Posts tagged ‘Internet addiction’

A Domestic Take on “Internet Addiction”

For all you poor souls addicted to the internet or retreating to the safe cocoon of World of Warcraft, take heart. Psychiatry has a place for you too. It’s a six bed inpatient facility called ReSTART in Redmond, WA, strangely close to Microsoft headquarters that also tackles gaming and texting dependencies. Conveniently, they have a full and informative website. At just $14,500 per 45 day stint in the program, it is the first known treatment facility of its kind. From the Associated Press:

“We’ve been doing this for years on an outpatient basis,” said Hilarie Cash, a therapist and executive director of the center. “Up until now, we had no place to send them.”

Internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and treatment is not generally covered by insurance. But there are many such treatment centers in China, South Korea and Taiwan — where Internet addiction is taken very seriously — and many psychiatric experts say it is clear that Internet addiction is real and harmful.

Thank goodness, we finally have another place to drop off our troubled youth. No, internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder… yet. Give them time. The DSM-V isn’t due out until 2012. For now, most see it as falling under the umbrella of impulse control disorders. Also, I’m not sure China’s approach to internet addiction is one you’d want to use as your supporting example of internet addiction “taken seriously.”

While I think the price tag is beyond ludicrous and the idea of internet addiction as  a disorder is ridiculous, the idea of helping to shift people’s focus to real-life, fleshed out interactions is certainly valid. It has to be understood, however, that “internet addiction” is, if anything, not a disorder but a manifestation of other problems. You could just as easily turn to doing anything to an unhealthy degree. In fairness, ReSTART’s mission statement clearly expresses an interest in addressing “underlying problems.”

At reSTART, we understand that Internet and gaming addiction often co-occurs with other mental health conditions. Our program is individually designed to address a wide variety of underlying issues which may contribute to excessive Internet use (e.g., family problems, divorce, childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc.).

I don’t believe they are “underlying” at all but that those social or life-handling issues are the true problems with withdrawal into a technological closet being just another outlet.

Not content to limit their reach to the “real” world, a British psychiatrist has even begun to assemble a team of psychiatrists to enter the World of Warcraft. It is not yet known whether they will side with the Alliance or Horde factions but if history proves useful, they’ll probably play both ends. That should make for a comfortable and relaxed gaming environment for all involved. Maybe they can start offering psychiatric care in skate shops and live music venues too — really reach kids where they live.

September 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm 7 comments

Shock Therapy for “Internet Addicts”

   The Guardian Uk released an article about China’s fear of internet addiction and their treatment for the social ailment — electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which is just another term for shock treatment. I’ll let the article speak for itself. Click here.

“I struggled and tried to get up and they said it meant I still did not agree to stay so they gave me more shocks for another half an hour … I agreed to stay because I really couldn’t stand any more of it.”

   It should be noted that the clinic has since been made to halt its punitive shock procedures. Here is an article from China Daily.

“The Ministry said the therapy, which was administered by a clinic in Linyi, Shandong province, has not been proven to be safe.”

“We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects” 

Also, a follow-up article from the Guardian UK which detailed what some of the many, apparently shock-worthy, infractions were.

“An earlier report by the newspaper Information Times claimed patients received ECT if they broke any of the centre’s rules, which included eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal and sitting on Yang’s chair without permission. It said parents had to sign a contract before admission acknowledging that their child would be given ECT.”

My commentary on this will be as limited as the time I have right now, but I thought this was worth mentioning for a few reasons. I think it is particularly important to question clinically how shocking the brain is supposed to “correct” a perceived addiction to anything. It is such an uncontrollable process to apply to a system as complex and fragile as the human brain. How is it that it can be applied fairly uniformly for use in depression, bipolar disorder, addiction (and who knows what else) interchangeably? Is there a difference between corrective psychiatric procedure and aversion therapy and do we care? Closing one institution for its abuse of any “medical” practice doesn’t address the social dynamic that has an institution like that coming into being in the first place, nor does it address the family dynamic that has people lining up their fearful and protesting children to have their forming brains shocked.

   In our Amerocentric western culture, I’m sure we’d love to believe that we’ve long ago abandoned such practices or that it’s only in use in “other” less worldly and civilized countries. This couldn’t be further from the truth and we do know that “this freaky treatment has side-effects.” Here, ECT is performed on approximately 100,000 people each year despite its Class III designation which is applied to medical devices that have not been proven to be safe or effective. What this means is that the FDA does not govern the use of ECT machines. The procedure is performed on uninformed and unwilling “patients” more often than we’d ever like to believe and its use spans virtually every age group.

August 1, 2009 at 1:28 am


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