Is game addiction a mental disorder? A dissertation on the history and science of the concept of Internet gaming disorder

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis


This Ph.D. dissertation critically examines the concept of "video game addiction" and the science behind the proposal that the disorder should be officially recognized as a mental disorder called "Internet gaming disorder." Chapter One gives a short introduction to the history of the word "addiction" and describes how gambling disorder (the only officially recognized behavioral addiction) came to be defined as an addiction. Chapter 2 will take a look at the negative consequences of video game play that are most commonly cited in the literature on game addiction. This review will show how researchers' claims of negative effects caused by video game playing are wildly exaggerated. Chapter 3 adds a short review of what is sometimes cited as historical precursors to Internet gaming disorder and argue that these are, in fact, not examples of addictions. Chapter 4 will analyze the diagnostic criteria that make up "Internet Gaming Disorder" and provide some theoretical concerns about their validity. Chapter 5 is a qualitative study of the experiences and opinions of a small group of players who might wrongly be labeled as "video game addicts." Chapter 6 is a case study of the unfortunate outcomes that may arise when anxiety is misdiagnosed as "video game addiction." Chapter 7 reviews the argument that video games are addictive due to the neurochemical effects they produce in the brain. Chapter 8 draws on anthropological psychiatry and discusses the different cultural contexts in which "video game addiction" exists. The chapter highlights potential problems that arise when psychiatric disorders are transferred across cultures. The dissertation concludes that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the notion that "Internet gaming disorder" is an addictive disorder.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages295
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-349-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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