PVV – the great porn experiment?

I just watched a TEDx talk given by physiology teacher Gary Wilson

[incidentally, “TEDx” means “independently organized TED event”]

Some of Gary’s work is slated as a response to a growing demand for scientific information regarding symptom and behavioral trends observed in “heavy Internet erotica users” – “escalation to more extreme material, concentration difficulties, sexual performance problems, radical changes in sexual tastes, social anxiety, irritability, inability to stop, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.”

Gary’s interest in neuroscience and the notion of brain plasticity suggests that these symptoms might be the result of addiction-related brain changes. Consequently, he claims in his talk that many former “heavy Internet erotica users” have braved withdrawal, reversed the above mentioned symptoms/behaviors, and restored “normal” sexual responsiveness.

He has some interesting points, and you should definitely watch for yourself… but I – of course!! – have some comments:

1. Gary claims that most boys seek porn by age 10.

My question for science: kids start prowling the world for sex stuff once their hormones start kicking in, which often happens well before the physical effects of said hormones are readily apparent (i.e. secondary sex characteristics and whatnot). This has been happening since the dawn of time. So, are boys seeking porn… or are they seeking sex? Something else?

2. Gary says that men, as male human animals, are designed to seek out female human animals to mate with (the spreading of the seed, if you will). Consequently, the male brain regards the endless parade of new and different females on screen via porn as “genetic opportunities.” This causes any one man viewing porn to lose focus on any one woman (i.e.) due to their brain’s hard-wired need to cast their proverbial Semen Net far and wide.

Umm really? Not only is this stance fairly heterosexist, but isn’t it a bit presumptuous to assume men can’t tell the differences between “real” “genetic opportunities” and blips on a screen – false “genetic opportunities.” I mean, I know that brains are really old structures, but isn’t consciousness a factor at all here?

3. It is commonly thought that chemical imbalances cause addiction. Gary suggests that addiction may also, in inverse, cause chemical imbalances.

This is interesting. In the first, more common conception, addiction is a symptom. It is interesting to think about, for example, depression as a symptom and the same physiological pathway moving in the opposite direction.

And I have way more comments too…

Like re fapping, or “to fap” – I thought that meant jerking off, but I guess it can also mean “giving up porn.” And the idea that porn is more intense nowadays – no. There may be more porn available today and there may be better lights and stuff (higher production values) and content may be more accessible via the interwebs and whatnot, but the same basic acts can be found in adult content produced in the early 1970s all the way through today. And the fact that Gary feels it necessary to offer a general assessment of what “real,” authentic, or ultimately desirable sex should look like… and his characterization is very presumptuous.

…but for now you should just watch the talk (it’s only 16 minutes) and see what you think. I personally think this talk is more along the lines of Eroto-Toxins (oh my!!) and Davy Rothbart’s “Vanishing Male Libido” – fairly meh.

Plus I think “Seinfeld” figured this whole thing out many many moons ago…

 

 

Like what you see? Follow PVV on Facebook and Twitter and/or follow Dr. Chauntelle at @DrChauntelle!!

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production