Information icon.svg

Campaigning for the RationalMedia Foundation 2021 board of trustees election is underway!


From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
A logo for a space program NoFap.
NoFap founder, Alexander Rhodes.
Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Icon alt med alt.svg
Clinically unproven
We're so glad you came
Icon sex.svg
Reach around the subject
Female bisexuality symbol-colour.svg
I’m not in opposition to them, but I do think their ideas are simplistic, naive and promote a sad, reductionistic and distorted view of male sexuality and masculinity.
—Clinical psychologist David J. LeyWikipedia[1]

NoFap is a pointless non-masturbation advocacy movement which promotes denying oneself self pleasure (or for the more extreme, any sexual activity) for a variety of bad reasons. The entire enterprise is based on either junk-science or just whatever arguments its founder and followers made up. It is centered around the nofap reddit website created by Alexander Rhodes which attempts to help people recover from so-called "porn addiction" and masturbation addiction. While they claim it's rational and empirical it has no basis in science — despite them claiming otherwise. Participants claim it improves their mental abilities by abstaining from porn, masturbation, and orgasms (PMO).[2][3] A "scientific" study of the group found themes of toxic masculinity, encouraging the goal of conquering women sexually as a way of demonstrating their progress in "recovery".[4] As is to be expected, quite a few nofappers are a part of the manosphere.[5] While it is the case that brief periods without sexual stimulation may increase one's pleasure on their next sexual encounter, full out abstinence offers no special benefits over healthy sexual activity.

"Porn addiction"[edit]

We’re here to help you quit porn, improve your relationships, and reach your sexual health goals. 100% science-based, secular, and sex-positive.
—NoFap Homepage[6]

According to the website, porn addiction is defined as:[7]

… a phenomenon of the brain marked by compulsive use of pornography which proves difficult to stop despite negative consequences, and which often worsens over time.

To date, the American psychological community has yet to officially recognize porn addiction as a disorder.

NoFap openly acknowledges that porn addiction is not an official disorder, yet treats porn addiction as fact anyway. NoFap goes so far as to support the idea that porn is a "public hazard",[8] but also "does not support legislation to restrict the creation or consumption of pornography".[9]

Other studies suggest that porn addiction isn't even real,[10] but seems to be a largely self-attributed problem in religious people.[11][12][13] However, reporting feeling addicted to porn is not exclusive to religious people. While fear of masturbation has been a staple of organized religion since time immemorial, a modern shot in the arm of the controversy seems to stem from recent attention paid to a tract called Onania, which apparently had some impact on British society.[14]

Scientific view[edit]

The American Psychological Association stated[15] that "when the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was being drafted, experts considered a proposed diagnostic addiction called hypersexual disorder, which also included a pornography subtype." Eventually, in 2018, a behavior called "compulsive sexual behavior disorder" was included in the WHO International Classification of Diseases guidelines (ICD-11).[16] It is important to recognize that such behavior can only be classified such when it is an impulse control disorder, e.g. where the activity interferes with normal social functionality, and thus can be seen as similar to other impulse control disorders, including a few others that sometimes get the "addiction" label in popular culture (eg compulsive gambling), and many others that do not (such as trichotillomania, e.g. compulsive, excessive hair pulling).[17]

Higher than normal frequency in itself, or being into sexual activities that violate the current cultural norm, are not qualifications for a diagnosis of CSBD (indeed, psychological researchers urge caution with this diagnosis due to fear of overpathologizing normal sexual behavior.). There is no scientific justification for NoFap's reasoning for "pornography addiction" (eg, it is "more available", "more novel", and "more stimulating" than "primitive sex"[18] — all subjective terms). Indeed, the general consensus is that masturbation is a normal, healthy activity (except when compulsive to the point of harm).[19] Studies do acknowledge that the concept of "pornography addiction" does exist within this impulse control disorder behavioral framework; there is considerable debate on whether or not "addiction" is a proper term.[20][21] (Though proponents of the "addiction" term, like Dr. Donald L. Hilton, do not help their argument when they falsely accuse individuals that do not believe the term "addiction" is accurate of "personally appear(ing) in pornographic films, attend(ing) the Adult Video Network awards, and molest(ing) children in (their) laboratory", suggesting perhaps that Hilton's Mormon background may have more influence on some of his conclusions than anything neuroscience oriented.)[22]

