[Air-l] Internet Addiction research

Ellis Godard ellis.godard at csun.edu
Thu May 18 12:43:59 PDT 2006

Anyone researching/critiquing this areas may wish to respond to a Reuters
story today citing Diane Wieland's piece in Perspectives on Psychiatric
Care, and repeating her odd misunderstandings. My own reaction (sent to PPC)
is below.



Dear Editor,

I am disturbed by your publishing of Diane Wieland's article purporting to
advance our understanding of "Internet addiction". Psychiatric nurses may
play an important role in assisting those unable to cope with online
interactions, whether due to unique aspects of online settings
(asynchronicity, relative anonymity, etc.) or not. And observation and
scholarship regarding these matters are indeed deserving of attention. 

Wieland, however, veers far from observation and not close enough to
scholarship. She asserts that online relationships are not part of "real
life", as if the former are solely imagined and wholly unimportant. She fans
worry that online relationships may result in infidelity and divorce, as if
any relationship in any medium could be free from temptation, and without
mentioning that online relationships often generate fidelity and marriage.
She portrays "interpersonal relationships" online as is they could only be
"pseudo-intimate", neglecting more than a decade of research regarding love,
friendship, and productive interactions online. The division she reifies,
between a forboding cyberspace and a sensuous physical reality, is illusory.

Weiland is not the only practitioner to ignore and even contradict
long-established sociological knowledge. And I am not often a cheerleader
for interdisciplinarity. But the search for psychiatric solutions will be
more fruitful if it is more careful. Therapies and treatments that promote
abstinence risk isolating patients socially, financially, and even
therapeutically, at a time when cyberspace is becoming increasingly
important for many people's health, wealth, and interpersonal well-being.


Ellis Godard, PhD
Assistant Professor
Sociology Department
Cal State Univ. Northridge

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