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                经济学人中英对照:Addicted? Really?上瘾了?真的?





                The internet: Mental-health specialists disagree over whether to classify compulsive online behaviour as addiction—and how to treat it


                CRAIG SMALLWOOD, a disabled American war veteran, spent more than 20,000 hours over five years playing an online role-playing game called “Lineage II”. When NCsoft, the South Korean firm behind the game, accused him of breaking the game’s rules and banned him, he was plunged into depression, severe paranoia and hallucinations. He spent three weeks in hospital. He sued NCsoft for fraud and negligence, demanding over $9m in damages and claiming that the company acted negligently by failing to warn him of the danger that he would become “addicted” to the game.


                But does it make sense to talk of addiction to online activity? Mental-health specialists say three online behaviours can become problematic for many people: video games, pornography and messaging via e-mail and social networks. But there is far less agreement about whether any of this should be called “internet addiction”—or how to treat it.


                Some mental-health specialists wanted “internet addiction” to be included in the fifth version of psychiatry’s bible, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, known as DSM-V, which is currently being overhauled. The American Medical Association endorsed the idea in 2007, only to backtrack days later. The American Journal of Psychiatry called internet addiction a “common disorder” and supported its recognition. Last year the DSM-V drafting group made its decision: internet addiction would not be included as a “behavioural addiction”—only gambling made the cut—but it said further study was warranted.

                一些精神健康专々家认为应将“网瘾”列入新近改版的第五版精神病学圣经——《精神疾病诊断与@ 统计手册》(第五版DSM)中。美国医学协会(ASA)在2007年就曾表示支持这一想法,但几天后却又改口。《美国精神病¤学杂志》将网♀瘾视作一种“普通疾病”,并支持普及网瘾知识。去年,第五版DSM起草小组决定:网瘾将不会被列入“行为上瘾”——只有赌博加入其列——但小组表示研究将■会进一步开展。

                Sceptics say there is nothing uniquely addictive about the internet. Back in 2000 Joseph Walther, a communications professor at Michigan State University, co-wrote an article in which he suggested, tongue in cheek, that the criteria used to call someone an internet addict might also show that most professors were “addicted” to academia. He argued that other factors, such as depression, are the real problem. He stands by that view today. “No scientific evidence has emerged to suggest that internet use is a cause rather than a consequence of some other sort of issue,” he says. “Focusing on and treating people for internet addiction, rather than looking for underlying clinical issues, is unwise.”

                怀疑︻论者认为,互联网并无让人上瘾的特性。2000年时,密西根州立大学传播学教授约瑟夫.沃尔瑟在与他人合写的一篇文章中开玩ω笑似地说道,如果按照所谓的♂网瘾标准,大部分的教授也可以叫做“学术上瘾”了。约瑟夫还表示,其他的因素,比如抑郁,才是真正需要№解决的问题。约瑟夫□ 至今还坚信该观点。“所谓使用互联网是问题的起因,而不是因其他因素造成的结果,这一点并无科学证实。”他说道,“如果只关注并着手治疗网→瘾者,而不寻找其他隐藏的临床因素,是很不明▲智的做法。”

                Others disagree. “That would be wrong,” says Kimberly Young, a researcher and therapist who has worked on internet addiction since 1994. She insists that the internet, with its powerfully immersive environments, creates new problems that people must learn to navigate.


                No one disputes that online habits can turn toxic. Take South Korea, where ubiquitous broadband means that the average high-school student plays video games for 23 hours each week. In 2007 the government estimated that around 210,000 children needed treatment for internet addiction. Last year newspapers around the globe carried the story of a South Korean couple who fed their infant daughter so little that she starved to death. Instead of caring for the child, the couple spent most nights at an internet café, sinking hours into a role-playing game in which they raised, fed and cared for a virtual daughter. And several South Korean men have died from exhaustion after marathon, multi-day gaming sessions.

                上网有弊端已是公认事实。以韩国为例,宽带▓普及导致高中生平均每周花23小时玩线上游戏。2007年,韩国政府估计近21万的∑ 儿童需要接受网瘾治疗。去年,全球的报刊都报道了一对▽韩国夫妻因喂养不足导致女婴死亡的新闻。这对夫妻因为整夜泡在网↘吧里,沉浸在一个线上喂养和照顾女儿的虚拟游戏中,根∮本没有时间照顾真正的女儿。另有几名韩国男性因长时〓间沉浸于线上游戏劳累过度而死。

                The South Korean government has since asked game developers to adopt a gaming curfew for children, to prevent them playing between midnight and 8am. It has also opened more than 100 clinics for internet addiction and sponsored an “internet rescue camp” for serious cases.


                But compulsive behaviour is not limited to gamers. E-mail or web-use behaviours can also show signs of addiction. Getting through a business lunch in which no one pulls out a phone to check their messages now counts as a minor miracle in many quarters. A deluge of self-help books, most recently “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle, a social scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offer advice on how to unplug.


                Pornography is hardly new, either, but the internet makes accessing it much easier than ever before. When something can be summoned in an instant via broadband, whether it is a game world, an e-mail inbox or pornographic material, it is harder to resist. New services lead to new complaints. When online auction sites first became popular, talk of “eBay addiction” soon followed. Dr Young says women complain to her now about addiction to Facebook—or even to “FarmVille”, a game playable only within Facebook.


                Treatment centres have popped up around the world. In 2006 Amsterdam’s Smith & Jones facility billed itself as “the first and, currently, the only residential video-game treatment program in the world”. In America the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program claims to treat internet addiction, gaming addiction, and even “texting addiction”. In China, meanwhile, military-style “boot camps” are the preferred way to treat internet problems. After several deaths, however, scrutiny of the camps has intensified.


                Yet many people like feeling permanently connected. As Arikia Millikan, an American blogger, once put it, “If I could be jacked in at every waking hour of the day, I would, and I think a lot of my peers would do the same.” Bob LaRose, an internet specialist at Michigan State University, doesn’t believe her. In his research on college students, he found that most sense when they are “going overboard and restore self-control”. Less than 1% have a pathological problem, he adds. For most people, internet use “is just a habit—and one that brings us pleasure.”


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