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Video game addiction as a new psychiatric disorder?

Mental Health Addiction Video games 2007

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#1 Jazzer

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 02:16 AM

http://news.yahoo.co..._game_addiction  

Quote

The telltale signs are ominous: teens holing up in their rooms, ignoring friends, family, even food and a shower, while grades plummet and belligerence soars. The culprit isn't alcohol or drugs. It's video games, which for certain kids can be as powerfully addictive as heroin, some doctors contend.

A leading council of the nation's largest doctors' group wants to have this behavior officially classified as a psychiatric disorder, to raise awareness and enable sufferers to get insurance coverage for treatment.

In a report prepared for the American Medical Association's annual policy meeting starting Saturday in Chicago, the council asks the group to lobby for the disorder to be included in a widely used mental illness manual created and published by the American Psychiatric Association.

AMA delegates could vote on the proposal as early as Monday.

It likely won't happen without heated debate. Video game makers scoff at the notion that their products can cause a psychiatric disorder. Even some mental health experts say labeling the habit a formal addiction is going too far.

Dr. James Scully, the psychiatric association's medical director, said the group will seriously consider the AMA report in the long process of revising the diagnostic manual. The current manual was published in 1994; the next edition is to be completed in 2012.
Interesting sign of the times we live in.  Elsewhere in the article, some make the argument that video game addiction may be more a symptom of other problems and that video game addiction itself doesn't need to be a separate category of mental disorders.  That makes more sense to me.

Edited by Jazzeria, 22 June 2007 - 02:18 AM.

Unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as unquestioned answers.

#2 NeuralClone

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 03:30 AM

This sums it up for me:

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[Dr. Karen Pierce, a psychiatrist at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital] said she treats it like any addiction and creating a separate diagnosis is unnecessary.

Dr. Michael Brody, head of a TV and media committee at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, agreed. He praised the AMA council for bringing attention to the problem, but said excessive video-game playing could be a symptom for other things, such as depression or social anxieties that already have their own diagnoses.

"You could make lots of behavioral things into addictions. Why stop at video gaming?" Brody asked. Why not Blackberries, cell phones, or other irritating habits, he said.
A separate diagnosis is completely ridiculous. Treating video game addiction as a separate psychological condition implies that it is somehow different than any other addiction, and I have a pretty big problem with that. I've often been "addicted" to several games in the past but I've never, ever had the problems stated in the article. Sometimes I may get immersed in a game, just as I sometimes do with a good book or while watching a movie or listening to music, but that's about it. Those are some pretty extreme examples and those people clearly need help but I fail to see why it should be considered it's own disorder. Are the methods used for treating it all that different from any other addiction? If so, how different?

I'm really getting tired of people trying to treat games as if they are any different from other forms of entertainment or as if gamers are somehow psychologically different or more messed up than the average person. Gamers, in general, aren't any different from anyone else. We aren't excessively violent. We aren't into goat sacrificing (see the whole God of War II fiasco if you don't get the reference) or part of a cult. What we do like is entertainment. Gaming is just that: entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Like any other form of entertainment, or anything really, it can be abused and people can get addicted to it. Some gamers are messed up. Some have killed people or stalked people. But then again, so have some music fans. And so have TV fans. And movie fans. And sports fans, etc.

To all anti-gamers: stop trying to label us as anything other than people that happen to enjoy a different form of entertainment than you and stop trying to blame us for other problems of society that have been around for thousands of years longer than the first video game.

Edited by NeuralClone, 22 June 2007 - 03:42 AM.

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#3 Jazzer

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 03:39 AM

^ Yep.  What you quoted is the view that makes more sense to me.  When people go to the extremes mentioned as examples in the article, I think that indicates deeper underlying problems that were already there, whether the person was addicted to gaming or something else.  That some would want to classify video game addiction as a psychiatric disorder all its own is just another sign to me of the crazy world we live in now.

Edited by Jazzeria, 22 June 2007 - 03:42 AM.

Unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as unquestioned answers.

#4 NeuralClone

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 04:05 AM

View PostJazzeria, on Jun 22 2007, 04:39 AM, said:

^ Yep.  What you quoted is the view that makes more sense to me.  When people go to the extremes mentioned as examples in the article, I think that indicates deeper underlying problems that were already there, whether the person was addicted to gaming or something else.  That some would want to classify video game addiction as a psychiatric disorder all its own is just another sign to me of the crazy world we live in now.
Completely agreed.

