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The Internet Medicine Science

Discussion of Internet Addiction as Mental Illness Resurfaces 279

Posted by Zonk
from the i-can't-quit-you-internets dept.
Lone Writer writes "The editorial section of the American Journal of Psychiatry for March offers the opinion that Internet addiction is a 'compulsive-impulsive' disorder, and should be added to the official guidebook of disorders. The editorial characterizes net addiction as including 'excessive gaming, [online] sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging'. From the article: 'Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance, requiring more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online, according to Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr. Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives," like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization."
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Discussion of Internet Addiction as Mental Illness Resurfaces

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  • Maybe (Score:5, Funny)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:47AM (#22783176)
    I definitely reject eating when I'm doing stuff on the computer, but not sleeping.
    • ... but to me this is just another way to prescribe more drugs to make more money for the health care/pharmacuetical industry.
      • Exactly. The sickness industry wants everything to be a disease, because they charge for diseases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Why should I listen to a compulsive air breather?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Digi-John (692918)
        Ok, you're a cook!
        I'd be more offended to be called a kook.
      • by eln (21727)

        Call me a cook if you want ...
        Okay fine, you're a cook, but I fail to see how your ability to prepare food has any bearing on the subject at hand.
      • by Kamineko (851857) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:59AM (#22784078)
        Why bother calling a cook when GP has rejected eating?
      • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @12:06PM (#22784188)
        Obviously if you play online games instead of watching TV, you're not consuming enough. You're paying $10-$30 a month for your game, but you're not seeing enough television advertisements, not buying enough golf equipment, not buying as many movie tickets, expensive SUV's to haul your crotchfruit to soccer games, and so on. You might want to buy an upgrade for your computer now and then, but that's nothing compared to gearing out for an avid golfer, or an avid fisherman, or an avid television watcher.

        Basically you're not consuming enough of the crap they want to shove down your throat. So they call it an addiction so they can give you drugs so you'll behave like a nice little drone, and watch their advertisements and buy their tooth whiteners.

        I've watched more people wate more time on "an addiction" to collegiate sports, celebrity gossip, cricket, football, or just shopping than online anything. And yet these folks are considered normal for spending hours every night researching their fantasy sports teams (not just online, magazines, books, go to Amazon.com and look it up) and solid hours every weekend watching games. But that's normal. They're seeing their fair share of ads for Budweiser, so it's all good. But if you spend a few hours nights and weekends online playing games with friends, well, you're not seeing your share of advertisements, so that's obviously an addiction.

        I'll take these jackasses seriously when I start hearing about American Idol addicts, TV addicts, and Golf addicts, or even (timely enough) College Basketball addicts. Until then, they're all basically bought by the advertising and marking cabal.
        • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @01:00PM (#22784792)

          So they call it an addiction so they can give you drugs...

          Now there's a wonderful irony of modern society.

        • by Iron Condor (964856) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @01:07PM (#22784870)

          I've watched more people wate more time on "an addiction" to collegiate sports, celebrity gossip, cricket, football, or just shopping than online anything. And yet these folks are considered normal for spending hours every night researching their fantasy sports teams (not just online, magazines, books, go to Amazon.com and look it up) and solid hours every weekend watching games. But that's normal. They're seeing their fair share of ads for Budweiser, so it's all good. But if you spend a few hours nights and weekends online playing games with friends, well, you're not seeing your share of advertisements, so that's obviously an addiction.

          The distinction is fairly simple, really: is there someone who objectively admits that watching college football is bad for them? That it hurts them? That they're starting to lose sleep or jeopardizing their employment over it?

          And how many WOW players say just that?

          That's the very meaning of "addiction": that there's something that you'd judge objectively to be bad for you but that you do not want to stop or curtail even though you judge it as bad for you. All those smokers who say "yeah, it kills you" and in the same breath claim "I can stop any time I want"? Addicted. Because they do not want to stop an activity that they themselves judge as bad for them.

          Addiction does NOT mean "someone/something somehow forces me to do this". It means "I, myself, am continuing to choose to do this even though I, myself, understand this to be harmful for myself". Every addict is always in the drivers seat. They can always choose to stop whatever it is they're doing. For every addict it is true that "they can stop any time they want". But they don't want to. Which is exactly what addiction is all about.

        • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @02:04PM (#22785600) Journal
          Well, seriously, you don't need to assume a conspiracy here. (There might still be one, but it's not needed to explain it. Occam's Razor, if you will. Or Hanlon's Razor.)

