Dr. Anthony Bean is a Licensed Psychologist in Fort Worth, Texas. He has worked across the lifespan focusing on various difficulties with life and emphasizes individual strengths and normalizing life experiences. Dr. Bean specializes in video games, children, adolescents, and adults who play video games. He is considered an expert in this growing field and has been published in the discipline. His clinical interests include archetypal identification, depth psychology, video games as therapeutic tools, play therapy, and personality research. Dr. Bean obtained his Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California.
WHO classifies ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition
(CNN)Watching as a video game ensnares their child, many a parent has grumbled about “digital heroin,” likening the flashing images to one of the world’s most addictive substances.
Characteristics of gaming disorder
Psychologists Criticize WHO Decision to Recognize ‘Gaming Disorder’
On Monday, the World Health Organization announced that “gaming disorder” is now officially considered a mental health condition. While this change means gaming disorder is now an illness as far as the WHO is concerned, that doesn’t mean mental health professionals don’t still have deep concerns about the classification.
“Gaming disorder” will be included in the 11th edition of the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases, the guidebook used by doctors and insurance companies to label diseases and injuries as well as to figure out what insurance will cover. Its criteria for gaming disorder are three-fold: having trouble controlling your gaming, gaming more and more instead of taking part in other activities, and continuing to game despite consequences. These criteria sound pretty clear-cut, but some psychologists say that gamers who play a lot don’t necessarily have a problem. They also argue that labeling excessive gaming a “disorder” will not only create a problem where one doesn’t exist but will also make it harder to diagnose and treat the anxiety or mood disorders that may underlie problematic video gaming.
Psychologist Anthony Bean, Ph.D. tells Inverse that the move by the WHO is “definitely premature.” A clinical psychologist and researcher who specializes in gaming, Bean recently published a book called Working with Video Gamers and Games in Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide for other psychologists who are treating gamers. He worries that if gaming is treated as a behavioral disorder in and of itself, patients’ underlying issues may be ignored.
“I see gaming usually as what we call a secondary condition to a primary of depression or anxiety when they come into a therapy session,” he says. “And as you work with anxiety or depression, the gaming reduces significantly.” In other words, it’s likely that patients who may be diagnosed with gaming disorder are using video games as a way to cope with these other mental health issues.
Bean also worries that the language used in the ICD-11 is so broad that it could lead to a diagnosis in people who are simply enthusiasts. If there isn’t sufficient research to support the WHO’s claim that video gaming is harmful in these individuals’ lives, this move could lead to classifying someone’s innocent enthusiasm for their hobby as a mental illness. As Inverse reported in 2017, researchers have found that people who might fit the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for gaming disorder do not have negative effects in their lives in a way that would suggest a disorder.