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Sex, Productivity and Motivation Part 06: Pornography

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Pornography

“Pornography? It’s a new synaptic pathway. You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of visuals. There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.” – John Mayer, musician.


Update: click here for part 7.

Pornography is one of those sex-related topics that wasn’t even considered in our initial research into human sexuality and its relation to productivity. Why? Well, for the most part, the viewing of pornography is a private thing – it’s not exactly the sort of things you discuss with your friends (ever feigned ignorance when a porn star’s name is brought up on conversation?) As a result, we never looked at the productivity implications until a couple of AE readers started asking questions about it.

The more we dug though, the more we found that it has a huge effect on society, on your behavior, and of course, on your productivity.

This being said, we can’t help but think that a lot of the naysayers about pornography and the adult entertainment industry are wrong – sure, there are implications to the availability of widespread pornographic content. Will it bring about the end of western civilization as we know it? Probably not.

This article is really written for men. Women are welcome to read too, but let’s face it – men are by far the largest consumers of pornography. If you want to know why, think back to the Coolidge Effect – it’s more pronounced in the male population.

If you have an hour or so to burn, check out the Your Brain on Porn Youtube Series – it’s a more detailed look at what we’ll be discussing here. Just take what is said with a grain of salt though – a lot of their content has been “edited” to make it politically correct and presentable, rather than practical.

Quick Summary

  • Productivity and porn is a simple equation. Less porn = less unproductive screen time = more productivity.
  • The problem with porn is that it’s a dopamine addiction. The more you watch, the more you want. At addiction levels, it’s a self-perpetuating loop that alters your brain chemistry and sexual behavior.
  • Women aren’t as affected by pornography as men are.
  • The basic solution is to stop watching pornography.
  • The time you spend watching porn is better spent with real-life women.

The Raw Mechanics

Screen Time

I think most people will agree that the male consumption of pornography tends to be accompanied by masturbation. It may eventually develop to a point where you consume pornography without masturbation, but for most people, the two are linked.

At the most basic, rawest level, less masturbation increases productivity, and less consumption of pornography is less time watching something unproductive.

In the long term, less reliance on a television or computer screen for entertainment means an increased ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, thus raising productivity levels too.

So:

Less porn = less time passively watching a screen = less masturbation = more time to do other things.

Pornography and Addiction

Let’s look at some of the biology and neuroscience behind why pornography can be so problematic.

When you watch porn, it instructs your body to release dopamine into your system. Why? Well, there’s a sequence of things that happen that lead to this.

  1. The human body is built to binge on two things: food, and sex (reproductive opportunities). This is because in pre-agricultural times, these were two rare commodities that your body’s binge mechanism was designed to take advantage of. The modern variants are sugar and pornography.
  2. When you masturbate, your body release dopamine, culminating in orgasm which is a large hit of dopamine. Over time and repeated exposure, your brain begins to start releasing dopamine in anticipation of masturbation and orgasm – it essentially becomes wired to release dopamine every single time you watch porn.
  3. Because dopamine essentially motivates us towards specific behaviors, once this link is established, watching porn equates to dopamine release.
  4. An addiction loop is formed.

This is not the whole picture however. There are some very unique factors that make this loop possible in the modern day.

The first is the Coolidge Effect. If you remember our prior article on Love and Relationships, you’ll know that the Coolidge Effect is about seeking out new sexual partners even when you have access to current ones. What this means is that simply more of the same isn’t enough – you need variety and novelty when it comes to sex. This is where modern pornography comes into play – it offers unlimited variety with an unlimited number of new “partners”.

The second, is the unique nature of modern pornography. Modern porn is widely available, it’s typically free or low-cost and it can be consumed privately without social ramifications. More importantly, there is unlimited novelty and variety available on the Internet, with only the speed of your broadband connection being a limiting factor. Essentially, there are no limits to the consumption of pornography today, and as your brain seeks out more sexual novelty (the Coolidge Effect), online porn is there, ready to serve up whatever you’re looking for.

The third, is human brain plasticity. Most people don’t realize this, but our brains are extremely adaptable. Essentially, actions or behaviors are stored in what are called neurons, which can be thought of pathways to certain behavior. These neurons are very much like physical pathways – the more they are used, the more durable and marked they become. This is why human beings are able to learn through conditioning and repeated actions. With pornography, our brains learn certain patterns regarding sex after viewing. Because of the Coolidge Effect, once these patterns are repeated enough or become “worn out”, we seek out new pathways. This in turn produces a never-ending cycle of seeking out new and more novel pornography, which is essentially an addiction.

The nature of this addiction is similar to other addictions like comfort eating (remember that the brain is wired to binge on food and sex), but is different because novelty matters more than quantity.

Now you may be thinking – OK, this is nice to know… but are there any real problems from watching a lot of porn? Well, yes there are:

  • Watching porn takes time. It might not seem like a lot, but 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there… it all adds up to time that can be best spent doing other things.
  • As we’ve mentioned before, pornography paints an unrealistic portrayal of female behaviors and appearance. This obviously has implications for your relationships, and thus your life and productivity levels.
  • Pornography alters your sexual tastes and preferences over time. This one is really interesting. Think about it: if your brain is wired to seek out new and novel porn again and again and again… what do you think will happen when you’ve exhausted “normal” pornographic content? You start looking for more extreme fetishes and kinks – thus, the large percentage of men out there watching pornography that has nothing do to with their actual sexual likes or orientation. Case in point:
  • Increased chance of erectile dysfunction. Enough said.
  • Increased levels of social anxiety due to lower dopamine level between sessions of pornography (when you have high dopamine levels).
  • A lack of motivation. Probably from masturbation.
  • Bad real-world relationships due to a skewed view of the female gender.

