Category Archives: Sexual Fixations

Trust a Scientist: Sex Addiction Is a Myth

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By Jim Pfaus

A psychologist explains why sex addiction therapy is more about faith than facts, as told to Tierney Finster

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Self-labeled sex addicts often speak about their identities very clinically, as if they’re paralyzed by a scientific condition that functions the same way as drug and alcohol addiction. But sex and porn “addiction” are NOT the same as alcoholism or a cocaine habit. In fact, hypersexuality and porn obsessions are not addictions at all. They’re not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and by definition, they don’t constitute what most researchers understand to be addiction.

Here’s why: addicts withdraw. When you lock a dope fiend in a room without any dope, the lack of drugs will cause an immediate physiological response — some of which is visible, some of which we can only track from within the body. During withdrawal, the brains of addicts create junctions between nerve cells containing the neurotransmitter GABA. This process more or less inhibits the brain systems usually excited by drug-related cues — something we never see in the brains of so-called sex and porn addicts.

A sex addict without sex is much more like a teenager without their smartphone. Imagine a kid playing Angry Birds. He seems obsessed, but once the game is off and it’s time for dinner, he unplugs. He might wish he was still playing, but he doesn’t get the shakes at the dinner table. There’s nothing going on in his brain that creates an uncontrollable imbalance.

The same goes for a guy obsessed with watching porn. He might prefer to endlessly watch porn, but when he’s unable to, no withdrawal indicative of addiction occurs. He’ll never be physically addicted. He’ll just be horny, which for many of us, is merely a sign we’re alive.

There haven’t been any studies that speak to this directly. As such, the anti-fapper narrative is usually the only point discussed: Guys stop masturbating after they stop downloading porn, and after a few days, they say they’re able to get normal erections again. This coincides with the somewhat popular idea that watching porn leads to erectile dysfunction, a position that porn-addiction advocates such as Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson state emphatically. (Robinson wrote a book on the subject, though her degree is in law, not science, and Wilson, a retired physiology teacher, presented a TED Talk about hyperstimulation in Glasgow.) These types of advocates are wedded to the idea that porn is an uncontrolled stimulus the brain gets addicted to because of the dopamine release it causes. According to their thinking, anything that causes dopamine release is addictive.

But there’s a difference between compulsion and addiction. Addiction can’t be stopped without major consequence, including new brain activity. Compulsive behavior can be stopped; it’s just difficult to do so. In other words, being “out of control” isn’t a universal symptom of addiction.

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Then what, exactly, does it mean when Tiger Woods and Josh Duggar go to rehab for sex addiction? Or when Dr. Drew offers it up on TV for washed-up celebrities? The answer is simple: They’re giving free marketing to the new American industry of sex addiction therapy. Reformers Unanimous, the faith-based treatment program chosen by Duggar, is likely to gain a number of new patients thanks to the media frenzy surrounding his admission to their facilities after the Ashley Madison hack exposed the affairs Duggar blamed on porn addiction.

These programs are similar to traditional 12-step models, except even more informed by faith. By misdiagnosing patients from the start, they gloss over the underlying issues that might make someone more prone to compulsive sexual behaviors, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression. Plenty of compulsive and ritualistic sexual behaviors aren’t addictions; they’re symptomatic of other issues.

Unfortunately, that’s just scratching the surface of the faulty science practiced by these recovery centers. For instance, according to proponents of the sex addiction industry, the more porn someone watches, the more they’ll experience erectile dysfunction. However, my recent study with Nicole Prause, a psychophysiologist and neuroscientist at UCLA, showed that’s absurd. While advocates of sex and porn addiction are quick to correlate the amount of porn a guy looks at to how desensitized his penis is, our study showed that watching immense amounts of porn made men more sensitive to less explicit stimuli. Simply put, men who regularly watched porn at home were more aroused while watching porn in the lab than the men in the control group. They were able to get erections quicker and had no trouble maintaining them, even when the porn being watched was “vanilla” (i.e., free of hardcore sex acts like bondage).

