Part 3 - The Spiritual Malady - The Brain and Negative Emotions

In this thread, I want to share what is at the root cause of everything. What is the real problem to the lust addiction? But before we go there, let’s review a few things that we have already covered in the last 2 discussions about the three fold problem with addiction to lust and porn (it’s actually the same problem for all addictions).

In Part 1 - Understanding the 3 problems of addiction is essential! (Link: https://rewirecompanion.com/t/part-1-understanding-the-3-problems-of-addiction-is-essential/77419) I really talk about the first of the 3 problems, it is the physical allergy to lust. It is really important that I understood that my problem started with lust, not porn. Lust was my first drink and would trigger my allergy to want more and more lust until I got drunk and went for the porn and masturbation - and finally the guilt. This is actually the real condition of our addiction. If it was not for the body allergy I would not be an addict. If you have not read this tread, please do it before you continue here.

In Part 2 - The Mental Obsession Problem - Meet the liar - (Link: https://rewirecompanion.com/t/part-2-the-mental-obsession-problem-meet-the-lier/77585) is where I shared about the second problem of the obsession of the mind.This problem is all about our LIAR obsessive brain that keeps telling us that we can lust again, that this time will be different (not!) and that it won’t be that bad. I also discuss in a lot of details how the combination of the two problems is a fatal one-two combo that keeps us always relapsing and never finding the peace that we really want. It is really important that you take the time to read all 5 core posts in this thread before you move on.

So here we go - problem number 3!

MY BRAIN NUMBING AND FEELING ALTERING DRUG

I know at this point that I have an allergy to lust that means that if I take a drink of lust I will relapse and watch porn, and I have an obsessive brain that when I am not lusting wants me to start lusting again which leads to a relapse. This is my reality and I have repeated this cycle so many times in the last 32 years that I no longer doubt it.

This sucks royalty. But there is more. The 3rd and real problem is that underpins everything. Yes there is something that makes me want to lust, that makes me think that I NEED IT. This is the 3rd problem and the real cause of everything and why my brain keeps obsessing to find all these reasons why I should lust, view porn and masturbate.

Lust, Porn, Masturbation and Orgasm (I will use LPMO) - the four horsemen of my apocalypse - are really a tool that I used to deal with the pains of daily life. It is a coping mechanism that my brain has discovered is very effective to make me feel better when I feel off inside. It’s not different from alcohol, or drugs or any mind-bending and conscience modification substance. LPMO is my drug of choice. It is my liquor, my crack cocaine, how my brain chooses to self-medicate.

Some people have a hard time accepting this. They think it is pushing it too far.

How can you compare lust or porn to a drug - even an illegal drug.

They can think that : “I am not a drunk, a winno, or a needle pusher.” (I mean no offense to anyone that has a problem with alcohol or drugs.) But think about it.

Do you feel different when you view porn or masturbate? While you are in the porn binge, viewing it, do you feel good or bad? Are all your problems and your fears and guilt really still present in your conscience when you are enjoying the feeling of porn, when your mind blows up in orgasm. I don’t. I feel super amazing. I love it. Porn relieves the pain of all my troubles every single time.

For the first 7 years of my porn addiction career, it was really great. I had no issues with porn, it had a job to do and it did it really well. It was only when I was 18 and I wanted to stop that I discovered that I could not, no matter how hard I tried I could not shake it. That is when my problem started.

Here is a little bit of my life story. It will be enough to illustrate that I started to use pornography as a way to relieve the pain of being rejected and bullied as a young child.

MY EARLY LIFE ADDICTION STORY

“I was born dead. A blue baby - with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. I did not cry and I did not breathe. By the grace of God, the doctors brought me to life. My mother was young and sweet. My father was a medical doctor and an alcoholic. I remember him beating my mother and hitting us in fits of anger and violence when he drank too much. He would bring me to bars where I would play for many, many hours. My parents were both from Belgium, cousins and immigrated to Canada. I cannot complain. I had a great mother and my dad did stop drinking at some point, probably through AA as I found some of the literature years later.

