What is Gary Wilson & “The Great Porn Experiment?”

Dr R. Y. Langham

Mar 02, 2022

High-speed internet has taken the world by storm. Never before in history has one been able to easily communicate with people around the world. Thus, the internet has broadened the horizons for billions of people, introducing them to new cultures, foods, music, histories, etc. But, although the internet has been a godsend for many people, it has been a downfall for some. More specifically, it has opened pandora’s box in the form of porn. And, now with COVID restricting our movements (i.e., social distancing, restrictions, and lockdowns) and limiting our ability to connect with others in the real world, it should be of no surprise that “porn use” and porn addiction are on the rise.

But, because people are increasingly turning to porn to pass the time, combat boredom, entertain themselves, while furloughed from jobs, feel “connected” to someone or something, “escape” negative thoughts, emotions, and situations, etc., this destructive pastime has started to register on the public’s radar. The truth is “porn use” is running rampant amongst all populations (i.e., young and old, ethnic and non-ethnic, Christian and non-Christain, male and female, poor, middle-class, and rich, etc.). No one is immune to porn addiction. And, while some “porn users” believe that porn helps their romantic relationships – in reality…it is not.

In fact, if your partner knows that you are regularly or excessively watching porn, there is a good chance it is harming your relationship – even if he or she fails to admit it to you. It is important to understand that watching “cyber-porn” for hours-on-end not only affects your romantic relationship or marriage (i.e., your partner’s emotional state, leading to self-doubt, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and self-confidence, etc.), but it also “steals” money from your wallet, stalls your career prospects, and damages your family dynamics, friendships, livelihood, and/or sexual health or sex life. And, if you have children, your “porn habit” can impact them as well.

And, guess what? For the first time, porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is affecting young men and women at alarming rates. Because of these spikes in “porn use,” researchers, experts, therapists, and society, in general, are beginning to acknowledge the need for more research, fewer stigmas and labels, and better treatments for people, who a dependent on porn. The truth is porn is not going anywhere – at least not right now, so the best that we, as mental health providers and/or members of society, can do is reduce, treat, or prevent people from becoming entangled in never-ending “porn habits.”

Gary Wilson, the founder of the “Your Brain on Porn” website, studied the impact of porn on your brain and garnered some interesting findings. His study, termed, “The Great Porn Experiment” was created to educate the masses on the long-term and far-reaching effects of regular and excessive “porn use.”

So, if you are interested in learning more about “Gary Wilson and The Great Porn Experiment,” a fascinating experiment that “changed” how people view porn’s influence on the mind and body – keep reading!

Who is Gary Wilson?

Born May 12, 1956, Gary B. Wilson was not just a creator, author, presenter, researcher, and educator, he was also an adoring husband and father. Wilson founded the “Your Brain on Porn” website, wrote the bestselling book, “Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction,” presented the TEDx talk “The Great Porn Experiment” and researched and shared the most recent studies, reports, theories, interviews, and articles on the “ills of porn.”

Gary Wilson taught a host of classes, such as psychology, human pathology, biology, and anatomy. However, he was primarily interested in the effects of addiction on the brain, specifically in regards to “coupling” (or mating), and “connecting” (or bonding). Wilson was a passionate teacher and researcher who was determined to help people – and their loved ones – better understand the long-term effects of porn addiction, especially on brain chemistry and function.

In the mid-2000s, Gary Wilson and his colleagues conducted a massive (tens-of-thousands of porn users) “unofficial” study to examine the effects of porn on the brain. This study also explored the concept of “rebooting” or “retraining” your brain to shun or abstain from porn. Wilson and his colleagues listened to the “experiences” of porn addicts, who had tried (unsuccessfully) to quit cyber-porn (internet porn), and tried to explain to them how their internal reward system was being influenced by its surroundings.

Study participants reported experiencing enhanced focus and concentration, uplifted mood, and improved real-life intimacy – after “rebooting” their brains and quitting porn. As a result, Wilson concluded that cyber-porn can, and often does, quickly become addictive – and highly destructive.

In 2010, Gary Wilson created the “Your Brain on Porn” website. In 2015, he published “Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction” (currently offered in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats). Note: After a few years, he updated and revised the book, re-releasing the 2nd edition in 2018. And, in 2016, he presented his famous TEDx talk, titled “The Great Porn Experiment” to a mass audience.

What is the Purpose of the “Your Brain on Porn” Website?

As mentioned above, in 2010, Gary Wilson, an atheist and retired psychology, pathology, physiology, and anatomy professor, created “YourBrainOnPorn.com” after listening to young people recount their harrowing experiences with “excessive porn use.” “YourBrainOnPorn.com” explores the impact of porn on the human brain. The website is run by a group of men, who have “recovered” from a cyber-porn addiction.

“YourBrainOnPorn.com” is a secular website, however, it is devoted to ensuring that all views are heard, welcomed, and respected. Still, it is important to note that this website is primarily scienced-based. Thus, the purpose of “YourBrainOnPorn.com” is to enlighten the population on the effects of porn – not to label porn as “evil” or “immoral.”

