I have to assume my parents were in favor of masturbation. With three boys all entering puberty at the same time, that makes sense: anything that would keep them quiet and in their rooms had to be good right? The only warning I ever got from the folks was, “Quit frowning, you want your face to freeze like that?” But then with all the jacking off I was busy doing if my face ever really did freeze it was more likely that it would have been one showing ecstatic pleasure.
For parents who did not approve of their kids spanking the monkey all day, there were dire consequences to use to scare them away from the joys of pleasuring yourself. Nobody wanted to grow up with hairy palms – though when I heard that one from a school friend I just figured that was why they made disposable razors. Even worse was the threat of blindness. But then on the plus side even blind guys have no problem finding their dicks.
My folks did not resort to either of those threats, but they did teach us to listen to their advice. Since they never had any wise words about masturbation, I figured their suggestion that practice makes perfect should be applied. With a slightly lubed palm and a firm grip.
Sex-for-one, or as Woody Allen put it, “sex with someone I love” is man’s favorite pastime. Common sense dictates if masturbating really does make you go blind, sightlessness would be the norm. No one seems to know who started that old wives tale, but it’s been around for so long that it would seem there’s got to be some truth to it. Does masturbating lead to blindness? Even when you are careful to not shoot into your eye? And does that explain why Thai bar boys, who spend their nights on stage jacking off, tell their obese elderly customers they are handsome men?
Yup, smells like science to me.
Well gentlemen, hold onto your hat and let go of your dick because recent research has proven that masturbation in fact does make you go blind. But it’s not the stroking that causes you to lose your sight, it’s the porn you are looking at to get you in the mood that is responsible for your world growing dimmer. And those findings have been arrived at through two separate research projects on two different continents.
A study conducted by U.S. psychologists found that people shown erotic images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. Researchers call this phenomenon “emotion-induced blindness”.
David Zald, from Vanderbilt University, and Marvin Chun, Steven Most, and David Widders from Yale, say that while the effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, looking a porn does in fact cause blindness. They showed hundreds of images to volunteers and asked them to pick a specific image – a building lying on its side – from a rapid sequence of pictures. Most of the images were landscape or architectural scenes, pictures that were designed to provoke no emotional response. But the psychologists included a few emotionally charged images portraying sexually provocative scenes. The closer these emotionally charged images occurred prior to the target image, the more frequently people failed to spot the target image.
The researchers programmed a computer to show the series of images in rapid succession. Each image was shown for precisely 100 milliseconds (one-10th of a second.) Whenever the target image of the building on its side came a fraction of a second after a sexually explicit image, the participants missed it entirely.
“They didn’t see it at all,” says Zald. The biggest effect came if the building followed the sex scene by 200 milliseconds, or one-fifth of a second.
If the participants had been slow to respond, it would simply mean they had been distracted by the emotional images, and soon recovered. But the fact that they never even saw the image of the building lying on its side is very significant. “That’s what’s striking,” Zald says.
“We observed that people failed to detect visual images that appeared after emotional images, whereas they can detect those images with little problem after neutral images,” Zald says. The psychologists believe that certain types of visual stimulus, like porn, causes a bottleneck for information processing; those images jam up the information flow and subsequent information can’t get through. He believes that a primitive part of the brain, known as the amygdala, may play a part. That region is involved in evaluating sensory input according to its emotional relevance and has an autonomic role, influencing heart rate and sweating.
Using PET scans to study the brain activity of a dozen subjects, researchers in the Netherlands came to their own conclusions about watching porn. They found the brain uses less energy on processing visual images while watching pornography, likely making us pay less attention to what’s happening on screen. The tests showed far less blood being sent to the primary visual cortex while watching the most explicit porn—the opposite of what usually happens while watching video.
According to this study it’s not that you go blind from watching porn, but rather your brain gets bored, knows what’s coming next, and sends blood to other parts of the body where it is need more. And we all know where that is.
So porn, not masturbation is responsible for blindness according to U.S. researchers, but explicit sexual visuals bore the hell out of subjects in the Netherlands. In Brazil, however, the combination of porn and waking off is deadly.
Last year in the small village of Rubiato located in the Goiás region of the country, a 16-year-old boy died after masturbating 42 times without stopping. The young man began to masturbate at midnight and spent the rest of the night beating his meat non-stop. Whether it was fear of going blind, concern over growing hairy alms, or the realization that life just would never get any better than 42 orgasms in a row, by the next morning the young man was dead.
His mother told a local newspaper that she knew about his son’s addiction and that she planned to see the doctor, but the decision came too late. The police discovered “a great amount” of pornography in his room, and classmates commented on the boy’s obsession saying he’d asked them to watch him on his web cam while he was masturbating.
Kind of makes going blind from spanking your monkey pale in comparison, but serves as a good warning that the road from a stiffy to being a stiff is a short one.
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