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Dryer, J.A. Lijtmaer, R.M. (2007). Cyber-Sex as Twilight Zone Between Virtual Reality and Virtual Fantasy: Creative Play Space or Destructive Addiction?. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(1):39-61.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1):39-61

Cyber-Sex as Twilight Zone Between Virtual Reality and Virtual Fantasy: Creative Play Space or Destructive Addiction?

Joy A. Dryer, Ph.D. and Ruth M. Lijtmaer, Ph.D.

Sex plays out in as many forms as passion itself. Through the ages we have seen versions of love letters and pornographic writings and pictures. Modern times have used increasingly sophisticated technology and electronics to display one of the oldest desires of human kind. Today, with a computer in many a lap, we see cybersex replacing paper and phone sex. Therapists have debated the need to understand their patients' use of the Internet. General responses to intake questions can run the gamut from “just playing” to “pathological desperation.” Add specific queries about sex on the Net (Do you visit sex sites? look at porn? interact sexually with another person over the Net? how?) and you have broadened the dialogue. The goal is to understand what cybersex behaviors and fantasies mean to the person, how they function in his or her life, and how to work with them therapeutically.

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, the clinical material presents a psychodynamic understanding of the debate over how the Internet is used. Via the case, we examine what cybersex means in the life of a patient named Len. Understanding how he used cybersex both adaptively and then addictively opens a window into his dynamics. In turn, his dynamics reveal motivating factors for his particular Internet use. Second, the paper asks the broader question about what is unique about Internet relating in general, and cybersex in particular. Our major point is that the Internet's unique characteristics express dynamics that are both like and unlike other material.

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