Hardcore Internet junkies now have their very own version of the Betty Ford clinic.
The Heavensfield Retreat Center, located in Fall City, Wash., claims to be the first U.S in-patient center to treat Internet, video game and texting addictions. Enrollment in the clinic's 45-day Internet addiction recovery program, called reStart, costs roughly $14,500.
The program is designed to wean patients off the Internet by combining traditional talk therapy with social skills training, such as lessons in conversation techniques and dating. Patients also feed goats, raise chickens and do home-maintenance work as a way of getting reoriented with the offline world.
The clinic's first patient is a 19-year-old boy from Iowa who admitted to being hooked on the online game World of Warcraft.
While it may seem like an extreme (not to mention pricey) way to get unplugged, Stuart Fischoff, a psychologist and Senior Editor at the Journal of Media Psychology, believes the rehab approach can be helpful.
"For patients in clinical settings, exposing them to friendly animals has had very positive effects," said Fischoff, who is not affiliated with the new clinic. "The purpose here is to get the patient to experience gratification from something that doesn't require an Internet connection. So giving the patient someone who needs them, appreciates them and doesn't judge them allows them to reach out to the flesh-and-blood world."
Is Web addiction real?
The program's Web site cites research that suggests "anywhere from 6 and 10 percent of the online population is dependent on one or more aspects of cyber technology and the Internet."
However, the emerging notion of "Internet addiction" remains controversial. The term has yet to be recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disorder and is not listed in the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But some experts have lobbied for its inclusion in the manual's upcoming revision, due out in 2012.
Ronald W. Pies, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Tufts University, said much of the debate hinges on whether Internet abuse is a distinct disorder or merely a symptom of deeper psychological problems.
"There are often underlying or co-occurring psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression or a disturbance in interpersonal relationships, all of which may explain the person's internet problems," Pies told LiveScience. "The question is, do we need another 'disorder' in our DSM, if the manifestations of Internet addiction can already be accounted for by well-described and better-validated conditions?"
Though very little research on Internet addiction exists, one notable study conducted by Stanford University researchers found that more than one out of eight Americans displayed signs of "problematic Internet use," such as having difficulty staying away from the Internet for several days at a time. But the study's authors admitted that the results were "too premature" to warrant a medical diagnosis. The conclusions were based on a telephone survey of 2,513 adults in 2006.
As of now, "there has not yet been sufficient investigation of the question using well-defined criteria for Internet addiction," Pies said.
Fischoff doesn't view the Internet itself to be "addictive," but rather "it's the various things people can do online such as gambling, porn or gaming, that are addictive."
"The Web is simply a very Therapist in Sandton good delivery system for activities that are potentially addictive," Fischoff said in a telephone interview.
Will it work?
Meanwhile, Internet addiction treatment is not a new concept.
In China, there are roughly 400 Internet addiction clinics, where some patients have been reportedly subjected to shock therapy. On Aug. 2, a 15-year-old Chinese boy was beaten to death less than a day after his parents checked him into one of the Internet addiction boot camps, according to news reports.
Although he finds the treatment methods outlined on reStart's web site to be based on sound psychotherapeutic principles, Fischoff doesn't expect rehab alone to have a long-lasting effect.
"I don't think rehab will be a cure-all for anybody, whether it's a drug addiction, gambling or the Internet," he said. "You can modify people's behavior in a particular environment, but if they have not developed the proper social skills, they'll retreat back into their old ways once they get back out into the real world."
"The hope here is that what is introduced to the patient would at least get them on the path toward expanding other parts of their life," Fischoff added.
JOHANNESBURG Life Healthcare Group (LHCJ.J) is ready to pay up to $1 billion on a European acquisition, its chief executive told Reuters, as South Africa's second-biggest private hospital company chases growth outside its home market.
Stiff competition and flagging economic growth have pushed South African private hospital groups to broaden their horizons by expanding in Europe, the Middle East and India.
Domestic prospects are also clouded by a broad market inquiry by South Africa's Competition Commission, which is examining pricing and competition in the sector.
Life Healthcare has been slower off the mark than rivals Mediclinic International (MDCM.L) and Netcare (NTCJ.J) but it is loosening the purse strings in an effort to increase revenue from outside its core market to 20-30 percent of group revenue by 2020.
"We think the transaction size will be in the order of 8 billion rand to 14 billion rand ($600 million to $1 billion)," Chief Executive Andre Meyer said after the company's inclusion in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's benchmark Top-40 index on Monday.
Mediclinic, which entered the United Arab Emirates with its acquisition of Al Noor Hospitals last year and holds 29.9 percent of Britain's Spire Healthcare (SPI.L), sources more than 60 percent of its profit from outside South Africa. Johannesburg-based Netcare, meanwhile, runs Britain's biggest private hospital network, BMI Healthcare.
