young man who almost wrecked his own marriage with porn. (He doesn't tell his story in the movie. I found that out through other channels.) It's quite entertaining, but also informative. "Adult Entertainment: Disrobing an American Idol" http://www.1726entertainment.com/ (Watch trailer here)

Our recognizing the dangers of porn (which we have learned primarily from the men wrestling with it firsthand) is not the same as "taking an extreme "sexual repression" position" about life." Try to keep the two separate in your mind.

Balanced brains seem to promote well-being in humans. What it takes to get there is up to each person, should they choose to make that a goal. We don't prescribe people's behavior here or think lists or counts are useful. We do encourage people to try ideas that have worked for others and make up their own minds. Do as you wish, and learn what you learn. Smile

m78 Well, I'm not sure we

m78

Well, I'm not sure we have fully discussed this issue properly, but, I agree with you that porn can be dangerous. Some individuals on this website prove this convincingly.

And, while not having downloaded the above, might I be correct in assuming the young man who almost wrecked his marriage because of his porn use used porn is a more extreme, over-indulgent manner?

But, you haven't agreed with me that abstinence is another extreme, whether you think it is appropriate when it comes to porn or not. And, I'm still unsure what your position is - whether one should be abstinent from porn?

My position is that one does not have to be abstinent with porn or with other erotic activities in order to enjoy and develop a deep intimate relationship with one's partner.

That was point I was trying to make with Gary.

I have enjoyed the discussion. Thank you Marnia. Thank you Gary.

No, the video

is actually about two men, chosen at random, who were not porn addicts...one married, one single...who are asked to view porn daily for 30 days...and the changes that showed up in their perceptions (via questionnaires). It's really worth watching. Doesn't moralize at all.

Abstinence for a recovering porn addict for a period is not extreme; it's therapeutic. Abstinence for anyone else may or may not be extreme, depending upon what their goals are for their relationship.

Gary and I were enthusiastic "orgasmers" for many years of our adult lives, and we find now that we prefer the quality of our relationship when we don't go for orgasm. It doesn't seem extreme to us, although it might to others. There may be other couples like us, so we share our experience for their benefit.

In any case, "extreme" is only an empty label. Again, we encourage people to find what works for them, instead of worrying about labels.

m78 Well, I use the word

m78

Well, I use the word "extreme" not in a perjorative way, simple to point to where it falls on a spectrum. It is not a label that should cause any worry.

I stated somewhere else that abstinence is probably the most effective way to deal with an addiction. But, abstinence falls on the other end of the spectrum than the behavior. Right? Aren't the two on both ends of the spectrum. All or nothing. To defeat all, you need to do nothing.

I agree with you and Gary, not going for orgasm is great. Probably best. Its easy, non-goal oriented, light, freeing, etc. Zen-like. Ever-present.

My only point here (I think this is now a book page) was that erotic activities didn't necessary destroy brain chemistry balance if done in a moderate way. It is perhaps a more difficult practice, but worthwhile. Porn and masturbation were just an example of such activities, any other erotic activity could suffice.

Its doesn't have to be all or nothing and that was what I was trying to do for the gentleman I responded to. I tried to interpret your ideas in a way that left some of the old primitive pleasures in place (orgasm, Jenna J.) if done differently and less regularly.

Call it: Pink tantra -- for all the porn stars out there who need to pay their mortgages.

Moderation

Is a good guide. I too would advocate moderation in most things. But (and there's aways a but, isn't there?), there may be one piece of the picture that is missing here.

What is moderation for one activity, substance, etc., will be different for another. Even in food this is true. One rich piece of fudge may be moderation for that food, while a big piece of cake is moderation for that food. If you had a piece of fudge the size of most slices of cake, it would make most people sick, or they wouldn't be able to finish it.

Likewise, some activities have a near zero amount to make moderation. Say, for example, trying to play superman by stopping a speeding train. I would say even one time of that activity would be overdoing it. Really, anything that is almost always destructive to someone, moderation would be not doing it at all.