I was a very innocent and sweet child, the first born both on my fathers and mothers side, which made me the oldest cousin. I would play alone, live mostly in my imagination. Not very strong or athletic, I was immature - I did not get the world and so I was teased, rejected by other children and lonely.

I was introduced to nudity when I was a young child, maybe 6 or 7. I had older children that came to visit us from Europe. They were older and showed us how to play “doctor”. In the woods on my grandfather’s property, hiding from our nanny, my sisters would be undressed and the doctors would examine the patient. I don’t remember the details but it was exciting and I like that game.

Another time, on a vacation to my grandfather in Belgium and France and our nanny was a beautiful blonde woman in her early 20s. I was the oldest child and one day she told me that she would teach me how to kiss but not kiss like we say good night to our parents. I was intrigued but my reaction must have shown confusion as she did not teach me to kiss. A couple years later, I was in the TV room with her and a cousin, when she let us touch her breast. It was the first time that I touched a woman. I have fantasized about this event so many times. The what if scenarios have haunted me.

Primary School

I was held back in school because I could not read after the first grade. I had dyslexia but I did not understand what that meant. I just knew that I would go to a special room and work one-on-one with a special teacher. I failed grade 1.

After my second time in grade 1, I still struggled. For the next 6 years of grade school, I was always invited during Language Arts (French in my case) class, to leave the normal children and attend another class for the stupid kids. I was set aside and labeled as slow and this has affected me for my entire life. I hate failing. I have always NEEDED (as a compulsion) to prove to others that I was smart, intelligent and therefore worthy of being loved and considered. I had few friends and did not understand the world, especially the girl scene.

Rejected from others, from the school, I connected to this teacher that was in this special needs class. She was pretty, a mother figure at school and important to me.

At the age of 10 or 11, I was rummaging through my fathers home office when I found about 40 or 50 Playboy magazines from the 70’s. I did not know too much but the feeling of sexual excitement embraced me. I looked at pictures of naked women and felt something like never before. It was all there just for me. I was amazed. This started slowly, going to his office to look, but gradually, I would take a few magazines in my bedroom and look at them.

It took me some time but I finally understood the basics of masturbation and discovered its pleasures - what a wonderful thing. Playboy magazines and masturbation were a great combination. In the secret of my room, I would connect with the picture woman that would love me, open themselves to me and accept me. I belonged. I was a boy that wanted to be a real man.

These new experiences relieve me from the pains of being less considered or less mature than my peers. I was comforted everyday and how soothing and yet how exciting this adventure was. I felt powerful as I imagined these women wanting me, while in the real world, I was weak and helpless.”

During my junior high years, my consumption of lust increased as I discovered that around midnight on Friday nights each week a softcore movie would play. This was now a more powerful experience and a real sexual education. I could live the experience in my mind and lived part of the stories as an actor and not only a viewer. I now live in the seduction of lust.

I was no longer feeling the pain of rejection, of being weak, or stupid and of not being good enough. In my fantasy, with either the videos (and I learned to record the movies on the VCR) or in my imagination, I was now everything that a woman wanted, powerful, desirable, worthy of receiving what was most precious from a woman and through it all it was real and I felt it, the orgasms confirming the reality of the fantasy.”

I hope that my story illustrates that I started to use pornography as a way to deal with the difficulties of my life, the rejection and the negative emotions and feelings that I had.

MY LIFE IN 30 SECONDS

My addiction story can be summarized in this way:

  1. The root cause of my addiction is feeling these negative emotions (rejection, fear, being dumb, and being hurt) that come from everyday normal life.
  2. This leads my brain to obsessively suggest that I use what has worked in the past - my drug of choice, my first love, lust and porn - to relieve these feelings. My brain lies to me, continually, obsessively and powerfully (we call that temptation) until we give in and indulge in lust and porn.
  3. The minute I indulge in what my obsessive brain wants - even a little bit of lust, my physical allergy is triggered and I want more and more lust until I relapse in porn, masturbation and orgasm.
  4. I feel horrible after. I cannot believe that I did it again. This negative emotion and feeling feeds my need to start over. I am back at number 1.
    That is the story of my life.

