Lawyer Disbarred Over Videogame Addiction

Lawyer Disbarred Over Videogame Addiction

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It doesn't matter if you're addicted to games or not; if you're a lawyer who keeps screwing up cases, you're going to get slapped by the long arm of the law.

When news surfaces about people getting into trouble over gaming habits, they tend to be students in high school or college. However, a middle-aged lawyer has been suspended from practicing law because his videogame "addiction" caused him to flub a number of cases, which wound up harming his clients.

43-year-old Mathew Eshelman was apparently fired from the firm he worked for in 2007 due to his addiction (which he claims stemmed from job stress and problems at home). After that, he set up his own practice and worked with a number of new clients. And, according to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, that's when things got really bad:

"When attempting to conduct his own law practice, he sought refuge from his problems by playing video and computer games with an even greater intensity. He described himself as 'addicted' to the games," lawyer Howell K. Rosenberg wrote in the 89-page report.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board's report detailed 17 cases - mostly involving bankruptcy, divorce, and debt collection - that Eshelman mishandled. He missed deadlines, lost track of client money, and once lied in a divorce filing - all while ignoring calls from increasingly angry clients.

Sick of being ignored, Eshelman's clients (understandably) started filing complaints against him.

Reportedly the Disciplinary Board wanted to originally suspend Eshelman for five years, but lessened the sentence because the man used to be a decent lawyer. If Eshelman's videogame habits are really as bad as he claims, maybe he should think seriously about a rehab program.

Source: Philly via GamePolitics

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People like him play games for the same reason you drink, to escape. He should get some self help to figure his problems out and lower his stress.

Balancing escapism isn't hard unless you have depression or something.

It doesn't say what games he was addicted too, so i'm just going to assume they were Phoenix Wright games. I'm just glad this wasn't another story about how games caused some kid to kill a number of people or something, we have enough of those to fill up a room by now.

I've known good people who have significantly set back their careers due to video games. Don't get me wrong - I play video games, but if you're over 18, you should know when to stop. I knew someone who started an undergraduate degree 2 years before me and finished it 3 years after I finished mine - so that's nearly 8 years... for an undergraduate degree. The reason? World of Warcraft is the reason. He just couldn't stop playing it. It was that guild of his - always telling him "we need you" and he'd always oblige them. During his World of Warcraft years, we never saw him. He frankly disappeared. The only time I heard from him was when he phoned up because he needed ME to buy him food. I eventually stopped getting his food for him. It was pathetic.

He stopped playing WoW, and for a while, his friends (the real ones, that you know, live near him) actually saw him and he finished his degree. But since he finished his degree, he thought that he could handle MMO's again, and now he's in the clutches of Rift. I've written him off at this point.

Get out of my Commonwealth, you bum!

I swear, if someone raises a shit about this when it was HIS FAULT...

So he's found that games reduce stress and was suffering from over-stress. Hey look, I've just changed the whole tone of the article!

Love to know what games they were though...Phoenix Wright would make me howl.

Actually, this is better:-

and once lied in a divorce filing

A LAWYER LIED IN A COURT CASE? STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!!!!

Serves him right for not following normal lawyer conventions and getting addicted to cocaine.

It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada. Edit: It's psychological addiction, disregard comment.

Korolev:
I've known good people who have significantly set back their careers due to video games. Don't get me wrong - I play video games, but if you're over 18, you should know when to stop. I knew someone who started an undergraduate degree 2 years before me and finished it 3 years after I finished mine - so that's nearly 8 years... for an undergraduate degree. The reason? World of Warcraft is the reason. He just couldn't stop playing it. It was that guild of his - always telling him "we need you" and he'd always oblige them. During his World of Warcraft years, we never saw him. He frankly disappeared. The only time I heard from him was when he phoned up because he needed ME to buy him food. I eventually stopped getting his food for him. It was pathetic.

He stopped playing WoW, and for a while, his friends (the real ones, that you know, live near him) actually saw him and he finished his degree. But since he finished his degree, he thought that he could handle MMO's again, and now he's in the clutches of Rift. I've written him off at this point.

I don't know why long-distance friends are apparently fake friends now, but other that, similar experience with fake friends when I played wow.

bleachigo10:
It doesn't say what games he was addicted too, so i'm just going to assume they were Phoenix Wright games.

If they were Phoenix Wright games, I would assume that he would have snapped and killed someone by now.

