Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in the Management of Compulsive Sex Behaviour

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in the Management of Compulsive Sex Behaviour

Article excerpt


Major advances have been made regarding computer/Internet technology in the past decade. This growth, in large part, can be attributed to a greater access, affordability and anonymity. Problems with compulsive cybersex tend to develop in vulnerable or at-risk users who are predisposed to developing an obsessive preoccupation, frequent harmful outlets and continue online sexual behaviour despite negative consequences. The demarcating line between severe psychopathology and crime, can at times, become blurred when it comes to the manifestation of Compulsive Sex Behaviour (CSB).

The term compulsive sex behaviour (Goodman, 1993), sexual addiction (Coleman, 1986) and sexual compulsivity (Kalichman & Rompa, 1995) have been used for the same condition. Compulsive Sex Behaviour (CSB) refers to sequences of visual or textual exchange with a partner for the purposes of sexual pleasure, which frequently culminates in masturbation. Compulsive Sex Behaviour ranges from solitary acts through consensual interactions to coercive contacts. CSB or Sexual Compulsivity (SC) is a clinical phenomenon characterized by sexual urges, fantasies and behaviours that are sufficiently recurrent and intense as to interfere with one's normal daily functioning (Miner et al., 2006). CSB has been shown to be increasingly affecting the individual's family relationships, work productivity and academic success. CSB is characterized by inappropriate or excessive sexual cognitions or behaviours that lead to subjective distress or impaired functioning in one or more important life domains (Black et al, 2000).

Sex addiction, another term used for CSB, is said to be a chronic, relapsing disorder in which repeated sexual stimulation persists despite serious negative consequences. Sexual arousal induces pleasant states (euphoria in the initial phase) and relieves stress. Dependence, craving, and relapse frequently exist (Delmonico, 1999). Several contributors characterized compulsive cybersex as a form of sexual addiction in which users engage in a predictable cycle leading to powerlessness and unmanageability (Carnes et al, 2001; Schneider et al, 2001). Many compulsive cybersex patients present with co-morbid anxiety and affective disorders. CSB has an onset in adolescence, with paraphilic behaviours frequently occurring earlier than nonparaphilic behaviours. The disorder is chronic or episodic. However, the same studies (Black, 1997; Kafka 1992) also show a long delay before their subjects sought treatment, perhaps because of the stigma that persons with CSB experience. CSB has been characterized as a progressive, multiphase illness that grows more intense till it is untreated.

Stages of development of CSB, symptoms and classification

* Preoccupation: a person develops sexual thoughts and urges.

* Ritualization: involves the development of an idiosyncratic routine that prompts the sexual behaviour.

* Gratification: involves the sexual behaviour itself.

* Despair: is characterized by feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and isolation, all of which fuel the tension underlying CSB and prompt the person to repeat the cycle.

Bergner (2002) also noted that CSB patients follow a recurrent pattern in their behaviour and argued that fantasy scenarios are derived from early experiences of degradation. He suggests that CSB represents an internalized attempt to recover from the trauma of that degradation.

Compulsive masturbation, excessive use of pornography and online sexual chat and dating services, sex with multiple and often anonymous partners, and obsessive sexual thoughts are usually reported as symptoms of SC (Parsons et al., 2007). Internet problems that were the primary focus of treatment are listed here in descending percentage of young and adult patients: sexual exploitation (48%), infidelity (47%), pornography (44%), overuse (40%), failed relationships (37%), fraud and deception (37%), gaming and role-playing (29%), harassment (28%), risky behaviour, not otherwise specified (NOS) (28%), harmful influence (23%), and isolative-avoidant use (23%). …

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