Anyone else is living a similar story?

I have a few more posts to write about this in the next few days. Then we move on to the solution.

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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE 3 PROBLEMS OF ADDICTION

Once the brain finds an effective way to numb or cope with the negative feeling and emotions, it remembers it. Our brains are perfect machines of efficiency. They will remember what worked last time and suggest we follow the same solution each time.

If porn and masturbation is the way that we first use to feel better and remove the feeling of shame or loneliness, or fear, or being a disappointment, or of being critique, or being abandoned, or being unloved, of being yelled at, or being ignored, or being beaten, or being molested or being bullied…. you get the point .

If we create a neural pathway in our brain, the amygdala and other regions, to remove these feelings once and it worked. When we experienced porn we felt something so wonderful that all our negative feelings disappeared (for a time), then our brains remembered this as a positive, even effective solution to solving this problem. Then each time we feel any painful, hurtful, stressful negative emotions, our brains (the amygdala) says: “Lust and porn worked last time… so let’s use it again.” This is the beginning of the addiction cycle. The obsession of the mind is starting.

  1. Negative emotions (problem #3) leads to discovering porn as a viable solution.

  2. Each time negative emotions reappear, the brain needs us to use porn as the solution. The neural pathway is reinforced each time this solution (porn) is applied to the problem (negative emotions). This begins the obsessive mind problem (problem #2) – when we feel off, our brains find a way to convince us to use the same porn solution. This gets worse as we fight our brain and its solution.

  3. The neuro-transmitters on our brain, like dopamine and adrenaline, are released in such quantities that our brain changes. This will create what we experience as the craving or what I called the physical allergy (problem #1). Now to explain this one, I have shared with you more about the brain and the development of porn and lust addiction inside the structures of the brain.

These are the 3 main problems of my addiction: I feel off because of some negative emotions, my obsessive brain wants me to lust and view porn. If I start lusting I can’t stop until I relapse and view porn and orgasm. The pleasure of lust, porn and orgasm give me a great feeling and I forget the problems I had that made me feel bad in the first place - at least until the next morning.

I hope that this is making more sense. I have more to say but I dont have the time to write more today, especially this next post that will be about the brain - it is complicated stuff.

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Thank you for all this. It’s really helpful and really great reading time. Very much appreciated

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I hope this helps me because I have been on the same journey …waiting for your solutionss

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Welcome to the community. It’s good to see you Here. How long have you been addicted? And where are you in trying to stop.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BRAIN

(Sorry this is a little long - TLDR: If your are addicted then you are screwd.)

I believe that most guys get addicted when they are young - before the age of 20 and very often around the ages of 10 to 13 years old. This is a time when the brain is in full development and not ready for the powerful feelings that nudity and sex has on the brain.

It does not mean that older people that are exposed to porn later cannot get addicted, I have seen some cases, but most of the time it happens really early in life.

This makes sense.

Let’s look a little deeper at the development of addiction in the brain.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in this field, but this is what my research and studies have yielded. We can go a lot deeper into this type of research, but that is not the point. I hope that what I have written will be enough to help us understand addiction while keeping it simple.

Here we go.

As I mentioned above, the brain is built for efficiency. That is how we have survived. We have a problem, and the brain gives us the best solution - the most effective solution. Most of the time, that is exactly what we want (and we are not even conscious about it). But sometimes the solution is very good at solving short term problems but causes longer term issues. This is the case of lust and porn.

It starts with one experience that changes everything – we see a powerful sexual imagery and our brain lightens up. We are built with a bias for reproduction, so the sexual image causes an explosion of pleasure endorphins and neuro-transmitters in our brain. We feel something that We have never felt before. It is amazing. It feels really good. Now, if we were feeling painful negative emotions at the time, those difficult feelings (shame, loneliness, fear, disappointment, abandonment, rejection, anger, physical pain) are also swept away by the same wave of feel-good neurotransmitters.

