Follow the Money: “Gaming Disorder” About to Become a Medical Illness

The World Health Organization is considering adding “gaming disorder” to the list of mental health conditions in its next update of the International Classification of Diseases.

The defining point of where a medical gaming disorder exists, as opposed to just a gaming problem? If a person “loses control” over their gaming habits.

Two things here …

First, follow the money. If gaming disorder gets sold as a medical illness, then third party payers – mostly the government, the way we’re going – will be forced to pay for treatment of the medical illness. This means if you’re productive and pay taxes, you’ll be forced to pay for counseling sessions of people who have made poor choices and want those choices labeled a mental illness.

Health professionals know they probably cannot sell this B.S. to the public and expect people to pay their own money for it. After all, there’s no medical evidence whatsoever that playing computer games all day is caused by something biological or medical. It’s merely a proclamation by the socialists and Communists who run the World Health Organization. While some people might have the expendable cash to pay someone else to “treat” your “disease” of “gaming illness”, health providers are far more likely to get paid if government or heavily government-regulated private insurance programs will be forced to pay for it.

It’s a decades-old game – no pun intended.

Second, it’s fascinating to learn the defining characteristic of a gaming “disorder” as opposed to a mere problem. The defining point is where the person “loses control” of the behavior. But at what point do you define something as losing control? And what about when the person eventually regains control, presumably through treatment? Does the person regain control of his own free will, or does something external — like surgery, or medication — make it happen? If not, then it’s a contradiction to call it an illness, isn’t it?

I know people who clearly do too much of something, but (1) they don’t think they do and, (2) nobody else is forced to pay for their problem. You might argue, “Who’s to say when there’s a problem?” Or you might defend objective criteria for there being a problem. But what are the objective criteria?

To classify gaming as a disorder, you only need a mental health or medical professional to feel there is one. But they stand to gain from that entirely subjective proclamation because, after all, if it’s classified as a disorder, then payment will follow. Which brings us back to my first point of follow the money.

My professional experience with gaming problems, as well as what I’ve read on the subject: Most game abusers are 20-something men going on 30-something. The ones with a significant problem continue to live under their parents’ roof, often with completed college degrees and no job, spending 8 to 16 hours a day online playing games with people throughout the world who have become their social community. They will never willingly seek professional help because they truly don’t think they have a problem. If dragged to a mental health professional’s office (impossible in most cases), they won’t accept treatment other than as a fraudulent statement to get their parents off their backs. I have witnessed it.

If we reframed such a problem from “gaming disorder” to a sad and even depraved willingness to mooch off your family, along with squandering your dormant life interests or passions away on permanent play time, then a different and probably more helpful, more accurate picture of the problem emerges. But we’re not permitted to do that in a politically correct world where we’re intimidated and “guilted” into refusing to name the truth aloud.

Parents are the ones with the bigger problem in such cases, because they’re enabling and permitting such behavior to go on under their roof. Their psychological and emotional challenge is to figure out how to fight the problem decisively, whether it means putting the house up for sale and moving to Florida, calling the police to take their son out of the house after a reasonable number of warnings, simply turning off the Internet, or other creative strategies to employ when the problem is viewed for what it actually is, rather than what the World Health Organization wants it to be.

I won’t deny that spending your whole life in front of a computer playing games is a behavioral and emotional problem. But the people with the bigger problems are the parents or others who enable and foster the sad, sick behavior because of unearned guilt and false beliefs, including the false belief that you’re responsible for your kid into his 20s and 30s merely because he won’t take responsibility for himself. These are the problems therapists have to address and help others resolve if there’s any hope of things becoming better.

Calling something a medical disease that isn’t a medical disease will only worsen the problem and add to the unearned guilt and false beliefs of parents and others who have to lead the way out of it. Grow up, America. And grow up, World Health Organization.



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