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Discussion of Internet Addiction as Mental Illness Resurfaces

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-can't-quit-you-internets dept.

The Internet 279

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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279 comments

Maybe (4, Funny)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783176)

I definitely reject eating when I'm doing stuff on the computer, but not sleeping.

I'm not crazy! (-1, Troll)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783216)

You are not as crazy as Bill Gates. That's a good thing.

When you start to lose sleep because people are not giving you money and that's the only way a hobby computer won't be wasted, seek help.

Where's Jerry Springer? (2, Funny)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783376)

It's not a disorder until someone's been on Jerry Springer and gotten into a fight over it!

Re:Where's Jerry Springer? (0, Troll)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783552)

Didn't he show up in a Jerry episode called, "My dad is evil and want's to take over the world?"

Call me a cook if you want ... (3, Insightful)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783604)

... but to me this is just another way to prescribe more drugs to make more money for the health care/pharmacuetical industry.

The Sickness Industry at "work". (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783834)

Exactly. The sickness industry wants everything to be a disease, because they charge for diseases.

Re:Call me a cook if you want ... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783996)

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.

Maybe the medical profession are now pushers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783672)

Notice the appeal to the discussion forum is for a new 'illness' solely to become a justification for prescribing more drugs to an unwilling and unsuffering public.
    Maybe the medical profession have collectively become pushers and shills for a bloated drug industry grown fat on limitless greed fed by unlimited regulation where soulless power pursues powerless souls through the impersonal and pervasive monopoly owned mass media. Just watch television for an hour or so. Any hour! Any channel! I defy you to watch that whole hour and not be subject to at least three commercials for some drug with vicious side effects, and at least one commercial for some group of parasites (blood sucking lawyers) pursuing alleged 'victims' of the last 'great thing' in order to 'help' those victims get a pittance of a discount on the next 'great thing' whilst these same parasites pocket millions from the companies involved. The 'companies involved' are no innocent babes in toyland. Far from it. Some of the lawyers in those cases no doubt used to work for the drug companies 'now being class action sued' and know 'inside information'...for a while. Some of the lawyers FOR those companies are probably working both sides of the fence, collecting salaries for the companies AND payoffs from the litigators for still MORE inside information. On a deeper level, the 'crooked insiders' could have still more devious connections in a nest of evil trancending the whole industry and forming a a better case for a socialized universal health care system than ten prison loads of 'Harry and Louises', health care 'executives', crooked hospital administrators, greedy doctor 'giggles'es, corrupt municipal hospital board officials serving even MORE crooked 'city managers' and other economic saboteurs too numerous to mention could ever imagine in their collective wildest office orgies.

Re:Maybe (4, Funny)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783688)

Lol like I'd forget to eat and pass up that stamina/spirit buff? Preposterous. /sleep is just for rp tho.

Re:Maybe (4, Insightful)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783742)

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.

Smells like..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783186)

bullshit

Nonsense (2, Funny)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783200)

I do slashdot 23 hrs a day and i'm fin &^!##(*!& NO CARRIER

Re:Nonsense (1)

rhyno46 (654622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783926)

What are you doing in there kraemate?! Are you taking the slashdot again?! You better not be taking the slashdot again!

What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (5, Funny)

hilather (1079603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783208)

I display all the symptoms, but I'm cool with that, I just want to score some drugs.

Re:What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783484)

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 supporting these diseases is quite useless without also showing me the full paper trail of who funded the study and whether they were an industry front group. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand how propaganda works.)

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. In many cases, perhaps they are, but I believe that number is significantly smaller than the number of people who are currently using prescription drugs to deal with their lives.

Re:What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (2, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783622)

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:What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (1)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783806)

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 internal contradictions?)

Re:What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (2, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783596)

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

Re:What kind of drugs do they give out for this? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783852)

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

Nonsense (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#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???

I'll step away from the computer (5, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783226)

When Dr. Jerald Block prescribes me some pussy.

Re:I'll step away from the computer (4, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783366)

When Dr. Jerald Block prescribes me some pussy.
Actually, gender reassignment may work. From what I hear, there are no girls on the internet.

