The relatively new problem of Internet addiction has ruined many lives and families. This book is a great help to all such people, not only Catholics; anyone can use this introduction into this addiction. Sr. Patrice Klausing, O.S.F. (a licensed counselor) and Dr. Kimberly Young (a licensed psychologist) explore and introduce the reader to this particular addiction. Some may assume that this is a discussion of Internet pornography addiction only; it does examine this, but also other addictions connected with the Internet that have been recognized by psychologists - include Internet gambling addiction, Internet shopping addiction, chat room addiction, Internet game addiction, and others.
Breaking Free of the Web is intended to help addicts and their family and friends to first identify that there is indeed an addiction. Klausing and Young warn that there are only a few psychologists who are trained to recognize or are aware of these types of addiction, and they suggest ways to make sure their therapist is up to date on subject before pursuing therapy with them.
Although there are different things to become addicted to on the Internet, they seem to end with similar results. For instance, a person will spend all their waking time on the Internet either in a chat room, viewing a website or surfing 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 involved in pornography or chat rooms looking for sex.
When an addict gets involved in chat rooms, he or she creates a false persona for others in the chat room to see and gets wrapped up in this false virtual life. These kinds of addicts usually suffer from low self-esteem or depression and are seeking escape from their lonely, boring lives. If children are involved, 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 if they are not careful. The Internet has many things going for it; since it has pictures, lots and lots of information, videos, chat rooms, stores to visit and buy from, it is a large tool that can be used for good or ill. 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. This book needs a bibliography; the endnotes help a bit, but not enough. The chapters end with discussion questions. This book is highly recommended to those addicted to the Internet, those concerned about a person so 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).