As the economy continues its downward trend grant junkies scramble to concoct the new, profitable scams.
One such imaginative researcher is Dr. Jerald Block who touts his contribution to health hysteria in the American Journal of Psychiatry. His hook is the ubiquitous digital communication that engulfs the world. The compulsion to send and read email messages interspersed with frenetic text messaging is, so he asserts, an aspect of internet addiction. He lists four symptoms of messaging mental illness: withdrawal pains when computers are unavailable, a constant search for better equipment, a need for more time to get high with electronic communication and, best of all, a suffering from the repercussions of the addiction.

A sad story is related of a young woman who utilizes a computer all day at work, then rushes home to spend hours poring over internet gossip outlets, perusing personal email, and trawling sites like Facebook. The lady is depicted as debilitated by messaging addiction. She regards her cell phone as a security blanket and would feel naked without it. A forensic psychiatrist, who first encountered internet addiction 10 years ago, remarks that the numbers suffering from the disorder are growing.

What to do about this growing problem? Unfortunately no advice is forthcoming from Dr. Block who is, however, quite voluble as to the societal ills caused by the out-of-control electronic communicants. Car accidents, stalking, harassment and rude behavior will escalate, he dourly predicts. Sadly, society is unaware of the catastrophe that lurks around the corner. More health-care dollars are needed to study the phenomenon with yet more money needed to treat the legions of addicts. Only time will tell whether Dr. Block’s con job will bear fruit but if we can tear ourselves away from the email den we’ll send him a text message of "atta boy!"



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