What is “Your Brain on Porn?”

Dr R. Y. Langham

Jan 21, 2022

Never heard of “Your Brain on Porn?” No worries – this article will introduce you to Gary Wilson, the “Your Brain on Porn” mastermind, and enlighten you on how porn can affect your brain.

With the inception and subsequent popularity of the internet and the sudden emergence of a worldwide pandemic, “porn use” has skyrocketed. Although distressing, this result is not totally unexpected. Porn has always been around, but in recent years it has gained enough ground to become an epidemic, not just in the US, but throughout the world. And, while “porn habits” or porn addiction was originally believed to primarily affect men, women are also being impacted by this “adult form of entertainment – or escape.”

More and more people are beginning to view and “get wrapped up in” porn. And, as a result, more and more relationships are being damaged or destroyed by this risqué behavior. Porn tends to consume massive amounts of time. In fact, it is common for a porn addict to spend more time streaming sexually-explicit images online, in books or magazines, or in movies or videos. The truth is porn is everywhere, which means you can access it just about anywhere at any time.

All you need is a private space and/or an internet connection. That’s all it takes to journey into the seedy world of pornography. It is important to understand that porn can strip you of your self-esteem and self-esteem, finances, health and well-being, a social life, companionship, and even love. And, unfortunately, for the first time ever, porn-induced sexual dysfunction (i.e., erectile dysfunction (ED), impotence, premature ejaculation (PE), and sexual performance anxiety) have become a significant issue for men and women of all ages.

Because, “porn use” and porn addiction are steadily increasing year by year, many porn addicts have turned to a technique referred to as “rebooting.” What is “rebooting?” “Rebooting” involves avoiding (or at least trying to abstain) from viewing or watching porn or sexually-explicit images. Those, who have tried to “reboot” or free themselves from their porn fixation reported noticeable changes, such as increased focus a concentration, improved mood or fewer mood swings, and the ability to be truly “present” and engaged in romantic relationships and during sexual encounters.

Gary Wilson is an atheist and founder of “Your Brain on Porn” an educational website and author of a best-selling book by the same name, came across “rebooters,” who were trying to or had tried to “reboot their brains” or release the hold porn has or had on them. Wilson listened to the individuals and then educated them on how one’s internal reward system can influence behavior.

For instance, if you are a porn addict, your brain perceives porn as a “reward” or something that triggers joy, arousal, pain-relief, escape, etc. Because the feelings associated with porn are positive, you are more inclined to return to it over and over again – until it becomes a “habit” or addiction.

Wilson’s final conclusion – porn is not only dangerously addictive but also highly damaging. As a result, he devoted much of his life to educating others (“porn users” and “non-porn users”) on how porn affects the brain, so they could improve their physical, sexual and emotional health, and restore the “balance” in their lives.

Is There Really a Connection Between the Brain and “Porn Use?”

Absolutely.

In fact, Gary Wilson suggests that there are at least 55 neuroscience-based studies (i.e., hormonal, fMRI, MRI, EEG, neuropsychological, etc.) linking brain activity with “porn use.” As a result, the general consensus amongst researchers, scientists, mental health professionals, and experts is that there is a positive correlation between brain activity and porn addiction. These findings “echo” the neurological effects commonly found in drug and alcohol addicts.

In addition, Wilson and his team discovered approximately 31 neurological literature reviews on the effects of porn on the brain. Moreover, 60+ studies found that “porn use” can lead to an increased tolerance to porn, acclimation to porn (“porn habit” or porn addiction), and/or porn addiction withdrawal symptoms.

Wilson and his team also found 25+ studies dispute the claim that porn addiction stems from a “high sex drive.” These proponents assert that porn has little-to-no impact on brain function. Additionally, Wilson and his team uncovered 95+ studies linking “porn use” to poor mental/emotional/cognitive health. Lastly, Wilson and his colleagues unearthed 40+ studies connecting “porn use” to “elitist, sexist, and patriarchal attitudes” towards female sexual behavior.

In conclusion: Wilson and his colleagues found135 neurological studies connecting the brain to “porn use.” The findings suggest that everyday exposure to porn or sexually-explicit material can increase one’s risk of experiencing body dysmorphia or dissatisfaction, self-objectification, the development and advancement of sexist beliefs, negative sexual beliefs, and/or sexual aggression towards women (i.e., rape or sexual assault). Furthermore, regular exposure to porn can cause both men and women to develop an impaired view of a female’s capability, integrity, virtue, and “goodness.”

