The only way to quit watching porn

operant conditioning and pornography
If you must quit porn, use this method

There is a way to help men stop viewing porn – at least as much or as often.  If a man must, by his convinced religious beliefs, forbid himself this behavior, then he ought to be helped to do so in the most healthy way possible.

As you know if you read this site,  I don’t believe that Christians should be forced to quit viewing porn.  I believe that the healthy male life includes erotica.   However, there is a set of Christians who will never be able to believe this.  These men will continue to suffer the guilt and self-destruction from indulging in this natural behavior.   These men have been led astray into unhealthy ways of trying to quit.  Firstly, the “Cognitive Behavior Therapy” method doesn’t work.  That is like treating a stomach ulcer with NSAIDS for a headache.  It just makes the situation worse.

So, for these men, I say this.  Stop trying to treat a sex “addiction.”  You are not addicted.  There are many sinful or undesirable behaviors that are not addictions.  These are behaviors that are normal, correct, and desirable but are often performed in ways or at times that are sinful or unhealthy.

A great example is food.  if we desire food we are not necessarily a glutton.  Yet we have all seen people whose eating is harmful to themselves and others.  Eating, working, exercising, giving, praying/meditating, rejoicing, relaxing, and playing are all behaviors that are desirable and needful in moderation.  If we find any person who doesn’t perform these behaviors at all, they are unhealthy.  But a workaholic, anorexic, sloth, or excessive jokester also have a pathology in need of treatment.
Similarly, sex is not an addiction, but rather a desirable behavior that must be performed in moderation.  An ascetic man who defrauds his wife is no more holy than a man who defrauds her by giving himself to porn rather than her.
Addiction is treated by cognitive behavior therapy and by 12 step programs – by sponsors and “accountability partners” – by helping the person to be mindful of their desires and redirecting himself to other desires – by getting them to avoid their triggers.  But this doesn’t work in any normal behavior.    We do not help dieters by cognitive behavior therapy or 12 step programs.    We teach them to use behavioral conditioning.
Conditioning is illustrated by the famous “Pavlov’s dog” example.  Pavlov rang a bell and fed his dogs, eventually the dogs slobbered whenever they heard a bell.  This is called classical conditioning.  We later came up with the concept of “operant conditioning” in which a stimulus is associated with a behavior and a reward or punishment    For example, to get people to put on a seat belt we supply a noxious stimulus – a beep – that will not stop until the behavior (seat belt clicked) is performed.  This is “negative reinforcement” = the removal of a noxious stimulus.
The removal of the association of a stimulus with a behavior is called extinction.  This is what some pastors want to accomplish in their porn-viewing men.  The association of the normal stimulus (erotic desire) with the undesireable behavior (porn viewing) is extinguished.
There are many interesting methods to do this – google “operant conditioning” and “extinguish” and you will find many useful ideas.  But one rule I want to specifically mention.
—— Associations are weakened when the stimulus occurs in the absence of the behavior —-
In other words, the more often a man has an orgasm in the absence of porn use the weaker his impulse to view porn will be.    Similarly, the more often he wakes up in the morning with a nocturnal erection (morning wood) and does not have sex with his wife, the less often he will desire to have sex with his wife.
This fits with how Paul said to “avoid fornication”  in I Corinthian’s 7.  “every man have his own wife”, “better to marry than burn” and “defraud ye not one another.”
So, if a man is having a problem with porn, the answer is NOT accountability partners, but rather more sex.  Instead of using porn till he doesn’t want his wife.   His wife should rather keep his balls so drained that he doesn’t have anything left for porn.

How often should christian boys masturbate?

Masturbation frequency
Should you limit your right arm exercise?

Ok, I will confess up front.  I’m actually discussing whether porn is addictive, but I am coming about it the long way.

Dr. David Ley, a clinical psychologist, recently treated a young christian man of 18 who was “addicted to masturbation.”   He masturbated once a week.

(I wonder if he ever splurged and did it twice?)

