Adding ‘internet addiction’ to the DSM-V is just crazy

| Mar. 17, 2008

According to Engadget Mobile, the American Journal of Psychology is considering uncontrollable texting or e-mailing be “classified as an official brain illness.” which “should be added to psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders.”

No. Just no.

I’ve studied psychology, and it gets a bad rap as a ‘soft science’ for just this reason. After Seasonal Affect Disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, “ringxiety”, and the debacle that had every single 20-something who spends more than 3 hours a day on the internet self-diagnosing themselves with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m going to have to draw the line here. Remember: the DSM-IV is an improvement over DSM-III because of the things it left out, things like homosexuality, masturbation, and not thinking everything was gee-golly swell for part of the time. This we smugly look back on as repressed egghead psychologists trying to over-classify anything outside whitebread ’50s Americana as ‘deranged’. And here we are, inventing mental disorders to add back in. This isn’t progress. By classifying every nuanced form of human behavior back into the DSM (albeit with a 21st century twist), we gain no better understanding of mental disorders, we merely muddy the waters by classifying normal, garden-variety irresponsibility as something much bigger than it really is.

Or as Chris Rock put it, “Whatever happened to crazy?”

A compulsive need for novelty and stimulation may not be a mental disorder at all but just the way humans are wired. Dr. Irving Biederman of USC explains why:

…coming across what Dr. Biederman calls new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.

It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us ‘infovores.’ “

So mammals with large brains crave information? All this and more from the medical journal “Duh!”. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to eat as many sweet things as I can and smile when I feel nervous or threatened. You know, some people would call that crazy?


2 Responses to “Adding ‘internet addiction’ to the DSM-V is just crazy”

  1. prhead says:

    Don’t forget Morgellons! Actually, that probably IS a psychiatric illness.

  2. Tim says:

    Oh yeah, one of my robot asian friends thinks she has that.