Summary of Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:August 18, 2022
69a

Summary: 7min

Book reading time: 3h48

Score: 9/10

Book published in: 2014

Access the Summary Database

Takeaway

  • Porn is as addictive as cocaine.
  • Porn changes the structure of the brain which then experiences less pleasure, which leads to depression.
  • Porn gets people used to sex that isn’t real sex.
  • Porn is the major cause of erectile dysfunction in men.
  • Porn destroys relationships and ultimately, society.

What Your Brain On Porn Talks About

Your Brain On Porn was written by Gary Wilson. The book is a scientific account of the disastrous impact of porn on the brain. It demonstrates how porn leads men to develop low self-esteem, erectile dysfunctions, depression, and more. It also explains why porn is one of the most addictive drugs and why it’s so hard to get rid of it.

While doing research about Wilson, I found out that…he had died in 2021.

I can’t deny I felt something.

I read Your Brain On Porn initially at the end of 2015. Then I quit porn. Then I went back. Then I quit. Then I went back a year ago. And it has gotten out of control these past two weeks. 

So I thought I’d read the book again and this time, summarize it.

Porn is bad. It rewires your brain and makes you lose taste for all of the nice things in life. There are a bunch of physical and psychological side effects that follow.

I have a friend, who, let’s put it nicely, is into quite a few conspiracy theories. One of them says that the alpha males of this world spread porn to make all of the other males betas, so as to decrease competition.

Not gonna lie, it’s an interesting theory.

When you look at the effects of porn on people that consume it AND on people that work in it, you wonder why they send you to jail for smoking weed but porn is completely free to produce and consume.

Clown world. 

Find below the summary of Your Brain On Porn.

It’s a great book, but there are way too many testimonials, and it’s way too technical. Which is why I am happy to present you with this summary.

9/10.

Get the book here.

Find a complete nofap guide here.


Table of Content

Introduction
Chapter 1: What Are We Dealing With?
Chapter 2: Wanting Run Amok
Chapter 3: Regaining Control


Summary of Your Brain On Porn Written by Gary Wilson

Introduction

Porn often induces a wide range of sexual and psychological problems (discussed below).

How do you know if your problems are porn-related, or something else-related?

  1. Go see a doctor.
  2. Maturbate to porn
  3. Masturbate without porn, and without thinking about it.

If 1 and 2 are fine but you struggle with 3, then your problem is likely porn-related.


Chapter 1: What Are We Dealing With?

In 2006, fast Internet connection enabled the development of Internet tube porn sites. Porn became widely available.

The brain had never had access to such big sexual stimulation. The orgasm obtained at the end of masturbating to porn encouraged the brain to reiterate the experience later on, which creates addictions.

In 2009-2010, some Reddit users began to notice how they were having some ED (erectile dysfunction) and had lost attraction to girls.

They figured that watching porn had changed the architecture of their brains so that “normal girls” did no longer turn them on.

In 2010, the website yourbrainonporn.com saw the light, and it became very popular very quickly. Men had finally a place to discuss symptoms of porn addiction.

The more addicted people were to porn, the more f*cked up their lives were – up to the point of contemplating suicide.

Most people that quit porn experienced incredible feelings of positivity and well-being after having done so (spoilers: it has taken them quite a while).

Here are the type of improvements that people that quit porn usually feel:

  • No more social anxiety
  • More energy
  • Clearer, sharper mind
  • They looked better
  • Desire to interact with women

Here are some side effects of porn addiction:

  • Feeling like losing control: Because all you do is porn, you also procrastinate, and nothing in your life is moving forward.
  • Inability to orgasm during sex
  • Unreliable erection during sex encounter
  • Premature ejaculation: it’s unclear for now how this happens. One solution is that the body was trained to ejaculate very early through porn consumption.
  • Alarming porn tastes: as the brain gets used to the porn, it requires ever more violent porn to get off
  • Loss of attraction to real partners
  • Effects on libido: too much porn can prevent you from falling in love.
  • Social anxiety and self-esteem: when you stop porn, you want to connect and talk to others.
  • Inability to focus
  • Depression
  • Low energy, discouragement
  • Isolation
  • Erectile dysfunction

The following signs often mean there is porn addiction.