I had hoped that the Christian world has gotten past the churches trying to destroy their young men this way, but I’m afraid not.  I know that in my day the church made us feel terrible.  I know of one young man in the late ’70’s who would come home to his parents after making out with his girlfriend on her front porch (a girl he married the next year – the baby was born 8 months later).  He would have them get up and pray with him to overcome temptation.  He was being tempted to relieve his blue balls using “Mother Thumb and her 4 sisters.”

No one thought to complement this virtuous young man on his restraint.  No one told him to possibly relieve some of his tension and maybe help him limit his explorations with his girl.   No, his parents continued to instruct him to “overcome his flesh.”  The resulting baby was very beautiful and has grown into a very wonderful and Godly young man.

 

Few churches teach against masturbation anymore.  But I have a question. What is the upper limit for “holy” masturbation in a day?  Is there a limit?  Once a week?  Twice a week?  Once a day?  Can he splurge and go twice  Ok, you don’t want to put a number on it, but let’s see how many times you think is unreasonable.  Three times a day?  Four?  Five?

I am a psychiatrist.  I have treated manic people who were hypersexual.  They masturbated until they raised blisters on their penis.

But my point still holds even for them.  There is a biological limit on how much a person can masturbate.  After a while it just ain’t no more fun.  You can “edge” as long as you want but eventually you are going to bust a nut.  And there is just so many times you can do that till it gets boring.  Ok, so let’s admit that some men can spend a whole day thinking about sex and playing with themselves.  Can they spend EVERY day this way?

No they can’t.  This isn’t “Call of Duty”  Eventually it just gets boring.

MASTURBATION IS NOT  AND ADDICTION BECAUSE IT DOESN’T INCREASE

One of the most important parts of “Addiction” is tolerance.  Yesterday 4 norcos made you feel good.  Today you need 6.  Tomorrow you want 8.  Eventually you need so many to feel good that you take enough to stop your breathing and you die.

But masturbation isn’t like that.  The first squirt of the young man’s week produces a quarter cup.  The next a table spoon.  After while a few drops come out and the resulting orgasm is merely “ok”.   In order to get that first body-shaking seizure-inducing feeling again he is going to have to

Wait!

So masturbation is not addictive.  The sad young man above who believed he was “addicted” to masturbation had simply not choked the chicken to death.

Let’s talk about masturbation some more (please!)

Today, of course, most churches know that masturbation is a normal and healthy part of growing up.  Even Focus on the Family has waved the white flag on this issue.  But for some reason they still want their young men to carry a load of guilt.  James Dobson instructs boys that they can jerk it as long as they don’t “lust” at the same time.  In other words, it should be a purely physical act – kind of like scratching an itch.  No imagination of females should play on the back of closed eyelids.

Amazingly, he is supposed to instantly change his attitude on the night of his marriage.  Suddenly, sex must not be merely scratching an itch, but must be rather be a holy act that is almost entirely about the female.

But let’s be real.  No boy jacks off without imagination.  (If a female reading this thinks that this is not true, ask a man).  So all boys imagine sex while doing “hand to gland combat.”

And – let’s be even more real – today those boys are not simply imagining it on the back of their eyelids.  They are watching porn.

Now let me ask you.  Do they watch porn and NOT jerkoff?

No they do not.  Watching porn and jacking off for the male species is synonymous.    Watching porn without jacking the beanstalk is boooooooring.

So, I ask you.  How much porn can a young man watch?

Do I need to go through this again?  Obviously porn – like masturbation – is self-limiting.  The more you see the less you need to see.    You need a “cooling off period” (or maybe that is a “storing some up” period) before you want to do it again.

Now, some of you may be saying – what about James Dobson’s interview with Ted Bundy the serial killer?  Bundy told Dobson that regular porn got boring so he had to watch more perverted porn, then more perverted until eventually he had to sexually slaughter people in order to feel good.

