Neurons that fire together wire together

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    Thanks for that info, WS. I bought a copy and will start reading immediately.
  2. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    I never felt weak as a young teenager, to be honest. However, sex was pretty taboo in my family, probably because my parents lived in a sexless marriage, I think this led to sex being more alluring.

    Anyway, once I got addicted to M my life definitely veered in a different direction, and of course like all teenagers I'm sure I had my feelings of doubt.

    I also disagree with the author about Opiates, I think porn addiction can be just as bad. I still find it hard to believe I am still struggling after several years, but as you say, it is learned behavior that is tough to beat on a will power level.
  3. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Again, thanks for being here for me, guys. Lte and 40new30, you are carrying me through this.

    I did feel week as a teenager, particularly at school. Not all the time, but there were people I was happier not being around. The tough kids that, in retrospect, felt threatened by someone who didn't live his life according to the gods of branded sportswear, didn't think smoking was cool, couldn't care less for amusement arcades and had no intentions of flunking exams. I can see now that they were full of rage because of their shitty home lives. Looking back, I can recall many times when someone was putting me down and I had to basically fight it our or pretend it didn't bother me. And it's tough to walk up to a fist fight with a psychopath that you know you are going to lose. . .

    I think there is more to addiction than feeling weak as a teenager. I think Marc Lewis in Memoirs of an Addicted Brain underplays the psychology of addiction. I read the book because I was interested in the neuroscience of it all, which I've not seen done elsewhere, but I think this approach can be a bit one-sided at times.

    It can be a bit deterministic - if you try this drug, that will happen in your brain, and you will become addicted. I have dabbled a little bit myself, although never opiates, and frankly, illegal drugs are massively over-rated. I think Joe Strummer said it best in relation to speed, but it applies to all drugs - the up ain't worth the down. (My brother was killed by drugs, but he was a pot smoker who tried the pills and powders that dealers also had - one day he got hold of an opiate pill, and with no tolerance to the drug he basically went to sleep and stopped breathing. I'm angry because even a novice like me knows the rules of the game - you break the new pill into quarters and take them over a period of time because you can never be sure of the strength, and you always need someone else around you to keep an eye out for you, especially with depressants.)

    I was reading Memoirs of an Addicted Brain for a fresh view on addiction, and to see how much a drug user's perspective can apply to porn and other addictions. I think it does, although porn isn't as physically addictive as heroin.

    The best parts of Memoirs of an Addicted Brain then were the sections on relapsing, and your inner voice. You torture yourself and call yourself a loser, especially looking back over your substance abuse, until it's easier just to binge and picture yourself as a rebel. As Lewis puts it, it's the job of the central part of the brain to put emotional significance to all inputs. It has a clear evolutionary role so you can make immediate decisions to threats - lion footprints, run! - but it is also applied to thoughts, and pretty soon you are beating yourself up. It's very easy to create an internal monologue - You are weak and selfish; you are worthless; you are a loser.

    This is something I have to work on. I have spent years calling myself a loser, which is closely followed by worthless piece of shit .

    Perhaps not every day, but certainly every week. Why the negative re-reinforcements when I have achieved some good things in my life? I'm married with a family, a nice house in a desirable suburb, and a job that gives me an element of creative freedom. And yet at various points I tell myself that I'm worthless, and convince myself that I don't deserve good things.

    Not all the time, and not obsessively, but it's there. It's normally triggered by something as everyday as missing a bus, tripping over an item of furniture or knocking something over or slopping a drink onto the counter-top. My anger always goes inwards: loser - worthless piece of shit .

    Why get angry in the first place? Why blame myself for things out of my control?

    I think the answer to that one is spiritual.
  4. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Once I started having ED, brain fog and bad effects from porn (many years ago) I definitely got into the internal negative name calling and thought patterns. That is the worst damage of this whole thing, these nasty old thought patterns which are decades old and disheartening.

    Thankfully the brain is truly plastic and we can evolve consciously, just takes longer than we'd like. Oh well. :)
  5. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Absolutely. And I have to learn to be happy.

    I sometimes wonder if we're all wrong to think about the addictive nature of porn - it's more about the negative spiral of unhappiness.

