The answer: They actually don’t.

Any kind of addiction involves developing physiological tolerance where your body requires more and more of the particular thing you’re using or experiencing. It also involves developing withdrawal symptoms when you no longer receive this particular thing that you’ve been having frequently. So, using sex and porn frequently in actuality neither produces tolerance nor withdrawal hence it’s not possible to be a sex or porn addict.

You cannot possibly be addicted to sex or porn.

You can, however, develop what’s considered ‘compulsive sexual behaviour’

Watching porn leads to arousal. Arousal then leads to a greater desire to masturbate. If you feel guilty and shameful about masturbating or watching porn, then it is this very guilt and shame that will drive you into having compulsive sexual behaviour.

How in the world does this happen?

Well, you’ve got to think about why guilt and shame reinforce the repetitive masturbation or porn watching.

It’s all about the reward prediction error

Porn, masturbation and sex are very rewarding activities, causing an abundance of dopamine chemical release inside your brain. Now add guilt and shame to the mixture. When you begin watching porn because of your feelings of guilt, you predict the reward will be low but in reality, the reward is far greater. This creates the disparity between the reward you’ve predicted and the reality hence the reward prediction error. As reality has rewarded you more that you thought it would, naturally it would drive you to seek this kind of pleasure and reward more and more.

This is what can result in porn-induced erectile dysfunctions

Our brain’s sexual response functions are like a seesaw keeping itself in balance with sexual inhibition on one end and sexual excitation on the other. The reward prediction error mentioned reinforces this imbalance towards excitation and hypersexual responses. Orgasms inhibit dopamine release and induce a state of refractoriness during which it’s difficult to get immediately aroused until after you completely exit that state of refractoriness. You would require very intense stimulation or highly arousing stimulus to fire you off again during this refractory period. With a high frequency of porn use or masturbation, this can often result in an individual ending up with an extended refractory period. This then creates the phenomenon of porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

So how do you know if you’re suffering from this type of ED?

If someone has fallen into the trap of ‘reward prediction error’, attempts to get aroused in a regular sexual setting are usually unsuccessful. As they now have what’s called an extended refractory period, they will usually struggle to reach completion unless of course, the sexual stimulus is highly arousing.

 

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