Video Game Addiction

An editorial in this month’s American Journal of Psychiatry makes an argument for why Internet Addiction should be included in the new DSM.

MindHacks is critical:

Apart from the fact that these and most other supposed criteria make no distinction between using the internet and what the person is using the internet for, it’s easy to see that they don’t describe anything unique to the net.

Rather curiously, the editorial mentions the figure that 86% of people with ‘internet addiction’ have another mental illness. What this suggests is that heavy use of the internet is not the major problem that brings people into treatment.

Firstly, the author posits a diagnosis involving an explicit distinction about what people are using the computer for (not just the internet):

Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage (1, 2) and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging (3).

He’s more concerned about the sheer magnitude of time young people spend on their computers and the negative ramifications thereof.

The average South Korean high school student spends about 23 hours each week gaming (8), another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction and to require basic counseling.

Furthermore, it’s not like the DSM shouldn’t have any overlap. Comorbidty is rather common. Spending 23 hours a week is obviously abnormal. If the individual feels like they’re addicted and they’re distressed by it I don’t see why we wouldn’t treat it. If they are willing to spend their time and money working out their issues and a mental health professional is willing to improve their quality of life… why not?

Not all disorders are as concrete as schizophrenia or bipolar.  I, for one, think Video Game Addiction is a worthwhile inclusion.


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