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30 DAYS OF ADVICE TO HELP YOU STAY PORN FREE

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4 Unexpected Things That Happen When You Quit Porn

by J.S. Park on December 1st, 2016 in Men, Women, Students

Quit pornWhen someone tells me that pornography doesn’t do any harm to the body, I can only reply, “Try to quit porn for a month. See how much better you feel.”

Really. Try to quit porn for just a month.

Two months.
Six months.
A year.

Write us about how you feel.

Many people are too scared to leave behind porn, because quitting any supposed “pleasure” in our culture feels like an amputation, or some kind of offense against our autonomy. “You can’t tell me what to do” is the leading logic.

But the people who do take up my challenge to quit porn always thank me later. Why? It’s because porn has such an insidious, destructive grip on the brain and body that you can always feel the healing when you quit.

Here are four things that happen when you begin to quit porn.

1) Withdrawal.

The first week off porn is usually the most difficult—because your body has grown so used to it, you’ll be overwhelmed by your appetite. The influx of images and craving can be almost too much to handle.

If you’ve read even a little research on pleasure and addiction, then you’ve probably come across the word dopamine. It’s the little chemical our brain releases when we feel pleasure, and it largely controls our motivations and reward pathways. With porn, this whole process gets thrown off because you’re drowning in dopamine. When you quit porn, your body screams for the same unnatural high.

In my first week off, I experienced nearly the same symptoms as heroin withdrawal: the shakes, sweating, fatigue, “brain-fog,” and a compulsive urge to reach towards my source of addiction (the computer). I’ve read other reports of migraines, toothaches, dizziness, and a heightened fantasizing.

Most of us who try to quit porn are wholly unprepared for such intense symptoms, and it’s often why we relapse so easily: because it feels like “quitting isn’t working” and just one fix will bring us back to normal. But that’s looking at the wrong normal: withdrawal is actually the fight for a true normal.

Preparation and awareness are half the battle. Here’s a quick video on how pornography increases our habituation, escalates our urge for more porn, and some symptoms to expect when you quit.

2) Renewed Productivity.

Let’s say your porn-viewing habits take up fifteen to twenty hours per week. That was my average. You’re losing sleep, you’re losing mind-space, you’re losing time for projects and practice and personal hobbies.

I once calculated how much time I lost during my fifteen-year porn addiction. If I count on the low end of the average, I lost about two whole years. I could’ve learned a third language, or the piano, or fully qualified to become a NASA astronaut.

When you quit porn, you suddenly have a few dozen hours free every month. The self-indulgent hours are now open for something better.

The other thing is, quitting porn also increases your quality of work. You’re well-rested instead of bleary-eyed when you get to work in the morning; plus, when your dopamine levels return to normal, you get more excited about what you’re doing.

While there have been mixed reactions to this TEDx talk by science teacher Gary Wilson, a clear conclusion remains: an entire community of men who have quit porn have also found a surge of creativity, focus, and energy. This sounds like purely anecdotal evidence, but there are too many similar testimonies of “porn-quitting productivity” to dismiss as a coincidence.

3) Loss of Objectification.

Objectification is about what you do instead of appreciating who you are.

Porn turns sex into a dehumanized buffet instead of a sacred, communal gift bound by a promise. When we’re bombarded with the cheap imitation of a good thing, we lose authentic connection.

Maybe the best thing about quitting porn is that only weeks after, my brain slowly killed those dirty fantasy loops. You know what I mean. It’s that visual playground of objectifying daydreams that makes you feel guilty and awkward at social gatherings all the time.

Soon after I quit porn, I could talk to women without the terrible layer of sexualization in my head.

Please believe me: this is an embarrassing thing to talk about. At the worst moments of my addiction, I found myself objectifying dang near everything. Even the shape of a glass or a cartoon female would drag my brain into bad places.

At times I thought that pornography had completely broken this part of me and I would never get over it. But quitting such excessive intake of indulgent imagery, while never fully erasing that inner-tape, can bring us back to healthy interaction. It takes time, but authenticity returns when we appreciate the real thing. Which leads us to:

4) Renewed Connection and Intimacy.

In an instant-access world, pornography allows a short-term hold on control where we can avoid rejection and the all-terrible “No.”

It’s an illusion, but I understand the urge for it. A constant “Yes” is so seductive.

The problem is, the world is full of messy, clumsy, uncertain intimacy with no guarantees and no promises of reciprocity. And while porn seems to offer constancy, it’s a robotic yes-man that only flatters and never challenges, and in the end says a deafening No to the very thing we’re looking for: real, authentic connection where the person you love returns the very same love.

