The topic of Internet addiction is one which is sure to crop up, in some sensationalised form, every few months in the science section of newspapers. So it was not surprising to read this piece a few days ago in The Independent, reporting the results of a study by Lin and colleagues. The study found that the integrity of white matter (the brain tissue through which signals are transmitted) was reduced in the 17 subjects diagnosed with ‘Internet Addiction Disorder’. These apparently ‘groundbreaking’ results show just how serious Internet addiction can be. Putting aside any issues with interpretation of the original study itself (we all know that correlation does not equal causation!), what is common to all of these kinds of articles is the unquestioning – and perhaps mistaken – acceptance of Internet Addiction Disorder as a real mental illness.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the mental health professional’