Shrink Sets Internet Addiction Alert To Orange

    August 22, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

If you can’t be home from work for five minutes without checking your email, you may have a problem, and it may be worse than you think, says a Tel Aviv psychiatrist. You could be suffering from Internet addiction disorder, or you may just have nothing better to do.

Shrink Sets Internet Addiction Alert To Orange
Shrink Sets Internet Addiction Alert To Orange

I added the last part.

Dr. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University suggested the rest, though, and thinks IAD (as we know it will eventually be called) should be upgraded from its current status, filed under Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, to a category that includes kleptomania, as OCD just isn’t as big a deal.

Dannon disagrees that IAD fits to the traditional definition of OCD, which is classified as a "mild to severe mental health condition that results in an urge to engage in ritualistic thoughts and behavior."

Before we move on, let me say that I know a lot of people with OCD (hell, I was raised by them), and OCD behaviors are not "urges," they’re flat-out requirements for peace of mind. That means checking the lights, the stove, the iron, the dryer, your tires, bumpers, and signals, cleaning every speck of dust that can be found, and making sure your clothes are taken out of the dryer immediately before they have a chance to wrinkle.

Not really urges, in my book, and that definition could include anybody that goes to a church, synagogue, mosque, or coven. Check out four other definitions which make more sense.

Anyway, Dannon thinks "urges" is too weak of a word to apply to IAD.

“Internet addiction is not manifesting itself as an ‘urge.’ It’s more than that. It’s a deep ‘craving.’ And if we don’t make the change in the way we classify Internet addiction, we won’t be able to treat it in the proper way.”

Okay, fair enough. A craving, like for cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. A physical or mental manifestation of desire.

Consequently, people with OCD tend to self-medicate via the physical addictions mentioned, and it’s difficult for me to justify that checking email has the same physical release, and almost as difficult to equate to gambling or sex, which are also actions performed as a kind of self-medication, stemming from other psychological issues. So just how, exactly, getting on the Internet satisfies some physical or primal need stemming from driving psychological forces is unclear. 

Or maybe it’s a more difficult line to draw between mental cravings and mental urges, or even distinguishing between an urge that drives one to irrational safety precautions and seemingly compulsive urges to steal, like with kleptomania, which shares a class with addictive disorders.

But I’m not a psychiatrist like Dr. Dannon, so what do I know?

“They are just like anyone else who is addicted to coffee, exercise, or talking on their cellular phone. As the times change, so do our addictions," he said.

And with the diagnosis, also comes treatment, which includes prescribing serotonin blockers, which are also used to treat, you guessed it, obsessive-compulsive disorder (because anxiety is what drives it).

Oh well, if enough disorders emerge, then over time all of us will be on antidepressants and participating in worldwide sing-alongs, happy as a pharmaceutical rep in a field of script-happy doctors.

So, if you find yourself jonesin’ for some Internet, find a healthier habit to replace it with, like talking to your kids – else they’ll have you on meds before you can say "When I was your age…"