Is Your Computer The Unwanted Third Wheel In Your Relationship?

Sex: Is Your Computer Wrecking Your Love Life?
Heartbreak, Sex

Technology and how it relates to sex addiction, scandals, and shame.

'. . . too much dopamine stimulation has a paradoxical effect. The brain decreases its ability to respond to dopamine signals (desensitization). This occurs with all addictions, both chemical and natural. In some porn users, the response to dopamine is dropping so low that they can't achieve an erection without constant hits of dopamine via the Internet.' (Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships by Marnia Robinson, Douglas Wile Ph.D.)

Apparently, the internet delivers so much visual stimulation in such a rapid fire manner that the brain literally becomes overwhelmed by all the input and consequently reduces its response to the stimulus. This is particularly problematic for young people whose brains are still developing. And amazingly, the speed of one's internet connection can determine how entrenched the resulting desensitization will be. In other words, if you are fifteen and using high-speed internet you are likely to become more addicted than someone who is older and has slow internet.

While these findings are disturbing, it is important that we don't label everyone who enjoys internet porn a sex addict. We also need to be careful that we don't indulge in shaming techniques in order to redirect addictive patterns.

A recent article in Science Daily reported the scientific findings of Jessica Tracy and Daniel Randles of the University of British Columbia who have documented the connection between shame and addiction. According to Tracy and Randles, "One reason that certain sobriety programs may be effective, is because they encourage people to see their behaviors as something they should feel guilty, but not necessarily shameful, about."  The article goes on to say "Feeling guilt about previous behavior, as opposed to shame about being a "bad" person, may be an important component of recovery."

Furthermore, Tracy and Randles assert "Our research suggests that shaming people for difficult-to-curb behaviors may be exactly the wrong approach to take. . . Rather than prevent future occurrences of such behaviors, shaming may lead to an increase in these behaviors."

Shame not only confuses us when we attempt to distinguish sex addiction from sexual pleasure, but it also fuels addictive and compulsive patterns. Therefore, one effective way to gain clarity as well as heal destructive behaviors is to lessen shame. Whether you are simply engaging in sex or sexual fantasies which you feel ashamed or conflicted about, or if you truly have an uncontrollable compulsion, eliminating sexual shame is essential to restoring emotional and sexual well-being.

I work with sex addicts and can attest that it IS a very really affliction. However, too many health professionals are quick to apply this diagnosis to anyone who deviates from the norm sexually and that is not a definition of addiction. Instead it is an indicator of prejudice and ignorance.

Increasingly, there is a cultural norm which says "I am addicted" but fails to comprehend the depth of despair of true addiction. Slapping the sex addiction label on anything which deviates from the monogamous, heterosexual norm not only indicts individual sexual diversity and freedoms but serves to water down the suffering of true sex addicts and sexual compulsives. When we carelessly label activities we may disapprove of as addictions, we devalue the term and its original meaning as applied to compulsions which lead to the destruction of lives. We oversimplify the human condition and insult the people who are suffering from the agony of a true addiction.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.