I did have to laugh at the requisite violent/suicidal gamer examples that are used whenever video games/gamers are portrayed in the news. The examples themselves are no laughing matter but the fact that every article about gaming has to include tons of them is laughable, and their reasoning is even more ludicrous.

Quote

Joyce Protopapas of Frisco, Texas, said her 17-year-old son, Michael, was a video addict. Over nearly two years, video and Internet games transformed him from an outgoing, academically gifted teen into a reclusive manipulator who flunked two 10th grade classes and spent several hours day and night playing a popular online video game called World of Warcraft.

"My father was an alcoholic ... and I saw exactly the same thing" in Michael, Protopapas said. "We battled him until October of last year," she said. "We went to therapists, we tried taking the game away.

"He would threaten us physically. He would curse and call us every name imaginable," she said. "It was as if he was possessed."
Have they ever heard of canceling a subscription? WoW can't be played without a credit card. So the fact that he's also a teenager with some serious anger management issues can't possibly be a cause? It has to be the games? I certainly hope this woman isn't a scientist.

Quote

Liz Woolley, of Harrisburg, Pa., created the site after her 21-year-old son fatally shot himself in 2001 while playing an online game she says destroyed his life.
So the game is the only possible cause for her son's suicide, simply because he was playing it? Simply stating that the game "destroyed his life" isn't proof of anything at all, nor is it evidence that the game itself caused the problem.

There are simply too many factors that can lead to suicide or depression that limiting it to just games is incredibly naive and isn't getting to the root of the actual problem, whatever it may be in each unique situation.

Quote

In a February posting, a 13-year-old identified only as Ian told of playing video games for nearly 12 hours straight, said he felt suicidal and wondered if he was addicted.
Sounds like depression to me. He "wondered if he was addicted?" Why was this example even used? I've sometimes wondered if I've had fatal diseases but that doesn't mean I actually have them. Talk about a meaningless example. :rolleyes:

Edited by NeuralClone, 22 June 2007 - 04:13 AM.

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#5 Hambil

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 04:10 AM

The question becomes. for me, is there anything unique about video games from physiological standpoint. Do they cause activity in a part of the brain, for example, that other types of addition don't. Gambling, alcohol, drugs and sex all have their own addition category - so it's not flat out ridiculous to me. I'd just have to see evidence that it deserves one, and part of that would be understanding why the existing additions have their own categories.

Edited by Hambil, 22 June 2007 - 04:11 AM.


#6 NeuralClone

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 04:26 AM

View PostHambil, on Jun 22 2007, 05:10 AM, said:

The question becomes. for me, is there anything unique about video games from physiological standpoint. Do they cause activity in a part of the brain, for example, that other types of addition don't. Gambling, alcohol, drugs and sex all have their own addition category - so it's not flat out ridiculous to me. I'd just have to see evidence that it deserves one, and part of that would be understanding why the existing additions have their own categories.
If they could present some convincing evidence for why it's unique, then I'd agree that it isn't so ridiculous. However, this article doesn't present any convincing evidence that video game addiction is different from any other addiction. It acknowledges that it is a problem, and I certainly agree that a problem exists, but that's all it does. It reiterates the same extreme examples from freaked out parents that jump to conclusions far too quickly.

While I don't have the actual information that the AMA has access to, it sounds to me like they are doing the same thing. They're acknowledging that a problem exists, and that's a good thing, but they're then taking that information and they're jumping to conclusions.

That's why I find the whole thing so ridiculous. They don't present any evidence that video games are the actual cause of the addiction. They're just assuming that they are.
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#7 Hambil

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:27 AM

View PostNeuralClone, on Jun 22 2007, 02:26 AM, said:

View PostHambil, on Jun 22 2007, 05:10 AM, said:

The question becomes. for me, is there anything unique about video games from physiological standpoint. Do they cause activity in a part of the brain, for example, that other types of addition don't. Gambling, alcohol, drugs and sex all have their own addition category - so it's not flat out ridiculous to me. I'd just have to see evidence that it deserves one, and part of that would be understanding why the existing additions have their own categories.
If they could present some convincing evidence for why it's unique, then I'd agree that it isn't so ridiculous. However, this article doesn't present any convincing evidence that video game addiction is different from any other addiction. It acknowledges that it is a problem, and I certainly agree that a problem exists, but that's all it does. It reiterates the same extreme examples from freaked out parents that jump to conclusions far too quickly.

