Internet/Email/Text messaging addiction soon to be official

Internet/email/text messaging could be real mental illness soon - you are crazyIf your compulsive urge to surf the internet, hammer out an email, or tip-tap a text message is starting to interfere with your daily activities, you might be glad (or not) to hear that you’re facing addiction straight in the face. Forget that “texter’s thumb” of yours, that need for internet/email/text messaging could soon be a true-blue mental illness.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry features an editorial that describes internet addiction, which can include “excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging,” as a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be considered being added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to help therapists identify and diagnose the condition.

Apparently, compulsive internet/email/text messaging behavior is quite prevalent, and it works like any other addiction. Internet addicts experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance – which leads to the addict seeking more and more online time to satisfy their urges. Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist with the Oregon Health and Science University, says that such addictions can cause people to lose track of basic drives, like eating or sleeping. And, some patients may even require medication or hospital care.

Many addicts use the internet to escape reality. Previous studies have suggested that most internet/email/text messaging addicts are primarily highly-educated, introverted males, but recent studies seem to suggest that middle-aged women are more at risk for the addictive behavior.

Something like 86% of internet addicts suffer from other mental illnesses, but the addiction is hard to isolate and diagnose outright. Adding internet addiction to the list of mental illnesses in the DSM will presumably help therapists hone in on this condition and offer targeted treatments to patients.

The next DSM is due in 2012, so there’s still time to argue to case for internet addiction.

[Via: textually]

  • Ken

    Compartmentalization of behavior into classified categories seems to parallel Communist China’s treatment of the internet as a controllable affliction that needs treatment. One could envision China as being on the forefront of this effort and ahead of their American counterparts in the Psychiatric profession. I am glad to see Dr. Jerald Block making an effort to have the American Psychiatric Profession catch up in this area where their Chinese counterparts hold the edge in recognition of this affliction.
    I submit that the compulsive attempt to classify human behavior into various behavioral disorders itself needs to be included into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Not only can American Psychiatry treat its patients problems, it can also create the problems needed to be treated. This works well in China, as evidenced by the exclusion of upsetting articles related to dissent in Tibet. Shock treatment for internet addiction seems to work well in Asian communist countries.Maybe the USA can get a handle on this horrible affliction too.

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