Did the phenomenon discussed in "Can You Trust Your Johnson" happen to me?

Submitted by HOCD Sufferer on
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This is my first post here, although I recognize names from some of the other forums (e.g., Stuck in a Doorway). Apologies in advance to those of you who've read my lengthy story elswhere for subjecting you to it again. It's just that I came across the "Can You Trust Your Johnson" article, and it's the closest explanation that I've ever found for what may have happened to me. So, here's my history...

I’m a 38-year old male, married with two small children. As far back as I can remember, I was exclusively and unambiguously attracted to and interested in girls. I remember each year of grade school and middle school, and I could name every girl I had crushes on for each year. When I reached puberty, I spent several years masturbating while fantasizing about girls at school, girls in Playboy, girls in the SI Swimsuit issue, girls in music videos — you get the picture. I don’t recall any attractions whatsoever to males. I don't know how much other guys masturbated, but I had a powerful urge to do so, and I did it virtually every day, and sometimes more than once per day. The urge was so powerful that I would get bathroom passes and masturbate in the stall in the school bathroom. After school, I'd sit in front of MTV and watch videos for hours looking for the right shot to climax to.

I wasn’t the luckiest in the world in real life with girls, although I had hooked up (kissing, feeling up) with a few girls and absolutely loved it. The one time (when I was 14) that I had a chance to have sex with a girl, I got very nervous, lost my erection, and couldn’t perform.

In my early teen years, I was a pretty anxious kid. I had some OCD symptoms about physical health issues, and also had what I later read some call "existential OCD" (i.e., constant ruminations about such questions as "who am I?" "why are we here?" "what is reality?"), which caused me significant anxiety. These OCD symptoms became very bad in my early 20's, and still exist to some extent today.

Shortly after my 16th birthday was a particularly down-and-out time for me emotionally, principally because my two best friends essentially "dumped me" without explanation (i.e., they wouldn’t return my phone calls, they avoided me), which left me alienated from the rest of the social fabric of high school. One day during this very lonely period, I was masturbating to a picture of a hot girl in a Muscle and Fitness magazine (I started lifting weights when I was about 15, trying to address what I think were some lack-of-masculinity issues), and right before orgasm, I turned the page to look at a bunch of muscle bound guys. I didn’t think too much about the fantasy right after it happened. I remember thinking, "I'm just into weird stuff."

However, over the next few weeks, I started to notice attractions to guys at school, but continued to masturbate thinking about women, although I think I sensed that the orgasms were not quite as good. Then one day — and this all occurred over the span of about 3 weeks — I realized that I had all but lost my spontaneous visual attraction (more in a minute on what I mean by that) to girls. All I would get when I would look at a hot woman would be at most a "flicker" in my penis, and it would not grow into an erection.

In place of the visual attraction to women that I had lost, there was now a visual attraction to guys. In addition to these same sex visual attractions, I also started to have masturbation fantasies about men, although they were fantasies about straight sex in which I became "the woman" touching and doing other things to the guy. It was never actually me in these fantasies. (Sometimes I worry that transforming myself into a woman in these fantasies is just a denial mechanism to let me avoid the conclusion that I’m gay.)

This all obviously scared the living hell out of me. I talked to no one about it at the time.

I took some reassurance in the fact that I learned that I was still able to get aroused by looking at a girl if I really concentrated on staring at her body and imagined touching or kissing it, although it would take awhile before the arousal would come, but it would be strong once it came. If I actually touched a girl (especially her breasts, ass or legs), or kissed a girl — forget about it, I became instantly aroused and wanted to have sex with her. Once I actually did start having sex with girls later in my teens, I absolutely loved it. I also get aroused by lesbian porn, perhaps because it’s not merely a visual of a woman, but they’re also touching each other, which I guess I fantasize I wish I could be doing given that it’s one of the things that turns me on in real life. In addition, I continued to be emotionally attracted exclusively to women, and not to men. Finally, I’ve never had a gay sexual experience, and the thought of me actually having sex with (or even kissing) another man doesn’t really cross my mind, or even enter my dreams, and when I do think of having sex with another man, it alternatively disgusts me or is unarousing to me. (However, I worry that if I let my attractions to men go, I could potentially discover that I like gay sex. I’ve always avoided watching guy-on-guy porn for this reason.)

