Scientist, United States, Nicole Prowse discussed on Factually! with Adam Conover
Hello everyone. Welcome to factually. I'm Adam Khan over and here's a story you've heard before a famous man gets in trouble for cheating on his partner. Of course he doesn't WanNa look like jerk in the press though. So here's what he does. He comes out and says no no no. I'm not I'm not a jerk. I'm a sex addict. See By using the language of addiction. He's able to medical problems. Seek treatment and absolve himself. Rikers is not just an asshole. He had a disease. And here's the thing if you've got cash there's a network of scientifically dodgy sex addiction centers. Who are waiting to help you. Launder your reputation. We have seen this story play out again. Time and time again in the press. Just Take Anthony Weiner today the example of one famous Dick The Truth About Sex Addiction. Though is that it isn't really an actual medical thing that look of course it's possible to have sexual behaviors. That are bad for your personal or professional life right. You can totally fuck up sexually in a way that is damaging and it is quite possible to want to seek help with that but if you look in fact scientifically at the way addiction works in the brain. Sex addiction doesn't really measure up instead of people addicted to say drugs or smoking or gambling. Their brain activates very quickly when they see a picture of what they're addicted to give an addicted brain accuser. It's addiction it. Just lights up but when you show as opposed sex addict or porn addict the thing that they're supposedly addicted to their brain. Reacts Pretty Normally another sign of Addiction? Is Something called? Esscalation for something to be addictive. It needs to be more and more addictive over time so in the case of drugs you start with a little bit and then you need more and more until you work your way up to. What could be a lethal dose? In some cases but in porn studies have shown no evidence for escalation in terms of the time spent looking at it or a slide into more and more extreme content. So it's no wonder then that the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization have rejected sex addiction as a clinical definition. Six suggestion just does not seem to be a real thing now as a society we are sex obsessed but this misunderstanding about sex addiction is just the sexy tip of our ignorance. Iceberg sex is a foundational part of our humanity but our conversation about it is often shrouded by superstition and pseudoscience and senseless moralism. The fact is that despite its centrality to our lives. We don't know that much about sex at all. Well here today to tell us more about the new frontiers of sex science. Our guest today is an honest to God sex scientists. Her name is Nicole prowse. She's a PhD in currently a scientist with libra. Now I want to say we did our very here to have an inclusive conversation about sex but I want you to be involved in that conversation. 'cause I'm always trying to do better in that regard so please hit me up on twitter. Let us know how we're doing and with that said Hey. I really hope you enjoyed this conversation. It was a really fun. Please welcome Nicole Browsing Nicole. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me on. So you're a SEC. Scientists sure confident about it. I go by many names. That's a good one. Okay what what else are you called? Technical is sexual psycho. Physiologist said. That's an umbrella for the psychology and physiology kind of joining those fields together psycho physiologist cool and you work for a company called Myself Libro. I'm very sorry your company's Got Lieber as and you told me just before we started recording. You do what sexual biotech now. What the Hell is that? That's very intriguing. It's a sexy our way of saying sexual psycho physiology. Okay okay the yeah. Most people don't know that term so kind of sexual biotech nays. Broadly what we're doing and It's maybe less sexy than that makes me. Yeah I mean I just start. My mind starts spinning with like science fictional ideas like like Nanno boss and make you horny or something like really well wait. I made that one of the things we'd worked on is like Patterns of Automated Genital Stimulation for an orgasm steady. We were working on and the question is what is that like. Why does an automated pattern? That would work for men and women to such thing exist and it turns out there no data on that so we had to do some piloting and that involved automating vibrate around the genitals to figure out how to how to stand cheat that response so there are people so i WanNa get the day to day a Sec Science. You got a vibrator and you got control. Group is getting one kind of pattern absorbs and then you're some people are getting. Some people are getting or what? That's what I want you to think. Most of our day programming school analysis but the fund as our yes like piloting bringing in poor friends pilots who are willing to let them up in non-threatening ways to try out different things that were so sex science you. You said you don't have you didn't have data on that particular thing. You were looking for a SEC. Science understanding is it's kind of weirdly undercover topic. Yeah we have all kinds of challenges and getting our work done and so we're a very thin on some areas of development and how to test things especially in the high arousal range so that's kind of anything beyond a few minutes a porn. We don't have a lot of data four in the lab. Now why is there so some of the challenges are political especially in the US? We