Fédération Française de Psychiatrie

The evolution of opiates substitute in France

2nd National Drug Treatement Conference, London, 2004 

Cyberaddiction et Réalité virtuelle

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Conférence de consensus sevrage opiacés avril 1998

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   Dr. Dan VELEA


Cyberaddiction français Cyberaddiction english Réalité virtuelle Addictions silencieuses





Psychiatrist, Marmottan Hospital


Summary Internet Addiction Goodman Addiction
Sensation Seeking Scale DSM IV Internet addiction Internet Stress Scale



The Net offers a lot of possibilities for work, education, game and communication. But there are some persons which are overusing the net, overtaking the limits of a 'healthy' connexionwhich present the addiction behavior criterion, loosing all kind of control to real life. The corespondancy of the DSM-IV criterion of addiction prooves the thruthfulness of this affirmation. Someone, will reply that the addiction criterion could be applied in the same order, to gambling, compulsive buying or sex addiction, the common key of these addictive behaviors being the lost of control, the sensations seeking and the pleasure. The cyberaddict presents a polyaddictive pathology, including NetAddiction, comunication addiction and sex addiction. Till now, the IRC and the articles concerning the subject, where the exclusiveness of north-americain or canadian authors. The experiencies of professors, clinical practioners, join the idea of an addictive behavior to the 'Web'. Restoring a 'healthy' relation to the Net, a better integration of the virtual reality into courant life, the IRC, are some of the solutions proposed by the cyberaddict themselves. A conclusion of this article, is the need to educate and to be awared about the importance of the Net in our lives, in order to take advantage from this excellent communication and information tool.


Internet - addiction - cyberaddiction — polyaddictive behavior - communicationnal addiction - virtual reality



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We are living in a world that no longer arrives to assimilate the new discoveries before they are expired, in which the scientific research advances in a giant rhythm on the resolution of most complex problems, where the material and cultural consumption logic, has taken such an extent, that even the world economical crisis and the atmosphere of moroseness no longer arrive to brake.

Twenty - five years ago, a young American sociologist, Alvin Toffler, had written a best-seller, "The Shock of the Future" (Bantam Books, New York). This book, proposed to make the evolution statement of moral and cultural values of socio-economical concepts, evolution that had followed in exponential mode the development of the science. 

Toffler drew up the statement that moral values, after the  changes in the world representation, were confronted with the emergence of a new category of values - transientes values - brought to replace the loss of socio–family marks. This change had generated a state of maladjustment, a spiritual and identitary quest, where human relationshipshad to bear the bront of the rapidity and the extent of this upheaval. 

The alarm raised by Toffler, confirmed in its book "The third wave", stated the advent of new technologies: audiovisual communication, appearance of hybridize machines possessing properties of the artificial intelligence. These ones, judged revolutionary, have become reality on our days. Techniques of multimedia imagery, new cyber - brains  increasingly close to  human brain functioning, creation and free access to virtual worlds, are bringing the confirmation of the boldest dreams that the human being has never had.


Another great American sociologist, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, had already observed in two of its more famous writings - "The Gutenberg Galaxy" and "War and Peace in the Global Village" - the psychological impact of new technologies on the behavior and the evolution of human being. Anxiety was manifest in regard to the socio - political impact of the scientific and technical revolution, where the control of modern technologies appearered to be difficulte. The implication of the whole geopolitical system, was concretized by the appearance of a new concept, the ‘global village’.


Appearance and development of Internet, the "system of systems", fruit of the marriage between the knowledge in the areas of telecommunications, the imagery and the most advanced computer technologies that ally power, rapidity, fineness, is one of the most remarkable realization of this end of millennium. 

The parallel between the invention of the typography by Gutenberg in 1456, which  consequence was the appearance of the 'Personal Book', and the invention of Steve Jobs and Steven Wozniak, the 'Personnel  Computer', allow to observe that the appearance of the personal book and the individual computer has generated the passage to a superior level of human conscience, which acquires a quality access to world knowledge, with an extraordinary speed, a possibility of division and connection - source of a socio-economical, moral and cultural revolution. 