So, I've gone on in life like this since then, with visual attractions on the street to men, and with these "semi-gay" masturbation fantasies in which I fantasize that I'm the woman being with a man (which, until recently when depression/anxiety have caused me not to masturbate nearly as much, I would indulge in almost daily). I have virtually no spontaneous visual attractions to women on the street, but I "remember" what was visually arousing about hot girls, and once I actually touch and otherwise become intimate with the girl, I become wildly aroused and am able to have fulfilling sex with her. I had sex with dozens of women in my 20's. I got together with my wife when I was about 30, and sex the past few years has been very rare given our two small children.

I have spiked at various times in my life with the fear that the state of my attractions/masturbation fantasies mean I'm gay. It's never been so bad as it's been the past year. I've been to various therapists over the years to talk about this issue (as well as generalized anxiety), and I started with a CBT therapist in September. She says that, regardless of what my sexuality is, I'm suffering from OCD because I'm obsessing and experiencing anxiety over it. The ruminations go on and on: "How could I be gay if I was so unambiguously attracted to women, and not men, so late into adolescence?" "What could have possibly happened to me at age 16 that ‘changed’ my sexuality so severely?" "Am I fundamentally heterosexual on a biological level, but the change in attraction at age 16 had some sort of non-sexual psychoanalytical meaning, perhaps as a coping mechanism because my friends dumped me in high school, or because of some feeling of lack-of-masculinity?" "Could I have been afflicted by HOCD at age 16 so severely that it actually altered my attractions?" "How could I — and this is the most spiking — not be gay if I get sexually aroused seeing a guy on the street but not a woman?" "Maybe my focus on ‘visual’ attraction is too superficial of a way to define sexual orientation, and the arousal that I get when I touch and/or have sex with a women ‘counts’ toward my heterosexuality?" "What truly gay guy gets aroused by lesbian porn, like I do?" "Although I’ve never had gay sex, maybe if I just let these attractions to men go, I would realize that I like it and should go be gay?" "Maybe the right label for me is ‘bisexual,’ but one who has chosen to lead a heterosexual life?" "No — You have no real choice in the matter, and these attractions to men fundamentally dictate who you are who you have to be — which is a gay man — and that’s who you’ll inevitably become." On and on and on it goes every day of my life. I just switched my SSRI to Prozac, and I take Zanax every day now to keep myself from panicking over this issue.

I recently came across this site, and the "Johnson" article, and it got me wondering whether -- although the internet was not invented in the late 80's when this happened to me -- I could have desensitized myself to women through all the masturbation in my early teens, and created new pathways through that initial fantasy involving men when I was 16 that gave rise to these same-sex attractions. Do you think I'm fundamentally hetero-oriented? The "Johnson" article talks about who you first climaxed to (for me, women), and who you enjoy deep kissing with (for me, women), as better indications of true sexual orientation. If that's the case, could the rebooting process restore my sexuality to what it was prior to age 16? Is it too late for me given how many years have passed? If I could rid myself of these same-sex attractions, and get back the raging opposite-sex attractions I had until I was 16, it would be life-changing beyond belief.

My CBT doctor says that it's a "fantasy" that I could go back to who I was sexuality-wise prior to this happening to me at age 16. She would call my post "reassurance" seeking, which is destructive because it feeds the OCD. Her therapeutic approach is that I need to accept that I have same-sex attractions (because they likely will never go away), reduce my anxiety over them through ERP, and accept that having these feelings does not mean I ever have to act on them. Rebooting would seem to be somewhat at odds with her approach, under which she wants me to expose myself to good-looking men and eventually to images of gay sex. Do you think ERP and rebooting are inconsistent with one another?

I would appreciate any thoughts anyone might have on any of this. Thanks for listening.

You worry too much

Your problem has nothing to do with being gay or bisexual.

Your problem is that you worry too much.

When I had my first episode of erectile dysfunction I worried so much about it that I was constantly staring at hot girls on the street to see if I could get aroused and start an erection. I couldn't, and it worried me even more.

Anxiety and worrying can interfere a lot with arousal and erections. So, for example, if you're worried about being gay and constantly concentrate at women to see if you get aroused, then this can cause you to not get aroused, when in reality there's nothing wrong about you.

