Mental Rebooting: "Your Brain on Porn"...

by Arkanj3l 2 min read15th Oct 201138 comments

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... or "How to Operate Your Limbic System", or "A Practical Guide to Superstimulus". That's how I see it, anyway.

Your Brain on Porn is a website mainly dedicated to exposing the addictive aspects of pornographyinterpreting this in light of the blind idiot god; and then forming a community around "rebooting", or prolonged abstinence that allows the brain to re-sensitize itself to, at the least, non-fetishistic sexual pleasure. By consistently NOT accessing whatever circuit is driving one's, well, drive, one sends this loop into atrophy. Eventually, one becomes able to quit. And then one finds alternatives.

Here is why I find this site so valuable: frequently during the arguments the site owner sets up, he doesn't just bring up pornography as the culprit here. To form his clauses he draws upon research on  addictions to junk food, or video games, and then tries to draw parallels to porn's effects: the escalating need of novelty due to rapidly declining pleasure response.

So I don't think it stops with porn. For me, any superstimulus is a bad superstimulus, despite the fact that some sirens are more necessary to listen to than others. It could be worth reflecting on what would actually count as a superstimulus; and then asking if one would benefit from a long hiatus from that stimulus. I'm not sure how long that cycle would be, but many "rebooters" proclaim seeing effects after three weeks, up to three months. It might not be enough to simply manage akrasia, as there could still be a chronic sensitivity problem in place. That would require time.

Here's what I thought of, so far.

Superstimulus List:

  • Porn.
  • Tab explosions and social networks -- the online kind. (This could be the most challenging one: More often than not, a computer is needed for productivity. Who can afford taking a three-month break?)
  • Video games.
  • Disorganizations, mess, and clutter.
  • Junk food. (I'm tentative about this one, because I'm still trying to figure out what counts as "junk". As far as I've seen, this word usually gets ascribed to high calorie, high fat foods... but that possibly doesn't matter, as I see proportionally high-fat content paleo diets. Or it's a combination of fat and sugar that becomes addictive, but either/or is manageable.)
  • Loud music. (Shameless speculation.)
  • Much of advertising today seems to focus on getting our attention with superstimulus. Thus, being mindful when one is exposed could minimize possible effects.
Replacements:
  • Touch. If you really need to show some love,  Karezza  is popular amongst those who have rebooted.
  • Meditation and N-Back. Since this really does require mental discipline, it would be worth practising these attention-management strategies.
  • Exercise.
  • Fasting. (In small doses,  it's probably healthier than you think  and, broadly speaking, also results in some sort of re-sensitization. [scroll down])
Potential Benefits:
  • Reduction of social anxiety. (Socially dominant monkeys have a greater density of dopamine receptors in the striatum than their less-dominant counterparts. I'm not saying that abstaining from porn will turn you into the CEO of a corporation with three girlfriends and a gimp -- I wish! -- but it sure as hell wouldn't hurt.)
  • Clearer focus. (This may come from lack of wont than an actual greater ability to focus, which is fine.)
  • Greater motivation.
Think of it like this: if all your adaptive needs are fulfilled, what incentive is there for your body to maximize your fitness? For all  it  knows, you've done a great job: you are now in the dreaded Comfort Zone.
Abstinence puts one outside of the realm of comfort, but not to the point of putting one in harm's way. It requires no "push", just self-awareness; something I would consider as the lowest hanging fruit of self-improvement.
None of these lists are exhaustive. The whole principle could be unsound; I am only a third into  just trying it  and this excludes Internet use management.

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