have Groups that openly oppose us and try and stop our work For example the primary funding group in the US is the National Institutes of Health And there have been five grants brought before Congress in the history of the NIH all five or six grants. That is these grants that were awarded in Congress trying to take them away because they didn't like the H. Was funding anything to do with sexuality so as thin as the funding already is near our grants can be taken away from us just because of the content area that we work on and so those are kind of solid institutional barriers. That obviously if you have no money you can't get work done. And there are lots of protests as well so near the. Us Is a Christian nation and we have lots of religious groups that oppose what we do. And there's a lot of Christians in the nation I wouldn't I wouldn't call it a Christian depending. Yeah how you WANNA slice that But they're certainly very vocal and very influential or you know. We have people who feel very strongly about sexual values and so we're we tried to reduce our bias and Investigate things from a scientific perspective. But it's impossible not to step on someone's toes with almost anything steady in that domain. And so you know we regularly are getting threatened and everyone wants US fired from wherever we are just. It's a tough place to get good scientists to work because you know if you're an excellent neuroscientist and you can go into depression where there's a path and there's funding and it's a known quantity or you can go and have to fight your way for the rest of your career to even be able to do your research. If you're excellent. You have a choice. Where do you go? Do you probably go to less resistant path. Where you're not going to have to fight that fight everyday. It occurs to me that you know of the types of scientists. We've we've had on the show sleep. Scientists all different just trying to think about stuff with the human body often they're university affiliated and and you know but come to think of it. I'm like well it almost tracks for me that you're An independent operator Doing this research opposed to hear from USC. Today is there. Is there also institutional barrier with those big research institutions that like? Maybe don't want people jacking off in the science lab absolutely. I wasn't academic for ten years. Actually and I came here to work at Ucla in psychiatry and that was my kind of a decision to transition out entirely and not to try any more academia was we tried to get a study through to study orgasm in the lab and the Ethics Board will allow us to buzz the genitals we could put a vibrator on them and like Buzzer for a few seconds. But we had to promise they wouldn't need Jackie late and we can try. It doesn't sound like much of an orgasm. Yeah well so if you want to study that process this a no go like. We have to let them do that. Ethics Board wouldn't allow it through and for not giving any good reason that we could discern another university. Science isn't supposed to be this much fun. All right. That was kind of what we can blue balls. This we draw the line. What if you go to the ethics board like Like a jilted fifteen year old boy like oh no come on. It's dangerous if you if you don't comb it could be bad for you like on the myth too late. Sorry guys. That is a myth. You can't use that argument but so you went into the independent world. Yeah and so I still collaborate with universities you know I love scientists and we get along really. Well it's more the Kind of deans. That our hand wringing and worried you know what their donors are. So I. Yeah. We still have oversight Same oversight they of ethics view that any university research has just collaborate with them and I think those universities are happy to have the orgasm. Study AT SOME WEIRD INDEPENDENT LAB IN L. A. That's not us. It's not happening on our campus. There's just the little it's like. The science version of like the little curtain in the back of the video. Rental store is the adults only. It's like just a little bit separate so Mama Deck and still shop in front but like if you want the good stuff you know what function and it gets. The work done. Must go but this other. It's hard to get that research done because sex is like such a fundamental part of human life. I mean we I would. Is it the case that we understand a lot about eating and breathing and sleeping but a lot less about sex in many ways? Yes especially kind of functionality insect so we know a lot more about male anatomy. But they're still questions about female anatomy and functionality. That's where we're like gone like basic stuff. Yeah so kind of Like you know once you've got a cadaver you can cut it up and you can look at stuff but you don't really know how that works when the person is alive. Which seems more? That's not the best way to study. Sex is just. Cut UP A CADAVER. Help you a little bit. But you're like how does this cadaver -actly so if you want to say well how you know when this is an action. What's really happening? We understand that. Yeah so the function as functional aspect. Is I think where we really have big gaps in understanding like how does this work when someone's interacting You know by themselves even as one thing versus with a partner that is infancy. We know very little about two people interacting together sexually really. Yeah this is You may have seen really fun study. I did with a case Ten years ago maybe now they put two people in an MRI tiny people and had them have a vaginal intercourse and just image pelvis. And I go oh..