The Internet allies advantages offered by unlimited and without frontiers communication easiness, work conviviality, quality, precision and rapidity of research, but also a ludic interactive space and a mean without precedent in term of accessibility of trading and purchasing on-line. But the most attractive, remains the development of the virtual world, that mixes with the real world. The question, is to know if there is complementarity between the two worlds, more precisely if the virtual world is not replacing the real world and if it appears to be more available and easier to live and to bear. 

As tells J.G.Ballard "..it represents the greatest event in  human evolution. For the first time, mankind will be able to deny reality and to substitute its own preferred vision".


At the moment, Internet has become more than a great database, more than a reliable and quality means allowing rapid communications in real time. By its access facility, by its scientific connotation and the social acceptance that accompanies it, the Internet becomes easily object of abuse, according to Kathleen Scherer, physician and psychologist to the Mental Health Center, University of Texas - Austin. 

In North-American scientific data, we can observe an increasingly number of cyberiens, the cyberaddicts - these 'hackers' of connection and communication, these addicts to the virtual world that are passing hours and hours on - line, in order to visit and to reside as long as possible in the virtual community, the Cyberland, idealized expression of the planetary village of McLuhan.

These "without drugs addictions", illustrate and regroup in a descriptive, theoretical and therapeutical field, the addiction behaviors. In order to define a valid descriptive model for the cyberiens, a retrospective of the notion seems important. "Ad-diccere", meant in the Roman Lex, the constraint by body, notion linked to slavery, to the attribution of a physical person to another in order to pay off  its debts. Goodman (9), an english psychiatrist, has formulated a definition of the addiction by describing it like "..a processus in which is realized a behavior that can have for function to obtain the pleasure and to relieve an internal uneasiness, and that is characterized by the repeated failure of its control and its persistence in spite of negative consequences". He describes these criteria of inclusions in the field of addictions:


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A. Impossibility to resist to pulsion to realize this type of behavior.

B. Growing tension sensation preceding immediately the beginning of the behavior.

C. Pleasure or relief during its duration.

D. Sensation of control loss during the behavior.

E. Presence of at least five of nine next criteria

1.    Frequent preoccupation concerning  the behavior or its preparation.

2.    Intensity and duration of episodes more important than wished initially.

3.    Repeated attempts to reduce, to control or to abandon the behavior.

4.    Important time devoted to prepare episodes, to undertake them, or to   give some.

5.  Frequent episodes when the subject has to accomplish professional obligations,    scholastic or university, family or social.

6.   Social, professionals or recreational activities sacrificed, due to the fact of the behavior.

7.    Perpetuation of the behavior, although the subject knows that it causes or worsens a persistent or recurrent problem of social, financial or psychological order.

8.    Increased tolerance: need to increase the intensity or the frequency to obtain the desired effect, or diminution of the effect obtained by a behavior of similarly intensity.

9.    Agitation or irritability in case of impossibility to reach the behavior.

F. Some of the elements of the syndrome, have lasted more than a month or have been repeated during a much longer period.

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In current classifications – "DSM – IV" and "CIM-10" - the addictions without drugs, are badly listed. We can find them in subclasses as the "Impulses Control Disorders", "Impulses Control Disorders Not Specified Elsewhere". The DSM-IV classification  specifies that "the subject does not manage in a repetitive manner, to resist impetuses that drive him to adopt this behavior, with a prodromic period of steady tension followed by a sentiment of relief after the realization of the act". All these tests show the preoccupation of specialists, to define the new addictives behaviors.

According to Jean Bergeret (3), which in 1981 reintroduced in the french literature the notion of addiction, this designates the field of behaviors characterized by repeated acts, in which predominates the dependence to a situation or to a material object, that is researched and consumed with 'avidity'.

Researches undertaken by Zuckerman in the 60’s, try to establish a link between phenomena of psychic activation and the seeking of sensations. It corresponds to the need of new, complex and varied experiences, and to the will of taking social and physical risks to obtain and to maintain a high optimal level of cerebral activation. 

