What Are They Thinking? Distorted Thought Patterns of Sex Addicts

This week we are continuing our look into the minds of people who suffer from sex addiction. Last week, you learned about toxic core beliefs. These core beliefs form the foundation for destructive patterns of behavior and ways of thinking. With the help of In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior, this week you will look at the distorted thought patterns common to online sex addicts.

Distorted Thought Patterns

Toxic core beliefs that are common among sex addicts makes forming healthy relationships a challenge. In addition to these beliefs, many addicts endure thought patterns that further distance them from reality. This pattern includes four distinct phases. Generally, these phases repeat in a cycle.

Preoccupation – At first, the individual is completely absorbed by thoughts of sex and experience obsessive urges.

Ritualization – Next, the individual builds a ritual or routine around engaging in an online sexual activity. This ritual intensifies the excitement of the experience.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior – The individual engages in the sex act. He feels unable to stop.

Unmanageability and Despair – After the sex act, the individual feels hopeless. During this phase, the individual may want to change but is powerless to control his behavior.

Each time the pattern repeats, it also intensifies. The increasing intensity makes it even more difficult for the person suffering from addiction to control his behavior. When conflicts between reality and the distorted thought patterns inevitably happen, addicts tend to cope by escaping further into cybersex or porn.

Virtual Activity Becomes Real Addiction

While the sexual activities that happen online are not real, the consequences are. They affect the people who engage in them physically and emotionally. For most online sex addicts, nothing can compare to the high that they feel when they are online. Their flawed core beliefs and distorted thought patterns make it difficult for them to appreciate the harm they cause to themselves and others. The online fantasy world where they can indulge in any sexual experience they want becomes more important than real life. Each real-life failure or negative consequence that results from their addiction becomes more motivation to spend more time online.

Many people who are addicted to cybersex, pornography or other online sexual activities may struggle to stop their behavior without outside intervention. Often, even supportive friends and family members are not enough.


Oxbow Academy offers treatment and evaluation for teenage boys between the ages of 13 – 17. For more information, please contact us at (855) 676-4272.