China Soul Searches its Obsession with Internet Addiction

David Bandurski of China Media Project has pulled together a number of comments on the highly criticized treatment methods used by Yang Yongxin in a Chinese Internet addiction clinic. Yang’s measures included, for one, electric shock.

Commentary from Hu Yong:

. . . So-called Internet addition refers to the repeated and excessive use of the Internet to the point that is becomes a kind of mental disorder. It can manifest itself as the intense desire to use the Internet repeatedly, and withdrawal symptoms are often observed when Internet use is decreased. At the same time, the disorder can result in somatic symptoms. Some experts have given us chilling numbers, saying that approximately 20 million people in China have Internet addiction or are predisposed. This shocking number prompted Yang Yongxin to write on his blog that if we cannot effectively control the spread of Internet addiction, it would mean the “death of the party and the nation” (亡党亡国) and would mean entire Chinese people “would be without children and grandchildren,” that it would make America’s 1970s policy of “victory without war” become a reality, allowing Chinese culture to perish under the onslaught of online imperialism!

Well, with things coming to such a point as that, how can our party and nation afford not to give this top priority? What is regrettable, though, is that these experts [like Yang Yongxin] have not to this day been able to define clearly what Internet addiction is . . .

Oiwan Lam of Global Voices Advocacy has summarized a report by Guo Jianlong of the 21st Century Business Herald on the Internet addiction clinic supervised by Yang. The original article could not be published in its entirety, and was posted in full on his blog instead.

Every morning there is a morning assembly for creating public pressure or more concretely humiliation in the public against stubborn patients. The gathering, attended by more than 300 people, reminds people of the public prosecution and psychological torture during the cultural revolution. For example, patients are asked to admit their wrongs and attack others’ wrongs in the public; kids are demanded to bow to their parents to show their willingness to be submissive. Sadly, the parents are convinced of the effectiveness in the treatment by such act.

Everyday, patients have to go through morning public assembly and performance review, afternoon military training and evening another performance review session. Taking tranquillizers is also part of the treatment.


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