How Porn Addiction Destroys Men’s Brains (Andrew Huberman)

Life in low definition may be the effect of pornography consumption. (Image: Chris Williamson)

Andrew Huberman is an American neuroscientist and tenured associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford School of Medicine, specializing in brain development, plasticity, and neural regeneration (source: Wikipedia). Today, I’ve transcribed a short clip in which Huberman addresses, from the perspective of a secular biologist, some of the pitfalls associated with pornography consumption.

Huberman addresses the potential of pornography to lead to sexual dysfunction and interfere with real-world relationships. Huberman describes pornography as a “potent stimulus” that sets a high threshold for dopamine release. This implies that people who consume pornography may find ordinary life activities less stimulating.

Check out the complete video and transcript below!

Andrew Huberman

Mary Harrington has the “three laws of pornodynamics,” and the second law of pornodynamics is the law of “fap entropy,” and it says that whatever you start out wanking to will get progressively more intense over time. And I think that this is, sort of, speaking to that ever, ever, sort of, escalating amount of wildness that you need to watch in order to get an ever-decreasing stimulus that comes back.

Chris Williamson

For more, check out the complete archive of transcripts on sexual integrity.

Transcript of How Porn Addiction Destroys Men’s Brains by Andrew Huberman

Huberman: There’s an additional issue with pornography, which is not often discussed, which is that – remember, guys, in particular – the brain is a learning prediction machine. I’m not trying to say that all pornography is bad, but there are good data to support the idea that if your brain learns to be aroused by watching other people having sex, it is not necessarily going to carry over to the ability to get aroused when you’re one-on-one with somebody else, right? Especially young kids who are consuming a lot of pornography – the brain is learning sexual arousal to other people having sex.

Williamson: So you’re going to program yourself into being a voyeur.

Huberman: Yeah, or just create challenges in sexual interactions with, you know, with a real partner.

Williamson: Mary Harrington has the “three laws of pornodynamics,” and the second law of pornodynamics is the law of “fap entropy,” and it says that whatever you start out wanking to will get progressively more intense over time. And I think that this is, sort of, speaking to that ever, ever, sort of, escalating amount of wildness that you need to watch in order to get an ever-decreasing stimulus that comes back.

Huberman: Here I’m approaching this only through the lens of biology. I’m not a psychologist, and I’m certainly not political in any way – I have ideas about politics, but I just don’t discuss them publicly. But the idea here is that, you know, I’m not saying pornography as a stimulus is bad or good. What I’m saying is in its availability, and in its extreme forms, it’s a very potent stimulus. And very potent stimuli of any kind — extremely powerful food, extreme pornography, extreme experiences, like bungee-cord jumping – those set a threshold for dopamine release.

And Ono [Phonetic] will tell you – and I’m sure she did – the higher the dopamine peak, the bigger the drop afterwards. And it’s not that you drop to baseline, you drop below baseline. Again, these things aren’t good or bad, they just have to be controlled in a way because when people are pursuing dopamine peaks over and over and over, and they aren’t getting them, typically it’s because they’ve been pursuing that activity far too often.

Williamson: And you’re saying, perhaps take a break from that, and then maybe for an ability for yourself, your system to reset.

Huberman: Right. And, in theory, all the things that we’re talking about with pornography could be superimposed on to food, or could be superimposed on to real sex, right? That one also has to be cautious there. But cycling back and forth between dopamine and low-dopamine states – dopamine fasting, as it were. But maybe just low dopamine states. These are natural rhythms that exist in the nervous system. We have to remember what the dopaminergic system is there for.

We know as a generic form of motivation and pursuit. You can imagine the human or the animal that’s hungry or thirsty. It needs energy to go pursue the thing. So the idea that you have to eat in order to get energy. And you need energy in order to get the thing to eat. So our nervous system has energy also, that’s dopamine and epinephrine. Yes, we use glucose and glycogen, etc., when we’re pursuing things, but the idea here [is] you’re pursuing something and then, either by smell or by sight, you think you’re on the right track. So you go down the track, then “Ah, there it is.” You get some berries.

Or, let’s get prehistoric about this, you get to kill the prey and eat it, and then it gives you energy to continue this pursuit or to reproduce. There’s a reason why humans and other animals seek out reproduction. Every species, but certainly humans, have two innate desires built into them, whether or not they decide to actualize this or not: the desire to protect young and make more of its own species. Every successful species does that. Even if people don’t have children, in general, people care about children because of what they represent. Few very people dislike children, I mean there are a few mutants out there who dislike children, but you always worry about those kinds of people.

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Chris Williamson

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