Grand Theft Autoism


An AMA committee is recommending that the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders include the newly discovered syndrome "Internet/video game addiction." After studying the matter for a year, reports MarketWatch, the panel has concluded that "excessive video game playing leads to what it describes as 'social dysfunction/disruption.'" It took a year to discover that excessive video game playing causes problems? Isn't that what makes it excessive?

Since the APA seems bent on cataloging every negative aspect of human behavior as a "mental disorder," why not toss too much Grand Theft Auto into the mix? Seriously. Addiction to video games is every bit as real as addiction to heroin, cigarettes, gambling, fast food, sex, shopping, or anything else that provides pleasure or relieves stress. The world is full of temptations and diversions that can become the focus of a hard-to-break habit leading to "social dysfunction/disruption" (but that usually don't). Leaving aside the question of whether these habits should be viewed as medical problems, the underlying psychological dynamics are similar, regardless of the activity.

The proliferation of officially recognized addictions shows that the essence of the problem is not the irresistible power of any particular object of desire. What matters is an individual's relationship with that object, which in turn depends on his personality, values, tastes, preferences, and circumstances. This is one reason why attempts to prevent addiction by banning the things to which people become addicted are fundamentally misguided.

NEXT: Super Heroes Come to Feast

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  1. "excessive TROLLING leads to what it describes as 'social dysfunction/disruption.'"

    Fixed that for you, Jacob

  2. "excessive video game playing 'bating leads to what it describes as 'social dysfunction/disruption.'"

    That works, too.

  3. damn...preview...

    "excessive video game playing bating leads to what it describes as 'social dysfunction/disruption.'"

  4. Great! Ten years after I kick the PacMan habit I find that the "market" has created more powerful games to tempt me. If only there was a prohibition on video games we wouldn't have this problem.

  5. Somebody who comments pimps his blog here was a voice in Grand Theft Auto.

  6. jimmydageek -- I was gonna ask which video game redefines the term "first person shooter" in the context of batin, but then you had to "fix" what was a perfectly good post.

  7. Wouldn't it just be easier to a generic "addiction" entry that didn't apply to anything in particular? Something like "excessively engaging in a particular activity, leading to social dysfunction/disruption" seems fairly comprehensive to me.

  8. An alternative to banning stuff is to make it an illness? Interesting thought. You get much the same effects. However, therapy or care ought to be available for those that want to change their "negative" behavior.

    How do you do that without over-medicalizing what people do?

  9. I hear ya, jh.

    Shame on me!

  10. I can quit any time I want.

    I just don't want to.

  11. highnumber,

    Yeah, Guy Montag. That's pretty cool.

    Though throwing the blog-pimping rock might be a mistake for certain people on this thread. Me? I'm shameless:

    Never before seen on television--Zod's new sitcom!


    Incidentally, having beaten The Godfather on the Xbox 360 (I'm the Don of New York City), I'm now playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which is pretty fun, so far. Swords, magic, destruction--how can you lose? And it's one of those huge world games, too, so I'll be playing it for a while. In between diaper changings.

  12. I can quit any time I want.

    I just don't want to.

    That's addiction for you. Most addicts aren't helpless pawns, they are choosing to engage in the behavior, and in their judgment (however flawed we might think it is) whatever rewards they reap from their behavior outweigh its costs.

    Outlawing something because you think the people doing it are making a bad decision is anathema to liberty. You aren't free unless you're free to be wrong.

  13. I'm now playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,

    Great game. On level 22, I'm so heavily armored I can barely move, but that's OK - the weapons I'm packing don't really require me to move much.

  14. This makes a lot more sense in the context of claims reimbursment. Nobody (private insurers or gov't) will reimburse a claim without an appropriate dx (diagnosis) code for the services being claimed. In the USA at present day, you'll probably need an ICD-9 code. So, if you're going to treat people for video game addiciton, you need to get it recognized as a valid diagnosis so that a code will be assigned for it, and of course the DSM is the authoritative list of mental health diagnoses. The ICD-9 already has codes for addicts of booze (305.0), tobacco (305.1), all kinds of other drugs (various 304 and 305 codes), sex (302.89, 302.9), food (783.6, 307.50), and gambling (312.31), but video game addicts lack a code of their own. There's probably some NOS code you could justify sticking in under somewhere, but having a code that is clearly applicable reduces the chances of insurance companies giving you flack about the claim.

