Author(s): Pies R
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Abstract There is considerable controversy with respect to so-called internet addiction and whether it ought to be reified as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The relationship between "addiction" and various compulsive or impulsive behaviors is also a source of confusion. Some psychiatrists have argued that internet addiction shows the features of excessive use, withdrawal phenomena, tolerance, and negative repercussions that characterize many substance use disorders; however, there are few physiological data bearing on these claims. It is not clear whether internet addiction usually represents a manifestation of an underlying disorder, or is truly a discrete disease entity. The frequent appearance of internet addiction in the context of numerous comorbid conditions raises complex questions of causality. In order to make nosological decisions regarding internet addiction, we require a more general model of what counts as "disease," and as a specific disease. Based on a model emphasizing intrinsic suffering and incapacity, as well as data regarding course, prognosis, temporal stability, and response to treatment, it appears premature to consider internet addiction as a discrete disease entity. However, growing research suggests that some individuals with internet addiction are at significant risk and merit our professional care and treatment. Carefully controlled studies are required to settle these controversies.
This article was published in Psychiatry (Edgmont)
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy