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Happiness Is...

Cyber Sick

A new kind of computer virus.

By Debra Phillips

Can you be sick and wired? According to psychologist Michael Cohn, the unrelenting presence of computer technology is driving quite a few folks to become afflicted with technopathologies.

"There's been expanded use of the Internet for commerce and for personal relationships, but there hasn't been [as much] attention paid to the downsides that have human as well as financial costs," says Cohn, who co-authored Technoshock (Kendall/Hunt Publishing) with his wife, Linda.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to PC? Well, something like that. As Cohn sees it, today's technopathologies run the gamut from cyber-avoidance to cyber-obsession. Symptoms include everything from anxiety or panic to concentration problems to a refusal to discuss technology at all. Clear signs you're obsessed, says Cohn, are if you lose control of the amount of time you spend on your computer and if you neglect responsibilities.

"I foresee at least a couple of generations struggling with this issue," says Cohn, who treats those suffering from technopathologies through biofeedback, relaxation-skill development and a host of other therapeutic measures. "To keep up with the demands for productivity everywhere is hard."

And getting harder. Since technology shows no sign of slowing, however, we must understand why we can't always get with the program--and how our computers may byte back.

Contact Sources

Business Cluster Development Co., (415) 854-1707,

Combe Inc./Just For Men, (800) 431-2610,

Dr. Michael Cohn, 7330 E. Earll Dr., Ste. L, Scottsdale, AZ 85251,

Foamation Inc., (800) FOAM-FUN,

Hands On Graphics Inc., (800) 773-DRAW,

Lewis & Clark College, Northwestern School of Law, 10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97219,

John T. Malloy, c/o Marina Maher Communications, 400 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022

Price Waterhouse LLP, (516) 425-3140,

Showtime Advertising and Public Relations, 17800 Rte. 306, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023, (216) 543-2298

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Happiness Is....

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