Psychiatry Expert Witnesses May Soon Opine on Internet Addiction

Psychiatrist Jerald Block of Portland writes in The American Journal of Psychiatry that internet addiction should be included in the next version of DSM. The condition is characterised by excessive use of the internet, anger or depression if computer access is lost, poor achievement and social isolation. Dr. Block writes:

Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging. All of the variants share the following four components: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives, 2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible, 3) tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use, and 4) negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.

In South Korea the average high-schooler spends over 20 hours a week gaming which has prompted the government to train 1000 counsellors to help the 200,000 children believed to be affected.

For more see The American Journal of Psychiatry