LOS ANGELES, California — An enlisted member of the United States Navy is believed to be the first-ever patient to undergo treatment for an unofficial medical diagnosis known as Internet addiction disorder (IAD), stemming from his overuse of Google Glass. IAD is characterized as a “severe emotional, social and mental dysfunction” that results from the overuse of technology such as mobile devices, video games, and computers.
Dr. Andrew Doan, who coauthored the study in the scientific and medical journal Addictive Behaviors, said in an interview with Breitbart News that part of his study of the 31-year-old male patient is due to a “growing concern about force readiness,” which IAD could cause. The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. The patient was being treated in the Navy’s alcohol-abuse program.
According to the study, the patient would use Google Glass 18 hours a day, only removing it to shower and sleep. Dr. Doan said that the patient was given permission to use the Glass at work because it enabled functioning at a high level by helping him to access detailed and complicated information quickly. Doan noted that the patient was “very clever in his way of using Google Glass” but emphasized the importance of doing “everything in moderation.”
While he did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he showed “significant frustration and irritability related to not being able to use” Google Glass during his treatment, and he would become argumentative at work if not permitted use.
Additionally, the patient was using the Google Glass for social situations. “People, both men and women would approach him and strike up a conversation based on the Glass, which made him feel more confident. His self-confidence and identity became intertwined with the use of Google Glass,” Dr. Doan told Breitbart News.
The published study noted that the patient had stated that “the withdrawal from this [Google Glass] is much worse than the withdrawal I went through from alcohol,” noting that at night he would even dream as if he were looking through the device.
The patient had entered his month-long treatment period displaying withdrawal symptoms that were initially believed to be solely from his alcohol overuse. Breitbart News asked Dr. Doan if it was possible that the overextended use of Google Glass may have directly corresponded or acted as a catalyst to fuel the patient’s alcohol abuse. He responded “We ,don’t know. We don’t have enough data to explain that yet.”
While there is fundamental background and research on addictive disorders, doctors and researchers still “need more numbers” and “definitely need more patients” in order to deem IAD an official diagnosis, Dr. Doan said.
“Insurance companies don’t pay typically for these types of problems, so there’s not a lot of payment ability for it,” Doan said. This makes it increasingly difficult for doctors and researchers to treat patients who potentially have the disorder. “It’s just going to take a while for us to realize that this is real.”
Ironically, IAD was created as a parody of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) by New York psychiatrist Dr. Ivan Goldberg in 1995. In the nearly 20 years since he published the hoax, significant research has been conducted on IAD, and doctors and researchers are now actively seeking to make it a recognized disorder. A copy of his original post can be found here.
While there’s “nothing inherently bad about Google Glass,” Dr. Doan said the device exposes its users to overstimulation of the brain if it is abused. “Someone who is healthy can set up boundaries and limit usage, whereas someone who is addicted can’t moderate and is always seeking more,” which can take a toll on the brain.
The good news is that over a month-long treatment period, the patient showed signs of significant improvement, including a reduction in irritability “as well as a reduction in the desire and motor action of moving his hand up to his temple to turn on the device,” the study noted.
“He is allowed to use Google glass again, and we encourage him to use it for work appropriately and set up boundaries,” Dr. Doan said. “It starts with education and making people aware that using it 18 hours a day could cause problems. If someone doesn’t kick their addiction, they will get into trouble again.”