          The way it works is sorta like this:

          1. Most humans are herd animals, and educated to be very "us vs them" at it. And have layers upon layers of mental tricks to rationalize anything they personally do as the Right Thing. See, cognitive dissonance, for example.

          So when Mr X goes to the pub and yakks about the latest football game, it not only gives him a much needed feeling of belonging to some group, it also provides a circle-jerk reinforcement of the idea that any sane male would naturally feel an urge to go to the pub and yakk about football. So if Mr Y wants to go play WoW instead, there must be something awfully wrong with him.

          (And just so I don't piss off only the football fans, the same happens in reverse too. If John goes to the pub instead of doing the latest raid with us, there must be something awfully wrong with him. And if Tom is running OpenBSD instead of coming to our LUG meetings, and quotes Theo de Raad all the time instead of worshipping Linus like the rest of us, well, I'd be careful around him, if you know what I mean. Etc.)

          At any rate, people can be very distrustful of anything that is not one of "us", and doubly so of anyone or anything that challenges the rationalizations and excuses that that "us" group is built on.

          That incidentally means that anything new will invariably be met with such distrust. Society has had generations of building up a status quo, and lots of unwritten rules and roles for its members. Real Men do this, Real Women do that, Real Old Geezers do that other thing, and everyone is happy that they don't have to think much about it. Everyone else is doing the same things, so it must be the right, God-given way. And then this new group comes by and goes and reads comics instead, or watches TV, or listens to this newfangled heavy metal, or whatever.

          I'm not kidding. Each of those has been the new thing at some point, and were demonized and presented as some dangerous influence on the youth at some point. Games are just the newest instance of some people who just don't want to fit their traditional roles in this big "us" group, and it makes everyone else uneasy. Why would they want to do that instead of watching the sacred football game on TV, like everyone else? How we forget that not so far in the past it was watching TV (instead of going and yakking outside) that was the newfangled TV addiction that was making everyone else uneasy.

          So, anyway, we have a bunch of gamers and a large majority which doesn't understand them, and (to various extents) is made uneasy by them. They don't care that you don't watch ads or don't buy enough golf clubs, but they do get worried that you chose to not be a part of their group.

          2. There's the kind of people who just want some publicity, or to sell you something. Whether it's a new drug, or their expensive psychotherapy fees, or the idea of electing them to Congress. Make no mistake, these don't care about what else you buy either. They just care about selling their own snake oil to enough people, and if you're not a buyer, well, then maybe you'd make a good bogeyman instead.

          And that uneasy majority from #1 is a perfectly willing buyer for that snake oil. Especially one packed as, basically, "yes, it's scientifically proven: it's perfectly normal to be part of _your_ group and do the things _you_ do. And as you were suspecting, it's everyone else that are fucked-up in the head." That's what that majority wanted to hear.

          3. It also doesn't help that we have a whole game industry trying hard to amplify the symptoms, if they can't actually make their games more "addictive".

          We have limited save points. (My personal record was having to grind 10 hours before I found the next save point in a game.) We have 40-man raids that take a whole night to finish, and where if you quit suddenly, you've just piss
    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Funny)

      by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:28AM (#22783688) Homepage Journal
      Lol like I'd forget to eat and pass up that stamina/spirit buff? Preposterous. /sleep is just for rp tho.
    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by psychodelicacy (1170611) <psychodelicacy@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:34AM (#22783742) Homepage
      I have to admit that I'll go without food and sleep for ages when I'm interested in something on the computer, whether it's teh internets or doing some coding, or whatever.

      But, the thing is, I'm like that when I get hold of a good novel, too. I'll sometimes forget to eat for a day if I'm reading something great, and will even cancel social engagements if the book's really good. I don't think I'm alone in this.

      So, do we also need a category of book addiction? Or do we just need to get a reality check, and accept that people in a relatively affluent society are lucky to have the luxury to give up on sleep or food for a little while in order to pursue an interest? After all, we know that we're not going to starve, so what does it matter if we miss a meal in order to iron out a persistent bug or follow a fascinating click-trail through Wikipedia? I think there are too many people out there who want us all to follow norms and have a vested interest in making us feel weird and wrong when we don't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        So, do we also need a category of book addiction? Or do we just need to get a reality check, and accept that people in a relatively affluent society are lucky to have the luxury to give up on sleep or food for a little while in order to pursue an interest?

