Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Language of the Victim

I am fully aware of the fact that language changes over time and that this phenomenon is a intrinsic part of communication, but that doesn’t mean that a trend in this change should go unnoticed.

It used to be molars (teeth) that were one of the few things that were described as Impacted, now that this adjective (become verb) is used universally to replace the word Effected, everyone is Impacted, the poor, the rich and every other individual or group is suddenly Impacted. The media loves to use this word, Impact, as it sounds more like someone has been hit by a meteorite when compared to the perfectly serviceable word, Effect.

Disorders and Syndromes are thought up, diagnosed and become the subject of dissertations and Doctorates with no one in the media interested in debating with a qualified Specialist.

Well, that’s never stopped me.. and my subject today is.... Behavioural Addiction.

Wikipedia has this to say .. “Behavioral addiction (also called process addiction or "non-substance-related addiction") is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his individual health, mental state, or social life. Many such processes within this concept are not harmful or deviant by themselves, but become so when they result in these negative consequences. Frequently discussed examples include gambling, sex, eating, and internet usage.
The applicability of the word "addiction" to these conditions is controversial, and there is not a universal consensus as to the most appropriate phrase used to describe these conditions as a class.”

Now, as far as I know this is the only diagnosis where the individual himself/herself is the one who defines the illness... “ ...harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his individual health, mental state, or social life”... it is ‘user defined’.

Nightflower, a person I respect and whose posts I enjoy, has defined herself as a recovering addict in her recent post and maybe I should just let her get on with it... except it effects the way people think of their computer usage; this negative self-categorisation rubs off on others.

Sex, gambling, eating and computer usage are the activities which are subject to this self diagnosis I am very suspicious of all four of these being defined as addictive behaviours.

Sex... now I don’t know any boy between the ages of 14 and 40 who has not been, or is not, addicted to sex. Obviously, by the definition of this type of addiction it is self diagnosed, so it will depend on the positive or negative spin the ‘user’ places on his sex-drive. If a man shags, or tries to shag, everything that moves it is, of course, easy for him to turn round and diagnose himself as an addict.

Sex, gambling and food are all subject to Greed. Now, we can allow greed to become an addiction, especially if it is self-diagnosed, no one is gonna say “I am a greedy person and I am too weak to rein myself in”... much more socially acceptable to talk about my addiction. I distance myself from the responsibility for my behaviour.

The computer falls outside of this Greed classification.... and it is extremely doubtful, in my mind that one piece of machinery can be singled out for an addiction. When it is a relatively new piece of equipment that makes me even more suspicious.

No one claims they are addicted to the telephone, tho I know teenage girls who are almost never off the phone. Their bills certainly effect their financial stability and their social life is via this piece of equipment. No one has ever claimed to be addicted to letter writing as far as I know.

The computer, at least in the way it is used to play SL, is a communications device. It is a way of ‘being with’ friends. If you are addicted to a person, it is normally called Love if it reciprocated or Stalking if not.... and there are times when you can’t drag yourself away from a good party and end up staying the night... in SL (as Wizzy remarked) you simply end up with j k l imprinted on your forehead. Falling asleep in front of the TV is surely now considered to be ‘normal’ behaviour....

The behaviour which Nightflower describes in her post, including Lying and Subterfuge, sound like the behaviour of illicit partners in an extra-marital affair rather than any activity which could be called addictive.

There is angst connected with this type of activity which I have written about before, and it has much more to do with our classification of this recent machine and associated behaviours than it does with the Addictive Nature of the Evil Machine itself.

So... to get back to my starting sentences... this type of behaviour used to be called Bad Habits.... lack of self discipline, lack of self control, poor planning, lack of balance.

Obviously this is not the fault, in any way, of a machine or software, this is a phase of psychic development, a growth to maturity, taking responsibility and saying... “OK, no drama, I’ve been getting into bad habits and need to pull myself together”....

I don’t believe it needs a special classification, just a self examination of motives, of what is being avoided and of why you feel so guilty.

...and don’t misunderstand me, I have spent 20 hours a day in SL, as noob, but I don’t think I have been Impacted by Addiction.

Passion is good, better than being luke warm.



  1. Yeah..... It's not an addiction. Addiction is a physical condition, but I hear what you're saying. Now it's become a layman's term for impulse control disorders, and sometimes stretching to just plain bad time management skills. Believe me, I've heard it before in my rl career about WoW, and before that IRC, now they even have Facebook addict support groups! Just because some clinician starts up their own niche program to beat the "addiction" doesn't make it a viable malady, it just means someone's cashing in on it.

  2. Yes, very succinctly put. My thoughts exactly.

  3. When that Korean baby died from neglect while her parents were in an Internet cafe, I talked about the "addiction" appellation in my blog... It seems that the court of public opinion has expanded to include the analyst's couch of public opinion.

    On the specific instance which prompted this post of yours: "Straw, meet camel's back." I removed NWN from the list of feeds on my Blogger dashboard. Not only has the general quality of content on that blog declined over the past months, its owner/publisher/editor in chief has increasingly been pandering to titillation. Add that to his contractual arrangement to tout another virtual world I can't be arsed about, and the result is total irrelevance.

  4. Is there a term for addiction to the attention your addiction garners?

  5. Great post Lalo and I have to agree about NWN.... I mean what can you say about Blue Mars that wont fit on the back of a stamp.

    Ah... whiskeyshots... that's a good question.

  6. Very good post. Passion is definitely to prefer before lukewarm =)

    As long as no one else (children or pets for example) gets harmed there is no problem. More people are "addicted" to television and one seldom hears about that...

  7. Great post Soror. We have spoken before about psychological and sociology terms being taken up by "pop" culture and misused, distorted or in ignorance of the deeper aspects of such terms. "Addiction" is one of them; most frequently used now to explain or excuse otherwise well-known behavioural traits in order to absolve a person of responsibility for their own actions.

    In another age, I might be labeled "dedicated" for spending such large amounts of time on my craft; today someone might say I am "addicted." Because I should be spending time... what? Watching TV (average American - 8hrs15min/daily; average schoolchild 22hrs/week)? Shopping (average woman 399hrs46min/yr)? Watching a football playoff (12hrs/2 days)? I think not.

    If a person cannot keep good personal hygiene, food in the fridge, a clean house or take care of their business or children, they have a problem. But "addicted" they are not, unless they go into convulsions, hallucinations, start stealing to support their habit or the other hallmarks of true addiction.

    They have a problem with self-discipline, or avoidance, or withdrawl or many of the other standard psychological observations that have been useful and true for a long time, well before "the internet age." Calling this type of behaviour "addiction" is an attempt to shift responsibility off the individual and onto "the System" or whatever bogeyman stands in its place.

    *speaking as a person who has overcome real addictions; to alcohol and to drugs as well as to victim mentality*

    ps - I agree about New Mars Notes *sigh*

  8. I agree Miso!! Its a comfy way to shift responsibility from the individual to the system as u say. Its always nice to have someone else to blame

  9. Spot on, Miso. As I said in a previous post, it's a good job that people like Bach and Van Gogh were 'addicted', the world would be a poorer place if they had spent their time watching TV.

  10. "Is there a term for addiction to the attention your addiction garners?"

    Yes, whiskeyshots. When the disease or malady is completely faked it's called a called a factitious disorder, when there really is a problem, but symptoms are exaggerated to a large extent or used as a way to garner secondary gain motives like frequent attention or money, it's called "malingering".

    (I hesitate to use münchausen syndrome or gasner syndrome, those those are certainly examples of it.)