The scale of sensation research, - Sensation Seeking Scale - (SSS), includes four factors that define this phenomenon:


1. research of danger/adventure - appeal for high risks sports and behaviors, implying speed and danger.

2. research of experience - appeal for sensory or intellectual activities.

3. desinhibition - appeal for alcohol, sexual excess. 

4. susceptibility to lassitude.

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Persons that present a high score, are frequently found among the great pharmacodependants, the great consumers of alcohol, the great smokers, authors of risk behaviors. There is a narrow relationship - but not - specific and not – exclusive, between addictions and research of sensations. 

In addiction, there are two periods: the period of initiation which is centered on the seeking of sensations playing an essential role in the encounter of the object. The installation of the dependence appears later, when the use of the object continues under the influence of adaptive demands linked to anxiety and withdrawal.


In order to structure the notions for the acceptance of the cyberaddiction, it seems necessary to take in account the nature of pleasures provided and maintained by the addiction, and to think about the motivations that attract, entail and maintain the subjects in the spiral of consumption. 

The cyberdependants, in their efforts to fill an identificatory void, often came up against  imaginary obstacles, with fights that they estimate already lost or without interest. These situations will inevitable generate frustrations, anxious phenomena and disorders of behaviors. Searching for a refuge, a way out to reality, this tendency of extraction to reality, could become one intimate motivation for their behaviors. 

The replacement of reality by virtuality becomes the only conceivable manner to live. According to Ivan K. Goldberg : "Internet, can determine the negation or the avoidance of other problems of the courant life". Concerning this, the addiction is not only the psychological consequence of biological phenomena released by the consumption of a product causing dependence, but a particular mode to solve  a problem whose terms depend on factors linked to personality,  cognitive structure and inforcement of the situation (18).

The addictive behavior, is the expression of a socio - affective immaturity that determines the impossibility to construct a real, solid, psychosocial identity. The situation is amplified by the coexistence of a personal sentiment of nonvalue and of  not - recognition. They have the sentiment to be alone, isolated with an incomplete narcissism, condition that bring them to invest and to grant a virtual narcissism, repairer of their predepressive anxiety, to different objects and situations that will be able to generate thereafter different addictives behaviors. This severe and precocious narcissism default, almost always entails depressive experiences, against which they have to fight both by the behavior and by the body (2).

Some consequences of the consumption of hallucinogens, stated by Claude Olivenstein in "Steady Document on Drug Addiction" (4), can be found in the cyberaddicts behaviors : modification of the lived time and space, modified perception of theirs bodies. Also he describes a modification of thinking connected with subject imaginary and his more or less conscient preoccupations. 

The group of  cyberiens, tries to find a family as a preferential affective environement, where cosmic, erotic and sensual themes, are preponderant. The consumption of hallucinogens, like addictive behavior, is accompanied by a relative lucidity before the accomplishement of the experience. Despite this lucidity, the subject can not impede the consumption.

The appearance of these "New Technologies of  Information and Communication" (NTIC), can converge with narcotics to a form of hallucinatory perception as in the dream. The NTIC return visual and auditive stimuli which allow, with sophisticated technological means - gloves, glasses, overalls - to reproduce materials texture sensation, temperature, weight, perhaps even the sensation to shake someone’s hand thousands kilometersapart. Very elaborated techniques can generate an "increased reality", mix of reality and virtuality. These experiences have determined reactions of specialists, some estimating that we risk to meat experiences of extra - corporal exit (22).


The addictive behavior having as object the Internet, is often accompanied by other behaviors, in complete or partial form, what makes me think about a polyaddictive behavior.             

The permanent presence of the communication factor, makes me think to the                             "Computer Assisted Communication" and communicationnal addiction. The typical image of cyberdependants, is persons who have difficulties to communicate, who have an altered spatio - temporal notion and who are searching without interruption a means to express their pain to live. That could be one of the explanations of these long connected hours. According to  Dr Jeffrey Goldsmith, director of the Alcoholism Clinic - University of Cincinatti, people with communication difficulties in real life, are the most susceptible to become dependent to the possibilities of communications offered by the Web.     


