Addiction: Mental Illness?
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Posted 8/26/11
Recently I have been seeing more and more television programs addressing addiction as a mental illness that no one has the power to fight.

http://drugabuse.gov/researchreports/comorbidity/

I have no personal experiences of /with addictions so I relies I don't fully understand, but it seems to be that classifying an addiction as a mental illness is over analyzing things; and in a way it kind of lessen the struggle of the person.
Basically we tell people that they have a mental illness and because of that they are powerless to fight it without medication or divine intervention. Wouldn't if befit the person more to address the persons strengths?

What do you guys think?
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Posted 8/27/11
I think that anyone who knows anything about mental illnesses believes that everyone has a mental illness. It's actually sad because the people who do get downplayed for the people who want an excuse for the way they are. I don't think addiction is a mental illness, but it can develop into one if the addiction deepens to the point where the person starts to emotionally rely on it.

After dealing with my dad who is an alcoholic, every time he stopped drinking he was a happier person until it branched onto an entire week then he started losing it and needed a drink which would cause him to become extremely emotional. It was...painful.
Posted 8/28/11 , edited 8/28/11

Littlelostkitten wrote:

Recently I have been seeing more and more television programs addressing addiction as a mental illness that no one has the power to fight.

http://drugabuse.gov/researchreports/comorbidity/

I have no personal experiences of /with addictions so I relies I don't fully understand, but it seems to be that classifying an addiction as a mental illness is over analyzing things; and in a way it kind of lessen the struggle of the person.
Basically we tell people that they have a mental illness and because of that they are powerless to fight it without medication or divine intervention. Wouldn't if befit the person more to address the persons strengths?

What do you guys think?

Reigasega wrote:

I think that anyone who knows anything about mental illnesses believes that everyone has a mental illness. It's actually sad because the people who do get downplayed for the people who want an excuse for the way they are. I don't think addiction is a mental illness, but it can develop into one if the addiction deepens to the point where the person starts to emotionally rely on it.

After dealing with my dad who is an alcoholic, every time he stopped drinking he was a happier person until it branched onto an entire week then he started losing it and needed a drink which would cause him to become extremely emotional. It was...painful.
First off, we have to establish an accurate generalization about addiction itself, and this seems to be a good start:

Addiction changes the brain, disturbing the normal hierarchy of needs and desires.(citation)
Next, we need to know how addiction changes the brain, and it just so happens that the neuron-chemical process of addiction is the same as our evolutionary designed romantic love drive.

But anyway, not only does this person take on special meaning, you focus your attention on them. You aggrandize them. But you have intense energy. As one Polynesian said, he said, "I felt like jumping in the sky." You're up all night. You're walking till dawn. You feel intense elation when things are going well, mood swings into horrible despair when things are going poorly. Real dependence on this person. As one businessman in New York said to me, he said, "Anything she liked, I liked." Simple. Romantic love is very simple.

You become extremely sexually possessive. You know, if you're just sleeping with somebody casually, you don't really care if they're sleeping with somebody else. But the moment you fall in love, you become extremely sexually possessive of them. I think that that is a Darwinian -- there's a Darwinian purpose to this. The whole point of this is to pull two people together strongly enough to begin to rear babies as a team.

But the main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally. You'd much rather -- it would be nice to go to bed with them, but you want them to call you on the telephone, to invite you out, et cetera. To tell you that they love you. The other main characteristic is motivation. The motor in your brain begins to crank, and you want this person.

And last but not least, it is an obsession. When I put these people in the machine, before I put them in the MRI machine, I would ask them all kinds of questions. But my most important question was always the same. It was: "What percentage of the day and night do you think about this person?" And indeed, they would say, "All day. All night. I can never stop thinking about him or her."

And then, the very last question I would ask them -- I would always have to work myself up to this question, because I am not a psychologist. I don't work with people in any kind of traumatic situation. And my final question was always the same. I would say, "Would you die for him or her?" And, indeed, these people would say "Yes!," as if I had asked them to pass the salt. I was just staggered by it.

