We all think of porn differently. Some judge it from a moral perspective, while others look at it from a religious perspective. 

But this article isn’t about the moral rightness or wrongness of porn. Instead, it’s about what a cognitive neuroscientist has found–based on years of experience and research–to be the reasons why men watch and easily get addicted to porn. 

And if you understand why you’re obsessed with porn, you’ll already be halfway into knowing how to quit. That said, here are five of the most common reasons why men (or anyone) watch porn, according to Dr. Trish Leigh, a cognitive neuroscientist. 


1. The Buzz 

According to Dr. Trish, the major reason why people continue watching porn start isn’t really because of the videos or pictures themselves, rather, as she said, 

“It’s the release that you’re getting from your brain and the feeling that it gives you.”

Watching porn, especially when it’s accompanied by masturbation, causes some chemical release in your brain. It’s a massive flood of dopamine.  Your brain feels it’s getting highly rewarded for something even if you didn’t do any work for it. 

Over time, you’ll subconsciously realize that nothing can get you that massive dopamine rush as fast as watching porn. This is why you’ll keep going back to porn, trying to get that same good feeling you got at first. 

And the more you watch, the intense the pornographic content will have to be for you to have that same feeling. This is where the addiction loop starts.

Sometimes you’ll end up watching porn for hours because you want to delay the release, hoping to sustain the pleasure and make it last longer and more enjoyable. 


Also read: 10 Tiny Habits That Can Ruin Your Sex Life


2. Self Medication 

“Sometimes there is a true chemical imbalance. People suffer from anxiety or depression, and watching porn is a way that they self medicate.” — Dr. Trish Leigh

As Dr. Trish explained, if you’ve had an anxiety disorder or depression, that’s a brain performance pattern, and she can see that on a qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram), and tell if you’re medicating yourself with porn. 

You don’t need to have a disorder to understand how self-medicating with porn works. If you’ve been hooked to porn or know anyone who was in the past, you’ll know that you’re more prone to watching porn in your down moments.

When you’re depressed, stressed out, lonely, or anxious, you’re more likely to use porn as a means to quickly feel better. 

But the problem with self-medicating with porn, besides the fact that it literally changes your brain, is that its effect is short-lived. It will only make you feel great for a few minutes. 

But after those few short minutes, your loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, or whatever that made you turn to porn in the first place, will come back bigger. And you’ll need to go back to porn to make yourself feel better. And there goes the loop of addiction. 

Plus, if you have any spiritual or moral thoughts against porn, you’ll only feel more ashamed, depressed, and regretful afterward. 

3. Trauma 

“What happens to some people is that they have trauma is their background, and they have found pornography to be a way to escape the feelings that they have.” — Dr. Trish Leigh

Dr. Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-Canadian physician who has worked with drug addicts for decades, an experience he detailed in his book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. 

In 2012, Dr. Maté gave a TEDx talk about the power of addiction. And in that talk, he discussed how one of his patients told him that his first encounter with drugs felt like he was being hugged by a loved one. 

And it’s no surprise that this patient will want to go back to that drug to continue receiving that good feeling that makes him experience the hugs that he didn’t get enough of growing up. As Dr. Trish put it, 

“When you have emotional pain from your upbringing, and your feelings of abandonment and neglect from your childhood, porn becomes a soothing bandage…”

Childhood trauma or neglect can cause loneliness and emotional pain. And porn – or drugs – helps to provide an escape from reality. As one of Dr, Matés’ patients found, taking drugs made him feel like he was receiving a hug. 


Also read: 4 Lowlife Things High-Value Men Never Do


4. Sexual Abuse 

As Dr. Trish explained, one way that our brains deal with a traumatic experience like sexual abuse is to try and recreate it to gain control over it by reenactment. 

Reenactment, according to the NCBI, is a compulsion or an attempt to re-experience or recreate a traumatic event.

For instance, as Dr. Trish explained, “some people are drawn towards watching the sex act that happened to them as a young person.” If you observe that you keep going back to one type of porn, it could be the rough sex, or a fetish for certain kinds of scenes, you might be trying to recreate an experience. 

5. Intimacy Anorexia 

According to Dr. Trish, some people turn to porn because they are uncomfortable in intimate relationships. Because they find it difficult to cope with everything needed to make a relationship work, they turn to porn to satisfy themselves because it’s convenient. 

Intimacy anorexia may also manifest in someone deliberately withholding sex from their partner in a relationship. People who have intimacy anorexia will often withhold sex (or love, time, praise, intimacy, etc.) from their partner. 

And instead of admitting that the reason they are not so interested in sex is because of pornography, they’ll blame their partners for the lack of sexual intimacy in the relationship. 


Conclusion 

People turn to porn for different reasons. And whether you think your level of porn usage is harmful or not, there’s no doubt that there are other ways to deal with the reasons for your porn usage. 

For instance, if you watch porn out of stress, you can use that time to do something fun or reach out to someone. If you watch porn as a convenient way to get sexual satisfaction, you could use that time to go out on a date with a real person. This will not just get a romantic partner, it will also give that intimacy you so crave for. 

The bottom line is, there are several downsides to porn, and these downsides can quickly spiral out of control. Hence, if you still watch porn, find the reasons you do and stop. 

If you’re interested in taking the next step to quit porn, here’s a guide.

How to Quit Porn, According to A Neuroscientist. 

The article is a detailed guide on quitting porn based on advice from the cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Trish Leigh. Hope you find it helpful. 


Related: 8 Toxic Male Habits That Cause Weak Erections


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