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The Addiction Concept and Technology: Diagnosis, Metaphor, or Something Else? A Psychodynamic Point of View

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Please address correspondence to: Todd Essig, 59 West 12th Street, New York, NY, 10011. E-mail: tessig@me.com

Abstract

Many today suffer from an imbalance between life and life on the screen. When extreme, such as excessive gaming, clinicians retreat to familiar explanations, such as “Internet addiction.” But the addiction concept is of limited value, limiting both research and treatment options. This article discusses an alternative. Pathological overuse is seen as a failed solution in which people become entrapped by technology's promise of delivering that which only life can offer, such as the grand adventure simulated in World of Warcraft. A two-part treatment approach of such “simulation entrapment” is described in which both the original problem and the entrapment are treated, the former by traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy and the later by highlighting differences between the technologically mediated experience and traditional experiences of being bodies together. The case of a college student suffering from pathological shame with excessive gaming as the failed solution is offered as an illustration.

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