Re:I'll step away from the computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783440)

I also like to distract myself by creating new problems, but don't you think a sex change operation is too excessive?

Who defines "excessive?" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783236)

I wonder the same thing whenever I hear some addiction being defined as "excessive (insert activity here)." Who gets to define excessive? What's excessive for me may not be for you.

Re:Who defines "excessive?" (5, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783310)

I seem to recall the late and great American comedian Bill Hicks defining "excessive masturbation" as being the point when only "air comes out".

I don't know if that helps with your definition.

Re:Who defines "excessive?" (4, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783726)

The new definition for the word "addiction" is the same as the old word for "habituation". OK, what is the new word for physical addiction, like with heroin or alcohol, where you can die from not getting your drug?

If you take away my reefer or my internet or my writing I may be agitated and unhappy, but I can still function. Take away my coffee and I get headaches and can't do my job because I can't think straight. Take away Amy's booze [slashdot.org] and she sees snakes and thinks there's bugs crawling on her skin. What do you call THAT these days?

You can't get addicted to the internet, or evercrack, or your crackberry. Internet habituation sure sounds like an obsessive compulsive disorder, and in some cases may need treatment, but it's not a true addiction.

Like homosexuals purposely changed the word "gay" to no longer mean "happy and carefree", anti-drug zealots (NOT health care professionals) have changed the meaning of the word "addiction". But physical addiction is still a curse to those addicted to certain substances, like heroin, alcohol, tobacco, etc.

I'm not negating the power of habituation. When I gave up cigarettes [kuro5hin.org] in 1999 I was amazed that the habit was as strong as the physical withdrawal from that deadly awful drug.

The anti-drug monsters [wikipedia.org] waging their "war on (some) drugs" are doing no favors to addicts or those in danger of addiction. IMO they are a far greater menace to society than the drugs and addicts they hate.

-mcgrew

All of us Slashdotters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783246)

....should be committed!!

I can stop whenever I want (4, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783268)

...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.

Re:I can stop whenever I want (1)

angus_rg (1063280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783418)

Hmmmm, maybe I have an addiction to hot chicks who won't give me the time of day.

Re:I can stop whenever I want (2, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783648)

The strippers will give you the time of day if you stop trying to insert quarters in the "slot".

Re:I can stop whenever I want (1)

angus_rg (1063280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783846)

I wasn't trying to insert quarters, and when I mentioned I could give her an American Express, she thought I was talking about my credit card.

Re:I can stop whenever I want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783464)

You might scoff but it is a real problem and not just someone looking for an excuse to leech off your taxes. Someone who is prone to compulsive/obsessive disorders could latch onto one of the many little nooks and crannies of the internet. If they didn't exist it would be something more mundane such as gambling or knitting or anything else for that matter.

So yes the Internet is the shiny new thing to get caught up on, but this is a real illness/disorder. It does harm people and is very serious for those affected. Like knitting though it's not the internet's fault, it just happens to be there.

In summary... (4, Interesting)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783294)

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... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783394)

It's much better than all those unofficial brain illnesses. I guess without classifying everything you may end up with loads of these. Maybe I can get them to say working 8 hours a day is an addiction and I should seek therapy! I also sleep 8-9 hours a night, where will my addictions stop!

Re:In summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783438)

Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.
Finally som recognition!

Re:In summary... (3, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783462)

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?

What if your job requires it? (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783570)

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?

Re:What if your job requires it? (3, Informative)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:In summary... (1)

u8i9o0 (1057154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784004)

I agree with your interpretation, but have my own way of explaining it. The quick summary is that I have a problem with the word 'addiction', mostly due to it's association with narcotics and especially to their physical dependence characteristics.

I like the first line of TFA for another reason (emphasis mine):

Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.
If an act is already being described as compulsive, then that already seems to be classifying the act.

Internet 'addiction' is a simple umbrella term to describe compulsive behavior over a variety of topics (porn, email, IM, games, whatever), but I doubt that it's ever about the medium itself (addicted to TCP/IP, UDP, and so on). In all cases the Internet is just a delivery vehicle of the content, but the content is what matters.