  15. "I can quit any time I want.

    I just don't want to."

    I wish I could quit you!

  16. Son of a! | June 15, 2007, 4:55pm | #

    Wouldn't it just be easier to a generic "addiction" entry that didn't apply to anything in particular? Something like "excessively engaging in a particular activity, leading to social dysfunction/disruption" seems fairly comprehensive to me."

    What kind of crazy talk is this? If did that we might have to examine other areas where we have different classifications for the same thing. See drunk driving=driving while texting=wreckless driving or adding hate crime charges to murder charges.

  17. mediageek,

    Just don't let anyone hear you call me joeycakes, ok?

  18. The big concern is that ANY time you create a new label in psychiatry, there is creation of new social problems as well. If "video game addiction" leads people to be fired from jobs, can someone collect disability for this addiction? How much money will be diverted into studying ways to treat this condition, and will it be covered by insurance? What about Medicaid/Medicare? Should the state pay for treatment? And does this further erode the credibility of the medical profession?

  19. Ever since the APA ruled that homosexuality wasn't a psychological disorder anymore, they've been veering more and more off course. That's what happens when you substitute currently fashionable beliefs for the truth.

  20. I'm sure the "Szazists" will weigh in denying that a scientifically proven medical disease is real.

    After all, video/computer game addiction is a real disease just like diabetes or malaria.

    Scientific Truth is proven by a concensus, or in this case by a committee.

    Government grants for neuroscientific "brain imaging" will no doubt show the exact area of the brain where this pathology lies.

  21. R C Dean,

    Yeah, it's great. I like how open ended it is, with a huge number of things you can do aside from the main quests.

  22. ...excessive video game playing 'bating...

    Grand Theft Autoeroticism?

  23. Too bad we don't have a vaccine for this disorder. But then we'd have to worry about Grand Theft Autism!

  24. I've been playing video games since the Sega Genesis days and I haven't had a problem yet. Well, maybe a slight case of Wiitis

  25. Will excessive time on the net blogging and posting be included in that diagnosis? Do you think Bush spends as much time worrying over issues as we do on here?

  26. oblivion was a big step down from morrowind, which itself was a sideways and somewhat step down from daggerfall.

  27. I'm addicted to eating penises!

  28. Let's consider the following:
    (1) If "X" requires treatment and the individual seeks treatment, then why should "X" not be considered a mental disorder to some degree?
    (2) What is a mental disorder if not a negative aspect of human thought or behavior?
    (3) In the case of mental disorders, the problem is not so much a matter of KIND as it is one of DEGREE.
    (3a) It therefore makes sense to treat any mental imperfection as a disorder as long as its seriousness approaches a certain threshold (e.g., Everyone's selfish but few are selfish to the point of narcissism).
    (4) I have yet to see any cases wherein labeling disorders in modern times has restricted individual freedom.
    (5) NOT labeling disorders may limit freedom rather than enhance by limiting the range of opportunities for the affected individual.

  29. dhex has it.

    A bold position to take would be that those putting together the DSM-V are careful in considering additions/modifications to the DSM-IV.

  30. huh i most certainly did not.

    it's not bad, it's just not that good. t-nads! is that you!

    if so: you are improving, grasshopper.

    if not: aspire thusly.

    also, i would never bracket numbers like that.

    i always use x), where x = a number.

    (obligatory "but gayness was an illness, and not as in "totally ill" meaning awesome, way back when and that was bad" thingy here)

  31. No, it is I, the novice troll from Hell!!!

  32. Well now they have given an excuse to jock parents who want to take their children away from something they are good at (and possibly could earn them a lot of money later in life) and force them to do sports.

    Another thought...I bet that all the people who came up with this report are rubbish at video games.

  33. BUT homosexuality is no longer in the DSM...there is hope for us gamers one day. Don't hate me.

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