  • Porn is no longer exciting
  • Porn is more exciting than sex
  • Sensitivity of penis decreased
  • Porn fantasy is necessary to maintain an erection

Chapter 2: Wanting Run Amok

The Coolidge Effect describes how sexual novelty stimulates male brains. If a male rat meets a receptive female rat, they will copulate until the male rat has had enough.

She wants more, he doesn’t. But give him another female rat and he’ll be extremely motivated to copulate with that one, until he’s had enough and needs another one, etc.

We’re not rats, but we’re not so far from rats either.

The need for novelty is powered by dopamine. Dopamine compels you to search for something that feels good, but it doesn’t actually reward you to get it (actually, this is old science, have a look here for new science).

Dopamine makes you crave novelty because it is released every time you do new stuff. When you always do the same stuff, there is no more dopamine released, so you no longer crave the activity.

You become bored and desensitized.

Internet porn, unfortunately, is unlimited (1). As a result, it’s constantly satisfying the brain.

This leads the addict to open several tabs on his browser and watch several films at once (to get novelty).

This is because porn is a supranormal stimulus. Supernormal stimuli are stimuli that give you 100X the stimuli you’d receive in nature. Also, porn is much easier to access than sex (2) (it’s free), and there is a lot of variety (3).

These three reasons (1, 2, 3) make porn particularly addictive.

Finally: there is no limit to porn consumption. With food, there is a moment when your stomach is full. When porn, it never stops.

Overstimulation

When your brain is overstimulated, it protects itself by naturally decreasing the strength of the reward, which leads to frustration on your end and compels you to find trashier, more extreme porn.

Education

Another negative side effect of porn is sex education through porn. Teens, which have never had sex, learn subconsciously that women enjoy rough sex while women learn they have to submit entirely to the guy and do painful things during sex.

And since the brain is turned on when watching porn, it associates being turned on with the things shown on screen, which leads teens to further try to replicate what they have seen in porn.

Behavior

The way you consume porn also has an impact on your behavior. The mere act of getting aroused by watching something will train you to become a voyeur.

The mere act of clicking and searching will also be needed to get off.

Addiction

Addiction, finally, is another side effect. Sexual stimuli hijack the brain the same way cocaine and heroin do. Except that in the case of sex, the addictive nature of it was a feature of Nature to make sure the species would reproduce.

Addictions (all types) work as follows:

  • Craving
  • Control: loss of control in engaging with the behavior previously craved.
  • Consequences: negative, obviously.

The fact that evolution compels us to look for food and sex means that we’re likely to be addicted to overstimulation made by food and sex (which explains McDonald’s success).

This makes porn the prime addictive thing to be addicted to, which is backed up by data.

The changes in the brain of porn addicts are similar to the changes in the brain of substance addicts.

Here’s how addiction shows in the brain:

  • Desensitization: it’s the need for ever greater stimulation to reach the desired reward.
  • Sensitization: it’s when neurons wire together to spot the cues that an overstimulus is going to be received (triggers).
  • Hypofrontality: it’s when the brain changes to weaken the willpower you’d need to resist the craving, making the addictive behavior harder to resist.
  • Dysfunctional stress circuit: activates cravings even in presence of minor triggers.

This is exactly what happens to people consuming a huge volume of porn.

Porn desensitization leads to:

  • Diminished sexual behavior
  • Decreased risk-taking
  • Increased anxiety
  • Decreased willingness to socialize
  • Inability to focus
  • Lack of motivation

The problem is that many young men with these symptoms are prescribed drugs and treatments aimed at alleviating these symptoms. Medical practitioners are not looking for the cause of the symptoms – but merely to fix the consequences.

This is because medical practitioners neither believe nor know that porn is behind all that.


