Digital Addiction

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    • 00:01


    • 00:11

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: In the UK there areplenty of people who are increasingly finding themselvesusing the internet or gaming as almosta crutch for difficulties that they encounter in life.Consequently, I found myself more and moreworking with clients that spend a considerable amountof their lives online or playing games.

    • 00:37

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: When clients first make contact with me,it is almost certainly going to be through their parents.The first thing you need to do isyou need to ascertain how much desireto change there is in the gamer.I need to sit down with that gamerand I need to talk through with them.And I need to say, do you think that you have a problem here?

    • 01:00

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: If they really do not see any particular issuesin their lives that need counseling for,or any particular problem with their gaming,then the best thing for me to do isto not see them individually as a client.And to encourage the family to see it as a family problem.

    • 01:20

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: They then go into family therapy.Now, from there the gamer might thencome back after having acknowledgedthat there is an issue.Particularly if I'm working with the classic addicted gamer,which is a 19, 20-year-old boy, who's been referred by his mom.

    • 01:41

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: The gamer will sit down in front of you and they will see youas an associate and an ally of the mother's.Someone who is against the gaming.And so immediately you've got a lot of resistancethere, which is get your hands off my gaming.The best way I've found to work with thatis to start off from getting into their world of gaming.

    • 02:04

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: What games do you play?What characters do you like to play as?So I wonder what have you been playing recently?

    • 02:11

      SPEAKER: My main poison is Football Manager.I play that a lot.And when I get into it, I play it through the night.

    • 02:18

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: And just exploring the games,and really checking in with that very regularly.And how is it playing FIFA at the moment?So how was it playing FIFA-- did you play it this morning?

    • 02:28

      SPEAKER: Yeah.I played a couple of games.Yeah.It's good.It's good because there's always kind of something to do.There's always a new game.It's always very immediate in tryingto strive to create the best team.And there's always a player you want to sign.There's always something to do in it.

    • 02:46

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: It's about actuallyembracing that part of them.That game's giving a positive affirmationto their creativity, their problem solving skills.So you've certainly got a capacity for hard work.You're not getting employed at the moment,but it's something that you're able to workthrough frustration.

    • 03:04

      SPEAKER: Yeah.I suppose so actually.I guess that's true, actually.I suppose the most frustrating thing with workis not getting the position, or notgetting the chance for an interview, and stuff like that.

    • 03:16

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: And once they realize that you are actuallyon board with them as a gamer, theyare much more willing to actually share and discusshow the gaming is not so good.So tell me a bit more about-- if you tell me a little bit moreabout some of those things that have been coming upfor you recently, I wonder what has been on your mind?

    • 03:37

      SPEAKER: Trying to find a job.I've kind of, I guess, given up in a way.Because the time I spend playing,I should be doing applications, and things like that.But you get so many rejections, or no-emails back,that you kind of just think, what's the point?

    • 03:57

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: There are two directionsthat you can approach the sessions from,and that really is down to where the client is,and what they recognize as being the best route.On the one hand, you have actuallyworking directly with the gaming.As in effectively saying, how can wecontrol this and make this so it doesn't

    • 04:19

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: dominate your life as much?And the other side of the counseling, by farthe more dominating side, is to actually forget the gaming.To put that to one side and work with whatare the things in your life that you struggle.What you're doing is, is you're movingbetween those two positions.

    • 04:39

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: As soon as you've done that, effectively, youopen up a pressure valve, and thatwill present some of the difficultiesthat they find in the world that you then work with.And you just move back and forth.So you release the pressure, you work with what's going on.You then move back, and you releasethe pressure a bit more.And you just keep doing that.It sounds like you're feeling like that you can't really

    • 05:02

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: make things happen.Particularly with regards to getting work, which has youfeeling quite cut off, as well.

    • 05:08

      SPEAKER: Yeah.I mean that's exactly it when it comes to gaming.Gaming, there's an immediacy.You play it, and you're in the game,and you're affecting things then.Whereas something like work, or like meeting up with people,there's so many variables.In terms of you have to apply, youhave to talk to friends, and stuff like that.And say, oh, let's meet up here and coordinate schedules.And I just hate that waiting.

    • 05:30

      SPEAKER [continued]: And so I prefer gaming just because it's more immediateand it's there in the present.

    • 05:38

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: One of the thingsthat I think I spend most of my time in sessions talking aboutis text messages.Generally, someone who has a reliance upon gaining,they find that face-to-face social interactionsare quite intimidating.And so consequently, an awful lot of my sessions

    • 05:59

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: are the client expressing their concernabout tenuous friendships they have.Friendships, and perhaps relationshipswith family members or partners, that theyfeel they're about to lose, or that they feel are on the line.They don't know how to handle them.If you weren't to be gaming, would yoube wanting to have someone's company, perhaps?

