Internet's Effects on Psychoses Studied
I suspect we all know at least one person who is addicted to their Facebook, Twitter, or other social media system, and likely at least one person has called them crazy for never leaving the site or posting stuff no one cares about (seriously, I do not need a picture of your lunch). This kind of use has led some to investigate Internet addiction, which, like any addiction, can have great effects on a person's life. However, it is not the only mental illness potentially linked to the Internet, in one way or another, which is why researchers at Tel Aviv University have decided to take a look at this.
The research considered three specific case studies for people who willingly came to seek help. All three of these people had delusions about the person 'behind the screen' and their link through the computer. One of them even suffered a tactile hallucination that the person beyond the screen was physically touching them. Factors that contributed to these psychotic episodes included issues of spatial distortion, as people across the planet can communicate, the lack of non-verbal cues, and a tendency amongst the patients to idealize the person they are communicating with.
There is good news though! These patients shared specific characteristics including loneliness or vulnerability and inexperience with technology. Also, with proper treatment, all three recovered. The researchers do intend to study this further though, specifically with regard to Facebook. This will include an examination of features that may emotionally harm patients or allow them to emotionally harm others.