        Nope, we've got enough generalized "addiction" categories already. And we treat them the same. Drugs and counseling - same old saw.

        But what you describe doesn't really fall into the "addiction" category if it's not materially interfering with the re

    • The major problem with all of this that few people realize is that the term 'disorder' as used in the DSM is considered 'undefinable' in the world of psychology. Therefore the only thing nessary for something to become offically a disorder ( or cease being so ) is that those who have voting membership in the group that writes the book 'feel' is should be classed that way or not. Although the greatest real world effect as I understand it is weather or not you have a 'condition' your health insurance will p
  • I guess it's the "new pink".

  • I do not agree... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scafuz (985517) <scafuz@scafuz.com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:49AM (#22783198)
    ...but I need a faster PC to read TFA
  • Nonsense (Score:3, Funny)

    by kraemate (1065878) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:49AM (#22783200)
    I do slashdot 23 hrs a day and i'm fin &^!##(*!& NO CARRIER
  • by hilather (1079603) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:49AM (#22783208)
    I display all the symptoms, but I'm cool with that, I just want to score some drugs.
    • by causality (777677)
      What kind of drugs do they give out for it? The kind that make the pharmaceutical companies very wealthy. A government has no power except over those who break its laws, so one way to increase power is to make crimes of things that are not crimes (War on [some] Drugs, etc). Likewise, a pharmaceutical company can't make money from healthy people, so we need designer diseases! ADD, ADHD, Restless Legs Syndrome, Internet Addictions ... why, there's a pill for every ill! (Incidentally, showing me a study s
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cyphercell (843398)

        I don't really blame the companies for trying this.

        I'm sorry, but did you just say that in a multibillion dollar confidence scheme, you blame the hustled?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by causality (777677)
          This is what I said: "I don't really blame the companies for trying this. I blame the medical establishment and the general public for going along with it without some serious challenges to whether more medications are the best way to deal with our problems." Did you miss that "medical establishment" part? Reading comprehension is a useful thing!

          And yes, I do place some blame on the "hustled"... just from a "fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me" standpoint. Their unrealistic, stron
      • by presarioD (771260)
        well, get on with times man, there is a huge market out there and it has to be utilized one way or another... blaming the people for going along is not realistic. These are the same people that go along with anything under the sun clandestinely "suggested" to them. Their fault? The system's internal workings? Time will judge...

        Strangely enough though, you don't see "studies" about shopping-addictions, or drug over-consuming addictions (ha ha ha, who said the best way to discover propaganda is notice its i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SQLGuru (980662)
      I have a mental illness.....please direct deposit my disability checks (I can't leave the Internet long enough to deposit a real check).....

      Layne
      • by Amouth (879122)
        saddly some banks (USAA's banking) allows you to scan in your check and upload the image and have it work as a deposit.. so you never need to leave you desk
    • I already know of a few mildly disabled friends who do nothing more than sponge off the government because of their disabilities. From rent controlled housing; not allowed to cost them more than 30% of their income; to free transportation to get even more benefits.

      This is about creating another dependent class. About opening the doors to new lawsuits because if someone is addicted then their has to be someone causing it and if they have deep pockets the blame shifts from the one addicted to the one with th
  • Nonsense (Score:4, Funny)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:51AM (#22783224)
    C'mon, put me in a mental institution and you'll notice that I'm allright.

    They do have internet connection there now, right? Right???
  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:51AM (#22783226) Homepage
    When Dr. Jerald Block prescribes me some pussy.
  • by johnny cashed (590023) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:51AM (#22783230) Homepage
    But after a couple of days disconnected, everything is ok again.
  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:55AM (#22783268) Journal
    ...just as soon as this next web page is done loading.

    Oooh, where does THAT link go?

    When I was a kid, I want crazy over Transformers (1st gen). Before that, it was Hot Wheels. The Internet strikes me as one of these shiny new toys, but infinitely greater in its possibilities. But, compulsive-impulsive behavior? Why do I get the feeling that someone is looking for an excuse to live off my tax money? I am guilty for having shown addict-like behavior with it years ago. In college, if I wasn't in class, I was at a terminal run on the DEC VAX running TinyFugue and exploring every MUD and MOO out there.

    There will be those who take the Internet to its extreme, sure. You will get that with any activity. But, 86% of addicts have some form mental illness? Me thinks "mental illness" has gained an overly-broad definition in the last 10 years. But, I am just an arm chair psychologist.