In other words, Wilson’s intention was not to ban porn. Also, keep in mind that this website does not accept donations or publish business or consumer advertisements. In fact, all of the proceeds go to charities that support research and education on the “ill effects” of porn on the human mind and body. Gary Wilson also refused to accept payment for speaking engagements.

Ultimately, “YourBrainOnPorn.com” was created to help porn addicts and their loved ones better understand the damage that porn can do to the user’s life and the lives of the people, who love him or her. According to Wilson, these individuals are needlessly suffering due to a lack of credible and reliable information. He believed that with the proper information, porn addicts would likely be more inclined to make the necessary changes to improve their lives – i.e., quit porn for good.

Keep in mind, however, that the majority of the information, research, tools, and resources on the website are geared towards the male’s perspective and experiences with porn addiction – mainly because the assumption is that males view cyber-porn more frequently than females. Even though this theory was widely accepted in the past, current research suggests that this theory may be changing. More specifically, women are increasingly turning to porn out of loneliness, stress, to please a partner, relationship issues, ideas, frustration, anxiety, depression, etc.

Thus, the goal of this website is to help you better understand how “heavy cyber-porn use” can “alter” your brain functions. In fact, according to Wilson, porn can “trick” your brain into craving it. However, the good news is once you are able to clearly “see” how your brain is being deceived and manipulated by porn, you can make an informed decision to “kick it to the curb.” In other words, you can decide to quit porn and take back your life.

So, ultimately, “YourBrainOnPorn.com” was “born” out of decades of research and analysis on the short-term and long-term effects of porn on the human brain. And, from actively listening to porn addicts tell their “personal truths.”

And, although some studies support the belief that “heavy porn use” “changes” a person’s brain chemistry and activity, others reject this theory, finding no significant “changes” associated with “porn use” – minimal, moderate, or heavy. The truth is “porn” has caused a schism between religious people (i.e., Christians), who view cyber-porn as a “sin” or a “moral failing,” and secular people, who view it as a harmless pastime (i.e., a form of entertainment).

Personally, Wilson did not view porn as “immoral” or “sinful.” But he did assert that watching cyber-porn is somehow different than viewing porn in other formats, such as in magazines. In other words, cyber-porn is a stronger stimulus (has a more pronounced effect on the brain – especially in adolescent males) than simply viewing it in a magazine.

This educational website helps “cyber-porn users” better understand how “heavy porn use” can “alter” the brain and lead to full-blown porn addiction. Wilson believed that with education and knowledge, people will make better decisions when it comes to sex and sex-related activities – like porn-watching.

Note:Your Brain on Porn” website is not intended to diagnose porn addiction or provide medical, psychological, and/or sexual advice to potential porn addicts and/or their loved ones. Also, understand that Gary Wilson did not believe that there’s only one way to fully “recover” from porn addiction. Rather, he believed that it is important to promote a variety of opinions, resources, and suggestions on “YourBrainOnPorn.com” to reverse the undesirable and possibly dangerous effects of “excessive porn use.”

What is “The Great Porn Experiment?”

In 2016, Gary Wilson presented a TEDx talk, titled, “The Great Porn Experiment.” And, to date, “The Great Porn Experiment” has been viewed approximately 14 million times. Wilson’s message was that “cyber-porn use” has not only become widespread but has quickly become one of the most perplexing phenomena in modern history.

However, Wilson’s own “informal” study on the impact of porn on the human brain yielded some distressing results. During the talk, Gary Wilson explained that there is simply not enough data (yet) to know the true impact of cyber-porn on young males (even as young as pre-teens), who watch a large or unlimited amounts of internet porn before they have had a chance to have real-life sexual encounters.

According to Wilson, porn addicts, especially male porn addicts, are being used as “lab rats” in studies focused on internet addictions, such as cyber-porn addiction. Wilson believed that we are approaching a time in which researchers are learning what is really happening to people, who view porn, and how this “porn use” may affect them long-term – even possibly impacting future generations.

During his TEDx talk, Gary Wilson explained to the audience how porn “tricks” a person’s brain into believing he or she needs porn to boost his or her libido and trigger sexual arousal. Science, on the other hand, suggests that porn, especially cyber- or internet porn, is not only unhealthy but also highly addictive. He also found, from his “unofficial” study and decades-long research that watching porn “rewires” the brain so that it is challenging, if not impossible, to become sexually excited without the aid of it. This is especially true if the male becomes engaged with internet porn early in life.

Gary Wilson also talked about how “back in the day” erectile dysfunction (ED) was virtually unheard of in men under the age of 40. But, now, more and more young men, some as young as 15-years-old, are being inundated with sexually-explicit material (i.e., porn) on the internet. As a result, teenage boys are now also experiencing ED – something that was practically unheard of a few decades ago.

Wilson concluded his TEDx talk by saying something to the effect of, “By the time these young males find real-life partners – even if it is decades later, it will have dawned on them that they spent too much time focusing on porn and too little time focusing on what is more important – real-life relationships and sexual experiences.