Analogy time: a cocaine abuser is not addicted to condom pouches.

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

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

addictions and addictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783308)

There's addictions, and there's addictions. Nobody in their right mind would dispute (well, I guess) that Internet or computer usage can become compulsive behaviour, the same way that - say - gambling can be; but there is a world of a difference between that kind of addiction and the kind of addiction you have when you're addicted to, say, heroin.

I haven't RTFA (this IS slashdot, after all), but I do not personally believe that Internet addiction can usually rise to the level implied by the second definition. Sure, we may occasionally read about freak cases in South Korea where some poor sod drops dead after playing WoW non-stop for a week without eating or sleeping, but those are extreme cases that are not representative of the vast majority of cases of Internet addiction.

Double-you tea eff?! (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783320)

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.

Re:Double-you tea eff?! (3, Funny)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783592)

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.

Fun stuff addiction? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783326)

I don't see why they would specifically target the Internet. You can have just as strong videogame addiction, or even toothpick-building addiction if you're into such thing. Why not generalize to "fun stuff addiction" or "absorbing task addiction", and leave the Internet out of the name?

Re:Fun stuff addiction? (1, Troll)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783408)

Why not generalize to "fun stuff addiction" or "absorbing task addiction", and leave the Internet out of the name?
Because if you generalize it, then you're actually expected to provide a solution to the claimed problem. If you limit it to the internet, you can just wank your way into claiming more stringent controls are for "the mental health concerns of the people" instead of "OMG! Teh intarwebs are teh scary ebil place!!11!1"

This guy's looking for money from the same sort of twat who supports the Clinton witch.

Re:Fun stuff addiction? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783624)

Well, the addiction part comes from the fact that if you really examine it, the internet ain't all that fun. It's just a waste of time that is simpler than life. For the most part the games get boring pretty quick and continue to get played because you have nothing else to do. Blogging? How the heck is that fun? Shopping? Again, not exactly Disney World fun. Porn? Something to do while you are bored, and considered an addiction of its own. I mean really, how many people use the internet and sit there and play Cash Cow on webkinz all day. It's an addiction because even though the vast majority of the experience is pretty sucky, people still line up to do it.

Of course we'll vail it as 'information' to make us all seem smart. But in the end its a bunch of people who are too lazy or intraverted to experience a real life. Honestly, what about Slashdot is fun?? So this isn't anti fun.

I mean I know new hires in your low 20s, single, make good money who sit on a friday/sat night on google talk and go 'what do you want to do' all night. In the end they don't do anything. SAD!

I need medication because I'm different (4, Insightful)

natex84 (706770) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:I need medication because I'm different (4, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783724)

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.

Re:I need medication because I'm different (4, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:I need medication because I'm different (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783856)

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 "insightful". I guess like you, the mods have never met anyone with a true mental illness. I'd rather have the clap than bipolar disorder, and so would the crazies I know.

okay doc (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783398)

You're gonna give me drugs because I like surfing the net? Well, okay Doc. Will they help me surf faster or something?

Instant cure for internet addiction then. (5, Insightful)

moltenfury (1131037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783404)

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

Re:Instant cure for internet addiction then. (2, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783486)

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:Instant cure for internet addiction then. (2, Interesting)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783652)

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 just because of the stupid notion that gaming and such are only for people who can't find anything better to do.

Re:Instant cure for internet addiction then. (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783708)

Or friend in general. Or even a sport (where you might make some friends)

So how much is too much? (2, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?

Re:So how much is too much? (1, Flamebait)

Roachgod (589171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783662)

It is worse because it doesn't give you the incentive to get the fuck out of your house and go meet actual people. Go outside, get some sun, and go start talking to attractive men/women/whateveryourpreferenceis and develop the ability to make real connections with people. Seriously, we don't need drugs for this shit, we need people to get kicked out of their house and down to a local pub or random other social venue. Hell, www.meetup.com.

