Psychiatrist: Addicts More Ashamed of WoW Than Porn

Psychiatrist: Addicts More Ashamed of WoW Than Porn

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A psychiatrist who specializes in "videogame addiction" claims that some of his patients find themselves feeling more ashamed about playing World of Warcraft than of checking out online porn.

Dr. Jerald Block says psychiatry has fallen far behind the times when it comes to dealing with patients who are compulsive online gamers. The Portland, Oregon psychiatrist says one of the main problems facing the profession is ignorance regarding many aspects of MMOGs, such as what a "guild" is or the importance of hitting level 60. As a result, many people with problems seek help in online groups rather than with trained therapists.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Block also claimed that patients who come to him for help with gaming problems are often harder to treat than those who suffer from addiction to internet porn because there's a greater level of shame involved. "Some people come in for trouble with internet porn. But the computer gamers tend to be harder to treat," Block said. "People feel a lot of shame around computer games. Whereas, it's socially acceptable to have a porn problem."

Gamer patients are more ashamed of "playing World of Warcraft than looking at porn. Yes," he added.

"As a society, we understand that porn is something people do, and you can see a psychiatrist and get treated for it," he said. "But gaming is hard to describe to anyone else. So these people can't explain their situation to friends. In fact, it's hard to give you an example of what my clients talk about, because gaming is enormously complicated."

When pressed to describe such a client, Block said, "There was a man engaged in a game called EVE Online. He was one of the most powerful characters in the universe of this game. He had played for years and accumulated great wealth; he would have been worth about $17,000 if he sold his character and all his virtual assets on eBay."

"Well, within the game someone took out a contract on his life," the doctor continued. "And in the span of one night, this guy lost thousands of dollars, lost his alter ego, and was betrayed by everyone he knew in this world. How does he describe that experience and have any of his friends understand it? It's so bizarre and otherworldly. In fact, it's so bizarre that many therapists don't want to go there."

While Block recently penned an editorial for the American Journal of Psychiatry supporting the use of "Internet Addiction" as a diagnostic term, he said in the interview that he hated the term, preferring "pathological computer use" instead, but that he was "locked into the vocabulary" of addiction.

He also pointed out that although the average videogamer is 30 years old, the vast majority of studies into the medium have been conducted on children and teens. "It goes back to the shame issue," he said. "We like to think of this as a kids' issue. It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games."

The full interview with Dr. Block is available here.

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How can you specialize in something that doesn't exist? Why can't people apply some logic to this situation, we play games for fun, if a game is no longer fun we no longer play it. How exactly is that addiction? People may think they 'need' to log back into WoW but the only reason they are doing so is because they are being rewarded, they are getting XP, meeting people, finishing quests, raids etc. that's not compulsive behaviour, that is doing something because you get something out of it. And if video gaming now counts as addiction can I please have exam results, football, the news, the internet, building, designing, art, etc. classified as addictions? There are people that take gaming too far, however gaming is not a drug, playing games doesn't make our system adapt to believe we need games physically.

Seriously whenever I see someone saying they're addicted I think it's basically because it's now more socially acceptable to say 'Oh I'm addicted to this game' then 'Oh I enjoy this game...'.

Skrapt:
How can you specialize in something that doesn't exist? Why can't people apply some logic to this situation, we play games for fun, if a game is no longer fun we no longer play it. How exactly is that addiction? People may think they 'need' to log back into WoW but the only reason they are doing so is because they are being rewarded, they are getting XP, meeting people, finishing quests, raids etc. that's not compulsive behaviour, that is doing something because you get something out of it. And if video gaming now counts as addiction can I please have exam results, football, the news, the internet, building, designing, art, etc. classified as addictions? There are people that take gaming too far, however gaming is not a drug, playing games doesn't make our system adapt to believe we need games physically.

Seriously whenever I see someone saying they're addicted I think it's basically because it's now more socially acceptable to say 'Oh I'm addicted to this game' then 'Oh I enjoy this game...'.

Pavlov's dog - Addiction to reward.