You even admit that you have no problem getting erections when having sex with girls and that you love kissing them, while on the other hand feel disgusted at the thought of having sex with men.

The more importance you give to these gay fantasies, the stronger they will become.

Your therapist is right, you have to accept them, not reject them.

There's nothing wrong with them, they're fine.

You're not gay, man.

By the way, how often do you currently masturbate and watch porn? That info is crucial. Do you currently watch gay porn? Do you masturbate regularly?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Thanks for your thoughts. Like I said, I've been in the throes of anxiety/depression for the past year or so, and have not masturbated as much during that period. With few exceptions, I pretty much stopped masturbating to the fantasies involving men because I feel really gay and therefore anxious afterward. On the other hand, I think not engaging in them might be increasing my anxiety. It's like masturbation was an outlet for me to deal with this side of me that developed these attractions to men. Without the masturbation, the attractions maybe become stronger and I attend to them more in my own mind, and really make me feel like I'm gay.

A lot of the masturbating I did over the summer was to lesbian porn, which still arouses me and was a form of getting reassurance that I can't be completely gay (can't be anything gay about lesbian porn, right?) Before all the anxiety/depression set in, I would masturbate about once every day, mostly to porn, but sometimes just fantasizing about something in my head. It was almost always this fantasy of straight sex wherein I'm the woman.

I've never masturbated to gay porn, mostly because I'm afraid I might like it. On the other hand, I've never had any desire to watch gay porn. I've turned it on a couple of times in the past year to "check" my responses, and it may have been a little arousing, but it seemed unnatural to me. It's much more interesting (maybe just more comfortable) for me to watch straight porn, fantasizing about myself as the woman.

Rereading what I just wrote really makes me feel screwed up. It was so simple before I turned 16 -- I just beat off thinking about the hot chick in the short skirt that I saw in class that day, or to a Heavy Metal video with hot chicks, or to Elle MacPherson in my SI Swimsuit issue. It was all chicks and only chicks. Why did all this gay shit have to intrude on my life?

Thanks for posting HOCD

Thanks for posting HOCD sufferer. I understand your problem as I have gone through porn desensitization and ended up escalating to tranny porn and gay porn. Now, there are a few points that I would like to clear up with you for your experience. What do you mean when you say you started to have visual attractions?

When I say "visual

When I say "visual attractions," I mean, before this thing happened to me at age 16, I could just look at a girl's nice legs, or breasts, or navel, or ass, and get extremely aroused. Naturally then, I of course could masturbate looking at pictures or videos of hot women, or just by thinking about them. In short, I was like every other red-blooded hetero-guy. After this thing happened to me, I stopped having spontaneous visual attractions to women and their body parts (like I said, I can still get a flicker in my penis, but nothing else). The feeling of arousal now comes only when I can touch or kiss a girl, and the arousal is STRONG, and the intimacy, the sex, everything, is fantastic when I'm actually hooking up with a girl. Yet, because women are not visually stimulating to me anymore, I have trouble masturbating just by looking at women in pictures, videos, etc., or just by imagining them naked. The one exception -- for whatever reason -- is lesbian porn, which is still very arousing to me.

On the other hand, after this thing happened to me at 16, I began to become aroused by seeing men, their body parts, etc. It's like these attractions to men, over a span of a few weeks, "replaced" my visual attractions to women. Men also "replaced" women in my masturbation fantasies. The odd thing is, though, that when it comes time to masturbate, I involuntarily become a woman in the fantasy with the man. It's never me, and it's never a fantasy about two guys.

I think Underdog is right -- I'm overattending to and overemphasizing the importance of all this. But I ignored it for so long that, one day, it just exploded, and I concluded that I must be gay, and that I'm living a lie. I fear that I'm going to be "that guy" who figures out he's gay years into marriage and leaves his family.

