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The Internet

Is Internet Addiction a Medical Condition? 227

Posted by kdawson
from the depraved-on-accounta-he's-deprived dept.
PreacherTom writes "Arising from such cases as a recent lawsuit with IBM over employee termination due to online sex chatting at work, recent debate over whether Internet abuse is a legitimate addiction, akin to alcoholism, is heating up. From the article: 'Attorneys say recognition by a court — whether in this or some future litigation — that Internet abuse is an uncontrollable addiction, and not just a bad habit, could redefine the condition as a psychological impairment worthy of protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.' The condition could even make it into the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM, making it a full-blown neurosis. It wouldn't be a huge surprise, with a recent Stanford study showing that 14% of people state it would be 'hard to stay away from the Net for even a few days in a row."
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Is Internet Addiction a Medical Condition?

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  • by udderly (890305) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:50AM (#17236328)

    Are you joking? A "full-blown neurosis?" That's ridiculous. Nobody is going to get fixated on the internet.

    I would expand on my argument but I'm at work and I have to get a lot of stuff done. I'm chatting with s3xygurl15, buying Xmas presents on Amazon and selling my old Xbox on eBay. I also need to email my mom to see if she can bring me some ramen noodles or mac-n-cheese, since I won't have time to eat later 'cause I'm needed on a WoW raid in an hour.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rwven (663186)
      I don't think there's such thing as a specific addiction tot he internet. I think people, through genetics and upbringing, develop addictive personalities. The internet just happens to be what they latch on to. Some people delve into alcohol, some into gambling, some into MMORPG's, or a plethora of other things. Frank may be addicted to WoW, but his twin brother may focus his addiction on gambling. Both can be just as destructive as one another to your personal and professional life...

      I think pinning i
      • by NemosomeN (670035) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:25AM (#17236990) Journal
        I also think people tend to jump on the "let's call it a disease" bandwagon. I, personally, like being drunk. Does that make me an alcoholic?
      • by jadavis (473492) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:23AM (#17238192)
        The internet just happens to be what they latch on to. Some people delve into alcohol, some into gambling,

        Comparing internet and gambling addiction to alcohol addictions destroys the meaning of the word "addiction". If someone is "addicted" to the internet, or gambling, and you lock them in a room, they may get bored, anxious, etc.

        However, do the same thing to someone addicted to alcohol, and they might die. That's real addiction.

        These new kinds of "addictions" are really just habits, and not much more. "Habit" used to be a word, and the word was even applied to users of hard drugs in some cases, but now it's disappeared because it's not scary enough to get attention. Every habit has been elevated to the same level as addiction to attract research funds, shift blame away from people who make poor choices, and make better headlines.
        • by rwven (663186)
          I guess I have to agree with that. There's a big difference between a mental and physical addiction...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cryssen (959305)
          You're now confusing the word addiction (the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma) with dependence (being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming) The word habit is still out there, and means hat it always did. A Habit is something you do just because you usually do it. An addiction is compulsor
        • "However, do the same thing to someone addicted to alcohol, and they might die. That's real addiction."

          Um wow. Are you stupid? How does that make sense at all? You might die by not drinking alcohol? I am an alcoholic (few drinks to a bottle every day) but had no problem stopping for a few weeks after I had surgery. Its called self control. All these so called addictions are just people happier being addicted than they would be not addicted. I certainly didnt die for lack of alcohol. Reality was really fucki

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by R2.0 (532027)
            "This is the first time I've ever heard that people can die from alcohol withdrawl."

            Look up "delirium tremens". Never mind, I'll do it for you.

            From Wikipedia:

            "Five percent of acute ethanol withdrawal cases progress to delirium tremens[1]. Unlike the withdrawal syndrome associated with opiate or stimulant addiction, delirium tremens (and alcohol withdrawal in general) can be fatal. Mortality can be up to 35% if untreated, though if treated early, death rates may be as low as 5%."

            It sounds like you abuse alc
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ari wins (1016630)
      It may not be a all-out medical condition, but Vasocongestion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_balls [wikipedia.org] certainly is. That's why I'm on the net constantly looking for ways to prevent it from happening to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PFI_Optix (936301)
      I think they're making a mistake in isolating "internet addiction" as a particular disorder/neurosis/whatever. They need to lump it and a few hundred other "addictions" into one category called "behavioral addiction" or something like that. It's not a dependency on the internet, it's a dependency on the regular behavior, the same as a gambling addiction.

