Right under your nose
In her survey, 91 women and 3 men in committed relationships said they had experienced serious adverse consequences, including broken relationships, from their partners' cybersex addictions. As Dr. Schneider noted, children can stumble upon the pornographic material left on or near the computer or walk in on a parent masturbating at the computer.
TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. Cybersex compulsives can become so involved with their online activities that they ignore their partners and children and risk their jobs. In Dr. Cooper's survey, 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women reported they had used computers at work for some sexual pursuits.
I get strong pictures of what she did and lusted after, and I get repelled and feel bad. As a result, the diagnosis of cybersex addiction is often missed, Dr. Schneider said.
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This can exacerbate the problem for people whose jobs involve work on a computer. Sex is the hottest topic among adult users of the Internet, with studies showing that fully a third of all visits directed to sexually oriented Web sites, chat rooms and news groups. While social and safety concerns and fear of discovery may prevent someone from visiting an adult bookstore or prostitute, there are no such constraints when pornography and sexual partners can be called up at any time of the day or night on a computer screen in one's home or office, Dr.
To those who say ''What's the harm? Women who become cybersex addicts may face even greater risks than their male counterparts.
Among them was a year-old woman married 14 years to a minister who she discovered was compulsively seeking sexual satisfaction by visiting pornographic sites on the Internet. A year-old man married 26 years to a woman who became hooked on cybersex wrote: ''At first we had sex more than ever as I desperately tried to prove myself.
Cybersex before meeting? that’s not for me
Many companies now monitor employees' online activities, and repeated visits to sexually oriented sites have cost people their jobs. Cooper wrote in his Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report. Kimberly S. According to Dr. Especially vulnerable to becoming hooked on Internet sex, he wrote, are ''those users whose sexuality may have been suppressed and limited all their lives [who] suddenly find an infinite supply of sexual opportunities'' on the Internet. Putnam put it, ''Once people get hooked on cybersex, they tend to put themselves at risk and do things they wouldn't ordinarily do.
And some people, including two physicians, have landed in federal prison for two years because they downloaded child pornography when authorities were watching, Dr. Still, most who pursue cybersex consider it harmless and safe to do so.
Cybersex gives birth to a psychological disorder
Children, too, often become victimized by cybersex addiction in a parent. A year-old woman married 18 years to a man who compulsively masturbates to images on the computer wrote that her husband had once had an extramarital affair and that ''the online 'safe' cheating has just as dirty, filthy a feel to it as does the 'real-life' cheating. Those most strongly hooked on Internet sex are likely to spend hours each day masturbating to pornographic images or having ''mutual'' online sex with someone contacted through a chat room.
However, a second survey conducted by Dr. Schneider among 94 family members affected by cybersex addiction revealed that the problem could arise even among those in loving marriages with ample sexual opportunities.
The joy and misery of cybersex
Partners commonly reported feeling betrayed, devalued, deceived, ignored and abandoned and unable to compete with a fantasy. They're not risking disease or death,'' Dr. Schneider, who has written extensively on sexual addiction, responds that the damage can be as devastating as that caused by compulsive gambling or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Once unleashed, the power of a cyberaffair, cybersex, or both, can cause a formerly loving man to become evasive and to demand his privacy online, according to Dr. Young and her co-authors. The sexual stimulation and release obtained through cybersex also contribute importantly to the continued pursuit of the activity, Dr.
Effects of cybersex addiction on the family
Al Cooper, a staff psychologist at Stanford who has conducted the largest and most detailed survey of online sex, calls the Net ''the crack cocaine of sexual compulsivity. Some cybersex addicts develop a conditioned response to the computer and become sexually aroused even before turning it on, Dr. Putnam said. Then sex with her made me sick. Several mothers in her survey were worried because their husbands surfed the Net while supposedly watching their children, who got to view the pornography and sometimes the masturbation.
Women, who tend to pursue relationships, are inclined to visit sexually oriented chat rooms rather than the pornographic Web sites that men prefer, Dr. As women become increasingly hooked on online sex, they are more likely to progress to off-line meetings, which can prove dangerous. Projected to the country as a whole, this would mean that a minimum ofmen and women have become cybersex addicts in the last few years, Dr.
Cooper said. Children may also suffer as a result of increasing conflict between the parents or breakup of the marriage.
Occasionally, they progress to off-line affairs with sex partners they meet online. Many cybersex abusers are re-enacting aspects of past losses, conflicts or traumas in order to foster illusions of power and love. Another author, Dr. Jennifer Schneider, a physician in Tucson, Ariz.
The survey found that as many as a third of Internet users visited some type of sexual site. And even if the marriage survives, children may lack adequate parental attention when one parent is preoccupied with sex on the computer and the other is preoccupied with the cybersex addict.
Researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report that many of the men and women who now spend dozens of hours each week seeking sexual stimulation from their computers deny that they have a problem and refuse to seek help until their marriages, their jobs, or both, are in jeopardy. And, he added, because the respondents were self-selected and because denial of the symptoms of sexual compulsivity is commonplace, there are likely to be many more cybersex addicts than the survey indicated.
He wrote: ''Intense orgasms from the minimal investment of a few keystrokes are powerfully reinforcing. As with other addictions, tolerance to cybersex stimulation can develop, prompting the addict to take more and more risks to recapture the initial high, Dr. Online viewing that began as a harmless recreation can become an all-consuming activity and even lead to real sexual encounters with people met online.
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For some people, the route to compulsive for of the Internet for sexual satisfaction is fast and short, said Dr. And it's very difficult to treat because the people affected don't want to give it up. View on timesmachine. Although Dr. Cooper's survey indicates that most female cybersex addicts are single, married women also become cybersex addicts and their husbands suffer the consequences.
For most people these cybersex into cybersex are relatively harmless pursuits, but experts in the field say that the affordability, accessibility and anonymity of the Internet are fueling a brand new psychological disorder -- cybersex chat -- that appears to be spreading with astonishing rapidity and bringing turmoil to the lives of those affected.
To those who say a behavioral week is not a true addiction, Dr. Schneider responded with a definition of addiction that would clearly apply to cybersex abusers: ''Loss of control, continuation of the behavior despite ificant adverse consequences and preoccupation or obsession with obtaining the drug or pursuing the behavior.