The brain, especially the Amygdala records this new experience: sexual images = no more negative emotions + feels great. The Amygdala is the region of the brain that regulates our emotions – especially fear. When the amygdala senses these negative emotions, it sends a message to other parts of the brain to solve the problem.

In our case, it remembers that the last time we felt this way, viewing powerful sexual images made everything better. The Orbitofrontal cortex and the Cingulate Gyri (limbic system) part of our brain regulate the judgement of the cortex and how to regulate emotions and pain. It decides the stimuli-response choices and says let’s watch the sexual images - it will be good and solve these painful negative emotions. This is when our brain wants us to find porn or sexual images again. The desire starts to build.

When we see, or remember sexual images, the Ventral Tegmental Area (TVA), where dopamine is produced, releases a large quantity of this neurotransmitter. Dopamine helps us feel pleasure. In the case of sex and sexual things, a lot of pleasure. At first, the release happens at that time, later the anticipation of pornography is enough to release the dopamine. The Arcuate Nucleus (AC) also releases endorphins and the Locus Coeruleus (LC) releases adrenaline and noradrenaline.

These are the neurotransmitters that we mix in our porn cocktail that is released in our brain. It makes us feel amazing, especially when we learn to masturbate and experience orgasm. This climax reinforces the connection in the Amygdala that porn is a great way to regulate the negative painful emotions – the addiction is settling in for the long term.

The next evolution is important because it creates the permanent aspect of addiction – the physical allergy or craving. This is where we change physically and our brain is injured. We will not be permanently addicted.

This is what happens.

When the TVA, AC and LC release this much pleasure and excitement feelings, really too much pleasure and for too long (especially for a young 13-year-old brain), a neurotransmitter called Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA) is deployed in our brain to acts as the police force of the nervous system and to protect the brain from the overdose. The brain is saying too much, too much dopamine, let’s slow this down. GABA is “the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the developmentally mature mammalian central nervous system. Its principal role is reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.” What really happens is that it inhibits the pleasure neurotransmitter, and the dopamine production cells in the VTA start to shrink and atrophy.

Yes, our brain shrinks, at least some parts of it.

It’s not the only part of the brain that shrinks, the Orbitofrontal cortex shrinks increasing the impulsiveness, compulsiveness and bad judgement when it comes to porn. It’s like our brake pads are wearing out. We can’t stop making the decision to view porn. Our Cingulate Gyri also physically shrinks. The Ventral Tegmental Area producing dopamine shrinks – Why should it keep producing so much dopamine, when there is too much and GABA is removing it.

This is the final piece for a full addiction.

Since the parts of our brains that normally regulate your emotions, shrink and atrophy, our body does not release enough pleasure neurotransmitters on its own. Our brain stops and waits for porn do the work.

When we don’t view porn, our body has lost the ability to feel good on its own. Over time we become uncomfortable, irritable, discontented and unhappy. Why am I not feeling good? The normal day-to-day events of life that increases our fear, our stress and our feeling bad are still there but we don’t have our normal (like everyone else) mechanism to feel good, so our amygdala comes to the rescue and suggests that we lust, look at sexual provocative images (porn or mental fantasy) or masturbate and orgasm to feel better. If we don’t, then the feeling of craving (the need for dopamine) will grow and grow and grow until we cannot deal with it and we finally give in. We have just relapsed

Two more points before we end this section.

Over time, our brain becomes so unbalanced, that lust does not do it any more (not enough dopamine), then sexy bikini pictures don’t do it any more, then nude pictures don’t do it… we always need more and more to have enough pleasure to cover up all the negative emotions.

So normal day-to-day stressors that normal people can handle without a problem, become too much for us and we need more and more of our lust drug to feel normal.

