Internet sex addiction

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Internet sex addiction, also known as cybersex addiction, has been proposed as a sexual addiction characterized by virtual Internet sexual activity that causes serious negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being. [1] [2] It may also be considered a subset of the theorized Internet addiction disorder. [3] Internet sex addiction manifests various behaviours: reading erotic stories; viewing, downloading or trading online pornography; online activity in adult fantasy chat rooms; cybersex relationships; masturbation while engaged in online activity that contributes to one's sexual arousal; the search for offline sexual partners and information about sexual activity. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Contents

Internet sex addiction can have several causes according to the American Association for Sex Addition Therapy. The first cause is the neural physiological attachment that occurs during orgasms - reinforcing and attaching the images or scenarios to the addictive behavior concurrently. Secondly, psychological defects like abandonment, unimportance or lack of genuine attachment are sometimes medicated by the instances of sex addiction behavior. Thirdly, the internet sex addict may be using the addiction to balance a legitimate chemical imbalance due to major depression, a bipolar disorder or a manic depressive disorder. [7] The cybersex addict may also struggle with intimacy anorexia since the cyber world feels safer than real relationships.

General

Cybersex addiction is a form of sexual addiction and Internet addiction disorder. [3] As a form of a compulsive behavior, it can be identified by three criteria: the failure of making a decision about engagement in the behavior, obsession with the behavior, and the inability to stop the behavior despite negative consequences. [5]

Adults with this type of addiction, engage in at least one of the relevant behaviors. The majority of reasons why individuals experiment with such forms of sexual expression are diverse, and can be associated with an individual's psychological disorders or issues. Individuals who suffer from low self-esteem, severely distorted body image, untreated sexual dysfunction, social isolation, depression, or are in recovery from a prior sexual addiction are more vulnerable to cybersexual addictions. [3] [4] [8] Other psychological issues that may arise with this addiction include struggles for intimacy, self-worth, self-identity, self-understanding. [5]

The impact of cybersex addiction may also impact the spouse, partner or others in relationships with the addict. The resulting effects on others may include depression, weight gain and lower self-esteem. [9] If cyber sex addicts have children, their actions may also impact those children (whether they are grown adult children or younger dependents). [10]

DSM classification

There is an ongoing debate in the medical community concerning the insufficient studies, and of those, their quality, or lack thereof, and the resulting analysis and conclusions drawn from them, such as they are. So far, without repeatable, meaningful, measurable, and quantifiable analysis, no medical community wide acceptably reasonable standards, a definition, have been drawn yet.

Hence, internet sex addiction, just like its umbrella sexual addiction, is still not listed in the DSM-5, [11] which is commonly used by psychiatrists in the United States for diagnosing patients problems in a standard uniform way.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex and, colloquially, cyber or cybering, is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more people connected remotely via computer network send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. In one form, this fantasy sex is accomplished by the participants describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. Cybersex often includes real life masturbation. Environments in which cybersex takes place are not necessarily exclusively devoted to that subject, and participants in any Internet chat may suddenly receive a message of invitation. The quality of a cybersex encounter typically depends upon the participants' abilities to evoke a vivid, visceral mental picture in the minds of their partners. Imagination and suspension of disbelief are also critically important. Cybersex can occur either within the context of existing or intimate relationships, e.g. among lovers who are geographically separated, or among individuals who have no prior knowledge of one another and meet in virtual spaces or cyberspaces and may even remain anonymous to one another. In some contexts cybersex is enhanced by the use of a webcam to transmit real-time video of the partners. Non-consensual cybersex occurs in cybersex trafficking crimes.

Hypersexuality is extremely frequent or suddenly increased libido. It is currently controversial whether it should be included as a clinical diagnosis used by mental healthcare professionals. Nymphomania and Satyriasis were terms previously used for the condition in women and men, respectively.

Pornography addiction is an addiction model of compulsive sexual activity with concurrent use of pornographic material, despite negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, or financial well-being. Neither the DSM-5 nor the ICD-11 classify pornography as a mental disorder or addiction.

Impulse-control disorder (ICD) is a class of psychiatric disorders characterized by impulsivity – failure to resist a temptation, an urge, or an impulse; or having the inability to not speak on a thought. Many psychiatric disorders feature impulsivity, including substance-related disorders, behavioral addictions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, conduct disorder and some mood disorders.

Sexual addiction, also known as sex addiction, is a state characterized by compulsive participation or engagement in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences.

Sexual anorexia is a pathological loss of "appetite" for romantic-sexual interaction, often the result of a fear of intimacy to the point that the person has severe anxiety surrounding sexual activity and emotional aspects. It is not a recognized pathology included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Sexualization is to make something sexual in character or quality or to become aware of sexuality, especially in relation to men and women. Sexualization is linked to sexual objectification. According to the American Psychological Association, sexualization occurs when "individuals are regarded as sex objects and evaluated in terms of their physical characteristics and sexiness." "In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner and are objectified. In addition, a narrow standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate." Women who embrace their sexual desires are considered to be sexy and attractive to men who want nothing more than to have a woman as a sex toy. In the eyes of men, women that practice this behavior serve the pure purpose of providing satisfaction and showcasing their human nature. According to the Media Education Foundation's, Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women, the sexualization of girls in media and the ways women are portrayed in the dominant culture are detrimental to the development of young girls as they are developing their identities and understanding themselves as sexual beings.

