There is a growing community on the internet that promotes “NoFap” as a way to improve health. However, a new study has found serious health problems among people who are part of such forums.
The NoFap community recommends “rebooting,” or “abstinence from masturbation and/or pornography to treat ‘pornography addiction,'” authors of the study, published in the journal Sexualities, noted.
Engagement with the community and a belief these forums helped the user were linked to an increase in anxiety, depression, and erectile dysfunction, the study found. The research team also found participants in the community were less likely to seek help for their perceived pornography addiction.
Interestingly, previous research found that such forums, which comprised 99% male users, were conservative in nature and promoted misogyny and homophobia, the authors said, IFLScience reported.
“NoFap forums were [also] described as productive targets for white supremacist recruitment,” researchers said. “This is linked to a false conspiracy theory that Jewish persons control the pornography industry for the purpose of promoting race mixing.”
In the study, 587 men, who took part in “reboots,” were surveyed. The study found 28.9% of respondents “reported that their most recent failure to maintain/reach the Reboot abstinence goal caused them to feel suicidal.”
This is not all. The research team noted that the “reboot treatments” are usually given by untrained “coaches” in these forums, adding “reboot coaches and communities have neither the training nor authority to respond adequately to self-harm reports.”
“Reboot treatments are most similar to iatrogenic, anti-LGBT conversion therapies,” the authors wrote. “These also shame sexual behaviors and promote suicidal ideation.” Iatrogenic illnesses are caused by medical interventions.
The team cautioned of the harm associated with these interventions, and promulgated that people do not invest in developing similar programs aimed at controlling pornography addiction.
“Evaluating any treatment requires considering the spontaneous recovery rate of the problem behavior,” the team explained. “In a study that followed a large sample of randomly selected persons for 5 years, 95% of men who reported pornography concerns at baseline spontaneously recovered within 5 years.”
“While some have advocated research into abstinence, continuing to spend limited research resources for clinical trials developing abstinence Reboot programs now appears wasteful, especially given the spontaneous recovery rate,” the team advised.
Instead, the researchers point to alternative therapies that focus on reducing guilt and shame, following viewing pornography in addicted patients as it has better outcomes in improving their health.
“Reboot treatments create additional harm by leading the public away from these evidence-based treatments,” the study authors commented.