With so many users quitting pornography and masturbation altogether, it seems like there must be some secret to getting off without using porn or masturbating. But what if you don’t believe in the power of the placebo effect? Is this true, or is there something else going on here?
If you’re new to these concepts, check out our beginner’s guide to mental health first! Read on if you want more information about psychedelics, meditation, self-help, etc.
Contents of Article
Is NoFap a Placebo?
The short answer is yes—but I’ll explain why below. The longer answer is complicated because we need to consider two different things when quitting porn and masturbation.
First, we should look at whether NoFap directly impacts your brain or body. Second, we should look at how much of an overall positive effect it can have on your life.
Masturbation With Porn vs. Masturbation Without Porn
When discussing the effects of NoFap, it’s essential to keep two things in mind: masturbation with porn versus masturbation without porn. This distinction matters for several reasons.
Let’s start by looking at what happens during masturbation with porn. Because of the way porn is made, watching porn causes changes in the same areas of your brain as other addictive substances do. Porn uses the same pathways in your brain that drug use does, which means your reward centers get activated whenever you watch porn. Watching too much porn can also increase levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is associated with pleasure while being released during orgasm. When you see a hot girl, it releases dopamine into your system. Then, next time you watch porn, your brain associates sex with those feelings of excitement and pleasure. Over time, you become addicted to the release of dopamine from porn.
Porn addiction essentially involves seeking rewards from porn instead of actual partners. You may end up feeling guilty for not having sex with someone who wants it, but you feel compelled to seek satisfaction elsewhere. That “other” place could involve pornography, masturbation, or sex toys.
In contrast, masturbation without porn doesn’t cause physical changes in your brain or body. Your reward center won’t activate, nor will you experience any increases in dopamine. The only thing you’ll notice is that you aren’t getting your daily dose of dopamine through masturbation alone.
A most common reason why they think it is just placebo effects
This is one reason why people say NoFap isn’t effective. They think they’re quitting masturbation, but their brains still crave the rush of dopamine given to them from porn. Essentially, they’re still masturbating—they think they’re overcoming their urges to do so.
In other words, they have not been doing NoFap for long enough time, or they were edging during this challenge! Look at the timeline of benefits. And see how long you need to do this for most effects to kick in!
Another argument against NoFap is that it might negatively affect women who watch porn regularly. Some studies show that regular viewers of porn report high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. This might mean that viewing porn can harm women’s well-being. However, most evidence shows that this isn’t true.
As far as science goes, both arguments are valid. You shouldn’t view porn compulsively, mainly since it damages relationships and harms society. But it’s unfair to say NoFap is ineffective or harmful simply because it affects some subgroups worse than others. We should aim to help everyone improve their lives, regardless of personal circumstances.
For now, let’s assume that masturbation without porn is better than masturbation with porn. And let’s further assume that quitting porn entirely is best for your long-term happiness. Now we know that NoFap is a good idea, but how likely is it to work for you?
Why Do People Say NoFap is a Placebo?
Based on the above reasoning, it’s easy to understand why NoFap would seem like a bad idea. After all, you’d probably agree that it’s unhealthy to watch porn compulsively, right? So if you quit porn, wouldn’t you just relapse?
But we’ve established that quitting porn is best for your future happiness. So, why would anyone say that NoFap is a placebo?
Well, it comes down to where you go after quitting porn. If you choose to stop caring about it, that’s fine. But if you decide to take action against yourself (such as trying to overcome your cravings), you run the risk of relapse.
Some people find themselves experiencing cravings for porn once they give up. Others use NoFap as an excuse to avoid dealing with their problems. Either way, it’s possible for someone to relapse and returns to old habits.
That said, if you stick with NoFap and continue working toward improving yourself, then you stand a decent chance of success. Most people who try NoFap succeed, and those who don’t usually fail due to poor motivation or not enough support.
Is NoFap Worth Doing?
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of NoFap, you can decide whether or not it is worth doing. Here are some guidelines for you to follow.
If you haven’t already done so, try giving up masturbation and/or pornography for atleast 30 days (here are the rules). During that time, see how you feel if you feel good about your decisions, great! Keep going. If you feel less enthusiastic, however, you should reconsider.
If you feel good about your decision, you may have overcome your problem completely. Or maybe you still have occasional cravings (how to stop them), but you’re able to push past them. In either case, you’re well on your way towards improved quality of life. Achieving that goal is a huge step forward!
If you feel negative emotions about your choice, though, then there’s a good chance you have some issues to deal with. You may still want to pursue NoFap, but it’s important to address whatever needs fixing before you dive headfirst into another battle.
And if you’re struggling with porn addiction, please seek professional help. There are medications and therapies available to treat this condition.
Nofap appears to be nothing more than a placebo to many. While its proponents argue that it works because it helps people change their behavior, scientific research hasn’t found anything concrete indicating otherwise.
Of course, placebo effects exist in medicine, too. For example, doctors often prescribe drugs with little hope of helping patients, yet some people still respond positively to them anyway. These drugs are called “sham treatments,” They’re sometimes used in clinical trials to test experimental medicines.
So while NoFap might not work for all, placebo effects certainly do and some users experience real benefits from it as well, because they were literally addicted to porn. At least you know now.
What do you think about NoFap? Are you skeptical about the effectiveness of the challenge, or do you think it’s worthwhile for some people? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!