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Book ReviewsBreaking Free of the Web: Catholics and Internet Addiction.

Book written by: Kimberly Young and Patrice Klausing, O.S.F. 

Addiction to the Internet is becoming a new problem for many people and is ruining many lives and families.  The authors, Sr. Patrice Klausing, O.S.F. (a licensed counselor) and Dr. Kimberly Young (a licensed psychologist) explore and introduce the reader to this new addiction.  At first, some may think this is a discussion of Internet pornography addiction only – while it does examine this, it also focuses on other addictions connected with the Internet that have been recognized by psychology.  These include Internet gambling addiction, Internet shopping addiction, chat room addiction, Internet games, and others.  

This book is meant to help addicts, their families and friends to first identify the addiction.  Klausing and Young warn that there are only a few psychologists who are trained in or recognize Internet addiction.  The authors suggest that addicts make sure their therapist is up-to-date on current research before pursuing therapy with a particular therapist.  The authors explain how to do this.

There are different things to be addicted on the Internet, but there seems to be similar results.  For instance a person will spend all their waking time on the Internet either in a chat room or viewing a website or many websites.  An addicted person most likely will spend money at these websites and go into debt.  They will lose interest in family, friends and their jobs.  They will sneak around to get their fix and lie about it.  Many will pursue their addiction at work and will eventually get caught and fired.  Sometimes the addict will lose their spouse and family especially if they have become too involved in pornography or chat rooms looking for sex.

When an addict gets involved in chat rooms he or she creates a persona which the others in the chat room can view.  The addict often creates a false persona and gets wrapped up in this virtual or false life.  These kinds of addicts usually suffer from low self-esteem or are depressed and are seeking escape from their lives.  If children are doing this, all kinds of nasty things can happen like the child wanting to meet their new friend in person and discovering the real person is a pedophile.

Klausing and Young present several examples of the various Internet addictions.  Anyone is susceptible to this if they are not careful.  The Internet has a great deal of useful information: pictures, documents, chat rooms, videos, stores, etc.  However it can be used for the good or for the bad.  To cope with the negative aspects of the internet and addiction, the authors provide methods of healing and other resources and suggestions.

The book is an eye opener to this “new” addiction.  The authors provide real life scenarios and a measuring tool that help the reader to identify if they or a loved one has this addiction.  There are suggested prayers throughout the book which the non-Christian may ignore, but they might be helpful too

The chapters end with discussion questions. 

This book is highly recommended to those addicted to the Internet, those concerned about a person addicted and those who minister to them.

Sr. Patrice Klausing, O.S.F., holds an M.A. in religious studies from St. Charles Seminary, in Overbrook, Penn., and an M.S. in pastoral counseling from Loyola College in Maryland.  This is her first book.

Dr. Kimberly Young, is a professor of management sciences at St. Bonaventure University.  She is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of Internet addiction; she is the director of the Center for Online Addiction (www.netaddiction.com) and author of Caught in the Net (1998) and Tangled in the Web (2001).

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