Please note: We are not medical professionals. We are relating information in layperson's terms that we have found while doing research on this subject. There are many videos on our website that present highly qualified neurologists and psychiatrists who speak on this subject. Please take advantage of the resources we have made available if you want to know the scientific facts of the withdrawal process. Our intention is not so much to repeat the scientific information here, but to give a basic overview of the expected or possible process when a person withdraws from porn.
NOTE: We understand that both men and women are effected by child sexual abuse and porn use and both can become hypersexualised, however the vast majority of sexually complusive victims are male so we will often focus on the male to make the articles easier to read.
The Withdrawal Process - What to Expect
Like withdrawal from other addictions, the withdrawal process from porn addiction involves both mental, emotional, spiritual and physical adjustments. There will be side effects as the body and mind adjust and reset to a normal, non-addicted state.
Change the Thinking
Recovery from any addiction requires a change in thinking about, a changed attitude toward, the obsessed object. In a healthy person, the mind controls the body's response. In an addicted person, imbalances in the the body's neurotransmitters and hormones pressure the person to make decisions to relieve the pressure/urges, despite the logical and moral protests of their mind. Many addicts express their loathing for their addiction, but they seem 'powerless' to remain firm in their decision not to engage in the addiction. Many addicts erroneously believe that if they go 'cold turkey' and try to stop using their addictive substance/behaviour, that they will have to suffer the withdrawal symptoms for ever. Porn addicts also mistakenly tend to believe that they simply have a naturally high libido for which of course, if it is a natural, genetic condition, there is no cure. This belief is totally erroneous and emotionally crippling. Hypersexualisation is not a normal state. Hypersexualisation is not high libido. Hypersexualisation is curable.
Emotional and mental changes require a change in thinking. This is the most important factor in recovery and leads the way to permanent healing. We don't encourage the application of strategies that require white-knuckling. White knuckling is the term used to describe actions that a person takes to endure the compulsion to engage in a behaviour that they are trying to resist.
While will power is definitely important, it is easily disempowered by the contradictory messages entertained in the mind. It is a condition called 'cognitive dissonance.' Recent research reveals how the brain makes changes in behaviour based on changes in thinking and specifically in assigning VALUE.
In the 14th century the French philosopher Jean Buridan described a donkey that, unable to choose between two bales of hay, starves to death.
Hard Decisions Shape the Neural Coding of Preferences Authors: Katharina Voigt, Carsten Murawski, Sebastian Speer and Stefan Bode Journal of Neuroscience 23 January 2019, 39 (4) 718-726; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1681-18.2018
"The brain updates its preferences in real-time in order to choose between two equally attractive options, reveals a human neuroimaging and eye-tracking study published in JNeurosci. The research shows how we avoid becoming paralyzed by indecision like the starving donkey in a famous thought experiment. In the 14th century the French philosopher Jean Buridan described a donkey that, unable to choose between two bales of hay, starves to death. Like the fictional donkey, people often must decide between two items of equal value. Previous studies have suggested people update their preferences after the fact in order to feel more confident in their decision. Stefan Bode, Katharina Voigt, and colleagues tested an alternative hypothesis: difficult decisions actively shape one's preferences. The researchers found when faced with a choice between two desirable snack foods, participants activated a brain network that assigns values to different options during the decision-making process. This neural activity -- in addition to which snack participants' eyes focused on -- predicted how they would later reevaluate the items, valuing the chosen snack more than the unchosen one. These findings challenge traditional views of the relationship between decisions and preferences." (author not specified)https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-buridan-donkey-neuroscience-medieveal-decision-making.html
When porn images are viewed and experienced as being positive and pleasurable, they like addictive substances, hyper-stimulates the nervous system and triggers unnaturally high levels of dopamine secretion. Regular and often exposure to porn can damage the dopamine reward system and cause it to become unresponsive to natural sources of sexual pleasure, while at the same time causing a state of hypersexualisation.
When a person begins to smoke cigarettes, they are not usually addicted after their first cigarette. However after repetition and continued smoking, the body adjusts to the chemical addition of nicotine into its system. Nicotine directly increases the dopamine secretion in the brain. The body's chemistry has been changed and has adapted to function with high nicotine levels. This changed condition might be called a hyper-nicotinized state. The smoker however feels normal until the nicotine level in the blood drops. When the nicotine level in the body drops the smoker is prompted by a craving to have another cigarette. When the nicotine level is increased the withdrawal symptoms abate completely. Porn consumption acts in a similar way. Using porn regularly causes a porn user to enter a state known as hypersexualisation. A compulsion to view porn (in any of its various forms) accompanies this state. If the porn is not consumed, then the porn addict will feel the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Many men and young men only realise the damage that porn viewing has caused them when they are unable to maintain an erection with a real-life partner or that they are unable to ejaculate without the 'assistance' or visual stimulation of porn images. Because porn consumption causes substantial concern for men suffering from erectile dysfunction, men attempting to quit porn should be away that abstinence from porn can cause significant withdrawal discomfort.
