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It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed.“This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change,” says Susan Greenfield, a pharmacology professor at Oxford University who is working on a book about how digital culture is rewiring us—and not for the better.

“We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.”Does the Internet make us crazy? But a Newsweek review of findings from more than a dozen countries finds the answers pointing in a similar direction.

Now the Korean government is funding treatment centers, and coordinating a late-night Web shutdown for young people.

China, meanwhile, has launched a mothers’ crusade for safe Web habits, turning to that approach after it emerged that some doctors were using electro-shock and severe beatings to treat Internet-addicted teens.“There’s just something about the medium that’s addictive,” says Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he directs the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic and Impulse Control Disorders Clinic.

“I’ve seen plenty of patients who have no history of addictive behavior—or substance abuse of any kind—become addicted via the Internet and these other technologies.”His 2006 study of problematic Web habits (the one that was puckishly rejected) was later published, forming the basis for his recent book Virtually You, about the fallout expected from the Web’s irresistible allure.

Even among a demographic of middle-aged landline users—the average respondent was in his 40s, white, and making more than ,000 a year—Aboujaoude found that more than one in eight showed at least one sign of an unhealthy attachment to the Net.

The Web wasn’t made “to keep track of how much people like us,” he thought, and when his own tech habits made him feel like “a genius, an addict, or a megalomaniac,” he unplugged for days, believing, as the humorist Andy Borowitz put it in a tweet that Russell tagged as a favorite, “it’s important to turn off our computers and do things in the real world.”But this past March Russell struggled to turn off anything.

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At least 10 ultra-Web users, serviced by one-click noodle delivery, have died of blood clots from sitting too long.

He took off his clothes and went to the corner of a busy intersection near his home in San Diego, where he repeatedly slapped the concrete with both palms and ranted about the devil. Afterward Russell was diagnosed with “reactive psychosis,” a form of temporary insanity.

It had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, his wife, Danica, stressed in a blog post, and everything to do with the machine that kept Russell connected even as he was breaking apart. Questions about the Internet’s deleterious effects on the mind are at least as old as hyperlinks. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed.

At one point he uploaded and commented on a digital photo of a text message from his mother.

At another he compared his life to the mind-bending movie Inception, “a dream inside a dream.” Keep up with this story and more On the eighth day of his strange, 21st-century vortex, he sent a final tweet—a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”—and walked back into the real world.

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