I know this is depressing.

We are physically disabled in our heads and porn did it to us (with our help). This need for more, and more, and more powerful sexual stimuli is what creates the physical allergy for lust. The anticipation of lust and porn, starts the VTA to release dopamine, but it is not enough. You need more lust and more powerful sexual imagery, even videos where we experience the sexual sound and the actions, it captivates us.

We need more, more, more. Stronger, more descriptive, more real, and more hard. We need this escalation, this progression to just get the same high as we used to get.

We are sick. It is no longer about morality, about will-power, about choosing to stop. Our brain has slowed down the creation and release of dopamine, endorphins and adrenaline so much that without porn we cannot function normally. The normal day-to-day stressors happen everyday, and so we need our solution everyday. If we don’t give in and view something to give us our feel-good fix, then we experience headaches, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness - withdrawal symptoms.

And to top it up, if you try to resist viewing porn and stop (nofapping) the lack of these neurotransmitters will just build an ever stronger craving that will drive you crazy.

Welcome to hell.

As I have seen many times in the forum : It’s not easy to do porn and it’s not easy not to do porn (not even to mention the long term effects of ED and PE).

Final point, when we orgasm, a hormone is secreted called Vasopressin. This hormone creates in men an emotional bond between us and our sexual partner. This is great if we have sex with a person that we love, but since we are having orgasms while looking at pictures or videos, we become connected and bonded to the pornography and the stories of sexual seduction.

I am sure there is even more that we could bring up about the brain addicted to porn and how it causes the addiction (i am even sure that I have made some mistakes) but I think that what I have shared is enough to establish that:

  1. Our brain is obsessed with porn.
  2. It uses porn to regulate our emotions, especially negative emotions,
  3. The phenomenon of craving because of a lack of normal creation of dopamine, makes us need to lust more and more to make us feel good.

In other words, I have an allergy to lust and porn, when I start lusting, I need more and more to satisfy my needs (problem #1), my brain is obsessed to view porn and will find any way to convince me until I give in (problem #2) and I need porn to remove the pain that I feel from the stressors of normal living (problem #3).

This is the essence of the problem. This is why a lust/porn addiction is so hard to break. It’s wired in our brains and each time I do it again I reinforce the neural pathways of my addiction.

I know this is depressing but we need to know the truth if we are going to find a permanent solution. Keep reading and keep coming back.

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Hey - I would love to know, when did you start viewing porn or nudity?

For me, I looked at Payboys when I was 11 or 12. But even earlier, I did play doctor and examine girls when I was 7 or 8.

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As for trying to stop I have understood…I will get a little religious at this time…
In Islam we know there is hijab, hijab is actually protecting and covering your chastity and your shame.
In Islam Hijab is not only for women but also for men…
People say Hijab is difficult for women, I say its easy to cover yourself even in the heat… But it’s not easy to keep your eyes and heads down while the woman is in front…that’s what you have said in your whole research…how amazing Islam is…btw the things you have said that’s just really how it works… Every time you think about it you will do it … These all tactics of gyming getting busy in something… It works …but not completely…there should be some strong solution to this …

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You are right. There is a strong solution. It is to find and obtain a power greater than any human power (ourselves or others). That works.

The how to do it is also known and has been tried and tested my over a million addicts that have it to give them complete freedom from their addiction. It involves 12 steps and by discussing the the 3 problems we are really getting to the bottom of the first step.

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I really look forward to learning about the 12 steps.

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Thats why i realise that why my tastes changed in wilder and ugly fantasies which i never had

This is 100 percent true because its not just about porn
Here is a real life scenario which happened with me
I was preparomg for exams but used to procastinate a lot
So what i did was i decided not to use phone and just focus on studies
So from 8 till 1 i studies with small breaks in between but then i started feeling bulky in head
So i thought why mot take a break and go have lunch
While having lunch i thought why dont i see youtube some comedy video or anime till i have lunch then ill go and study
Guess what the bulkiness in head was gone but after lunch i no more felt like studying because i like i cant remember anything etc stuff amf i wasted the rest of the day

Exactly what I experienced. I started watching stuff super gross. Never thought I would.