The field of behaviors is not simply limited to communicationnal addiction. The great cyberaddicts internautes, also respond to gamblers criteria. Some of their behaviors present these addictive characteristics : avidity, extreme pleasure resulting of the act, dependence, repetition and especially loss of control. The state that the DSM - IV class among the "Impulse Control Disorders Not Classified Elsewhere", is characterized by game concern, tendency to increase the length, incapacity to put a term to the behavior,  impossibility  to  resist to impetuses. Even if we can not speak of a real withdrawal syndrome in the sense of other pharmacodependancies, some authors would have found physical  manifestations during the cessation of the behavior. 

Originally, the ancestor of the IRC - Internet Relay Chat - , was the MUD - Multiple to Use Dungeons -, a sort of fiction games where players send different messages and challenges to other players, in order to collaborate or to confront in a virtual space. 

The number of games that respond to these characteristics is immense. Actually, the Net counts approximately 500 sites of games, from the classic game of arcade, to sophisticated games of role. In France, two Internet sites proposing virtual games seem susceptible to develop an addiction to the game.

The first game, called "The Second World", realised by Canal +TV and CryoGames, has as objective the creation of a political laboratory for virtual democracy. The game consists in a virtual transposition of the city of Paris. Everyone can choose his morphology, his skin  color, his identity, but equally its housing, with the possibility to personalize it. Players 'citoyens', can meet, organize visits and discussions between them. What seems interesting, is the electronic vote possibility installed on the Web. The 'citoyens' are called to decide themselves the political sort of this virtual world. 

The second game, "Le Palace", propose frameworks of virtual life, trades between players. They can also choose their appearance, situations and virtual life scenes. This kind of games, appeared a long time ago in the United States, mixing fiction, virtuality, and ludic, has already generated their 'aficionados',  these unconditionals  that  are living in this space, who communicate only by  specially dedicated IRC, their manners of life being conditioned by the game which occupy them almost all the time.      

The compulsive buying is an intermittent or permanent behavior, characterized by an irresistible craving for buying, a tension before the behavior and its resolution after the realization of purchases. What is more or less specific for this behavior, is the ‘act’ compared to the simple ‘possession’ of the object. 

I report his addictive behavior, because the Internet offers an immense facility to buy things, with a new connotation : purchase in live. That has generated in the United States a real social bane, also called buying spree. 

It seems important to underline the relation currently established between our society, that is by definition a consumer society, which provokes and impulse people using advertising and marketing, and the individual, unable to resist the impulsive act of a socially stimulated desire (18). The important number of the cyber - consumers raise a real question. The game "The Second World ”, contains everywhere advertising and publicities and offers the possibility of virtual visit in commercial spaces which permits the purchases on - line. These are real this time and paid with real money !


In the article of Ph. Spoljar (22), I have found a very interesting notion, "Computer  Assisted Sexuality", which is able, according to the author, to delete frontiers between masturbation and sexual report. P. Virilio (28), had in an article of 1995, used the term of cybersexuality : "we are inventing a new perspective, the touch perspective, that allows a sexuality at distance,  the  telecopulation. The event is outrageous : until now one had never been able to touch from a distance. And today, not only can I touch thousands of kilometers apart with data gloves, but I can also with a special overall, make love to a girl in Tokyo. Her impetuses will be transmitted to me by sensors allowing to give and receive pleasure". 

The sexual addiction concept, designates normal and deviant behaviors, that polarize the subject existence and arouse dependence. This behavior figures implicitly in the DSM - IV "Control Disorders of Impetuses". For Reed and Blaine, sexual addictions are characterized by incapacity to establish a healthy relationship with the partner, by appearance of derealisation sensations during the sexual act, by negligence of its entourage, to the profit of its sexual behavior. For the cybernaute presenting a sexual addictive behavior, the Internet universe with no barriers or limits, offers the choice and the possibility of achieving his most intimate impulses and fantasies.


