(Don’t) Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
July 16, 2009 1 Comment
Asia is far ahead of the West in the recognition and treatment of internet addiction. While we agonise over whether the condition exists at all, the authorities in the East are already taking action; the South Korean government has made tackling cyberaddiction a national health priority, and the splendidly-named Chinese Teenager Mental Growth Base of the General Hospital of the Beijing Military Area Command of the PLA has issued guidelines on “Preventing Network Addiction at Home” (to be read in conjunction with “Basic Principles for A Harmonious Family”).
Unfortunately I have been unable to track down a translated version of the Chinese guidelines, so I don’t know what they recommend, but apparently the treatment options don’t include electroshock therapy, since the Chinese Ministry of Health has just ordered a clinic in Shandong province to stop using the method to discourage teenagers from spending too much time on the net. As a report in the Wall Street Journal notes, the efficacy of the treatment was called into question by the fact that disgruntled ex-patients had chosen to register their dissatisfaction with the clinic by setting up an online protest group.
I do believe that internet addiction exists, though I think it is more useful to conceptualise it as an impulse control disorder than an addiction as such. In my, fairly limited, experience of managing the condition CBT is the treatment of choice, along with pharmacological therapy for any co-morbid mood or anxiety disorder.
I’m not sure that everyone would agree with that though…