Cybersex and Cyberporn: The Real Danger of Sex Addicted Cybering.
Posted Jun 23 2009 6:54pm
"We have envisioned this as the first fragrance for the technosexual generation. A typical line from the press materials for CK in2u goes like this: "She likes how he blogs, her texts turn him on. It's intense. For right now"
- Text taken from the blog "cybersoc.com" article on cybersex discussing Calvin Klein's new fragrance line -
It has been a good 10 years since the Cooper (1998) article Sexuality and the Internet: Surfing into the New Generation was published. Cooper discussed his "Triple-A Engine" model of cybersex (accessability, affordability, anonymity) which he rightfully tagged as the reason d'etre for what was then the rising wave of cyberporn and what is now a massive tsunami headed your way. A year later Young (1999) in his article Cybersexual Addiction discussed his "ACE" model (anonymity, convenience, escape) that he sees as the key players not just in cybersex but cybersex addiction. Then in June of 2005, Cooper paired with Daneback and Mansson in one of the first-of-its-kind scientific study into the realm of cybersexual participation. The article An Internet Study of Cybersex Participants was important on several fronts. Of course it tackled the issues of who what when and why as it pertains to online sex surfing, but in my opinion, it actually added a piece of what those of us who study it as well as those who actually participate (and penultimately become caught up) in it, already know - but now it was in print, albeit as subtle as you please, for all the world to see - a little sentence that makes so much sense but was in sharp contrast, if not in complete opposition to what was thought to be the real truth.
So what is this little yet oh-so-important morsel that I am referring to? Below I am printing the abstract of this study. You tell me.
"Cybersex is a subcategory of online sexual activities (OSA) and is defined as when two or more people are engaging in sexual talk while online for the purposes of sexual pleasure and may or may not include masturbation. Cybersex is a growing phenomenon with a significant impact on participants but very little research has been done on this subject to date. This study is the first to attempt to delineate characteristics of those who engage in cybersex. Data were collected through an online questionnaire in Swedish, administered through the Swedish web portal Passagen.se. Out of the total sample (N=1828), almost a third, both men and women, reported to have engaged in demographic variables to consider when investigating cybersex. A comparison of interval data showed those engaging in cybersex to have a higher likelihood of spending more time online for OSA and having more offline sex partners than those not engaging in cybersex" (Daneback, Cooper, Mansson, 2005, p. 321).
Did you catch it? It's that last sentence - let me repeat it: "A comparison of interval data showed those engaging in cybersex to have a higher liklihood of spending more time online for OSA and having more offline sex partners than those not engaging in cybersex". Therein lies that nasty proverbial rub. Cybersex has been, generally speaking, thought of as either an online engagement of pornography or even an online sexual addiction, but one that was either limited to the web, or, more importantly, one that took place in lieu of acting out in person with real live humans. Not so! Not even remotely so if what you have is an actual sexual addiction. In fact, cybering, or internet pornography viewing, if one is already a sex addict, is one of two things: either a means to act out and get one's "fix" because for whatever reason they are prevented from acting out in real time with a real object (human or otherwise), or as foreplay for the real deal. That is precisely the lure in those infamous "chat" lines (I love how they call them "chat" lines as if your're discussing tea and crumpets or a bunch of your sweet little bff's discussing whose wearing what to school tomorrow! Uh huh). Make no mistake, they are a means to acquire the sexually preferential information necessary in order to actually hook-up, to arrange an actual meeting for the initiation of anonymous sex. Again, is that always the case? No. But for reasons having little to do with choice. At some point, sooner or later, a hook-up will occur. And once it does, this venue - of using the "chat" lines to secure anonymous sex - will become the preferred modus operandi. The majority of my patients utilize this "method" of acting out. And should their internet be blocked to the point where they are unable to actually use the computer to "chat", they will simply use their cell phones to "chat" either because they have already acquired the numbers obtained by cybering, which are immediately seared into both their memory banks as well as their "speed dial", and/or because those that they "chatted" with have called them back. And count on that last one - they will receive, 9 times out of 10, repeat calls from their "chat" sex partners.
This is scary stuff to hear for anyone engaged in a relationship with a sex addict, or is a sex addict just starting out, as it were. I think that most significant others (those loved ones that are involved with a sex addict but who are not sexually addicted themselves, either a partner or a spouse, but even a parent), have thought and still think that as bad as it may be (s.f. my previous post in this blog on "pornography"), that AT LEAST they are not acting out live and in public somewhere.
In my previous post I briefly discussed the neuroscience behind pornography and cybering (trolling for cybersex or chat-line hook-ups) and why this particular form of pornography is so incredibly devastating and is exposing - pun quite intended - entire new generations, getting younger and younger still, to the vast and unleashed world of internet pornography. But of equal importance, is not just the exposure itself, but what actually happens, neurologically, when that exposure is in front of your eyeballs on a computer screen versus in print or even in film. The best most impressive and brain-activiating hits from least to most hit-producing, would be print rags (from the milder playboy to the most explicit and raunchy among them), porn films either in your local theatre or in your home or the hotel on TV or DVD, internet text pornography with non-moving images, live sex "chat" lines over the internet, phone sex with a live person, and finally to streaming videos courtesy of your lap(or desk)top computer. True, there is individual difference and preference, but the first and last are pretty much in the correct order. In drug addiction terms, it would be like the difference between taking a drink or a hit off of a joint to feel good, on the one end of the scale, to injecting a major dose of heroine into your veins in order to feel, think, or remember nothing whatsoever other then the rush at the moment and the abject numbness afterward.
In my previous post I discussed just how the brain reacts to those computer images of sexual content, what it does to your brain (before, during, and afterward), and why it is such a dangerous "hit". But the Daneback, Cooper, Mansson study (2005) nailed it when they added that their finding demonstrated that "...the higher the liklihood of spending more time online for OSA and having more offline sex partners than those not engaging in cybersex" (p. 321).
Cybering to the sex addicted, is both foreplay and sexual completion and is generally engaged in most, at least to the sober sex addict, when the sex addict is already at heightened emotional risk. While the non-sober non-recovering sex addict as well as the sober recovering sex addict is technically always at risk, I mean to say that when the sex addict is already in an especially vulnerable, stressful, lonely, angry, depressed, arousal-producing state, for whatever reason (at which point everyone involved with them knows they are charged and extra-vulnerable, except for them), they will turn to, or increase their intake of, cybering. Why cybering? Because neuropsychologically speaking, it is the fasted, easiest, cheapest, most accessable, most anonymous, least risky, most convenient, and let's not forget absolutely most neurologically impacting (although consequentially impairing) hit of them all. And did I mention that it is legal and hence virtually risk-free? Doesn't the brain want the real deal, live and in person? Not necessarilly. And recall in my previous post when I discussed the cutting-edge research on how the brain is unable to differentiate the "real" from the "imitation". In other words as it pertains to cybering, the brain gets just as much of a "hit" and sometimes more, from your laptop, as it does from the prostitute or anonymous sexual liason (meaning you got it without monetary charge, because we know if you did not pay for it then, you will certainly, on some level, pay for it later) based upon the neuroscientific evidence.
These are the real dangers of cybering. Heck, even Calvin Klein and his marketing gurus know THAT...