Ted Bundy was a sociopath who was conning a gullible mark in order to possible get a pardon from President George HW Bush.   This was nonsense.  He was not led to mass murder by porn.  Sociopaths are created at a very young age – usually by extreme neglect and abuse.   Certainly this was true of Bundy’s childhood.

Ask yourself – those of you who have watched porn (that would be EVERY ONE OF YOU MEN)  Did you really find it so boring that you had to watch bestiality in order to shoot your wad?   When you did see the extreme stuff did it really turn you on or did it repel you.  Come on, be honest.

The “escalating nature of porn” is a stupid myth.  No one ever experienced it himself, he just projected his fears onto other men.

Let me (finally) make my point.

Porn is not an addiction because it does not meet the minimum requirement of addiction – an increasing need with decreasing reward.

Science: Christian Erotica Makes Marriages Stronger. Christian Men Should Watch Porn

Couples watching porn
Yes you should watch porn together

Since the new legalists have switched from Biblical to Scientific arguments, I thought that I would begin to let everyone know what the science ACTUALLY says, instead of what the legalists try to tell you it says.

This article that I will explain today is so old that it doesn’t even show up on the academic online searches.  The link will take you to a photocopy of a TYPEWRITTEN paper.   It was published in 1970.   It is so simple, clear, and common-sensical that I’m not surprised that the legalists don’t ever quote it.

So the researcher asked a simple question – How does initiation of porn watching affect stable middle-class, moderately conservative, religious married couples.  So he ran some ads in Palo Alto, CA asking for married couples who wished to fill out some questionaires for money.  He ended up with 83 couples.  No one knew that this was a study about pornography.

So this was a group of people to whom no pornographic videos were available (this is 1970)  only magazines such as Playboy were available.  Few men would sneak into the sleazy adult theatres, so the skin magazines were effectively the only erotica available to conservative men.

So these people were randomly sorted in to groups 15 couples watched nothing but just filled out surveys about their marriage.  68 couples were divided into 2 groups that watched either erotic or non-erotic films.

The couples who watched films were in four groups.  In some only the men watched erotica while their wives watched documentaries, in others the couple watched together without comments from the researchers.  In the third, the couple watched the film after being told that it was likely to improve their relationship.  Finally, the fourth group watched general-interest documentaries.

There were 7 films shown, Themes covered by these films included heterosexual activity, female masturbation, Lesbian activity, male homosexual activity, group sexual activity, and sadomasochism.

The results are so predictable as to be boring.

  1. Couples who were introduced to pornographic films started having more sex
  2. After 8 weeks the frequency of the porno-viewing couples sex decreased to baseline levels – they got bored with the porn.
  3. The couples who were divided into porn-viewing and non-porn viewing had some trouble with the wives getting upset that their husband’s were getting turned on by the films
  4. People who watched the porn became more tolerant of porn watching
  5. People who didn’t watch porn became less tolerant toward porn watching
    1. This was especially pronounced among the women
  6. The non-heterosexual porn turned everyone off.
  7. At the end of the experiment. Everyone had the same amount and the same kind of sex that they had before the experiment.

Now – is any of this surprising?

Wives think that porn-watching (of heterosexual sex) is terrible, terrible until they actually see it with their husband.   Then it turns them on and causes them to have more marital sex. Afterwards, they – and their husbands – get bored with seeing it all the time and return to their baseline behavior.  However, they decide that they may want to see some in the future if they want to get especially turned on.

Couples who have been taught to have legalistic scruples again porn get very upset if they find out that others are getting to watch.  They want to stop anyone else from having fun either.  These censorship desires disappear as soon as they see porn themselves.

Normal heterosexual couples do not become swingers because they see swinger films.  They do not turn into bi-sexuals because they see lesbian or homosexual films.  They turn out to like the romantic sex films (films of couples like themselves) the most.

What does this tell us 50 years later?

Firstly, PORN IS NOT ADDICTIVE.  People who watch porn without feeling guilty about it get bored with it shortly.