Who is Gary Wilson?

Well, in a nutshell, Gary Wilson, was the founder of the secular website, “Your Brain on Porn,” and book (of the same name). Wilson was a self-affirmed atheist, who welcomed all views, regardless of religion – or lack thereof. Gary Wilson and his world-renowned team primarily adopted a “science-based approach” to porn.

Wilson made it clear that he did not develop the “Your Brain on Porn” website and book to “bash” “porn users,” rather, his goal was to educate the population, “porn users,” and porn addicts alike, how porn could and most likely would eventually affect their brain function, and ultimately, their behavior. More specifically, Gary Wilson believed that “porn use” and porn addiction ultimately stem from a lack of information, and that if people were properly educated on the negative consequences of viewing porn, they would be empowered to make better decisions, thereby, improving their quality of life.

Thus, Wilson’s website, like his book, focuses on porn’s impact on the brain. It is important to note that much of Wilson’s focus falls on the male experience with porn, primarily because the majority of self-reports come from male “porn users” and porn addicts. As a result, both the website and book have a prevailingly male tilt. However, Wilson was well-aware that addiction has no gender – even if that addiction involves porn.

Gary Wilson also discovered that more and more women were beginning to delve into online porn, so much so that it was steadily becoming a “problem.” As a result, Wilson and his team added a section, Articles of Special Interest to Women, to the website so women can get the resources they need to fully understand the effects of porn, not only on their relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence, finances, sexual health, but also on their brains.

Wilson also did not believe there is only one way to recover from porn addiction. In fact, Wilson and his team decided to share a variety of tips that appear to have helped other “porn users” and porn addicts combat the unwanted and undesirable effects of excessive “porn use.”

Therefore, Gary Wilson aimed to help people, like you, understand how a “porn habit,” especially an internet “porn habit” can alter or change how your brain functions. Wilson’s goal with the website and the book is to provide you with the tools you need to outsmart your “porn habit” so you can rebuild your personal, social, financial, and sexual health and well-being – while improving your relationships.

Gary Wilson spent roughly two decades (20 years) researching the impact of sexual habits and behaviors on brain activity, and at least one decade (10 years) conversing with recovering porn addicts.

And, in 2016, Gary Wilson published two peer-reviewed papers:

Through research, Wilson surmised that the overall perception of “porn use” or porn addiction fluctuates between religious people, who have been taught and truly believe that porn is evil, wicked, and immoral, and those, who laugh-off porn as something their dads, friends, uncles, brothers, cousins, and/or sons partake in just for the hell of it. Ironically, Wilson did not view porn as a “moral failing” (although he acknowledged that porn exposure could lead to sex trafficking in underage boys and girls).

What Are Wilson’s Main Beliefs?

Listed below are Gary Wilson’s beliefs about porn and its effects on the brain:

  • Online or internet porn addiction is a real “thing.” And, it is typically referred to as a “compulsive sexual behavior” or “complex, controversial or problematic porn use.”
  • Most addictions involve a “shared” pattern of fundamental brain changes – all of which have been thoroughly studied and notated in substance/chemical addictions, per a specific group of signs, symptoms, and behaviors.
  • There is such thing as “porn-induced sexual dysfunctions” like erectile dysfunction (ED), performance anxiety, and premature ejaculation (PE).
  • Online porn-watching is steadily increasing amongst all demographics.
  • Online or internet porn can trigger or aggravate a variety of personal and health issues, such as a loss of interest, attraction or intimacy towards real-life partners, poor self-esteem, brain fog, social anxiety, depression, laziness, apathy, porn addiction withdrawal symptoms, advancement to more extreme sexual material, etc.
  • Porn addicts, who take steps to “quit porn,” typically experience a decline in “porn use” over time.

Are Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunctions Real? And, Is There a Brain Component Linked to These Conditions?

Yes, sexual dysfunctions are real. And, yes, there is a brain component linked to these conditions. These conditions are even recognized by researchers, psychologists, and medical doctors.

Gary Wilson’s website and book acknowledge porn-related sexual dysfunctions, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE), impotence, and sex-based performance anxiety. His website also offers a wide range of expert articles and interviews written by approximately 150+ health professionals (i.e., urologists and urology professionals, psychologists, sex therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, and sexologists), who have helped addicts successfully recover from sexual issues (like porn-induced erectile dysfunction and/or a porn-related loss of libido or sex drive).

How Does Porn Affect the Brain?

Porn can affect the brain in a variety of ways.

