Considering adverse correlates of problematic use of internet use (PUI), the present study evaluated an intervention aimed at PUI and several putative underpinnings.
A randomized controlled trial study investigated the efficacy of emotional working memory training (eWMT) in improving impulsivity, risky decision-making, and cognitive emotion-regulation (CER) strategies among individuals with PUI in comparison with a placebo group. Young adults (N = 36) with PUI were either trained for 20 sessions in an n-back dual emotional task (eWMT; n = 18) or a feature-matching task (placebo; n = 18).
Twenty continuous sessions of eWMT significantly improved participants' impulsivity, risky decision-making, CER, internet use and PUI symptoms in the short term, compared to the placebo condition.
These preliminary results suggest that eWMT may constitute a promising intervention for PUI and improving cognitive and emotional functioning, and larger, longer studies are warranted.
Research on the development of gaming disorder assumes that the quality of reinforcement learning as well as the content of use expectancies are initially rewarding in the early stages of the addictive behavior and becomes steadily more compensatory in the later stages. This assumed transition could be reflected in gaming-related mental imagery as well as the decision to play videogames in daily life.
We recruited 127 individuals who play videogames. Following a strict diagnostic procedure, individuals were either classified as showing casual or at-risk gaming patterns. The experience and expectancy of reward and relief were assessed in the laboratory, followed by a 14-day ambulatory assessment asking for gaming-related mental imagery intensity and playing frequency. Besides group differences, we tested a gratification and a compensation pathway in a structural equation model among groups separately.
Results indicate that mental imagery and playing frequency as well as reinforcement processes and use expectancies are heightened among individuals showing at-risk gaming patterns as compared to casual gaming patterns. Gaming-related mental imagery was only predicted by compensation among individuals showing casual gaming patterns, and we found no significant predictions for daily gaming frequency in any of the models.
Discussion and conclusions
The results implicate that individuals with at-risk gaming patterns might hold stronger learned reinforcement contingencies. Daily usage seems unaffected by these contingencies, possibly indicative of habitualized behaviors. Additionally, the results provide some support for the consideration of imaginal desire thoughts as a specific coping mechanism in the context of gaming behaviors.
Open science refers to a set of practices that aim to make scientific research more transparent, accessible, and reproducible, including pre-registration of study protocols, sharing of data and materials, the use of transparent research methods, and open access publishing. In this commentary, we describe and evaluate the current state of open science practices in behavioral addiction research. We highlight the specific value of open science practices for the field; discuss recent field-specific meta-scientific reviews that show the adoption of such practices remains in its infancy; address the challenges to engaging with open science; and make recommendations for how researchers, journals, and scientific institutions can work to overcome these challenges and promote high-quality, transparently reported behavioral addiction research. By collaboratively promoting open science practices, the field can create a more sustainable and productive research environment that benefits both the scientific community and society as a whole.
Internet Use Disorders (IUDs) are emerging as a societal challenge. Evidence-based treatment options are scarce. Digital health interventions may be promising to deliver psychological treatment to individuals with IUDs directly in their online setting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a digital health intervention for IUDs compared to a waitlist control group (WCG).
In a two-armed randomized controlled trial, N = 130 individuals showing IUDs (Internet Addiction Test; IAT ≥49) were randomly allocated to the intervention group (IG; n = 65) or WCG (n = 65). The intervention consisted of 7 sessions based on cognitive behavioral therapy. The primary outcome was IUD symptom severity measured via the IAT at post treatment 7 weeks after randomization. Secondary outcomes included IUD symptoms (Compulsive Internet Use Scale; CIUS), quality of life, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and other psychosocial variables associated with IUDs.
Participants were on average 28.45 years old (SD = 10.59) and 50% identified as women, 49% as men, and 1% as non-binary. The IG (n = 65) showed significantly less IUD symptom severity (IAT) (d = 0.54, 95% CI 0.19–0.89) and symptoms (d = 0.57, 95% CI 0.22–0.92) than the WCG (n = 65) at post-treatment. Study attrition was 20%. Effects on all other secondary outcomes were not significant. On average, participants completed 67.5% of the intervention.
Discussion and Conclusions
A digital health intervention could be a promising first step to reduce IUD symptom severity.