      We can call it the Just One More Disorder, because that phrase seems to characterize the behavior pretty well (and yes, I have issues with it myself, I've m
      • Seeing as so-called "addictions" seem to be so common maybe the definition of normal needs to be changed to include it. "You don't have an addiction? You are nuts!"
    • I would expand on my argument but I'm at work and I have to get a lot of stuff done. I'm chatting with s3xygurl15, buying Xmas presents on Amazon and selling my old Xbox on eBay. I also need to email my mom to see if she can bring me some ramen noodles or mac-n-cheese, since I won't have time to eat later 'cause I'm needed on a WoW raid in an hour.

      I fear this discussion will be filled with people talking about this in two different ways. Those who think this is concerning the myriad of tasks that people u

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:50AM (#17236334)
    I still get the chills whenever I walk beside the fruit stand.

    -Eric

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      To quote the hilarious Marcu Brigstocke talking about the effects of video games on today's youth: "If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music."
  • ... as much as wearing clothes.
  • That's Easy. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:52AM (#17236366) Homepage Journal
    No. It's just that it's a positive thing and when you remove it, you are left with negative feelings. So it may seem like an addiction but it's actually more like oxygen.

    When I can't get online, I am being deprived of stimulus that makes me feel efficient. When I have to thumb through hard paper manuals to get info, it makes me feel sad, aggrivated and annoyed.

    I stop looking and wait for it to come back online. I do something else.
    • by dr_dank (472072)
      When I have to thumb through hard paper manuals to get info, it makes me feel sad, aggrivated and annoyed.

      /motions to leather couch, scribbles furiously on notepad

      Hmmm, interesting, how long have you had these feelings? What does this inkblot look like?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mfh (56)
        OMG how did u get a picture of the Intarweb????
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:52AM (#17236370) Homepage
    Let's just save some time and determine every form of antisocial behavior to be a disease. That way when we fuck up, we don't have to blame it on our character flaws.

    It's the disease, ya know. I can't help it.
    • by spirality (188417)
      There's no reason to be responsible for ourselves and our behavior or anything like that. This is just another symptom of how we'll all end up basically enslaved. The less responsibility we take for ourselves the more the government will, until we are all wards of the state. Uggg. It's disgusting really.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Reverend528 (585549)
      Let's just save some time and determine every form of antisocial behavior to be a disease. That way when we fuck up, we don't have to blame it on our character flaws.

      Sounds like someone didn't get his prozac this morning...

    • by Jugalator (259273)
      It's the disease, ya know. I can't help it.

      Then you'll be told: Yes you can, here's the address to a rehabilitation service...
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:07AM (#17236658) Journal
      They use a more rigorous standard than that: how many people make how much noise about whether it counts as a disease.

      For example, homosexuality was scientifically proven to be a disease before the 70's. Then because of enough protests, it became scientifically disproven. Likewise, fetishism is currently scientifically proven to be a disease, but if enough people raise a stink, that will count as scientific disproof.

      It works the other way too. Formerly it was scientfically proven that alcoholism isn't a disease; people just get drunk a lot. Then because of enough protests from people who didn't want to accept that their spouse is a lousy human being who values physical pleasure over their family, it became scientifically proven that it is a disease.

      Give 'em some credit.
      • Except that by definition you can't scientifically prove anything. All you can do scientifically is advance a theory and show that is supported by experimental evidence available at the time. That's kinda the point of science: it's only as good as the evidence underlying it, and as new evidence comes to light, theories can and should be revised or dropped if this is what the evidence supports.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hoi Polloi (522990)
        They were never scientifically proven to be anything. The definition of what was considered a disease was set and then things were checked against it. The definitions are what changed, not the scientific process. Being a drunk was considered normal and only the lower classes got drunk a lot so it wasn't worth analyzing. Then when they did start analyzing it they found physical effects, withdrawl and mental addiction.

        Look at what happened with Pluto, it was a planet, now it isn't. Did Pluto change? Of
      • by geekoid (135745)
        "For example, homosexuality was scientifically proven to be a disease before the 70's."

        care to cite one scientific example?

        It may have been a disease by litigation; meaning the courts have called it a disease, but that is different then scientifically proven.

        A good example of the is 'building sickness' or mold.

    • by metlin (258108)
      Welcome to a world that lacks accountability and responsibility for your actions.

      I mean, if you are addicted to something, it is squarely your fault for being in that position (unless someone tied you up and injected you with $substance every other day).