So we scanned their brains, looking at a photograph of their sweetheart and looking at a neutral photograph, with a distraction task in between. So we could find -- look at the same brain when it was in that heightened state and when it was in a resting state. And we found activity in a lot of brain regions. In fact, one of the most important was a brain region that becomes active when you feel the rush of cocaine. And indeed, that's exactly what happens.

I began to realize that romantic love is not an emotion. In fact, I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it's a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind. The kind of mind -- part of the mind -- when you're reaching for that piece of chocolate, when you want to win that promotion at work. The motor of the brain. It's a drive.


And in fact, I think it's more powerful than the sex drive. You know, if you ask somebody to go to bed with you, and they say, "No thank you," you certainly don't kill yourself or slip into a clinical depression. But certainly, around the world, people who are rejected in love will kill for it. People live for love. They kill for love. They die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptures, paintings, myths, legends. In over 175 societies, people have left their evidence of this powerful brain system. I have come to think it's one of the most powerful brain systems on earth for both great joy and great sorrow.

And I've also come to think that it's one of three, basically different brain systems that evolved from mating and reproduction. One is the sex drive: the craving for sexual gratification. W.H. Auden called it an "intolerable neural itch," and indeed, that's what it is. It keeps bothering you a little bit, like being hungry. The second of these three brain systems is romantic love: that elation, obsession of early love. And the third brain system is attachment: that sense of calm and security you can feel for a long-term partner.

... So I want to conclude with two things. I want to conclude with a worry. I have a worry -- and with a wonderful story. The worry is about antidepressants. Over 100 million prescriptions of antidepressants are written every year in the United States. And these drugs are going generic. They are seeping around the world. I know one girl who's been on these antidepressants, serotonin-enhancing -- SSRI, serotonin-enhancing antidepressants -- since she was 13. She's 23. She's been on them ever since she was 13.

I've got nothing against people who take them short term, when they're going through something perfectly horrible. They want to commit suicide or kill somebody else. I would recommend it. But more and more people in the United States are taking them long term. And indeed, what these drugs do is raise levels of serotonin. And by raising levels of serotonin, you suppress the dopamine circuit. Everybody knows that. Dopamine is associated with romantic love. Not only do they suppress the dopamine circuit, but they kill the sex drive. And when you kill the sex drive, you kill orgasm. And when you kill orgasm, you kill that flood of drugs associated with attachment. The things are connected in the brain. And when you tamper with one brain system, you're going to tamper with another. I'm just simply saying that a world without love is a deadly place.(citation)
So as you can see, the normal hierarchy of needs and desires for us humans as social animals is to obtain qualitative/nurturing(not quantitative/many) and secured(not shallow) social connection through empathy. Or what social science referring the human nature is nurture. But what you both misunderstood is exactly how mere obsession which leads to addiction, can reduce an individual's mental capacity and resiliency. When obsession is simply a habituated thought process that repeats itself through cultural and social conditioning, the context of your own thought and how forcefully you were made to think of said context alone, can change your brain for better or worst through social epigenetics/perception management/conformity.
Posted 8/28/11
There are behavioral addictions, such as gambling, and chemical addictions from drug use. They seem to be diseases in the sense of mental disorders, yet they can be managed, though not entirely cured.
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Posted 8/29/11

DomFortress wrote:


Littlelostkitten wrote:

Recently I have been seeing more and more television programs addressing addiction as a mental illness that no one has the power to fight.

http://drugabuse.gov/researchreports/comorbidity/

I have no personal experiences of /with addictions so I relies I don't fully understand, but it seems to be that classifying an addiction as a mental illness is over analyzing things; and in a way it kind of lessen the struggle of the person.
Basically we tell people that they have a mental illness and because of that they are powerless to fight it without medication or divine intervention. Wouldn't if befit the person more to address the persons strengths?

What do you guys think?

Reigasega wrote:

I think that anyone who knows anything about mental illnesses believes that everyone has a mental illness. It's actually sad because the people who do get downplayed for the people who want an excuse for the way they are. I don't think addiction is a mental illness, but it can develop into one if the addiction deepens to the point where the person starts to emotionally rely on it.

