Expatica news

Internet addiction a growing problem

1 April 2005

BRUSSELS – More and more people are falling victim to internet addiction, according to a leading Brussels psychiatric clinic.

Brugmann Hospital has started a specialised service to tackle the problem after specialists reported increasing numbers of patients being affected, La Derniere Heure reported.

“We don’t have enough distance to estimate the number of people affected by this problem in our country,” said Serge Minet, a clinical therapist, who has written a book called ‘Le plaisir du jeu:entre passion et souffrance’, (The Pleasure of the Game: between passion and pain).

“What we do know is that this communication tool with extraordinary potential has become a real source of worry, and the problem is only going to get worse,” he told La Derniere Heure.

Minet says he is seeing more and more cyber addicts, who are often convinced to seek help because a partner or family member is worried about their behaviour.

The patients are becoming addicted to virtual communication in chat rooms, drawn by “the friendliness, the speed, discretion, where they can finally talk about themselves”.

“There is also sex assisted by the computer, virtual sex through pornographic sites,” said Minet.

“We also see compulsive buying or sites with gambling games, casinos, but also role-play games in which the participants create a character for themselves which can take over their own personality.”

Minet says all ages are affected, with his youngest patient being 13.

“Children risk dropping out of school because they can’t get up in the morning after a night spent on the Internet,” said Minet.

“When they get home they only think of one thing: connecting as fast as possible. Adults can also start to lose interest in their work.”

People become addicted to the internet due to a range of factors, ranging from the need to escape reality to feeling lonely.

Minet is holding a workshop on the issue on 29 April aimed at anyone who thinks they, or anyone they know, might be affected by the problem.

“This problem isn’t talked about very much,” he said.

“I am trying to talk about it, to make people aware of it, to open up chances of treatment and prevention and to support people who face it.”

For information about the workshop call 02 477 27 99.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news