4.5 Serotonin & Social Life
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Video TranscriptIn this course, I’ve really not discussed the social aspects of fetishes very much all the biological neurochemical aspects and that is actually quite an important thing to discuss. So I’m going to try and do that all in this video. One of the interesting things that research has found about fetishes is that a type of drug called an SSRI can selectively reduce arousal towards fetishes without reducing normal sex drive. It kind of makes the PDS people less aroused by their fetish than just their fetishes, right, it’s selective. SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. What that means is it boosts serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that regulates mood, primarily people. Researchers also found a correlation between fetishes and anxiety, depression, OCD and other low serotonin conditions. So this implies that serotonin plays some role in fetishes. And based on everything in this course, that makes perfect sense, actually, serotonin, in animals and in chemicals. It’s released depending on the perception of resources. So in simple in simple animals, this means the availability of food in humans, it means social success. So basically, what it does is it tracks the perceived ability for an animal to meet its needs. If there is a high perception of resources, very technical terms, then there’s lots of serotonin released, if there’s a low perception of resources, the availability of resources, then there is low serotonin. And for us humans, because we’re primarily social creatures, it means that a lot of our perception of the availability of resources depends on how successful we are socially. That actually, is how we’re evolved to be. That’s what plays the key part in our perception of availability of resources. Because it’s what determined it a long time ago, if you were part of a tribe, if you had a group, then you had all the resources available to you. If you were not part of that tribe, if you were outcast from society, then you didn’t have those resources available to you. And so serotonin basically tracks that. Now, subconscious inadequacy is, is that it’s this feeling of not being able to meet your needs, right? It’s this sense of having some sort of obstacle in the way of you meeting your needs subconscious inadequacy basically leads to low serotonin. That’s how it all kind of ties together. That’s what serotonin tracks. So basically, one of the things about fetishes, all fetishes, come from some sort of perceived ability, low perceived ability to be you need some sort of obstacle in the way of your needs and fetishes kind of formed to overcome that obstacle, right? They, they make us feel good about ourselves, they make us feel like we have a higher ability to meet our needs. So that’s why all fetishes have some sort of link to serotonin and that’s why SSRIs can selectively reduce fetishistic arousal. Now, I’m not trying to say that you should take SSRIs at all, because I think that’s quite a bad thing to do, because you can just boost your serotonin naturally. Also, low serotonin doesn’t cause fetishes, this is a very important thing, it shares the same cause. Okay, it doesn’t cause fetishes directly, it shares the same cause, and it may be kind of a result of the same thing, it may be another symptom instead of a cause. However, it does increase the cause in a negative feedback loop loop. Let’s look at the effects of serotonin on the body. The most important thing is that it regulates mood. That’s its main function. A normal level of serotonin keeps you happy, confident, and with a higher sense of well being. And from this, it has further effects it will make you smile and make you more comfortable with talking to people and making eye contact and laughing and fitting in. It makes you stand up straight with your shoulders back your chin up. And once it’s affected your mood, your thoughts will follow because he doesn’t have to cause all these things. But that’s just what happens when it affects your mood. Everything else kind of follows and your thoughts follow your mood too. So the thoughts that pop into your head head. If you have plenty of serotonin then they’re not negative. You won’t be dwelling on bad experiences, right? Negative internalization, you won’t have that. You’re not even focused on yourself. Necessary there’ll be less self consciousness and that includes the urge to improve self consciousness doesn’t have to be bad it can be sort of focused on ways in which you want to get better. It’s just focused on yourself. You’ll think positive anyway, that’s the point with low serotonin. You don’t have those things, you’re less happy, less positive, less confident your posture will deteriorate and your thoughts follow to, you’re more likely to think negatively focused on negative internalization. All these things lead towards subconscious inadequacy. Okay. Most importantly, not only does serotonin regulate mood, but mood regulates serotonin, I’m going to say that again, mood regulate serotonin. So all of these things of being negative, kind of going down that that path into negativity that affects serotonin even more. That’s the negative feedback loop. Okay, serotonin is released, depending on your social successes and your perceived ability to meet your needs. And all of these things that I’ve just said all these negative effects of low serotonin will lower both of these factors, the social successes and your perceived ability to meet your needs, and therefore you don’t release as much serotonin and the negative feedback loop continues. So boost your serotonin, that’s what I’m coming to boost your serotonin by. Firstly, as I’ve just said, mood regulate serotonin. So if you can increase your mood your serotonin will follow. If you just stand up straight with your shoulders back and keep your chin up. I’ve heard quite a lot of people saying that this actually has a genuine effects on the amount of serotonin that is released. Like I said, Here, fake it