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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.
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.
It is illegal for a person to communicate with a minor for immoral purposes. Immoral purposes are essentially communications of a sexual or obscene nature.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.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.
Schneider, who has written extensively on sexual addiction, responds that the damage can be as devastating as that caused by compulsive gambling or addiction to alcohol or drugs.