Nicole Prowse, Dopamine, Shane Krause discussed on Science Vs
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We spoke to Nicole Prowse. Each is in your eye scientist who used to work at the university of California in Los Angeles. She since founded her own independent research organization. And the Cole has done a bunch of research into sex, including getting women to watch porn, and then measuring how what they get. Facilitates. So very first thing I'm showing older adult women porn in measuring the response. And I thought that was the coolest thing I've ever done every didn't just interview hook because she showed some old ladies of fine time our report street revenge. And again, Nicole has written a lot about sex. And the first thing we want to know about was this idea that there's some brain chemistry stuff that underpins sex addiction in the thrust of the idea. He M is that when you do something that feels good, like gambling or having sex, it can release this chemical cold dopamine and studies have found that in some addictions like meth and cocaine, something can go wrong with how these chemical works in people's brains. And curiously studies have found that some people with Parkinson's disease who take this medication that I'm up dopamine in the brain end up having these strong sexual urges, and they funded. Really hard to control them. So could this chemical have anything to do with sex addiction? I do not believe it is possible that someone has a sex addiction just because sex involves reward in dopamine. There are literally thousands of activities in behaviors that involve dopamine. That is everything from watching your favorite movie to playing with puppies, holding a baby, these all involve those systems. And if we start calling all those things addictions than the word is meaningless. What Nicole is saying. He is that sure sex releases dopamine. But if you want to make the argument that sex addicts have problems with their dopamine, then you need to do those studies and buying lodge. They haven't been done a group of researches from Spain. Recently wrote that they is little empirical evidence on this. Okay. So Nicole saw that they want any convincing studies to show her that sex addicts have different brains to regular folk. And then she wanted to test out. One of the biggest claims out there about sex addicts. It's this idea that they lose control of their own desires. There are definitely many men and women who if you directly ask them, do your sexual behaviors, feel out of control. Does your viewing abroad ticket feel out of control? They will answer? Absolutely. Yes, it does and it feels out of control all the time. But if some point you have to actually test this and scientists like Nicole have tested whether the claims of sex addicts, a true in all kinds of ways they strap this contraption that looks like a swim cap with wise bouncing off of it onto people's heads to measure the brain activity while they're watching porn. They've also measured how hard or rigid guy's penis gets, which is a bit trickier to measure. So how do you measure that? So rigidity creatively enough is measured by instrument called the rigid scan that device when it samples. Every fifteen seconds and it titans until it feels a certain resistance, and then loosens to accommodate the current Pena size hot hitting work. And by the way, we know this season a lab then not testing penises in the wild. But if you want to get good data, you have to measure everybody under the same conditions said the lab is what we've got. So these researches wanted to find out how well people really could control their sexual urges in this one study Nicole, did she invited more than a hundred people to her lab? And then she got them to watch some porn. It's mostly vanilla pawn. There's no beady SM, then new fetishistic activities and no sex toys. And then Nicole and her tamed till H person to react naturally to the film's ought to control themselves. And she looks to see what happens. So picture this, the watching a racy film and a research tells them don't get toned on. And do get turned on and Nicole found that people who felt that they were out of control could actually control themselves. It was especially the guys who said they felt out of control that actually were more in control that is they wanted having a better decreases when we asked them to decrease their sexual responses, what is it? So the guys who thought they couldn't stop themselves from getting a stiffy actually could yes to Nicole the takeaways that many people seem to be able to control the desires, even if they really think they come. And this isn't just a thing that happens when people watch porn in a lab. Nicole says that when it comes to all kinds of sex stuff, people just aren't that good adjudging their own behavior and whether it's normal, there's a history of this in sex research that is people who are worried about, am I normal, am I? Okay. Tell me I'm alright when they're actually tested in a laboratory setting. We can't find evidence for what they're worried about. Like you see this in research on guys who think that penis. Is way too small and they want to get soldiery to length in it. And when you measure it, that penis sizes puffery Nomo. And then when we bring this back to sex addicts, well researches, did this survey about people's sex lives and it found those considered themselves six at aches, which was around one hundred seventy people. They were getting laid and masturbating about as much as everyone else in that study. Yeah, they thought they will oversexed, but they would just normal. So where does this leave us? If people like Jeff or Shane's patients don't have sex addiction? Is that something else that could be going on? We ask Nicole, I think the most likely case is that what people call sex addiction overwhelmingly is high sex drive in people who have a lot of shame around their sexuality. Nicole believes that what could be happening here is that these so-called sex addicts ashamed of their desires, maybe ashamed of how much sex they won't or who they want to have sex with. They think there's something wrong with them, but the perfectly normal and these ties into another finding from this huge study on porn watching researches, followed thousands of porn watches over time, and they found that what predicted whether or not like thought they were addicted to porn wasn't how much of the stuff that these guys will watching. But whether they had quote, moral scruples. Around pornography and quite Nicole, says that it's also possible that some people who think they are sex addicts actually have depression anxiety and the using sex as a we out and Shane, a psychologist who treats wall veterans sex addiction. He acknowledges that other mental illnesses might play a role hill. So what it looks like then to Nicole is that this isn't about an addiction, but something else, shame, depression, anxiety, a fear of not being normal, but the elephant in the room is this even if these people are suffering and having a hard time controlling this sexual urges. What if following those urges leads to ripe? What do we do with that? Well, finicky call. It's pretty simple. So when you do something without someone's consent, you have crossed into sexual assault territory and sexual assaults. That's not what this debate is about. This scientific debate is about whether sex addiction exists that is they're really people out there who struggle so much to control their sexual urges, that they have a disease. And the thing is this just. Not a lot of evidence here. Scientists trying to cobble together what they is to see if it fits this model of addiction, and the cupboard is just pretty bad. And that's why, when the American psychiatric association, the gatekeepers of what gets to be called an addiction or not came together on this, they said, no, it's not enough evidence that sex addiction will something like it is a thing. Shruti and I sat down in the studio to talk about the research that we've got so far is so now where do you stand on this? Like, do you do you think sex addiction Israel. Yeah, I don't know. It just seems like like a snowflake on a sidewalk at it's appealing. It's sparkling, but you know, shop rave sunlight, unlike like melts. I mean, are you bring it into the lab and you poke at it and prodded and like measure it with a religious sky. It no longer holes. Beautiful way of saying this is bull. Well, it's complicated. Given that the is in a lot of evidence here. Why is that these group of researches who are fighting for it and who are saying does exist. I think that, well, I'm, I can't speak for those clinicians, but maybe maybe this is what's happening. They see what the patients go through the patients suffering, and then they see like the little signs that backs this up and they say, well, you know it, that makes sense it, it's, it rings true and not just that it helps my patient to know that. You know, I'm not a freak that this some kind of scientific basis full my experiences I have. I have two conflicting thoughts on this, and I caught. Make them work. One is will science isn't heater make you feel better? Like science is supposed to be leaning towards some objective truth. And if and if that truth isn't there, or if the evidence isn't there that this condition exists, then signs shouldn't just be like, oh, thank you a label to make you feel better. You know, scientists in there for that. But then on the other hand, I'm like, well, addictions release squishy and messy and medicine is really squishy your messy and people are. So if you want to give them a label to make them feel better, go right ahead. I like how and I don't know what's the right to think about it. What do you think. It's it's? It's nearly philosophical.