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Addiction Treatment in the Greater Madison Wisconsin Area

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MSSW, LCSW, SC, CSAT
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist



Reclaiming Sexuality...
Reclaiming Your Life
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Internet Porn Addiction, Cybersex Addiction, Hypersexual Disorder


What are examples of Internet Porn Addiction, Cybersex Addiction, Hypersexual Disorder?

  • You risk your job by repeatedly viewing, downloading and even masturbating to  pornography at work.
  • You are supposed to be caring for your sick baby, instead you are so caught up with your online sexual activities that hours go by before you realize your child has been screaming for you.
  • You get aroused as you hear the computer boot up and you anticipate the hours of sexual activity to come.
  • Your repeated online romances seem more exciting to you than your spouse or partner and you spend increasingly more of your time in your online sexual affairs.
  • You feel irritable when you are not on the internet involved in sexual activities and focus your attention on when and how you can go back online.
  • Your child is researching a topic for school and stumbles upon your stash of online sex sites including the fetish sites you have been into to increase your arousal. Your child is traumatized by the images. Your child is excited by the images and starts to use them as you do. 
  • You lie about and hide the extent of your online sexual or romantic involvement.
  • You download illegal pictures for your sexual arousal such as those of children being sexually abused.
  • You try to stop or decrease your use of the internet for sexual activities but you just can’t do it.

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What do computers and the internet have to do with sex?

Computers and the internet have changed our lives in so many ways-business, shopping, information access, communication- to name a few. Sex is no exception. Computers and the internet have become a part of our sexuality. In fact, many technological innovations on the internet that have become mainstream - like live video and interactivity - were developed by the online sex industry.

The internet can be a useful sexuality resource. It provides information about sexuality that can be accessed in the privacy of your own home. Curious individuals and couples can explore and access arousing material that they integrate into their sexuality in a positive way. There is not the potential embarrassment of going to the store to buy or rent materials to use sexually.    

The internet can be a place to meet new people with like interests without geographical or time limitations. It can help in sexual development to learn about who you are or are not attracted to and what you like and don’t like sexually. It can be a way for couples who are separated by distance to keep in touch - almost. Cybersex is a new way of being sexual.

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What is Cybersex?

Cybersex is a general term that refers to any kind of sexual activity that can be accessed through the computer and the internet. These sexual activities may take place either while connected to the internet or offline. Cybersexual activities vary.

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Is Cybersex and the use of the internet for sexual purposes always a problem?

No, cybersex and use of the internet for sexual purposes is not necessarily a problem. Research shows that the majority of people who use the internet for sexual purposes are recreational users. Most people can use the internet including for sexual purposes without being obsessed and compulsive, managing their use with little difficulty while continuing to maintain a reasonably balanced life and without negative consequences. 

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How many people have problems with Cybersex?

Estimates are that about 15 % of people in the United States using the internet for sexual purposes do have problems with their cybersex activities. Approximately 6% or about 9 million of these users are sexually addicted and another 10% or about 15 million are using cybersex in ways that are risky and showing signs of compulsivity.  Some of these cybersex users were already having preexisting problems with sex addiction before they went on the internet for sexual purposes, but for others their internet sexual activity was the first time they showed any signs of sexual addiction.

Both men and women have problems with internet porn addiction and cybersex addiction.  

Internet sex is very powerful and potentially very destructive. The comparison has been made that cybersex is like the crack cocaine of the internet. The danger lies in how easily available and quickly addictive it is even for people with no sexual problems prior to their cybersex involvement.  

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What are Cybersex activities?

There are a wide range of cybersex activities.

Sexually arousing images and pornography in the form of pictures, audio, video and written text can be looked at and used sexually while online or downloaded for use later. Since what is sexually arousing varies, sexual images can range from what may be considered tame erotic pictures to hardcore pornography to children being sexually abused. Commercial and non-commercial pornography can be exchanged through email, newsgroups, discussion groups or chat rooms. 

In real time cybersexual activities, people exchange and use sexual images online at the same time during a live internet interaction. With new internet technology interactive sexual activity can take place with cameras on either end transmitting images of people being sexual at the same time or with a person on one end directing or watching the sexual activity of the person or people at the other end.  Technology has even been developed to remotely stimulate the person on one computer with control of the stimulation by the person at the other computer.  These activities can be free or commercial with payment by credit cards. And as in sexual activity offline these activities can be consensual or involve coercion and force.

Sexual activities can be arranged online to be carried out offline, i.e. dates, sexual liaisons, prostitution, massage parlors. Sexual activity may take place with people who are anonymous or about whom you have some knowledge.  Since in sexual contact on the internet people can manipulate who they say they are, you may think you know someone’s identity but may be deceived or you may deceive others about your identity.

Fantasy is a major component of cybersex. Participants may feel that they know the people with whom they are being sexual on line yet in reality they do not actually know who is on the other end of the computer. Unfortunately this is sometimes not discovered until after a real life meeting becomes violent. 

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When does Cybersex change from fun to addiction? 

Use of cybersex becomes a problem when the pattern of thinking about cybersex becomes obsessive and use of cybersex becomes compulsive in spite of negative life consequences. Cybersex addicts try to control their usage but are unable to do so on their own. These are called the three c’s of addiction. Cybersex addicts needs increasing intensity to get the same sexual high. They live in a world of secrets and shame. They are isolated from their real world. They are obsessed with online sexual behaviors and being aroused. They may not even want to orgasm because the high is in the arousal for many people-the orgasm signals the end of that encounter. 

Cybersex addicts are so involved in the unreal cybersex world that they neglect their real world, i.e. spouse, children, job. The majority of online pornography is downloaded between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Significant work time is lost to internet sexual activities.