Though Life Healthcare has invested in India and Poland, the group still earns 95 percent of its revenue and 98 percent of profit in South Africa, where economic growth is forecast to be barely positive this year.
"We think in India we have a five-year horizon to see really good earnings," Meyer said, citing a growing middle class in the world's second most populous nation as a key factor.
Meyer said his company wants to buy a more mature business that has both scale and Psychologist in Fourways growth potential. It is only interested in European markets where business can be conducted in English, he said, adding that this includes Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"We actually think Brexit has given us a opportunity to pick up a good asset at a more acceptable multiple," Meyer said, referring to Britain's June vote to leave the European Union, though he did not name any potential targets.
"We're not chasing anything and everything that is for sale," the CEO added, though he said that Life Healthcare would also consider assets in complementary healthcare, such as mental health, occupational therapy, renal dialysis and oncology.
In Poland, the company sees opportunities to add smaller businesses to its Scanmed business, though Meyer said he remains cautious about the market after the state increased cardiology tariffs this year.
Sandton Psychology Centre is a private psychology practice providing services for children, adolescents, adults and couples.
The focus of Sandton Psychology Centre is three-tiered: treatment/healing (psychotherapy for adolescents and adults, play therapy for children and couples counselling), preventative (programmes, talks, workshops) and diagnostic (assessments). Sandton Psychology Centre comprises Clinical, Counselling and Educational Psychologists as well as a resident psychiatrist, all of whom have particular areas of interest and specialisations. The Centre is open from Mondays to Saturdays.
Sandton Psychology Centre's logo is a mandala. A mandala is largely associated with ancient cultures and translated means circle and centre. The mandala logo was chosen to represent both the visible world outside of us and the invisible one deep inside our minds and bodies (the centre). Our logo is therefore a symbol for community and connection, for the wholeness of the individual and for our commitment to a balanced approach toward achieving quality delivery of our psychological services.
Sandton Psychology Centre is conveniently situated in Rivonia and serves Johannesburg's Sandton region as well as surrounding areas. Whether you are looking for a Child Psychologist, an Educational Psychologist, a Couples/Marriage Counsellor or a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist for adolescent or adult issues, Sandton Psychology Centre will have the professional to assist you as it provides a wide range of psychological services
One of the biggest issues locals and visitors in Shanghai face is where to get a massage.
With so many options dotting the city, do you choose the blind massage? Maybe your simple local rub down or aluxe detox? Hard choices.
The main drag of Dagu Lu has just about any Shanghai massage you could want. The western side of the two-block long street boasts almost a dozen massage places, making it one of the most massage-dense areas of the city.
Here's the lowdown of which places to hit.
By all accounts Tiapan is a Dagu Lu anchor. This branch of the China-wide chain pioneered the beloved formula of massage, TV and camaraderie.
It's the city's best hangover diversion: enlist a friend, grab a DVD from the savvy businessmen who operate the wagon in the middle of the block, then settle in for Taipan's signature 90-minute foot and shoulder rub in front of the LCD.
Relative cost: Moderate
Perk we love: The menu of tea, fruit juice and beef noodles -- all free.
Go for: The 90-minute all-you-can-eat and foot and shoulder massage (RMB 138). But be sure to book ahead. Walk-ins almost never make it past the door.
Taipan, 370 Dagu Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu ???370?, ?????, +86 21 6340 0366
Congen [Kangjun] Massage
Like a cheap motel without the kitsch, Congen has broom-closet rooms, a brown-on-brown color scheme and a 45-minute hour.
That said, staff are organized, friendly and sensitive -- practitioners (who comes in two skill levels, three and five stars) dwell on the tight spots and respond well to your incomprehensible grunting.
That thumb in your armpit? Feels better than it sounds.
Relative cost: Cheap to moderate
Perk we love: Congen's saving grace (other than quite skilled masseuses) is the classic-rock Muzak over the sound system. Particularly soothing: the pan-flute rendition of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is."
Go for: The Royal Treatment (RMB 278), a 90-minute oil massage that covers head, feet and everything in between -- though some swear the hour-long ear massage (RMB 146) will cure all that ails you.
Congen, 436 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???436?, ?????, +86 21 6340 1161
Damo doesn't mess around with bells and whistles -- unless you think highly of synthetic bloomers and vanilla tea. Decor here resembles other Dagu Lu joints: lounge chairs, ottomans and wall-mounted TVs (don't expectthem to work, though).
All the places on the block tend to open at 11 a.m., but Damo gets bonus points for welcoming us at 10 a.m. when others have turned us away (it's never too early for a foot rub). Top marks, too, for the reflexology treatment Psychologist in Fourways of a lifetime. Our practitioner got it just right.
Relative cost: Cheap to moderate
Perk we love: The total absence of hassle, pain and disappointment is rare in these parts, so we'll call it a perk.
Go for: The Special Damo Experience, a 60-minute foot massage that hits pressure points you didn't know you had. Normally RMB 115, when we went it was available at a 30 percent discount.