till you make it, the brain can’t seem to tell the difference between something that’s, that’s fake. And what’s real. One of the more interesting ways that they’ve shown this is through something called laughter therapy or laughter yoga, which is really, really weird. Basically, these people will meet up in groups, sometimes in a public place, and they will just laugh on purpose with nothing to laugh about, they’ll just stand there going ha ha ha ha, for 20 or 30 minutes, or just until they get tired. And they’ve shown that this actually releases serotonin. They’ve shown that just by laughing, even if you have nothing to laugh about, that actually releases serotonin. So like I said, the brain can’t really tell the difference. You can fake it till you make it as it were. And if you just change your physical state, your mood and your serotonin in your internal state will follow. And that’s positive thinking as well. It just starts the upward spiral. Another thing you can do is exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, which has been shown to release serotonin healthy diet, daily bright lights has been shown to have some effect on serotonin too. So if you’re, you know, stuck in a dark room all the time, that’s probably not the best thing. Meditation and other stress removers basically anything to remove your stress, but the main thing is improving your social life. Okay? That is what will do best for your fetish. Okay? When I say improving your social life, I don’t mean trying to get these highly super successful on achievable friends. I mean, having nice friends that you like and that like you and that you feel safe and secure. You feel like you belong, you feel comfortable, and you feel fairly secure. That’s the main point of of improving your social life. I’m talking about face to face contact with real people. link between fetishes and addictions? And is this an addiction in itself? Yes, there’s there’s been shown that there is quite a link between a correlation between fetishes and addictions. And of course, they share the same cause two experiments have shown huge effects of social life on addiction. That’s very true as well. Toxic shame does seem to have a massive social element. Partly it’s because of this serotonin. Right but also partly it’s because of just the nature of, of subconscious inadequacy or toxic shame is this nature of, of having a low perceived ability to meet your needs or just having a sense of being inadequate or just a fear of being inadequate. All of these things can be cured by by talking to people and by having friends and by really fitting in and really feeling like you belong and really just meeting your social needs. If you can meet your social needs, particularly your social needs. This will have a huge, huge positive effects. Subconscious inadequacy is the fear that you won’t be good enough well good enough for what Good enough to fit in, be accepted and get your needs met. So get your needs met. That’s how you solve it. If you can just get your needs met then you’ll know that you are finally good enough to fit in, be accepted and get your needs met. So here are the social needs a sense of belonging, being part of a community, being accepted, being liked being seen and being understood. If you can get all of these and there are probably more this is just a little brief guide, but if you can get these then that’s going to have a huge effect on your fetish Firstly, because of serotonin but also because it just directly counters toxic shame.
Truly healing the subconscious means bringing all this self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love to the social domain. Friends are essential for feeling like you’re good enough. They give you third-party affirmation of your self-worth. If you don’t have a group of friends that you regularly see, then you need to get one. You don’t necessarily need many, and you don’t need to go ‘out’ and be extraverted if that isn’t you, but you need regular social contact.
Some people say to me: “I don’t want regular social contact” or “I don’t like socializing”. This is one of the ways that some people deal with a subconscious sense of inadequacy – by cutting themselves off from their social life. The sense of inadequacy creates an expectancy of rejection, and thus a dislike of social situations or the urge to avoid them altogether. When we don’t feel good enough, we often interpret social situations within that context, seeing everything through a pessimistic lens.
Due to this social pessimism, many people become shy, or very introverted, or socially anxious, or they simply dislike social situations so much that they avoid them. It is no surprise that social anxiety/phobia has been shown to correlate with fetishes.
This is a self-reinforcing phenomenon. Without social connection, we interpret social situations negatively, and end up isolating ourselves. Social isolation makes you assume the worst about others’ intentions. We become more self-centered, and appear more cold, unfriendly, and socially awkward than we really are, which isolates us even more. After a long period of lacking social contact, your brain effectively prevents you from re-integrating mostly because it creates negative assumptions. So, if you find this happening, make sure not to follow those assumptions.
Furthermore, when you’ve recently watched a few hours of cuckold porn and have been thoroughly degraded and humiliated, you feel dirty, tainted, secretive, as if you need to conceal your true nature and not let anyone come close. You feel like you’re different, bad, flawed, weird, or have something to hide. This only makes you more prone to avoiding social situations, or acting awkward in them.
We all need social validation. Actually, subconscious inadequacy makes us need it slightly more. This can make us even more fearful of things going wrong, or even more avoidant. This is related to attachment style: avoidant people avoid social relationships, anxious people fear them. The best way to overcome this is to form secure relationships.
