Brain activity of porn addicts similar to drug addicts

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Cambridge scansAs many of you know, the massive experiment of guys giving up porn to heal their ED, social anxiety, porn-induced sexual fetishes, etc. had its roots, in part, on this forum. Last year, Cambridge University addiction neuroscientists, collaborating with a Yale neuroscience addiction expert, finally took a close look at the brains of young men complaining of severe porn-related symptoms.

11 of the 19 reported trouble getting erections/experiencing libido with real partners--but not with porn. This is the first formal acknowledgement of this phenomenon, which has been reported by thousands of men in various forums since the arrival of tube sites with streaming porn.

Subjects also had greater impairments of sexual arousal and erectile difficulties in intimate relationships but not with sexually explicit materials.

Here are some of the hundreds of articles about this research, as well as Gary's notes and a link to the full study itself.

Full study:

Our notes:

Sample articles:

This one was interesting because UCLA's Rory Read gets it completely wrong - claiming the study shows the porn addicts' brains "say...we do like sex more." This directly contradicts the findings of the actual study. In fact the subjects WANT it [the porn vids] more, but they don't LIKE it any more than the controls do. This was one of the main points of the Voon paper. This wanting-more-than-liking behavior is a hallmark of addiction.

According to lead researcher Valerie Voon,

Sexual desire or subjective measures of wanting appeared dissociated from liking, in line with incentive-salience theories of addiction [12] in which there exists enhanced wanting but not liking of salient rewards.

Compared to healthy volunteers, CSB subjects had greater subjective sexual desire or wanting to explicit cues [BUT] had greater liking scores to erotic cues, thus demonstrating a dissociation between wanting and liking.

Furthermore, this showed up in the subjects' erections. The addicts reported difficulty getting erections to anything but porn. So Reid is wrong that they "liked sex more" than other people. The addicts also had greater impairments of sexual arousal and erectile difficulties in intimate relationships but not with sexually explicit materials highlighting that the enhanced desire scores were specific to the explicit cues and not generalized heightened sexual desire.



the issue I have with this

is that it is depicted to apply to "someone else", and not "normal people like me."

Hey, I'm just the typical guy who uses porn, I'm not a sufferer of "compulsive sexual behaviors" or "hypersexuality" or "sex addiction."

It marginalizes what is really quite an important mainstream phenom...

Yes, he's part of the

"marginalization" PR effort, even as he earns his living treating the problem. The entertaining part about his excessive caution here is that he produced a ringing, unconditionally approving endorsement of a very sloppy study by his colleague last summer...which purported to "disprove" porn addiction. It's linked to in this critique of the study:

Probably TMI. Smile

I realize now that you probably meant

that studying porn "addicts" implies every other porn user is A-OK.

This other recent research, published in a top journal too (JAMA Psychiatry) found addiction-type changes and reduced responsiveness in "moderate" porn users. There was a correlation between the problematic brain changes and amount of porn consumed + years of use. These are our notes, with a link to the study itself:

In short, the two new studies - the first ever on porn users' brains - show just what we've been hypothesizing the last few years. Quite exciting...after being called "pseudoscientists" repeatedly by the sexologists who haven't studied addiction neuroscience.Drinks