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Disaster! 6:13 pm, manager Trisha Woodard stops into her vice president’s office for discussion, interrupting him looking at his iPhone and masturbating.

Who risks like this at work? Sexually compulsive people escape life’s pain and stressors by compulsively masturbating, viewing pornography, visiting strip-clubs or having extramarital affairs. The workplace is a perfect shield from the impact of these problematic behaviors on their personal life. “Getting away with” sexual activities specifically banned by an employer only adds to the thrill. Risk actually increases reward. While the psychological field decided not to include sexual addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5, research shows brain activity of these patients mimics that of drug addicts reports study author Valerie Voon, University of Cambridge (Forbes.)1

What sexual compulsivity is:

  • spending inordinate amounts of time sexual activity
  • marked by sudden escalation
  • followed by irresponsibility in important life areas
  • a minimization of the risks involved
  • behavior that is ego-syntonic (seems reasonable to the compulsive)
  • in every social strata
  • increased risks to feel the same euphoria
  • could be concurrent with other diagnoses, ex - bipolar
  • a dangerous loss to companies - key people, reputation, productivity, $

            What it’s not:

  • A simple high sex drive
  • Necessarily perversion (exhibitionists, voyeurs, or pedophiles)
  • Only male (1% female usually with internet relational sex sites)2

Is the risk to companies increasing?  Technically, only 5% of the population meets diagnosable proportions of sexual compulsivity defined as continuing behavior regardless of negative consequences in a cycle fueled by secrecy and shame. Cybersex, however, is “affordable, assessable, and anonymous… the Triple A engine,” explains sex researcher Dr. Alvin Cooper, fueling increasing pornography use every year with a broadening population. Productivity is the most expensive loss to industry with worker users averaging 1 hour, 45 minutes each viewing session (approximately 12 weeks annually if once a day) per Nielson’s monitoring (CBSnews.)3

Compromised key people in companies are let go for indiscretions as often as the ranks in order to insure the uniform application of policies and avoid discrimination suits. Companies suffer loss of direction, cost of replacement and frequently legal danger specific to the infraction. For instance, corporations are liable for what is viewed on their servers and have a duty to investigate a report about pornography use. Failure of these measures can mean criminal infractions (viewing of child pornography) or a lawsuit for anything from sexual harassment to failing to provide a suitable work environment.

Facts about cybersex and business:

  • 70% of pornographic sites are accessed from 9am-5pm (Forbes, 2012)4
  • International study shows 1/3 of all employees admitted to passing sexually explicit material along to coworkers (
  • 1/2 claimed exposure to sexually explicit material by coworkers (
  • When companies dismiss an employee for misusing the internet, 84% of the time it is for viewing inappropriate material (Washington Times)7

How can companies avert a crisis?

  1. Get to know your people – managers too busy to know the personalities of their staff will miss important signals of inconsistent behavior. Reduce work stress by balancing demanding productivity periods with compensatory breaks. Be alert to:

    1. a drop in performance
    2. irresponsibility from someone previously responsible
    3. erratic behavior
    4. accompanying reports of relational breakups/divorce
  2. Review clear, written policies annually on inappropriate sexual behavior – Set company expectations from day one for appropriate work behavior followed by annual reminders to increase compliance and decrease an appearance of indifference. Company loyalty should take precedence over social reticence about reporting a colleague shielding whistleblowers.
  3. Monitor and filter all company computer servers and devices against sexually explicit material. Inform employees of tracking software.  Block pornographic material and inappropriate sites. Keep anti-viral software current. (Facebook, a smart company, won't post if "sex" is in the title!)
  4. Personal devices used during working hours or on company property must be explicitly mentioned in policy as part of the ban on sexually explicit material. Email, Skype, WeChat, Snapchat, Facebook messenger, or any and all other communication avenues need to be subject to the same policies.
  5. Human relations provide resources for early treatment options
    1. Build awareness by circulating self-diagnostic tests for men8 and women.9 
    2. Sex therapists who treat sexual compulsivity can provide diagnostic evaluations regarding the appropriateness of out-patient intensive therapy keeping a person in full-time employment or prescribing in-patient hospitalization.
Laurie Watson, LMFT, Certified Sex Therapist is available for same-day company consultations in emergent situations nationwide.

Check out my new podcast: Foreplay - Radio Sex Therapy and join the conversation you've always wanted to have about sex and relationships! Available on iTunes and Stitcher.  

Begin working on your sexual and emotional connection to you partner now by taking the QUIZ on the first page of Laurie's website - www.AwakeningsCenter.Org

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