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Psychiatric industry now trying to classify video game playing as a "mental disorder" requiring treatment

Friday, September 28, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: psychiatric industry, video games, health news

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(NaturalNews) A proposal was recently brought before the annual meeting of the American Medical Association to designate video game addiction as a psychological disorder. However, the committee of doctors that introduced the motion backed away from it during the debate, recommending instead that the American Psychiatric Association study the issue carefully and consider making the change for the next edition of its diagnostic manual.

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used worldwide for diagnosing mental health problems. A fifth edition (DSM-V) is currently in consultation and planning stages, and is tentatively due for publication in 2012. Because of the influence of the DSM on pharmaceutical and insurance companies as well as physicians, including video game addiction would clear the way for insurance coverage of treatment.

But many addiction experts object to using the term to describe excessive video game playing.

"There is nothing here to suggest that this is a complex physiological disease state akin to alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders," said Dr. Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Advocates of the "addiction" label estimate that approximately 10 percent of players of video and computer games (particularly online games) devote excessive time to them, to the detriment of other aspects of their lives.

Dr. Louis Kraus of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says there is not yet enough evidence to decide if video games are truly addictive. But there is no denying that they can have negative effects, he says.

"The more time kids spend on video games, the less time they will have socializing, the less time they will have with their families, the less time they will have exercising," Kraus said. "They can make up academic deficits, but they can't make up the social ones."

Consumer health advocate Mike Adams countered by saying, "This effort to classify video game playing as a psychiatric disorder is yet another disease mongering scheme designed to label healthy human beings as diseased in order to create market demand for high-profit prescription drugs. From fear of public speaking to playing video games, there seems to be no human behavior that's safe from the disease mongering agenda of the psychiatric industry."

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