      It's like people blaming cigarette companies for their addiction and health problems, when they should have stopped smoking, knowing that it is dangerous and harmful.

      I mean, why bother laying off that pack of smokes or that bottle of vodka when it is just ea
      • Welcome to a world that lacks accountability and responsibility for your actions.

        Yes, but it goes further than that. Once it's officially a disease, the money kicks in.

        Grant money to study it. Federal money to treat it. The big insurance boondoggle over covering its treatment. Of course, labor will insist that you can't be fired for catching a cold, right? Then you get the ADA brigade insisting that the poor sufferers of this disease should have "fair access" to strip clubs, restaurants, and sporting eve

    • by mutterc (828335)

      blame it on our character flaws

      I do. I spend lots of time at work surfing the Internet, reading /., etc. instead of working. I really ought to quit, but can't muster the willpower. I've also been pigging out the last few months. I'll probably have to hit rock bottom like addicts do (have a heart attack and/or get fired). I don't consider it an addiction, though, just good old-fashioned laziness.

    • Let's just save some time and determine every form of antisocial behavior to be a disease. That way when we fuck up, we don't have to blame it on our character flaws.

      It's the disease, ya know. I can't help it.
      Please excuse parent. He's got a disease known FoPS -- Forthright Posting Syndrome. He knows not what he does...
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:53AM (#17236372) Journal
    And if it wasn't for the addiction, I wouldn't be reading this now to know that.

    Now, if it became an ADA issue, how would an employer compensate? By putting them in front of an IBM Selectric instead of an ThinkPad?
  • Perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:55AM (#17236420) Journal

    Let's face it, people get addicted off of all sorts of things: alcohol, drugs, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc. Why should Internet use be any different? Especially if you find it useful to discover information about or talk to people with interests in something you yourself enjoy. And look at MMPORGs -- are you saying WoW doesn't suck large numbers of people in?

    But there's being addicted, and then there's it being a "disease." Frankly, I think B. F. Skinner would scoff at the notion. To him, everything was stimulus -> response -> reinforcement, and the more reinforcing an activity was, the more an organism would engage in it. It's not a "disease" as such, but something hard-wired into out neural make-up, and the Internet has the potential to tap into that just like anything else.

    • by epiphani (254981)
      I think MMORPGs can be an addiction. I think IRC can be an addiction. I don't think "the internet" can be an addiction.

      The internet is only a medium. One can be addicted to certain content it contains, however one cannot be addicted to the medium itself.

      I dislike being away from the internet for more than a few days because it feels to me like I have been away from the rest of the world when that happens. When I am away from the internet for a week, its generally because I'm away from -everything- for a
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        I think MMORPGs can be an addiction. I think IRC can be an addiction. I don't think "the internet" can be an addiction.

        Therein lies the crux of the issue: do we blame "The Internet" or do we blame the profusion of activities the Internet allows you to indulge in (email, video, MMORPGs, porn, chat, etc.)? Put another way: who is to blame for an alcoholic's problem -- the alcoholic who buys the liquor or the store that sells the liquor? Blaming the Net for an addiction is blaming the store. Any addiction starts squarely with the addict. If you let anything in your world dominate what you do in your life, whether it be drugs

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:11AM (#17237970) Homepage Journal
      But there's being addicted, and then there's it being a "disease." Frankly, I think B. F. Skinner would scoff at the notion. To him, everything was stimulus -> response -> reinforcement, and the more reinforcing an activity was, the more an organism would engage in it. I

      Additionally, the less regular the response the more addictive it can be. The old story of the mouse who presses at the lever occasionally when it always dispenses a treat, but feverishly when it randomly dispenses a treat. Slot machines work on the same principle.

      In other words, go into your Slashdot preferences and turn off mails about moderation of your comments. Don't go back and look at how your comments were moderated. They're exactly that kind of stimulus.
      • by ozbird (127571)
        Additionally, the less regular the response the more addictive it can be. The old story of the mouse who presses at the lever occasionally when it always dispenses a treat, but feverishly when it randomly dispenses a treat.

