When we talk about the word addiction, an infinity of meanings arise; many of them belong to popular culture (expressed on television) and manifested through images of people with an advanced state of physical and intellectual deterioration and in a social exclusion plight, comparable to “zombies”.
If we do a web search to try to clarify the concept, we will find in the virtual dictionary a definition that include the whole matter as: «A chronic and recurrent disease of the brain. In my opinion, this definition keeps people away from the problem and, in the event that they are looking for a solution, rather than inviting them to delve into the subject, it leads them to deny it.
Unfortunately, interest in science or the search of knowledge are not virtues of contemporary culture and, therefore, the production of information is not focused on chasing the truth but rather on the creation of a lie to keep us lethargic. Media, as in ancient Rome, focus on providing circus to the people.
From my perspective, contrasted with experts from different fields, an addiction is a condition or a state that may affect all human experience spheres, such as: somatic, emotional, intellectual and relational; characterized by turning behaviour into a routine that fulfils a sequence, in a loop.
This pattern could be expressed like this:
- Obsession: I can’t stop thinking about the desired object.
- Compulsion: if I come into contact with that object, I cannot stop consuming it.
- Guilt: a result of excess, I experience feelings of anger towards myself.
- Denial: after the period of guilt starts an apparent stabilization achieved, where I do not experience obsession, I feel a false sense of control and I begin to fantasize about the possibility of consuming successfully, that is to say, ignoring the negative consequences of the dynamics where I am immersed in. I start haunting myself again
Trying to limit the causes of this problem to brain disease does not allow us to have a much broader and, at the same time, complex perspective of a condition, permanent or temporary, where the neuroendocrinological condition may be one of its possible causes or, maybe, only its effect.
To start giving some light on the shadows that surround this issue, we should first distinguish at least two different scenarios. One, in which we address a health problem and, the other, in which we approach a topic related to ethics.
To make it easier I will present a real case that I accompany in consultation:
A mother comes to my office very concerned because she has discovered that her 16-year-old son smokes marijuana. Before I can see him, I inquire about the opinion of his father, because in order to treat him, the father’s authorization it is also mandatory, since he is a minor. The women tells me that she is separated from his father and that it might be better that he does not know what is happening, since there could be a financial repercussion for her, if the custody of the boy is claimed.
Under these circumstances, my proposal is to initially serve her together with the boy to try to bring his father closer in order to give an answer that integrates all members of the family, an action of rigorous compliance when it comes to a minor.
Two weeks later, the mother calls me a few minutes before the meeting and explains that she will not be able to come to my office because her 14-year-old daughter did not want to get out of bed to go to school because she had a pimple on her face, and when trying to persuade her she began to break all the objects in her room.
The following week when we meet again, on our weekly date, she explains to me that her daughter’s behaviour is habitual but have been increased since she was ridiculed by a classmate on social networks. In the mother’s opinion this was not an issue to be discussed, as the girl is capricious and that it was already noticeable from a very young age when she did not stop crying in the crib. All these probably caused by the mother –who following the Pediatrician’s instructions- did not lift her in her arms so that she would learn to stay alone.
Being faithful to deontological principles, the psychotherapist only has to deal with issues that the client requires and should not go overboard with his perspective, unless he is consulted, so I left this matter in the background.
Weeks later, the boy was arrested by the police for being involved in a fight, so the mother decides to bring it to the attention of the father who was already looking for a solution to their son’s adaptability problems.
The father attends my consultation with an obvious disagreement; expressing his need for us to invest as little time as possible in the problem, even offering to pay more. He wanted to do it quickly so that this issue didn’t interfere with his business obligations. He also stated that he did not understand what was happening to young people today as himself «at the age of 14 was already working.»
I proposed to the parents to meet me on a weekly basis to work on the issue, before involving the son. The meetings ended up becoming intermittent, first biweekly and then monthly and finally disappearing, due to the father’s difficulty in attending to these matters.
I never got to meet the son, considering that his parents were not prepared to offer the restraint that the problem required. Although, I was able to see, in the different contacts with them, a morphological transformation in the mother. Due to cosmetic surgeries her lips began to gain dimension, after, her cheekbones and finally, her breasts got also bigger, in my opinion this all happened in a way too hasty.
Going back to the main question of this article, what is an addiction? Perhaps at this moment, you can answer it yourself…
Oswaldo Velásquez Muñoz
Centro de Actualización para la Naturaleza del Ser Humano.
Avda. Isidor Macabich, 20 bis, 6º 2ª
Tel. 971 527 779 / 686 784 261
Instagram / Facebook: @zentrohumano
Web: www.oswaldovelasquezmunoz.com / www.zentrohumano.com