Reading about neuroplasticity worsened my depression!

Submitted by ab1234cd on
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Hey everyone,

So for anyone that's depressed and is a deep/scientific thinker, I recommend NOT reading what I have to say here, as it might make things worse (it certainly did for me). For the rest of you, read ahead at your own peril, and inspirational thoughts are welcome.

So I ordered The Brain That Changes Itself and read the chapter on tastes and loves, and although it does provide some inspiration that things can change, I had two issues with it: 1) It seems much easier to revert to old habits than form new ones. For the sexually inexperienced who have been porn/msturbation addicts since puberty, this is troubling, as I don't really have any healthy old habits to revert back to, and I fear that demonizing porn has made my brain wire itself to never want sex again. Of course, everytime I've come out of my depression during my recovery, I've been aroused by healthy thoughts, but it still bothered me, and I've been less optimistic about ever getting out of this depression because...

2) (this one's worse) Reading that book made me think that all happiness is is a bunch of chemicals in the brain. Even love is basically just an addiction to a person! Granted, that's better than addicted to yourself, but this still bothers me immensely, as it's something I never thought about before, and I guess I always viewed it as something more deep than that. I've always been a deep philosophical thinker, but this question graciously passed me by until now. Perhaps being in a depression is just making me focus on the negatives too much, but I'm afraid that everytime I'm happy from now on, I'll just tell myself "this is no different than before, it's all just your brain making you think you're happy". Maybe just since I've never been in a healthy loving relationship (other than with my parents), this seems worse than it is, and that everything will be fine when I truly find 'the one'. Of course, I would kill for my brain to let me be happy right now :/ Sorry for the somewhat scatterbrained topic, but I was just wondering if anyone else had this thought, and if there was anything specific you told yourself to stop thinking about it



sorry it upset you. Sad

As far as your philosophical question, I guess my bottom line is: It's your choice. If you can choose to believe that love is real, and also reflected in our neurochemistry, or choose to believe that it's just a neurochemical trip, why not choose the viewpoint that makes you happiest and most motivated?

For me, we will always be more than our neurochemicals. For others, we will never be more than our neurochemicals. But either way you can choose to move toward balance and you will feel more contented. Promise.

And if you've never been in balance since you ran into porn then the change will be an adventure. I promise that as you return to balance, you will one day say, "I feel more like who I really am," even if you weren't sure who that was before.

For me, neurochemistry is just a useful way to talk about subtle influences. But I think we will one day learn that there are even subtler energetic ones that connect us with all of life. We just don't yet believe in them because we can't measure them.

"Take what you can use and leave the rest."

*big hug*

Here's one thing that really

Here's one thing that really ticked me off. Once I learned about the law of attraction... my 'negative' thoughts became so much more powerful that it almost, wait no, it definitely feels like as if by magic my negative thoughts ARE manifesting really negative situations, and I haven't even been able to control my thoughts. So it seems like my life got even "worse". Even when I changed my conscious thoughts, my unconscious mind would STILL 'manifest' really dark things in my life. As if to really provoke reaction out of me. As if a great Joke has been played upon me. It's not really peace to know now that my thoughts create reality, if you don't know how to control your thoughts in the first place, and then become extremely paranoid that every one of your most dark thoughts even the most subconscious of thoughts are manifesting right before your eyes. People unconsciously pick up on these thoughts and MIRROR my darkest thoughts. Well, even when I try to change my thoughts, it comes back even more with a vengeance.

And especially when you have real physical pain, that clouds your judgment, and your thoughts and emotions. When you have "neurochemical" imbalances, physiologic imbalances, etc. how can your thoughts all of a sudden be changed when you are overwhelmed by physical sensations and inclinations ie that it (life) has simply gone "too far" to be able to just change with mere thought alone.


with all due respect it could well be your *conscious* thoughts that are creating the crap in your life. Reread your posts and you'll see what I mean.

On second thought, DON'T re-read them. They are the problem. Smile

Thanks Marnia. I have been

Thanks Marnia. I have been getting better at telling myself not to worry about the chemicals thing, as we still don't know how the brian knows to release chemicals and that 'meaning of life' questions like that don't need an answer. I used to obsess over questions like "where does the universe end" and stuff as a kid, and I eventually got over them even though there is no definitive answer, just eventually realizing that they don't need an answer to make life meaningful. This one's probably just difficult to deal with due to the depression

I guess I was just down in the dumps that I haven't been able to get an erection with or without porn on a regular basis. Being single, it's difficult to work up the confidence to start dating again when you don't think you can perform sexually. We tend to grow up being told that sex is an instinct like eating or drinking, but as the book showed, it is much more complicated than that, and I'm having a hard time coming to grips with that. If I truly need to rewire my brain from scratch, I need to find a VERY understanding and patient girl if I can't even get an erection without constant stimulation (and even then, lack of arousal would probably lead to premature ejaculation or none whatsoever, embarassing things that would further turn my brain off of sex I feel). I've never gone through depression before, so hopefully it's just a time thing, even though every day seems to last a year and I can't wait for the next day, hoping everything will be back to normal. Hopefully one day I will be able to come on here with a full account of my success, but depression seems so insurmountable, and I wonder if the addiction was simply masking depression all these years.

