Endless Gaming May Be a Bad Habit. That Doesn't Make It a Mental Illness. – New York Times

The World Health Organization last month added “internet gaming disorder” to its manual of psychiatric diagnoses, and the reaction was, shall we say, muted.

At a time when millions of grown adults exchange one-liners with Siri or Alexa, the diagnosis seems years overdue, doesn’t it?

Put down your phone and look around: If half the people you see walking down the street or riding the bus with you are face-deep in a small screen, then it’s not a wild leap to think that some percentage of us, particularly those younger and male, have fallen hard for “Fortnite” or “League of Legends” or “World of Warcraft” and cannot get up, except to fetch the occasional bowl of Lucky Charms.

They’re stuck. They sleep with their heads on keyboards. They could use a friend of the breathing, let’s-go-to-the-park variety. They could use some help.

Yet embracing I.G.D., as it’s known, as a new mental health disorder has its own perils. Many psychologists are skeptical that it exists at all as a stand-alone problem. The diagnostic criteria are still fuzzy, and the potential for overdiagnosis is enormous.

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I.G.D. is a case study in what happens when researchers become convinced that a bad habit has become something different: a disorder. The studies pile up and the notion takes on a life of its own — one that may or may not be persuasive to putative “patients.”

“The question is, what’s the difference between a bad habit and a disorder, and where do you draw that line,” said Scott Lilienfeld, a professor of psychology at Emory University.

“Some, like me, believe there’s often no reliable way to do that. Others disagree. The point is, you need to be very careful in

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