Well I guess you can use any excuse these days to justify your own inadequacy. A lot of people play games all their life and they have no problems managing studying, work, games and everything else. So his problem lies elsewhere. Somewhere in his psyche.

Yay videogames are being used as a shield to defend the stupid once again :(

So how long was he suspended for then?
Oh and of course the mandatory.

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I have a lawyer friend. The practice of law usually leads to SOME form of vice. Alcohol is something she knows her predecessors use as their coping mechanism. She fears that it will be hers too, one day.

It seems like his personal problems, and relationship issues, etc, are the main theme in this. I highly doubt he picked up a game and just "got addicted" like crack, and stopped showering, stopped talking to his loved ones, etc.

When someone has problems at home, and much stress in their daily life, they tend to pick something up, anything, and they get "addicted" to it. Games are not a substance.

I love games, and play them a lot, like any gamer. But I don't get "addicted", I don't get withdrawals if I stop playing. I can spend 3 days by myself, buried in a book, and no one would say I was "addicted" to reading, but as soon as I pick up a controller or hunch over a keyboard, then I'm at risk of being called an addict creep by my peers.

I have to say, it was much worse in the 90's for gamers. I shudder to think of being a gamer in the 80's... Stereotypes ahoy!!

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada.

I am kinda angry at Extra Credits for reinforcing that notion.

There are two kinds of addictions: physiological and psychological.
The former is when your brain chemistry starts to depend on your consumption of certain substances (e.g. drugs). The latter is exactly what is described in the article (i.e. using a certain behavior as coping mechanism and then completely depending on it). It is possible (in theory) to get psychologically addicted to pretty much everything, though it is much easier with behavior that is pleasant or reliefs stress (including video games).

A compulsion, on the other hand, is when you suddenly (without apparent cause) get the urge to do something and feel tense (that's a severe understatement) until you comply with that urge.

hypovolemia:

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada.

I am kinda angry at Extra Credits for reinforcing that notion.

There are two kinds of addictions: physiological and psychological.
The former is when your brain chemistry starts to depend on your consumption of certain substances (e.g. drugs). The latter is exactly what is described in the article (i.e. using a certain behavior as coping mechanism and then completely depending on it). It is possible (in theory) to get psychologically addicted to pretty much everything, though it is much easier with behavior that is pleasant or reliefs stress (including video games).

A compulsion, on the other hand, is when you suddenly (without apparent cause) get the urge to do something and feel tense (that's a severe understatement) until you comply with that urge.

I wonder what the greater problem is? The actual 'problem', being stress, that caused him to go over the deep-end, or the "video games" that gave him his only reprieve from mental suffering.

The west in general never accepts the fact that stress kills the mind and body and is wholly unnecessary. The US and other "business themed" countries are absolutely addicted to stress. Hard day at work? No one cares, drink coffee for 8 hours. Have crippling migraines from work-related stress? Well thats your problem, drug yourself with medications and get back to work.

I hate how people, as a society, wear their stress-related illnesses and injuries as some sort of badge of honor. This is the true problem, imho.

I love how this was mentioned in the news, but all the other lawyers with other addictions are ignored.

What, no mention of what games he wasted his career on? Le Boo!

I'm betting it was that plumber guy, corrupting the children and making them jump on turtles!

Korolev:
I've known good people who have significantly set back their careers due to video games. Don't get me wrong - I play video games, but if you're over 18, you should know when to stop. I knew someone who started an undergraduate degree 2 years before me and finished it 3 years after I finished mine - so that's nearly 8 years... for an undergraduate degree. The reason? World of Warcraft is the reason. He just couldn't stop playing it. It was that guild of his - always telling him "we need you" and he'd always oblige them. During his World of Warcraft years, we never saw him. He frankly disappeared. The only time I heard from him was when he phoned up because he needed ME to buy him food. I eventually stopped getting his food for him. It was pathetic.

He stopped playing WoW, and for a while, his friends (the real ones, that you know, live near him) actually saw him and he finished his degree. But since he finished his degree, he thought that he could handle MMO's again, and now he's in the clutches of Rift. I've written him off at this point.

See, I read these stories and think "Do I have a computer game addiction?" I mean, its pretty much my soul leisure activity lately. But then people come along with a story like that and I know I'm ok because I'm working, eating, sleeping and showering ok.

