Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Coolidge Effect and How to Defeat It

[thanks Calvin]

One instinct common to all mammals (including humans) is known as the Coolidge Effect. This refers to the tendency of the male to be significantly more sexually aroused by a female whom he has not yet had sex with than he is aroused by a female whom he has already had sex with.

For example if a male rat is placed into an enclosed large box with four or five female rats in estrus, he will immediately begin mating with all of the female rats repeatedly until eventually exhausted. Although the females will continue nudging and licking him to continue, he will not respond. However, if a novel female were introduced to the box, he would become alert and find the ability to mate once again with the new female. New is more arousing than used. Similar tendencies are found in all other mammals.

Today, thanks to Internet pornography, men are able to have "sex" (in their imaginations) with an endless stream of new women. This can lead to a complete lack of interest in real women, besides becoming a serious addiction similar to cocaine.

Orthodox Judaism prohibits any sexual stimulation outside of marriage. Therefore the Coolidge Effect presents an enormous challenge to Orthodox men in the modern, sexually promiscuous, Internet wired world. I would suggest that this may be the greatest challenge to Orthodox Judaism today.

Making vows can be a very powerful means of controlling oneself. Each week one can read a list of vows along the lines of:

I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly unblock any webpage from Net Nanny software I will be required to fast 1 day during this month of --------- or next month of -----------.

In some cases, medication may be helpful.

In addition, heartfelt prayer for divine assistance is very important.


Alex said...

The most vocal opponents of smoking are ex-smokers. I have to wonder about your past experience which leads you to be so vocal against internet pornography.

Jeff said...

I'm trying to understand how you even know there is a problem.

According to the link that you referenced, pornography is only an addiction, if, like any other addiction, the behavior is compulsive and interferes with the persons occupation or social functioning. Oterhwise its no more an addiction than is eating. Like the aforementioned comments about prostitution in the Orthodox community, it may be only a marginal problem.

Look, be realistic. Sexual fantasy is in a persons head, whether it relates to an image that is entirely imagined, a photo in TIME magazine, a sexy movie, or a porn clip on the internet. For time immemorial adolescent boys and men have been wacking off to something. Rabbis who fight for stopping it are burying their heads in the sand. If you do it occasionally and its not in an inapproriate place and its not interfering with your marriage, social relationships or employment, I don't see anything wrong with it. Kind of like the difference between having a glass of wine in the evening vs drinking all day.
And it may be good for your prostate

As an anecdotal story, and friend of mine who is a geriatrician had a heredi family who brought in their 84 year old widower father because sometimes he would disappear for a day. It turns out he was going to Tel Aviv and seeing a prostitute once a month. Of course the family was horrified, but in my friend's opinion there was nothing really to criticise in this man's behavior, which was completely understandable-- a lonely old man with sexual needs.

I mention this story to illustrate the idea that everything depends on the context and circumstances.

In the case of a younger married man, it would probably be safer and less harmful if he jerked off once in a while to the Sports Illustrate swimsuit issue rather than going to a prostitute!

jewish philosopher said...

"The most vocal opponents of smoking are ex-smokers."

Who said that?

"I'm trying to understand how you even know there is a problem."

Judaism prohibits sexual stimulation outside marriage.

The sexual revolution in modern society

and the pornography industry

encourage it.

That's the problem. 

SJ said...

Alex said...

Google on "vehement ex-smokers."

Jeff said...


The Jewish view about masturbation, and religion's view in general is based on ancient taboos (that it is dangerous) and misunderstanding about the reproductive system (that the supply of sperm is finite and therefore shouldn't be "wasted").

It is also based on a distortion of the context of the Onan story, in which the sin was clearly Onan's avoidance of obligation to carry on his brother's seed, rather than "spilling seed in vain".

Therefore any prohibitions related to it are simply ignorant and incorrect remnants of ancient religious practice, and pose no "threat" to Jews or Judaism.

jewish philosopher said...

"Google on "vehement ex-smokers." "

Didn't find it. Try posting some urls.

"Therefore any prohibitions related to it are simply ignorant and incorrect remnants of ancient religious practice"

As is all Judaism. Unless you're a Jew. I have some proofs of Judaism including the oral law.

jewish philosopher said...

The Talmudic view on masturbation is pretty clear cut.

Only now, psychologists are beginning to see the problem. 

Alex said...

"Didn't find "vehement ex-smokers" on Google. Try posting some urls."

A. You must've typed it in wrong. I found many hits of people who make the observation I did.
B. Maybe you're counting on a scientific study, but since when did you ever accept a scientific study that didn't agree with the viewpoint you already had?
C. You've had two chances already to reject my insinuation, but you haven't.

jewish philosopher said...

I think it's nonsense. I've never smoked but I'm a vehement anti-smoker. I'll bet most homicide squad detectives haven't killed anybody either.

I think every criminals goes around grumbling about how his prosecutors are "all hypocrites". As if that justifies something.

The Nazis ridiculed critics of antisemitism by pointing out that they too wanted no part of the Jews. 

Anonymous said...

how many fasts have you fasted for this particular inyan JP?

imppress said...

I tried this for a while.
Prayer, resistance.

It made me nuts. Self-loathing. Failure to commit to God.

I imagine weaker men than you might start to lie about their self-stimulation. Perhaps submit to temptation in a dreadful way preying on a vulnerable person.

I worry some about what mankind in general might be like under strict prohibition. Successful self-celibacy can produce ugly hormonal changes. The behaviors that result may be counterproductive towards getting married. Still others are not marriageable material through no fault of their own.

There's a sort of cruelty behind the pious strength Orthodoxy demands of many mortals. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I do suppose there may be dreadful negative aspects to full compliance.

A few commenters mention spilling seed in context of the command to have his brothers seed live on, but the history of the time included a necessity to have as many sons as possible to produce an army with which the people might defend themselves. Many societies fret about fading away through lack of offspring. Sadly, this universal concern could produce disastrous overpopulation if every people were successful in thriving numerically.

jewish philosopher said...

This sounds like a special situation which should be reviewed with an experienced Orthodox rabbi or Orthodox therapist. Good luck.