I'm sorry you're suffering

My suggestion is that you don't wait to socialize until your erections are where you want them. Socializing is part of the cure, and being around women is likely to be especially helpful in helping your reboot. Smile

What about joining a meditation group or some other group where hugs are a normal part of the culture and where hot sex isn't the only basis on which people relate? And just ease back into connection.

No need to start at the deep end of the pool. Wink

""this is no different than

""this is no different than before, it's all just your brain making you think you're happy"."

It may just be chemicals, but you know feelings bad feels well, bad. You would think not complicating things with mystery would help you see the destination in your mind.

you may try to see it this way

I have gone through a very similar feeling during my "marijuana" days when I almost came to believe that deciphering humanity was an exercise into futility and that we really are our instincts and guided completely by some stochastic (random, indeterminate) chance occurrence and that there is no free will (or our control over life).

Now supposing that nature has composed us of flesh and the accompanying neurochemicals, we could say that if we really had control over our lives (lets call the controlling force as "life force") then there had to exist a balance of power between nature's "neurochemical force" and our will's "life force". And the winner (or stronger) of the two would determine how much control we have over our lives. I do not know much about the subject of "free will" but let me be VERY RADICAL here and claim this


Can't you see we are different from all other living creatures in so many important aspects. We have a concept of egalitarian societies and try to support each other, we feel compassion during times of competitions for not just our offspring but for any other human (nature would have intended for us to fight and let the fittest survive or at most only let us support our offspring). We have tried to see sex as not just a means of recreation but also for a higher purpose (nature designed it only for progeny and reproduction). We have the capability to sacrifice (not all animals have that ability). Most important of all, we have asked ourselves "who are we and what is the purpose of our existence?" ( I do not know if nature ever wanted us to ask ourself this questions, honestly Wink ). What I'm trying to say is almost wholly inspired by one of Marnia's interviews where she very aptly stated

"We fall out of love because we're biologically-programmed to do so. The primitive part of our brain urges us toward behaviors that pass on the most genes. Unfortunately for us romantics, the key behaviors are (1) a craving for intense passion, followed by (2) an unconscious urge to separate, & (3) a tendency to repeat the pattern with a new partner (yielding greater genetic variety among offspring). Now that the Sexual Revolution has freed us, Biology's agenda is glaringly obvious.

We so want to believe that romantic love is designed to last forever that we regard anyone who says otherwise with deep suspicion. However, I don't think we can improve our statistics until we realize that Biology's goals are not our goals if we want a lasting, romantic relationship. There IS a way to keep romance alive, but we can't do it by blindly dancing to Biology's tune."

Now I can never say that these qualities are exclusive to us humans, nor the fact that we have completely been able to defy our natural design. We work a lot (A LOT) in the way nature has designed us to work. We do fight amongst ourselves and we do have sex for reproduction and self medication and we do act as animals a zillion times. In fact, there exists a gradation, a spectrum of human-ness and animal-ness amongst us. Not everything in us due to our animal nature is condemnable and not everything of human life force construct can be justified. But still, we are different and there is certainly something called a "life force" in us that guides us. It may be present in the same form in other animals too, but it is there in us!

I am not at all trying to assert that addiction to masturbation/porn/sex is due to nature's design. Not at all. Its just that given today's condition, our neurochemicals are not good enough to deal with it. Who knows a million years down the line we may evolve in a manner that we have full control over our sexual impulses and desires.

The point that I was trying to make, pertinent to your concern, was that just neurochemicals can't lead to such a big coincidence. We have tried to improve nature's design of our own selves in our efforts, and this is not just natural evolution, its a conscious effort from our side because natural evolution cannot happen that fast. We have read across forums on this site that our primitive brain has been wired in a manner that is obsolete w.r.t. todays societal requirements and pressures (availability of porn, etc). It now becomes imperative for us to use our life force and try to evolve in a manner that we can exact these demands. My idea of evolution is not exclusive to physiological changes or the changes in the compositions and concentrations of our neurochemicals. Its inclusive of the changes in our ideas . Just think where does the idea "I have to be a better human being and have more control over my life" come from ?? --- Definitely if we have our own concept of a "better" human being then we are not simply enslaved to nature's neurochemicals.

If you think really scientifically about the nature of things, be happy, because "non-conformism" is one of science's basic pillars and so you should not be decisive about your helplessness. See, there are infinite reasons not to believe that we are only hyperactive chemical agglutinations set into consciousness by some stochastic reaction that happens once every zillion years (the universe is only 14 billion years old). I just cannot believe that life is simply a chance occurance. Atleast for the sake of our own lives, lets not demean it by saying this.

I hope I have not confused you more and have made some sense. Please, please feel free to counter my arguments here as this is my own perception of things and it would be great to improve upon it.


"Pleasure is only a freedom song, its not freedom in itself."