    Gotta go, my email notify chime just went off.
  • In summary... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IBBoard (1128019) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:58AM (#22783294) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but in summary have the American Journal of Psychiatry released a report that an addiction to an entity resulting from a compulsion to use/have it should be added to a list of mental ilnesses/addictions that includes compulsions to use/have things?

    What if I had an addiction to orange juice and drank it ever hour, on the hour, or else I suddenly got shakey and had withdrawl symptoms - would they add "orange juice addiction" to the list?

    Sounds like a bit of a "well, duh" to me.

    Also, I love the first line of TFA (emphasis mine):

    Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.
    • Re:In summary... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:10AM (#22783462) Homepage

      What if I had an addiction to orange juice and drank it ever hour, on the hour, or else I suddenly got shakey and had withdrawl symptoms - would they add "orange juice addiction" to the list?
      If a significant number of people were doing the same thing to a degree that it was screwing up their lives? Probably. But, probably just a a strange subset of CDO*. They're treating this as special because there are a lot of people developing real problems (work/personal/etc) because they refuse to get off the damned computer.

      Disclaimer: I'm certainly no psychiatrist and have no idea if you need to treat people with this particular problem any different than your standard obsessive.

      *CDO = Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Don't you hate it when people fail to properly alphabetize their acronyms?
    • Okay, so excessive emailing is a problem.

      But I'm the email admin for the company I work at. At what point do I qualify as "addicted" so I can get disability?

      Do real junkies ever get tired of heroin? Or annoyed at stupid people for giving them more heroin?
      • by Kandenshi (832555) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:30AM (#22783698)
        The DSM [wikipedia.org](the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) typically uses when it causes clinically significant distress on the part of the person, or in their work, social, personal lives.

        The DSM is usually reluctant to pathologize something unless it's really bothering the person themselves, or makes it impossible for them to live a normal life.

        You have a tendency to check twice if the door to your house is locked after leaving? That's not really going to cause you major problems, and odds are you're not freaking out about it. Not OCD.
        Have frequent compulsions to drive back home and check if your door is locked, occuring throughout the day, making you get fired from your job, ruining your social life and making you feel like crap? That might be more likely to get you that diagnosis.

        You doing lots of e-mail for work is not likely to interfere with your ability to work. :P So you're fine.

        Heroin junkies might not mind their heroin(though some do), but if it screws up their lives then it's something the DSM will look at.
        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:58AM (#22784062)
          Which is why we have "OCD" and NOT "obsessive door checking disorder".

          Being that the door checking is an manifestation of OCD, not a disorder in and of itself. If you removed the door, the OCD will still be there. It will just transfer itself to something else. Such as checking the stove to make sure it is off.
        • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @12:53PM (#22784700) Journal
          "The DSM is usually reluctant to pathologize something unless it's really bothering the person themselves, or makes it impossible for them to live a normal life."

          As a counter-example I call to your attention: Social Anxiety Disorder [ohio-state.edu].

          Not to be confused with "Seasonal Affective Disorder" (another real winner). The definition is vague, the symptoms can describe anyone who is uncomfortable in crowds, and yes, there is a pill. It's "Paxil" which is habit forming and has quite a colorful history: faked clinical trials, numerous lawsuits, all the way to a recent snafu where they dumped a batch on the market that was Ooops! missing the active ingredient...Did I mention it's habit forming? Lot of SAD people going into withdrawal while taking their pills. It's also another one where they marketed it agressively to kids, and, if you read the DSM definition of SAD, you'll find that kids who suffer it sometimes lack some of the vague-ass symptoms.

          I don't trust the DSM anymore, frankly. The number of anxiety-style disorders that they've added in the last 20 years is staggering and obscene, and none of them have hard physical causes, and yet all of them respond to chemical treatment. That is extremely suspicious.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kandenshi (832555)
            OK, read what I said. That the disorder has to interfere with the person in a clinically significant way. Then read your link.

            E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.

            Not sure that you really chose the right DSM diagnosis to use as a "counter-example" to what I said.
            Still, I don't pretend that the DSM IV-tr is flawless or perfect. I'd have to be CRAZY to think that(look for it in the DSM-V :P) There are a number of disorders that are badly described, or with what I feel to be insufficient evidence for them.

            The entire "personality disorder

    • Re:In summary... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:55AM (#22784010)
      This is the medical equivalent of bogus patents - take an old, well established idea, add "on the internet" at the end, and all of the sudden it's new?

