“No Nut November” is associated heavily with the NoFap movement and other anti-porn and anti-masturbation “help” groups on the internet. An unknown user in 2011 posted the first record of No Nut November on the crowdsourced online slang dictionary, Urban Dictionary.
Subreddit r/NoFap, an influential self-help subreddit on Reddit, is a venue for pseudoscientific ideas like No Nut November.
NoFap is a direct product of pervasive and obsessive internet subcultures conflating peer-reviewed scientific evidence with misinformation, disinformation, and hyper-religious belief. One of the views of the group is that porn addiction is a behavioral and mental health diagnosis. Pornography addiction isn’t recognized by mainstream medicine or addiction science and was prominently evangelized by anti-porn activist Gary Wilson.
Wilson authored a cultural critique entitled Your Brain on Porn which posited the thesis that excessive porn consumption could cause mental health issues and addiction. But this thesis was not adopted by mainstream psychology due to its lack of scientific rigor and peer review. NoFap lauds the work of Wilson as if it is cutting-edge research, but there is overwhelming evidence showing that his work and the movement surrounding it are suspect, due to wacky cultural views and incorrect assessments of human neuroscience.
As a further indication of this fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) doesn’t recognize pornography addiction as a mental health disorder, like nicotine and alcohol dependence. The DSM-5 also doesn’t consider pornography and sex addictions to be psychological disorders. Rather, some experts argue there are sociocultural and environmental factors impacting someone who consumes pornography.
Some researchers have found that the concept of “porn addiction” is actually a product of shame felt by men facing instances of intense religiosity. Communities that these young men hail from demonize sexual expression as an affront to a deity or spirituality. The NoFap movement taps into the organization of a religious structure, though it claims not to be religious. Religiosity drives religious guilt.
Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist who has studied “reboot” and NoFap movements for years, told Inverse a few years ago that the best indicator of “sex addiction” or any variation of such, including “porn addiction” is a person’s upbringing and how they adjust as adults.
“The best predictor of believing you have problems with pornography is a conservative upbringing,” Prause said. In this context, a “conservative” upbringing is almost always associated with a strict religious upbringing, which essentially stratifies the difference between spirituality and actual guilt.
Religion in its most aggressive forms can promote singular, rigid thinking patterns and a social, moral, emotional, and politically-driven overdependence on certain forms of ‘religious law and order’ and social rules that emphasize a narrow depiction of sinful and non-sinful behaviors. The preoccupation with avoidance of sinful behaviors results in dealing with aggressive and crippling guilt if a particular sin is committed.
Various studies suggest that excessive reliance on religious prayer and ritual may exacerbate someone’s compulsion to break religious teaching. The religious teaching in question is, in turn, derivative of the religiosity found in the individual’s environment.
‘Reboot’ movements like NoFap teach that masturbation and porn viewing leads to erectile dysfunction — another claim for which there is no supporting evidence.
“We found not only was there no evidence that porn caused followers of Reboot/NoFap [to struggle] with ED, but their struggles were actually strongly associated with anxiety. Anxiety has long been known as the best predictor of ED in hundreds of studies,” Prause wrote in a series of tweets. “While not surprising, these data debunk the myth that porn abstinence impacts erectile function. As far as I am aware, this was the first direct test of these claims. Longitudinal and larger samples are already under review to debunk the remainder of their claims.”
Our new paper reviews why Reboot/NoFap does not address erectile concerns and, in fact, their own followers actually are struggling with anxiety, not porn
— Dr. Nicole Prause (@NicoleRPrause) October 18, 2022
No Nut November proponents say that erectile dysfunction is resolved when there is no masturbation or viewing of porn. Prause and her colleagues have demonstrated that one of the key tenants of NoFap and the Not Nut November trend is bunk. Still, the issue is that the belief in NoFap and No Nut November is so strong with some who subscribe to it that the meme takes on religious dimensions of its own.