Porn vs. Self Improvement (The Battle of Dopamine)

So you’re laying in bed, scrolling through instagram, knowing that you should probably be doing something more productive and then you see a little bit of delicious flesh, maybe it’s a sexy bikini photo, or maybe it’s just a little unintentional,  well, let’s be honest, very intentional side-boob, suddenly, you feel a little tingling down under and you know what you have to do. Now, you could just take care of business here on instagram, but instead, that little  voice in your brain demands of you that you immediately detour to your favorite porn site while the rest of the world seems to just fade away.

 

You come back to your senses a short while later, now covered in your own mess and feeling disgusted by what little self control you have, you suddenly remember all of the things you should be doing, how far you are behind in life and how powerless you seem to be to change any of it. 

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, it’s something that pretty much all of us can relate to. 

But, why? Why is it that, especially with porn. 

The more that we consume, the more it feels like we’re being consumed? Is lack of discipline the problem? 

Partly, but the main problem is actually what’s happening on a neurological level, how our body’s reward system, and more specifically dopamine, gets hijacked more and more when we consume porn. 

In this post, I’ll break down exactly what’s going on, so that we can reclaim our dopamine system and instead use it to accomplish our goals. I promise that by the end of this video,  you will never watch porn in the same way, heck, you may even never watch porn again. Let’s dive in. 

Dopamine isn’t just the “feel good” chemical, it’s what motivates us to do things that result in a reward

Most people understand dopamine as something that our bodies release to make us “feel good” in response to some sort of reward and yes, our bodies release dopamine when we see we’ve got new likes on that photo we just posted,  when we learn something useful, when we log onto YouTube to see that NelsonQuest has just uploaded a new video and of course, when we orgasm. 

But dopamine isn’t just released when we get the reward, heck that isn’t even it’s main purpose, the primary responsibility of dopamine is to motivate us towards rewards, dopamine is the thing that motivates us to grab our cell phone and open instagram so that we can upload that photo to instagram, just as it’s the thing that motivates us to go to our favorite porn site in search of that orgasm, dopamine is literally the thing that motivates us to do anything, even the most basic of things, like motivating us to get off the couch and pour ourselves a glass of water when we’re thirsty. 

Porn creates a massive overload of dopamine

Unfortunately, our bodies can’t distinguish between the rewards that improve our lives, and the rewards that don’t. 

They instead simply prioritize the rewards that cause the biggest dopamine release and guess what, porn can cause our dopamine levels to raise over 200% for what’s normal! Just a little bit less than cocaine! 

Here are the two big reasons why:

Reason #1: The “Coolidge” Effect

When a male rat is placed in a cage with a female, at first they have lots of sex, but over time the male rat gets less and less excited, meaning less sex and a longer amount of time to orgasm, but when a new female is placed into the cage, the male becomes excited again and lots of sex ensues, but again over time, the rat begins to get less excited until yet another new patner is introduced, this process can be repeated again and again with new females partners, this is what’s referred to as the Coolidge Effect, which is present in all humans, even females, but that’s a topic for another day.

With porn we’re like a lab rat with nearly infinite access to new partners, all we need to do is click onto a new video or explore a new category of porn, which is also why while we may start out watching more innocent porn, like two people having sex with each other, that can quickly escalate to interracial midget gangbangs. 

The more porn that we consume, the more it becomes normalized and the harder it is for us to find porn that gives us that sensation of feeling new, which is how we end up spending more time trying to find the “perfect porn” than we spend on Netflix trying to find that perfect thing to watch. 

Reason #2: Porn is a “Supernormal Stimuli”

Supernormal stimuli are essentially artificially exaggerated versions of normal stimuli that we perceive as more valuable, the term was coined by Nobel Prize winning ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen, who observed that male stickleback fish that would attack a wooden fish model more aggressively if the wooden model had an underside that was redder than a real male, and that fake cardboard butterflies with more defined markings were more likely to attract males than real female butterflies with less defined markings. 

So maybe you’re asking, what exactly  do stickleback fish and butterflies have to do with humans? 