If I've read the material on this site right, porn tends to artificially shoot the dopamine affect up, and create even more of the cycle discussed. Higher high, and lower low. And what I've noticed in my own experience, is that the orgasm I get doing it that way is "forced" and often not as good as without it. I think that's because rather than allowing your body to build to it within itself, you're injecting images from the outside to force that dopamine rise, and trigger the resulting orgasm. While I have had some good orgasms to porn, my experience has shown that it tends to have a deadening effect over time, numbing me to the feelings, and making it harder to arrive at orgasm with my wife, or masturbating by myself. That can only distance one from their partner.

Granted, not everyone is the same, and maybe you're an exception to the norm. I wouldn't know. But my daughter's ex-boyfriend was heavy on porn, so much so, that he had to be watching it while they had sex to reach climax. I didn't know how she put up with that, but now she's not at all, since he's an ex. But you know you're really addicted when you can't put it down and still enjoy sex without it.

Also, it might be good to think of it this way. Some addictions are only overcome by total abstence. Like the alcoholic who gets one sip after years off, and falls right back into it. For him, moderation is staying away from it as far as he can, and never touch a drop. For me, I think porn is that way too. I don't find it hard to quit, but it may be hard not to return to it at some point. And the best thing to do is stay away from it so I don't fall into the same old routine over and over again.

Another thought on this as it relates to one's partner, spouse. It's a word called intimacy. Part of what makes a relationship special is that you don't share it with everyone you meet. And while porn isn't direct involvement in the act on screen, it is vicariously sharing in an intimate moment with one, two, or more people. That can devalue the intimacy with a partner, make it more ordinary, less special between you and her/him.

I'm not Gary, and I don't know what he would say about it, but those are thoughts that come to my mind. Moderation is good, but on some things, and for some people, moderation may mean to not do or take it, ever becuase of the destructive qualities inherent in the activity. You'll have to evaluate where porn is or can be damaging to you and your relationships, and then decide what level of activity would be "moderate," or maybe a better guide to that would be what is beneficial, healthy, and enriching with your partner and yourself.

m78 Thanks Cole for your

m78

Thanks Cole for your comments. I think I agree with everything you wrote.

My point is that one does not need to abstain from porn or other erotic activities in order to enjoy a deep, fulfilling relationship with one's partner. I use the word moderation and as you pointed out that principle will be applied differently depending on the person and depending on the particular activity.

Porn can be dangerous and I am not denying that. While porn is surely more shocking than tea or cartoons, its not heroin. And, its effects on the brain would also be somewhat dependant on a person's tolerance.

Perhaps the best advice would be to reduce looking at porn in order to get more enjoyment at seeing a beautiful woman walking down the street.

In other words, lower your tolerance so that more things are enjoyed erotically. Right. Isn't eye contact with woman such an enjoyable activity.

???

"While porn is surely more shocking than tea or cartoons, its not heroin."

But the neuro-scientists found out that it surely IS heroin to the brain, it has the same effects to the brain, same area, same high amount of reaction in the brain. Masturbating to porn IS the same as using heroin, it is as fast addictive as heroin is. And as difficult to unhook yourself from it as heroin. Even MORE difficult - heroin addicts that were porn addicts, too, had more trouble to unhook from porn/masturbation than to get away from their heroin-addiction.

sorry for not having the study at hand... was it in Doidge's book?? or somewhere else?

And btw. a lot of the "living eroticism"-stuff sounds just like selfishness, and not wanting to let it be a good idea to switch into selfless giving mode (which is part of the technique of feeling better in life and love which is promoted on this website).
It's not the erotica (be it a human being or whatever OBJECT) that counts during the moment it is used as erotica but the self-gratification of the person who uses it. The erotica is not cherished for its existence, just for its effects...

Are you thinking of this, Fleur?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14534252

Just to clarify, it says the brain scans of men ejaculating reminded the researcher of the brain scans of people shooting heroin. It wasn't actually comparing heroin with porn.

That said, once use of a drug or porn (or gambling, or whatever) passes into addiction, both can be powerfully compelling. Both have the power to change the brain. Both can cause withdrawal symptoms.

m78 I was really hoping this

m78

I was really hoping this discussion had run its course. My argument was simply that moderation in the enjoyment of the erotic element is life probably would not wreck one's delicate brain chemistry.

