IAD on today's society, and attempt to outline how an individual with IAD can help overcome the limitations of the disorder.
First, IAD is defined, and its impact on society, as a whole, is discussed. The warning signs and symptoms of IAD are then outlined. Second, the methodology of a survey designed to study Internet usage patterns is outlined. A thorough review of the relevant literature on IAD is summarized, and the importance of the current proposed study is given.
Further, the hypothesis is clearly stated, as follows: Maladaptive patterns of Internet usage can lead to Internet Addictive Disorder (IAD). The term "maladaptive patterns" is clearly defined, and used as the independent variable in the study. As such, it is the variation in patterns of Internet use that are assumed to have a causal relationship on IAD. The dependent variable is Internet Addictive Disorder.
A brief, succinct, but thorough summary of the findings of the research is noted. Summation and interpretation of responses to questions are carefully discussed. Further, the results of the survey are given in light of theories and arguments that are found in the current literature on IAD.
Finally, a comprehensive discussion on the possible treatments and prevention of IAD is given.
Specifically, the idea of a cure, in opposition to a treatment, for IAD is discussed. Further, an overview of current methods of treatment is outlined, and success rates are discussed in light of the specific treatment solutions.
In summary, the current research supports the hypothesis that maladaptive patterns of Internet usage can lead to Internet Addictive Disorder (IAD).
Internet Addictive Disorder (IAD) is not a formally recognized mental disorder. Commonly, IAD is simply a catch phrase used to describe maladaptive behavior surrounding Internet use. For example, a wife may note that her husband comes home from work, and spends his entire evening online, instead of interacting with her and the children. An employer may note that an employee spends a large amount of time on the Internet, and neglects to perform her jog. Some individuals may run up huge online bills, indicating a possible problem with excessive Internet use.
IAD is a very difficult concept to define. There are many factors that may attract the IAD sufferer to the Internet. Chief among these is the social interaction that can be found on the Internet. The Internet can provide a safe, almost anonymous place for individuals to exchange ideas. In this sort of a setting, individuals with relatively poor social skills may feel the support and acceptance that they lack in real life situations. On the Internet, shy people can be opinionated, witty and assertive, traits that they cannot display in their real life. The Internet community can provide a sense of acceptance, respect and connection that the IAD sufferer lacks in real life.
The Internet can also provide a safe refuge. Unlike a demanding boss, or a critical spouse, the Internet is a relatively safe and unquestioning environment. For those individuals seeking to escape from their daily pressures, the Internet can provide a great refuge from the outside world. When this escape becomes maladaptive and pathological, IAD can result in the susceptible individual.
The IAD sufferer's real life may not be fulfilling, making the person susceptible to IAD. In this case, the Internet can become one of the greatest sources of pleasure in life. Individuals who are shy, lonely, depressed, or recovering addicts are especially susceptible, according to Dr. Maressa H. Orzack, founder of McLean Hospital's Computer Addiction Services in Massachusetts.
One of the great questions about IAD is whether it has its root in genetic or social conditions. Like a great many other disorders, this is difficult to discern. In the case of IAD, very little research has focused on the root cause of the disorder, so it is difficult to say with certainly if the root of IAD is social or genetic. If IAD proves to be fully accepted as a disorder within the professional mental health community, research into the root causes of the disorder will likely become a higher priority.
Certainly, IAD is a new disorder, and as such, has received a great amount of criticism. Many critics argue that it is indisputable that many people spend too much time online, and that this affects many parts of their lives including jobs and personal relationships. However, these critics argue that this does not necessarily mean that the affected individual has a disorder per se. Certainly, it is true that many individuals spend too much time reading, watching television, playing golf, or walking their dog, but these are not necessarily defined as legitimate mental disorders, as are depression and schizophrenia. Critics argue that some psychologists simply like to label every maladaptive behavior that they see as a disorder, when in fact it may simply be a harmful behavior. Research into IAD has a long way to go before this issue can be thoroughly addressed, and this survey attempts to break some ground in getting IAD recognized as a serious mental disorder.
IAD largely affects the younger segment of society. IAD is rare in the elderly, and is seen with a low frequency in middle-aged individuals. Perhaps not surprisingly, given that the large majority of Internet users have traditionally been male, IAD sufferers are largely male as well. These young men are typically intelligent, middle-class Caucasian males.
Based on appearance alone, you could never identify an IAD sufferer from any other individual in society. Unlike many other mental disorders, like depression or schizophrenia, the addict's behavior, at least on the surface, is not apparently much different from that of other individuals within society. The Internet addict is even much less conspicuous than other addicts. Certainly, the alcoholic and the addicted gambler all have behaviors that can often be readily seen as significantly different than other, normally functioning members of society.
In contrast, the Internet addict's behavior is often very difficult to identify clearly as addictive. Many individuals are required to spend large amounts of time on the Internet in order to perform their jobs, and the Internet is seen as a normal, average way to spend leisure time, especially among the younger members of society. As such, simply spending large amounts of time on the Internet is not necessarily seen as a maladaptive behavior, and many suffers of IAD are viewed as normally functioning individuals by most, if not all, segments of society as a whole.
IAD has a surprising strong impact on many differing segments of society. IAD can impact not only the life of the individual sufferer, but like other additions, plays a large role in the lives of the people surrounding the IAD sufferer. Further, IAD plays a role in society as a whole, by reducing productivity at work, and removing intelligent individuals from potential interactions with society.
IAD can impact the individual sufferer in a great number of ways. Often the IAD addict feels no control over their life, and this can bring on feelings of guilt and depression in the susceptible individual.
The person with IAD may feel useless, and feel like they are losing their grip on their friends, family, and work life.
Depending on the degree of the IAD, the individual sufferer can lose friendships, and other personal, intimate relationships can suffer greatly. The sheer amount of time that the IAD suffer spends online can be a great barrier to maintaining and developing new intimate relationships. Further, friends and family can feel rejected by the IAD sufferer, who seemingly chooses to spend an enormous amount of time on the Internet, instead of spending this time with the people in their lives.
Often, people with severe cases of IAD have difficulty finding or holding a job, or attending school. As such, IAD threatens their very livelihood. While the effects of IAD on long-term heath have not been thoroughly researched, it seems logical to suggest that the prolonged periods of inactivity seen by the IAD sufferer may have a long-term negative effect on cardiovascular health (and the health of the individual as a whole).
Further, IAD can have negative financial consequences for the IAD suffer. Certainly, if the IAD suffer loses their job due to IAD, the financial losses can be devastating. More commonly, however, IAD sufferers may neglect their finances, resulting in less serious financial concerns such as failing to pay bills on time, not filing tax returns properly, or even spending money online. The combination of IAD with a gambling disorder can be especially devastating, as Internet gambling sites are easily accessible. Further, the IAD sufferer/gambling addict may lose enormous amounts of money by participating in online gambling games like blackjack and poker.
IAD can have a large role in the lives of the people surrounding the IAD sufferer. Certainly, those in intimate personal relationships with the IAD sufferer see declines in their personal relationships.
Intimate relationships decline not only because of the amount of time that IAD sufferers spend on the Internet,…