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The current study compared the predictions of two socio-cultural theories, shifting standards and intergroup bias, to predict sexual double standards that occur in reactions to computer-mediated infidelity.

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There is no official medical diagnosis of sex addiction, and no good way to test whether it exists.

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And it can be more damaging to family life and harder to give up than more typical addictions. Involvement in group therapy or in an Alcoholics Anonymous-type step program is very important, she said. Cybersex has been called the crack cocaine of the addiction. By Jackie Frank. Studies of sex addiction patients over the last 20 years have found high rates of childhood trauma, sexual abuse, difficulty forming healthy attachments and struggle with intimacy in real sexual relationships, Carnes said.

But as with other addictions, the relapse rate is high.

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It is also easier to hide and to deny than the more public evidence of drug or alcohol use. But there are big differences, psychologists say. Sex addiction or compulsion crosses all social lines and all national borders, includes people from all walks of life, cultures and sexual orientations, and is not restricted to any age or gender.

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But as not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic, sex addiction is characterized by out of control compulsive behavior. Psychologists estimate that 3 to 5 percent of people are sexaholics, and possibly more given the ease of access on the Internet. And women are less likely to seek help due a feeling of greater shame to admit sex addiction -- until those consequences cannot be ignored.

The experience produces the same chemical reaction -- a hit of dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain -- that someone who gambles or eats compulsively will receive.

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There is no diagnosis of addiction at all in the official listing of mental disorders -- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A couple embrace in a doorway in Lincoln, eastern England April 27, Many skeptics about the existence of this addiction see the diagnosis as enabling the wealthy who can afford treatment to escape sticky situations.

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Golfer Tiger Woods checked into an unspecified rehabilitation center for treatment after admitting to a of extramarital affairs. He entered a rehabilitation center for the sex disorder in But the sensational nature of the public admissions by the famous and powerful to multiple extramarital affairs, obsession with Internet sexting, or repeated accusations of sexual harassment, draws intense media attention -- and a fair amount of ridicule. Sex, like food, is a primary need for humans.

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The promise of recovery could lead a wife to drop divorce proceedings, an employer to give a second chance and even in some cases no criminal prosecution for crimes such as embezzlement to fund the addiction. The addiction is both about sex and its ability, like drugs, alcohol or other addictions, to numb psychological pain from other issues in life and mental health problems, addiction specialists say.

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Cheaper out-patient therapy is still expensive since it is not covered by most health insurance. He said he was seeking treatment for an unspecified problem. With the advent of the Internet, it is readily available-- either cybersex or quick hookups arranged through online sites.

There is also skepticism among the public and some psychologists that the sexual disorder even exists, but is rather an excuse for infidelity or viewing pornography. Some call it a compulsion rather than an addiction. Psychologists also find three times as many men as women are likely to have the problem.

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Although no definitive studies are available as yet, Eichel puts short term success at 80 percent, with success defined not as total abstinence but healthy use of the behavior. By Jackie Frank 7 Min Read. And, importantly, a person who commits a sexual assault, even multiple times, should not automatically be considered a sex addict, Carnes said.

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Carnes said there are many parallels with chemical dependency, including a three- to five-year recovery process. But no frenzy of television cameras follows the vast majority of sexaholics to the rehab centers.

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But the consequences can be as severe -- loss of jobs, damaged health, financial ruin and estrangement from family and friends.