iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us by Larry Rosen, Ph.D. (Palgrave MacMillan, $25.00, 246 pages)
“…the research is now showing that technology may act as a trigger to induce these mood swings.”
Sometimes a book doesn’t fit a particular category. It may be intended for the self-help reader or perhaps the budding psychologist who’s exploring the profession before making the commitment to a degree and an internship. Larry Rosen has produced a book in search of an audience. If his goal was to offer some self-help for addressing the proliferation of electronic devices and diversions that absorb our attention, then Rosen has fallen short of his goal. The statistically-dense text does contain several self-administered questionnaires and checklists. Where other books have illustrations, bullet points and charming anecdotes, iDisorder has none of these.
To be fair, there are scenarios or quotes that begin each chapter that give the reader a glimpse of the basis for the topic under discussion. These topics include: addiction to the internet; depression/mania and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; communication (shyness); and obsessions with appearance.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is referenced frequently throughout the text, much as it is in the previously reviewed book, The Other Side of Normal: How Biology is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior by Jordan Smoller. Unlike The Other Side, iDisorder lacks a smooth, structured flow of ideas. The frequent cross references to prior and future chapters invoked a frame of mind for this reviewer that there would be a final exam on the material presented. Moreover, creating a set of book notes in order to follow the concepts seems punitive for a reader who is concerned about possible technology-induced mental disorders.
While we’re on the topic of school, perhaps Dr. Rosen, who teaches psychology at California State University at Dominguez Hills, could have offered extra credit for students willing to check his grammar and citations. It may seem petty of this reviewer to point out the reference to MIT (Massachusetts Institute for Technology) – but, come on now – “for”? Or, this amazing comment: “At his last review his supervisors wrote that Colby’s excessive tardiness, absence at company meetings, and lack of completed paperwork are substandard and prevent him from doing his job correctly.”
To be clear, iDisorder is a book that showed potential – potential which went unrealized. It does not make this reviewer’s list of recommended survey books.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Here is a link to a review of The Other Side of Normal: