Video game addiction – or gaming disorder – sounds like a made-up ailment. But the truth is: Gaming addiction affects a sizeable group of Millennials and other young people.
Here’s how new and serious this condition is: The World Health Organization recently said it would now recognize gaming disorder. And a number of other healthcare organizations, like The Mayo Clinic to Stanford School of Medicine, recognize and are researching the disorder and possible treatments.
So, what exactly is video game addiction? And how can something like hypnosis help?
To answer that question, it’s helpful to take a look at what effect gaming has on the brain.
To put it simply, video games hijack the brain’s reward center. The reward center lights up when you play, and because of that, the brain learns that you need to play more and more to achieve the same “high.” In fact, researchers have concluded that video game addiction closely resembles compulsive gambling.
The “high” of gaming (or gambling) becomes something that gamers seek out. It consumes their thoughts, it’s constantly on their minds, and they put gaming ahead of almost everything (relationships, hygiene and sleep, for example). It becomes an addiction with negative side effects.
And that’s where hypnosis for video game addiction can help.
Hypnosis allows us to access those unconscious desires – the need to play, the all-consuming thoughts of gaming – and help break these unhealthy thinking patterns. In other words, hypnosis can help us reprogram our brains, to remove those automatic, compulsive thoughts (that drive our actions), and replace them with more helpful and healthy patterns of thinking.
What is Video Game Addiction? Am I Addicted?
Before we begin to look at how hypnosis works for video game addiction, it’s helpful to examine what gaming addiction actually is.
Some people just play video games a lot. It’s how they unwind and relax (just like some people binge-watch Stranger Things over a holiday weekend). Gaming hasn’t become a compulsion. It’s something that they can stop at any time.
But for others, gaming becomes much more consuming. These people play video games a lot – not just to relax, but because they feel a compulsion that they have to play.
It’s similar to any addiction. Video game addicts feel they need to play more and more to reach the same “high.” Some of the telltale signs of gaming disorder (which are common for a lot of addictions) are:
- Tolerance – When you first started playing, you might have played a lot less. It was easier to feel fulfilled. Addicted gamers tend to need to play for longer and longer periods of time to get that same “fix.”
- Withdrawal – Excessive gaming becomes the normal. And when you don’t get that fix – maybe you’re on vacation, or you try to quit cold turkey – you experience withdrawal symptoms, e.g. irritability, compulsive thoughts, or depression.
- Increased Priority – Gaming becomes the end-all be-all. You lose track of time when you play. You neglect relationships, hygiene and work commitments. And you’re often distracted, because you’re thinking about gaming.
In other words, video game addiction is very closely related to many different types of addictions in the symptoms that people feel. But unlike a drug, there is no physical addiction with video games. The addiction is completely mental (and that’s why hypnosis can be such a powerful tool).
How Video Game Addiction Reprograms Your Brain
Almost every addiction or compulsion affects the brain’s pleasure center.
Maybe a better word is that it “hijacks” the pleasure center. It’s like giving the mind a high-powered dose of caffeine, over and over again, every time we play.
And that’s how the addiction forms.
The brain’s reward center gets activated the second we press start, and after it’s activated we start to feel pleasure, contentment, and happiness. This isn’t just how gaming addiction forms… it’s how all addictions form – from tobacco, to gambling, to playing Halo 3 for hours on end.
Another point to note: The effect that gaming has on the brain is more powerful in men. According to a recent Stanford study, male gamers experienced higher activation levels in the reward regions of the brain, which would suggest that males are more likely to develop gaming addictions.
But this just shows that video games are fun and that people like them. When does the brain go from liking gaming, to wanting and needing video games?
Well, there is evidence that some people are genetically predisposed to having an addictive personality. But that’s only part of it. Even if you’re genetically predisposed, your behavior also reinforces addiction.
In other words, excessive use, over time, is what develops the addiction.
This happens because the reward system gets overloaded, and it starts to communicate with areas of the brain responsible for executing tasks. The signals get crossed. And the brain starts to think that it wants and needs something, rather than just liking it. The addiction has formed.
The Video Game Addicted Mind
This is where hypnosis comes into the equation. When the brain has started to want video games, this bit of information gets programmed into our subconscious.
The mind is silently encouraging us to think about gaming, to seek out playing, to obsess over games.
These thoughts come automatically. We don’t even know they occur. For instance, when you touch a hot surface, and you instantly pull your finger away. There’s a whole thought process that you go through (that you’re entirely unaware of) that gets you to pull your finger away.
On a subconscious level, gaming addiction works the same way. The thinking patterns become ingrained, and they run constantly in the background. And unfortunately, these thinking patterns – the mind obsessing, the seeking out, the putting video games over everything else – are unhealthy.
Hypnosis allows us to enter a deep, meditative state, in which we can begin to access these thoughts and retrain the brain.
Through the power of positive suggestion, we can begin to reframe video game compulsion, reteach the mind that video games aren’t something that we need to seek out, and help us gain control over these obsessive thoughts.
How Hypnosis Helps Unlock Video Game Addiction
Hypnotherapy – hypnosis for therapeutic use – has long been used to treat addiction. Research has shown, time and again, the effectiveness of hypnosis for a variety of addictions like drug, gambling and even addiction to sugar.
So, what does hypnosis do to the mind to help alleviate addiction?
Hypnosis empowers us to start recognizing unconscious thoughts, and also to break negative thinking patterns. Using suggestions we can also feed the mind with new information, to help it alter the way it responds to obsessive thinking. In particular, hypnosis helps video game addiction by:
Helping Us Recognize Irrational Thoughts.
When we’re addicted, the brain thinks irrationally. We believe that we “need” video games to survive. It’s an irrational, automatic and unconscious thought. But part of overcoming addiction is recognizing these thoughts as they happen.
For example, many gaming addicts use video games to deal with stressful situations. Games help them escape. But this thought process – this idea that we’re turning to games, rather than dealing with our problems – is mostly unconscious.
Hypnosis can help us to slow our thoughts down. To think rationally about the actions we’re taking and why we’re taking them.
This is important for overcoming addiction. When we become aware of the broken thinking patterns, we can begin to fix them.
Gaining Control Over Compulsive Thoughts.
A craving is the mind’s way of getting us to take an action. In the case of addiction, the patterns of thinking have one goal: They encourage us get a fix.
It’s the subconscious’s way of keeping us safe. Hypnosis helps us gain control over these patterns, A) by recognizing them (as mentioned) and B) by changing how the subconscious thinks about video games.
Here’s how: When we reach the trance-like state of hypnosis, we gain access to the subconscious mind. We can speak directly to it. And in this state, the subconscious is receptive to suggestion. Therefore, we can feed the subconscious with new information and ways of thinking. It’s like reprogramming a computer. You give the mind new ways to respond to these negative thoughts.
And here’s the kicker: The mind accepts this information as true!
We can tell the subconscious how to think about our addiction, and influence how the mind reacts consciously.
Creating New Associations in the Subconscious.
Your subconscious thinks about video games a certain way. We tend to think only about the positive associations. Gaming makes me feel happy, or calm, and it reduces stress.
We think about the positive, and push the negative associations (that we spend hours on end playing, that it hurts our eyes, or that we’re hurting relationships when playing) away. That helps keep the addiction in place.
Using hypnosis, though, we can begin to create new associations in the mind, or make the subconscious more aware of the negative associations. For example, a common suggestion for smoking is that cigarettes are a toxic poison. Therefore, when the subconscious thinks about smoking, this bubbles up to the top, and it can naturally help us to calm our urge to smoke.
Does Hypnosis Work for Gaming Addiction?
Video game addiction is such a new field of psychology. In fact, researchers are just beginning to study the disorder and the many treatment options for it.
As of now, there aren’t many studies that have considered the impact of hypnosis on video game addiction. Yet, a lot of research has been published that has looked at the impact of hypnosis on a variety of other addictions and compulsions.
Hypnosis has been proven effective for:
- Quitting sugar
- Overeating and binge eating
- Drug Addiction
- Problem drinking
In fact, many respected healthcare agencies suggest hypnosis and hypnotherapy as complementary treatment options, including the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and Stanford University School of Medicine.
Getting Started with Gaming Addiction Hypnosis
Are you ready to try hypnosis to modify your behavior and gain control over your addiction? The good news is: You can try hypnosis at home, using a self-hypnosis script. Or you can schedule a video chat with a certified hypnotherapist — without ever leaving your home.
Start your journey with our hypnosis tools. Try it now!
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To experience relief from video game addiction with the use of hypnosis, take a look at these resources. We’ve listed them in order from the smallest to greatest investment. The greater the investment, the faster you’ll see results, but if you’re persistent and committed, even our free workbook will help you break free from video game addiction.