Hermes' Web and the Treatment of
Click here to review the psychological concepts upon which
Hermes' Web is based. The concepts, in relation to
cybersex, are discussed below.
The first order of change is for treatment to help counteract
the various powers of the Internet, especially the power of
isolation. Delmonico and Griffin (2004) suggest these
|Keep the computer in a high-traffic area|
|Limit the time on the computer|
|Place photos of family members on the Desktop|
|Use a real name, not a screen name|
|Find an accountability partner|
|Develop healthy online habits|
Although the first-level approaches can help in the short run, the deeper core-level issues must be addressed to help cybersex
compulsives make the core-level changes that are necessary for lasting change. Such an approach requires the use of Hermes' Web to
explore the underlying energies of the core, such as the powerful needs for mirroring and what happens during the flip and the
aftermath. A deep, imaginative exploration of the characters of the core, such as the toad, and whatever else the therapist and client may
discover, is also necessary. Once these are imagined, given voice, and more fully understood and accepted, the cybersex compulsive
can own his or her core-level needs, give them appropriate expressions, and start to change his or her behavior long-term.
Hermes' Web Illustrates the Roots of Cybersex and Compulsive
Online Sexual Behavior
The Two Levels
A cybersex compulsive lives in two disconnected worlds
— the ego and the core — which are kept separate by
the barrier. Because a compulsive is not in touch with
the core, the core grows more and more hungry and
must be fed via cybersex. Each of the two worlds, then,
has its own value system in place. The ego is interested
in preserving itself, in all its ignorance and bliss, while
the core's only motive is to get its needs met, whatever it
takes. Because morality is typically trained into the ego,
the core does not and will not abide by the ego's value
Lack of Mirroring and the Hidden World
Positive and negative mirroring have an extraordinary effect on a person's feelings of self-love or
self-hate — a plus or minus sign in the core. Those people who have not had adequate positive
mirroring or who have had an overabundance of negative mirroring are left with a fundamental self-
loathing. Cybersex compulsives medicate themselves with Internet sex to temporarily touch their
cores and feel alive, to momentarily turn a negative into a positive. This intense need for mirroring
fuels the core's hunger, and it grows more and more desperate, constructing a hidden world in
which to feed.
The Flip and the Opening
When the ego refuses to acknowledge the needs deep in the core, it sets itself up for the flip. The
flip occurs each time the compulsive engages in cybersex. Eventually, all the things the
compulsive shoves down below the barrier take on a life of their own, rebel, stage a revolution,
and "flip up." The normal identity flips under and what was below flips up. All the anger, repressed
sexuality, revenge, and mirroring needs are the energies that propel the revolution. The sense of
right and wrong, which typically exists in the ego, feels like it's in another room. The parts that flip
up do exactly what they want without "interference" from morality.
The Opening and the Loss of Control
The flip is the opening up of a closed world that is highly negative, contaminated, or predatory.
This closed world is foreign and out of control. It is also closed-off and held in place by shame
and guilt emanating from the horrors of past times when things got loose. The closed Hoberman
Sphere (shown left) illustrates this compacted, closed core. The compulsive may try to compress
things back into a closed-off state again; in other words, regain control. Cybersex compulsives are
often deeply troubled, for they know what is trying or wanting to cut loose from within themselves,
and they are terrified by its possible success.
The opening, or the release, occurs when control is lost and the energy in that dark, shame-
contained place erupts outward and the whole thing comes to life. It’s as if the core bursts,
explodes outward, and the Toad lives fully for a limited time. This is the loss of control the
compulsive fears; the rapid expansion outward of the core from its closed, shameful place.
Once the revolution is through —the sex act, video, conversation, or game is over — the
personality returns to its normal state. The ego is usually horrified, but if no one has seen, it
pretends the flip and the opening never happened. Cybersex, because it is engaged in alone,
uniquely meets this need for deniability.
After the flip, the ego pounds even more nails in the basement door to make sure the monster
doesn't get out again. But sooner or later, if nothing is done to deal with the reality of the core, the
core will come to life again and do more damage. Sometimes, the core won't need to be fed for
months, which is why compulsives think they're cured. But that hunger will return again and again
until the core is dealt with.
Sometimes, the flip is seen by others. In this situation, one of the parts of the unconscious — the
ignored realm of the personality below the barrier — "sticks up." The isolation of the Internet is not
perfect. Charges appear on the credit card statement, someone walks in unexpectedly and the
compulsive is caught, literally, “with his pants down.” Now, everyone sees that part of him — the
repressed sexual need that was buried in his core — and they associate that behavior with him.
Once the flip is over and has to face what he did, his ego turns into a lawyer. It denies, justifies,
blames, and attacks character. It does anything but accept responsibility.
Emotional Intelligence and Erotic Intelligence
To escape cybersex compulsion, one must develop emotional intelligence (EQ) and erotic intelligence (EQ2), i.e., emotional
intelligence in the realm of sexuality. Ultimately, this is what therapy tries to achieve. Compulsive online sexual behavior disappears
when EQ2 comes into existence. EQ2 means you know your sexual needs, you pursue them appropriately and legally, and you own
the wishes, needs, and desired in your core. It means a more integrated self, a reduced barrier, and connection between the ego and
the core — the hidden world and light.
Hermes' Web and Cybersex