The advent of this new virtual world, is not only the expression of a deep crisis of the representation, but it concerns the self image and modifies the existential finality sense. Virtual representations bring the constraint of living - sometimes of surviving - among representations of reality rather than reality itself. The Internet offers the appeals of a perfectly polished, idealized, smooth world, a stable and protective framework. However, this life framework permanently in an entropic move, is source of dynamism and mobilization. The daily communicationnal and ludic activity, unfolds in an initiate community framework. They possess their own knowledge, their language and the same representations of the world, what they have in common is being this new ‘virtual normality’. 

It would be necessary to wonder if the cyberspace could one  day demand its recognition as a state, with its 37 millions of internautes that have elected domicile, that live according very initiatic norms of life, in an artificial way. Trades and contacts are usually realized through virtual word groups, or in the near future, through virtual means like gloves, overalls and glasses. The description of this new world appears in a science-fiction novel, "The Neuromancien", by W. Gibson (7) : "the cyberspace is a consensual hallucination lived daily in all legality by billions of operators. An unthinkable complexity. Rays of light disposed into the no - space of the spirit, piles of data  constellations”. It is characterized by three words : acceleration, expansion and interactivity.        

·       acceleration :  goes increasingly rapidly.

·       expansion : creates extreme diversities, from worst to best.               

·       interactivity : for the first time, the individual has the possibility to control media.  


All these notions, linked to continuous movements, in permanent and rapid evolution, make the World Wide Web (www.) the striking expression of a change, of a world in full mutant dynamics, that exhortes immobilism and static representations. This is, another aspect of Internet, that has an own intrinsic symbolic value, with an unlimited connotation of free space to conquer and populate, that joins the notion of infinity, but in the same time associated to a protective framework.   


In the ‘70’s, North - Americans scientists were interested by the virtual world created by computers data-processing. Scientists from the team of Timothy Leary, director of the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research Program, have tried to explore this new world and the non-standard microsystem. John Lilly, young and brilliant scientist, written in 1972 a monograph on the brain as stocking unit of all informations concerning knowledge of the world - "Programing and Meta-Programming in the Human Bio-Computer". This study, of pure scientific content, has been almost unseen in the universitary world, its author was assimilated by some scientists to a young hope of science -fiction. In this article (13), Timothy Leary, establishes a connection between the invention of the typography by Gutenberg in 1456, appearance of the Personal Book and the invention of Steve Jobs and Steven Wozniak - the Personnel Computer. He observed that the personal book and the individual computer appearence has generated passage to a superior level for the human conscience - which acquires  a quality access to world knowledge, with velocity, possibility of division - source of revolution in the society. According to him,  the problem of the cyberaddiction take place in a symbiotic evolution process, in interactivity with the microsystem formed by the man and the computer. In this process, some individuals are unable to unhook from the virtual world, unable to live without continuous exchange of electronic signals between their brain and the computer.


But scientists got carried away by the general euphoria induced by the discovery of new virtual worlds, and the scientific possibilities that could allow the realization of our most unimaginable dreams. 

Science-fiction authors wrote the most poignant and the most enthusiastic works. The appearance and the development of multimedia techniques, of virtual world, of information superhighways, have fed authors. They saw a possibility to open and to penetrate the most hidden secrets of the brain, a possibility to analyze the material, vital and personal space. Heroes appearing from the virtual space,  lots of actions that continued "elsewhere", a quasi psychedelic world, the entity "man-machine", have filled cults science-fiction and film works of the ’80’s. One of the most prolix science-fiction authors, is W. Gibson, author among others of the scenario of Johnny Mnemonic – virtual celebrity. His last novel, "Idorú", tells the story of a man that falls in love with a virtual synthesis presenter of the Japanese television. He goes mad about "her", without being conscient that behind the idolized  image, there is only a software. What is interesting is this have been exploited by the media. Even before the book was published, a Japanese model agency have created a young synthesised girl with ideal measurements. Her personality has been entirely constructed, the date of her birth, culinary tastes and even her imaginary family.At the moment, due to the media success, she has several contracts for acting in advertisements.

This phenomenon, initially spread over the United States, has found in France a science-fiction author, Maurice Dantec. In his novel, "Evil Roots" (4), a man collaborates with his hypercybernetique machine, endowed with artificial intelligence and speach, which confers independence and power of analysis, action and decision.

The promise of a more evolved artificial intelligence, challenges our ideas on primordiality of human mind towards  "The Machine". Untill now, the generally admitted concept, was that human had the decisionnal control. New research and projects on artificial intelligence developement, are going to open to all the world inconceivable cybernetic perspectives, with consequences in science progress, in electronic, in domotic and also in leisures and virtual world exploration.

For the cyberaddictis, it will represent a great crossroads in their habits. This new technological feat, will change their representations on the virtual world, which is already now, their unique center of interest. This concept of virtual reality, currently exceeds spheres of  science-fiction : "virtual reality  is a world created by computer that changes the senses of the thought. A virtual glove will be able to give you the feeling to dive your hand in  water, in mud or in honey. A virtual overall will be able to give you the feeling of swimming in the water, in the mud or in the honey. The virtual reality emerges from simulators cockpit used in pilot training of and will be able to model future multimedia systems. The idea of virtual reality advanced systems as future substitutes of  sex and drugs, is the new privilege of the modern science-fiction, cybernetic writing" - Bart Kosko (Fuzzy Thinking, 1993) (12).


At the beginning of the ‘90’s, consecutive to the development of multimedia techniques and especially the arrival of the Web, American universitaries have observed, with a real anxiety, an increasing number of young students presenting signs of this new form of addictive behavior – the  cyberdependance. There is few articles on the subject in Europe, but also in the United States and in Canada, even if North-American associations and universities have very advanced research programs on addictive behaviors. Informations concerning these behaviors, are mentionned on  Web pages created by ex - dependents, that try by their own to help the cyberdependants.


Studies published in North-America by university teachers, reported concrete cases, who had the full criteria of dependance. Thus, an association of assistance to cyberdependents created by the American psychiatrist, Ivan K. Goldberg, display on its Web pages the typical criteria of the Internet Addiction Disorder ( IAD), modeled the DSM - IV criteria. The dependance is manifest in the case of a disproportionate, inadapted use of Internet, driving to a perturbation, defined by three (or more) of the next criteria, over a period of at least 12 month.



I.    tolerance, as defined by either of the following :

            A. a need for markedly increased amounts of time on Internet to achieve satisfaction

B. markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on Internet

II.   withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following :

      A. the characteristic withdrawal syndrome :

     1. cessation of (or reduction) in Internet use that has been heavy and prolonged.  

     2. two (or more) of the following, developing within several days to a month after  Criterion 1:

a. psychomotor agitation                     

b. anxiety

c. obsessive thinking about what is happening on Internet

d. fantasies or dreams about Internet

e. voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers

       3. the symptoms in Criterion B cause distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important other area of functioning

B. use of Internet or a similar on-line service is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms .

III.  Internet is often accessed more often or for longer periods of time than was intended

IV.  there is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control Internet use

V.   a great deal of time is spent in activitied related to Internet use (e.g., buying Internet books, trying out new www.browsers, researching Internet vendors, organizing files of downloaded materials

VI. important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of Internet use.

VII. Internet use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical, social, occupational, or psychological problem that is likely to been caused or exacerbated by Internet use (sleep deprivation, marital difficulties, lateness for early morning appointments, neglect of occupational duties, or feelings of abandonment in significant others)


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The study of 396 men and women, on-line for an average of 38 hours a week was presented to the American Psychological Society. Net addicts are "not only geeky teen-agers," says psychologist Kimberly Young of the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford. "Many are outgoing, good-looking and middle-aged. They can look high-functioning, but there are serious problems just under the surface". Obsessive Internet users have a true addiction that can affect their relationships and their work. All heavy on-line users in her study, met psychiatric criteria for clinical dependence applied to alcoholics and drug addicts. They lost control over their Net usage and couldn't end it despite harmful effects on their personal and professional lives.

