Is Cyberporn Coming Between You?
The power of the medium, say individuals who partake and the psychologists who treat them, is its ready availability, its seeming invisibility, and its real-time interactivity. One need not wait for a girly magazine to arrive next month. Many XXX Web sites are updated hourly. One need not sneak off to a peep gallery, either. You can log on from home, with headphones tuned in to Beethoven while the fish dance nearby in the aquarium. And tracking the cyberporn-lover's movements, even for a savvy spouse, can be nearly impossible. Delete your Internet browser's history list before you log off, and who will know? Then too, if you want a human being on the other end, you can find one -- live -- and make him or her your online porn partner.
And that means that people who had to "work" to gain access to porn in the past, who had to take proactive steps outside their home and office lives, don't need to anymore. But psychologists caution that this increasingly common behavior is virtually never as simple or innocuous as it might seem. Some caution that it's the new millennium's newest form of infidelity. Others suggest it can be an obsessive-compulsive disorder, requiring psychotherapy. And often, experts in the matter say, it's a type of addiction no less serious than alcoholism, smoking, overeating, or workaholism. It can be hard to "cure." And for those burning the midnight oil in college dorms, it's not necessarily something outgrown with age, as hormones lessen.
"It all depends," says New York City psychologist Albina Tamalonis, another specialist in addictive behaviors. "If it's an infrequent pursuit that doesn't interfere with work, loving relationships, family, or other obligations, it's probably harmless. If it's something you can't get out of your mind -- if you have to get your next fix and are already planning when that will be -- you have a problem."
But judging when you've crossed the line can be tricky. And rationalizing your behavior as nothing out of the norm is a common reaction, psychologists say. How do you know if you or your mate has a cyberporn addiction? And if you do, what should you do to conquer it?