Please, heroin addiction is unlike orgasm is a thousand of ways. Look up on wikipedia what heroin is and what is does to the central nervous system. Watch the "Basketball Diaries" or go into your inner city where you live? Those people are not suffering from orgasm hangover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I find the argument or comparison to be extremely counterproductive to the ideas that we both probably hold dear. Why don't you do justice to the great ideas in Marnia's book instead of making an argument comparing heroin to orgasm. Please... brain scans aside.

Notwithstanding the wonderful men who struggle with p/m, stopping p/m is not like stopping heroin.

Porn is art!! At least, for me it is. For some, porn is there master, a bane of their lives. I'm sorry for them. Not for me. And, the people I know in life, have a healthy appreciation for it. They enjoy it and they live very productive lives.

But, as I said below or above: porn was just an example. I gave a whole list to Gary of other erotic activities. Why concentrate on porn?? Why not breathing? Read "Urban Tantra." Breathing can be highly erotic. Energy orgasms!! Orgasms produced by breathing!! Quite nice!!!

I am not in the mood

I am not in the mood tonight. I am sick of porn porn being defended by some. there is nothing good about it. If you want to view it then fine. but stop saying there is nothing wrong with it and that it is @#%@ art. give me a break. porn is not art. I am not sure what "porn" you are watching but it is not the porn I watched. looking back almost all of it was horrible.

I better stop.

m78 I'm sick of defending

m78

I'm sick of defending porn too. I did not bring it up, at least this most recent time.

All I said in the beginning was that moderation in the erotic element can be a practice not antithetical to a balanced brain chemistry stuff. I was attempting to provide an alternative to the abstinence movement.

If abstinence in porn works, great!!

no there are really studies out there...

...that tell about how heroin addicts and porn addicts differ in difficulty to unhook, showing porn addiction is more difficult, and that you get hooked on porn as fast as you get hooked on heroin. Maybe the book "the drug of the new millenium" ?? I'll try to find it. Or maybe it was in my language.

and here's something about the heroin withdrawal (sounds pretty familiar...) :
"The withdrawal syndrome may begin within 6 to 24 hours of discontinuation of the drug; however, this time frame can fluctuate with the degree of tolerance as well as the amount of the last consumed dose. Symptoms may include: sweating, malaise, anxiety, depression, priapism, extra sensitivity of the genitals in females, general feeling of heaviness, cramp-like pains in the limbs, excessive yawning or sneezing, tears, rhinorrhea, sleep difficulties (insomnia), cold sweats, chills, severe muscle and bone aches; nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever."

It's true

that the porn withdrawal symptoms can be as brutal as drug withdrawals according to those who have been through them. This implies (to us) that similar elements of brain chemistry are at work in both.

Porn is kinda like a rattlesnake. Pay attention, because it can bite.

Thank you for the information.

m78

Thank you for the information. I had no intention to address porn addiction. My comments were intended more generally regarding the erotic element in life, porn being a small part of this.

I impose a set a rules on myself if I look at porn so that it does not become a problem.

Moderation.....

My comments (way up the thread) were meant to clarify your statement on moderation on orgasm, porn, etc. Your statement could have been misinterperted that Marnia and I advocate moderate use of porn. We do not. We advocate NO use of porn.

Do I think using porn can cause separation between couples - most definitely. See it all the time.
How? Watching porn alters the brain. Masturbating to porn alters the brain to an even greater degree.
Porn alters the same part (the reward circuitry) of the brain that decides how rewarding your current partner is. Due to porn use, your altered reward circuit may find your current partner a bit less rewarding. This can all be occuring at a subconscious level, since the reward circuit is an ancient brain structure.
One may not be aware of the changes in their perception. The only way to discover these changes is to stop watching porn and observe your relationship. Even then, you may still have to deal with effects (if any) of past use of porn on your limbic brain.

That's is my opinion.

I am not telling anyone what they should or should not do. I don't care what anyone does with their eyes or their genitalia. People can whack away until their dig-dongs fall off.

