A new study finds that the downside to global social networks is the potential to ‟aggravate or even induce psychotic symptoms” in psychologically vulnerable patients.
Five doctors examined the real-life case of a 31-year-old woman the authors called ‟Mrs. C,” who was admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital in Berlin.
Medical records showed “Mrs. C” had never shown signs of any kind of personality disorder until she was committed following a year-long obsession with Twitter.
‟Sometimes, she would spend several hours a day reading and writing messages, neglecting her social relationships and, sometimes, even meals and regular sleeping hours,” said the study.
Under examination, Mrs. C. told the doctors she believed a famous actor was secretly responding to her tweets through coded messages, which she claimed to receive from lots of different sources on Twitter.
‟During the next couple of weeks, Mrs. C increasingly felt that the messages of other users were ‛meant in a symbolic way” and that she had to react to these ‛tasks’ in a certain manner,” the doctors noted. ‟After approximately two months, she started to discover the same symbols in her real-world environment. She then began to feel that there ‛must be some organization behind these tasks’ and started to suspect a sect, pointing to the development of systematized paranoid delusion.”
Mrs. C. eventually recovered from her symptoms, losing all interest in Twitter in the process. The doctors declared her free of Internet addiction.
But they warn that other patients with similar psychological illnesses could respond the same way to social networks and perhaps create dangerous fixations for those already predisposed to psychosis.
Read more at CBS Sacramento.