"I straddled, I humoured my posture, and did my best in short to buckle to it; I took part of it in too, but still things did not go to his thorough liking: changing then in a trice his system of battery, he leads me to the table and with a master-hand lays my head down on the edge of it, and, with the other canting up my petticoats and shift, bares my naked posteriours to his blind and furious guide; it forces its way between them, and I feeling pretty sensibly that it was not going by the right door, and knocking desperately at the wrong one, I told him of it: -'Pooh!' says he, 'my dear, any port in a storm.'" --- Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
Unfortunately, when it comes to masturbation to sexually explicit materials, our society tends to get lost in debates about free speech, content, sexual repression, and harm to third parties. This veils the important issue of the brain's vulnerable reward circuitry. This part of the brain evolved to value highly not only novelty-on-demand, but also the genetic bonanza of sex with a novel partner. Therefore, today's supranormal sexual stimuli, which offer new partners moaning for ejaculate at each click of a mouse, register as so beneficial that the brain easily rewires itself to focus more and more attention on such "valuable" experiences.
Many participants immediately treated it as an addiction.
The participants were not strangers to me and were largely people I "know" in an online sense. And while I had heard lots of jokes over time about being alcoholics or hoplessly fat or hopelessly poor, I had never, ever heard any of them talk about being porn addicts.
Until we did the study.
From the first hours on, lots of these guys were suddenly talking about "withdrawal" and talking about how tomorrow was going to be a "tough day" with time alone and high-speed access. They were using the language recovering addicts use, which I admit both surprised me and creeped me out a little.
I don't want to be melodramatic here. Nobody had to be rushed to detox for emergency nipple infusions. The point is they immediately treated it like a task, something that would require actual effort and planning and that would ultimately meet with failure.
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