Marnia's picture
Submitted by Marnia on
Printer-friendly version

Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms A new study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkeys' bottoms. The way the experiment was set up, the act is akin to paying for the images, the researchers say.

The part of your brain that governs emotions, drives, impulses, and subconscious decision-making is known as the "limbic system." limbic systemIt does its jobs so efficiently that evolution hasn't seen the need to change it much since before humans were humans. This is why it's considered to be part of your primitive brain. It is not the rational part of your brain, or neo-cortex. The neo-cortex (or 'gray matter' in this image) is the newer, larger part of the brain, which you will have to harness in order to pre-empt your primitive brain's frantic signals, and move in a healthy direction. The porn industry has hijacked a small portion of your primitive brain known as "the reward circuitry." To regain control of it you'll find it helpful to learn some things about addiction and sex. Once you understand these things, you'll see why issues of "guilt" and "perversion" have little to do with your challenge - no matter how...peculiar your tastes have grown. In fact, you want to leave all guilt/perversion concepts behind, because they actually strengthen your addiction, as you will see. Instead of fretting about what a sorry pervert you have become, think of your circumstances as a nightmare you're having, from which you can simply awaken - once you work out how to flip on the light switch. This will return your erotic phantoms to powerless cartoons. Before we explain how you can escape the cycle you're in, let's look at what's going on at a physical level.

Evolution Gone Awry

Although experts define addiction differently from each other, we will define it as an uncontrollable compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its negative consequences.

Addiction appears to be a syndrome in which addicted persons become tricked into believing that something harmful is actually beneficial, and in extreme instances, that something harmful is vitally necessary - as necessary as breath to a drowning man. But how is this possible? How can addicts believe that something is helping them when in reality it is destroying them? Being physically addicted to alcohol means the body has adapted to the chronic use of alcohol to such a degree that in its absence the body can't function properly or doesn't feel right. As a result, the alcoholic compulsively seeks out alcohol to avoid the painful bodily sensations of withdrawal. Being psychologically addicted means that workaholics, for example, work compulsively to keep uncomfortable emotions such as depression or anxiety at bay. Thus, psychological addictions are unconscious strategies for avoiding emotional pain whereas physical addictions involve compulsive behaviors to avoid the physical pain of withdrawal. In either case, addicted persons act compulsively to avoid immediate pain. Serenity Online Therapy website

Generally, definitions that distinguish "psychological" from "physical" addictions fail to mention that all addictions involve changes in the reward circuitry. The changes relate to various neurotransmitters (chemicals your body uses to send the signals that activate your feelings and bodily functions). This means that all addictions are physical, even though they may not involve a substance. Central to these brain changes is a jump in a neurochemical called dopamine. Dopamine has been called "the molecule of addiction." 'Mean Genes' coverAll addictions involve release of dopamine in the reward circuitry. The evolutionary purpose of that dopamine is to motivate you (and every animal) to engage in the behaviors that ensure survival as a species. These behaviors include eating, drinking water, mating, taking risks, seeking novelty, and so forth. (Mean Genes - From Sex to Money to Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts by Burnham and Phelen is an excellent book on this general subject, although it offers no advice that is specific to porn addiction.) This motivational system or reward circuitry is quite similar in all mammals, which means that it has been around for at least 100 million years. Even so, it has some glaring weaknesses:

  • Although it has served evolution well, it can be hijacked by substances and activities that do not further your survival. For example, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and a compelling attraction to internet porn all turn on the reward circuitry, but they certainly don't help you survive, or even propel your genes into the next generation. In fact, they can distract you from beneficial behaviors, and destroy your relationship. Nevertheless, at a neurochemical level, these self-defeating behaviors can each register as a definite "go for it!"
  • Even when the reward circuitry is working as "intended," its goals do not necessarily improve your individual well-being. This is important to understand. Just because a craving is natural doesn't make it good for you. For example, your reward circuitry is designed to light up far more for fatty or sweet foods than for salads. The former items are now on every street corner, while our ancestors had to work hard for such treats. One result: a third of Americans are now obese, and another third overweight.

The Cost of Seeking Novelty

Your reward circuitry is also designed to find a mate with whom you've experienced President Clintonsexual satiation increasingly uninteresting, while it lights up enthusiastically at thought of a new mating opportunity. Scientists call this phenomenon the Coolidge Effect. In effect, your evolutionary design rewards you when you reproduce - and then move on to another partner to reproduce again. By doing so, you vastly increase the chances of your genes finding their way into future generations.1 This is why almost no mammals are monogamous. The neurochemical program behind this behavior works as follows: after sexual satiation, dopamine drops - which doesn't feel good. We then seek novel sexual stimulation to raise it again. At the beginning of a love affair, plain old sex is yummy. Then couples find that they have to add more spice, whether more intense foreplay, acting out fantasies, or watching porn together…or alone. Why does this happen? Their brain chemistry is sabotaging their relationship. Conventional sex, with its post-orgasmic neurochemistry of satiation, is the culprit. This cycle of passion-satiation, or attraction-repulsion, guarantees that satisfaction is fleeting, and frustration nearly a constant for sexually active adults. Ironically, the more passion we manage to experience, the less satisfaction we experience over all. Yet avoiding intimacy also leaves us aching. These days, the easiest way to cope with this unconscious evolutionary reflex is by cruising the Internet for new sexually stimulating images. Your brain says "yes" to novel porn images because they register (falsely) with your primitive brain as new gene-passing opportunities. (We will discuss why shocking pictures and sexual partners of other races are particularly alluring in Part 3.) Even though this mindless cave manevolutionary program urges you to pursue sirens - real or two-dimensional - you are actually better off finding an intimate relationship and learning to make it rewarding at a brain chemical level. Why? Relationships are healthy. Trusted companionship, physical affection, and long-term unions decrease rates of illness, prolong life, counter depression, speed healing - and even soothe cravings. According to various traditions, they also have unsuspected spiritual potential. In short, your primitive brain misleads you when it encourages you to pursue sexual stimulation at the cost of a real relationship. When you forego finding a mate, or abandon your existing mate - whether physically, because you leave or emotionally, by substituting porn images - you undermine your own well-being. "But why is pornography so addictive?"

  • 1. Because different partners have different immune systems, and this genetic diversity enables your offspring to survive a wider range of challenges.