Psychiatrist: Internet Addiction is Legitimate

According to an editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry written by Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, an Internet addiction is common enough among the population and its behaviors share enough qualities with other compulsive-impulsive disorders that it should be made part of the 2012 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

Those behaviors include compulsive e-mailing, compulsive text messaging, “excessive gaming and sexual pre-occupations.”

Dr. Block claims that internet addicts suffer from cravings, urges, and withdrawal. They also suffer from tolerance in the form of ‘more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online’ causing people to ignore basic needs such as eating and sleeping. He believes however that as many as 86% of these addicts actually suffer from other forms of mental illness.

According to addiction therapist John Macdonald, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, internet addiction and using the computer turn into potential issues of addiction when the behavior starts to negatively affect his or her life: “The real proof in the pudding: is the amount that you do causing any problems in your life?”

Whether Internet addiction will enter into the DSM-V in 2012 remains to be seen.

Date: Mar. 17, 2008

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