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Online Addictions: A Symptom Of The Times.

NNA - The World Health Organization classified gaming addiction as a mental health addiction last year calling it "gaming disorder" and last week Senator Josh Hawley unveiled the Social Media Reduction Technology Act, a bill aimed at mitigating what Hawley calls the "risks of internet addiction and psychological exploitation. "As societies across the planet are starting to address internet addiction, not everyone is in agreement that this is a problem and certainly even fewer are in agreement as to its solutions. Where some studies show cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) work, others such psychiatrists who make up the APA (the American Psychiatric Association) and who publish the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) do not view internet addiction as a mental health disorder and instead categorize it as a "condition for further study." Still, there are many who regard what is called Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) along with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) as serious conditions which merit further study. In the west addiction is often handled within the twelve-step format or for those who rebuff therapeutic models, many people are finding benefits through life coaching as well as motivational literature and speaking events. For instance, Tony Hoffman, former BMX Elite Pro who placed second at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin, Colombia in the Masters Pro class, is a motivational speaker who deals with addiction advocating for a shift in thinking towards contemporary addiction-recovery processes. And there are even those who are being pro-active in avoiding the very technology that attracts addiction by hiring life coaches for the entire family. In Germany, Thaddaeus Koroma is a celebrity life coach who approaches individual change through a positive model which addresses individual mindsets and which focuses on people-based relationships. In a recent chat with Koroma, he summed up his philosophy to me, "When you start from losing your position you have nothing to lose but everything to gain." Certainly, the future of healthy social relations depends on the real-life and day-to-day experiences which many attempt to replicate within the detached echo-chamber that is online culture. I have previously written of the dangers in pathologizing what are perfectly normal human emotions and reactions in this era where there seems to be a drug for every real and imagined condition. Indeed, it would behoove us all to be skeptical of the desire to pathologize behaviors with the immediate cure offered in the form of a pill or a patch and where Big Pharma is generally the end stop. Still, as critical as I am of the tendency in recent decades to pathologize -- hyperactive -- children or mourning, the evidence of internet addiction both in peer-reviewed studies and in everyday life viewing many an individual fall into a virtual K-hole. I think back to a friend in Manhattan whose colleague, a fellow lawyer, missed an entire week of work and court dates in the mid-1990s due to being unable to get off the internet due to "falling in love" with a man on a dating site. This woman shattered her career in addition to suffering more serious repercussions. Given the growing anger and harassment culture on social media by individuals who practically live their entire waking lives online, it would be inaccurate to claim that there is no such thing as internet addiction, or that internet addiction is not part of a larger mental health condition under whose umbrella might also fall an array of addictions. Most interesting of all -- and little-studied -- are the links between internet addiction and psychological distress. We clearly have more clinical work to do. The fundamental question at heart is this: Is internet addiction a result of our stressful cultures where humans are working too many hours, geographically and economically limited to have an -- in real life -- social life or does internet addiction create the terrain for realizing that one does not need to leave home for a social existence and that the individual can live a social life online? The latter begs larger questions which begin with an evaluation of online socialization and if this form of virtual dialogue can ever truly replace real-life, physical contacts. And if not, what would the limits of healthy internet usage be?--FORBES ====================R.H.

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Publication:National News Agency Lebanon (NNA)
Date:Aug 16, 2019
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