Three predominate in what Young calls "Internet Addiction Disorder".

Community - meeting friends online.

Fantasy - adopting new personalities or playing out sexual fantasies.

Power - instant access to information and new people.


David Brocato, organizer of the IRC conversation space on the theme of addictive behaviors ( Addictions.Com), thought to find classic alcohol and drug addicts, but he found out that people into the IRC showed a problem linked to "Internet Addiction". Someone told him that he has lost his job due to his ‘Chat Addiction’. He said, that he couldn't stop. His wife took the kids and left him. The Chat organizer asked him to send his modem back so that he couldn't log on. He quickly answered : ABSOLUTELY NOT. So even after losing his job and family he didn't want to stop. "This is truly no different then the alcoholic or drug addict that is unwilling to stop even after losing everything. This is proving to be a much more serious problem then anyone ever imagined", David Brocatto says.

This case illustrates the situation that we meet in our daily practice with drug addicts, considering their psychological portrait and the effects that result from the substance use. These effects could be an attempt of resolution of a problem, or the repetitious research of  pleasure. It also leads to a modification of the socio - familly context. We can think that the subject is ambivalent : from one side, the will to stop drug and on the other side, the incapacity to control its impulses. Thus, as underlined Stanton Peele, "..the subject turn away from all other centers of interest, with the incapacity to choose not to realize the addictive gesture" (19).


A study realized by Bridget Murray, analyzes the phenomenon of conversations on - line on the Internet Relay Chat - the IRC -, means of conversation on-line and in real time. The access is free, conditioned by the simple choice of a pseudonym - guaranteing a total anonymity. Its creator, the Finnish Jarkko Oikarinen, an ancient cyberdependent himself, describes the IRC as a bewitching, preoccupying means of conversation, vector of a false socialization. The IRC represents a "footbridge from the reality  to the virtuality", avoiding the direct contact in a 'face-to-face’ conversation. The influence of this means of communication is huge on some of the cyberaddictis, who can spent hours in front of their screen and keyboards, communicating with other passionates, almost always to the detriment of their social, family and professional life. The study, shows the importance of these artificial passages, that finally allow the installation of communication without the constraint of a confrontation to reality. 

"These people stay on their computers from midnight 'til the sun comes up", said Jonathan Kandell, PhD, assistant director of the counseling center at the University of Maryland-College Park. "It becomes a downward spiral they get sucked into".

Besides, the nickname of the Internet, is the Web. This one, spon 'ad infinitum', can easily become captivating, absorbing if we approach  too closer.


These examples show the difficulty to treat the addictive behavior. Psychologists, psychiatrists, agree on the fact that cyberdependents, each one with his specificity and hispersonality, have the right to a different regard, to a therapeutic approach adapted case by case. The experience confirms that the most important step in the recovery, is the recognition ofhis dependance. 

Some therapist, consider that the most adaptated therapies are analytic psychotherapies, that use as principal support the verbal language as resonant expression of the thought. 

A such language has to be rehabilitated in its functionality. The function to think, which in the case of cyberaddictis is more important than the oral expression, has to be reinvested, in order to restore the real function of the  word. To establish or reestablish solidarity links, mutual aid and human relationships, will help people to speak about themselves. 

Some therapists affirm that it is necessary to help drug addicts to handle their behaviors by realizing the factors that contribute to the appearance of the addiction (stress reactions, personnallity traits...), about effects of their behaviors and to help them to fit their reactions in a more relevant manner. The resocialisation of subjects can be realised by the establishment of ex- dependent internautes direct speaking groups, in 'face to face'. It implies a system prepared to understand their particular mode of relationship with objects.