        That's just Skinner box rage: "I pulled the lever you stupid @!%^$* machine!"
        • That's just Skinner box rage: "I pulled the lever you stupid @!%^$* machine!" :)

          Come now, if that were true I'd be a Windows user.
  • by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:56AM (#17236452) Homepage
    on this. I quote myself [paranoidkoala.org]:

    The official diagnosis systems ICD and DSM currently have identical criteria for addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco. Addiction to gambling, sex, internet etc are not mentioned, but psychologists who care about these addictions obviously use equivalient definitions.
    The diagnosis systems mention 6-7 possible symptoms which can be classified into three groups:
    - increased tolerance and/or abstinence problems
    - signs of loss of control (strong craving/ compulsiveness or drinking more than planned or failed to cut down on use)
    - damaging effects (social, health or work-related)
    Currently no "symptoms" are mandatory. The addiction diagnosis demands that one has at least 3 of 6 symptoms through the previous year (ICD-10) or 4 of 7 at one point in life (DSM-IV). One does not need to have symptoms from all three groups, for instance is lack of control not a prerequsite.
    Compared to regular medical diagnoses, it's remarkable that the important boundary between healthy and ill is set at an arbitrarily chosen number of symptoms (3 out of 6 or 4 out of 7)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cperciva (102828)
      Compared to regular medical diagnoses, it's remarkable that the important boundary between healthy and ill is set at an arbitrarily chosen number of symptoms (3 out of 6 or 4 out of 7)

      You seem to be implying that non-psychiatric ailments are clear-cut in their diagnoses; while this is true in some cases (e.g., a viral infection is defined by the presence of the virus), it is not true for all diseases. Type 2 diabetes, for example, is defined as "fasting plasma glucose >= 7.0 mM, OR plasma glucose >=
  • If it is, then.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by s31523 (926314) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:58AM (#17236502)
    ... so is masturbation. Seriously, though, come'on!
  • Back in the day. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the dark hero (971268) <adriatic_hero@ho ... il.com minus bsd> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:59AM (#17236512) Homepage
    I experienced internet withdrawals back in 2002 when my DSL was taken away from me. The first month was hell. After three months i had totally forgotten i ever had the internet. The addiction is real as is an addiction to anything. The reason it's being considered a medical condition is because of the popularity of the addiction. I can honestly say i haven't had my own broadband connection until a month ago and now i feel i dont know how to surf the web, but atleast i dont waste time in front of a computer as much.
    • by eln (21727)
      After three months i had totally forgotten i ever had the internet

      You might want to see a doctor about that. I think you might have had a stroke or something during those three months.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Whereas I do spend a signficant amount of time on the Internet, both at home and at work (and usually in connection with my work, in the latter case). But I could stop any time I wanted to. I know I could. I wouldn't even miss it much. Really, I could. Honest.

      Seriously, though, despite there being things I do miss when I'm away from the Net for a while, I have plenty of other things I enjoy doing off-line as well. I just spend more time doing those if there's no net connection around. My biggest concern w

  • It is simple, addicts get addicted to things. It might be drugs, it might be alcohol, even the internets. Hell, people even get addicted to working out. Some things are better to be "addicted" to than others.

    If the person has an "addictive personality" then they will find something to be addicted to.

    The President used to be an alcoholic, but now he is addicted to working out. The former is much worse of an addiction than the latter.
  • by DJ Jones (997846) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:01AM (#17236544) Homepage
    This article further supports my theory that the field of psychology is bunch of bull-shit. Neurology is a science. Psychology is a bunch of philosophers conjuring up imaginary diseases to reinforce everyone's imaginary "problems" I'm writing this Slashdot entry instead of doing office work right now. It doesn't mean I have a problem. I'm just bored.
    • by udderly (890305) *
      This article further supports my theory that the field of psychology is bunch of bull-shit. Neurology is a science. Psychology is a bunch of philosophers conjuring up imaginary diseases to reinforce everyone's imaginary "problems"

      If by the "field of psychology" you mean the classification and description of "mental disorders" that have no known physical pathologies, I am in complete agreement with you. Many of the things in the DSM cannot be determined by any physical means, including an autopsy. Many
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by $pearhead (1021201)
      It doesn't mean I have a problem.
      Ah, denial... :-) And remember boys and girls; "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt".
    • both my girlfriend and i are internet addicts. it also doesnt help that i work with computers for a living so its like im a dealer as well.

      if there is an internet connection in the house i will be on it
      there are tons of things i would love to do other than browse the net reading stuff but i can barely tear myself away from it enough to go to the bathroom or eat.

      when we moved to our current place we didnt have dsl setup yet and i delayed and delayed and my girlfriend started getting upset and i told her that
    • WTF does the article have to do with Psychology? If you RTFA, you'll see it's the American PSYCHIATRIC Association, not the American PSYCHOLOGICAL Association that's _supposedly_ pushing this. Having a PhD in Psychology does not make one a psychiatrist. You need an MD for that. And you seemed to have such praise for neurology...
  • by bihoy (100694) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:04AM (#17236612)
    Obsessive Compulsive behavior can be exhibited for any activity. Even just tapping your foot.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:05AM (#17236628) Homepage
    Now really. Of course I wouldn't like being without internet access for several days, for the simple reason that a large part of my life is related to it somehow. With no internet I'd lose contact with many people, would find it much harder to find documentation for some of the work I do, etc.