There is, of course, other evidence that porn isn’t a slippery slope to physical or mental dysfunction. A paper just came out in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy from German researchers that looked at both the amount of porn consumed by German and Polish men and women and their sexual attitudes and behaviors. It found that more porn watched meant more variety of sexual activity — for both sexes.

Despite these results, there’s still an entire publication, Sex Addiction & Compulsivity, committed to demonstrating that porn creates erectile dysfunction. Its very existence suggests sex addiction and its treatments are real, yet the journal doesn’t take a stance on any particular treatments. And while its resolutions come from peer-reviewed articles, these articles only get reviewed by people who already believe in the notion of sex addiction.

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Which is why the journal has zero impact. The number of times a scientific journal gets used in other scholarly work is measured by something called the Journal Citation Reports (JCR). That number determines a journal’s official impact factor. So far, Sex Addiction & Compulsivity has a JCR impact factor of 0.00. Nobody cites anything from it, except maybe their own cult of followers who publish on blogs and personal websites.

The journal benefits from a very 21st century way of creating a veneer of objectivity. As long as there are papers in it, people can cite them as “scientific.” Even if the work — and the people who oversee it — are anything but. An influential associate editor there is David Delmonico, a professor who runs an “internet behavior consulting company” that offers “intervention for problematic Internet behaviors.” He believes sex addiction is real because he’s wary of the supposedly horrible effects the internet (and all the porn there) can have on human behavior.

Such porn-shaming isn’t all that different from the guilt conservatives attach to sex, even though conditioning men to feel bad about their sexual behaviors only leads to the kind of secretive, damaging behaviors evidenced in the Duggar story. What’s worse: when sexuality is labeled a “disease” like addiction, guys no longer have to own their sexuality — or their actions. It’s unnecessary to explain why they cheated because it’s beyond their control. And so, the “addict” stigma is preferable because it’s one they can check into rehab and recover from. Being considered an “adulterer,” on the other hand, is harder to shake.

Complete Article HERE!

A Story With A Happy Ending

Name: Nathan
Gender: Male
Age: 37
Location: Dallas
I’m a married guy with a great wife and 3 beautiful kids. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a masseuse I found on Craigslist. I don’t have a lot of experience with massage and thought I would be safe going to a guy instead of a woman. The guy was really nice and did a good massage, but somehow I popped wood near the end of the massage. I was really embarrassed, but he was like totally ok with that. Then he asked if I wanted a happy ending. I didn’t even know what that was till he started to massage my ass and blow me. I have to admit it was totally amazing. I never felt anything like it before in my life. My wife sometimes will give me oral sex, but nothing like this. I blew a load like nothing I ever did before. I though my insides were coming out of my cock. I was amazed and scared and confused and I could hardly sit up. Then the guy said I had a real healthy prostate. I said, WHAT? And he said he was massaging my prostate while he was sucking me off. I can’t stop thinking about this. I want more but I feel really guilty and I’m afraid this is going to make me gay.

What a great story, Nathan. But we need to clear up a few things. A masseuse is a female practitioner of massage. A masseur is a male practitioner. This is a common enough mistake, but I thought you should know the proper usage for further reference. Because you can see how a little unintended slip like this will make all the difference in the world. If you say a masseuse gave you a blowjob that’s totally different from getting a blowjob from a masseur, don’t ‘cha know.massage_butt.jpg

I’m gonna also guess you never had a prostate massage before this encounter with the masseur. A prostate massage coupled with your first blowjob from a guy…hell, you are lucky your insides didn’t shoot out your dick along with your spooge. I’m joking of course, but it does stand to reason that you had such an intense and explosive orgasm and ejaculation. That’s precisely what a prostate massage does, honey.