While I don't have the actual information that the AMA has access to, it sounds to me like they are doing the same thing. They're acknowledging that a problem exists, and that's a good thing, but they're then taking that information and they're jumping to conclusions.

That's why I find the whole thing so ridiculous. They don't present any evidence that video games are the actual cause of the addiction. They're just assuming that they are.
About the only thing that interests me re: video game addiction, are the case of people (usually in Japan) playing until they literally drop dead. Those are extreme cases, but it's hard to imagine that an addiction that keeps someone locked to a computer screen, not sleeping, not eating, and not drinking until they die, doesn't have some teeth. I can't think of another addiction that has had those results.

Edited by Hambil, 22 June 2007 - 05:27 AM.


#8 Shadowfire

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:29 AM

Okay, I took Psychology for three years... and I'm struggling to understand the basis behind this argument. The AMA has jumped straight from their findings to a conclusion.

Quote

Up to 90 percent of American youngsters play video games and as many as 15 percent of them ‚€ more than 5 million kids ‚€ may be addicted, according to data cited in the AMA council's report.

Whose research is this? When was it conducted? What classifies as video game addiction (hours playing, reaction upon seperation etc)? What are the symptoms? How reliable is this data? Oh don't even get me started on the cultural relativeity/restrictions of this.


Quote

Joyce Protopapas of Frisco, Texas, said her 17-year-old son, Michael, was a video addict. Over nearly two years, video and Internet games transformed him from an outgoing, academically gifted teen into a reclusive manipulator who flunked two 10th grade classes and spent several hours day and night playing a popular online video game called World of Warcraft.

"My father was an alcoholic ... and I saw exactly the same thing" in Michael, Protopapas said. "We battled him until October of last year," she said. "We went to therapists, we tried taking the game away.

So wait a minute... there is evidence towards an addiction problem in the family. Thought occurs that the game only triggered a pre-existing disposition towards addictive tendencies (genetic?). If there is even the slightest hint of problems running through the family, this data is useless unless the family factor can be 100% ruled out.



The AMA are clutching at straws here. There obviously is a problem, but they have no idea what causes it or how the problem forms... so the AMA immediately jumps to the conclusion that its an addiction. There needs to be vastly more clean research (global research) into this before I'll even start to acknowledge the video games can cause psychological problems  (I accept that video games can elevate an existing condition, but not that they can cause it on there own).



(Edited for broken quote tags)

Edited by Picturesque Poison, 22 June 2007 - 05:30 AM.

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View PostRobL, on Jul 20 2009, 06:35 PM, said:

Every time I see a political thread I fondle myself just a little bit.............

'I honestly cannot justify that. You see, advertising isn't an art. Appealing to the English? Use someone from Hollyoaks and diss United. Scots? Talk about how evil Thatcher was. SNP is awesome etc. Americans? Well they be thick as sh*t so short sentences and shiny things and some Jesus helps too.. French and Germans? Talk about the war. Irish? f*ck that we can't sell sh*t in Ireland. That's frankly how it all works. So what I'm trying to say is that I'm happy you're dumping all this cash into advertising... I honestly don't see what you want me to do with it.  And also, that blip in the records in June was me buying monitors.-- never ask me to be 'brutally honest' about a budget.

You of course realise that anything you post here is comprised of ASCII characters? Each character is 7 bits with a parity bit making 8... I guess that's fairly meaningless to you which is actually the point. At most your sentence is a few kilobytes and considering I'm doing a file transfer of over a billion bytes right now those bytes making up your words are invisible with their insignificance, which is exact what I think of your post. Insignificant.

#9 Broph

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:55 AM

Sounds to me like they're taking a vote on it and it's just one group that is proposing the change. I'm not a psychiatrist and never studied the subject in school. I don't know what the need for a new classification would be, but they may have a point. If there's something about the diagnosis or treatment of the condition that's different, then why not have a different classification?

View PostNeuralClone, on Jun 22 2007, 08:30 AM, said:

Treating video game addiction as a separate psychological condition implies that it is somehow different than any other addiction

But what if it is?

Quote

Are the methods used for treating it all that different from any other addiction? If so, how different?

Some people are addicted to food. You can't just take all food away from people, but one may need to take video games away from people.

Quote

I'm really getting tired of people trying to treat games as if they are any different from other forms of entertainment or as if gamers are somehow psychologically different or more messed up than the average person.