      Addiction to Internet pornography? No, it's addiction to pornography.

      Addiction to Internet gaming? No, it's addiction to gaming.

      Addiction to Internet gambling? No, it's addiction to gambling.

      Addiction to Internet communication? That's a little tougher, but I'd view that more as low self esteem/insecurity - i.e. constantly needing to feel "connected". I'd bet these folks are the same ones used to who spend hours on the phone with their friends. Addiction? Hardly

      This is psychiatrists trying to drum up more work for themselves.
    • I'm addicted to eating and sleeping. I experience severe withdrawal without them. As I am also addicted to not sleeping and eating while playing online games, there is balance and I declare myself healthy.
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:00AM (#22783320) Journal
    FTFA: "three-dimensional, multiplayer games users have described as "heroinware."

    Who the fuck has ever used the word "Heroinware?"

    WarCrack/EverCrack, sure. I've heard those. But "heroinware"? That doesn't even roll off the tongue.

    Someone used the word to describe Doom shareware back in 94, but it doesn't seem to have caught on (802 hits in google vs 460,000 for 'warcrack').

    That's the equivalent of a /.er pulling shit from the jargon file to make himself sound like a "real hacker". Gimme a break.
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:20AM (#22783592) Homepage

      That's the equivalent of a /.er pulling shit from the jargon file to make himself sound like a "real hacker". Gimme a break.
      Foo! Take your eighty-column mind down El Camino Bignum to Berzerkley and watch the blinkenlights.
    • FTFA: "three-dimensional, multiplayer games users have described as "heroinware."

      Who the fuck has ever used the word "Heroinware?"
      Relax. It's just misspelled heroineware, referring to Tomb Raider etc.
  • by natex84 (706770) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:05AM (#22783392)
    Everything is a disorder. We need medicine for everything. People cannot make changes in their life without medication.

    Everyone must be exactly the same!

    Some areas of medicine/psychology are getting ridiculous.
    • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:32AM (#22783724) Homepage
      I'm just using your ridiculous post to make the following points:

      From a social health perspective, the social costs of addicts using the internet as their drug of choice are unknown. This topic along with most addiction research deserve way more research dollars. For example, we know our social costs went down when alcohol addiction was identified and promoted as an illness. (more workers, more productivity)

      If you knew anything about addiction therapy you would know that the therapy for a sex addict is much different than that of a bulemic(sp!), which is much different then that of an alcoholic. It stands to reason then, that "internet addiction" will eventually have different therapeutic methods that are unique to this category of addiction.

      Not all of us live in our parent's basement any more. Take a shower. Get a girlfriend.
    • by misleb (129952) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:36AM (#22783770)
      Lets say you're a doctor and you start getting patients coming in complaining that they have what appears to be an addiction to the Internet. Or perhaps they are trying to get help for a family member who is showing signs of addiction. What do you do? Do you just laugh it off? Say something like "just stop using the computer so much." What can the patient do? I understand that medicating it seems unreasonable, but what else can you do as a doctor when you can only see the patient once a week or whatever?

      It isn't like doctors are going around to people's homes and declaring otherwise healthy people mentally ill. I'm sure this is mostly a reaction to people with serious problems looking for help.

      Also, keep in mind that an official diagnosis is important for insurance purposes. "Internet addiction" may sound silly, but doctors need to put down some diagnosis or insurance may not pay.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Everything is a disorder. We need medicine for everything. People cannot make changes in their life without medication.

      Everything is NOT a disorder. Obsessively and uncontollably doing a thing IS a disorder. If you have ghonnorea, you're not going to make changes in your life without medication (pennicillin).

      If you have a few drinks on Friday night you're ok. If you drink every morning as soon as you get up you need help and possibly medication (antabuse).

      I don't know how such an ignorant comment got modded
    • by Mr_eX9 (800448)
      Yeah, the Scientologists have always been ahead of the game on this front. Oh wait...
  • You're gonna give me drugs because I like surfing the net? Well, okay Doc. Will they help me surf faster or something?
  • by moltenfury (1131037) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:06AM (#22783404)
    Getting a girlfriend or boyfriend. I've seen it work well over the years even with the most hardcore online users.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      Seriously. This isn't an addiction, it's people using up their free time. Give them something more interesting to do and they'll do that instead.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by canajin56 (660655)

        You seem to be taking this out of context, and taking it personally. They aren't saying "You play WoW for like 3-5 hours a night, and 8+ saturdays and sundays, you are an addict and need help." In that case, you clearly have lots of free time, and perhaps not a lot of a "real" social life to take up that free time. (Although I somewhat disagree with the notion that it isn't a social life. I chat and play games with friends in Texas, the UK, California, and Bermuda, how is that fundamentally less socia

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhoenixFlare (319467)
      Getting a girlfriend or boyfriend. I've seen it work well over the years even with the most hardcore online users.

