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Schneider responded with a definition of addiction that would clearly apply to cybersex abusers: '' Loss of control, continuation of the behavior despite significant adverse consequences and preoccupation or obsession with obtaining the drug or pursuing the behavior.'' Although behavioral addictions involve no external drugs, preliminary research has suggested that they cause changes in brain chemicals, like the release of endorphins, that help to perpetuate the behavior.
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.
Children, too, often become victimized by cybersex addiction in a parent. Schneider noted, children can stumble upon the pornographic material left on or near the computer or walk in on a parent masturbating at the computer.
Several mothers in her survey were worried because their husbands surfed the Net while supposedly watching their children, who got to view the pornography and sometimes the masturbation.
They provide a conducive environment to the people all over the world to connect with others from different parts of the globe.
Thus providing them an opportunity to interact with each other and learn.
Partners commonly reported feeling betrayed, devalued, deceived, ignored and abandoned and unable to compete with a fantasy.
Among them was a 34-year-old woman married 14 years to a minister who she discovered was compulsively seeking sexual satisfaction by visiting pornographic sites on the Internet.
Occasionally, they progress to off-line affairs with sex partners they meet online. Al Cooper, a staff psychologist at 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.
As with other addictions, tolerance to cybersex stimulation can develop, prompting the addict to take more and more risks to recapture the initial high, Dr. Online viewing that began as a harmless recreation can become an all-consuming activity and even lead to real sexual encounters with people met online.
Cybersex compulsives can become so involved with their online activities that they ignore their partners and children and risk their jobs. Cooper's survey, 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women reported they had used computers at work for some sexual pursuits.
Researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report that many of the men and women who now spend dozens of hours each week seeking sexual stimulation from their computers deny that they have a problem and refuse to seek help until their marriages, their jobs, or both, are in jeopardy.
For some people, the route to compulsive use of the Internet for sexual satisfaction is fast and short, said Dr.
Once unleashed, the power of a cyberaffair, cybersex, or both, can cause a formerly loving man to become evasive and to demand his privacy online, according to Dr. '' This 'new frontier' in relationship dynamics can lead a once warm and compassionate wife and mother to turn to the computer and its cyberworld lovers and/or sex partners and away from caring for her children.'' As Dr.