To settle for less than true intimacy only isolates you into fear. I understand the fear: but we cannot say No to rejection while saying Yes to acceptance at the same time. Human interaction requires the good and the bad, the heaven and the heartache, the bliss and blisters. The deepest laughter can be born in side-by-side grief, just as grief is overcome by the fiercest of loyalty and joy.

When you quit porn, it means you risk the unpredictable maze of the human experience. I’m not overstating the case here. There are plenty of developmentally stunted young adults who cannot bear to endure rejection or even a friend who’s having a bad day, because they’re so used to clicking the kind of “friend” they want to have. While it sounds safe to stay in a cave with a computer all the time, porn only makes you less human, and not more.

The goal of faith, of discipline, of intimacy, of connection, is to make you more human.

Quit porn. Leave behind the false, hollow derivatives: and you’ll find all the richness of life that you were meant to discover.

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  • Joseph Wagner

    Amazing article and absolutely true in every sense PRAISE JESUS FOR FREEDOM!

  • Loved reading this, was very helpful.

  • Nobody Important

    This might sound strange but I’m a “porn addict” who does not to and should not quit.

    I was raised in a conservative religious household where I naturally was forbidden access to porn. The problem was I was unable to stop looking at actual, real-live women. To make a long story short there was one incident where I made a really clumsy advance on a girl and I had to leave school because her father threatened to kill me if I didn’t.

    Now that I’m an adult I can masturbate to porn which keeps me from being driven crazy by real, flesh-and-blood woman. This is something for which womankind ought to be grateful.

    As far as your point about work productivity goes, exactly how would being distracted by attractive women help me in my job performance that involves customer service? It would only cause offense and trouble for everybody involved.

    I have read several posts on your blog and they seem to involve how porn can undermine relationships. Porn seems to be very bad for these men. For me it’s a complete non-issue. Does it make sense to call both of these things “addiction?”

    I am incapable of using the word “addiction” without scare quotes because it is not a scientific concept but rather a moral judgement hiding behind a scientific veneer to make it look like a statement of fact. An “addiction” is not a disease like cancer but rather a habit that results in social opprobrium. Has anybody here read the works of the late Thomas Szasz on this issue?

    Speaking of morality, since this a Christian site why can’t you simply approach morality directly and condemn porn users on Biblical grounds (as per Matthew 5:28)? Why do you need to bolster it with the (pseudo)science of “addiction and recovery?” Do you doubt the authority of your own faith?

    I am an atheist but I’m not here to debate you. I’m just wondering if you had some answers to the issues I raise in this post.

    • TestifyTruth

      Interesting response. I don’t have answers to a few of them, but I have never heard anyone in the scientific community deny or debate the science of addition. For instance, one link in this post is to ASAPSCIENCE which, as the name implies, offers a brief scientific primer on addiction. And also, what does psychology say on addition, if we are to consider physiology as science? Psychology may speak to being distracted by attractive women at work as not the fault of the women but the inner working of the mind of the distracted. I may look out for the works of Thomas Szasz on the issue.

      Speaking of Matthew 5:28, the point of the series of words in that passage was to fully flesh out the fullness of human depravity, showing how it’s not just external but internal, and nothing we do can rescue from its totality. So porn users and everyone else is already condemned, other parts of the bible refer to this encompassing condemnation, and the encompassing solution.

      ‘Do you doubt the authority of your own faith?’ ‘…but I’m not here to debate you.’ The first conflicts with the other, but again, I don’t have all the answers , so may not be able to help much.

      Take care.

      • Nobody Important

        Let’s look at how an authentic disease is understood and diagnosed and see the difference. Suppose a man goes to the doctor with unexplained sudden weight loss. The doctor suspects cancer so he orders a biopsy to confirm or deny his suspicion. The presence of the disease is something besides a symptom of this disease.

        With “mental illnesses” such as depression the disease is defined by the symptoms themselves. Chronic unhappiness is the definition of depression. No biopsies, blood tests or anything else is necessary. Go take a Xanax. The statements “Joe has had severe unexpected weight loss” and “Joe has cancer” mean radically different things even though both can be true. The statements “Joe is chronically unhappy” and “Joe has the mental illness of depression” mean exactly the same thing. There is no new information in the second statement not included in the first.