The brain and body will both experience symptoms caused by suffering from temporary low dopamine levels. This is because the high levels of dopamine produced by excessive stimulation forced the brain into 'survival' mode. In order to protect the brain, many of the dopamine receptors in the brain were inactivated in order to prevent the excess dopamine from overloading the neural pathways. Withdrawal from the excessive stimulation from porn will involve a period of low dopamine. This readjustment period usually lasts about 3 weeks and in this time the brain registers the low dopamine level and begins to restore the dopamine receptors so that a normal amount of the neurotransmitter is available to the brain. This adjustment period can be uncomfortable. Some men become depressed and get more sleep while the brain re-sets. Some men push themselves to be active and distract these feelings. Either way, if the men (or women) who seeking to be from the obsession and compulsion of porn addiction, continue to look lustfully at sexualised images, they will not recover. The mind must change its thinking. What was once desired and sought after as if it was a piece of chocolate cake, must now be seen in its true light - toxic, poisonous and deadly. Jesus said that the truth would set people free and it is certainly true in the area of porn. The images of women or men that attempt to inspire a sexual response outside of a loving, exclusive and permanent relationship, must be seen as sexual abuse. In reality, those images are sexually abusing the viewer. It is visual rape. It is not normal. It is manipulative of our minds. Forcing a man or woman to view a sexually provocative image or body, is similar in principle to someone blowing cigarette smoke into your face and then telling you "If you don't like it, then don't breathe."
Recovery involves changing the thinking by believing the truth
Both older and younger men only realise the damage that porn viewing has caused them when they are unable to have or maintain an erection with a real-life partner or that they are unable to ejaculate without the 'assistance' or visual stimulation of porn images. Because porn consumption causes substantial concern for men suffering from erectile dysfunction, men attempting to quit porn should be away that abstinence from porn can cause significant withdrawal discomfort.
The brain and body will both experience symptoms caused by suffering from temporary low dopamine levels. This is because the high levels of dopamine produced by excessive stimulation forced the brain into 'survival' mode. In order to protect the brain, many of the dopamine receptors in the brain were inactivated in order to prevent the excess dopamine from overloading the neural pathways. Withdrawal from the excessive stimulation from porn will involve a period of low dopamine. This readjustment period usually lasts about 3 weeks and in this time the brain registers the low dopamine level and begins to restore the dopamine receptors so that a normal amount of the neurotransmitter is available to the brain. This period can be uncomfortable and to make the necessary brain changes as fast as possible, the senses that stimulate the brain must be controlled. Men are advised to change their toxic thought patterns. No longer is the habit of sexually evaluating a woman - all women - able to be practised. It is not healthy to do so even for a man who does not have a sexual compulsion problem. Men must realise that that 'pornism' is an evil as much as is racism, ageism, religionism etc. Women are human beings and should not be sexualised by males. Porn of course insists that such discrimination - sexism - is 'normal and natural' and that 'every man with red blood in his veins' does it. If everyone smoked it would not stop lung cancer from being inflicted on the smokers. Just because everyone supposedly does porn does not prevent everyone from getting erectile dysfunction or progressing to being a pedophile or a serial sexual murderer. When confronted with a scantily clad, provocatively dressed women, she is probably as deluded and pornified as the sexually compulsive male. She should be pitied as a person who has also accepted the lies of the sexual abuse industry. She thinks she has no value other that the lustful looks she can elicit from males. In reality, she is not 'eye candy' or like a piece of chocolate cake that the hypersexualised male desires to devour. She is a human who has her own emotional wounds which is why she is seeking male input to tell her she has some value - even if it is only meat/flesh value. Men trying to recover from hypersexuality will find the battle much easier if they do not look at porn whether it is on-line or walking by in the supermarket.
The struggle to control the mind through the eyes, will not always be difficult. Training the mind to abhor something it once cherished will take some effort, but it needs to start with the thinking the truth. It truly is abhorrent to sexually evaluate a woman. If a man finds it difficult to look at a woman without sexually evaluating her, he can know that he has been pornified.