    Finding happiness within is the cure.
  6. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    I'm a little past the halfway point in Lewis' book. It's quite enlightening to read about the self dialogue of the addict. Also, the description of seeking drugs and the thrill of the hunt, which seems very similar to a porn binge.
  7. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Lte, let me know what you think of the book when you've finished it.

    I admit I preferred the first half to the second - although that's usual for me. It's a lot easier to read about author Marc Lewis's drug use before he becomes a helpless and self-hating junkie. I'd rather the author finished with more information about how he got clean, but then his aim was to write an accessible account of the neural side of addiction and not a self-help book.

    It was very useful to me, particularly - as I said before - for providing a working model of addiction that doesn't rely on blame (it's brain chemistry rather than weak willpower), for the description of relapsing, and the too-brief section on your inner voice. Consequently I have realized that I must lose that negative dialogue from my life if I am to progress.

    By the way, Marc Lewis has a really interesting website ( which show he's now writing more about the psychology of addiction. From a recent post:

    "I think the next level has to do with the way we talk to ourselves — the running dialogue or monologue through which we organize our thoughts and orchestrate our feelings. The hells and heavens we create for ourselves in imagination and reality. We all know that drugs and other addictive substances and acts can have tremendous appeal, or they can feel like relentless attackers. We sometimes pursue them even while we revile them, and sometimes we shun them even when they call to us in their sweetest voices. Our ruminations, our internal rebellions against real and imagined authorities, our construction of plans, limits, goals, and rules all have a great deal to do with whether, when, and how we pursue these angel-demon entities. Whether we remain addicted or break free."


    As for myself, I'm nearing the end of my first month of re-booting. I'm noticing a less depressive flatline than other times - which leads me to think that flatlining magnifies your own feelings; go in without self-recrimination for your latest relapse and you'll feel better all round. However, I've had interrupted sleep the last few nights. I keep waking after strange dreams in which I fall in love with a mysterious, dark-haired girl. In my dreams, I'm in my twenties and single; I'm not trying to escape from my wife - she might even represent her, when we met. The dreams are not sexual: we don't have sex, although there might be nudity at times, which always wakes me up. I had similar sleep problems in my first month off alcohol, although my dreams involved beer!
  8. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    I have finished it and came away quite impressed. While he said little about recovery, IMHO, he said the exact thing that cuts to the heart of the matter; that he had to say no to himself and to keep on saying no from then on. That's recovery in a nutshell. While porn is addictive, it can be broken. For whatever the reason, I no longer see porn as desirable, a solution or anything of that sort. I really don't want to see people having sex anymore. I see staying away from porn as the reward. I'm no longer denying myself anything, because porn is not desirable.

    Another way of looking at this is to learn to lean into discomfort. It may be uncomfortable to stay away from PMO, but every moment spent experiencing that discomfort is a positive thing. I'm currently dieting and the way I psyched myself into it was by deciding that I'm not going to see hunger as an enemy. When I'm hungry, I'm losing weight, so I have redefined hunger into being the process of losing weight. I'm hungry right now, but I'm not going to give in, because I am in the process of losing another pound. I'll get my reward when I weigh in tomorrow morning. The reward isn't eating to satisfy my hunger, the reward is in having lost some extra weight and the wonderful feeling of control that comes with the weight loss.

    So my advice is to lean into it. When you feel discomfort teach yourself to interpret that as progress, and not as pain. Every minute of discomfort helps your brain to heal. Eventually you will heal to the point where you experience little or no discomfort. If you believe, somewhere in the depth of your heart, that a porn binge is a reward, then you will fight and struggle. If you teach yourself that it is no reward at all then you will find it gets much easier. It's all in how we define our experience of living.

    So, while Lewis' explanation was quite brief, I think he was tight on target. You have to say no forever, accept that there will be pain along the way, and learn to see the discomfort that you experience along the way as a sign of healing.
  9. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Lte - once again, I feel your replies are a little better thought out than mine. You are free of addictive thinking.

    I realize that I'm a contradictory person by saying that I both preferred the first half and felt the book ended too quickly - I still found it interesting and very useful.

    This morning I deleted accounts associated with porn use - YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr, and two Gmail accounts I had.

    I've wanted to do it for a couple of weeks now, but wasn't feeling strong enough. Just seeing some of the thumbnails was enough to give me a headache, and the search histories made me sick to my stomach.