      Thank goodness that my wife actually, y'know, shares my interests and loves internet/gaming activities as much as I do. We have pets, stable jobs, pay all the bills, etc.

      Seriously. This isn't an addiction, it's people using up their free time. Give them something more interesting to do and they'll do that instead.

      What you do with your free time should be based on what you find entertaining, not
    • Or friend in general. Or even a sport (where you might make some friends)
    • by not_anne (203907)
      Unless you met your girl/boyfriend online. While playing an MMO. And after 5 years of marriage, you still play MMOs together. Fail.
  • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:08AM (#22783432)
    OK, if you are like the Korean who literally killed himself gaming, that is too much. But how many emails a day is "too much"? How many hours gaming are you allowed? I admit that most of my friends are online, though I occasionally meat some IRL. If I don't communicate with them, I get feeligns of loss (withdrawal) But before the Net, I didn't have friends. How is it worse to have net-friends instead of no-friends?
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      But how many emails a day is "too much"?

      When it affects your life negatively. Your wife is complaining that you're on the computer all the time? You're late for work because you're checking your mail? That's too much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by psydzl (738376)
      It doesn't make sense to choose an arbitrary number, the central question is: Is it ruining my life? If some is on the Internet for every minute of their spare time, and the overall quality of their life is greater, or about the same as before the Internet, then no medical illness is present. However, if another person is failing to go to school or work, losing important relationships, and suffering other serious negative consequences, AND they cannot stop in spite of all the loss, that is probably an illne
  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:12AM (#22783490) Journal
    People with obsessive-compulsive disorders are the last people you want to make angry!
  • This is great for the Slashdot community! No more searching for a parking space ever again!

    But on a more serious note, this is a ridiculous conclusion. There's a damn strong difference between compulsion, custom, and preference.

    I am accustomed to getting in some online news reading in the morning. If I am denied that for whatever reason, I feel stupid and uninformed. Oh damn my mentally-handicapped eyes for having such an innate responsibility to know what's going on in the world with the intention of chang
  • Even though my g/f is working on her Masters' in psychiatry, I'm utterly convinced that this field is chocked full of "fluff" and occasionally, even pure nonsense. When pressed on the issue, she'll even admit that her main reason for choosing her career path stems from "wanting to get in a field where I can make a lot of money, doing something I find relatively easy".

    When you look through the DSM-IV, you see an awful lot of fancy "labeling". It's a massive attempt to label people based on their mental cha
    • Not that there is a bit of truth to your rant but....

      When you look through the DSM-IV, you see an awful lot of fancy "labeling"

      That's exactly what the DSM is supposed to do - attach specific and generally agreed upon labels to the enormously wide variations in human behavior. Previous to the DSM, psychiatrists and psychologists labeled people with mental illnesses pretty much the way they wanted to. The DSM is an attempt (an imperfect one) to standardize the lingo.

      Look at the various "types" of bi-p

  • Compulsive? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by areReady (1186871)
    If "skipping basic needs" like eating, sleeping and other basic functions in favor of another activity means you're an addict, then I'm addicted to my job, my second job, reading books, watching movies, the internet, video games, cable TV, telephone conversations, cooking a good meal, writing, pooping, listening to music, naps and being lost in thought. Maybe I'm weird, but it's trivially easy for me to become absorbed in something and simply forget to eat or go to bed - for hours on end.

    And it's not the in
  • I am sure you will get much less sympathy from the government agencies if you have an obsessive compulsion to 'not pay taxes' or 'drive faster than the speed limit'.

  • Humans do all kinds of things that are bad for them, but a lot of that doesn't fall in the realms of medicine. An addiction isn't simply a medical condition, it is created from a lot of different factors, genetic disposition towards addiction having a stronger grip on the given person, environmental factors, social causes, etc.

