Friday, June 13, 2008

And you thought you were screwed up

In the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Jerald J. Block, M.D. proposes that “Internet Addiction” be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the official field guide for mental disorders.

For all the statistics and details read the short article, but what I want to focus on is the whole idea from the 50,000 foot level. I mean, really, is there anything in this f’ed up world we CAN’T turn into an addiction? Why can’t we just call a spade a spade and say: “Hey, that is f’ed up and you need to take some personal responsibility and control your damn self!” Instead we hand out mental illness badges like the cub scouts hand out the art merit badge: if you can’t get one, seriously, time to reevaluate if being the fry cook might be aiming a little too high for you.

Have we really “advanced” so far in the last 30 years that “Internet Addiction” is really something we need to actively diagnose? For as “addicted” as I am to my blackberry, laptop, the internet, etc. as I am, give me a chance to turn it all off and I’m in heaven. A few years ago I spent 3 weeks backpacking through Peru. Besides the amazing views the greatest part was knowing I wouldn’t hear a cell phone ring in the middle of the Amazon, or that no of keyboards would be heard 14,000 feet above sea level in the middle of the Andes. Is it truly a mental illness if someone doesn’t have enough personal control to put the mouse down and take 5 from playing Halo3? If that’s the case, I must have suffered terribly from “Homework Avoidance Addiction” and never should have been put in the horrible situation where I was asked to actually do homework.

When I was growing up this type of “addiction” was immediately remedied by a parental unit. If you were an adult and suffered from a similar “addiction” it was remedied by a spouse, the bill collector or you were simply dubbed, the lazy a$$hole who couldn’t hold a job. Pretty cut and dry to me.

So despite my ramblings, I come to offer two points. The first point is that by calling such things “mental disorders” simply demeans and trivializes those who truly do suffer from mental illness. As a society, we have already stigmatized mental illness. Until you see someone you care for deal with not only the pressure of the illness, but also the societal stigma surrounding it, I don’t believe you can truly understand how helpless you are to aide them. There are real and powerful illnesses out there that merit the research and treatment dedicated to mental illness and we must avoid trivializing them by adding in slackers and losers. It’s time to draw a line.

Secondly, we once again have given an out to the lazy, lethargic and slothful among us. Our political correctness will be one of the sledge hammers that undo the pillars of society we current reside on.

Stand up, grow up and take accountability for yourself and hold other accountable for themselves.


Megan said...

I'm hoping they come up with the 'Bravo TV Addiction' or the 'Dancing like a fool Addiction' because those are the badges I've been trying to get to round out my collection. ;)

Good post.

Tabitha Frohardt-Johnson said...

"Stand up, grow up and take accountability for yourself and hold other accountable for themselves."

Well said!!