Certain forms of online behaviour are increasingly being referred to in medical terms and treated as diseases, a process known as "medicalisation". This study examines the process by which online behaviour appears to be increasingly medicalised and suggests some possible reasons why non-medical problems are defined and treated as forms of illness. Particular attention is paid to a condition that is increasingly referred to by medical professionals as "online addiction" or "Internet dependence". The study then explains some of the social and psychological consequences of medicalisation for online users who have been diagnosed as "ill". These include guilt, a loss of self-confidence, social ostracism, and self-fulfilling behaviour. Some weaknesses of the medicalisation construct are discussed, and alternative explanations are offered.
- Behavioural sciences