Now, let’s see if we can figure out why you can’t stop thinking about this. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to analyze that either. This was a peak sexual experience for you. I mean, beside the mind-blowing release, the means by which you had this orgasm — the guy’s finger in your ass and the guy’s mouth on your dick were both unexpected and apparently unprecedented. So I figure you had very little time to cognitively respond to the stimuli before things came to their explosive climax, so to speak, as it were. And you did say you were already relaxed and aroused by the massage, right?

I’d be willing to bet that if you had some emotional distance from the experience you would realize your body was simply responding to the stimulus it was receiving. Your dick and your prostate weren’t able to distinguish the gender of the person diddlin’ your ass and suckin’ your dick. And since your brain was occupied with all these new sensations you had little time, if any to process and possibly protest. And maybe you wouldn’t have protested even if you could. Maybe you wanted to take this little walk on the wild side. Trust me, lots of guys do.

come as you areNow that the event has passed, you have plenty of time to process. And process you are…to within an inch of its life…if ya ask me. This experience looms so large for you because it is forbidden fruit, so to speak. It upsets the apple cart of your cozy and predictable heterosexuality. I mean it’s one thing to pop wood on a massage table. It’s something totally different to blow a wad while a guy is givin’ you head.

And now that you have all this time on your hands to keep pouring over and over this in you head, the event has taken on a proportion it probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Let me put your mind to rest, one blowjob from a guy…even an earth-shatterin, prostate-massagin’ blowjob, like the kind you got from this fabulous masseur…won’t make you gay. Nor does wanting to repeat the experience make you gay. All this experience really tells us is that you like a good blowjob and you now know where to get a really fantastic one when next you want one.

Think about it this way. Say you went to a Chinese restaurant and, to your great surprise, had the best dim sum ever. You were so impressed with the food that you’ve been eager to return to this particular eatery for another go at those tasty vittles. Does this desire for yummy dim sum make you Chinese? I don’t think so…that is unless you were Chinese before you went to the restaurant.

Finally, the guilt you’re experiencing, where might that be coming from? There are so many sources one would be hard-pressed to come up with an exhaustive list. But let’s look at the top contenders.hands & butt

  • You’re married with a family. You had a sexual experience…unplanned as it might have been…with someone other than your wife. BINGO!
  • Our culture’s buttoned-down sex and gender stereotypes — who can do what to whom. BINGO!
  • The dictates of our sex-negative society about what is proper and what is not in terms of sexual exploration and experimentation. BINGO!
  • The shame of possibly being labeled a fag. BINGO!
  • The fear of your own desires and where they might lead you. BINGO!
  • The allure of the forbidden and the explosive charge the illicit. BINGO.

The experience you had with that masseur, Nathan, is so highly charged, both culturally and sexually, that it will take some while for you to find your balance once again. In the interim, my I suggest that you postpone any judgments about yourself or what the incident might imply about you until you’ve have some emotional distance and the time to calmly process all of this. In the final analysis, I think you’ll come to the conclusion that this is a relatively harmless sexual outlet. The masseur is providing you a service…I mean beyond the obvious. He is providing you a safe, secure non-judgmental environment to exercise and expand your sexual repertoire. Think of it like a place you go to learn about the wonders of sexual dim sum.

Good luck

Homophobia linked with psychoticism and dysfunctional personality traits

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Gay pride london

People taking part in the annual Pride in London Parade on 27 June

Homophobic attitudes have been linked with psychoticism, a psychological trait present in several severe conditions that can also contribute to heightened states of hostility and anger. Researchers say this is the first time psychological and psychopathological characteristics and the prediction of homophobia have been assessed.

Led by researchers at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, the team asked 551 university students, aged between 15 and 30, to complete several psychometric tests to examine the psychological factors that could correlate with homophobia. Using questionnaires, they assessed homophobia levels, psychopathological symptoms, defence mechanisms and attachment styles.

“Homophobic behaviour and a negative attitude toward homosexuals are prevalent among the population,” they wrote in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. “Despite this, few researchers have investigated the psychologic aspects associated with homophobia, as psychopathologic symptoms, the defensive system, and attachment styles.”