Secondly, all of the preaching against porn -all of the men’s retreats – all of the promise-keepers seminars – all of the “your brain on porn” pseudo-science articles – were wasted effort.  That same effort could have gone into producing beautiful and holy erotica that couples could watch whenever they wished in order to revive flagging sex lives.

Finally, we already knew this 50 years ago.  Why did they churches determinedly continue to destroy the christian faith of their men?

I think it is because Mommy made them feel bad about playing with themselves at age 12 and they are still projecting their guilt onto others the rest of their lives.

What science says about pornography and couples

The anti-erotica forces have been trying to use “science” to preach their moralistic crusade.   But mixing the opinions of moralism and the facts of science leads to bad morals and bad science.

This study published this year in “Current Opinion Psychology” tells what the science says.  It is a compilation of all of the current research, and it also suggests what areas are in need of more research.   Unless you have a subscription to a medical library, you won’t be able to read all of this article, so I will quote relevant passages.

Firstly, the people who are going out to prove how bad pornography is for people are doing bad science.  The previous studies state conclusions that aren’t supported by the facts.

While acknowledging that very few studies had assessed the impact of pornography exposure and relationship processes, Manning nonetheless unequivocally agreed with Zillmann’s conclusions a few years later. Of the limited research focusing on the associations between exposure to pornography and relationship processes within dyads, however, the empirical evidence is not so conclusive, with results suggesting both negative and positive influences of pornography use on romantic relationships

Secondly, studies that are LOOKING for the harm of pornography are not producing accurate results.

The majority of research concerning the effects of pornography on relationships assumes, assesses, and subsequently confirms, that pornography is detrimental to relationships. Adopting a ‘harm focused’ approach at the outset of a study places critical limits on what can be learned about the typical impact of pornography on the couple. The assumption of harm will either confirm or fail to confirm negative effects, and by virtue of not measuring non-negative outcomes will necessarily tell us nothing about the occurrence of neutral or positive effects that may also occur. Harm-focused rationales that underlie such investigations are also at odds with observations reported by persons who live in relationships in which pornography is used, which typically suggest that pornography users and their partners  perceive more relationship benefits than harms associated with pornography use.

Most research has not actually measured the impact on the couple’s love-life – instead, only trying to focus on how the individual FEELS about his own use of pornography.  Since this feeling is determined by the constant harping he hears about how evil pornography is, his feelings are not are good guide to whether or not he has been harmed by his viewing of pornography.

Although it is true that romantic relationships involve individuals, typically two at one time , relationship processes cannot be tested by focusing on the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of one individual. Rather, relationships need to be understood in terms of the mutual influence that exists between these individuals over time . Research therefore needs to focus on the links between pornography consumption by one or both partners (alone and/or jointly) on interpersonal processes and relationship outcomes, preferably over time, to best document the negative, neutral, and positive associations of pornography consumption within the dyad.

Finally, the couple research that is being done shows that the effect on porn on relationships is pretty complex, but to simplify it, couples in which the female has not been taught to despise her husband for porn viewing find that their relationship improves – but if the church is trying to enforce an unnatural ascetism on the couple, then the relationship is harmed.

Correlational research by Daneback et al. found that couples in which one partner used pornography reported higher levels of ‘dysfunction’ and a slightly elevated ‘erotic climate’; couples in which both used pornography, though not necessarily together, reported relatively low levels of ‘dysfunction’ and a greater ‘erotic climate’; and couples that did not use pornography at all had average scores on these two clusters of variables. Other correlational studies involving intact dyads have noted that the frequency of men’s pornography use may be associated with lower sexual and relationship fulfilment among couple members while frequency of women’s pornography use may be associated with increased sexual and relational fulfilment among couple members. Taken together with non-dyadic studies of perceived impacts of pornography on the couple relationship, such findings suggest that pornography use can have a range of possible effects on the relationship that are not exclusively negative.

In short, the harm of pornography does not come from the viewing of pornography, but rather from the unnatural expectations placed upon men by the puritans in the church.