Internet addiction and web mediated psychopathology (2011)

Recenti Prog Med. 2011 Nov;102(11):417-20. doi: 10.1701/975.10605.

[Article in Italian]

Tonioni F, Corvino S.


The development of the Internet and its gradual mass distribution in the last 20 years have marked the beginning of a global revolution in the way of communicating and thinking. In this context, emerged disorders related to a pathological use of the network, up to forms of real addiction (Internet Addiction Disorder), similar to the use of psychotropic substances. The abuse of the Internet can seriously aggravate pre-existing psychopathological traits, which are the basis of addiction, resulting in a continuous process of disconnection from reality. The loss of interpersonal relationships, the change of mood, cognition completely oriented to the use of the network and disruption of temporal experience are common features in patients addicted to the Internet. There are also clear signs of intoxication and abstinence. Teenagers are particularly at risk, maybe because born in the “new virtual world” and therefore less aware of the risks that may ensue. At the Gemelli Hospital in Rome it’s active an out-patient service for Internet Addiction Disorder with a treatment protocol that includes individual interviews, group rehabilitation and self-help groups for family members.