Compulsive cybersex has an unreal almost surreal quality to it. People involved in cybersex for hours at a time go into a sort of sexual trance. They are being touched by themselves not another person yet imagine touch to and by others. Yet in cybersex they are not actually dealing with a real partner and their needs. Cybersex addicts’ heads can become full of images that cannot be matched by their real life partner.

Masturbation to pornography or live sex acts online with people who you have not met in person are not sexual intimacy but cybersex addicts lose touch with this reality. By going to sites with sexual activities outside of their usual activities or interests they might have had yet suppressed, i.e. fetish sites, sites involving sex with children, cybersex addicts may become desensitized to these activities and their real life effects on others including their partner and children. 

Cybersex addicts don’t just stay in the world of the internet for their sexual activities. As they need increased stimulation to get sexual arousal they may paticipate in a wide range of sexual addictive activities offline as well.

Cybersex Addiction and Internet Porn Addiction is Sexual Addiction.

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What makes Cybersex so powerful?

For all the reasons that the internet can be positive and useful it can also be dangerous for people who either already have problems with sexual compulsivity - addiction or people who are vulnerable to developing problematic sexual behaviors. 

The Triple A Engine of the internet - Anonymity, Affordability and Accessibility of the internet can also make it risky. The Anonymity that can start out to provide safety can become a primary way of acting sexually without intimacy. The Affordability makes it available even without financial resources, i.e going to chat rooms and being sexual does not require money. Accessibility 24/7 contributes to people using it compulsively with no real time limitations to being able to go online and access sexual materials or partners. 

All you need to access the world of cybersex is a computer and an internet connection both of which are now affordable to most people. While there are many pay sites, it is not necessary to pay for sex on the internet with the availability of free pornography sites and interactive sexual chat rooms. The internet is accessible twenty four hours a day seven days a week from the privacy of your home. And you can be totally anonymous on the internet. You can be sexual with people whose identity you don’t know and no one has to know who you really are. 

The only restrictions on when you go online are those of your family or job. When people are very involved in their cybersex addiction they isolate from those important to them neglecting their real life commitments for their fantasy sexual world on line. You can be whoever you want to be when you are online. This can lead to deception and danger. We read more often about people getting caught in police sting operations presenting themselves online as teens soliciting sexual contact with minors. 

With cybersex you don’t even have to leave home to do sexual activities that in the past would have required taking the risk of going out to seek the activity.    Cybersex seems so real but it is not real in the way that intimate sexual contact is real.

Cybersex is fantasy. In cybersex addiction the needs of real life partners, children and jobs become intrusions to online sexual activities.

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What do partners and families of Cybersex Addicts experience?

Partners feel they can’t compete with the multiple images seen by cybersex addicts and the activities done in the sites their partners go to for sexual arousal. Partners feel shock, sadness, fear, disgust and betrayal about what is happening. They feel lonely and scared. They may even join their partners in cybersex activities that are beyond their value system hoping to save their marriage or relationship through participation in sexual activities with their partner, 

Children of cybersex addicts may find the sexual material on the computer and experience a range of responses from disgust to arousal. They may begin to use the sexual material themselves and become overwhelmed with the sexual images that are beyond their ability to assimilate. 

Cybersex addicts become so used to image after image for arousal that “regular” sex with their partner is no longer stimulating or satisfying. They may be so involved for so many hours with online sex that they are not interested in partner sex. They may be spending so much time on line that they are not be interested in their spouse, children, friends or job.

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What kind of help is available for the partner and family of someone who is sexually addicted?

To learn more, explore this information about services I offer for Partners and Family of Sex Addicts including Groups for Partners of Sex Addicts.

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How can I determine if I am addicted to Cybersex of if someone I care about is a Cybersex Addict?

Visit the Test Yourself page of my website where you will find the links to take the Internet Sex Screening Test (ISST) and the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST). I encourage you to review your results with your trusted partner, family and friends. Contact me at 608-237-8000 x 109 and we can schedule an appointment to discuss the results.

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What kind of help is available for someone who is sexually addicted?

Cybersex Addiction and Internet Porn Addiction are Sex Addiction.

Sex Addiction is also referred to as Sexual Compulsivity and Hypersexual Disorder.  

To learn more, read about services for treatment of Sex Addiction.

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What services do you provide for someone dealing with Sexual Addiction, Sexual Compulsivity, Internet Porn Addiction, Cybersex Addiction, Hypersexual Disorder?

I provide the following services:

  • Evaluation of sexual addiction and treatment planning needs
  • Treatment planning using the performable tasks developed by Patrick Carnes, PhD.
  • Individual psychotherapy for the addict and/or partner
  • Conjoint counseling sessions for the addict and partner as indicated
  • Family sessions as indicated
  • Community support sessions
  • Information and Referral to sex addiction treatment groups-both 12 step and psychotherapy groups
  • Coordination of services with other treatment providers for the addict and the addicts partner and family
  • Information and resources
  • Referral and assistance with arrangement for more intensive treatment if necessary including inpatient hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment
  • Referral as needed

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Where can I find out more about Internet Porn Addiction - Cybersex Addiction, Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, and Partners, Spouses and Families of Sex Addicts?

Explore these references for more information:

  • Shari's Blog for articles, news and selected informational videos on these subjects and related topics including:

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How can I contact you for further information?

Here is my Contact Information and Office Information.

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Click Here for More Of My Selections at Shari's Amazon Bookstore

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Shari Cohn, MSSW, LCSW, SC, CSAT
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
Midwest Center for Psychotherapy and Sex Therapy
6300 University Avenue Suite 125
Middleton, WI 53562

(Next to Madison, Wisconsin)

608-237-8000 Ext 109

 

 

Copyright © 2006 - 2017 Shari Cohn, MSSW, LCSW, SC, CSAT