        With addictions an additional level of nonsense is piled upon this. Not only are addictions completely understood in terms of symptoms. That is, “Joe’s drinking is leading to problems with his job or relationships” and “Joe has the disease of alcoholism”
        completely equivalent. It erases the distinction between voluntary behaviors and involuntary symptoms.

        An objection can be raised that such things as depression, excessive drinking or porn use have neurological correlates, but unless you are a Cartesian dualist who believes everything psychological is part of some ghost in the machine unrelated to biology this shouldn’t be surprising. The question I would like to see answered is how does the neurology of an “alcoholic” differ from that of a heavy drinker or how does the neurology of a

      • Nobody Important

        of a “porn addict” differ from that of a porn user.

      • Nobody Important

        In addition, as I said earlier the concept of addiction is applied only to behaviors that for some reason are deemed immoral. Do we say that someone is “addicted to altruism” because they have a habit of giving spare change to homeless people? Nobody would say that even though this is a behavior some people do and they are disinclined to quit it. This behavior is not considered an addiction because the social consensus is that doing such as a thing is morally good. There are no scientific reasons why some habits are called addictions and hence diseases and not others, only moral ones.

        The reason for this sleight-of-hand are in my opinion, dishonest and pernicious. If you condemn the “sin of drunkenness” why should anybody listen to you who does not already accept your theology? However, if you claim the authority of science and only want to eradicate the disease of alcoholism, who could oppose you? See how that works.

        It is dishonest because as David Hume pointed out more than two hundred years ago, value judgments can not come from empirical investigation which is what science is. You can not derive an “ought” from an “is.” It is a pernicious because it is a form of propaganda to convince people to accept other people’s values on the spurious ground that these values are “facts.” This is a recipe for totalitarianism of which the “scientific socialism” of the Marxists and the “scientific racism” of the Nazis are the most obvious examples. I am reminded of a quote from Orwell’s 1984, “The command of the old despotisms was “Thou shalt
        not”. The command of the totalitarians was “Thou shalt”. Our command is
        “Thou art”.”

        This has a lot to do with whether porn use is “really” an “addiction.” It has to do with whether you consider lusting after women morally acceptable or unacceptable. If as a Christian you find it unacceptable on Biblical grounds you probably would think porn use is an addiction. More secular folks who care not about such things might disagree. The only real disagreement is a moral one whether you think lust is wrong, not a scientific one about whether something is really an “addiction.”

        Of course you can add complications to this. If a married man is ogling nudie cuties on the internet and ignoring his wife, this can cause a problem in the relationship regardless of religion. The problem however is in the relationship, not masturbating to porn by itself. I have no relationship and never will so that is not an issue.

        My porn use is a solution to a character flaw. I lack the strength of will to permanently stuff my libido, so I distract my libido with porn. I need to do this so my libido doesn’t get in the way of what I need to do.

        I have quite a spell of diarrhea of the keyboard.

        I should probably quit now.

        After all, I’m nobody important.

  • Destroyed

    I really need help…. my Fiance is a porn addict and I am pretty much at the end of what I can tolerate. He says it started when he saw porn at 8 Yeats old. He has only been with 2 women me and his x. Hasn’t been able to maintain an erection since late twenties now in fifties. No real penatrative sex because even with medicine he loses his erection. Therapy about 6 tomes in his life. Says he is getting clean everytime he gets caught. Doesn’t look at porn hard hard core sick stuff to my knowledge anymore because I monitor his usage on all devices. He has resorted to sneaking and watching news women and the Spanish channel. He says he doesn’t masterbate to them, says sooths, comforts and makes him feel better when he feels bad about himself. This is after a monster blow up and last chance agreement. He lies and lies about lying. Says he is working a program but isn’t. The minute I let up on the Control he starts his crap again and is soon caught. He is crying like a baby begging me not to leave. Blaming his addiction, says he will change. Has said this countless times. He lies and says he is not masterbating or looking at anything, says he is using his tools he learns in theray….all the while lying about it… what am I supposed to do…. the hate I have is destroying me and turning me from listening to my God…. the verbal and emotional beat down I have given him is unspeakable and that is not how I want to live…I believe there is no hope.

  • Akos A. Urbán

    I am blessed that I found your articles mr. J.S. Park. You articles contains so much wisdom ! What you wrote about I have also experienced/still experiencing. Thank you.

    I quit porn for 2 years and 7 months. I told three people about the addiction and quiting, I bought a book of a sexologist about quiting porn. And I turn to good God for help.

    Greetings,       Akos 

     from The Netherlands ( Europe )

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