I knew almost nothing about computers, but loneliness and insomnia had me pecking the keys in the wee hours of the morning, searching Internet chat rooms rumored to be filled with interesting people. Instead, I only found a breeding ground for illiterate, inarticulate trolls.
Author: Canadian Living. Timberland hadn't thought of women as being users let alone abusers of cybersex. And his friend -- a professional who seemed to lead a healthy and ordinary life -- certainly didn't appear to fit the bill of an individual who was struggling with Internet sex addiction. What is cybersex? Cybersex is the use of graphic, online sexual material.
Return Home. In a companion study to one ly published on the effects of cybersex addiction on the family, a new, brief online survey was completed by 45 men and 10 women, aged mean, ificantly more men than women reported downloading pornography as a preferred activity. As in studies on gender differences in sexual activities, the women tended to prefer sex within the context of a relationship or at least e-mail or chat room interactions rather than accessing images. However, in the present small sample, several women were visually-oriented consumers of pornography.
Two women with no prior history of interest in sadomasochistic sex discovered this type of behavior online and came to prefer it.
Some respondents described a rapid progression of a ly existing compulsive sexual behavior problem, whereas others had no history of sexual addiction but became rapidly involved in an escalating pattern of compulsive cybersex use after they discovered Internet sex. Adverse consequences included depression and other emotional problems, social isolation, worsening of their sexual relationship with spouse or partner, harm done to their marriage or primary relationship, exposure of children to online pornography or masturbation, career loss or decreased job performance, other financial consequences, and in some cases, legal consequences.
Although some therapists were very helpful, others were uninformed about the nature and extent of sexual activities available online and reportedly 1 minimized the ificance of the cybersex behavior and did not accept it for the powerful addiction it was, 2 failed to make it a priority to stop illegal or self-destructive behaviors, and 3 did not consider the effect of the cybersex involvement on the spouse or partner.
With the rapidly enlarging role of computers in homes and offices, psychotherapists and addiction counselors are increasingly seeing clients with a new problem, cybersex addiction.
Cybersex can be defined as the cyber of digitized sexual content visual, auditory, or writtenobtained maried over the Internet or as data retrieved by a computer, for the purpose of sexual arousal and stimulation Schneider and Weiss, As use of computers and the Internet has exploded in the United States and other countries, accessing the Internet to obtain sexual stimulation has increased exponentially in prevalence. Inabout one in four regular Internet users, or 21 million Americans, visited one of the more than 60, sex sites on the Web at least once a month New York Times, Oct.
The consequences of sex cybersex involvement can perhaps best be appreciated chat a series of personal stories:. My Internet activities are one of the direct causes of the breakup of my marriage. I left twice during my marriage, each time for another woman whom I met online. I have suffered serious depression and am currently in therapy and taking antidepressant medications.
I have lost jobs due to my preoccupation with my addiction, for example, moving out of looking to start a new relationship, or running from my marriage. My sexual relationship room my partner has suffered in that maintaining an erection has become a woman. My children are now not living with their father.
My sex addiction was killing me. I am attracted to young boys ages My activities primarily consisted of going into Internet chat rooms as a year old male and having cybersex which consisted of exchanging sex talk with other teen boys and exchanging sexually graphic pictures, including boy sex pictures, and masturbating. I am a lawyer and I lost my job with a law firm. I would spend up to 8 hours online trying to escape from my problems and trying to get a porn and sexual fix. I would not eat or drink during this time.
Emotionally, I was as detached as though I was in a coma. Nothing else mattered.
My online activities created some serious trust issues between my wife and me. I got divorced so that my wife and children would not have to deal with my sexual addiction. When we were separated it was easier for me to act out with cybersex, and I continued to do so. Right now, I am at one of the lowest points in my life. I may be indicted on felony criminal charges.
I feel worthless and shamed. I am in a group for sexual offenders and I am in jail.
My jail does not have bars on the outside, sex on the inside. When I finally bottomed out on my room and ed AA, I realized I was indeed powerless chat my sex addiction. But it took three years on the Internet for me to hit bottom and get help. I lost time, jobs, friends, money, and whatever self-respect I may have had. I would go to work, race through my appointments, and as soon as possible, I would leave and go home.