The neediness for social validation becomes apparent through other ways. To fit in and be liked, many people try very hard to be something they’re not. Others go the opposite way, embracing rejection and solitude on purpose as a defense mechanism, and becoming too nonchalant and seemingly uninterested, so much so that it leads to isolation.
A healthy social life with genuine friendships is essential. However, the most important thing is not the friendship, but how you act. No matter how many friends you have, you’ll still feel inadequate if you’re not being honest and authentic. If you’re putting on a front, or subtly lying, or simply not letting people get close to you, you will not receive the validation and fulfilment of your needs.
Friends and Insecurities
Social contact is the number one way to heal whatever insecurity you may have. The more time you spend around people, the more you’ll know that everyone has flaws, and the more you’ll be able to see yours in a wider context where they don’t matter as much. Open, honest social contact destroys insecurities like nothing else.
Having many other people in your life stops you from focusing on yourself. Shame and inadequacy are self-centered feelings. Thinking about ourselves usually means thinking negatively about ourselves. If we’re left alone to think about past social interactions, we will undoubtedly over-analyze. Small moments of awkwardness or imperfection become giant flaws when we have the time and solitude to think about them and dwell on them. Our self-critical mind looks only for bad things, and ignores the good things, so we develop an inaccurate self-image. Keeping busy with daily social interactions is a valid solution. Draw attention away from yourself with friends, and you can stop being as self-centered.
When these friendships are honest, open, and secure, you stop worrying about being left out, excluded, and not good enough. Importantly, having an overabundance of friends – more than you want – makes you not care if you aren’t good enough for one of them. It makes you better at handling the burden of being good enough. It creates a secure feeling inside yourself, free from fearing inadequacy, because rejection from one friend is a good thing when you have too many.
Particularly, you gain a real sense of what it means to be human. You see other people accurately, flaws and all, and become more comfortable with being imperfect, and being yourself.
Friends and The Brain
Subconscious inadequacy is sometimes accompanied by a subtle, low-grade depression. The worst thing is, if you’ve never experienced anything different, you’re not aware of it, and cannot be aware of it, because you’ve never felt differently! Depression is also something that makes recovery hard, because it prevents you from being able to take action.
Depression is characterized by low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that regulates mood. Friendship boosts serotonin.
If you’re not getting social contact while being open and honest, you’re not getting as much serotonin, and that’s bad. Similarly, social situations which involve defeat, such as rejection and exclusion or insecure relationships, are just as bad.
Serotonin is linked to your place in social hierarchies, and moving up the hierarchy produces serotonin. The social hierarchy is a mental construct which everyone perceives differently, and it’s actually your perception that matters. You can improve your perception just by having normal, secure friendships and fitting in.
A type of drug called SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) works to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, particularly to treat deficiencies. It’s the standard treatment for depression and anxiety, but more interestingly it’s been used to successfully treat fetishes too; it appears to selectively decrease fetishistic arousal without decreasing sex drive.
If sexual behavior comes from validation, and serotonin reflects your perceived place on the social hierarchy (and therefore your need for validation – people high on the hierarchy don’t need validation as much), then low serotonin theoretically causes an increased need for validation, which is something that contributes to fetishes. High serotonin causes a decreased need for validation – and therefore decreased arousal from fetishes. This is a theoretical explanation why SSRIs work in treating fetishes.
It’s not really testable or provable, so we’ll never be certain, but it doesn’t quite matter the theory as to why – what’s important is that SSRIs appear to selectively reduce arousal to fetishes, without necessarily decreasing sex drive.
How To Raise Serotonin Levels
You can naturally increase your serotonin levels by doing a number of things.
Firstly, increasing the effort you make socially. By climbing the social ladder, you’ll increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. If you’re someone who tends to isolate themselves, or not spend much effort on this aspect of life, it may be beneficial to reconsider that.
Secondly, exercise increases serotonin, particularly aerobic exercise like running. It also appears bright light (being outside), and a healthy diet can also increase serotonin. Furthermore, self-induced changes in mood can have a biological effect. Researchers found that people who were made to feel happy showed an increase in serotonin, and people who were made to feel sad showed a decrease in serotonin. So, changing your mood (literally ‘thinking positive’) seems to feed back into your serotonin system, which in turn will positively affect your mood, which positively affects serotonin, which positively affects mood, which positively affects serotonin, and you’ll enter an upwards spiral. Just by acting like someone high on the social hierarchy, your serotonin system will follow. Standing up straight with your shoulders back, smiling, laughing, and cultivating these effects before they naturally happen (‘fake it until you make it’) seems like it may increase serotonin.