  • According to a 2009 study, compulsive porn addicts have a larger portion of disjointed and unorganized prefrontal cortex white matter, than those who do not have an addiction to porn. The results are consistent with hypofrontality, a characteristic of addiction.
  • A 2014 study also found important addiction-related brain changes that are largely dependent on the amount of porn a person views. More specifically, researchers discovered that the more porn viewed, the less reward circuit activity, suggesting the process of desensitization and increased need for higher stimulation or “tolerance.”
  • Similarly, researchers found that porn addicts tend to prefer “sexual novelty” and porn-related conditioned cues to realistic sexual experiences. Study results suggest that the brains of porn addicts “acclimate” more quickly to sexually-explicit images, than people, who are not dependent on porn. Thus, it appears that porn addiction prompts “porn users” and addicts to seek “sexual novelty” to overpower acclimatization (habituation or dependency) and desensitization.
  • Likewise, a 2015 study revealed that cue-related brain activity patterns in porn addicts mimic the patterns of drug addicts. More specifically, changes in the prefrontal cortex of porn addicts appear to “mirror” prefrontal cortex changes in drug addicts.
  • Researchers also found that porn addicts tend to be “less stimulated” by or “responsive” to “vanilla porn” (less explicit sexual images). These results are similar to a 2014 study that revealed that people, who view porn regularly, are less likely to experience a boost in brain activity after viewing “vanilla porn.”
  • A 2016 study indicates that porn addicts have a larger left amygdala volume and lower functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, than people, who are not “porn users” or porn addicts.
  • Researchers have also concluded that explicit online pictures of porn are more likely to stimulate or activate the reward center activity (ventral striatum) in “porn users” and porn addicts. And, that ventral striatum reactivity is linked to internet sex addiction.
  • Moreover, a 2017 study discovered that male porn addicts tend to have unhealthy or dysfunctional stress systems – a change in neuroendocrine activity can trigger by addiction. Researchers also found that porn addiction can cause genetic changes – changes that are not only fundamental to the human stress response but also clearly linked to addiction.
  • Equally, a 2017 study found neurological differences between irregular or inconsistent “porn users” and regular and excessive “porn users,” especially after viewing or watching erotica. Thus, the results indicate that escalating “porn use” can influence the brain’s unconscious responses to emotion-provoking stimuli.
  • Lastly, a 2018 study suggested that porn addicts are at greater risk of gray matter deficits, diminished brain structure, and altered functional connectivity in the temporal gyrus.

Does Gary Wilson Provide “Your Brain on Porn” Videos on His Website?

Yes, you can find 5 videos on porn and related topics.

Is “Your Brain on Porn” offered in other formats (Besides Website and Book)?

Yes, “Your Brain on Porn” is also offered in Kindle and Audiobook formats.

Is “Your Brain on Porn” Connected to Any Social Media Sites?

Yes, you can visit “Your Brain on Porn” on Facebook and Twitter for information, resources, and updates.

Does Gary Wilson’s Website Provide Tips on How to Successfully Quit a Porn Addiction?

Absolutely!

All you have to do to find valuable tips on how to heal from porn addiction is to visit the “Rebooting Basics” section to learn how you can successfully “quit” and recover from porn addiction. You can also find information on “rebooting your brain” or “freeing” your brain from porn under the “Rebooting & Porn Use FAQs” section.

Additional help and valuable suggestions are available under the “Tools for Change & Recovery” and Support Options (i.e., Reddit anti-porn forums, porn addiction forums, support groups, books, apps, self-help tips, lifestyle changes, porn recovery programs, porn addiction withdrawal, and porn addiction treatment programs.

The website also provides tools, resources, and support for people, whose loved ones, are battling a “porn habit.”

Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Support “Rebooting” or Porn Recovery?

Yes!

One way to combat porn addiction and support “rebooting” or clearing porn from your brain is to invest in the online porn recovery program, Stop Together. Stop Together offers a wide range of beneficial tools and resources, such as affordable online acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) therapy with top-notch specialists and therapists, education, mindfulness techniques, meditative practices, lifelong access to over 200 sessions, post-recovery support, and a money-back guarantee – all accessible within your “safe place(s).” Stop Together offers you the privacy to make the necessary changes to regain your sexual health and rebuild your health and well-being. So, if you are in the midst of “rebooting your brain,” check out Stop Together for added support.

Is Gary Wilson Still Alive?

Unfortunately, no.

Wilson passed away on May 20, 2021, shortly before his 65th birthday, due to undisclosed chronic health issues.