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  • 1 The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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This commentary supports the argument that there is an increasing tendency to subsume a range of excessive daily behaviors under the rubric of non-substance related behavioral addictions. The concept of behavioral addictions gained momentum in the 1990s with the recent reclassification of pathological gambling as a non-substance behavioral addiction in DSM-5 accelerating this process. The propensity to label a host of normal behaviors carried out to excess as pathological based simply on phenomenological similarities to addictive disorders will ultimately undermine the credibility of behavioral addiction as a valid construct. From a scientific perspective, anecdotal observation followed by the subsequent modification of the wording of existing substance dependence diagnostic criteria, and then searching for biopsychosocial correlates to justify classifying an excessive behavior resulting in harm as an addiction falls far short of accepted taxonomic standards. The differentiation of normal from non-substance addictive behaviors ought to be grounded in sound conceptual, theoretical and empirical methodologies. There are other more parsimonious explanations accounting for such behaviors. Consideration needs to be given to excluding the possibility that excessive behaviors are due to situational environmental/social factors, or symptomatic of an existing affective disorder such as depression or personality traits characteristic of cluster B personalities (namely, impulsivity) rather than the advocating for the establishment of new disorders.

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