In this VR experience, Mengtai Zhang locks us into his own memories of a center for internet addicts. Run by psychiatrists, who are backed up in some centers by military personnel, this institution functions as a re-education camp. The user moves around the interactive animated VR environment—through the gray corridors and classrooms—while Mengtai recalls haunting memories of violence, peer pressure, and indoctrination.
But is “internet addiction” really a psychiatric disorder at all? Diagnosia raises big questions about the scientific literature and reveals that Chinese researchers frequently refer to a certain Professor Goldberg, who had actually introduced the term “internet addiction” as a parody of the DSM, the diagnostic manual for mental disorders.
Mengtai’s observation that this diagnosis disregards the patient’s social environment has relevance beyond the Chinese context. In Mengtai’s own case, his parents were in a divorce battle—and they were in fact the ones who delivered him to the center. In other words, a diagnosis of “internet addiction” could just be another form of social control.
Project supported by DocLab R&D Program.