Well according to Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barret, in her book “Supernormal Stimuli: How primal urges overran their evolutionary purpose” she argues that the link is actually much closer than we realize, she shows how supernormal stimuli like junk food, tv, video games, the internet, and of course, pornography, can easily hijack our brains. 

Consider this, in the 80’s, where Hugh Hefner and his Playboy centerfolds reigned supreme, porn was essentially just limited to static images, not a big problem, but fast forward to today, and porn is now loaded with supernormal stimulation, endless waves of free, instantly accessible, high definition videos featuring women with watermelon sized fake breasts and men with horse sized penises, groaning and screaming in exaggerated ways as they engage in utterly unrealistic “casual sex” within the context of some fantasy scenario like the horny librarian or the lucky pizza man.

These heavily exagerrated representations take sex from being a normal stimulus, and turn it into a “supernormal stimulus”. Resulting in a massive dopamine dump that is exponentially exacerbated by the fact that we don’t have to reach further than our own pockets to experience it. 

Download the Dark Mode Guide Now

… and much more!

How negative dopamine pathways develop when we consume too much porn

When we consume porn, we’re triggering dopamine release along a specific neural pathway, and the more porn that we consume, the more our brains are “reprogrammed” to seek out more porn without us even having to think much about it, in other words, it becomes more and more automatic, studies have shown that this can be particularly damaging within teenagers, whose brains are at peak dopamine production and levels of neuroplasticity, which means that they are much more vulnerable to forming porn addictions. 

So young people, be particularly careful! Ok, so now for the good news.

The way that brain neuroplasticity works is essentially use it or lose it, if we can break the habit of watching porn (which is of course more difficult and will require more discipline to break based on our level of addiction) over time, our brains will return to a healthy baseline where we no longer experience a  massive rush of dopamine motivating us to consume porn whenever we’re sexually aroused. 

Summary

Alright guys, let’s do a quick recap before we come to our final conclusion. 

Dopamine isn’t just the “feel good’ chemical”, it’s what motivates us to do things that result in a reward 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that our bodies release as part of our reward system, the primary purpose of dopamine isn’t just to make us “feel good” when we get a reward, it’s primary purpose is to motivate us towards rewards in the first place.

Our body can’t distinguish between rewards that enhance or worsen our lives, it only sees the reward, porn causes our bodies to release a massive amount of dopamine, so the more that we consume, the more motivated we are to consume porn and the less motivated we are to do the things we know will actually improve our lives.

Porn creates an overload of dopamine

The two primary reasons that porn causes our dopamine levels to surge are:

1. The “Coolidge” Effect

Male rats show renewed sexual interest whenever a new female is introduced, this is the Coolidge Effect and it’s also present in humans, with porn we can easily simulate the introduction of new females by simply clicking onto a new video or consuming porn that’s more extreme. 

2. Porn is a “Supernormal Stimulus”

A supernatural stimulus is an artificial stimulus that has been enhanced or exaggerated to produce a larger dopamine release than the stimulus that it’s based on. 

Porn is a supernatural stimulus based on sex, and as technology continues to advance and the visual representations of sex we’re exposed to becomes more and more exaggerated, more and more dopamine is released, which can quickly lead to addiction as well as result in less motivation to do other things.

So me personally, knowing what I know now and having experienced a lot of these negative side effects myself, I rarely consume porn and on the rare occasions where I do, I just stick to the “normal” stuff.

Keeping my consumption to a bare minimum, combined with eating healthy, restricting my social network usage and avoiding  dopamine driven video games like Call of Duty, is literally the reason that I have so much motivation to do so many things that improve my life, if you’re interested in dopamine and how to use it the right way, make sure to also check out my Dopamine playlist. 

The video you just watched is actually the second video in a series of videos I’m making in a brand new NOFAP and related themes.

Click subscribe and make sure to click the god-damn bell button.

If you want to see how I apply everything I talk about in my videos firsthand, then make sure to also check me out on instagram @NelsonQuest

Ciao and I’ll see you guys in the next post.

Start The Journey

Enter your email and I’ll send you the full list of videos that you should start with right away – as well as daily emails for about a week or so with more context on each video and why they’re important.