Re:So how much is too much? (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783766)

Well, I had 20 years of no-friends before I got on the Net, where I met most of my current friends, including two girlfriends. It is all very well to say Get A Life, but if you are too shy to talk to anybody who is not already a friend, and have too low self esteem to think they they could possibly like yo it is rather too difficult to get started. I go to pubs and sit in the corner with my pint, then go home again without talking more than to order my drinks. On line, I am willing to dive into a conversation like this, because nobody knows that I am a dog. Just occasionally it goes further. Not often, but it beats the altenatives by an infinite ratio.

Re:So how much is too much? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783898)

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:So how much is too much? (3, Informative)

psydzl (738376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783970)

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 illness. Illness doesn't mean excessive use, it means very serious consequences, up to and including death. This is an uncommon illness, but probably not rare.

Not an Addiction (1)

BadHaggis (1179673) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783454)

/. is not an addiction! Just because it's the only website I go to doesn't mean I can't quit it anytime I want! I just don't want to right now! I not hurting anyone. I only mod down trolls! What do you care who I mod.

Honestly Dr. Block... (3, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783490)

People with obsessive-compulsive disorders are the last people you want to make angry!

Handicap Placards All Around! (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783538)

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 changing my actions as necessary to better the world around me.

I also have a preference to check various news sources throughout the day and sometimes google message a friend a comment on a story. Oh no! I feel compelled to comment! Intellectual discourse = addiction. =( Where's my helmet and short bus?

And then there's genuine compulsion-- where someone will go into severe mental breakdown, hysterics, or a violent reaction if something is not done a particular way.

If we're addicted to anything, it's information, knowledge, analysis, and discourse. So apparently that means crazy, eh? Hey George, great manual you've written there!

Making money with creative labeling ..... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783566)

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 characteristics. Sure, there are quite a few disorders listed that almost all of us can agree are serious problems for those afflicted. But there are also things broken down into numerous sub-categories that even the "experts" can't adequately explain!

EG. Look at the various "types" of bi-polar disorder in there sometime. Is it really clear to YOU what defines a person as "Type 1" or "Type 2"? Look how often "ADD" and "ADHD" are used, practically interchangeably, yet they DO differentiate. (On things as simple as signing my kid up for summer camp, a section exists where they'd like you to list any specific medical conditions your child might have, and they have 2 seperate boxes for both of these.)

It seems to me, they're afraid of being asked to treat someone's perceived "problem" or "addiction" and not having a fancy medical name for it in a book they can look up and point to -- so they're trying to cover all the possibilities. "Hey! People are starting to worry that their kids are addicted to the Internet and they want to pay us $150/hr. to work with them! We better come up with something official that mentions this one!"

Reality check: A person can become addicted to ANYTHING. Maybe they developed a weird habit of tapping out drum beats with a kitchen knife every time they get their hands on one? Maybe they can't resist buying a gumball every time they walk past one of those machines and they have a spare quarter? What determines these things becoming line-items in next revision to the DSM? I'm betting it's all about how often psychiatrists are paid to treat them!

I totally have that(kind of) (1)

rJah (1216024) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783582)

Maybe off-topic but applicable non the less.
When I'm on one of my coding benders I often consciously deny myself a break, except a couple of minutes for a smoke, during which I think about the code I'm writing and how to continue. Food? Something that can be eaten with my left hand (I'm a rigty) so I still have the other hand free for typing, although at a slower pace. One time during the summer I was alone for two weeks and I spent something like 10-12 hours a day coding. Sometimes, when I'm coding late at night and just get something working it's like I just started coding and it's back to square one energy-wise. So sleep (or lack of it) is not an issue for at least a couple of hours and when it becomes an issue I just give myself a little pick-me-up(figure it out). Of course the fingers tend to get a bit more freedom as to which keys to type, but that's what the backspace key is for. If I can hit it :) It is when I just sit there with no idea of what to code, when I know I really need to go to bed.

Compulsive? (2, Insightful)

areReady (1186871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783600)

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 internet I'm addicted to. It is that gods-cursed Stumble Button.

Choose your compulsion wisely (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783606)

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'.

Internet addiction is a problem, but not a disease (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783608)

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 is the same: you get addicted to something because that thing causes temporary happiness. It just depends on the social and personal circumstances what that thing exactly is.