As part of all this, I'm also obsessed about trying to figure out (which I probably never will) what the hell happened to me at 16. That's why I was so intrigued by the "Johnson" article. Maybe I inadvertently rewired myself that day by turning the page to climax while looking at dudes. I remember it vividly; it actually was as if I was seeking to somehow escalate the orgasm.

well I understand what you

well I understand what you mean, and I guess we have something in common, before I had discovered pornography I was super attracted to women whether it was a picture or it was real life. I actually had developed mild HOCD before I esclated to wierd pornography which made OCD spike like there was no tmr. THe reason my OCD started was that I realized I was losing arousal when looking a women and in general thinking about sex. It was mainly because I had been using porn for a long time and desensitization took place. I became very confused, just like you I feared the worst. Because I was so in love with women, yet I had ED and it just drove me nuts. Like you I inadvertently rewired myself when I orgasmed while watch tranny porn and I continued to go on to gay porn. I dont know what got into me that day, as before all I could think about was girls and vaginas. And tranny porn or gay porn was a real turn off. It was nasty and disgusting, just seemed so wrong. Stay strong dude, it all goes away, I have been rebooting and I cant even say say I manage to stay away from MO or porn 100%, but after a few month I got alot of the arousal back. The key is, if you have to masterbate, if you really really REALLY are desperate to masterbate, do not masterbate to the stuff you masterbated to before. It only increases urges. But you are best off to drop masterbation once and for all. If you masterbate it will contribute to further OCD complications and slow down your recovery. Remeber Fantasizing (any type of fantasizing whether straight, tranny, lesbian or whatever), Masterbation, and Porn (big no no) should be discontinued from day one. Do not be tempted to fantasize even when your tastes are returning to normal because it leads to masterbation and eventual porn use. Good luck!

Hi Sufferer

Welcome to the forum. If you want to try a reboot, start your own blog so you can track your progress. (See "Members' blogs" on the left.)

I know how confusing it is for you guys when your brain shifts to the "more dopamine producing" stimulus, and drops the old one like a hot potato. The anxiety then gets wired into the arousal constellation...and you're freaked out.

But, honestly, your orientation is not determined by your erections. And as you stop running that "Am I gay if I look at men" loop in your brain, it will weaken.

We're certainly not experts, but there seem to be (at least) two approaches to getting over this unwanted situation. You're right that they're kind of contradictory. Exposure therapy: http://yourbrainonporn.com/doctor-describes-desensitization-process-for-... And standard OCD therapy a la Jeffrey Schwartz, MD: http://yourbrainonporn.com/schwartz-technique-for-rewiring-compulsions

If you have confidence in your therapist, give her approach a try. As long as you're not hooked on gay porn, it may work. (Exposure therapy based on porn is kind of risky, as you are "rewarding" yourself with orgasms and arousal at the same time you're working on easing up your issue, which just confuses your brain - because it evolved to wire up the reward of orgasm.)

If exposure doesn't work, or feels like it's making things worse, you can get her help trying the Schwartz approach of constantly distracting yourself when the unwanted thoughts show up...until the circuits weaken and your brain no longer bothers.

Either way, I'm sorry you're suffering. Brains are funny things, and male brains seem to wire very quickly to anything associated with an orgasm. After all, you guys have to be the proactive fertilizers - so remembering your "targets" is probably a strong evolutionary command.

NOW, on another subject....I think your anxiety in general would be a lot better if you and your wife would engage in even a few minutes of bonding behaviors daily. No matter how busy and tired the two of you are, you can manage that. For more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-laz...

Marnia -- Thanks for your

Marnia -- Thanks for your thoughts. I assume you agree that I am fundamentally heterosexual, and that these same sex attractions/fantasies are based on superficial pathways that don't really bear on my fundamental sexual orientation. (Again, I was unambiguously attracted to women, and not to men, for the first 16 years of my life!) If that's the case, can a "reboot" really restore my attractions to how they were prior to when I was 16? (The General sounds like he's making progress on that front.)

Also, as part of my ERP program, I'm faced with pictures of shirtless men, etc., and I'm not supposed to "ritualize" by suppressing any arousal that may occur. Would mere arousal defeat the rebooting process, or is it just orgasm that you'd want to avoid? In other words, I wouldn't want the ERP and rebooting to interfere with one another. Thanks in advance.

Can't help with these Qs

The first one is another attempt to analyze your HOCD. Not a good use of your time. Remember: "If you're straight, you're straight - and it doesn't matter which cartoons your dick gets hard for." Smile

Second, I don't know. Either trust your therapist (set a future time for yourself to revisit the situation), or tell her you want to try something else. Don't sit and analyze yourself to death. It just feeds the OCD.