But they're not saying that gamers are psychologically different than the "average" person. They're saying that there are some people who are different who also happen to be gamers. People think it's strange that sci-fi fans go to conventions, get really into the series and movies that they watch, yet the "average" person seems to live and die on whatever sport is being played - wearing the jerseys, going to the games, talking endlessly about games where in the end, one team has won and one has lost, just like every game before it. But that's not really the case, either, right?

#10 Broph

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:56 AM

View PostNeuralClone, on Jun 22 2007, 09:05 AM, said:

Have they ever heard of canceling a subscription? WoW can't be played without a credit card.

There are free servers out there.

#11 Broph

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:59 AM

View PostPicturesque Poison, on Jun 22 2007, 10:29 AM, said:

The AMA are clutching at straws here.

No; the AMA is taking a vote based on a report that was made up by a council.

Quote

so the AMA immediately jumps to the conclusion that its an addiction.

No such thing has happened.

Quote

There needs to be vastly more clean research (global research) into this before I'll even start to acknowledge the video games can cause psychological problems  (I accept that video games can elevate an existing condition, but not that they can cause it on there own).

They're saying no such thing! They're saying that there are people who can be addicted to video games. Alcohol itself doesn't cause alcoholism. Food doesn't cause food addiction.

Do you see the difference?

#12 Broph

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 06:14 AM

View PostNeuralClone, on Jun 22 2007, 09:26 AM, said:

While I don't have the actual information that the AMA has access to, it sounds to me like they are doing the same thing. They're acknowledging that a problem exists, and that's a good thing, but they're then taking that information and they're jumping to conclusions.

How can you say that they're jumping to conclusions when you say that you don't have access to the information that they have?

Quote

That's why I find the whole thing so ridiculous. They don't present any evidence that video games are the actual cause of the addiction. They're just assuming that they are.

They're not saying that video games are the cause; they're saying that it's the object of the addiction. Alcohol doesn't cause alcoholism - if it did, it probably wouldn't be legal. Food doesn't cause food addiction - if it did, we'd all weigh more than we do. It's stated clearly in the article: "It's video games, which for certain kids can be as powerfully addictive as heroin, some doctors contend." It's not the games that cause the addiction; it's the prediliction of the individual to have an addiction to games.

#13 NeuralClone

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 10:55 AM

View PostBroph, on Jun 22 2007, 07:14 AM, said:

They're not saying that video games are the cause; they're saying that it's the object of the addiction. Alcohol doesn't cause alcoholism - if it did, it probably wouldn't be legal. Food doesn't cause food addiction - if it did, we'd all weigh more than we do. It's stated clearly in the article: "It's video games, which for certain kids can be as powerfully addictive as heroin, some doctors contend." It's not the games that cause the addiction; it's the prediliction of the individual to have an addiction to games.
In which case, I ask again: how is it different from heroin addiction? Why does it require it's own separate diagnosis? People get so addicted to drugs that they can die from them. As Hambil pointed out, the same thing has happened with games. People can die from almost any addiction if it's taken far enough. Why are video games a special case? Are people with this problem treated differently (from a psychological standpoint) than a heroin addict? Are the methods used to treat these people so different that it warrants a new diagnosis? Why does the AMA feel that it's different?

The article fails to address all of these important questions and just states examples of people jumping to conclusions when there are numerous other possible causes for the person's behavior. "My son committed suicide and he played games obsessively. Therefore, the games were the cause." That's paraphrased but that's like me saying, "My son killed himself and he ate chocolate cake obsessively. Therefore, the cake killed him." Another example includes a 13-year old kid saying that he "might be addicted" because he felt suicidal. How is that useful information? Another example in the article states that a woman's son is verbally violent. The conclusion is that games are the cause.

If the AMA had any real evidence, wouldn't it be to their advantage, as well as the article's, to actually say what it is? A bunch of worried parents saying "it has to be the games!" isn't proof of anything. It's just the same old story about gamers and how they need to be treated differently. Maybe that isn't the goal of the AMA but the article certainly tries to give that impression, and right now, that's all the information I have to go on because the article doesn't go into any detail. If there's an example in that article that actually backs up what they're saying, I'd love to see it. I don't have time to track down other articles but if someone finds another perspective on this then I'd love to see it.
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#14 Dev F

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:10 AM

View PostBroph, on Jun 22 2007, 05:59 AM, said:

Quote

There needs to be vastly more clean research (global research) into this before I'll even start to acknowledge the video games can cause psychological problems  (I accept that video games can elevate an existing condition, but not that they can cause it on there own).

