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Cooper wrote in his Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report. Jennifer Schneider, a physician in Tucson, Ariz., who is associate editor of the journal, said in an interview that even when cybersex addicts and their partners sought treatment, they often concealed their real problem, and therapists often failed to ask questions that would disclose it. Cooper, who works at the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Center in Santa Clara, Calif., cybersex compulsives are just like drug addicts; they ''use the Internet as an important part of their sexual acting out, much like a drug addict who has a 'drug of choice,' '' and often with serious harm to their home lives and livelihood.
As a result, the diagnosis of cybersex addiction is often missed, Dr. Especially vulnerable to becoming hooked on Internet sex, he wrote, are ''those users whose sexuality may have been suppressed and limited all their lives [who] suddenly find an infinite supply of sexual opportunities'' on the Internet. Dana Putnam, a psychologist in San Luis Obispo, Calif., said other factors that could increase a person's vulnerability to cybersex compulsion were depression and other forms of emotional distress, relationship problems and a failure to get one's sexual needs met. Schneider among 94 family members affected by cybersex addiction revealed that the problem could arise even among those in loving marriages with ample sexual opportunities.
The survey found that as many as a third of Internet users visited some type of sexual site.
Projected to the country as a whole, this would mean that a minimum of 200,000 men and women have become cybersex addicts in the last few years, Dr. And, he added, because the respondents were self-selected and because denial of the symptoms of sexual compulsivity is commonplace, there are likely to be many more cybersex addicts than the survey indicated.'' This is a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part, because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously,'' Dr. Young of the Center for Online Addiction in Bradford, Pa., wrote that ''partially as a result of the general population and health care professionals not being attuned to the risks, seemingly harmless cyberromps can result in serious difficulties way beyond what was expected or intended.'' According to Dr.
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.
'' People who are vulnerable can get hooked before they know it.'' To those who say a behavioral compulsion is not a true addiction, Dr.'' How can I compete with hundreds of anonymous others who are now in our bed, in his head? '' Our bed is crowded with countless faceless strangers, where once we were intimate.'' A 38-year-old woman married 18 years to a man who compulsively masturbates to images on the computer wrote that her husband had once had an extramarital affair and that ''the online 'safe' cheating has just as dirty, filthy a feel to it as does the 'real-life' cheating.'' Although Dr.Cooper's survey indicates that most female cybersex addicts are single, married women also become cybersex addicts and their husbands suffer the consequences.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.