    • 06:22

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: I wonder if, perhaps, you do if you're lonely quite often.

    • 06:24

      SPEAKER: Yeah, definitely.Definitely.I don't know.It' kind of weird because now that I'm backin with my parents and things like that,and there are people around all the time.But not the people I want around,not the people I want to talk to.And then I don't really want to talk to my parents

    • 06:44

      SPEAKER [continued]: about anything like that.

    • 06:47

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: Generally, every problematic gamer,or addicted gamer I've come across,has struggled in some way with members of the household.And sessions, quite often, will involvemoving between asking them about those relationships, howthey are.And feeding that into, how does that then

    • 07:08

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: lead to a trigger for you to game?It's quite a revealing exercise to actually geta client, particularly a family, to think about,what would your household be like if the gaming was gone?And normally, they can quite easilysee the sores that are actually closed upby the gaming that would quite quickly be opened again

    • 07:31

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: if the gaming wasn't there.The problem for a problematic gameris that when they feel like there isn'tan issue in their lives, they can game.And one of the benefits of gaming, if you like,is it's incredibly powerful at switching us offfrom our emotions and our bodies.

    • 07:56

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: Last session we looked a bit at how muchtime you-- we did some numbers on how much time you spentgaming, and how much time you enjoy it,and how much time you found frustrating.I just wonder what you'd come away from,what you thought about that afterwards.

    • 08:11

      SPEAKER: Yeah.Well, I guess I was kind of a bit surprised, I guess I'd say.In that when I kind of thought it out and blocked it out,I was actually more frustrated than kind of happywith the game.In terms of the time I spent playing it.

    • 08:29

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: The aspect of the brain of the addicted gamerthat I think is most important, that I draw outas being most useful, is the way dopamine works.Dopamine is the wanting, and the craving chemical,if you'd like, that goes off in our brain.What happens with an addicted gamer, or anybody who's

    • 08:53

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: addicted, is that the dopamine levels are actuallywhat they're chasing.And what happens there is the actual experienceitself gets very muted.Because the dopamine receptors have started to shut down.They've over done it in effect.You can directly see that this flooding of dopamine

    • 09:13

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: gets higher and higher in an addict,but the actual experience gets more and more hollow.A great technique is delaying gratification.Decide, I think I can wait 10 minutes before I actuallystart gaming.So how long did you go forward when you tried to hold off?

    • 09:35

      SPEAKER: The first time I did like five, and thenmy second time I managed to 10.But then after that, after doing it for the 10,I didn't really see why.And so I didn't really like just sitting around.So I just kind of went back to just playing straight away,really.

    • 09:54

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: Well, can I justsay that's really great that you had a go,you've actually started to show that you'vegot some control over this.That this is something that you havea say in as to how much it happens.Let's not worry about the fact that it got difficult,

    • 10:14

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: and later on you didn't.The fact is that you did it.And 10 minutes, that's awhile, really.

    • 10:20

      SPEAKER: Thank you.It felt like awhile.

    • 10:22

      CIARAN O'CONNOR: Can you tell me a bit about whatwent on for you in those 5 and 10 minutes?The point is for them to effectively flex their muscleswhilst that time goes passed.Because quite often, that's the pointat which the sum of the dread that they're running away fromwill be going on for them.Discussing that feeling, and discussing

    • 10:44

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: that sense of powerlessness.And also starting to affirm the ways in which they can affectthe world, in which they are affecting me as a person,can start to nurture their own sense of their own faithin themselves.Something that we value high as human beings

    • 11:06

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: is the sense that I made something happen.And games offer that in bucket loads.So it's normally quite sudden, the end.And normally, there's a phase before the endwhere they become quite removed.I think as increasingly they start to-- having learnt

    • 11:27

      CIARAN O'CONNOR [continued]: to rely upon me as a counselor, they then learn to detach.And that-- for all the painfulness of itafter getting close to clients and working with them--is, I see that as an important process they need to go to.I need to be able to put up with those feelings,because quite often they're the feeling that they've had.That they've found too difficult to cope with.

Digital Addiction

View Segments Segment :


The Internet and gaming can become addictions. Increasingly, more and more people are finding themselves using these technologies as a crutch for life's difficulties. Psychotherapist Ciaran O'Connor discusses Internet and video game addiction and how to approach such matters with clients. He describes some of the deeper issues that may be involved and the brain of an addicted gamer.

SAGE Video In Practice
Digital Addiction

The Internet and gaming can become addictions. Increasingly, more and more people are finding themselves using these technologies as a crutch for life's difficulties. Psychotherapist Ciaran O'Connor discusses Internet and video game addiction and how to approach such matters with clients. He describes some of the deeper issues that may be involved and the brain of an addicted gamer.

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