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Nosology of behavioral addictions: Intersections with philosophy of psychiatry •

Commentary to the debate: “Behavioral addictions in the ICD-11”

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Dan J. Stein and Christine Lochner


Writing in this journal, Brand and colleagues have proposed criteria for other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors. Their proposal intersects with key debates in philosophy of psychiatry, including how best to define mental disorders, to validate them, and to optimize their meta-structure. Review of these debates in the context of behavioral addictions suggests several conclusions. First, these debates involve “essentially contested” constructs that require ongoing consideration and judgment. Second, the complexity of psychopathology suggests multiple legitimate approaches to delineating traits and explicating mechanisms. Third, in optimizing meta-structure, non-psychobiological considerations are crucial - the overlapping public mental health approach to addictive disorders is paramount.

Open access



Various countries and states have established telephone counselling lines for people with pathological or problem gambling. Data from such services may contribute to describing systematically the nature of gambling problems in a particular area. To date, however, few data have been published on such a telephone counselling line in a low or middle income country.


Data on calls to the telephone counselling line of the National Responsible Gambling Foundation of South Africa were captured over a 6-month period. Such data include socio-demographic variables, the primary reason for calling, the source of the referral, preferred method of gambling, impairment as a consequence of gambling, and history of treatment for psychiatric disorders, comorbid alcohol abuse and illicit drug use.


Calls were received from a broad range of people; the mean age of callers was 37 years, the majority were male (62%) and many were married (45%). Primary reasons for calling included the feeling of being unable to stop gambling without the help of a professional (41%), financial concerns (32%), legal problems (13%), pressure from family (10%), and suicidal thoughts (2%). The majority of callers contacted the counselling line after having heard about it by word of mouth (70%). The most common forms of gambling were slot machines (51%) and casino games (21%). Fourteen percent of callers reported having received help for other psychiatric disorders, 11% reported alcohol use disorders and 6% illicit drug use.


These data from South Africa are consistent with prior research indicating that pathological and problem gambling are seen in a range of socio-demographic groups, and that such behaviour is associated with significant morbidity and comorbidity. More work is needed locally to inform younger gamblers, gamblers using the informal gambling sector, and unemployed gamblers of the existing telephone counselling lines.

Open access

Background and aims

Compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD) will be included in ICD-11 as an impulse-control disorder. CSBD also shares clinical features with obsessive–compulsive spectrum disorders (OCSDs) and behavioral addictions. There has been relatively little systematic investigation of CSBD in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), the paradigmatic compulsive disorder. We aimed to determine prevalence of CSBD in OCD, and its associated sociodemographic and clinical features, including associated comorbidity, to learn more about the nature of CSBD.


Adult outpatients with current OCD (N = 539) participated in this study. The Structured Clinical Interview for OCSDs was used to diagnose OCSDs (Tourette’s syndrome, compulsive shopping, pathological gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, intermittent explosive disorder, self-injurious behavior, and CSBD). Prevalence rates of OCSDs in male versus female patients as well as comorbid disorders in OCD patients with and without CSBD were compared.


Lifetime prevalence of CSBD was 5.6% in patients with current OCD and significantly higher in men than women. OCD patients with and without CSBD were similar in terms of age, age of onset of OCD, present OCD illness severity, as well as educational background. Lifetime prevalence rates of several mood, obsessive–compulsive, and impulse-control disorders were considerably elevated in patients with lifetime CSBD.

Discussion and conclusions

A substantive number of OCD patients suffered from CSBD. CSBD in OCD was more likely comorbid with other mood, obsessive–compulsive, and impulse-control disorders, but not with disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors. This finding supports conceptualization of CSBD as a compulsive–impulsive disorder.

Open access

Including gaming disorder in the ICD-11: The need to do so from a clinical and public health perspective

Commentary on: A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution (van Rooij et al., 2018)

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Sophia Achab, Joël Billieux, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Natacha Carragher, Zsolt Demetrovics, Susumu Higuchi, Daniel L. King, Karl Mann, Marc Potenza, John B. Saunders, Max Abbott, Atul Ambekar, Osman Tolga Aricak, Sawitri Assanangkornchai, Norharlina Bahar, Guilherme Borges, Matthias Brand, Elda Mei-Lo Chan, Thomas Chung, Jeff Derevensky, Ahmad El Kashef, Michael Farrell, Naomi A. Fineberg, Claudia Gandin, Douglas A. Gentile, Mark D. Griffiths, Anna E. Goudriaan, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Wei Hao, David C. Hodgins, Patrick Ip, Orsolya Király, Hae Kook Lee, Daria Kuss, Jeroen S. Lemmens, Jiang Long, Olatz Lopez-Fernandez, Satoko Mihara, Nancy M. Petry, Halley M. Pontes, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, Florian Rehbein, Jürgen Rehm, Emanuele Scafato, Manoi Sharma, Daniel Spritzer, Dan J. Stein, Philip Tam, Aviv Weinstein, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Klaus Wölfling, Daniele Zullino, and Vladimir Poznyak

The proposed introduction of gaming disorder (GD) in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) has led to a lively debate over the past year. Besides the broad support for the decision in the academic press, a recent publication by van Rooij et al. (2018) repeated the criticism raised against the inclusion of GD in ICD-11 by Aarseth et al. (2017). We argue that this group of researchers fails to recognize the clinical and public health considerations, which support the WHO perspective. It is important to recognize a range of biases that may influence this debate; in particular, the gaming industry may wish to diminish its responsibility by claiming that GD is not a public health problem, a position which maybe supported by arguments from scholars based in media psychology, computer games research, communication science, and related disciplines. However, just as with any other disease or disorder in the ICD-11, the decision whether or not to include GD is based on clinical evidence and public health needs. Therefore, we reiterate our conclusion that including GD reflects the essence of the ICD and will facilitate treatment and prevention for those who need it.

Open access