How Porn is Hijacking the Sex Lives of Our Young Men. by Dr. Barbara Winter (2016)

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LINK TO ARTICLE  April 27, 2016 by Dr. Barbara Winter

Sex therapist, Dr. Barbara Winter says teenagers addicted to porn may develop intimacy issues and trouble connecting with their partner.

Two days ago my soon to be 18-year-old-son came to me and inquired …  “mom, why are you soo focused on porn,?” as he has heard me so often speak of the good, the bad and the ugly as well as our culture’s preoccupation with digital sex, my obsession with oculus rift notwithstanding. Most of this has been recent. The next day during his capstone class, he was surprised (or not so) to receive from me a pic of the days snail mail cover of Time entitled “PORN, … and the threat to virility.”

Does he wonder if I partake? Perhaps. Well, I do on an almost regular basis lately—in my office.

As addictions go, this one can be fast and furious. Porn is rampant—it is anonymous, affordable (free in most instances) and, most pertinent, accessible.

For a while now, I have seen arrive in my office a cluster of men, young adult men, whose sexual functioning is limited. That is, their penises aren’t working at least not the way in which they want them to when they are with real people. And while young adult men may present for treatment with difficulty in the bedroom due to social anxiety, drugs, Asperger’s and other issues of intimacy, the numbers are increasing and porn is often the culprit.

The inability to get or maintain an erection with a real person is showing up in the office of sex therapists. PIED—Porn-induced erectile disorder—as it has recently been labeled, has become another behavioral addiction or process addiction. It is showing up in mine.

Technology is often blamed these days for rewiring our brain and interfering with our connections. Now it seems that our obsession with digital media is affecting our performance in the bedroom. And while this problem has been reported for a while now, the numbers appear to be growing.

By definition, an addiction involves two components—tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance refers to the notion that we need increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the same effect. Withdrawal means that with the removal of the substance we have some sort of debilitating symptomology until we get back to baseline. Both involve physiological dependence. Habituation—novelty, surprise, and anxiety, elevates the brain’s dopamine—and our basic pleasure and reward pathways can be accessed anywhere, anyway at any time. The process has been equated to the use of drugs such as cocaine. Porn is a fantasy drug and the movement from one screen to another is the dangerous part because it heightens the ability for intense stimulation and for the difficult to reverse conditioning. It’s not what happens in real bedrooms with real people.

Before these boys have a real chance at intimacy they are online and some of them have become hardwired to function inadequately.

As addictions go, this one can be fast and furious. Porn is rampant—it is anonymous, affordable (free in most instances) and, most pertinent, accessible. Belinda Luscombe, author of the Time’s article, noted two statistics on first exposure to porn; she said that two separate studies found the average age to be 12 and 13.

We have seen growing numbers within the population as well as those who have begun anti-porn movements. Gary Wilson’s, anatomy and physiology teacher, (yourbrainonporn.com) Ted-X Talk in 2012 entitled The Great Porn Experiment today has over six million views. His thesis—porn effects the neuropathways, creates isolation and, as the Time piece highlights, compromises the “virility of young men.” Gabe Deem, 28, is the founder of Reboot Nation. Having become addicted to internet porn at a young age he teaches men how to reboot their brains. He is clearly aware of the need for speed and cites having felt like a zombie when he went cold turkey, something which is critical in order to reverse the behavior and all of the physiological sequale, (a condition that is the consequence of a previous disease that accompanies it.) While the process may be evident (we have no research as of yet) young men will need help in walking through it as well as the associated shame and inadequacy.

Porn addiction is not sex addiction for these boys and while certain groups mentioned earlier may be at greater risk the recovery may be easier for some. There is suspicion and anecdotal evidence that recovery for older men is more rapid than for these men in part because they know what a sexual relationship with a real person looks and feels like. They can often get back to baseline faster because they have one.

Before these boys have a real chance at intimacy they are online and some of them have become hardwired to function inadequately. This scenario doesn’t give them the opportunity to know if they are even capable of having a close connected relationship which not so often happens at the first sexual encounter anyway. Failure, rejection, and awkwardness as well as much more abounds in these first experiences where the experience is a negative one. They need to learn how to have sex without fantasy and to be more in tune with their partner. They need to learn how to have a healthy relationship with their bodies and sex, not so, pornography. Sex will often involve some fantasy; porn is a fantasy drug and despite the current move into mindfulness they are clearly still somewhere else.

In the April 23 Vanity Fair tribute, Prince is quoted as saying “”I think there was some sort of plan to initiate me heavy and quick. I was given Playboy magazine, and there was erotic literature laying around. It was very easily picked up. It was pretty heavy at the time. I think it really affected my sexuality a great deal.”

Who knows exactly what my son was doing at that moment when I sent him that cover in the middle of a school day. We know that millennials are wired 24/7; log-on equates to turned on. While the girls might have been on Instagram, he was likely checking his fantasy status (football that is) or sending a Snapchat. I’m hoping at least that neither he, nor any of his classmates, were watching porn.

- See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-porn-is-hijacking-the-sex...