It's been a while since we heard supposedly smart health professionals, who are clearly addicted to making claims about addiction, discuss internet addictions.
You may recall that a couple of years back, China declared that spending six hours in a day on the internet meant you were addicted. Even some of our domestic psychiatrists were lobbying for an addiction to the internet being included in the DSM book, which is the kind of light reading that would give a hypochondriac a case of the tight-pants. Sadly, to date, the concept of an overarching addiction to the internet hasn't been deemed fit for inclusion.
But that won't stop hospitals from profiting off of the concept, now that the very first inpatient program to treat internet addiction has been launched at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania:
As someone who has to use the internet for most of the day due to employment requirements, you can understand how worried I am about this. Would my time be better spent drinking sweet, awesome scotch, or snorting a couple of lines off my desk? It's hard to know for sure, but I suppose I should probably switch the screen off and stop writing this post right now. But... I can't. Writing internet posts is so alluring. Maybe writing is an addiction, too? After all, I really like doing it, so it has to be bad, right? I wonder what makes the scary internet suffer its own unique addictive traits, oh super-wise medical professionals?
Oh. So internet addiction isn't actually a "thing", but rather it's a mistaken diagnosis for symptoms of other entirely separate mental health disorders. Well, that makes a lot more sense. After all, we don't see a person who cuts their arms habitually and say they're addicted to cutting themselves. We say they're depressed, or suffer from bi-polar disorder, or an eating disorder, or whatever. It's a symptom, not a disease. What may look like internet addiction is really just a symptom of something else. But, hey, why not charge $14k for a program that isn't covered by insurance, even though a properly diagnosed disorder would likely be covered?
Duke University's chairman of the DSM-IV, Dr. Allen Frances, sums it up nicely.
"If we can be addicted to gambling and the Internet, why not also include addictions to shopping, exercise, sex, work, golf, sunbathing, model railroading, you name it? All passionate interests are at risk for redefinition as mental disorders."
I'd be diagnosed with addiction to at least four of those, so I'm either screwed or I just have a lot of really enjoyable hobbies in my life. You pick.
September 4, 2013
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