Researchers found that people who scored highly on the psychoticism tests were more likely to have homophobic attitudes. This was also true of those who have immature defence mechanisms – which are the coping techniques helping people reduce anxiety produced by threatening people or uncomfortable situations. People who have immature defence mechanisms tend to be difficult to deal with. Finally people who have a fearful style of attachment, in that they find it difficult to form attachments, were also more predisposed to homophobic attitudes.

In contrast, the findings showed people with depression, neurotic defence mechanisms and a secure style of attachment had a lower risk of being homophobic. “If we suppose that subjects with a high level of psychoticism perceive external reality as a threat and project their anger, for example, against homosexual people, people with depressive traits could direct the anger mainly at themselves,” they suggest.

Concluding, the team say homophobia is a huge social problem involving specific personality features in subjects. They said the findings highlight a “remarkable association between dysfunctional aspects of personality and homophobic attitudes” and that this association could lead to victims of homophobia. “Moreover, our study follows a controversial issue regarding homophobia as a possible mental disorder, and it also discusses the possible clinical implications that cross inevitably into the area of psychiatric epistemology.”

Lead author Emmanuele A Jannini, president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, said: “After discussing for centuries if homosexuality is to be considered a disease, for the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies.”

 Complete Article HERE!

“Porn” problems unlike any known addiction in largest neuroscience study

Like I’ve said all along…

When studying addictions, there are known relationships between certain stimuli and reactions in the brain. These reactions have, in some instances, become the benchmark for what constitutes an addiction and addiction-based behaviors.  There has been heated debate over the very existence of porn “addiction” and what that addiction would look like when studied.

porn addiction, no such thing

In the largest neuroscience study of porn addiction to date, research conducted at UCLA found a clear reversal of the brain’s typical addiction response in study participants when they were shown sexual images. With the use of brain wave monitoring, participants who reported major problems controlling their viewing of sex films showed decreased brain reactions when shown the sexual images, rather than heightened activity as having a “porn addiction” would suggest.

The study shows that the brain does not react the way an addict’s brain would react to cues for their drug of choice. In fact, the study shows that the hypothetical “sex addict” brain reacts in the opposite way that a drug addict’s brain reacts, questioning whether sex addiction actually exists.

“This finding is important, because it shows a reversal of a part of the brain response that has been consistently documented in other substance addictions and gambling disorder,” Prause said. She also noted that this was consistent with their previous study, in which participants served as their own control and no relationship existed between the severity of their sex film problems and their brain response.

Many self-identified “hypersexual” people say they have an uncontrollable urge for sexual stimuli, and that it has resulted in negative life consequences such as loss of jobs or loss of relationships. For this reason, many clinicians have suggested that “sex addiction” be diagnosed much like drug addiction.

“While we do not doubt that some people struggle with their sexual behaviors, these data show that the nature of the problem is unlikely to be addictive,” said Prause.

The study involved 122 volunteers, both men and women. Some had problems controlling their viewing of sex films and met suggested criteria for problem use of pornography by three different questionnaire measures. Others denied any problems with their viewing of sex films. The 122 participants viewed images and were monitored using electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain waves. The images were of sexual and non-sexual scenes. They included photos of people skydiving and of a man and woman engaging in intercourse, among others.

The study measured the late positive potential (LPP). Co-author Greg Hajcak described, “The LPP reflects electrical activity of the brain that is recorded at the scalp and time-locked to the presentation of pictures.” The LPP is a very common measure in studies of emotion. “The size of the LPP reflects the intensity of an emotional response, and reflects brain activity occurring in the visual system and ancient subcortical structures,” explained co-author Dean Sabatinelli.sex-addiction

“Hundreds of studies have found that the LPP is larger for emotional compared to neutral pictures,” described Hajcak, “and previous work from myself and my colleagues have shown that cocaine addicts have an increased LPP to cocaine-related pictures.” To test for correlation with hypersexuality, one would expect the brain to show high rates of activity when shown sexual images. In this study, a reverse effect was shown.

