Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Unique Focus of Cybersex Unplugged

by Weston Edwards

What’s different about this workbook?

Our collective clinical and research experience in addition to a multitude of requests from other providers highlights the need for a workbook addressing the unique issues of Internet sexual compulsivity. While classic sexual compulsivity is broad, with a variety of factors and addressed in the first book by Dr. Edwards, this book builds on our experience to focus on the nuances of Internet sexual compulsivity. The following topics highlight a few of the factors that will be addressed in the book that may be different from other expressions of compulsivity.

In classic sexual compulsivity, we see people engaging in high-risk behaviors that involve others in some form of public behavior. This might range from public sex, hiring a sex worker, spending money on lap dance, or hooking up with a casual partner. In each of these cases, some type of public activity has occurred. Within the context of Internet sexual compulsivity, there may be situations where the Internet is a venue to these activities. Often, however Internet compulsive behaviors occur in the realm of privacy and fantasy. The download of sexual explicit material can occur in the privacy of one’s home with the illusion that “no one knows.” The wasted time occurring while masturbating to streaming videos highlights the fact that the behavior often occurs in privacy with few public consequences. There are limited direct medical consequences from Internet sexual compulsivity.

Building on these differences, the treatment and intervention for Internet Sexual Compulsivity is also nuanced. While going “cold turkey” from the Internet sounds appealing, our clinical experience suggests that this isn’t as possible as we would like. The amount of legitimate business requiring the Internet has significantly increased. It is almost impossible for a person to “cut-off” the Internet in his or her life as it was 10 -15 years ago. We find many individuals can stop the Internet Access at home, only to be forced to use the Internet at work. Treatment therefore requires some type of Internet Use plan. These best comparison is the example of individuals recovering from an eating disorder who develop a safe-eating plan as part of the recovery process simply because eating is required for survival. The same analogy can be applied to sexual health in general and recovery from Internet sexual compulsivity in particular.

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