Addiction isn't a mental illness the same way schizophrenia is, but that doesn't mean people who cause serious harm on their own lives shouldn't be helped, it's just that the treatment is different.

There is a grey area on the border of medicine whether a specific condition could be approached medically or not.

To go on a hyperbole, even though I think religious people are stupid for believing without evidence, I don't think I'd like to live in a society where religion would be called a medical condition (unless of course society at large got rid of religion and being religious would be finally synonymous with seriously believing a small dragon lives under your bed - then believing in religion would be an indication of a serious mental problem), because beliefs that ultimately cause people to be more miserable or actions that cause people to be more miserable aren't necessarily medical, even though they have a negative effect on the person.

There are personal problems that are in the gray area, it requires a non-trivial consensus to reach before it can be decided whether the problem should treated with drugs or not. I guess the problem at large is connected to the larger question, "If we could make everyone artificially happy, should we do it?". Medically, it might be possible, but for me that's a life not worth living.

Re:Internet addiction is a problem, but not a dise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783912)

there is only addiction

Well, not really; there are at least two types of addiction - physical and mental and you can have both or just one; although some would say that only addictions with a physical component (in particular, physical withdrawls) are 'true addictions' whereas things like 'internet addiction' or 'sex addiction' are compulsions, not addictions.

this is seriously dumb. (1)

MoonlightSeraphim (1253752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783610)

Addicts may be addicted to everything from the sheer act of typing, to chat rooms, online shopping or three-dimensional, multiplayer games users have described as "heroinware."
Can we consider a real shopping an addiction also so my gf will stop wasting my money amd I can send her to asylum?

Seems more of an opinion (1)

Subsound90 (992770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783636)

Addiction is all in levels, and often people will find addictions in things they don't like. I eat in front of the computer at work all the time, I miss sleep for class stuff or to catch up with friends. They don't talk about being addicted to either of those things unless I am missing sleep or eating in front of the computer. I constantly neglect my "basic needs" to do things I enjoy, because I work 12 hours a day I don't have the time to do things I enjoy like read the news online or play WoW.

I think they need to take into account the things going on around a person for OCD like behaviors. A person may be spending too much time online, or gambling, or watching TV because they are depressed or disappointed with their life and it's the easiest way to do it. OCD is they can't control it, while a choice maybe they feel trapped and online is their escape or enjoyment in a tough or stressful position.

If a person hates their spouse they can see the choices of A) divorce, lose half their stuff and 30% of their income B) Go out, be physically not present and look for another spouse, maybe get caught and divorce C) do something else that distracts you and makes you happy enough to stand it. Then if some one says you are spending too much time and have to stop, you can blame it on an addiction and be blameless for your actions (and not confront the original problem).

I need workplace assistance for my disability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783640)

A 30" monitor, box of kleenex, and private office should let me deal with this crippling disablity. Heck, gimme some happy pills too.

Jealousy (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783650)

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.

Prevalence in society (2, Interesting)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783694)

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?

sign me up! (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783696)

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.

Re:sign me up! (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784006)

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'm obsessive (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783746)

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.

books anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783768)

Have you ever read a good book or watched a good movie? It has all the same symptoms as "internet addiction": you do not want to eat/sleep/have sex and you get angry when someone tries to bother you while you are reading. Cut the crap please with the addiction-thing and do something useful instead. It's almost like saying that sleep causes addiction. It's normal. It's how things work. It's what makes us tick and keeps the science evolving and rockets flying around the orbit.

The only area where Scientology is right (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783800)

This is the ONLY area where Scientology is right. All mental health studies are bullshit junk "science".