The prominent cognitive-behavioral model of hoarding posits that information processing deficits contribute to hoarding disorder. Although individuals with hoarding symptoms consistently self-report attentional and impulsivity difficulties, neuropsychological tests have inconsistently identified impairments. These mixed findings may be the result of using different neuropsychological tests, tests with poor psychometric properties, and/or testing individuals in a context that drastically differs from their own homes.
One hundred twenty-three participants (hoarding = 63; control = 60) completed neuropsychological tests of sustained attention, focused attention, and response inhibition in cluttered and tidy environments in a counterbalanced order.
Hoarding participants demonstrated poorer sustained attention and response inhibition than the control group (CPT-3 Omission and VST scores) and poorer response inhibition in the cluttered environment than when in the tidy environment (VST scores). CPT-3 Detectability and Commission scores also indicated that hoarding participants had greater difficulty sustaining attention and inhibiting responses than the control group; however, these effect sizes were just below the lowest practically meaningful magnitude. Posthoc exploratory analyses demonstrated that fewer than one-third of hoarding participants demonstrated sustained attention and response inhibition difficulties and that these participants reported greater hoarding severity and greater distress in the cluttered room.
Discussion and conclusions
Given these findings and other studies showing that attentional difficulties may be a transdiagnostic factor for psychopathology, future studies will want to explore whether greater sustained attention and response inhibition difficulties in real life contexts contribute to comorbidity and functional impairment in hoarding disorder.
Questions are currently being posed concerning the implications of the clinical uptake of psychedelics. While enthusiasm surrounds the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and critique surrounds their appropriation to commercial ends, limited attention has been given to the role of psychedelics in generating social transformation. Herbert Marcuse contended radical change requires ‘new imaginaries of liberation’. We consider whether clinical uptake of psychedelics may produce the perceptual shifts necessary to generate social transformation surrounding contemporary alienating conditions. Economic structures contributing to these alienating conditions are highly resistant to change and may neuter psychedelics' revolutionary potential. We illustrate how psychedelics may be instrumentalised: regulating individuals into unjust systems; redirecting psychedelic usage away from therapeutic ends towards productivity; distracting or diverting attention from systemic forms of control; usurping non-ordinary states into the domain of self-care; and fetishistically commodifying psychedelic experience as a consumable. There are, however, reasons to believe that psychedelics, in raising consciousnesses, may prove resistant to co-option. In particular, psychedelics induce perceptual experiences that: challenge the paradigmatic assumptions of industrial society by provoking alternative epistemologies and metaphysics; generate expanded or ecological constructions of selfhood, thereby offering resignifications of meanings, desires, and life potentials; and offer the enriched phenomenological insight into self, other, and world called for in combating ubiquitous social alienation. In this way, psychedelics may induce the revolution in perception necessary to imagine liberatory potentials and spark the desire for collective emancipation.
Electronic gambling machines are a prominent cause of significant gambling harms globally. We use simulations of a simplified video poker game to show how changes in game volatility, defined primarily by the size of the main prize, affect patterns of wins and losses as well as winning streaks.
We found that in low- and medium volatility games the proportion of winning players quickly drops to zero after about 30 h of play, while in the high volatility game 5% of players are still winning after playing for 100 h. However, the proportion of winning streaks was significantly higher in the low- and medium volatility games compared with high volatility: the simulated players were on a winning streak about 26.3, 25.6 and 18% of the time in the low-, medium- and high volatility games, respectively.
Fast-paced video poker with varying volatility levels but identical return-to-player rates and win frequencies can yield highly different result patterns across individuals. These patterns may be counter-intuitive for players and difficult to realize without simulations and visualizations. We argue that the findings have relevance for responsible gambling communication and for building a better understanding of how cognitive biases influence gambling behaviour.
While many scholars have called attention to similarities between the earlier SSRI hype and the ongoing hype for psychedelic medications, the rhetoric of psychedelic hype is tinged with utopian and esoteric aspirations that have no parallel in the discourse surrounding SSRIs or other antidepressants. This utopian discourse provides insight into the ways that global tech elites are instrumentalizing both psychedelics and artificial intelligence (AI) as tools in a broader world-building project that justifies increasing material inequality. If realized, this project would undermine the use of both tools for prosocial and pro-environmental outcomes.
