Friday , May 7 2021

A rehabilitation center that treats video games as if it were a BBC cocaine

Kids at the meeting

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
Clinic Ies Ve can hold meetings with their patients to discuss what they feel.

I'm at the most intense group therapy session I've been sitting in. It's a "circle of experience" of 20 people. Anyone, apart from a counselor who conducts a session, is at least five years younger than me, and they are here because they are trying restore lives those who lost control.

Working with the group, the worst they have done, they hope to change.

One member of the group, Eva *, 19, a full list of all time his behavior has harmed most people wants.

"One: I told my parents a few months ago that I did not want them," he says without an expression. "I had a lot of pain when I said that."

"Two: Last year, I yelled at my boyfriend I wanted to commit suicide"

The list continues. Eva speaks many things she believes she has made a mistake: she hides her feelings, she is a perfectionist and does not have self-discipline, she says. Do not get your teeth. It does not make sport. Sometimes I do not shower.

I'm surprised at Eva's sincerity and, at the end of her speech, I'm starting to feel sorry for you.

Kira, the advisor who runs the session, goes into circles.

"Who's got a comment?" She says. "Ethan *".

Ethan, a 17-year-old boy in tight jeans, Evi turns. I wonder if she will offer you some words of support.

Patient's form

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
Video Games Minecraft, Vorld of Varcraft or Battlefield are the most famous.

"I am always tempted to say something obviously" good intervention or anything, "says Ethan, wiping his hair off his face." But what were the consequences of your perfectionism? It's bad if you take it to the extreme, but did you really do it? Did your life make it incomprehensible? "

"I think so," Eva replies cautiously. Her legs go under the chair, and she looks from person to person. Twenty pairs of eyes quietly look back.

Kira looks around. "In what thoughts do you think it's based?"he asks the room.

There is a break. Then another teenager, Thomas *, breaks silence.

"I think your perfectionism is connected since she is a victim. You do not realize that you made mistakes, so instead you play the role of a victim. "

My the phone vibrates loudly. I remember I did not watch him in an hour and I have to consciously push the pulse to look at it. I keep breathing nervously while I'm watching Evo.

At first I think she's upset. My phone vibrates again. I'll take it out of my pocket without thinking and immediately bring it back to my place.

But Eve does not cry. She does not say anything at all. The room looks in silence. I start to doubt that she is not upset at all: she's really furious.

Kira turns to the group.

"Who feels self-pity? "he says.

The room broke into the choir "safe" and "absolute".

"Do you want to change?"Kira asks Evo.

"Yes, I want to change," says Eva, with the touch of an indication in her voice.

"Do you know that behind your behavior there were any attempts to draw attention?" Kira Evi said.

Silence passes through the room.

"Not yet," Eve said in a low voice. "But I will learn."

That we can clinic

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
The treatment costs about $ 64,000.

Two hours ago I arrived at the Ies Ve Can Mental Health Center, located on a long wooden boulevard in a quiet corner of the city in the south of the Netherlands. When my taxi approached its imposing black doors, the trees surrounded a large estate with wide and well-maintained terrains.

This magic villa could have been made from pixel blocks in a video game Minecraft; or provide a stage for the saga level Hitman.

This clinic is intended only for people aged 13-25 years all over the world who receive specialized treatment for mental health problems, including computer and smartphone dependence, and other behavioral problems that the medical community does not know how to classify. less work.

Many people who attend are saying that they are dependent on their own smartfoni, social networking or video games.

For the first time this year, the World Health Organization was formally involved in June dependence on video games in the International Classification of Disease (CIE).

It can be said that the treatment program in this clinic goes on: it sets video games under the conditions of equality with the harm caused by drugs, alcohol and gambling, and requires those who end their 10 weeks of program Stay away from everyone for the rest of your life.

The debate about whether smartphones and video games are addictive is almost almost out of date.

It's a topic that founder Jan Villem Poot, 42, believes he grows strong. He founded the clinic in 2010 to fulfill what he perceived as a void on the market and thus launched a Dutch mental health center that offered personalized treatment to young people.

"I was inspired by the slogan Barack Obama Campaign"he says as he laughs.

Jan Villem Poot

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
Jan Villem Poot was inspired by Obama's campaign for his clinic name: Yes, we can.

It's pure enthusiasm. I think that's the opposite of how your life should be during your adolescence, when I took up to eight grams of cocaine a day.

Since 2004, with pure drugs and alcohol, Villem has established a clinic to help young people overcome mental health problems. So there was a surprise for him when the first young people who arrived at his clinic often said they were attached to the popular Call of Duti video game, not cocaine.

"Every week we go for a walk in the woods," says Villem with wide eyes. "We had a few kids who said," This looks just like I'm in the game Warcraft of Warcraft "or Battlefield, or anything else. They imagined that, behind every kind of tree or stone, the enemy was hiding, or that a complete army came behind every hill. "

In this retreat in the middle of the forest, the first group activity is the path through the canopy. Thomas, who showed Eve as a victim, does not enjoy it.

"It's so unstable!"

That's the day before the 20th birthday. They tie it to the safety belt and suspend it in the middle of the scale in the forest.

"I can not do it! I hate the height.

Thomas begins to hold back tears. Approximately six meters from the ground, two steps from the platform on the trees. Not far, but does not want to cross.

"You can do it, Thomas!" Shouts James, from London.

Thomas goes down the stairs and rubs his face. I'm coming to him. He breathes, and his cheeks are red. I ask him why he came here.

"Mostly because of the game's dependence," he says, escaping with his climb. "But also because of eating disorders and perhaps pornographic addiction, well, it's still under discussion."