I'm not a therapist

But if I were you, I would avoid the pictures of shirtless men during reboot.

If these pictures arouse you then they can certainly make the reboot process a lot harder.

HOCD Sufferer wrote:

[quote=HOCD Sufferer]This is my first post here, although I recognize names from some of the other forums (e.g., Stuck in a Doorway). Apologies in advance to those of you who've read my lengthy story elswhere for subjecting you to it again. It's just that I came across the "Can You Trust Your Johnson" article, and it's the closest explanation that I've ever found for what may have happened to me. So, here's my history...

I’m a 38-year old male, married with two small children. As far back as I can remember, I was exclusively and unambiguously attracted to and interested in girls. I remember each year of grade school and middle school, and I could name every girl I had crushes on for each year. When I reached puberty, I spent several years masturbating while fantasizing about girls at school, girls in Playboy, girls in the SI Swimsuit issue, girls in music videos — you get the picture. I don’t recall any attractions whatsoever to males. I don't know how much other guys masturbated, but I had a powerful urge to do so, and I did it virtually every day, and sometimes more than once per day. The urge was so powerful that I would get bathroom passes and masturbate in the stall in the school bathroom. After school, I'd sit in front of MTV and watch videos for hours looking for the right shot to climax to.

I wasn’t the luckiest in the world in real life with girls, although I had hooked up (kissing, feeling up) with a few girls and absolutely loved it. The one time (when I was 14) that I had a chance to have sex with a girl, I got very nervous, lost my erection, and couldn’t perform.

In my early teen years, I was a pretty anxious kid. I had some OCD symptoms about physical health issues, and also had what I later read some call "existential OCD" (i.e., constant ruminations about such questions as "who am I?" "why are we here?" "what is reality?"), which caused me significant anxiety. These OCD symptoms became very bad in my early 20's, and still exist to some extent today.

Shortly after my 16th birthday was a particularly down-and-out time for me emotionally, principally because my two best friends essentially "dumped me" without explanation (i.e., they wouldn’t return my phone calls, they avoided me), which left me alienated from the rest of the social fabric of high school. One day during this very lonely period, I was masturbating to a picture of a hot girl in a Muscle and Fitness magazine (I started lifting weights when I was about 15, trying to address what I think were some lack-of-masculinity issues), and right before orgasm, I turned the page to look at a bunch of muscle bound guys. I didn’t think too much about the fantasy right after it happened. I remember thinking, "I'm just into weird stuff."

However, over the next few weeks, I started to notice attractions to guys at school, but continued to masturbate thinking about women, although I think I sensed that the orgasms were not quite as good. Then one day — and this all occurred over the span of about 3 weeks — I realized that I had all but lost my spontaneous visual attraction (more in a minute on what I mean by that) to girls. All I would get when I would look at a hot woman would be at most a "flicker" in my penis, and it would not grow into an erection.

In place of the visual attraction to women that I had lost, there was now a visual attraction to guys. In addition to these same sex visual attractions, I also started to have masturbation fantasies about men, although they were fantasies about straight sex in which I became "the woman" touching and doing other things to the guy. It was never actually me in these fantasies. (Sometimes I worry that transforming myself into a woman in these fantasies is just a denial mechanism to let me avoid the conclusion that I’m gay.)

This all obviously scared the living hell out of me. I talked to no one about it at the time.

I took some reassurance in the fact that I learned that I was still able to get aroused by looking at a girl if I really concentrated on staring at her body and imagined touching or kissing it, although it would take awhile before the arousal would come, but it would be strong once it came. If I actually touched a girl (especially her breasts, ass or legs), or kissed a girl — forget about it, I became instantly aroused and wanted to have sex with her. Once I actually did start having sex with girls later in my teens, I absolutely loved it. I also get aroused by lesbian porn, perhaps because it’s not merely a visual of a woman, but they’re also touching each other, which I guess I fantasize I wish I could be doing given that it’s one of the things that turns me on in real life. In addition, I continued to be emotionally attracted exclusively to women, and not to men. Finally, I’ve never had a gay sexual experience, and the thought of me actually having sex with (or even kissing) another man doesn’t really cross my mind, or even enter my dreams, and when I do think of having sex with another man, it alternatively disgusts me or is unarousing to me. (However, I worry that if I let my attractions to men go, I could potentially discover that I like gay sex. I’ve always avoided watching guy-on-guy porn for this reason.)

