Time magazine has a remarkably one-sided article on America’s first ‘internet addiction’ clinic. The clinic turns out to be a few rooms in someone’s house, but the article gives away an interesting if not depressing gem about the likely status of the ‘internet addiction’ diagnosis in the DSM-V, the next version of the psychiatrists’ diagnostic manual:
“The central issue is the absence of research literature on this,” says Dr. Charles O’Brien, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies in Addiction and the current chair of the DSM-V committee to revise the manual, adding that with the backdrop of the health-care debate, now is a precarious time to introduce new disorders that will require more money to treat.
“At this point I think it’s appropriate that it’s not considered an official disease,” says O’Brien. “We are probably going to mention it in the appendix.”
The appendix refers to Appendix B, which is a list of diagnoses worthy of future study, and yes, that’s the head of the DSM addiction committee saying that an “absence of research literature” makes something worthy of future study.
In which case, I might write to him and ask to have my own diagnosis of “impulsive diagnosis inclusion syndrome” listed on the same basis.
But not only is his reasoning rather odd, he’s also wrong. There’s quite a sizeable literature on the ‘internet addiction’ diagnosis and, as noted by a meta-analysis published last year, it turns out to be rubbish.
If you’re interested in reading something a little more balanced, I get to spar with Kimberley Young, one of the long-standing ‘internet addiction’ promoters, in an article in this month’s Canadian Medical Association Journal.