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Internet sex addiction, also known as cybersex addiction, has been proposed as a sexual addiction characterized by virtual Internet sexual activity that causes serious negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being.[1][2] It may also be considered a subset of the theorized Internet addiction disorder.[3] Internet sex addiction manifests various behaviours: reading erotic stories; viewing, downloading or trading online pornography; online activity in adult fantasy chat rooms; cybersex relationships; masturbation while engaged in online activity that contributes to one's sexual arousal; the search for offline sexual partners and information about sexual activity.[3][4][5][6]

Internet sex addiction can have several causes according to the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy. The first cause is the neural physiological attachment that occurs during orgasms - reinforcing and attaching the images or scenarios to the addictive behavior concurrently. Secondly, psychological defects like abandonment, unimportance or lack of genuine attachment are sometimes medicated by the instances of sex addiction behavior. Thirdly, the internet sex addict may be using the addiction to balance a legitimate chemical imbalance due to major depression, a bipolar disorder or a manic depressive disorder.[7] The cybersex addict may also struggle with intimacy anorexia since the cyber world feels safer than real relationships.


Cybersex addiction is a form of sexual addiction and Internet addiction disorder.[3] As a form of a compulsive behavior, it can be identified by three criteria: the failure of making a decision about engagement in the behavior, obsession with the behavior, and the inability to stop the behavior despite negative consequences.[5]

Adults with this type of addiction engage in at least one of the relevant behaviors. The majority of reasons why individuals experiment with such forms of sexual expression are diverse, and can be associated with an individual's psychological disorders or issues. Individuals who suffer from low self-esteem, severely distorted body image, untreated sexual dysfunction, social isolation, depression, or are in recovery from a prior sexual addiction are more vulnerable to cybersexual addictions.[3][4][8] Other psychological issues that may arise with this addiction include struggles for intimacy, self-worth, self-identity, self-understanding.[5]

The impact of cybersex addiction may also impact the spouse, partner or others in relationships with the addict. The resulting effects on others may include depression, weight gain and lower self-esteem.[9] If cyber sex addicts have children, their actions may also impact those children (whether they are grown adult children or younger dependents).[10]

DSM classification

There is an ongoing debate in the medical community concerning the insufficient studies, and of those, their quality, or lack thereof, and the resulting analysis and conclusions drawn from them, such as they are. So far, without repeatable, meaningful, measurable, and quantifiable analysis, no medical community wide acceptably reasonable standards, a definition, have been drawn yet.

Hence, internet sex addiction, just like its umbrella sexual addiction, is still not listed in the DSM-5,[11] which is commonly used by psychiatrists in the United States for diagnosing patients problems in a standard uniform way.

See also


  1. ^ Stein, Dan J.; Hollander, Eric; Rothbaum, Barbara Olasov (31 August 2009). Textbook of Anxiety Disorders. American Psychiatric Pub. pp. 359–. ISBN 978-1-58562-254-2. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  2. ^ Parashar A, Varma A (April 2007). "Behavior and substance addictions: is the world ready for a new category in the DSM-V?". CNS Spectr. 12 (4): 257, author reply 258–9. doi:10.1017/S109285290002099X. PMID 17503551.
  3. ^ a b c d Griffiths, Mark (November 2001). "Sex on the internet: Observations and implications for internet sex addiction". The Journal of Sex Research. 38 (4): 333–342. doi:10.1080/00224490109552104. S2CID 144522990. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b Young, Kimberly S. (September 2008). "Internet sex addiction: Risk factors, stages of development, and treatment". American Behavioral Scientist. 52 (1): 21–37. doi:10.1177/0002764208321339. S2CID 143927819. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Daneback, Kristian; Michael W. Ross; Sven-Axel Månsson (2006). "Characteristics and behaviors of sexual compulsives who use the internet for sexual purposes". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. 13 (1): 53–67. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/10720160500529276. S2CID 56232106. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  6. ^ Laier, C.; Pawlikowski, M.; Pekal, J.; Schulte, F. P.; Brand, M. (2013). "Cybersex addiction: Experienced sexual arousal when watching pornography and not real-life sexual contacts makes the difference". Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 2 (2): 100–107. doi:10.1556/JBA.2.2013.002. PMID 26165929.
  7. ^ "SRT Training & Certification | Sexual Recovery Therapist | AASAT". American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  8. ^ Cooper, Alvin; Coralie R. Scherer; Sylvain C. Boies; Barry L. Gordon (April 1999). "Sexuality on the Internet: From Sexual Exploration to Pathological Expression". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 30 (1): 154–164. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.30.2.154. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  9. ^ Weiss, Douglas (2011). Partners: Healing From His Addiction. Colorado Springs, CO 80949: Discovery Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-881292-34-0.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  10. ^ Weiss, Douglas (2005). Beyond the bedroom : healing for adult children of sex addicts. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications. pp. 17–21. ISBN 978-0757303258. OCLC 57754066.
  11. ^ American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 797–798. ISBN 978-0-89042-555-8.

Further reading