“The extent that individuals struggle with attempts to control urges or other internal states such as thoughts or emotions may change how problematic pornography viewing becomes,” co-author and psychologist Cameron Staley added. “Labeling a person’s attempt to control urges a ‘sexual addiction’ may interfere with therapy approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that can reduce distressing sexual behaviors.”

The study appears in the current online edition of the scientific journal Biological Psychology (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051…).

Authors on the study are Dr. Nicole Prause, Liberos LLC (http://www.liberoscenter.com); Dr. Vaughn R. Steele, The Mind Research Network, UNM-Albuquerque; Dr. Cameron Staley, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID; Dr. Dean Sabatinelli, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Dr. Greg Hajcak, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY.

This research was conducted in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences (http://www.psychiatry.ucla.edu/), which is the within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for faculty who are experts in the origins and treatment of disorders of complex human behavior. The lead author is the founder at Liberos LLC, a company in the UCLA startup program devoted to neuroscience research and the treatment of human sexual problems.
Complete Article HERE!

Fear, Rage And Lust, A Volatile Concoction

It’s not often that I receive a message from someone that chills me to the bone. But what you are about to read does precisely that. Sadly, my correspondent chooses to remain anonymous, so I can’t address him directly or personally. But, with a little luck, this very unhappy person will return to my site and find the heartfelt response I’ve prepared for him. If not, I fear the worst will happen.

 

I was raised to believe that fornication would ruin my future marriage, and I believed it. But as time went on, and had trouble attracting women since I had social phobia, I noticed that no one else was waiting until marriage. I felt angry, as if I had been betrayed and left behind. As I get older, the possibility of finding a “pure” woman my age dwindles (I’m almost 30 now). I’m still a virgin myself, and fear having sex with a woman my age because she might judge my inexperience and clumsiness. I also fear that she would compare me with other men. I’m now an atheist, and I know these doctrines are wrong, but I can’t stop feeling jealous and depressed knowing that women my age have all loved other men by now, and I’ll probably never be anyone’s first. Is there treatment for this? Or even a name for this condition?

My friend, thank you for reaching out to me. I only wish you had done so in a way that I could communicate directly and personally to you. I will do my level best to be as kind as I can while I address your many-layered problem. But if I wind up being sharp with you, it’s only because I believe the situation demands that I not soft-pedal my advice to you. So here goes.ShameHands

You, sir, are in critical condition! Yes, there is a treatment for what you have and yes, there’s also the name for what you have. You suffer from acute misogyny. And my treatment recommendations are as follows.

You need to be in the care of a skilled professional, one who understands both your religious background and your current sexual malaise. I could be that person for you, but I won’t take on that responsibility through an anonymous exchange like what we’re doing here. Be a man, stand up, identify yourself, and own your shit. This will be your first step toward healing the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed.

I can’t help but make the comparison between your message to me and those chilling videos made by the UC Santa Barbara shooter before he went on his rampage some weeks ago. Like you, he was motivated by his intense misogyny and his sense of entitlement to sex. And it scares the bejesus out of me that I have you within reach, all lustful and enraged, yet I am unable to help you personally.

RageI want to first address your religious upbringing. And I think I’m qualified to do this because I was a Catholic priest for 20 years, many years ago. As you now can see for yourself you were duped. The fundamentalism you were fed as a youngster has made you into a bit of a monster. It has made you sick with rage and lust and it has also made you as vengeful as the God of the Hebrew Testament. Surely you can see that nothing good can come from this volatile combination.

I call your condition misogyny because your lust and rage is directed toward woman. Somehow you got it in your head that you are entitled to some pussy and that pussy had better be virginal pussy to boot. And if you don’t get what you think is rightfully yours, because this is the birthright of all men, there is gonna be hell to pay.