Damo Reflexology, 432 Dagu Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu ???432?, ?????, +86 21 6375 1008
It's on the opposite end of the block from Taipan and, from its sorry veneer paneling, it might seem a mile away from Taipan's successful formula.
Surprisingly though, Bamboo has a recipe of its own which is -- to quote Charlie Sheen -- winning. In fact, when we went, our strong-armed practitioner was called Sheen (no relation).
Our full-body session exceeded the 60-minute time limit and left us smiling for the rest of the day.
Relative cost: Cheap to moderate
Perk we love: The intimate creep of Sheen's fingers could have been a liability, but we werein a good mood and Sheen quickly moved on.
Go for: The one-hour oil massage with rose oil, whose "key effect" is meant to "improve one's looks," according to promotional material. We can't say that it fulfilled its duty to the letter, but for RMB 233, down from RMB 388, we can't complain.
Bamboo, 508 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???508?, ?????, +86 21 3366 2778
Skin City 5.5
For visitors pining for a beloved masseuse back in New York or London, here's a body shop with Manhattan service and Mayfair standards.
True to the name, "Skin City" is better known for its attention to epidermis than deep tissue -- it's one of the only places in town to practice microdermabrasion -- and its facialists have waiting lists. The massages are deeply gratifying.
Relative cost: Expensive
Perk we love: The multilingual receptionist, European magazines and music menu: choose your favorite classical pianist, or laze with Ella and Billie.
Go for: The hour-long Spirulina Detox Facial (RMB 598). It smells divine and leaves your cheeks soft as a baby's bum for a week. If that doesn't grab you, at least you'll nap like a champ.
Skin City 5.5, 476 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???476?, ?????, +86 21 6340 1235, www.skincity55.com
Does anyone really go to Dagu Lu for Dragonfly? The nationwide operation seems a bit aspirational for this no-frills stretch of concrete, more suited to its Xinle Lu location, perhaps.
The good news is that Jing'an Dragonfly keeps it real. Prices were reasonable for our first-rate aroma oil massage (RMB 252 for an hour), which was served with a smile and a cup oftea. Though is it too much to ask for a lounger on which to enjoy it?
Therapists even attend to your tummy -- there's no better alternative to a spoonful of Metamucil.
Relative cost: Moderate to expensive
Perk we love: The hot-cloth wipe-down at the end.
Go for: The 120-minute Give It to Me One More Time massage (RMB 530), which includes an hour-long aromatherapy massage, plus an hour of foot, head or shoulder massage -- by four hands no less.
Dragonfly, 458 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???458?, ?????, +86 21 6327 1193, www.dragonfly.net.cn
Customers get just the right balance of boudoir chic, friendly service and expert care at Peony, a multi-level parlor near trendy Italian restaurant Nolita.
Hands are attentive and discerning, covering all the tender spots -- even our troubled elbows, which had never seen such love. Much the same could be said of our "pectoral" region. Our craving for a cigarette post-massagewas no surprise.
Relative cost: Moderate
Perk we love: Anyone who spends 10 minutes ministering to our head and scalp without our constant hounding gets our vote.
Go for: Peony's raison d'etre: aromatherapy. The Vitality Aromatherapy massage (RMB 240) fills an hour with slick, Swedish-style kneading.
Peony Aroma, 426 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???426?, ?????, +86 21 5666 1776, +86 216340 0951
Were we the only fools to have ascended Sunny's steps that fateful evening? The rooms were frosty, employees were barking down their phones in the corridor (then clearing their throats) and the guy performing our Aroma Oil Massage (RMB 218) was outside with his buddies having a smoke before we could pull up our pants.
A hot-towel rubdown that should have brought goodwill just made us colder.
Relative cost: Cheap
Perk we love: Ten minutes with our feet in a warm bath upon arrival was a nice, although a common, touch. Considering the state of our feet as we sat down, we're unsure who benefited most from the soak.
Go for: If you must, keep it short with one of the 60-minute oil massages, from RMB 218.
Sunny Massage, 500 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???500?, ?????, + 86 216340 0636
What do you do about the prudish client who insists on wearing her underpants? Why, pull them down, of course. But that's OK, Fino. We forgive you. Masseuse Tony, too, despite what some might call his unhealthy obsession with our bottom.
Tony was all thumbs, in the nicest way possible, a Swede in Shanghai pajamas. The drab "Motel 168" interior at Fino was a ruse-- this was the best RMB 198 we ever spent.
Relative cost: Cheap to Moderate
Perk we love: The deft abdominal massage and the rubber mallets they pull out to massage the pads of your feet at the end of a foot massage.
Go for: The RMB 198 Health Meridian massage, or any of the acupressure massages (from RMB 138).
Fino, 486 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu ???486?, ?????, +86 21 6359 1155, +86 21139 1786 0903 (Japanese)