Mental Health Expert Doesn't Think Videogame Addiction Exists

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Mental Health Expert Doesn't Think Videogame Addiction Exists

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The director of a mental health institution believes diagnosis of "videogame addiction" is all about making money.

Cheryl K. Olson, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital's Department of Psychiatry, has some pretty strong words for those who bill videogame addiction as its own disease. In addition to working with psychologists who have treated kids for such perceived addiction, Olson has run extensive studies on the effects of videogames on children.

"I'm a little bit of a skeptic about game addiction because we did keep track of hours kids played, and more than 40 percent of the kids were saying they usually played video games only on weekends," said Olson. She mentioned that much of the motivation for calling it a separate disease is to get insurance companies to reimburse them for treatment they've sought out for videogame addiction.

"It's just economics, so I can understand that," said Olson. "But what seems to be going on is that kids who have other problems will sometimes channel those through video games. A depressed kid, for example, will play video games to improve their mood. And kids with addictive personalities will play a lot of video games. Like anything that can go to an extreme, video games might become an additional problem, but usually the games, by themselves, are not the problem, it's usually tied in with other things."

It is nice to hear a professional echo a lot of my thoughts on how the public reacts to videogame issues. Just because a teen plays videogames and then decides to shoot up his school doesn't mean there is a correlation. Similarly, addictive personalities, depressed kids, or people with Asperger's and ADHD may gravitate towards videogames, but that doesn't mean that videogames create such syndromes in all people.

As my Dad says, everything in moderation.

Of course, he also said once that he'd break my neck and throw it in my face, but I totally deserved it. I think he told me to say that.

Source: What They Play

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I'd like to give her a hug.
I can now point to her for defense =D

/Heavy

Yehs!

Seriously, you're classing a entertainment choice as a disabling mental condition?

I'd take a look at those who think the X-Factor isn't fixed first, much lower grip on reality.

Kuchinawa212:
I'd like to give this man a hug.
I can now point to him for defense =D

Um, it's a lady. Cheryl K. Olson. Cheryl.

THANK YOU!
Let's see all those grannies and moms try to contradict this! HA!

HELL. YES.

Best news I hear all day! No one does it better the Greg tito!

Besides, I lessen my games on weekends.

Honestly? While I wouldn't go out and say "no-one in the world is addicted to videogames", it's still a bit like saying "no-one in the world is addicted to television or the internet".

"But what seems to be going on is that kids who have other problems will sometimes channel those through video games.

DINGDINGDING WE HAVE A WINNARRRR

I appreciate what she's trying to do, but I'd say you can get hooked up to video games like in gambling etc.

Greg Tito:
As my Dad says, everything in moderation.

Your dad is smart :D

OT: very informative and what I have been thinking all along. It all sums up my superstitions of why I play games.

Finally an REAL expert has come out to debunk this shit.

Have I missed something here? From what I gathered all he said was things that look like video game addiction are really other things entirely. That gets a 'well, duh' from me.

But to say that video game addiction doesn't exist? That's nonsense! ANYTHING in the world can become addictive. Literally ANYTHING. From the highest class drugs to the most menial of tasks; if someone has an addictive personality, weak will, pre-existing mental issues and a habit of doing something, it can become an addiction.

I don't see why something as fun as gaming should be excluded from the list of things people can get addicted to.

Sampsa:
I appreciate what she's trying to do, but I'd say you can get hooked up to video games like in gambling etc.

"I'm going to disregard what a professional says because I clearly know more then they do."

I came in here ready to kind of argue about this - because it seems an addictive behavior to me:

"but usually the games, by themselves, are not the problem, it's usually tied in with other things."

But this is so very true! So I do agree with her.

Definitely in the right direction but I think people can develop an addictive personality to anything including games. But yes, its not as bad as parents and overly concern people hype it up to be.

As my Dad says, everything in moderation.

My mother's saying as well. "Everything in moderation, no exceptions."

I'd really like to agree with this lady, but I find it hard to believe that there isn't such a thing as addiction to games. Is she even going to test it? Is there any proof whatsoever to validate her nay - say?

I need evidence, dammit. Speculation is nice, but if she (or anyone else) isn't going to perform actual experiments, we'll be just as ignorant as all those "Frumpy moms" and whatnot.

I don't have any empirical data to rely on, but speaking purely from subjective experience I have to agree. I don't play because a game is addictive, I play because I find it compelling (like a good book/movie), or because I'm bored. I suppose anything can be addicting, and one would be foolish to dismiss games, but hey, everything in moderation (got a smart dad, Greg).

EDIT: woohoo, 1000 posts.

Tomtitan:

But to say that video game addiction doesn't exist? That's nonsense! ANYTHING in the world can become addictive. Literally ANYTHING. From the highest class drugs to the most menial of tasks; if someone has an addictive personality, weak will, pre-existing mental issues and a habit of doing something, it can become an addiction.

I don't see why something as fun as gaming should be excluded from the list of things people can get addicted to.

I think the point isn't that it's impossible to get addicted to video games, but that video game addiction isn't a seperate disease. Drugs and alcohol are addictive substances. Gambling, sex, and video games can be addictive, but the things themselves are not what cause the addiction.

Good to see an expert not chasing the dollar and pursuing geniune mental health, the fact that the notion of video game addiction has got to this point tells us that this is rare.

oh?

SO from this I will just assume that there is not such thing as gambling, sex and eating addiction. these are not caused by any substance abuse but it's surely a behavioural condition

I'd be smug and say something smug, but no.

It's nice to finally see someone actually think about some of these sudden issues over such things. Thank you Mental Health person. Thank you.

