The hot topic in psychological diagnostics and mental medicine today are acutely attuned to our thumbs—that is, at least in some academic circles, mobile media and the compulsive need to be aware of our network imprint is making strides towards becoming the next "addiction."
Much like the approach to pathological gambling in the early 1990s, psychologists and professionals in related industries are starting to theorize that constantly, obsessively checking one's phone operates in much the same way traditional substance abuse affects compulsive users.
Research on pathological gambling - various studies, clinical trials, and even brain imaging - has shown that gambling as a compulsion activates pleasure centers in the brain very much like abusing a drug does. When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, or DSM-IV, was published in 1994, pathological gambling was included as a possible diagnosis—compulsive gambling is now being heavily considered as a traditional addiction, to officially be in the books as a "gambling disorder."
The DSM, the pinnacle of psychological science and a guidebook of sorts as to what is and what is not a mental disorder, is now approaching its fifth publication, due in May 2013. Gambling and its psychological judgment is just one of many changes that shed light upon new addictions in the mobile age.
The definition of some addictions are undergoing a major change in the upcoming handbook, as work-groups responsible for ironing out the manual have suggested a broader approach to addictive disorders - substance-related disorders, including traditional examples of substance-abuse and substance-dependence, are tentatively set to expand to "Addiction and Related Disorders."
By broadening the scope of addiction disorders, many other psychological afflictions are being considered as additions to the next DSM. One of these disorders is making its way through fringe academic fields and generally known as cellphone vibration syndrome, or phantom cellphone vibration, is described as a minor affliction in which the person affected constantly feels a vibration in the pocket where their phone is typically held. Numerous anecdotes and some studies have detected that people will consistently reach into their pockets without it actually ringing, a compulsive response caused merely by the anticipation of a text message or social network notification.