Efforts to Avoid Porn Can Actually Promote Cybersex Addiction - The Ranch

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Efforts to Avoid Porn Can Actually Promote Cybersex Addiction

May 19, 2017 Articles
Cyber Sex Addiction and Test

Recent evidence from a team of German scientists indicates that purposeful attempts to avoid pornographic material on the Internet can potentially promote the onset of cybersex addiction, just like a tendency to actively seek out pornographic material.

People with cybersex addiction have a form of behavioral addiction centered on the use of modern Internet technology to fuel a dysfunctional pattern of sexual fantasy, thought or behavior. In a study presented at the 2nd International Conference on Behavioral Addictions, researchers from Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen examined the contributions of pornography seeking and pornography avoidance to any given person’s cybersex addiction risks. These researchers concluded that an Internet user who tries to actively avoid pornographic material may have addiction risks that mirror those found in Internet users who actively look for pornographic material.

Cybersex Addiction

Whether or not he or she uses the Internet, a person with sex addiction develops patterns of sexual fantasizing, sexual thinking and/or sexual behavior that substantially interfere with the ability to experience a sense of mental well-being or maintain a functional daily routine. Cybersex addiction is a subtype of sex addiction that manifests through the dysfunctional use of computers, tablets or smartphones connected to the Internet. Current evidence points to a substantial amount of overlap between sex addiction and Internet addiction in people affected by cybersex addiction. This may be at least partly true because the accessing of sexual material over the Internet fits in with the established behavioral patterns of someone who spends inordinate amounts of time on Internet use.

As with sex addiction in general, cybersex addiction may manifest in the form of symptoms such as an inability to set and stick to limits on the amount of time devoted to sexual behavior or thought/fantasy, a preoccupation with sexual behavior or thought/fantasy while engaged in other activities, use of sexual behavior or thought/fantasy as a tool to avoid dealing with personal problems and exposure to serious personal, social or work-related problems as a result of sexual thinking or sexual behavior. Specific indications of cybersex addiction may include such things as concealment of the amount of time spent using the Internet for sex-related purposes and use of the Internet to obtain sexual material that’s illegal or falls well outside established social norms.

The Problem of Attraction and Avoidance

Humans have a built-in, survival-based tendency to seek out things that feel good and avoid things that feel bad. However, not all feelings or activities are easily slotted into “good” or “bad” categories, and the average person frequently encounters situations where he or she must determine if the pleasing aspects of a feeling or activity are worth exposure to the unpleasant aspects of that feeling or activity. Psychologists commonly refer to this type of choice as the approach-avoidance conflict. For complex emotional/psychological reasons, things that repulse us may also turn into things that we actively pursue.

Pornography Avoidance and Cybersex Addiction

In the study presented at the 2nd International Conference on Behavioral Addictions, the University of Duisburg-Essen researchers used a project involving 123 heterosexual men to help determine if the approach-avoidance conflict can help set the stage for the development of cybersex addiction. All of these men took part in an experiment that required them to repeatedly pull pornographic material toward them or push such material away; the researchers measured the amount of time each participant took to accept or reject the offered material. In addition, the researchers assessed each participant for cybersex addiction symptoms, level of susceptibility to sexual excitement and level of exposure to specific forms of sex-related harm.

After reviewing their results, the researchers found that two subgroups of participating men had the highest chances of displaying signs of cybersex addiction: those individuals who strongly sought out pornographic material and those individuals who strongly rejected or avoided pornographic material. Conversely, men with less extreme attraction and avoidance behaviors generally had fewer indications of addiction. The researchers also linked a tendency toward cybersex addiction with a high level of susceptibility to sexual excitement and real-world exposure to sex-related harm.

The study’s authors believe their findings demonstrate that purposeful avoidance of pornography can influence cybersex addiction risks just like purposeful pursuit of pornography. They note that any given person’s level of pornography attraction or avoidance interacts substantially with specific tendencies toward sexual excitement and sex-related problems encountered in everyday life.

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