A lot of people try to turn our material into shoulds and shouldn'ts. A lot of people think our suggestions are based on guilt or repression, or some religious nonsense. Nothing could be further from the truth. We both were raised non-religious, and with liberal parents. Neither of us ever had one second of guilt or shame about anything we did sexually. I masturbated plenty - never gave it a thought. Watched a ltlle bit of porn when i was young - found it boring, cause it wasn't a real-life woman. If I have an orgasm now...it's a non-event - except in how it may affect me for the next few weeks.

I do think abstinence is extreme. That's why I engage in intercouse with my wife. We snuggle all the time. That's why I don't feel horny, or feel like I'm missing out. I feel great and I feel satisfied.

I remember

Many years ago, there was a time when my ex-husband and I thought viewing porn would spice up our sex life a little.

I remember how he immediately changed toward me after watching it--I sincerely did feel like an object and not someone he loved and adored.

We stopped viewing it after that because it seemed to bring out a very animalistic side to him.

I would think it would be hard to go back to thinking real women are beautiful after seeing porn stars for any length of time. We don't really look anything like what you see in the movies.

rediscovered

m78 I surely did not intend

m78

I surely did not intend to suggest that you or Marnia promoted moderate use of porn. I did clear that up earlier. But, I do think there could be a place for it without destroying the system. That was my only point. I provided a principle for that without getting into particulars.

I know you or Marnia do not care what anyone does in their lives. I hope I did not suggest that you or Marnia were pontificating.

My only point I was trying to make was that the system is not destroyed by a failure to remain abstinent -- whether it be from orgasm, porn, masturbation, or other erotic activities***. That perhaps these could be incorporated in a way that did not destroy the system. That was my only point. My method: moderation.

****Porn is not the issue, it is just an example. I only used it because porn is the most common example used on the site, besides masturbation. Any number of erotic activities could fill its place (I even provided a short list). (:

I have said it on other

I have said it on other post. For some there is no moderation. For me it is like a cigarette to a smoker. Or just one drink to an alcoholic. Or what ever other drug there is out there. I know me. I know there is no such thing as just 1 image. Moderation will not work at least for me. I know it would have to be that way for others. Same as some can drink and just decide not to drink but one drink others can not do.

So I look at it like this. Say I am not an alcoholic and I only drink once a year. Well I could still drink that one time and drive and injure someone because of my impaired abilities. Moderation does not seem bad at first but anything that impairs ones judgement is not good. I think it can be proven that porn can impair ones judgement. Again maybe not every single person or every single time I guess no way to prove that. Once would be enough for me same as drinking. It just has to screw with your head once to cause a lot of pain.

So I am now on the no porn ever. Trying to define porn is kind of pointless also. I have been through that. If you are using and image for arousal it really does not matter what it is. Even if it is a classic painting then it might as well be porn. It is how the individual is using images or vids or thinking about them that matter. That is why I think trying to label what is and is not porn is kind of pointless if not impossible. That said there are some things out there, well a lot of things, that are without doubt porn.

Those are my thoughts on it.
Be Safe
James

Not directed at you m78

I try to write posts with everybody on the site in mind. The vast majority of those on the site are readers, not writers, and new people show up every day. New readers (I suspect) often jump straight to forums to get a feel for the site.
So - I try to address misconceptions about us that spring up again and again. The most common being - that we have guilt or abuse issues; have issues with sex; come from repressive backgrounds; we have rules to follow, etc.
It also gives me a chance to clarify our views. So don't take anything personally.

Fleur rare -- this one is for you

m78

I was really hoping this discussion had run its course. My argument was simply that moderation in the enjoyment of the erotic element is life probably would not wreck one's delicate brain chemistry.

Please, heroin addiction is unlike orgasm is a thousand of ways. Look up on wikipedia what heroin is and what is does to the central nervous system. Watch the "Basketball Diaries" or go into your inner city where you live? Those people are not suffering from orgasm hangover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I find the argument or comparison to be extremely counterproductive to the ideas that we both probably hold dear. Why don't you do justice to the great ideas in Marnia's book instead of making an argument comparing heroin to orgasm. Please... brain scans aside.