Chapter 3: Regaining Control

The first step to regaining control is to give your brain a few months to rest from the artificial sex stimulation (if you’re really addicted, stop masturbating altogether).

The second step is to remain consistent.

Third, cut all artificial sexual stimulation, including Youtube videos or sexting.

Here are a few tips to regain control:

  • Remove all porn
  • Move your furniture around to decrease clue
  • Install a porn blocker (extension)
  • Count the number of days since you have been porn-free.
  • Extension training: open a porn website then close it right away. Difficult and not recommended!!!
  • Spend less time online

Here’s how you can get support:

  • Join a forum or get an accountability partner
  • Therapy, support groups
  • Daily journaling

How to manage stress:

  • Exercise
  • Lift weight
  • Fast
  • Take cold showers
  • Walk in nature
  • Socialize
  • Meditate, relax, do yoga
  • Get a hobby to keep your mind occupied with other things
  • Limit activities that cause empty dopamine, like junk food, movies, video games, etc.

Here are some tips about the attitude you should have with yourself.

  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Learn more about the brain. It will help you see why you decided to stop.
  • Keep yourself inspired with books or a personal hero of yours.

Challenges of rebooting

When you deprive the brain of overstimulation, it begs to have it again. Depression as withdrawal syndrome is frequent. Others experience mood swings.

Here are other symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Unaccustomed tears
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Mood swing
  • Desire to isolate
  • Muscle tightness
  • Insomnia
  • Severe cravings to use porn

Other less common symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Shakes
  • Nausea
  • Tension in the chest that creates difficult breathing
  • Despair
  • Hot flashes or feeling cold even in front of a fire
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Unaccustomed wet dreams
  • Semen leakage when using the toilet
  • Pressure or aching in the testicles

Be careful that recovery isn’t linear. Sometimes, it seems like it is getting worse…until it doesn’t.

The Flatline

The flatline is a period during which former addicts feel extreme numbness. They don’t crave sex, girls look unappealing, and their penises look lifeless.

It can last up to two years.

Once the flatline is over, libido comes roaring back (but depends on the person, of course).

Triggers

These are:

  • Tv shows and movies with erotic content
  • Porn flashbacks
  • Morning wood
  • Use of recreational drugs or alcohol
  • Words that remind you of a porn site/actor
  • Suggestive ads

I personally relapsed after I got drunk.

States of mind can also make you relapse.

  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Rejection
  • Fatigue
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Failure
  • Feeling sorry for yourself
  • Desire to reward yourself for an accomplishment
  • Overconfidence
  • Jealousy
  • Hangovers
  • Procrastination

Make sure you notice your triggers, the little events or things that urge you to watch porn. Avoid these triggers as much as possible.

When you feel the urge, directly do something different. Going for a walk works well.

Beware that if you have sex, you may have strong urges to watch porn again.

Beware that “imagining” and fantasizing about porn activates the same neural pathways as actually doing it.

As a result, avoid doing that. Don’t look at women in bikinis either. Don’t get into anything that is empty in dopamine, or that is remotely related to porn.

FAQ

  • How long does the reboot take?

It depends on people. Aim 90 days, then see.

  • Is sex allowed?

Some think it’s better to leave the brain rest from any sexual activity. If you do have sex, try to have gentle, simple sex, without orgasms.

  • Should I reduce masturbation?

The more addicted you are, the more you need to reduce masturbation. DO NOT imagine porn, or think about porn, or fantasies when masturbating. As we said, there are very few differences between imagining and actually watching.

Find here a complete nofap guide.

For more summaries, head to auresnotes.com.

Did you like the summary? Get the book here.

Did you like the article?

Then you will likely enjoy all the others. When you subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, you'll receive a list of the articles I wrote during the two previous weeks + insights from the books I am reading + a short bullet list of savvy facts that will expand your mind. I keep the whole thing under three minutes. 

Oh, and you'll also receive a hidden article for new subscribers only! 

How does that sound?