One of the weirder ways people have tried to do this is through ‘laughter therapy’ or ‘laughter yoga’. This is where a group of people gather to laugh, without anything funny to laugh about – they just make the sounds and actions of laughter on purpose. These groups meet up, sometimes in a public place, to stand there, laughing for 20-30 minutes or until they get tired. Surprisingly, this has been shown to have positive effects. The brain seems like it can’t tell the difference between what’s fake and what’s real in our actions, so smiling, laughing, positive thinking, and ‘keeping your chin up’ may actually have some scientific validity in the treatment of low serotonin levels, and starting an upwards spiral.
Friends and Addiction
Addiction can be caused by toxic shame, and has understandably been shown to correlate with fetishes – they can share the same cause.
One of the most interesting studies on addiction came from an experiment in the 1980s, where scientists split rats into two groups and put them in different settings. The first group was put in small individual cages, in complete isolation with one another, where they couldn’t communicate. The other group were put in ‘rat park’ – an enclosure with platforms for climbing, tin cans for hiding in, wood chips for strewing around, and running wheels for exercise, as well as many other rats of the opposite sex, all free to interact with each other.
Each group were given two bottles to drink from – one with water, and one with a mix of water and addictive drugs. Researchers found that the rats in solitary confinement chose to consume far more drugs than the rats from rat park – up to 19 times more. The rats in rat park resisted the drugs, and although they tried it occasionally, they showed a significant preference for the plain water.
In another experiment, the researchers put all the rats into cages, and got them ‘hooked’ on the drugs over two months without any choice of what to drink. Then, they moved those rats into rat park, and gave them the choice between plain water or drugged water. They chose plain water.
This study suggested that addiction has a huge social element, and a lack of social fulfilment can be a significant cause. The rats in rat park had everything they needed, and the rats in isolation took drugs to cope with their situation.
The rats’ addictive behavior was a faulty attempt to make up for their unfulfilled social needs. As the author wrote, ‘Addiction isn’t you – it’s the cage you live in’.
This is why friends are so important for anyone with addictive tendencies. By forming new, healthy relationships, we heal the damage caused by the initial faulty parent/child relationship. By seeing ourselves mirrored in the eyes of others, we develop a healthy and more accurate self-image. This is one step to cure addictions.
Friends And The Opposite
The conclusion of this section is that fulfilling friendships lead to a more accurate self-image, less feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, more social validation, and the fulfilment of social needs.
However, at times, it can feel like the complete opposite is true; that social situations lead to increased stress, increased pressure to be good enough, and increased feelings of insecurity. Entering the social world can certainly seem to create more problems than it solves, because it means seeing yourself compared to others, introducing a greater burden to be good enough, and taking on more responsibility. Avoidance seems easier, more comforting, and likely to lead to happiness. And it does, in the short term, because we don’t have to risk anything. In the long term, however, it doesn’t lead to happiness.
It can seem like it creates more problems, but actually it simply brings existing problems to light. It is the tool that makes you confront yourself, instead of avoiding and ignoring. This can be a difficult process, and a painful one for some people, but it’s worth it.
The aim is not to climb to the top of the social circle, it is to settle with a group of non-shaming, accepting, secure people in an open, honest, and fun relationship. Forming secure, authentic friendships with men and women, where principles of self-compassion, self-love, and self-acceptance can be brought into the social domain is the ultimate goal.
The aim is also not to be extroverted, loud, socially authoritative, or something you’re not, but to overcome the defense mechanisms of social avoidance that prevent you from feeling good enough.
I recently read the book ‘Loneliness: Human Nature And The Need For Social Connection’ by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick. In it, the authors explain that your perceptions and interpretations of social situations are equally as important as the social situations themselves. Someone can be surrounded by people and still not get their social needs met, if they interpret the situation negatively. If they don’t feel accepted, or if they don’t feel like they belong, or if they don’t feel like they’re part of a group, which can all be caused by following negative thoughts, then they aren’t getting their social needs met. Similarly, a different person can get their social needs met with very minimal social contact, if they interpret the situation positively and feel like they’re accepted, they belong, etc. Your interpretations of the social situation matter as much as the social situation itself!
Loneliness is something that regularly affects 60% of 18-34 year-olds (and occasionally affects everyone). Social isolation is a growing problem in the modern era; due to new technologies, urbanization, changing work environment and societal values, and the burden of modern life, we’re naturally more disconnected from others. For some people, it escalates, until it’s a problem. Here’s a good video summarising the problem, as well as the solutions if you’re particularly isolated.
Author(s) || Connor McGonigal
Website || howtostopbeingacuckold.com
Article || 4.5 Serotonin & Social Life
Date || Between May 21st, 2019 and June 2nd, 2019
contributors: ["Connor McGonigal"]