Can a man look at a tree without sexually evaluating the tree?
What about looking at mountain peaks?
What about looking at a cow? Or a goat?
Does a person sexually evaluate the cow? Does the man/woman sexualise the image of the cow? Perhaps a person might if he/she has gone down the road to bestiality, but it's not considered a normal human sexual response to sexually evaluate cows, goats, horses, dogs or ducks.
What about a pair of shoes?
Just as it is not normal for human beings to sexualise trees, mountains, animals or objects, so it is not normal to sexualise other humans. The true purpose of sexual connection is to chemically bond the partners together in love what was already bond emotionally.
Sexual connection can only be safe in an environment where it is emotionally safe. This is one of the main reasons suggested by those who practice bestiality (zoophiles) as to why they have 'sexual' interaction with animals - because they were emotionally injured in human-to-human interactions and found 'love' and safety with their dog. https://www.vice.com/en/article/wjee49/animal-urges-women-and-bestiality
A person who sexualises and sexually evaluates objects, animals and men/women might help his/her own recovery by examining if/where the unusual sexual anchoring or development of fetishes occurred in their childhood or in porn.
Engaging in sexual acts with unconsenting 'partners' is rape. No-one can have 'sex' with an object or with an animal or with a child not just because they can't give consent, but because they are not able to have an emotionally intimate, mutually loving relationship as equals. No-one can have 'sex' with an unconsenting female/male because they are not in an emotionally intimate, mutually loving relationship. No -one can have sex with a 'one night stand' or in a hook-up for the same reason. Such activity is actually sexual abuse or rape because true sex only happens in loving, permanent, emotionally-connected, sexually exclusive, safe relationships.
Porn insists however that contrary to intelligent reasoning, emotionally detached sexual activity is normal and the more a person participates and the more partners involved, the more sexually satisfied they will become. Porn intends that ALL 'normal' males sexualise ALL females and in doing so males become hypersexualised. According to porn's merchants, the same principle applies to same sex oriented people too so that gay men will sexually evaluate all other men and lesbians will sexually evaluate all other women.
Psychologically, people's minds are trained by repetition to accept new concepts. Repetitive sexual evaluation of every woman or man they see, eventually causes a condition where people are unable NOT to sexually evaluate women - unless, perhaps that woman is their mother or daughter or an obese woman or a woman that porn trains them to think is ugly. If the trained viewer is female, she might find an older man sexually unattractive because that is 'normal' according to porn's 'standards.' In reality, older couples who love each other, still find each other extremely sexually attractive and the husband is often heard to say to others, "My wife is more beautiful today than the day I married her." Similarly wives praise their husbands stating that if they had their choice again, they would still choose their husband because "he is the best man in the world."
Porn trains men to sexually evaluate younger women and rank them as being at the top of the sexually-appealing range of females. Porn promotes anything 'naughty,' illegal, vile and 'on the edge' to ensure that the viewers' adrenaline levels stay high. High monoamine levels are necessary to cause the euphoria that is required to form a compulsive habit, so anything that shocks, startles, surprises, breaks taboos or pushes the boundaries will be found in porn. Soon men will be led to sexually evaluate children, even their own children (incest) and tragically, infants.
Women are increasingly brainwashed to believe that they should be able to dress provocatively without any shame or guilt for the visual rapes that are performing on men.
So if a man is hypersexualised and feels compelled to do porn what he can do to escape the on-going cycle?
Healing starts now that you have admitted that you need to do something to regain control of your sexuality. You are a man of integrity - now.
A man of integrity will not let his hypersexualised brain dictate to him to act in sexually abusive ways, when in his heart he knows the truth. Porn or other form of childhood sexual abuse was what likely caused the hypersexualised condition that he suffers, but it is curable and freedom from compulsion is possible, but rewiring the brain does take effort in the beginning. Put in the effort and you will reap the many benefits.
You don't have to look at females. They are none of your business.
You should regard females as human beings, not sexualised beings. Their private organs are none of your business.
You shouldn't sexually evaluate females or males. Their sexuality is none of your business.
Sexual fantasising is toxic to your mind. It is mental foreplay- a dress rehearsal for masturbation and if you participate, it will possibly reward you with erectile dysfunction.
Note what you are doing, feeling or thinking when emotional change occurs. This will often occur prior to experiencing a compulsive urge.
