The current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry has an editorial arguing for the inclusion of "internet addiction" in the forthcoming 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. Jerald J. Block, M.D. states:
Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder that merits inclusion in DSM-V. Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging. All of the variants share the following four components: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives, 2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible, 3) tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use, and 4) negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.
Words like "variants", "drives", "withdrawal", and "tolerance" imbue a sense that this "disorder" is somehow akin to opioid or cocaine addiction. It's a slight of hand whereby problematic behaviors are transformed into medical illnesses in need of professional treatment. But what behavior is immune from such conceptualizations?