Monday, January 25, 2010

Emotional Addiction

I have been reading a very interesting book entitled, The Answer Model Theory (2008), by John Montgomery and Todd Ritchey. The authors suggest "that all dysfunctional behaviors, including those associated with various neuroses and psychopathologies, are driven and sustained by biochemical addiction" (p. 5).

Here are some excerpts that I found particularly noteworthy (used with permission of the authors):
Anxiety has...been shown to release B-endorphin and dopamine into reward areas, in some cases activating the reward system as intensely as addictive drugs like cocaine (p. 20) .
We propose that all neuroses are driven by "emotional" addictions - that is, by addictions to negative or distressing emotional states such as anxiety, anger, regret, shame, or self-pity, in which people unconsciously engage in these states merely to derive the biochemical payoff that the states supply. If a person engages in any of these emotional states only occasionally, then that person is unlikely to have an addiction to those states. An emotional addiction is only indicated when specific negative emotional states are engaged in repeatedly and compulsively, particularly when there is often no plausible or functional reason for engaging in such a state.
With an emotional addiction, the emotion is simply used to derive a biochemical payoff, although the process by which the emotion is, in effect, created or manufactured by the individual, is partly or wholly unconscious. Although it may seem counterintuitive that an unpleasant emotional state is somehow rewarding, and that such a state would be purposefully sought, we must recall that the reward system, and the mechanisms that generate "wanting" and "liking" within the reward system, appear to operate largely unconsciously...
As with all other addictions, people become especially prone to emotional addictions when they are not deriving healthy biochemical payoffs from functional, homeostatic states, such as healthy play, fulfilling relationships, or meaningful work. It is almost as if an unconscious decision were made that if one cannot derive payoffs from being happy, or from engaging in pleasurable states or activities, one will have to derive those payoffs from negative emotional states. Thus people become unconsciously driven to engineer circumstances that perpetuate certain negative emotional states (p. 18).
Certainly something to reflect upon. You can purchase The Answer Model Theory from by clicking on the link below.


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