Look it up, it's a decent study.

Malygris:
Psychiatrist: Addicts More Ashamed of WoW Than Porn

Clearly some people watch some very tame porn.

BlackLiger:

Pavlov's dog - Addiction to reward.

Look it up, it's a decent study.

Although I agree to a point under this any activity known to man is an addiction. And I believe the word addiction should be thrown around when you physically need that thing because otherwise the word is completely meaningless, for example smokers may start sweating and become shaky if going without a cigarette for a while, can anyone seriously tell me that they start shaking/sweating if going without a computer game for an hour?

Skrapt:

BlackLiger:

Pavlov's dog - Addiction to reward.

Look it up, it's a decent study.

Although I agree to a point under this any activity known to man is an addiction. And I believe the word addiction should be thrown around when you physically need that thing because otherwise the word is completely meaningless, for example smokers may start sweating and become shaky if going without a cigarette for a while, can anyone seriously tell me that they start shaking/sweating if going without a computer game for an hour?

I have known many a smoker (and coffee drinker) for whom the emotional or mental addiction was far, far harder to break than the physical one. For some folks, the ritual of a morning cup of coffee or smoke after dinner is at least as addictive -- if not more so -- than the actual chemicals involved. Same could hold true for an addiction (though, like the doctor, I think calling it "pathological computer use" is more accurate) to a videogame.

I can attest to that. I smoked for years and quitting was incredibly difficult - not because of any physical "addiction" to the chemicals, but because of the psychological "need" to smoke as a part of other activities. Beer? Smoke. Long road trip? Smoke. On the computer? Smoke. Just the idea of sitting in a bar, drinking a few pitchers with friends and not smoking was incredibly intimidating, and while the physically addictive components are long gone I still get hit now and then with a powerful urge to spark one up.

But is that really an addiction? You end up struggling with the semantics of the thing, rather than with the problem itself. I don't believe in videogame "addiction" anymore than I believe in sex addiction, but I do understand that some people succumb to compulsive behaviours across a wide range of activities. My biggest concern with regards to hyped-up "addiction" stories is that it seems to set games and/or the internet apart from other, equally destructive forms of compulsive behaviour, as though the games themselves are solely responsible for turning this otherwise healthy, well-adjusted person into the poopsocking maniac he's become.

"Although I agree to a point under this any activity known to man is an addiction."

Addiction is just slavery to something in such a manner that you do it despite the knowledge that it is doing you harm. Of course game addiction exists. There is likely someone out there addicted to almost every activity, yes.

I dunno, are we talking about addiction or just neurotic compulsion? I wonder how many people "hooked" on MMOs were borderline (or not-so borderline) OCD before getting started.

That's not to say that there aren't folks out there emotionally dependant upon the boost you feel when ranking up or completing a quest... but there are joggers hooked on endorphines and footies who can't live without their FIFA fix in much the same way. I really don't think that the emphasis should be "hooked on GAMES", putting the focus on the games; I think the emphasis should be "HOOKED on games" and focus on the unfortunate people.

I share Block's opinion that folks are more willing to 'fess up to pr0n than MMO merely due to an artifact of the social environment, that it's "okay" to admit to smut these days but a serious hit to the macho to get hung up on that greasy kids' stuff.

-- Steve

I agree that quiting smoking is not just about kicking chemical addiction, however as Malygris as already pointed out, can it really be classified as addiction? It's more of a social habit.

There are people who will play games too much and take things way over the top, however is this addiction? 99.99% of gamers will play a game for the rewards it gives and the above example is getting something from it, can this be classified as addiction? Yes, in a very broad sense, however I don't think it should because by the same definition I'm addicted to kayaking, which isn't inherently bad it just means that focus is shifted away from the addictions more likely to cause you harm.

The language of addiction is always tricky here because like the guy says, it's much more complicated than that. People who get obsessed with game rankings and MMO status are deriving self-worth and confidence from them.