Pornography Explicit portrayal of sexual acts and intercourse

Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including magazines, animation, writing, film, video, and video games. The term does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors who engage in filmed sex acts.

Patrick Carnes is an American proponent of the viewpoint that some sexual behavior is an addiction. According to CBS News, he popularized the term sex addiction. He created the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), as well as numerous addiction treatment facilities, and created the CSAT certification.

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Although girls typically begin the process of puberty at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12, criteria for pedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. A person must be at least 16 years old, and at least five years older than the prepubescent child, for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.

Nudity is one of the physiological characteristics of humans, who alone among primates evolved to be effectively hairless. Human sexuality includes the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of sexual feelings and behaviors. In many societies, a strong link between nudity and sexuality is taken for granted. Other societies maintain their traditional practices of being completely or partially naked in social as well as private situations, such as going to a beach or spa. The meaning of nudity and sexuality remains ambivalent, often leading to cultural misunderstandings and psychological problems.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA) is a twelve-step program for people who want to stop having compulsive sex. SCA founding is attributed variously to 1982 in New York City and to 1973 in Los Angeles. Although the fellowship originally sought to address issues of sexual compulsion among gay and bisexual men, and this is still the fellowships predominant demographic, today the program is LGBT friendly, open to all sexual orientations, and there is an increasing number of women and heterosexual men participating. SCA meetings are most likely to be held in urban areas with larger gay and bisexual male populations. The majority of members are white, but vary in age and socioeconomic background. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop having compulsive sex.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) is a twelve-step program for people recovering from sex addiction and love addiction. SLAA was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1976, by a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Though he had been a member of AA for many years, he repeatedly acted out and was serially unfaithful to his wife. He founded SLAA as an attempt to stop his compulsive sexual and "romantic" behavior. SLAA is also sometimes known as the Augustine Fellowship, because early members saw many of their shared symptoms described by St. Augustine of Hippo in his work Confessions. COSLAA is another twelve-step fellowship created to support the family members and friends of sex and love addicts.

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), or oniomania, is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. According to Kellett and Bolton, compulsive buying "is experienced as an irresistible–uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity [that is] typically prompted by negative affectivity" and results in "gross social, personal and/or financial difficulties". Most people with CBD meet the criteria for a personality disorder. Compulsive shopping is classified by ICD-10 (F63.8) as an "impulse control disorder, not otherwise classified." Several authors consider compulsive shopping rather as a variety of dependence disorder.

The effects of pornography on individuals or their sexual relationships depend on the type of pornography used and differ from person to person. Pornographic material has been studied particularly for associations with addiction as well as effects on the brain over time. Some literature reviews suggest that pornographic images and films can be addictive, particularly when combined with masturbation, while others maintain that data remains inconclusive. Other research has looked at pornographic material's relation to sexual violence, with varying results.

Internet addiction disorder Excessive internet use that causes psychological disorders.

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) also known as problematic internet use or pathological internet use is generally defined as problematic, compulsive use of the internet, that results in significant impairment in an individual's function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time. This and other relationships between digital media use and mental health have been under considerable research, debate and discussion amongst experts in several disciplines, and have generated controversy from the medical, scientific and technological communities. Such disorders can be diagnosed when an individual engages in online activities at the cost of fulfilling daily responsibilities or pursuing other interests, and without regard for the negative consequences. The Internet can foster various addictions including addiction to pornography, game-playing, auction sites, social networking sites, and surfing of the Web.

Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-substance-related behavior – sometimes called a natural reward – despite any negative consequences to the person's physical, mental, social or financial well-being. Addiction canonically refers to substance abuse; however, the term connotation has been expanded to include behaviors that may lead to a reward since the 1990s. A gene transcription factor known as ΔFosB has been identified as a necessary common factor involved in both behavioral and drug addictions, which are associated with the same set of neural adaptations in the reward system.

Sexting Act of sending sexually explicit messages between mobile phones

Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images, primarily between mobile phones, of oneself to others. It may also include the use of a computer or any digital device. The term was first popularized early in the 21st century and is a portmanteau of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the wide sense of sending a text possibly with images. In August 2012, the word sexting was listed for the first time in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Addiction Compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences

Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. Despite the involvement of a number of psychosocial factors, a biological process—one that is induced by repeated exposure to an addictive stimulus—is the core pathology that drives the development and maintenance of an addiction, according to the "brain disease model" of addiction. However, many scholars who study addiction argue that the brain disease model is incomplete and misleading.

Robert Weiss is an author and therapist specializing in infidelity and sexual compulsions as well as he is a digital-age sex, intimacy, and relationship specialist.

References

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  9. Weiss, Douglas (2011). Partners: Healing From His Addiction. Colorado Springs, CO 80949: Discovery Press. p. 28. ISBN   978-1-881292-34-0.CS1 maint: location (link)
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Further reading