Image © Ayhan Yildiz
Internet addiction has had its fair share of attention in the research, and it was proposed for the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Yet the DSM-V website no longer has internet addiction listed as a proposed disorder. So what went wrong?
Those of us who believe that addictive behaviors should be reflected in the DSM-V and that they should be categorized together were pleased to see a well thought out proposal for internet addiction, complete with the subcategories of video game addiction, online sex addiction, and online gambling addiction.† By drawing together so many behavioral addictions under one umbrella, it really seemed like we might be getting somewhere in helping professionals to understand what addicts have known all along -- that the compulsive behavior that plays out in addictions is an ineffective way of attempting to manage stress, and that if you quit one addiction without learning how to effectively manage stress, you run the risk of developing another.
But it seems that the decision-makers for the DSM-V did not share this view -- while grateful that Binge Eating Disorder and Hypersexual Disorder are finally receiving recognition, we are once again ending up with the behavioral addictions being splattered across many different categories, with Gambling Disorder standing alone with alcohol and drugs (why did they even bother?)† Now those without in-depth knowledge of addictions might not even know that these problems have anything in common, far less that one could easily be replaced by another.
And where does that leave internet addiction, a real and growing problem that has reached epidemic proportions in Asia, and is creeping up on us in the West?† Well, thanks to some authors trivializing the problem -- perhaps it hasn't taken grip in their own families, so in their view, it does not exist -- professionals will have the choice to either ignore internet addiction, or to diagnose it is an impulse control disorder, not otherwise specified.
Frankly, I can't help thinking that if the Asian research had come out of the United States, we might be looking at a very different decision.