    But isn't every specialist that way? I bet that my father would also feel uncomfortable if he couldn't play the viola for a few days. For me, the main theme in my life is internet and computers. For others it's a musical instrument, drawing, playing soccer, etc. Everybody feels uncomfortable when they're unable to do their favourite activity for a while.

    Even for "normal" people with no obsession with anything in particular it still works that way. When somebody's car breaks they're often grumpy while it's being fixed, as all of a sudden their freedom of movement got drastically reduced.

    There probably are people with serious problems, but I think most of the people don't have any addiction of any sort, they simply became dependent on it, like many people depend on their car or telephone. For them it just became an indispensable tool.
  • In related news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:07AM (#17236660) Homepage

    Cleveland Browns fans who attend every game are also claiming their rights as an addicted minority. "Its horrible" said one fan "year after year we suck and I keep going just waiting for that one big 'hit'"

    Celeb Rags also applied for registration under the disability act on the basis that they have "an unreasonable compulsion to print any old crappy photo of anyone who has even been seen with someone who has been on TV", this compulsion is so bad that they are forced to produce glossy magazines every single week.

    But if the Internet is an addiction ala heroin, does that make AOL methadone?
  • The internet has become a utility these days - like electrical power, phone, natural gas, tv, water, or garbage pickup. You could use the same logic to argue I'm addicted to all of the above. I can't imagine going more than a week without any of them except maybe tv. The loss of any of the others would start to make my life suck more. (On the other hand, I have a DVR, so it's watching, even if I'm not.)
  • Dang, I'm scared

    There are more idiot dogmatist lurking at /. then ever before, someone should have saved this DullShit for 2007/04/01, maybe this DS illness is a Pharma/AMA lobbyist creation for parent/drug/religious intervention businesses.

    These no-brainer-stories should be filtered as offensive stinking DS. I always wanted a NetNanney app that would filter out dogmatist StupidShit (SS nazi-like) religious, corporatist, and political crap for my browser and cable/sat/broadcast TV at home.

    Is there an OSS pr
  • Even if it is an addiction, so what? If he were drunk on the job, he'd still be fired.
  • Information addict (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaoudaW (533025) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:14AM (#17236770)
    When I was in 4th grade, I got in trouble by reading the encyclopedia before I had my homework done. Now I'm 50, have been a teacher for years, and tend to scan my live bookmarks, the make blog, and slashdot before I grade tests or make lesson plans. Does it affect my work? Probably. Does it make me a better teacher? Arguably. Could I stop if I chose to? Probably not?

    About 15 years ago I lived in an African village for 3 years. What did I miss most? My morning newspaper and public library! I know people who would say the same thing about the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. I don't see any difference between these examples and so-called internet addiction. Maybe psychologists should include these in the DSM too!
    • by geekoid (135745)
      But would you do your internet routine while ignoring a hungry child? would you do it knowing you wouldn't get your work done? Knowing you would be fired for doing it?

  • I think a lot of these addictions are not rather addictions, but a lack of self-control and discipline. While I'm not debating whether or not there exists such a thing or not, a lot of people claiming internet addiction do so for an excuse- for pills, for pity, for disability compensation.. etc.

    Time for all the "I DISAGREE!!!" replies!
    • I think a lot of these addictions are not addictions, but rather a lack of self-control and discipline.

      Fair enough... if you're a judge, but scientists aren't really interested in judgments. Science asks why. If you choose to reframe the situation as a lack of self-control and discipline fine. The question becomes why do some people lack self-control and discipline. If you can answer that one in a rigorous way you'll probably win a Nobel prize.
  • Couldn't I fire an alcoholic who drinks on the job? Or a cokehead who snorts at work? Why couldn't I fire a sex chat addict who is chatting up "girls" instead of working? (Of course, this is coming from someone posting on /. instead of working... hmm... )
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:22AM (#17236912) Homepage
    I was travelling in Japan for about a week of my three-week stay. The schedule was created by my Japanese host who failed to schedule any time for rest. I was unable to check my email. As I was separated not only from my laptop but from the internet at large, I found myself becoming quite edgy until finally, she brought me to a media cafe allowing me to check emails, browse a few sites and finally restore peace and balance to myself.