My heart goes out to all the wonderful men who struggle with p/m. But, I'm sure they will be able to move through their struggles and find peace. Many of them are already doing that thanks to this website.

Porn is art!! At least, for me it is. For some, porn is there master, a bane of their lives. I'm sorry for them. Not for me. And, the people I know in life, have a healthy appreciation for it. They enjoy it and they live very productive lives.

But, as I said below or above: porn was just an example. I gave a whole list to Gary of other erotic activities. Why concentrate on porn?? Why not breathing? Read "Urban Tantra." Breathing can be highly erotic. Energy orgasms!! Orgasms produced by breathing!! Quite nice!!! A little breathing, a little rocking, and a little kegel and blast off!!

Please, I don't want to spend my time defending the artistic value of porn. But, if you have an opportunity, Sasha Grey has exhibited a whole new level of vulnerability and beauty to the art form. But, rent "9 songs" (beautiful relationship and scenes but a little sad (they really should have practice Karazza if you ask me)) "shortbus" is another; my all-time favorite, "The Secretary" with James Spader and Maggie Glendahal (sic). Those two together are so beautiful and so shocking that it is worth renting.

the art of torture

there are some groups that would call different things an art

Porn is the real filming of real rape and real torture, real injury and real traumatising, real hurt and harm, real breaking real people.
The modern "bread and circuses", which for sure in roman days would be "the art of the arena".
Real people, real blood, real violence on real animals and humans, real dead in real time.

A torturer has his kind of art in torturing people without making them fall inconcious, so that they can "enjoy" the most of the pain possible. This is an art and not easy to achieve.

In Mind Control the art is to break a person in a way that is not visible to others and even not to the persons themselves. The art is to make them say, yes I want it, I wanted it, it is good for me, I like it, this is what I am, please do it again, whithout them noticing that it is NOT them but the controler who influences. Mind control found out that breaking a person (to make them a real useful "mandschurian candidate") needs physical violence - and sexual violence works the best. You get multiple personalities out of one person which you can use in different ways for different purposes then.

This just to explain that what you say you want and what you really want in reality might not be the same thing.

Good example Frankie Vargas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2KPbtFv5oE
3:50 for example
or 5:00
when the interviewer asks her about how does her family react on what she's doing: "they expected nothing less from me than to do this, they've been preparing for it for years"
(very well trained, yes, good girl ! and in fact the person will start to train themselves because of the perpetrator introjects)

The change and recognition happens usually during trauma therapy when the perpetrator introjects leave and the person gains back their own self. And suddenly opinions change...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJfGH7gh-44&feature=related

Quote:In Mind Control the

[quote]In Mind Control the art is to break a person in a way that is not visible to others and even not to the persons themselves. The art is to make them say, yes I want it, I wanted it, it is good for me, I like it, this is what I am, please do it again, whithout them noticing that it is NOT them but the controler who influences. Mind control found out that breaking a person (to make them a real useful "mandschurian candidate") needs physical violence - and sexual violence works the best."[/quote]

I know how that feels. That explains the influence the Hypnodomme had on me very well. I did get to that point of saying yes I want more. I want to be controlled. I want to be erased and programmed. Looking back that scares the hell out me. I was getting close to losing myself in that. She knew exactly how to manipulate using sexual stimulation. It was crazy and scary.

man, how did you manage...

...to get out of this once you stepped in?? I looked it up - didn't know what it means, oh boy crazy and scary you name it.

And now you are here...!! from Izzabelle's darkness to Marnia's light Wink Incredible.

Me, too, I know how it feels, and it is the most crazy/scary thing that I can imagine.
No being is immune to it, but getting more knowledge on the mechanisms helps to become the more and more immune, and that's heartening.

after stopping doing masturbation

hi there
am man 29 years old i started masturbation since 9 years ...many times i tried to quit ....and am completely
ready to stop it at once ...but the problem here is after about 14 days of stopping ..i feel so angry ..and some drops of semen get out( yellow colored) me so the only solution here is getting back and do it and in this time i see change in my semen it has become yellow