In their never-ending quest to classify every human foible as a "mental disorder," psychiatrists are pondering how to describe excessive Internet use. Under one proposal, "problematic use would be described as impulse control impairment not attributed to another known disorder." For diagnostic purposes, researchers at the University of Florida suggest a MOUSE test:
M is for "More than intended time spent online";
O is for "Other responsibilities neglected";
U is for "Unsuccessful attempts to cut down";
S is for "Significant relationships discord"; and
E is for "Excessive thoughts or anxiety when not online."
"The only way we as psychiatrists will figure out whether Internet addiction exists as a separate entity from other psychiatric illnesses is if we have consistent criteria to evaluate it," says one researcher. That's one way of looking at it. Or you could say that the "illness" will be brought into existence once the criteria are established.
[Thanks to Jeff Schaler for the link.]