"I’M 31 YEARS old. I should be out there achieving something, but I
can’t . . . Right now I’m hooked to this digital version of an IV drip
with cocaine in it, and I can’t break free for the life of me." So ends
one of the confessions on a website where people addicted to the
computer game World of Warcraft seek support. Known to be particularly
habit-forming, World of Warcraft launches players on elaborate
adventures in a virtual universe, often in the company of buddies that
they meet inside the game. In some cases, players become so invested in
their virtual lives that they lose jobs, stop showering, or rig up
impromptu "toilets" near their computers.

Dr. Jerald Block, a
psychiatrist in Portland, Ore., specializes in treating those who’ve
spent years living as warlocks, ogres, or spaceship commanders. He
believes that psychiatry needs to do a lot of catching up in order to
understand why people get stuck in games like Warcraft. One problem:
Most therapists have no idea what a "guild" is or what it means to hit
Level 60. Because of this language barrier, many gamers wind up begging
for help in online support groups rather than seeking out mental health
professionals.

Recently, Block published an editorial in the
American Journal of Psychiatry arguing that "Internet Addiction" should
become a new diagnostic term. …. Continue Reading

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