Thomas is in his sixth week at the clinic. The hardest thing he did since he arrived was to delete video game bills.

"I was sweating and crying when I did it," he says. "Although it was a problem, I still have a good memory on my stage of playing video games and the people I met there."

In the last six weeks, Thomas learned enjoy outdoor activities, something I rarely experienced when I played 16 hours a day.

I am impressed with Tomas, who seems conceived, aware of himself, strong and vulnerable at the same time. In the age when many other 19-year-olds face their first years away from home, drink and exaggerate, they have a future they could not imagine a year ago.

I am amazed when Thomas took the microphone and performed the perfect performance of Rag God for Eminem: a six minute song with 1,500 words containing some of Rapper's fastest verses.

Other kids are looking forward to happiness.

A patient in the woods

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
The program for youth between 13 and 25 years lasts 10 weeks.

There is something about a karaoke that seems strange for a reason that I do not understand immediately.

Then I realize it's obvious: this is a group of teenagers and twenty-year-olds who are completely sober, singing in a tent in the middle daylight. They currently look younger than them.

As young people from rich families who can afford private treatment, those who receive scholarships from abroad are somehow happy. People from adverse circumstances face an increased risk of developing mental health problems and far less treatment opportunities.

The price is about $ 64,000.

There is growing evidence that young people from all the circumstances in the West face with mental health crisis.

In recent years it has existed a strong increase in anxiety and depression disorders.

An investigation by the London Institute of Educational Policy suggests that the number of visits to mental health services for children and adolescents in the United Kingdom has increased by 26% over the past five years.

Playing children

Chesnot / Getti
Dependence on video games did not stop growing in recent years.

Jean Tvenge suspects there may be a common denominator. In her book iGen, a psychology teacher claims that behavior and emotional states of adolescents experienced dramatic changes after 2012.

That year, he wrote, it was just a moment when it was a percentage Americans who owned a super smartphoneor 50%.

The young are "on the brink of the worst" mental health crisis in decades, "he wrote,"[y] Most of this deterioration can be attributed to their phones. "

Tvenge found a correlation between increasing the use of smartphones and increasing depression and loneliness among young people.

He also explains that after 2007, when the iPhone was launched, young Americans experienced a decline in socialization, giving and having sex.

Teens have more free time than ever, he wrote. "So, what are you doing all the time?" They watch their phones, in their own room, themselves and often in torture.

Center stairs

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
Some children in the center admit that they spent up to 16 hours playing the day.

However, not everyone agrees. Dr. Pete Etchells, psychology professor at the University of Bath in Bath, UK, says Jean Tvenge's book shows the connection between smartphones and depression, but not the one who causes the other.

It warns that we risk treating behaviors that are not recognized as mental health problems.


Research computer dependence or smartphone, social networks, and clutter that caused video games are still in preliminary stages of study.

"In the case of cocaine or heroin consumption, we clearly see what the damage causes," he says.

"However, video game dependence research does not do a good job of distinguishing people who are very involved, but do not suffer any problems and people for whom it becomes problematic."


BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen

I wonder if Dr. Etchells right? There may be a risk of too much diagnosis. During this visit, I met many young people with various serious problems. Are they "sick enough"? And how, do you know if someone is "sick enough"?

Then I sit down to talk to Ethan, who was in the clinic for almost 10 weeks. He is friendly and charismatic, completely different, he says, to the person he was when he arrived.

"I was afraid of everyone," he says.

Ethan tells me with the characteristic sincerity of all I know. He told me what he did in the day before he came to this clinic.

"I woke up at six in the afternoon," he says. "Sometimes I was awake. It is easier. Less people. When my parents slept, I went down and ate something. "

What happened when your parents discovered it? Asking.

"Very simple," he says. "I ignored them."

Serious childhood trauma

My phone vibrates again. I feel like I'm coming up with avalanche VhatsApp messages. For a moment, I'm completely worried. I deliberately paid attention to Ethan.

Ethan spent a lot of time crying in his room. I had panic attacks. He was hurt. He was drugged with "anything that fell into my hands" and played video games all night. At 15, He left school.

"I thought I was fucked up for life," he says.

At first, Ethan's behavior made no sense. His parents were kind, saying, but they did not know what to do with him.

It was later discovered that Ethan was hiding something from all: he had a serious trauma in his childhood.

One of the patients in the center

BBC Three / Tomasz Frimorgen
School experience is common among video game addicts

Interview is over. Itan left the room. It seems to me that even though the people I met with were extremely open about my behavior, until my encounter with Ethan I knew much about their background.

Jan Villem enters the phone in his hand. I check my phone and I feel a mixture of disappointment and embarrassment when I see an empty screen. I imagined vibrations. I alone millennial cheated without a friend.

Is it a pleasure to receive a notification on the cellphone?Asking. Jan Villem smiles.

"Yes, of course," he says.

Is it a sign of dependence? How do you protect children from this? Asking.

"Sometimes we advise children to leave social networks," says Jan Villem. "But we never advise a complete abstinence from them."

VhatsApp and social networks

"Because there will be a need for their phones and their laptops in the world, I have a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account that I mainly use for my business, and the truth is that I'm addicted, but the truth is, I have to use them."

I have my phone in my hand because I use a built-in recorder to record conversations. The screen lights up. This is a notice and I am aware that it is necessary to open it.

Does that make me an addict? I'm hooked VhatsApp? If I did not work, could I spend a few hours of sending self-confidence on Snapchat? Can I transfer it to games, to alcohol, to drugs?

I'm looking at Jan Villem and I'm trying to imagine a life in which I spend eight grams of cocaine a day.

*Some names have been changed.

You can read the first story in English here.

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