Therefore, porn can condition adolescent males to crave and rely upon sexually-explicit images (i.e., fetish, ebony, mature, amateur, lesbian, and/or voyeuristic porn) for sexual gratification. The end result? These young males may experience erection issues with their real-life partners – issues that do not go away until months after they have “officially” quit porn.

What Did Gary Wilson Personally Believe?

Wilson personally believed the following tenets:

  • Cyber- or internet porn addiction really exists, although, nowadays, it is often characterized as a “compulsive sexual behavior” or a “problematic porn habit.”
  • Addictions, regardless of the “type,” involve a pattern of “shared” brain “changes,” similar to the ones normally seen in chemical-based addictions, like drug and alcohol addictions (i.e., similar signs and symptoms and behaviors).
  • Porn-related sexual dysfunctions, like porn-induced erectile dysfunction, also exist.
  • Cyber- or internet porn has begun to spark extreme or fetish-like porn “preferences” (i.e., BDSM) in some “porn users.”
  • Cyber- or internet porn can trigger or worsen aversive symptoms, such as low sex drive, premature ejaculation (PE), erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence, a waning sexual attraction to a real-life partner, depression, sexual performance anxiety, poor motivation, social isolation, emotional apathy, withdrawal symptoms, a “preference” for extreme sex, etc.) in some “heavy porn users.”
  • Neuroscientists suggest that porn can influence a person’s sexuality, sexual arousal, and brain function, especially in adolescent males.

Note: The good news is “cyber-porn users,” who are actively trying to quit porn, tend to experience a reduction in their “porn urges” over time.

Did Gary Wilson Conduct Research on the Effects of Porn? If So, What Did He Find?

Yes, he did. He found that “changes” occur in the brain when porn is viewed.

Gary Wilson designed “YourBrainOnPorn.com” to be a science-supported, fact-based, heavily researched awareness campaign to help the public explore the scientific tools and resources at their disposal. The objective of his website and subsequent book, “Your Brain On Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction,” is to “unearth” the real danger of indulging in porn. The “Your Brain on Porn” website only pulls from peer-reviewed studies and academic journals to emphasize the lasting effects of “heavy porn use.” Ultimately, the website uses science to help to explain the long-term effects of “excessive porn use” on the human brain – to society.

Wilson and his colleagues compiled and added the most up-to-date porn studies, interpretations, and articles to the “Your Brain on Porn” website. They also added various sections to the website devoted to “debunking” faulty data and fact-checking dubious studies that claim that “porn use” can be “useful,” “beneficial,” “normal,” and/or “benign.”’

Lastly, Wilson dedicated much of his time and website to researching, exploring, and discussing porn-related sexual problems, like porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), because males, young and old, are developing it. Understand, however, that some psychologists, medical doctors, educators, researchers, and scientists, do not believe in the prevalence of porn addiction. As a result, “YourBrainOnPorn.com” not only provides you with credible research on the effects of porn but also teaches you how to “reboot” your brain so you can finally kick your “porn habit.”

Is Gary Wilson Still Alive?

Sadly, no.

Gary Bruce Wilson, the creator of the “Your Brain on Porn” website (an extensive online library containing various porn-related articles, resources, studies, videos, personal narratives, and tools), TEDx talk presenter of the extremely popular segment, “The Great Porn Experiment” (14+ million YouTube views), researcher, educator, and author of the bestselling book, “Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction”, passed away on May 20, 2021.

Wilson’s unexpected death occurred a few days after his 65th birthday. According to the press release, Wilson suffered from several unrevealed chronic health conditions. He is survived by his wife, Marnia Robinson, son, Arion Sprague, and four-legged companion, “Smokey, the dog.” Wilson was born in Seattle, Washington, but lived most of his adult life in Ashland, Oregon.

People, who knew Wilson, describe him as an exceptional husband, father, mentor, colleague, and friend. Ultimately, Gary Wilson was inspirational for millions of porn addicts and non-porn-addicts alike. He spent his life advocating for “voiceless” porn addicts, researching the impact of porn on the human brain, and educating on and raising awareness of the harmful effects of porn addiction to the masses.

Is There a Tool That I Can Use To “Cure” My Porn Addiction?

Yes, there is a tool that can help you “cure” your porn addiction – and it is called Stop Together!

What is Stop Together? It is a convenient, online porn recovery program, created to help you quit porn and return to a healthier, more positive anti-porn life. Stop Together offers “porn users” invaluable porn addiction help.

More specifically, it provides you with additional porn addiction support, resources, therapy and therapy techniques (i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT), mindfulness meditation, audio recordings, a library of informative articles/blogs, and a lifetime of access to course content – all for $49.99.

Another benefit? The course was created using input from top-notch doctors, psychologists, addiction specialists, and other mental health professionals – so you get the very best porn addiction help and guidance. Stop Together even provides porn addiction relapse and post-course support – in case you need extra “assistance” once you re-enter the “real world!”