They're saying no such thing! They're saying that there are people who can be addicted to video games. Alcohol itself doesn't cause alcoholism. Food doesn't cause food addiction.

Do you see the difference?
But the question that remains is, do video games have some property that makes them uniquely addictive, such that the AMA needs to recognize video game addiction as a specific medical condition? I mean, a person could also become addicted to, say, watching DVDs or playing sudoku, but that doesn't mean DVDism and sudokuism need to become recognized mental disorders.

One assumes there's already some sort of broad category of addiction that encompasses various compulsive behaviors, and the issue is whether video game addiction maps cleanly onto that general classification, or whether it possesses unusual properties or requires specific treatments that would warrant a category of its own.

#15 Shadowfire

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:21 AM

Completely serious question.

Putting aside the debate for a second, how does one cure a video game addiction? Whats the 'nicotine patch' for gamers?

Edited by Picturesque Poison, 22 June 2007 - 11:23 AM.

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View PostRobL, on Jul 20 2009, 06:35 PM, said:

Every time I see a political thread I fondle myself just a little bit.............

'I honestly cannot justify that. You see, advertising isn't an art. Appealing to the English? Use someone from Hollyoaks and diss United. Scots? Talk about how evil Thatcher was. SNP is awesome etc. Americans? Well they be thick as sh*t so short sentences and shiny things and some Jesus helps too.. French and Germans? Talk about the war. Irish? f*ck that we can't sell sh*t in Ireland. That's frankly how it all works. So what I'm trying to say is that I'm happy you're dumping all this cash into advertising... I honestly don't see what you want me to do with it.  And also, that blip in the records in June was me buying monitors.-- never ask me to be 'brutally honest' about a budget.

You of course realise that anything you post here is comprised of ASCII characters? Each character is 7 bits with a parity bit making 8... I guess that's fairly meaningless to you which is actually the point. At most your sentence is a few kilobytes and considering I'm doing a file transfer of over a billion bytes right now those bytes making up your words are invisible with their insignificance, which is exact what I think of your post. Insignificant.

#16 WildChildCait

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:29 AM

Board games?
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#17 SparkyCola

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:55 AM

lol ^
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#18 Bobby

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 12:04 PM

View PostPicturesque Poison, on Jun 22 2007, 11:21 AM, said:

Completely serious question.

Putting aside the debate for a second, how does one cure a video game addiction? Whats the 'nicotine patch' for gamers?
  
Pong?  Maybe they'd get bored with the repetition. I've never played Pong but it looks boring.

Edited by Life for Rent, 22 June 2007 - 12:05 PM.


#19 Broph

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 12:06 PM

View PostNeuralClone, on Jun 22 2007, 03:55 PM, said:

In which case, I ask again: how is it different from heroin addiction?

It would be very different. There is a physical component to heroin addiction. The diagnosis and treatment would be completely different.

Quote

Why does it require it's own separate diagnosis?

You'd diagnose a heroin addict by taking blood samples. No such way you could do that with video game addiction.

Quote

Are people with this problem treated differently (from a psychological standpoint) than a heroin addict?

Ever see "Trainspotting"? I would hope that they'd be treated differently.

Quote

Are the methods used to treat these people so different that it warrants a new diagnosis?

Diagnosis and treatment are 2 different things. And I would certainly hope that the methods to treat them would be different.

Quote

The article fails to address all of these important questions and just states examples of people jumping to conclusions when there are numerous other possible causes for the person's behavior.

It's an article written by non-medical professionals to educate the general public about a specific issue. It states no examples of people jumping to any conclusion; it states that there has been a study done and a proposed action has been suggested.

Quote

If the AMA had any real evidence, wouldn't it be to their advantage, as well as the article's, to actually say what it is?

To whom would they be saying this information? How do we know that it wasn't stated, but just not written in the article?

#20 NeuralClone

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 01:58 PM

View PostDev F, on Jun 22 2007, 12:10 PM, said:

But the question that remains is, do video games have some property that makes them uniquely addictive, such that the AMA needs to recognize video game addiction as a specific medical condition? I mean, a person could also become addicted to, say, watching DVDs or playing sudoku, but that doesn't mean DVDism and sudokuism need to become recognized mental disorders.

One assumes there's already some sort of broad category of addiction that encompasses various compulsive behaviors, and the issue is whether video game addiction maps cleanly onto that general classification, or whether it possesses unusual properties or requires specific treatments that would warrant a category of its own.
Exactly.
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