    While I am not sure I can fully understand the nature of addiction, I fear it. If by some chance, this was the sign of actual addiction, then I'm not sure what to do about it since it's an integral part of my work and my play. Many addictions stem, at least initially, from some sort of pleasure-rewarding recreational activity. In this case, it was more of a feeling of being cut off from a world or a life from which I get a certain level of comfort.

    As to internet "behavior"? I have a hard time seeing that as being anything other than actionable by an employer. An employer can refuse to hire or may fire someone for being addicted to drugs or anything else that may be deemed as objectionable in the workplace. I'd say porn is right up there on the list.

    The "medium" is one thing and the behavior is another. I think it's important to make that distinction.

    Adults are SUPPOSED to be accountable for their actions and inactions. This means that if they find themselves dangerously addicted to something, they are supposed to do something to remedy the condition. You don't just stop at labeling something as a disease and throw your hands in the air. In a previous posting, I discussed a time when I found myself missing work so that I could play a video game. (XWing vs. Tie Fighter in that instance.) When I realized what I was doing, I made changes. It's what adults are supposed to do and what we are supposed to be teaching our children so that they become good adults.

    So if someone is fired from their job for being addicted to drugs or alcohol, for being obese, for watching porn or chatting online at the office, then I think it's perfectly acceptable. I say this even though I am guilty of two of these offenses myself. I'm not willing to defend my own behavior by calling it a disease.
    • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
      It is entirely possible that there are degrees of addiction and that your degree is of the lighter variety allowing you to self-correct. If this is true then there are those who have heavier types of addiction and need help. Leaving it as a judgement based issue doesn't actually fix things, because we all know how effective lectures and holier than though positions are at fixing problems.

      I'd rather have science give it a try and try to come up with some new solutions.
    • by yarbo (626329)
      Are you sure you weren't just edgy because you didn't have any time for rest? When you hit the cafe, you had a chance to relax. Maybe you still would have felt peaceful or balanced if you took a nap or read a book.
      I love feeling connected and whatnot (I usually go to my computer as soon as I wake up), but whenever I go on vacation I usually stay away from the Internet and I don't feel edgy at all.
  • Internet addiction is just as much a medical condition as alcoholism is. Or heroin Addiction. Or prescription pill addiction. And so on.

    I don't know if I completely agree with alcoholism being a medical condition, but I think at the base there is something about addiction in general that sometimes can be explained by biological makeup.

  • That the guy might've been addicted because he was chatting about sex, rather than because he was "on the internet"? I thought sex was supposed to be a far bigger compulsion towards addiction than using the internet

    I find it all to worrying nowadays that people come up with stupid liberal, pseudo-sciences to determine that you're doing too much/too little of something. Bloody hell, so some peopel like spending time playing games and using the internet - so what! Computers can be used for many different thi
  • When ever I'm on a vacation, I try to stay away from computers as much as possible. For example I had a five week vacation this year and I used the Net only three times. And on each time it was about checking my email. (Yes, I checked my email only three times in five weeks! There were quite many unread messages waiting for me each time :-) )

    At work I have to stare the screen 8 hours per day. I don't want to do that when I'm on vacation. It is not good for your physical well being to sit all day long.
  • I can't believe that only 14% of users said it would be difficult to be without internet for a few days. The internet has been out at my girlfriend's place for 2 days now and ... Time to find another GF. Of course, I still have internet at work and at my place...
  • Who cares! (Score:3, Informative)

    by balsy2001 (941953) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:30AM (#17237096)
    So what if it is an addiction. If you are addicted to drugs you get fired from your job. If you can't keep yourself from surfing the net the whole day you get fired. End of story.
  • I bet if you look carefully at the psychologists promoting excessive internet use as an addiction, you will find ties to drug companies. Anything to increase sales and generate more profits. At best case its a jobs program for third rate psychologists and addictions counselors.
  • If we define Internet addiction as a "real" disease, then what else might be considered so? For example: Let's say you are about to terminate an office worker for using the phone for personal business too often. Can this office worker then claim a medical issue in that they are addicted to talking on the phone and then request treatment? I think that is going too far. If anything, we are simply talking about general obsessive-compulsive behavior. Of course, those people might spend less time on the Internet
  • No. It's no more a medical condition than football fanaticism or religion. It's just one of many things people go fanatical over.