My argument develops through rhetorical analysis of the ways that industry leaders envision the future of medicalized psychedelics in their public communications. I draw on examples from media interviews, blog posts, podcasts, and press releases to underscore the persuasive strategies and ideological commitments that are driving the movement to transform psychedelics into pharmaceutical medications.
Counterfactual efforts to improve mental health by increasing inequality are widespread in the psychedelics industry. These efforts have been propelled by an elitist worldview that is widely-held in Silicon Valley. The backbone of this worldview is the TESCREAL bundle of ideologies, which describes an interrelated cluster of belief systems: transhumanism, Extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and longtermism.
This article demonstrates that TESCREALism is a driving force in major segments of the psychedelic pharmaceutical industry, where it is influencing the design of extractive systems that directly contradict the field's world-healing aspirations. These findings contribute to a developing subfield of critical psychedelic studies, which interrogates the political and economic implications of psychedelic medicalization.
Advocates of psychedelic medicine have positioned psychedelics as a novel therapeutic intervention that will solve the mental health crisis by liberating individuals from their entrenched habits and limiting beliefs. Despite claims for novelty, the psychedelics industry is engaging in the same profit-oriented approaches that contributed to poor clinical outcomes with SSRIs and other earlier pharmaceuticals, which threatens to undermine their purported clinical benefits.
We present evidence that the liberatory rhetoric of psychedelic medicalization promotes neoliberal, individualised treatments for distress, which distracts from collective efforts to address root causes of suffering through systemic change. Drawing examples from the psychedelics industry, we illustrate how the discourse of psychedelic medicalisation subjects socially-determined distress to psychotropic intervention through the mechanisms of depoliticisation, productivisation, pathologisation, commodification, and de-collectivisation.
Rather than disrupting or subverting the psychopharmaceutical status quo, the psychedelic industry's current instantiation aligns with and upholds key facets of neoliberal ideology by adhering to the same facilitative mechanisms that scholars identified in the antidepressant industry. We identify these common mechanisms in examples unique to the psychedelics industry, including the search for psychedelic analogues and political lobbying to reschedule psychedelics.
We demonstrate how a neoliberal mental health paradigm that individualises and interiorizes mental distress cannot meaningfully resolve suffering with ubiquitous origins in the current sociopolitical environment, which is characterised by inequality, precarity, exploitation, and ecological collapse. As a result, psychedelics must decouple from neoliberal incentives, and demonstrate efficacy, if they are to facilitate durable improvements in well-being and prosocial outcomes.
In the monograph Philosophy and Psychedelics: Frameworks for Exceptional Experience, Hauskeller raises the important subject of individualization and alienation in psychedelic psychotherapy. Under the prevailing conditions of neoliberalism, Hauskeller contends that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy appropriates Indigenous knowledges in an oppressive fashion, may be instrumentalised to the ends of productivity gain and symptom suppression, and may be utilised to mask societal systems of alienation. Whilst offering a valuable socio-political critique of psychedelics' clinical uptake, we suggest that Hauskeller's view does not adequately acknowledge the ways in which psychedelics offer a challenge to the Western reductive bio-medical understanding of healing and wellbeing. It is contended herein that Indigenous knowledges, in alliance with a range of emerging sciences, offer both an engagement with ethnomedicines in a less harmfully appropriative fashion, and a renewed understanding of the means by which psychedelics achieve therapeutic change. With this understanding, what becomes apparent are the potential ways in which psychedelic medical usage may produce positive feedback upon the oppressive systems in which we are embedded. That is, transpersonal experience through encounters with the ineffable may offer a revisioning of Western psychology and cognitive science. Indeed, if psychedelics are approached with an understanding of the actual means by which they produce therapeutic outcomes—changing mental representations of the self, or self-insight derived through non-ordinary states of consciousness—then psychedelic psychotherapy offers a reimagining of psychiatric nosology, challenging conventional understandings of both pathology and wellbeing through an overturning of specified and discrete deficit models of psychopathology. This may provide both a critique of the prevailing categories used to describe madness and an expansion of our understanding of the mind-body relation, as well as an increased recognition of positive psychology grounded in cross-cultural contemplative traditions. This provides an implicit challenge to the pharmaceutical industrial-complex and its profit motives; and the corresponding neoliberalist, globalising tendencies which Hauskeller seeks to address.