Without Boundaries: The Role of Virtual Fantasy in 'Altered' Identities in Deviant Sexual Behaviour
This presentation explores the relationship between an online virtual fantasy ‘otherworld’ in which individuals can create idealised constructs of themselves and real world identities and behaviours that may be seen as problematic or even deviant. The 'otherworld' is unbounded in terms of time, space, morals, physicality and personal and social identity; so it is a space in which people can construct 'alternative' selves and behave in ways they may not do in the real world due to social inhibitions but also their personal, psychological inhibitions. However, to what extent may these 'otherworld' identities, transcend into the real world and alter their 'real selves'? This paper will consider the otherworld of the internet as an environment in which people can construct new selves (social and personal identities)using examples of deviant behaviour such as sexual 'ageplay' and internet sexual offending against children. Issues that will be highlighted as significant to considering the relationship of this virtual 'otherworld' to the construction of deviant sexual identities include the role of fantasy, support, role play, normalisation, neutralisation, immunisation, compulsive internet use (CIU) and the increasing importance of the otherworld identity. This is placed into the context of research which indicates that internet only sexual offenders tend to be very wrapped up in a fantasy life in contra-distinction to contact sexual offenders, but that this fantasy rarely transcends into real world behaviours, as well as theoretical positions which assert the importance of fantasy to a cycle of contact sexual abuse offending, in the real world.
Citation : Reeves, C. and Sadique, K. (2013) Without Boundaries: The Role of Virtual Fantasy in 'Altered' Identities in Deviant Sexual Behaviour (19 September 2013) First Cyberpsychology Conference, De Montfort University, Leicester
Research Institute : Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice
Peer Reviewed : No