    I would say there is no mental illness called "internet addiction", there is only addiction. It doesn't matter if it's the internet or alcohol, or anything else, the basic pattern i
  • Clearly, the guys at OHSU are just ticked at the guys down the freeway at the Linux Foundation and OSU Open Source Lab for getting all the sweet computer gear. I mean, all the OHSU guys get are protesters complaining about animal testing.
  • by esocid (946821) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:29AM (#22783694) Journal
    Today it is actually fairly hard for people to get away from a computer. At work people need to have one to get emails from coworkers or clients and whatnot and to utilize whatever programs/databases they need to work. They are becoming more prevalent in schools, especially in colleges. Some people may take it to the extreme and spend every waking hour on or near a computer but who complains when someone reads books "too much?" It only becomes a problem is it is an obsessive behavior that interferes with important activities, and who's to say whether a person's addiction to the internet is due to them having an addictive personality in general? I actually love leaving my technology behind when I go on vacation because it completely is a ball and chain. I wonder how many "addictions" arise when something new comes out?
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Why limit it to a "book". Clearly reading is an addiction, and we should be medicating people who do it. I can't even get from home to work without reading at least a dozen times. I read at home even when I don't realize it. Heck, I've even been know to read on the toilet. Reading addiction is so bad that people have commonly been known to resort to reading the direction on shampoo bottles. We do it in grocery stores, and even while watching TV or surfing the net. It is such a problem in America tha
      • by esocid (946821)
        Damn that pesky DiHydroOxide [dhmo.org]. It's already concentrated in your body through the years. Your own body is 60% concentrated with DiHydroOxide!
  • I have lost roughly 65 weeks(not an exaggeration) of sleep in the past 8 years due to the Internet, and me missing it when I sleep!

    Who do I sue? Where's my meds.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      I have lost roughly 65 weeks(not an exaggeration) of sleep in the past 8 years due to the Internet, and me missing it when I sleep! Who do I sue?

      Why, CowboyNeal, of course!
  • I do lots of things too much: too much alcohol, too much coffee, too much online gaming. But every once in a while, I quit for a week or two and have no withdrawal symptoms, so I conclude I am not addicted.

    I conclude there is a difference between obsessive behavior and addiction.
  • This is the ONLY area where Scientology is right. All mental health studies are bullshit junk "science".
  • Correct me if I'm wrong here, but as a regular Internet user myself, upon no occasion do I ever recall striding into your Portland-based psychiatric clinic, barging into your office during one of your consultancy sessions with a presumably rich local Oregon loony and delivering what would undoubtedly be my most unwelcome opinions on the size of your psychiatry couch, the colour of your office wallpaper or indeed the fact that you should not cross your legs whilst divesting said loony of hundreds of hard ear
  • Internet addiction... never heard such rubbish!

    I could log off whenever I wanted to...

    I could...

    No, I could...

    I'm telling you, I could if I wanted to...

    I don't need it....

    I could shut down this computer any time I wanted to....

    If I really wanted to...

    I just don't want to, OK!

  • It'a about time! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by codesurfer (786910)
    For a while, I was worried that the medical establishment would NOT provide another excuse for people with poor impulse control who refuse to take responsibility for their lives.

    Whew!
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:52AM (#22783952) Journal
    OK, first of all let's be clear on something: Internet "addiction" isn't addiction. Neither is sex addiction, shopping addiction, and so forth.
    "Behavioral addictions" are mental in nature. True addiction is physiological.

    Secondly, it should be trivially obvious that ALL of these so-called behavioral addictions are SYMPTOMS of some other root cause, often some manifestation of OCD. You can treat heroin addiction by removing the substance and healing the body (i.e. go through withdrawal and detox--nasty business, but fairly effective). You don't treat internet addiction by taking away the internet, you find what is driving the person towards addict-like behaviour, and solve that. Voila--internet addiction is a symptom.

    I don't know why the psychiatry field is so determined to label all symptomatic behaviours as diseases, but they're not doing themselves any good.
  • by youthoftoday (975074) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @12:00PM (#22784106) Homepage Journal
    I had to check my email, facebook and the slashdot front page three times whilst writing this comment.
  • And the truly tragic thing about this is:
    Yes - some individuals have anxiety disorders which manifest with symptoms of internet obsessiveness.
    But other individuals' disorders manifest with other symptoms; gambling, pornography and sexual behavior, alcohol and drugs, collecting their urine in jars, etc.

    The problem with defining a SYMPTOM as a disorder, is that someone who has a legitimate, and healthy use of the internet as a resource or hobby, can now be accused by nosy busybodies, of being "sick".

    Better st

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