Psychologist Suzanne Phillips says despite increasing evidence that cybersex addiction is as real and damaging a disorder as other types of addiction, it is still not included in the the recently published fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.
Phillips says cybersex can include viewing sexual images or content online, talking about the material with others online, engaging in two-way conversations about sex acts and using Web cameras to engage in sexual acts with another partner online.
The psychologist says that according to research by cybersex expert Al Cooper, out of 20 million people who visit sexual sites each month, only 1% will develop a cybersex compulsion. However, that is still 200,000 people who are at risk of developing an addiction to it.
Cooper, who is an editor of Cybersex: The Dark Side of the Force, identifies three types of people who use the Internet for sexual pursuits:
- The recreational users who access online sexuality more out of curiosity and entertainment purposes and do not have problems with online sexual behavior. They are comparable to social drinkers.
- Sexual compulsive users who have a pre-existing problem with pathological sexual expression and use the Internet as one of the forums for their sexual activities.
- The people “At-Risk for Cybersex Addiction”- those who have underlying unresolved emotional problems and for whom the anonymity, accessibility and affordability of the Internet makes possible a “fix” that develops into a Cybersex addiction.
Once people find they have an inability to stop themselves from pursuing sexual content online at the risk of ruining their families and lives, that is when people have an addiction.