Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Burnout

So this TED talk about how internet porn burns out the frontal lobes is becoming very well-known, and sending a whole host of young would-be alpha males running screaming from RedTube and such.

Of course I have no doubt it's true; and I'll write someday about my history with and feelings about porn in general.

But what nobody seems to be discussing, in regards to this video, are the larger ramifications: that burnout is a very literal phenomenon, and too much arousal of any kind leads to addiction and then irregularities in seratonin and dopamine and can override our natural reactions.

He mentions video games and gambling as two other things that can cause these changes, and we can assume that, since they involve more intense levels of arousal than say, hiking in the woods or macrame, this happens more quickly than with milder pleasures.

So banging too many random real babes can lead to this burnout, too. Most assuredly.

(I wrote about this previously in two posts: ADDICTED TO FUCKING and THE INEVITABLE RESULTS OF TOO MUCH FORNICATING. Now, I allow: some people will burn out more quickly than others. My amygdala is a fragile thing, prone to depression and moodiness.)

But just consider: you go out and live all your dreams, fuck tons of babes and visit every cool country on Earth. It becomes what you live for, for a while, and you're in fucking heaven.

Is enlightenment going to be your reward?

Nope. Eventually, you get burned out. A fucked -up dead amygdala. Gradual de-sensitization and addiction-related changes in your frontal lobes. "Numbed pleasure response" as he puts it.

Now repeating intense pleasures is one thing; but repeatedly doing those things we don't want to do is presumably the sensation so commonly referred to as "soul-sucking."

So what should a person do?

Well, unsurprisingly, this question has been discussed since the dawn of philosophy. Aristotle didn't have brain scans or much in the way of statistical research on his side, but his answer of the Golden Mean seems to hold up:

One thing that is not really addressed in that TED talk is the role of masturbation in all this. If we masturbate a lot but don't watch porn, will we have the same problems? Or if we watch porn but don't masturbate? I mark this an issue for further study.

Just another happy thought of the day from English Teacher X out here in the desert.


Anonymous said...

Better to burn out than to fade away.

Eccentric Expat said...

Masturbation leads to blindness, and hairy palms. Or something like that.

Cynic said...

If one eliminates acedia (sloth, indolence) from one's life, the question of 'how much is enough/too much of (x indulgence)' becomes quite irrelevant because one does not even have indulgences in mind, and one can get to the golden mean indirectly, rather than trying to quantify something (satisfacton vs desire) that isn't really quantifiable.

English Teacher X said...

Moderation in all things, including moderation.