On this subject, North - Americans experiences are complete enough, with yet a critic concerning the weak importance of individual therapies compared with group therapies. Their advance is the creation of Internet sites (can I use the term of substitution ? !) proposing speaking groups with a therapeutic objective, which can be used anonymously by cyberdependents. Speaking groups, created by ex - dependents, families or friends, have the quality and the advantage to facilitate the dialogue, in a first time by the interlude of IRC groups and thereafter by encouraging 'face-to-face’ dialogues.


An American psychologist, Kathleen Scherer, in collaboration with her husband, Jacob Kornerup, a computer specialist, create a session of information and a speaking group in the University of Texas. The experience was followed by 60 students, that have tried to control IRC or virtual games connection. This training was followed for some of them by the suppression of their Internet subscription. 

For a better evaluation of this experience, Scherer, in collaboration with Jane Morgan Bost, psychologist in the Mental Health Center of Texas, organized a cohorte inquiry on 1000 students, some users of Internet, others not - users. This inquiry had as objective the establishment of clinic forms of dependency and the assessement of the psychotherapeutic treatements. The result, paradoxically, underlines the role and the importance of speaking groups like  IRC, treating as theme, dependence and on - line assistance, but also the role of the educationnel factor, the unique constraint, being the self-capacity to make the difference concerning the value of the Internet sites and especially, to control his own limits. The paradoxe is the utilization of the incriminated factor in the addictive behavior - the Internet connexion - to fight against this behavior. This paradoxe is accepted by therapists and also by netaddicts.


An American psychologist, Greg Lindahl, has created a group of on - line assistance, with the description of signs and symptoms of the Internet Addiction Disorder. During connected discussions about the Internet Addiction,  students have describied IRC on a very positive manner, as means of passage from the environmental  reality to the "virtual reality", means that allows to discuss without 'face-to-face ' confrontation, without taking  physionomie and physical appearance into account; this situation is clearly explained by a student that considers : "for those ones cannot communicate otherwise, the IRC will make the affair".


I return to another on - line assistance group, the IAD, created by the American psychiatrist Ivan K. Goldberg - already mentioned -, that offers a speaking space, and the criteria of Internet Addictive behavior ; we can also find the possibility to auto-evaluate our cyberdependancy and the reasons for recovery.


The author of the ‘Internet Stress Scale’, Dr.Orman, assesses the tendency to become a Net Addict in a nine items test. Nevertheless, the author of this site uses this means of information in a personal objective, with a whole list of assistance that are proposed to sale. This  is another aspect of the Internet, the impossibility to undertake a valid control on the information.


Internet Stress Scale

1. Do you spend more time than you think you should surfing the 'Net? Yes                                                                                                  No

2.Do you feel you have a problem limiting the time you spend on the 'Net?

      Yes                                                                                                     No

3.Have any of your friends or family members complained about the time you spend at your computer?

      Yes                                                                                                     No

4.Do you find it hard to stay away from the 'Net for several days at a time?

      Yes                                                                                                     No

5.Has either your work output or your personal relationships suffered as a result of spending too much time on the 'Net? 

      Yes                                                                                                     No

6.Are there particular areas of the 'Net, or types of files, you find hard to resist? 

      Yes                                                                                                     No

7.Do you have troubling controlling your impulses to purchase items, products, or services on the 'Net?

      Yes                                                                                                     No

8.Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to curtail your use of the 'Net?

      Yes                                                                                                     No

9.Do you derive much of your pleasure and satisfaction in life from being on the 'Net’?

      Yes                                                                                                     No 

If you gave 0-3 Yes Answers

You probably have very little tendency to become 'Net' addicted :

If you gave 7-9 Yes Answers

You may very well be addicted to the 'Net’.

If you scored 4 yes answers

You may or may not have a tendency to become 'Net' addicted

If you scored 5 or 6 yes answers

You may have a greater chance of developing a problem

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29.Wiener Norbert, The Human Use of Human Beings, New York, Da Capo Press, (1950, 1954)

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Psychiatrist, Marmottan Hospital