You Are Officially Mentally Disturbed

James Boone Dryden @ 20-06-2008

The American Journal of Psychiatry has officially declared [courtesy of a Wired.com article] that “Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder that merits inclusion in DSM-V [Diagnotic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders]”.  Yup, that’s right.  If you get angry because you missed that raid on Onyxia’s Lair, then you could very well be mentally disturbed.

The biggest problem I see with such a claim is that the basis for most of their research is from people who spend more than 23 hours a week on the computer.  23 hours?  That’s it?  This figure would include nearly anyone who works for a business that is any kind of computer-dependent (and that includes most of them if only through internal emails and the internet).  It’s one thing to use a computer 23 hours in a week; it’s another thing entirely to spend 23 hours in a day playing video games (which is the root of much of this kind of research).

It just seems like yet another blow to geekdom for people to be able to say, “well you have a disorder because you like your computer too much.”

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3 Responses to “You Are Officially Mentally Disturbed”

  1. Dave says:

    I agree completely, but would like to sound a (hopeful?) note of caution: this announcement is not at all “official.” Dr. Block’s note was published in Am J Psychiatry, but is not the official opinion either of the Journal (“editorial” seems to mean something different here than in newspapers) or of professional bodies in psychiatry.

    Dr. Block (who, the AJP page notes, has a sideline in Internet-regulating software) thinks the “disorder” should be included in DSM-V, yes. But we’re still a long way from actual inclusion.

  2. Brian Carnell says:

    “The biggest problem I see with such a claim is that the basis for most of their research is from people who spend more than 23 hours a week on the computer.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see this claim in the article you linked to. For usage criteria, the doc defines it thusly “excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives”, which is a fairly common way to define when a normal, socially acceptable activity crosses the line into addiction/disorder/whatever.

    The only time 23 hours is mentioned is in the context of the claim that in South Korea school kids spend an average of 23 hours per week “gaming”, and so they may be at increased risk of becoming addicted (and, of course, he’s more than happy to recommend “basic counseling” to asses whether or not they are, in fact, addicted).

    In fact he cites Cho as estimating 210,000 children who may actually need treatment for Internet addiction which would compromise children online much more than just 23 hours, since that is a subset of the 1.2 million total children that the article sites as merely “at risk.”

  3. Tom Marcinko says:

    Tell it to my giant robot.