Here's the moral kids, if you want to play computer games 18 hours a day, go for it. If however that then impacts on something else you have a problem.

Rossmallo:
I love how this was mentioned in the news, but all the other lawyers with other addictions are ignored.

Yeah. I've certainly seen news articles mention alcoholism and such in these situations, but they rarely make such a big deal about this. Then again it looks like the lawyer is trying to blame his game addition rather than the problems that supposedly caused it.

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada.

This is the inherent problem that always sits on the lap of "videogame addiction" arguments. It IS an addiction, but not in the usual chemical sense. It's a psychological addiction, which is validly recognized by NIMH. However, in the case of actual psychological addiction (as opposed to people who claim to be addicted so they won't get blamed for something), it's a result of an addictive personality. In other words, the person who is addicted gets addicted to things, it's not that the things he's addicted to are addictive. It's just like people who get addicted to a sport, or a certain food, so on and so forth. And I'm actually somewhat proud that the court system didn't even try to blame the games, they put the blame on the person who is to blame, namely the lawyer. And yes, he does need help to overcome it, but that doesn't mean the addiction wasn't his fault to begin with.

P.S. Nothing against you, Richardplex, just saw your comment and realized that line would help reinforce my post and give me something to elaborate on. I'd have used anyone else if they had said the same thing too. Sorry if it comes off as me attacking you, that isn't my intention.

xitel:

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada.

This is the inherent problem that always sits on the lap of "videogame addiction" arguments. It IS an addiction, but not in the usual chemical sense. It's a psychological addiction, which is validly recognized by NIMH. However, in the case of actual psychological addiction (as opposed to people who claim to be addicted so they won't get blamed for something), it's a result of an addictive personality. In other words, the person who is addicted gets addicted to things, it's not that the things he's addicted to are addictive. It's just like people who get addicted to a sport, or a certain food, so on and so forth. And I'm actually somewhat proud that the court system didn't even try to blame the games, they put the blame on the person who is to blame, namely the lawyer. And yes, he does need help to overcome it, but that doesn't mean the addiction wasn't his fault to begin with.

P.S. Nothing against you, Richardplex, just saw your comment and realized that line would help reinforce my post and give me something to elaborate on. I'd have used anyone else if they had said the same thing too. Sorry if it comes off as me attacking you, that isn't my intention.

It was relevant to my post, I don't see the problem. And I have been educated this day.

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada. Edit: It's psychological addiction, disregard comment.

Korolev:
I've known good people who have significantly set back their careers due to video games. Don't get me wrong - I play video games, but if you're over 18, you should know when to stop. I knew someone who started an undergraduate degree 2 years before me and finished it 3 years after I finished mine - so that's nearly 8 years... for an undergraduate degree. The reason? World of Warcraft is the reason. He just couldn't stop playing it. It was that guild of his - always telling him "we need you" and he'd always oblige them. During his World of Warcraft years, we never saw him. He frankly disappeared. The only time I heard from him was when he phoned up because he needed ME to buy him food. I eventually stopped getting his food for him. It was pathetic.

He stopped playing WoW, and for a while, his friends (the real ones, that you know, live near him) actually saw him and he finished his degree. But since he finished his degree, he thought that he could handle MMO's again, and now he's in the clutches of Rift. I've written him off at this point.

I don't know why long-distance friends are apparently fake friends now, but other that, similar experience with fake friends when I played wow.

Just as stated as before. It can be an addiction and compulsion. In fact it's probably both. An addiction just means EITHER physical OR mental. A process in which the brain is constantly thinking about the subject matter. A compulsion is when the individual acts upon the addiction to satisfy anxiety.

An addiction is not only a physical problem, but a mental one as well.

SaetonChapelle:

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada. Edit: It's psychological addiction, disregard comment.

Korolev:
I've known good people who have significantly set back their careers due to video games. Don't get me wrong - I play video games, but if you're over 18, you should know when to stop. I knew someone who started an undergraduate degree 2 years before me and finished it 3 years after I finished mine - so that's nearly 8 years... for an undergraduate degree. The reason? World of Warcraft is the reason. He just couldn't stop playing it. It was that guild of his - always telling him "we need you" and he'd always oblige them. During his World of Warcraft years, we never saw him. He frankly disappeared. The only time I heard from him was when he phoned up because he needed ME to buy him food. I eventually stopped getting his food for him. It was pathetic.

