Prevailing Perversions

All sex therapists are familiar with the Big 10 -- what sex addiction researcher Patrick Carnes calls "constellations" of sexual behaviors often found together. Carnes studied more than 1,000 recovering sex addicts and their partners and calculated the percentage who had exhibited each of these behaviors:

" Seductive-role sex: Serial or concurrent exploitation of relationships, usually in pursuit of power and conquest (21 percent)

" Fantasy sex: Becoming lost in sexual intrigue; includes stalking and compulsive masturbation (18 percent)

" Anonymous sex: Compulsive sex, often in high-risk circumstances, with strangers (18 percent)

" Voyeurism: Visually oriented behaviors, including pornography, strip shows, peeping; highly correlated with excessive masturbation, including masturbation to the point of self-injury (18 percent)

" Intrusive sex: Violating boundaries as a high arousal experience, such as obscene phone calls or frotteurism (rubbing up against an unwilling person) (17 percent)

" Pain exchange: Receiving or causing physical harm to partners; highly correlated with use of dramatic roles, sexual aids and animals (16 percent)

" Exhibitionism: Exposing oneself inappropriately or in self-destructive ways (15 percent)

" Paying for sex: Compulsive prostitution, phone or Internet services (15 percent)

" Exploitative sex: The use of force or partner vulnerability to gain sexual access; highly correlated with sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults (13 percent)

" Trading sex: Receiving drugs or money for sex, or using sex as a business; highly correlated with swapping partners and using nudist clubs to find partners (12 percent)

Carnes mapped out the Big 10 before the explosion of cybersex, which Stanford researcher Al Cooper calls the crack cocaine of sex addiction. One Houston SAA member estimated that Internet sex addicts account for 50 percent of the group's local membership.

Cooper attributes the Internet explosion to the "three As": affordability, availability and anonymity. These factors not only allow those already addicted to feed or broaden their compulsions but create addicts as well, according to Cooper. He says the Internet "may actually lead vast numbers of people into sexual acting out who would otherwise not be afflicted."

Women account for 40 percent of the cybersex addicts, according to an online survey Cooper conducted in 2000. That survey suggested that women were drawn primarily to chat rooms, while male sex addicts concentrated on pornographic images.


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