Cybersex Addiction

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Cybersex Addiction

It is difficult for most of us to comprehend media reports of teenagers and children who fall prey to pedophiles, or the mounting numbers of crimes and homosexual encounters that the Internet facilitates. Cybersex sites create a cultural climate of permissiveness that tends to nurture or even validate sexually deviant behavior because of popularity, anonymity, and availability any time of day. The resultant ability to relieve stress and pent up tensions reinforces this type of behavior.

What is especially disturbing is the increasing involvement of individuals with no prior history of having engaged in any deviant behavior. The anonymity of electronic chat provides a greater sense of control over the content, tone, and nature of an on-line sexual experience. As one authority explained, "Unlike real life, a woman can quickly change partners if her cyberlover isn't very good or a man can log off after his orgasm Without any long good-byes." Conventional restrictions about sex are eliminated in cyberspace allowing users to play out hidden or repressed sexual fantasies without the fear of being caught. Anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to have intimate relations with someone of the same sex, what group sex is like, or bondage, cross dressing, etc. can quickly satisfy their curiosity.

Cybersex provides a private and safe way to explore these or any other fantasies. A curious husband or wife may secretly step into the "Dominance and Submission Room", the "Fetish Room", or the "Bisexual Room" and be initially shocked at the erotic dialogue, but at the same time, sexually stimulated by it. This ease of availability promotes sexual experimentation among many who would normally not engage in such behavior. The most vulnerable individuals seem to be those suffering from low self-esteem, a distorted body image, sexual dysfunction, or a history of some sort of prior sexual addiction. There are some gender differences. Men are more likely to keep revisiting pornographic sites, while women tend to become involved in erotic chat room interactions.

Few people have any appreciation of the enormous popularity of cybersex. A 1998 study found approximately 70,000 sex-related web sites, with 200 new pornographic or erotic chat sites being added each day! In one month alone, 9.6 million, or one out of six people on the Internet had logged onto one of the 10 most popular cybersex sites. Probably one in five current web users visit cybersex sites.

Sexual stimulation is the reason that most people initially become involved. However repeated visits over time can provide an emotional lift or even altered state of reality much like the "high" produced by some mood altering drugs. A lonely or depressed woman suddenly feels desired by her many cyberpartners. A sexually insecure man becomes transformed into a hot cyberlover that all the women in the chat room desire. Cybersex not only provides sexual fulfillment, but also allows escape to a fantasy life where one can adopt a new persona and identity.

Women are attracted because it removes the social stigma attached to females who crave and actively seek sex. It allows them a safe way to explore their sexuality in new and uninhibited ways, regardless of the fact that they are not attractive. Men prefer cybersex because it removes performance anxiety that can be the cause of their impotency or premature ejaculation. It also conceals their physical appearance, which is important for those who feel insecure about baldness, obesity, or penis size.

Many consider certain aspects of cybersex to be illegal, even if they don't lead to sexual activities that are punishable under the law. Others view them as more of a mental illness than a crime. In the landmark United States versus McBroom sexual deviancy case, the defense successfully argued that their client's compulsive downloading, viewing, and transferring of web pornography was designed to relieve emotional stress rather than provide sexual gratification. Some sex therapists recommend specific web sites for clients having certain problems, and several have their own. Whether prescriptions for this will ever be covered by health insurance is doubtful.

The American Institute of Stress.

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