A post at http://metaversetribune.com/2010/09/13/is-it-fair-to-blame-virtual-worlds/ prompts me to comment...
People with addictive personalities often find something to become addicted to, if not the Internet, a football team, if not a football team, a square of cloth. Addictive personalities are not the problem and nor are virtual worlds, society is the root cause of this addiction. Addictive brains have been scanned and it has been found that part of the brain are differently wired to that of a 'normal' person (if there is such a thing).
Lack of variety of tasks on offer in life, education imbalance that fails to engage the many parts of a person that are needed for a healthy psyche. In fact, I would go as far as to say that virtual worlds are a safety net up to a point. The addictive behaviour that separates part of oneself from everything else could be an alternative to medication. In fact, it could prevent medication totally when a support system is found inside the refuge of virtual worlds.
I am not saying we all should escape life, but depressives often sleep a lot and live in their dreams, awakening only to find the reality they cannot deal with in the first place. They are then treated with medication and either 'get better' or stay that way. What a better option to have an alternative 'fantasy world' with 'real people' that can help.
I agree with Catriona M. Morrison, DPhil, Institute of Psychological sciences from the University of Leeds Great Britain that “over-engaging in Web sites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.”
However a link does not mean one causes the other. As Skylar Smythe points out, an 'association' does not suggest cause and effect. Many things are associated, yet one does not necessarily cause the one another and the cause / effect may even be reversed. No connection can be assumed until proven.
What I would like to see is the people who treat these issues use virtual worlds to treat their patients with. After all, virtual worlds and virtual reality have been used to help patients with many other psychiatric disorders and phobias. http://vrlab.epfl.ch/~bhbn/psy/index-VR-Psychology.html