-- recovering (1)

bkpotts (1258284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783812)

Hello, my name is Brandon and I am addicted to MMOs (one month clean and counting). I've read slashdot for 7 years now and have never been moved to post before, until now. It is ABSOLUTELY possible to become addicted to the internet. I graduated 2nd in my class in high school, voted most likely to succeed, active social life, etc... After a terrible traffic accident which resulted in the death of a young girl and me losing my driver's license in mid 2005 I became SEVERELY depressed. My new roommates for the semester were all babbling about how amazing this game was, so I gave it a shot. I spent the next 3 years online playing World of Warcraft, even to the point where I sold my character to fuel my addiction further. I lost my girlfriend of 5 years, lost contact with ALL my friends, and flunked out of college. I gave up basics like eating and showering, and am now in serious debt. MMOs give you a world where the rules are fair (generally) and you can control your environment with much greater success than the real world. They also directly reward the time you invest (especially WoW with the old honor grind), and you have to invest insane amounts of time to achieve your goal. It didn't help that I took over a successful raiding guild. If I wasn't online I was offline watching videos of the game. IT CAN CONSUME YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. I've delete WoW on three separate occasions, but ended up being drawn back each time. The problem is it's a social game, and the people I played with reinforced my addictive behavoir, pulling me back in each time. I cringe at how ridiculous I must have sounded as guild leader screaming at people to play every night for the sake of raid progress. It's entirely possible to play casually, but my achievement ethic made me push myself to have that perfect shiny character. My first character was made in August 2005 and sold in May 2006. In that time I racked up 120+ days played, so almost a third of my ENTIRE LIFE was given to that game. And I sold that character for $1,500 USD. Could you look at someone with a straight face and say you weren't addicted if you dropped that kind of cash on a video game character? Both my roommates who played managed to graduate and now have nice jobs and balanced lives. It doesn't affect everyone, but when it snags you it just consumes everything else. Just because YOU aren't addicted doesn't mean others aren't.

ambulance-chaser, anyone? (1)

polle404 (727386) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783836)

Wow... i truly don't know if i should call the author of the article the Jack Thompson of psyciatry, or if i should call L Ron Hubbart and tell him that at least he got the drivel about psyciatrists right?

gotta go, tho, need to log on my favorite heroinware and shoot up...

Re:ambulance-chaser, anyone? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784032)

The only number you'll get L Ron Hubbard on is 1-800-6-FEET-UNDER as I believe said author has "f***ing snuffed it", in the immortal words of John Cleese.

Dear Dr. Block (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783900)

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 earned dollars for 30 minutes of giving you the pleasure of hearing him say that every one of your Rorshach ink blots looks like a vagina.

I would therefore very much appreciate it if you would maintain some consistency within your occupation and continue with that job for which you have been highly trained, namely the polite mugging of local Portland nutjobs of the contents of their wallets, and please keep your big fat psychiatrist's conk out of a subject area for which you can have no possible understanding.

Indeed, I can foresee a scenario where your lack of knowledge of the ways of the Internet may be a cause for extreme misinterpration on your part which would undoubtedly be of some embarrassment to us both - for example, were I to say to you "Excuse me while I unzip my attachment", I am sure that this simple description of the act of my saving the contents of an email to my hard disk would immediately have you reaching for one of your copious Sigmund Freud text books looking for some reference to the fact that my mother probably never breast fed me.

I hasten to add at this stage that equal embarrassment might also be garnered from such innocent requests as "Can you hold my floppy for a moment?", "Can I see which ports you have open?", "Do you inspect your logs regularly?" or "Have you fingered me yet?", to name but a few.

In conclusion, therefore, may I request that in future you exercise some restraint in your opinions of what I do whilst I shall continue not to tell you how to do your job.

At this time, I bid you fond farewell as I have some urgent command line work to undertake on my Linux computer - so please excuse me as I now need to go and "bash one out on my keyboard".

What a load of crap! (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783924)

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! (2, Insightful)

codesurfer (786910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783948)

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!

Bloody psychiatrists are ruining medicine! (3, Informative)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783952)

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.

Re:Bloody psychiatrists are ruining medicine! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783990)

Neither is sex addiction

I wish I had the chance to discover this for myself.

Normal (1)

Simon3 (1258330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784042)

It seems that many psychiatrists and psychologists think that anything that is not "normal" is wrong.

However, what is normal is simply what the majority is doing. It has nothing to do with what is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, right or wrong. For example, in the old days, it was normal to think that the earth was flat.
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