After one of its councils filed a document that would recommend the addition of video game addiction to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders earlier this month, the American Medical Association has decided to moderate its stance. As a result of debate and review of the issue in its annual policy meeting Saturday in Chicago, the AMA instead suggested that more study of the topic is necessary before the American Psychiatric Association can make its decision.
“There is nothing here to suggest that this is a complex physiological disease state akin to alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders, and it doesn’t get to have the word addiction attached to it,” said Dr. Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in an interview with Reuters. Other voices of dissent against the council’s initial recommendation also contended that “addicted” gamers do not differ enough in their compulsive behavior from people suffering other addictions to merit special mention in the DSM .
Proponents of the idea noted that if video game addiction were to be listed in the DSM , it would make finding treatments for it easier and more rapid, and patients would be likelier to receive insurance benefits during its treatment. Ultimately, it will be the APA’s decision of whether to include the addiction in its next revision of its manual, due in 2012.
The pathologization of compulsive gaming is nothing new, especially in Eurasia. Mounting discussion of gaming’s potency as an addiction has led to the creation of a rehabilitation program at the Smith & Jones medical clinic in Amsterdam. Furthermore, several reports of gamers dying due to self-negligence in favor of continuous gaming have surfaced in Asia.