Essentially, pornography alongside masturbation is about your brain seeking dopamine highs, not sex.

Solutions

The simplest solution is what we’ve mentioned a couple of times above: stop watching porn.

Wave bye to your favorite pornstars.

Wave bye-bye to your favorite pornstars.

There are obviously, some considerations though.

It is very possible that you will go through withdrawal problems in cutting back your porn usage. Just like a drug or other addiction, you need to be aware of this and know how to deal with it – because it’s going to take time. Our suggestion is to replace the cravings and urges with something productive – go work or produce something creative, or really focus in on your mission in life.

Numerous forums and support groups on the Internet recommend eliminating sex and masturbation during your “reboot” period. To be honest, neither Thanh or myself have/have had a porn addiction, so we don’t have any personal experience in this regard. From a productivity standpoint, cutting out masturbation is a good move – your productivity levels will go up. As for sex, well, some people say that no sex helps them get through the process. Our opinion is that normal, regular sex is a healthy thing (and has lots of benefits).

You may be wondering if it’s necessary to cut all porn from your life, or if it’s even a problem for you. Here’s a good test that is quoted across most forums and support groups dealing with the issue: can you get it up for a real woman?

If the answer is no, or if you would rather masturbate with pornography instead of having sex with a real woman, then you have a porn addiction problem.

Note: This is assuming that the real woman is sexually attractive by universal definition, not be what society says is an “attractive woman” at present time.

As for the issue of removing all porn – casual partaking is fine. And by casual, think back to when your parents got a new copy of Playboy once a month in the mail. You can bet that they weren’t flipping through the pages 24/7/365.

Benefits from No Porn

Obviously there need to be benefits to cutting back from porn for us to mention it. In addition to resolving most of the problems mentioned above, you also get:

  • More time to do other things. Less screen time with porn = more time elsewhere.
  • Less screen time in general. In our opinion, while porn is unique, you can easily substitute porn with your favorite TV series or video games. The more time you spend away from the computer for leisure, the more productive your time working at the computer will be.
  • You train your self-discipline by not watching porn and not masturbating.
  • You gain a more realistic assessment of female beauty. As we noted above, this is not about tricking your mind into believing that what society says is “female beauty” is right – it’s about recognizing that most “average” women in the world don’t look like porn stars.
  • Better connections with women. This is a maybe. Most men who stop consuming porn report that it makes their connections with women deeper. We’re ambivalent on this one, as we think it has more to do with men inflating women’s sexual attractiveness (and thus other traits) in the lead up to sex.

The Best Course of Action

This wouldn’t be Asian Efficiency if we didn’t offer some sort of step-by-step action plan to go about implementing all this. Here it is.

  1. Cut down on viewing porn, or eliminate it completely. We already know the benefits of cutting out masturbation, and if you do that, you’ll find your porn consumption drastically reduced too. Note: a little bit now and then with your partner is not a bad thing – more on this in our upcoming article on Asian Efficient Sex.
  2. Go spend more time with real women instead. This one is a hard idea to swallow for most “porn recovery” sites and support groups. Why? Because it indirectly encourages men to become ladies men, which in the current climate, is politically incorrect. Now whether this means spending more time with your girlfriend/partner/spouse, or whether it means spending more time hitting the bar/club scene flirting with real women, it’s up to you. All we know for sure, is that interacting with real women is better than watching porn.
  3. Get a more realistic perspective on sex. This leads on from #2 – the more you interact with women, the more you’ll realize just how much human sexual behaviors and “norms” vary. We’ve dropped hints and little pieces in our article series, but most people still don’t recognize that young (and old) men and women out there are playing out scenes from pornography on a daily basis. Believe it or not, there are men (and women) out there living out “fantasy” scenarios like threesomes, dating multiple women at the same time and sleeping with new women every other night.

In Closing

  • Less porn = less screen time = more productivity.
  • Porn addiction is a loop involving dopamine, the Coolidge Effect, modern pornography and your brain’s plasticity.
  • Women don’t have to worry about this as much.
  • Simple solution: stop watching porn.
  • Take the time you save by not watching porn, and spend it with real women instead.

Update: click here for part 7.

If you want more articles and tips like these, let us know where we can send them to:

Photos By: C. G. P. GreyYutaka Tsutanothe_toe_stubber

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4 Comments

Posted by Tommy Cel  | August 27, 2013 at 11:55PM | Reply

Enjoying your series. Could sexual energy and life-force energy (the core energy that animates us) be synonymous? Could it be that, when we are sexually aroused, male and female, that it is a signal to the body to draw upon available life-force energy in preparation for conception? Perhaps a collection point, the “dantien” acts as a staging area from which egg and sperm production draw key “ingredients” to produce another life form? Assuming this, can we assume a temporary depletion, or “lowering” of life-force energy, throughout the body, during sexual arousal / activity / ejaculation, and shortly after? I mention this because I am wondering if “losing screen time, or productivity time” due to masturbation is actually the problem?

Posted by Victor Balasa  | September 4, 2013 at 1:43PM | Reply

Thanks for this. I just linked to you guys from my article about sexual sublimation.
http://victorstuff.com/1-productivity-secret-how-often-should-i-have-sex
Useful piece guys.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | November 1, 2013 at 12:44AM

Thanks for sharing Victor!

Posted by henrietta  | September 13, 2013 at 4:03AM | Reply

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