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      Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research

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          Behavioral addiction research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. However, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction.

          Methods and aim

          In this article, we discuss how the use of atheoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of “new” behavioral addictions.


          Both methodological and theoretical shortcomings of these studies were discussed.


          We suggested that studies overpathologizing daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. Consequently, we proposed several roadmaps for future research in the field, centrally highlighting the need for longer tenable behavioral addiction research that shifts from a mere criteria-based approach toward an approach focusing on the psychological processes involved.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Issues for DSM-V: internet addiction.

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            Internet gaming disorder and the DSM-5.

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              Neurocognitive functions in pathological gambling: a comparison with alcohol dependence, Tourette syndrome and normal controls.

              Neurocognitive functions in pathological gambling have relevance for the aetiology and treatment of this disorder, yet are poorly understood. This study therefore investigated neurocognitive impairments of executive functions in a group of carefully screened Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version IV (DSM-IV-TR) pathological gamblers. Performance was compared to a group of normal control participants. To study the specificity of these neurocognitive deficits, a substance dependence group (alcohol dependence) and an impulse control disorder group (Tourette syndrome) were included. Cross-sectional study. Addiction and general mental health treatment centres. Forty-nine pathological gamblers, 48 abstinent alcohol-dependent patients, 46 participants with Tourette syndrome and 49 normal control participants. A comprehensive neuropsychological battery measuring executive functions as well as basic cognitive functions. Both the pathological gambling and the alcohol dependent groups were characterized by diminished performance on inhibition, time estimation, cognitive flexibility and planning tasks. The Tourette syndrome group showed deficits only on inhibition tasks. Basic cognitive functions were intact in all clinical groups. Comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial personality disorder and nicotine dependence influenced the impaired functions of the clinical groups only minimally. Carefully screened groups of pathological gamblers and alcohol dependents were characterized by diminished executive functioning, suggesting a dysfunction of frontal lobe circuitry in these disorders. The resemblance between the pathological gambling group and the alcohol dependence group suggests a common neurocognitive aetiology for these disorders. Psychosocial treatment of these disorders could benefit from assessing and targeting deficits in executive functions, as they probably influence the course of these disorders negatively.

                Author and article information

                J Behav Addict
                J Behav Addict
                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                Akadémiai Kiadó
                September 2015
                27 May 2015
                : 4
                : 3
                : 119-123
                [1 ]Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain , Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
                [2 ]Internet and Gambling Disorders Clinic, Department of Adult Psychiatry, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc , Brussels, Belgium
                [3 ]Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, UKE – Kore University of Enna , Italy
                [4 ]Addictology Division, Mental Health and Psychiatry Department, Geneva University Hospitals , Geneva, Switzerland
                Author notes
                * Corresponding author: Prof. Joël Billieux, PhD; Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, 10, Place du Cardinal Mercier – 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium; Phone: + 32 (0)10 47 46 38; Fax: +32(0)10 47 37 74; E-mail: Joel.Billieux@
                © 2015 Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 0, References: 29, Pages: 5
                Joël Billieux and Pierre Maurage are granted by the Belgium National Lottery for research on gambling disorder. Joël Billieux is granted by the European Commission for Research on the Problematic usage of information and communication technology (“Tech Use Disorders”; Grant ID: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF-627999). Pierre Maurage (Research Associate) and Alexandre Heeren (Senior Research Fellow) are funded by the Belgian National Foundation for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS, Belgium). Alexandre Heeren is also funded by the Belgian Foundation “Vocatio” (Scientific Vocation).
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