So, I've gone on in life like this since then, with visual attractions on the street to men, and with these "semi-gay" masturbation fantasies in which I fantasize that I'm the woman being with a man (which, until recently when depression/anxiety have caused me not to masturbate nearly as much, I would indulge in almost daily). I have virtually no spontaneous visual attractions to women on the street, but I "remember" what was visually arousing about hot girls, and once I actually touch and otherwise become intimate with the girl, I become wildly aroused and am able to have fulfilling sex with her. I had sex with dozens of women in my 20's. I got together with my wife when I was about 30, and sex the past few years has been very rare given our two small children.

I have spiked at various times in my life with the fear that the state of my attractions/masturbation fantasies mean I'm gay. It's never been so bad as it's been the past year. I've been to various therapists over the years to talk about this issue (as well as generalized anxiety), and I started with a CBT therapist in September. She says that, regardless of what my sexuality is, I'm suffering from OCD because I'm obsessing and experiencing anxiety over it. The ruminations go on and on: "How could I be gay if I was so unambiguously attracted to women, and not men, so late into adolescence?" "What could have possibly happened to me at age 16 that ‘changed’ my sexuality so severely?" "Am I fundamentally heterosexual on a biological level, but the change in attraction at age 16 had some sort of non-sexual psychoanalytical meaning, perhaps as a coping mechanism because my friends dumped me in high school, or because of some feeling of lack-of-masculinity?" "Could I have been afflicted by HOCD at age 16 so severely that it actually altered my attractions?" "How could I — and this is the most spiking — not be gay if I get sexually aroused seeing a guy on the street but not a woman?" "Maybe my focus on ‘visual’ attraction is too superficial of a way to define sexual orientation, and the arousal that I get when I touch and/or have sex with a women ‘counts’ toward my heterosexuality?" "What truly gay guy gets aroused by lesbian porn, like I do?" "Although I’ve never had gay sex, maybe if I just let these attractions to men go, I would realize that I like it and should go be gay?" "Maybe the right label for me is ‘bisexual,’ but one who has chosen to lead a heterosexual life?" "No — You have no real choice in the matter, and these attractions to men fundamentally dictate who you are who you have to be — which is a gay man — and that’s who you’ll inevitably become." On and on and on it goes every day of my life. I just switched my SSRI to Prozac, and I take Zanax every day now to keep myself from panicking over this issue.

I recently came across this site, and the "Johnson" article, and it got me wondering whether -- although the internet was not invented in the late 80's when this happened to me -- I could have desensitized myself to women through all the masturbation in my early teens, and created new pathways through that initial fantasy involving men when I was 16 that gave rise to these same-sex attractions. Do you think I'm fundamentally hetero-oriented? The "Johnson" article talks about who you first climaxed to (for me, women), and who you enjoy deep kissing with (for me, women), as better indications of true sexual orientation. If that's the case, could the rebooting process restore my sexuality to what it was prior to age 16? Is it too late for me given how many years have passed? If I could rid myself of these same-sex attractions, and get back the raging opposite-sex attractions I had until I was 16, it would be life-changing beyond belief.

My CBT doctor says that it's a "fantasy" that I could go back to who I was sexuality-wise prior to this happening to me at age 16. She would call my post "reassurance" seeking, which is destructive because it feeds the OCD. Her therapeutic approach is that I need to accept that I have same-sex attractions (because they likely will never go away), reduce my anxiety over them through ERP, and accept that having these feelings does not mean I ever have to act on them. Rebooting would seem to be somewhat at odds with her approach, under which she wants me to expose myself to good-looking men and eventually to images of gay sex. Do you think ERP and rebooting are inconsistent with one another?

I would appreciate any thoughts anyone might have on any of this. Thanks for listening.[/quote]

I know what you mean, I'm a constant worrier too.
And I just noticed this, but I also questioned myself like you did. ('Why am I here?', Is there another reason for the earth's creation other then to sustain life? 'Are we part of a bigger circle we don't know about?', etc) That's awesome!