"IS PORN ADDICTION WORSE THAN COCAINE?

This is from a book on porn addiction written by a neurological surgeon and doctor:

“VISIBLE DAMAGE AND HEALING

When addiction causes shrinkage of certain nerve cells, the area of the brain containing these cells actually shrinks, and this can mean measures in drug addiction such as cocaine and methamphetamine and in natural addiction such as obesity and, significant to our subject, sexual addiction.

(There is Table 1 with 5 regions of the brain called Orbitofrontal Mid Frontal, Insula Hippocampus Temporal, Nucleus Accumbens Putamen, Cingulate and Cerebellum. It then shows that Obesity has 2 parts of the brain that shrinks, Cocaine and Methamphetamine has 3 parts that shrink and Sex and Pornography addiction has all 5 areas that shrink.)

Table 1 is a compilation of studies showing atrophy (shrinkage) of different areas of the brain associated with pleasure. Most of these areas are concerned with pleasure itself. The Mid-frontal gyrus is involved with pleasure/control, and the cerebellum is a coordination center. Note that the sexual addiction study on the bottom row shows the most extensive atrophy. This is significant in that most recovering individuals I have spoken to who have dealt with both drug and sexual addictions say that the sexual addictions were more difficult to overcome than the drug addictions.” Source: Hilton Jr. MD, Donald; He Restoreth my Soul; 2009; p. 63 - 65,

This neurologist says that there is evidence to show that porn addiction is worse than cocaine addiction. That is very interesting.

We can wonder how an addiction that is just looking at things worse than an addiction where people are putting things in their body. I don’t know the real answer to this but it makes sense that if we take a drug or alcohol, that our body must first metabolize the physical substance into endorphins and neurotransmitters before it hits the pleasure regions of the brain. Porn just goes from the eyes to the brain. The connection is faster.

Porn and sex are also related to one of the primary objects of our bodies, reproduction. It seems normal that it would be wired to make sex really important.

This is to say that if we think that addiction is only for substances that you take into your body, we may have to reconsider that. I for one am convinced that I am addicted.

A LITTLE GOOD NEWS

The book also says this:

“With months of recovery, these damaged areas can regain their size, both in drug (methamphetamine) and in natural (obesity) addictions. It is significant that the visible changes of recovery from addiction seen in brain scans correlaed with the addicted person gaining control of their life throught recovery. Dr. Doidge, in describing his treatment of men with severe pornography and sexual addictions, says… “even some of these men were able … to change … because the same laws of neuroplasticity that allow us to acquire problematic tastes also allow us, in intensive treatment, to aquire new, healthier ones and in some cases even lose our older, troubling ones”

This means taht even if the regions of the brain shrinks and are damaged that with time of being recovered (no fapping) our brains can change again and heal. This means that if we can just find a way to stay stopped we will get better.

Now it does not matter if LPMO addiction is worse than any other addiction. I am addicted to it and it is destroying my happiness and my life. That is all that matters.

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Sorry I have been silent for a couple weeks. Just really busy. Took a week for a vacation with the kids and now back to work. I will star writing about the solution tomorrow and get something out this week. Thank you for your patience.

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Finally. I was able to take a few hours and start writing about the solution to lust and porn addiction. Here is a link to Part 4 - The Solution - 12 Steps of Recovery: Part 4 - The Solution - 12 Steps of Recovery

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Thank you for these posts. Although some of the details are different, I completely see myself in your descriptions of how it all started and continues today.

I just installed the Rewire Companion app and found this forum.

Today is day one, the start of recovery. Thank you!

Playboys at 13, then progressing to more explicit magazines, then videos. Didn’t help that I found an adult video in my dad’s briefcase.

Welcome to Rewire. It is very interesting how every addict has a very similar story. How is it going?