Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Has your child been diagnosed with PSPD What does it stand for? Is it real? Is it a mental illness? Is there a cure?!? PSPD is actually two nearly identical disorders. Pre-Screen Personality Disorder, and its close relative Post-Screen Personality Disorder. These are very real disorders, (which I have named, so you saw it here first!) and you or a loved one may already be suffering from it, or be in danger of developing it. This can also develop if your child has an addiction to video games, so you should take it seriously and must understand the psychology behind gaming addiction. As a matter of fact, it is such a difficult disorder I am considering submitting it for inclusion in the next DSM. Here are the symptoms of Pre-Screen Personality Disorder: 1. Anxiety- A child comes home from school knowing he may have time on the computer at some point in the afternoon. He shows clear signs of anxiety, not knowing exactly what time he will actually get his fix. This may include whining, crying, bothering a sibling, or generally stressed behavior. 2. Addiction symptoms set in. S/He starts crying, begging and being willing to do anything it takes to get to his screen to play those addictive video games. This may include begging for chores, but most often our little addict is willing to steal, lie or cheat to get the parent to turn on the computer. S/he may tell his/her parents s/he has no homework, s/he already studied etc. Or the house may get suspiciously quiet because s/he sneaked into the den and turned the computer on all by him/herself. There also may be a silent exit from the house to a neighbor whom the child knows always has a screen running. 3. Aggression is the next natural step. The aggression will be directed either at siblings or parent, or both. It often includes foul language or violence, triggering a round of warnings and threats of punishment (including the child loosing screen time). All of this is followed by a tense but magnificent calm, as the exhausted parent finally gives in and turns on the computer for the very undeserving child. The parent may be lulled into the illusion that all is well in the world again, and her child will be happy and grateful after the allotted screen time. the parent will be deeply disappointed to discover what really follows... What follows is PSPD, Post-Screen Personality Disorder. Here are some of the symptoms: 1. Selective hearing - Parent says "OK times up! time to turn off the computer". Dead silence. No matter how many times that sentence is repeated the child will ignore and continue to squeeze out as much screen time as possible. 2. The child begins begging and pleading for more, promising to be a perfect child after just this one more game, or begins to be rude and angry, or a combination of both. What we are seeing verges on hysteria. 3. Bursts of anger and aggression can carry on for the rest of the evening without fear of consequence. These bursts can include "you don't care about me", or "you never give me what I want" or even better "my friend's parent's let them watch whatever they want for as long as they want" 4. Withdrawal symptoms, such as being willing to sneak back to the screen, grab a smart phone when no one is looking, hide a tablet under the bed, or overall sad, depressed and obnoxious behavior. 5. Trouble falling asleep due to the blue light from the screen disrupting melatonin production. 6. Boredom sets in. Nothing interests your child. He is so overstimulated that anything that does not mimic the fast-paced excitement of the screen is intolerable. This can include time with friends, listening to music, reading, playing a board game etc. 6. and finally... ADHD symptoms, OCD symptoms, ODD symptoms and a completely miserable child! Does this sound like a full blown addiction to you? Indeed PSPD mimics cocaine addiction in the brain. This is serious business. So what is the cure? The reason I don't think the committee for the DSM will accept my contribution is because there is no pill for this ill. The solution requires a lot of hard work.
The solution is spelled out very nicely in the book "Reset Your Child's Brain" By Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley. She recommends a total screen fast. Is it doable? It is, but its really difficult. Be ready for two very challenging weeks.
Your child will be going through some difficult withdrawal and may be very angry and sad. But once those terrible weeks are over, you will rediscover your sweet child, the child who loves to read, hang out, joke around and play outside. Although I only discussed children here, adults are just as susceptible to this disorder, so make it a family project. This intervention may be the very best thing you will ever do for your child and your entire family after reading this article.
Take the plunge!
Cure PSPD now!