Addiction to medicalisation

The intention to include “gaming disorder” in the draft revision of the WHO 11th International Classification of Diseases has created quite a furore from punters, the games industry, and commentators. Apparently, 1%-6% of adolescents and young people may be “afflicted” by gaming addiction.

According to a BBC report1, Dr Richard Graham of the Nightingale Hospital (a private clinic) welcomed the decision (I wonder why). However, he added that “he would have sympathy for those who do not think the condition should be medicalised” (I wonder why). According to an article in the New York Times2, quoting a therapist, “It’s going to untie our hands in terms of treatment, in that we’ll be able to treat and get reimbursed.” The cost of treatment? According to a figure quoted on BBC Radio 4 News (18/06/18) it’s £350 per hour. So it’s winners all round.

Three hundred and fifty pounds is a lot of money, getting close to the amount for surgery, although a lot of that fee could be taken up with the cost of hiring a room in Harley Street. Perhaps we will soon see a Journal of Gaming Disorders; conferences and workshops will be advertised; self-help manuals for worried parents will be published, the possibilities are endless. The signs and symptoms will be carefully defined and redefined in new editions of manuals of mental diseases. Different subgroups will be identified, some which will be found to show unusual activity in certain centres of the brain, corresponding to evidence found in gamblers and people with substance abuse.

Can playing games all day long become a problem? Of course it can. Is it a disease? Of course not.

  1. Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO (2018)
  2. Video game addiction tries to move from basement to doctor’s office (2018)

One Reply to “Addiction to medicalisation”

  1. The latest example of diagnostic nonsense. Give a behaviour a medicalised label and the implication is that there is some underlying biological pathology that needs a cure. As you suggest, the only groups to benefit from this are the psy. professionals.

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