    I got the full sick and dizzy thing - feeling scrambled, and with a headache - that I get in the first few minutes of relapse. Just from a couple of thumbnails - and I actually held a piece of paper over the screen while I was deleting stuff.

    I'd previously defined porn as anything I sought out online - but it also includes anything with nudity seen on a screen. Absolutely anything.

    Previously I'd deleted my stash but not killed the accounts connected with them. This time I want to burn all my bridges in that direction.
  10. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    You are taking positive steps. I think you can make it through this.
  11. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    I re-installed K9 after my last relapse and it has really helped me to stay clean during this streak. I do not have access to the password.
    It might not be fool proof, but it stopped the cycle which I couldn't seem to stop for a couple months.

    Do everything you need to do, it all helps.
  12. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thanks, guys - you are motivating me. I'm going to see this through for me and you.

    It was a strange feeling, yesterday, to log in with my old porn identities in order to kill the accounts. Just typing in the names and passwords made me feel drunk - my head was spinning for hours afterwards. I had brain fog all day.

    Until then, I did not realize just how powerful, and how terrible, porn is. And the stuff I was deleting was nudity rather than hardcore - although I realize it's all the same if it gets the dopamine pumping. The thing is. . . they had become my friends. Exhibitionist women are crack cocaine for a guy with self-image issues. I'm a guy that turns the lights out to get undressed. I'm not a bad person, but I'm a lonely, unhappy one. (I'm working on changing that.)

    Also, despite the progress I've made so far, I am aware that I wavered for 30 minutes before deleting the Gmail accounts - they were cool names. But they referred to porn, and were used for porn. They had no redeemable features - I'd only be keeping them in order to relapse.

    I killed the accounts, and I felt good - and still do. My spirit soared, but at the same time I felt the crushing down that follows a brief dopamine spike. I've never felt up and down at the same time before, which was disconcerting. I currently feel very positive, by the way. I'll feel even better when my crazy addict brain is no longer interrupting my sleep.

    The purpose of posting this is so I can come back and remind myself how physically terrible I feel when I have anything to do with porn - and how spiritually good I feel when I walk away from it.
  13. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    It's powerful stuff, but you are able to stop it in its tracks. Just keep moving forward, one day at a time. You did the right thing yesterday.
  14. Arizona

    Arizona All answers can be found within

    Remember the steps to delete the porn… man, I'm glad that's passed. Never regretted any goodbye in this area.

    Good going wasabi! Big step towards life. Go outside and breathe it in!
  15. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    It's amazing how powerful this drug can become inside our brains, proud of your choice to delete! Delete and reboot! :))
  16. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    I just remembered two porn VHS tapes I'd artfully hidden in the basement. They are in the garbage now. Another step forward!

    I honestly believe I don't have any stash anywhere, on disc, online, or even - for old time's sake - on video. (The tapes were stopped mid-way through, so I'd not even bothered to re-wind after MO - ugh!)

    I'm 30 days in to this reboot, and I'm feeling clean and positive.

    Just picking up the videos and seeing the titles has made me feel drunk and scrambled, exactly as I felt logging into the online sources in order to destroy them. Brain fog. I didn't have any dilemma - find the video, put it in a plastic bag, throw it in the garbage - but all the same it got its claws into me. This is one terrible drug.

    I have the house to myself right now. I had no interest in surfing for porn - I just wanted to come here and be part of a positive community for a while. Although now I'm going to do some yard work and have enjoy a sunny afternoon without a screen in sight!
  17. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    That drunk effect will go away and stay away. Stay the course.
  18. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    A girl that I know is in Florida on vacation and she sent me pictures of her in sexy outfits, and one in a bikini. I didn't get really dizzy, but just a quick glimpse of these on my phone (which I never used for M) fired all off the pathways and I got a racing heart beat for like 5 minutes. 5 full minutes, crazy.

    I took a big step in my fight and told someone close to me about my addiction recently, it's weird to actually talk to someone about it, but I think it's helping me realize it's OK.

    Peace, keep fighting day by day.
  19. LTE

    LTE Master Of My Domain

    Try to think of her as a person, not as a sex object.
  20. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    I have no trouble there, LTE, simply stating the fact that images still have that much power after many, many clean days. It still amazes me, this addiction, not that I give it more power than it deserves. I'm all good. :)

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