Concept of the Month -- July 2007

Another "Addiction"?

In the July 7, 2007 Washington Post, David Walsh writes, " game addiction is a real problem." So we have another "addiction" in the long list of things that people like and engage in to excess. I have recently seen articles about "coffee addiction" and "approval addiction," the latter referring to people supposedly addicted to trying to please others. Then there are "chocoholics" or people "addicted" to chocolate and "jogaholics" or people addicted to run and the list goes on and on.

Yes, it is true that some people engage in activities to a point that they ignore responsibilities and cause themselves and others to suffer. Is a lack of self-control to be considered a disease? Video game "addiction" is linked by some "experts" to aggression and attention disorders. In the many years that I have evaluated and treated children with conduct disorders and adults with personality disorders, I have found that these individuals gravitate to whatever they find exciting. Television, violent films, and video games did not turn them into violent people. Rather people who already have a fascination with violence are drawn to more violence. Millions of children play violent video games, but these are just games. They do not enact the scenarios of the games in real life. For every youngster who tries to play out in life what he has been engaged in during a video games, how many millions played the same game and considered it entertainment and nothing more!

So I have two points. Let's stop turning excess into an addiction or disease. And let's not invert the chicken and the egg.
Rather than violent video games "causing" children or adults to become violent, consider that people who already are drawn to violence seek out more violence.

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