    When people can't maintain their normal balance they latch on to some activity or item that they derive pleasure from and it can begin to consume them. All the behaviors associated with their psychological addiction can influence their health, but that's not necessarily always the case. Sure there's the guy that sits refreshing blogs all day, straining his eyes, developing blo
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:39AM (#17237334) Journal

    Yes, I find it hard to go without the internet for a few days. In fact, it was just about as bad as going without my eyes for a few days after surgery and, I imagine (though I've never had this happen) going without my ears. Of course, going without my eyes wasn't as bad as it might have been, because I had use of the internet before hand, and was thus able to gather a fair number of useful coping tips from other people who had had the same operation.

    The internet is "addicting" in the same way any other sense organ or sense-enhancing tool is addicting--once you are aware that there is a way to find out useful things about the world around you it can be very frustrating to have to live without it. For people who don't get it, I suggest removing all the mirrors from their cars for a few days to see how they like having to twist themselves into knots just to find out what's going on around them.

    --MarkusQ

    • You've touched on something very important in your comment which I really appreciated. The internet as we know it today is the seed of what will one day inevitably be the technological equivelant of telepathy once we get direct brain hookups to the web. If that doesn't qualify as another sense I don't know what the hell does. This flow of data is vital for us. To be without this new data is a disadvantage in todays society.

  • Everything is a mental condition, and by certain arguments nobody has control over any of it. The important question is not whether a person is psychologically dependent on Internet use, but whether they're using it in ways that are unhealthy or damaging, which is something that can only be known in individual cases.

    Then again, maybe Slashdot isn't the best crowd to be asking about this.

  • Sorry but every behavioral issue is going to be "Medical Condition" if there is enough money in it. Its one of the reason why so many private employers are having trouble with their health care costs. One of the announcments in our end of year benefits meetings was that costs were going up (duh!) but look at all the new things we can do for you (meaning we have been told this has to be covered)

    At least most private insurers will stand up and fight new things being classified as medical when they are not b
  • ADD, et al, have actual _genetic_ causes. If there is some gene in our body that makes us more prone to internet addiction (that isn't also identified with any other particular condition) it may as well be considered a medical condition.

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that if there is a genetic corellation, it's probably exactly the same gene that would cause people to be more inclined to be addicted to almost anything else though.

  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:25AM (#17238230) Journal
    Does checking Slashdot every 5 minutes mean I have a problem? I can stop anytime I want, I swear. I drive better when web surfing too, now give me my keys!
  • I think the simple answer is: if gambling addiction is a medical condition, Internet addiction (i.e. the state where you feel withdrawal) also is. If we're not to consider gambling addiction to be such a condition, "Internet addiction" isn't either. I think the two are very closely related to each other anyway. Playing a game and feeling the reward from progress or gambling and occasionally (of course -- far too rarely, logically speaking) winning and getting the urge to continue thanks to that, is there a
  • > Attorneys say recognition by a court -- whether in this or some future
    > litigation -- that Internet abuse is an uncontrollable addiction, and not
    > just a bad habit, could redefine the condition as a psychological
    > impairment worthy of protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.'

    An addiction has a biological definition, which includes re-regulation of the number of receptors based on the presence or absence of a substance that mimic or blocks neurotransmitters (or, technically, hormon
  • It wouldn't be a huge surprise, with a recent Stanford study showing that 14% of people state it would be 'hard to stay away from the Net for even a few days in a row."

    I find it hard to stay away from my car for even a few days in a row. Am I addicted?

    I guess the Greens would say yes ...

  • If I get fired for it, then yes,it is a disease and I'll sue. Until then though, it isn't a disease any more than doing any normal activity that you enjoy.
  • If you asked people to go without human contact for a period of time.. people NEED social interaction, it is bred into us, and the internet (albiet dijointed somewhat) gives us that fix...
  • seriously. All those World of Warcraft addicts are on unsupervised computers at home. Tell me they aren't multitasking their online gaming addiction with masturbation at the computer? Sexual release is a very powerful drug: http://www.mcmanweb.com/love_lust.htm [mcmanweb.com]

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