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Cybersex • Personal Health: First Step Is Recognizing the Signs of Internet Abuse (May 16, 2000) Related Articles • Health: Behavior • Health Columns • The New York Times on the Web: Science/Health Forum • Join a Discussion on Mental Health and Treatment ex 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. And it's very difficult to treat because the people affected don't want to give it up." 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.

For most people these forays into cybersex are relatively harmless recreational pursuits, but experts in the field say that the affordability, accessibility and anonymity of the Internet are fueling a brand new psychological disorder -- cybersex addiction -- that appears to be spreading with astonishing rapidity and bringing turmoil to the lives of those affected. Occasionally, they progress to off-line affairs with sex partners they meet online. Al Cooper of Stanford, who has conducted the largest and most detailed survey of online sex, calls the Net "the crack cocaine of sexual compulsivity." The survey, conducted online among 9,265 men and women who admitted surfing the Net for sexually oriented sites, indicated that at least 1 percent were already seriously hooked on online sex.

The sexual stimulation and release obtained through cybersex also contribute importantly to the continued pursuit of the activity, Dr. He wrote: "Intense orgasms from the minimal investment of a few keystrokes are powerfully reinforcing." He added, "Cybersex affords easy, inexpensive access to a myriad of ritualized encounters with idealized partners.

, a new documentary from Canadian team Melanie Wood and Nick Orchard, explores the rising rates of internet sex addiction in Canada.According to the film, 8 million North Americans spend more than 11 hours a week – each – pursuing sex online.The typical affair used to start in the office and move to a seedy motel room, but the vast reach of the Internet has brought infidelity into many couples’ homes over the past decade.The growth in steamy chat room conversations and cybersex also has triggered a rethinking of the meaning of infidelity.Thus, internet sex has been referred to as the "crack cocaine" of sex addiction.

Sexual addition is extremely destructive, both to the individual and to the marriage partner.If there is no physical contact or actual sex, is it still an affair?“It’s not just that you’re communicating with someone online but that there is a sexual or emotional nature,” says Katherine Hertlein, Ph D, an associate professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas who studies online affairs. I found him in his usual spot, his basement office.The Internet just happens to provide many of the things sex addicts seek, all in one place: isolation, secrecy, fantasy material, endless variety, around-the-clock availability, instant accessibility and a rapid means of returning, low or no cost.Sex addicts on the Internet often experience a rapid progression of their addiction.