Take the EVE Online player. That was a part of his identity. He spent years deriving self-worth and personal esteem from being one of the most powerful people in that game. Should he be ashamed of that? Should he not feel loss when his entire empire gets taken from him? I dunno, I live in a culture where a basketball player makes more money than an EMT. That strikes me as pretty damn stupid yet I'm supposed to accept it. Why should video games be undervalued?

On a lot of levels, I wonder if therapy will need to address the fact that we all get self-worth and esteem from goofy things. That's just what people to do to make themselves feel better. At some point, society may just have to accept that the virtual reality will spill over into the real one.

It all comes down to your definition of addiction. I've (in my own view) been VERY addicted to WoW, and I just base it on the facts that every moment I spent awake was with that game, I dreamt about it, and if I couldn't play, I would get extremely irritated and pessimistic. It might not be a "true" addiction, but I believe it's serious enough.

As a child, Azaruss, when you were doing homework instead of doing something fun (i.e playing soccer, etc.) didn't you get irritated in the same way? I know I did. I play World of Warcraft myself, and I find I'm less addicted to the game and more compelled to talk to people, even when my friends are busy in real life. So, I go online and socialise with people; not because I am a social reject, but because I am a "social addict". Is that a bad thing?

Actually no, because I got completely isolated in this world, I wouldn't say I became a social reject, but asocial for sure. I only socialized with my in real life friends, if they played WoW, and we talked about the game and rarely anything else. I would go so far to say that I cared more about the virtual world than the real one (and no discussion about virtual and reality here, or we can continue for months, another time!). Later in life, I discovered that this tendency is not based solely on the game, I believe that to become an addict, a spark must be ignited beforehand, but it still serves as a catalyst for the addiction and can make it grow.

As they should be.

TheNecroswanson:
As they should be.

Damn it Necro! Those were going to be my exact words!
Now I have nothing whitty to say.

PurpleRain:

TheNecroswanson:
As they should be.

Damn it Necro! Those were going to be my exact words!
Now I have nothing whitty to say.

Or witty?

Anyway, given the picture, WoW is pr0n.

Skrapt:

BlackLiger:

Pavlov's dog - Addiction to reward.

Look it up, it's a decent study.

Although I agree to a point under this any activity known to man is an addiction. And I believe the word addiction should be thrown around when you physically need that thing because otherwise the word is completely meaningless, for example smokers may start sweating and become shaky if going without a cigarette for a while, can anyone seriously tell me that they start shaking/sweating if going without a computer game for an hour?

I start to shake and get sweaty when I dont play a game for an hour. Hmm might be cause I am american.

So what about WoW porn, is that like the ultimate in shameful things to enjoy?

Aaanyway, I suppose WoW has become a symbol of the socially awkward nerd type with no life and no girlfriend. Not saying that's the truth, just that it is the image we're given. Lots of people like porn, there's no set type of person there.

I don't know how many people have actually done their research about this, but I actually wrote a paper on this for a college class, and contrary to what the public would like you to believe, "video game addiction" is a myth. While I do admit you become classically conditioned to continue playing the game, it does not form an addiction of sorts. Also, all studies that have been done about "video game addiction" have failed to control all the variables that could effect the situation. Many of the subjects that were tested had underlying psychological disorders that could have attributed to the actions of the person, but were thrown aside in order to prove a "video game addiction." Lastly, the term "video game addiction" cannot be used as a medical or psychological diagnosis because the American Medical Association actually denied putting it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders stating that it required more research.

I like this gentleman, at least he's not trying to beat it out of them like the chinese, or turning it into a VIDEOGAMES R BAD thing.

He seems to genuinly want to help these people, not stomp videogames out of them.

Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games."

...this sentence made the rest of the article just sound stupid...

No, no, no. The truly scary addiction is WoW-related porn. WoW is normal. Porn is normal. Taurens banging undead chicks is not normal.

Sir John the Net Knight:
Taurens banging undead chicks is not normal.

It may not be normal but it sure is hot. Mmm Cairne Bloodhoof on Sylvanas Windrunner. Ill be in my bunk.

OT:
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Sorry but I honestly think of psychiatry as being a joke career.

 

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