When emotionally charged or depressed, try to resolve the emotional issue by discussion with an understanding person. Ideally this would be your wife IF SHE IS SUPPORTIVE AND UNDERSTANDS THE CONCEPT OF SEXUAL COMPULSION. If your wife is unable to provide support, then try to speak to a counsellor or trusted friend. The phone is very effective in talking out an urge. (We are happy to help in this way if you contact us).
If you don't get some support and the emotional issue is not resolved, a compulsive urge might very well occur. Try to put your plan to form a new neural pathway into action. What non-sexual enjoyable activity will you do for 15 minutes?
Make a neural pathway in your brain which will become the alternative source of stress relief - walking, jogging, swimming, singing - some pleasurable activity - until the brain neurotransmitters settle. The compulsions will not persist if the mindset has changed and the new neural pathway is always chosen.
Compulsive urges might last for 15 minutes and occur several times a day in the first 3 weeks. This number varies greatly. Do remember that what ever you level is, these urges will ease off. Urges are the most frequent within the first three weeks as the delta fosB levels readjust in the brain. Be patient with yourself. Your body is adjusting as it should.
After the compulsion is over, you might want to try to resolve the emotional issue with the person involved, but it might be best to leave trying to resolve involved issues until you are not experiencing frequent compulsions. This stage can be emotionally draining and you should try to minimize emotional upsets.
Remember, true sex can only happen when it is with a very special, exclusive, permanent partner who is loved and cherished. Every other sexual activity is in fact, sexual and emotional abuse of both partners.
What is Motivating You?
What is motivating you to want to relieve your hypersexualised tension by masturbating to porn or by using a prostitute? Yes, the tension is sexual, but the issues causing the tension will probably be emotional.
Want to feel desired, loved and valued
Frustrated, angry, rebellious, resentful
Rejected or abandoned
Sexual tension is naturally released in 'wet dreams' so do not be concerned that the body can't sort this tension out on its own without your masturbatory assistance. If you stop interfering in the natural process, your body will soon have you back to normal.
Staying sober involves handling sexual assaults on your eyes and body by keeping control of your mind. Keep the truth in your thinking and the body will follow the mind.
Suppose however that the woman is a prostitute and that she is endeavouring to get the man sexually aroused. Does that mean the man MUST respond sexually to the woman? Of course not. The man does not have to respond to her advances and accept her advances in a sexually appealing, arousing manner. He can detach from her and leave that place if he thinks his convictions will 'weaken.' Or he can stare her down or avoid eye contact. This will communicate to her that the sexual response she was trying to get from him, has been denied. He can remind himself that the female is trying to manipulate his sexuality without asking his permission. He can remind himself that the woman has no particular interest in him at all. When he denies her his sexual attention, she will move on to display her body to another victim. She might be miffed. She might swear at him. She might try a little harder to avoid being rejected sexually by him. She wants her power hit!! The man might find that he enjoys reclaiming his power. His mind is not for sale; not for give away either, even if her body is.
Sexually evaluating women is toxic behaviour. Men might search for a partner and find a certain woman attractive. This is normal, but when that man goes on to sexually evaluate a woman, and let his thoughts consider what she looks like without her clothing, he is crossing the line of respect and humanity. He is treating her like an object for his sexual gratification, without her consent or permission. That's a rape of his own body and hers too, that takes place in his mind. He's already thinking about what he can get out of the woman. He's stalking her like a predator. He's not thinking about if she would make a good wife and mother nor is he studying her character. He is focused on 'scoring' and planning how he might snare his prey. He has no commitment to this woman, and is in fact, not thinking about making a long-term commitment to her, but he has already crossed over the line and is imagining himself sexually abusing her. He calls it 'having sex' with her, but it is a rape. It's mental foreplay without permission. The rape occurs in his mind before it occurs in the flesh or it can just occur with pixels on the computer screen. It's still a woman's body being used and her mind being disrespected and her dignity being destroyed.
Just as in a flesh to flesh rape, when you rape a porn internet performer, you aren't giving her anything of value. You are taking her dignity from her and no amount of money can restore that to her. No matter how reassuring her smile might be, it's still sexual abuse because true sex can only happen when it is with a very special, exclusive, permanent partner who is loved and cherished. Every other sexual activity is in fact, sexual and emotional abuse of both partners.
To cope with compulsions during the withdrawal process, follow the steps which involve retraining the mind and knowing that your body is already working to normalise your sexual bio-chemistry. Enjoy becoming sexually free and then help others find their way too.