Whether or not the term "addiction" is applied, it must be understood that the behavioral effects of pornography — while hotly debated with a wide range of purported positives and negatives[23] — are not ordinarily "addictive" outside of those with impulse control disorders. (Some of the reluctance of researchers to use the term "addiction" perhaps stems from evangelical misuse of the term "pornography addiction" over the last several decades.[24])

The initial Reddit discussion regarding NoFap concerned the effects of abstention on testosterone levels. It is true that there may be a small increase in testosterone levels during abstention, with one study finding levels peaking after roughly 1 week of refraining from ejaculation.[25] However, this phenomenon is currently not well studied, and other studies have found no differences in plasma testosterone levels after orgasm, nor masturbation having any significant effect on testosterone levels.[26] The current data certainly does not scientifically justify the many other bro-science oriented claims that often both overplay masculinity traits and reflect typical, often religious oriented, negative stereotypes of masturbation.[27] For most people, masturbation is a healthy activity that has positive health impacts.

Individual studies[edit]

NoFappers claim that sex addiction shows similar patterns to those of a cocaine addict. With actual drugs, each use should be desensitizing; however, this pattern was not found in the so-called sex addicts. In one particular study of "sex addicts", these individuals showed an increased response to erotica that was relatively higher compared to normal individuals. In fact, these so called "sex addicts" have matching brain patterns to those with high libido who don't identify as "sex addicts". The study deemed that there is no neural evidence for porn addiction.[28] On the contrary, NoFapper's anecdotal evidence clearly has more authority than actual scientific studies.[citation NOT needed]


NoFap's Standard Reboot: No edging,[29] no porn, no masturbating.
"Hard Mode": No edging, no porn, no masturbating, no orgasming whatsoever.
Easy Mode: No porn.
—/r/NoFap/ (reformatted)[30]

NoFap presents several options to overcome "porn addiction". No scientific evidence, only anecdotal evidence,[2] confirms the effectiveness of rebooting.

How about the fact that I don't give a FUCK about some random's[sic] opinion. I have my own experience as proof and that is all I need really.

—Ex-moderator, no_splattering, of r/NoFap[31]

NoFap gives you superpowers[edit]

How it supposedly works.

According to some rather opinionated individuals, NoFap gives you superpowers. X-ray vision? Super strength? Invisibility?[2] Nope. Being horny all the time, no doubt.[2] Ranting about people who are wrong on the Internet about the evils of porn, to the point of harassment and no-merit defamation lawsuits against neuroscientists? Oh, absolutely.[32]

"My impression is that they tend to be highly obsessive individuals who transmute their obsessive use of porn into an obsession with attacking people who might expose that the problem is in them, rather than the porn. Ultimately, they’re the problem, not the porn."
—Clinical psychologist David J. LeyWikipedia[32]


The alt-right group known as the Proud Boys has a "no wanks" requirement as part of its hierarchy (second degree).[33] Rhodes also has appeared on a podcast with the former leader of the Proud Boys[34].

Nocturnal emissions[edit]

The theme of nocturnal emissions exposes many of the problems inherent with nofap "knowledge". A whole range of rather differing opinions on nocturnal emissions pepper the nofap-o-verse. Opinions range from the "you cannot do anything about it so don't beat yourself up about it" (was there a pun intended?) to the judgmental and shaming view that "nocturnal emissions are your fault cause you aren't controlling your dreams" or at least controlling your lifestyle or diet choices that lead to wet underwear. In the extreme end of the surreal, one should correlate what food leads to wet dreams and stop eating that food. For many, a noctural emission is no different to having a wank, you've remitted and are a pornoholic again and must start over. The speculative nature and wide variety of takes on the issues reveal how factless much of nofap knowledge is. One of the most recurring themes on nocturnal emissions is the sense of shame for having a wet dream, a symptom of a larger sense of self-hate for not being able to resist natural sexual urges. Interestingly enough, in many of discussions on Reddit and nofap comment boards, there tends to be a lot of empathy and emotional support among nofappers helping one another through not just nocturnal emissions but all of their "failings" in getting control over their so called porn addictions and accompanying sadness.[citation needed]

Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome[edit]

Another possible reason for the negative effects that some participants of the NoFap community talk about experiencing after PMO could be due to the Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome, a rare but possibly under-diagnosed condition. This condition is currently thought to be an autoimmune disorder, which involves the appearance of cognitive and physical symptoms after orgasm whether after masturbation, sexual intercourse or spontaneously in the sleep (nocturnal emissions), those symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, concentration difficulties and others.[35]

It is possible that a portion of NoFap users experience the Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome symptoms but are not aware of it being a disorder and believe it to be due to the sexual activities themselves and therefore when they abstain their symptoms decrease which they interpret as the NoFap superpowers.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The NoFap Phenomenon, Psychology Today
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 'It gave me superpowers': The men who say sexual abstinence changed their lives. They are part of the 200,000-person strong 'NoFap' community by Kashmira Gande (Tuesday 4 October 2016) The Independent.
  4. 'I want that power back': Discourses of masculinity within an online pornography abstinence forum by Taylor & Jackson Sexualities.
  5. Lahdenpää, Reima. "The Warriors' Cult: representations of masculinity on the subreddit/r/TheRedPill." (2018).
  10. Jennifer Abel, Researchers: pornography addiction isn't real; Though self-identified porn addicts are probably sincere. Consumer Reports.
  11. Christians fear porn addiction. health24,com, 3 April 2014.
  12. Religious People More Likely To Feel They’re Addicted To Porn, New Study Shows. The Huffington Post, 17 February 2014.
  13. Tom Hymes, Note to Religious Porn Addicts: You're NOT Addicted to Porn!, 3 April 2014.
  16. ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics, 2019-04, World Health Organization
  17. "Compulsive Sexual Behavior Is Now Recognized as a Disorder, But It isn’t the Same as Sex Addiction", Carolyn L. Todd, Self, July 27 2018
  18. "Porn addiction - what is it?",
  19. "NoFap Benefits: Real or Overhyped?", Adrienne Santos-Longhurst, Healthline
  20. "Pornography addiction – a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity", Donald L. Hilton Jr., Brain and Addiction, 2013 04 Mar
  21. "Is Pornography Addictive?", Kirsten Weir, Monitor on Psychology, April 2014
  22. "Porn feud, sex-harassment complaint lead to defamation suit" by Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express News, 2019 June 28
  23. "Sexuality and pornography", Gert Martin Haid, APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology: Contextual Approaches. ed. / D. Tolman; L. Diamond; J. Bauermeister; W. George; J. Pfaus; M. Ward. Vol. 2 Washington, DC : American Psychological Association, 2014. p. 3-35
  24. "The Development and Deployment of the Idea of Pornography Addiction Within American Evangelicalism", Jeremy N. Thomas, Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention
  25. "A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men.", Journal of Zhejiang University, 2003 Mar-Apr
  26. "Studies on the Relationship Between Plasma Testosterone Levels and Human Sexual Activity", Journal of Endocrinology, Jan 1972.
  27. "Can abstaining from playing with yourself turn your life around?", Julian A., The Startup,, May 4
  29. According to NoFap's Reboot Challenges, "edging" is physical stimulation without orgasm.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "NoFap Founder Is Suing a Neuroscientist Who Thinks Masturbating Is Fine" by Samantha Cole, Vice, 2019 November 13
  33. 626: White Haze Transcript (09.22.2017) This American Life.
  34. [1], The Gavin McInnes Show, Episode 122
  35. Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health.