Listen up, buckaroo; you are not entitled to anything sexual, no one is. You are particularly not entitled to pussy. And plank_in_eyewhoever told you that you are or suggested that you have something coming to you simply because you’re swinging some pipe between your legs is as big a fool as you are for believing that shit. I’m also pretty certain that you got this message right along with your religious indoctrination, which makes it all the more insidious. The curious thing is, I can’t tell if your fundamentalism is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. And, in the end, I don’t suppose it make much difference. But I am willing to wager every cent I have that it is one of those three. I say that because monotheistic fundamentalism is at its core, misogynistic. The acolytes of the male god of these three traditions have enshrined the male privilege and women have been paying the price for that bullshit for millennia. It has got to stop!

When men, like you, get it in your head that one woman in particular, or all women in general, have deprived you of what is rightly yours, you know someone is gonna get hurt and hurt badly. Curiously, you don’t take yourself to task for your social phobia and awkwardness even though you acknowledge that these are precisely the things that get in the way of you making yourself attractive to the women you desire. Rather, it is somehow the fault of women because they won’t look beyond your loutishness to see the sweet guy beneath your caustic exterior. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be a man.

perception-of-fundamentalismI’m sure glad you identified how fear and bitterness has crippled you. You are afraid that women will judge your inexperience and clumsiness and compare you with their other lovers. Welcome to the real world, my friend. We all make judgments; we all make comparisons. Just look at all the judgments you are making about women. Shame on you for trying to point out the speck in someone else’s eye while you have a plank in your own.

Instead of humbling yourself and asking for the help you need to overcome your social and sexual awkwardness, you project hate and show absolutely no compassion toward the very women who are in the ideal position to help you. What does that say about you?

This lethal concoction of hate, shame, fear, and a sense of sexual inadequacy is what perpetuate the rape culture that plagues our society. You sir, are the problem! And until you acknowledge the fact that you are the agent of your own frustration, and get your shit together, all the women around you should be afraid for their virtue as well as their life.

Another telltale sign of this facacta religious fundamentalism that has poisoned your psyche is your preoccupation with the virginity of your perspective mate. So you want someone “pure,” a woman unsullied by another man, huh? Well then here’s a tip. That kind of purity, if there is indeed such at thing, is reserved for someone equally pure; and I don’t mean sexually inexperienced. You should be pure of heart. And there is nothing pure about your heart. Your rage, shame, and lust defile you and make you base. You are, to use religious language, unclean.Love-Lust

It never ceases to amaze me that people, like you, think sex sullies a person. And yet you crave the very sex that will make you and your prospective partner impure. Believe me when I tell you this; even if you enter a marriage with a virgin, as a virgin, just like religious fundamentalists prescribe, you will come away from your first sexual encounter feeling as defiled as you know your wife will be. That’s because your sexuality is based in shame. Your vocabulary betrays you. No wonder even religious fundamentalist women keep their distance from you. You are like a suicide bomber’s vest, ready to detonate.

One more thing, you are definitely not an atheist. And no amount of you saying that you are will make it so. What you are is a disgruntled religious fundamentalist. I mean I completely understand why you are livid. You’ve been consistently lied to about sex and you never learned anything about love. Besides atheists don’t need any more angry doctrinaire lugheads, like you. They have plenty of those already. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell religious fundamentalists apart from atheistic fundamentalists these days. Everyone is so fuckin’ pissed off all the time.

misogynyHere’s my prescription for getting better. Start working with someone who will help you shed the terrors of your religious upbringing and who will show you the way to embrace a more caring and loving God? I think we both know that you will always be a theist; luckily you get to decide what kind of god will be your god.

Start working with someone who will help you heal the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed. This will make you a happier person, a better person too. You will, in time, learn that sexuality is gift, not a weapon and certainly not an entitlement. You might even learn how to approach women as your equal, to honor them, not denigrate them. And if you give this therapy the time and effort it deserves you will no longer be jealous and depressed. And hell, you might even get laid.

Good luck

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