He stopped playing WoW, and for a while, his friends (the real ones, that you know, live near him) actually saw him and he finished his degree. But since he finished his degree, he thought that he could handle MMO's again, and now he's in the clutches of Rift. I've written him off at this point.

I don't know why long-distance friends are apparently fake friends now, but other that, similar experience with fake friends when I played wow.

Just as stated as before. It can be an addiction and compulsion. In fact it's probably both. An addiction just means EITHER physical OR mental. A process in which the brain is constantly thinking about the subject matter. A compulsion is when the individual acts upon the addiction to satisfy anxiety.

An addiction is not only a physical problem, but a mental one as well.

Ya know, I actually didn't know the difference between those two before now. Respect to you for droppin knowledge bombs *nods*

On topic. Guess that guy could use some counseling. Its never good when you let what should rarely go beyond mild stress relief control your life to the point that the rest of you gets completely neglected.

Why are people complaining and arguing about this? This was more than justified what they did.

If he had a drug addiction and he was flubbing up cases he would still have the same thing happen (except worse, he'd be possibly forced to go to rehab.)

Also a gaming addiction is still an addiction. If you think gaming isn't an addiction then you must think that gambling isn't an addiction either. They are both proper addictions.

They are disbarring him for a short time so he can get his act back together. You just can't argue against this...they aren't saying he can't play video games. That is far from the truth. He is a self admitted video game addict and he has apparently admitted that games are the reason he's doing such a shit job.

Simple as that.

EDIT: To tell you the truth I can't see anyone complaining or arguing about this but knowing the view points of this website there will be swarms of people thinking that by arguing against this they are being 'pro video gaming' or something

EDIT 2: Yes I agree that there is probably a greater problem to this, but still, video games can't be completely left out of the problem. His video game compulsion/addiction is still a part of the problem...if a lawyer is stressed and that is making him addicted to gambling he still must be ridden of that habit first before he gets rid of his stress issue. If he gets rid of the stress issue or video game issue the video games or compulsion to gamble will still be there and he won't just leave them alone.

The point is this guy just needs a little bit of time disbarred to get over his problem and realize that if he doesn't get rid of his little problem he's not going to be a lawyer.

*sigh* There is honestly no comment I could make that the Escapist badge in the article hasn't already said.

I understand the want for escapism, especially in stressful jobs such as being a lawyer and having to deal with lawsuits, the legal system, etc., but that is no excuse for botching up your job when it can severely impact the lives of others, as well as affect your own financial situation and make it more difficult for you to play games in the future.

I'm also kinda pissed at the media for airing this 'specific' story, since this is the first time I've heard of a lawyer being indefinitely removed from work due to a type of addiction. Now, I'm not one to generalize, but I have a feeling that many more have been barred from practicing their license for similar reasons, but this one was different just because it involved 'video games'.

Er. No, he was disbarred because he wasn't doing his job properly. And from the sound of it he wasn't doing his job because he was cracking under pressure from work and home stuff and using video games as an escape vessel and coping mechanism. Some people drink, and functional alcoholics usually don't get fired.

If he just played video games compulsively without such a severe drop in his work quality then I greatly doubt he'd have been disbarred, or that anyone outside his immediate social circle would even have noticed, so you can't claim he was disbarred over his game addiction with any degree of accuracy.

hypovolemia:

Richardplex:
It's compulsion, not addiction, brain isn't being dependant on chemicals yada yada yada.

I am kinda angry at Extra Credits for reinforcing that notion.

There are two kinds of addictions: physiological and psychological.
The former is when your brain chemistry starts to depend on your consumption of certain substances (e.g. drugs). The latter is exactly what is described in the article (i.e. using a certain behavior as coping mechanism and then completely depending on it). It is possible (in theory) to get psychologically addicted to pretty much everything, though it is much easier with behavior that is pleasant or reliefs stress (including video games).

A compulsion, on the other hand, is when you suddenly (without apparent cause) get the urge to do something and feel tense (that's a severe understatement) until you comply with that urge.

Psychological addiction is generally related to the release of endorphins in the brain. Playing games releases them. They make you happy. You repeat the thing that made you happy. It's the same way people get "addicted" to running all the time or cocaine. You usually aren't addicted to cocaine, but rather the immediate release of endorphins and serotonin in your brain that it provides. Did you know that people who run/exercise a lot daily get withdrawals when they stop?

 

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