Of course it doesn't exist. The whole thing started out as a joke and then someone took it seriously. Very much like religion and politics. And look what that did to us. We live in a fucked up world.

Yeah, nice study their Massachusetts General Hospital, I read it as soon as I get to this next save point. 5 More minuets please?

LOL, Kidding. I had to say it.

I am very glad to see someone does unbiased in there research for once instead of going with the media trend or chasing the big money. We know for many an addiction exist, but I am glad video game addiction isn't its own Disorder as if it was some controlled substance, but a behavioral addiction like any other popular activity.

I personally define addiction as being chemically based, so it's good to see someone else commenting on how other mental issues could lead to constant game playing. Behaviour addictions stems from external problems within people's lives, methinks.

But... how will I make fun of WoW now?

Ah, thank you Google. I was worried there for a second.

Greg Tito:

Kuchinawa212:
I'd like to give her a hug.
I can now point to her for defense =D

Um, it's a lady. Cheryl K. Olson. Cheryl.

I misread the name for a second there. Thank the emperor for a EDIT button eh?
Tip to escapist users. Don't type papers while posting. Screws up pronouns

As much as i would like to agree with her i still know that I am addicted to video games. There is no getting around it so i may as well admit my problem and sort it out.

Wow, I guess it should be a given on a gaming site like the escapist but, man!, how do you guys not expect to be branded as "gamers" negatively when you will put reason aside to defend your precious games.

First of all, let me say this. I like videogames, I like them a lot, they are like no other medium in the way the engage audience. Videogames provide instant fun, relax us, excite us, tug at our emotions, give us an escape from day-to-day life and allows us to not only visualize but interact with settings and worlds outside of reality.
Because of these very things, which make videgames what they are, to say that videogames are not addicting is a down right delusion.

People can get addicted to food, drugs, entertainment, sex, friends; Pretty darn much anything, just some more often and more deeply than others. To say "video games aren't an addiction because there's usually other problems" is to be narrow-minded and biased. Almost all other addictions have major contributing factors such as low self-esteem, addictive personalities, lack of restraint, etc so trying to blame videogame addiction on those is moot.

How about acting like responsible people and admitting that there are problems with some of the things we do, even if they are dearly important to us.

You know, there are so many "studies" and "experts" talking about this that I honestly do not care anymore what these studies find.

Ok, I think that addiction to A game is possible (Pop cap and Civilization proves that) but being addicted to an ENTIRE medium is pretty difficult. It would be like if somebody was addicted to watching movies or reading books.

Greg Tito:
"It's just economics, so I can understand that," said Olson. "But what seems to be going on is that kids who have other problems will sometimes channel those through video games. A depressed kid, for example, will play video games to improve their mood. And kids with addictive personalities will play a lot of video games. Like anything that can go to an extreme, video games might become an additional problem, but usually the games, by themselves, are not the problem, it's usually tied in with other things."

The sad thing about this is that an expert has to tell people things that should be common sense.
Even sadder is the fact that most people who are against gaming will just ignore her and continue to spew baseless bullshit.

fundayz:
Videogames provide instant fun, relax us, excite us, tug at our emotions, give us an escape from day-to-day life and allows us to not only visualize but interact with settings and worlds outside of reality.
Because of these very things, which make videgames what they are, to say that videogames are not addicting is a down right delusion.

I don't follow the connection between the nature of video games and what you say is the necessity that they posses an especially addicting nature

One of the biggest problems with sites like the Escapist is that people will say "hack science", "made-up statistics" or any other number of dismissive remarks when the study goes against what they want to believe but eagerly embrace any study that validates their belief because "REAL experts" have validated what they believe. This plays into the hands of those who are against gaming because they can simply point out this sort of reaction as proof that gamers lack any sort of perspective on the subject.

People have played Starcraft until they died.

Just yesterday, there was a story about a woman who got tired of her unemployed boyfriend playing his Playstation 24/7 while she supported them both so she decided to take the Playstation with her to work. He got in his own car, chased her down, ran her off the road into a ditch, then tried to break her window open in order to get his console before the cops arrived and dragged him off.

I've personally known people who will play WOW/Everquest for forty hours on a weekend.

Also the whole

Greg Tito:
"But what seems to be going on is that kids who have other problems will sometimes channel those through video games. A depressed kid, for example, will play video games to improve their mood. And kids with addictive personalities will play a lot of video games. Like anything that can go to an extreme, video games might become an additional problem, but usually the games, by themselves, are not the problem, it's usually tied in with other things."

Well, thank you, Mistress Obvious. In other news, eating disorders are not caused by the food itself. Gambling addictions are not caused by the act itself. Even drug addictions usually have a psychological component which both initiates the habit and helps feed it. The pschological component to an addiction is a well-documented one. However, all other addictions are still referred to by the object that the patient is addicted to whether it is gambling or gaming.

I'd like to see what (if any) methodology was used in these "extensive" studies because, right now, all this article proves is that junk science is still junk science.

Thaaaank yoouuu.
Anyways, I'm off to get my starcraft fix

I think he should play some World of WarCraft. Come back looking like Medivh and stuff. ;O

Tomtitan:
Have I missed something here? From what I gathered all he said was things that look like video game addiction are really other things entirely. That gets a 'well, duh' from me.

But to say that video game addiction doesn't exist? That's nonsense! ANYTHING in the world can become addictive. Literally ANYTHING. From the highest class drugs to the most menial of tasks; if someone has an addictive personality, weak will, pre-existing mental issues and a habit of doing something, it can become an addiction.

I don't see why something as fun as gaming should be excluded from the list of things people can get addicted to.

The title is actually a bit off; what she's actually saying is that it doesn't exist as a seperate and unique disease or condition.

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