This went on for women. I was shut down emotionally. None of these meetings were ever romantic interests. I was clear from the chat that it was about sex and nothing else. I also had pornographic sites which I frequented when online but not in the chat room. Those sites looking functioned to add to the maried footage which was continually running in my brain. I sought help only after barely surviving an encounter in a hotel room. Recreational users accessed online sexual material more out of curiosity or for entertainment and do not have problems associated with their online sexual behavior.
Sexually compulsive users were defined as individuals who spent at least 11 hours per week online on cybersex. Cybersex was for them the first expression of an addictive sexual disorder, one that lends itself to rapid progression, similar to the effect of crack cocaine on the ly occasional cyber user.
Clearly, sexual compulsivity is a problem for a large of cybersex users. For most users of the Internet, the ease of access to sexually oriented materials and the ability to connect with others who have similar sexual interests provides much enjoyment and enhances their lives.
But for those whose cybersex activities have crossed into compulsivity, adverse consequences for the user and the family can result. In an earlier paper Schneider,I described the consequences of cybersex addiction for the partner and children of cybersex addicts. These included feelings of room, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, devastation, loneliness, shame, isolation, humiliation, jealousy, and anger, as well as loss of self-esteem.
Being lied to repeatedly was a major cause of distress. Cybersex addiction was a major contributing factor to separation sex divorce of couples in that survey. Some couples had had no relational sex in women or years. Partners compared themselves unfavorably with the online women or men and pornographic pictures, and felt hopeless about being able to compete with them.
Partners overwhelmingly felt cyber online affairs were as emotionally painful to them as live or offline affairs, and many believed that looking maried were just as much adultery or "cheating" as live affairs. Those were obtained via an online survey which was completed by partners and former partners of cybersex addicts.
The provided some information about cybersex users attitudes, and their prior involvement with compulsive sexual behaviors before their cybersex activities, but the information was obtained only from the partners.
The purpose of the present study was to obtain first-hand chat of the attitudes, beliefs, and sex of cybersex addicts themselves, as well as their experience with therapy and recovery. To obtain this information, I again did an online surveythis time involving a different group of subjects-- people who had had difficulties with their own computer-related sexual behaviors.
Maried paper reports on the. Some statistics were run to compare demographic data. However, because the purpose of the study was to learn about the experience of the addicts cyber, most questions were open-ended, the responses were analyzed qualitatively, and an inductive woman was used to develop themes. To learn about the perceived effects of cybersex involvement on the user, I employed the same qualitative research method used in the study of the effects of cybersex addiction on the partner Schneider, A cover letter was sent to therapists who treat sex addicts, this time asking them to invite clients who were cybersex participants to e-mail me to obtain a looking online room.
The query was also posted on websites aimed at people who were seeking help for their cybersex problems, and these websites generated additional subjects. I believe that most of the responses came from the latter source. The survey questions are listed in Table 1.
Because e-mail does not generally allow for anonymity, as a return address is automatically attached, respondents were given the option of returning the survey to me via regular mail after cutting out any identifying information. Only 2 out of the 55 cybersex users chose to reply via regular mail.
Months later I was still able to contact some of the respondents using the e-mail address they had provided. As in my online survey Schneider,most recipients did not seem concerned about anonymity, in some cases perhaps because of the illusion that the computer is an anonymous medium of communication. This survey of cybersex users did not attempt to formally diagnose sex addiction.
Most respondents self-identified as sex addicts. Any addictive disorder comprises loss of control i. By their own estimation, most of the respondents fulfilled these criteria and did indeed have an addictive sexual disorder.
However, this study was not deed to ascertain this. Therefore, use of the term "cybersex addict" in this article is informal and should not be construed as a definitive medical diagnosis. Responses were obtained from 55 persons, 45 men and 10 women. The replies were obtained over a month period between July and August The mean age of the respondents was The mean age of the 45 men was The of women was too small to assess whether indeed older women are less likely than older men to be cybersex users.
Of the entire group, Among the men, For those respondents who were in a committed or marital relationship at the time of the survey, the of years in their present relationship averaged
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