Understanding and Dealing with Gaming Problems: A Q&A with a Therapist
The word "addiction" has lost some of its clinical meaning in popular culture. Many people claim they're addicted to coffee or golf. What do you think are common misconceptions that people usually have about the causes and nature of clinical addiction or behavioral dependencies in general? Or put another way - If there's one thing that people need to know about clinical addiction, what do you think it should be?
There's tremendous confusion about the issue of "online gaming addiction." The media seem focused on "pro-gaming" and "anti-gaming" voices which have become increasingly hostile and polarized. It's natural to want to simplify, label, and categorize human behavior, but when we do that we risk missing the important nuances of what's really happening in specific cases. Where there are problems there are likely a variety of causes, and myriad possible solutions. It's complicated.
If there's one thing I'd like to communicate to people about the topic of "addiction", I'd have to say "it's about functioning." When clinical therapists are assessing whether or not someone is experiencing a problematic compulsive behavior they generally start by looking at how well the individual is functioning in life across a variety of domains. In order to live effectively in the world we need to maintain our physical health (nutrition, hygiene, exercise), establish and maintain a home environment (okay, how clean it has to be is somewhat flexible), and if we're adults, support ourselves economically and pay our bills on time. As young people we are expected to prepare to support ourselves eventually by becoming educated. If we're engaged in any behaviors that prevent us from functioning in those areas, it's clear that there is a problem to be further assessed.
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