After dealing with my dad who is an alcoholic, every time he stopped drinking he was a happier person until it branched onto an entire week then he started losing it and needed a drink which would cause him to become extremely emotional. It was...painful.
First off, we have to establish an accurate generalization about addiction itself, and this seems to be a good start:

Addiction changes the brain, disturbing the normal hierarchy of needs and desires.(citation)
Next, we need to know how addiction changes the brain, and it just so happens that the neuron-chemical process of addiction is the same as our evolutionary designed romantic love drive.

But anyway, not only does this person take on special meaning, you focus your attention on them. You aggrandize them. But you have intense energy. As one Polynesian said, he said, "I felt like jumping in the sky." You're up all night. You're walking till dawn. You feel intense elation when things are going well, mood swings into horrible despair when things are going poorly. Real dependence on this person. As one businessman in New York said to me, he said, "Anything she liked, I liked." Simple. Romantic love is very simple.

You become extremely sexually possessive. You know, if you're just sleeping with somebody casually, you don't really care if they're sleeping with somebody else. But the moment you fall in love, you become extremely sexually possessive of them. I think that that is a Darwinian -- there's a Darwinian purpose to this. The whole point of this is to pull two people together strongly enough to begin to rear babies as a team.

But the main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally. You'd much rather -- it would be nice to go to bed with them, but you want them to call you on the telephone, to invite you out, et cetera. To tell you that they love you. The other main characteristic is motivation. The motor in your brain begins to crank, and you want this person.

And last but not least, it is an obsession. When I put these people in the machine, before I put them in the MRI machine, I would ask them all kinds of questions. But my most important question was always the same. It was: "What percentage of the day and night do you think about this person?" And indeed, they would say, "All day. All night. I can never stop thinking about him or her."

And then, the very last question I would ask them -- I would always have to work myself up to this question, because I am not a psychologist. I don't work with people in any kind of traumatic situation. And my final question was always the same. I would say, "Would you die for him or her?" And, indeed, these people would say "Yes!," as if I had asked them to pass the salt. I was just staggered by it.

So we scanned their brains, looking at a photograph of their sweetheart and looking at a neutral photograph, with a distraction task in between. So we could find -- look at the same brain when it was in that heightened state and when it was in a resting state. And we found activity in a lot of brain regions. In fact, one of the most important was a brain region that becomes active when you feel the rush of cocaine. And indeed, that's exactly what happens.

I began to realize that romantic love is not an emotion. In fact, I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it's a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind. The kind of mind -- part of the mind -- when you're reaching for that piece of chocolate, when you want to win that promotion at work. The motor of the brain. It's a drive.


And in fact, I think it's more powerful than the sex drive. You know, if you ask somebody to go to bed with you, and they say, "No thank you," you certainly don't kill yourself or slip into a clinical depression. But certainly, around the world, people who are rejected in love will kill for it. People live for love. They kill for love. They die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptures, paintings, myths, legends. In over 175 societies, people have left their evidence of this powerful brain system. I have come to think it's one of the most powerful brain systems on earth for both great joy and great sorrow.

And I've also come to think that it's one of three, basically different brain systems that evolved from mating and reproduction. One is the sex drive: the craving for sexual gratification. W.H. Auden called it an "intolerable neural itch," and indeed, that's what it is. It keeps bothering you a little bit, like being hungry. The second of these three brain systems is romantic love: that elation, obsession of early love. And the third brain system is attachment: that sense of calm and security you can feel for a long-term partner.

... So I want to conclude with two things. I want to conclude with a worry. I have a worry -- and with a wonderful story. The worry is about antidepressants. Over 100 million prescriptions of antidepressants are written every year in the United States. And these drugs are going generic. They are seeping around the world. I know one girl who's been on these antidepressants, serotonin-enhancing -- SSRI, serotonin-enhancing antidepressants -- since she was 13. She's 23. She's been on them ever since she was 13.

I've got nothing against people who take them short term, when they're going through something perfectly horrible. They want to commit suicide or kill somebody else. I would recommend it. But more and more people in the United States are taking them long term. And indeed, what these drugs do is raise levels of serotonin. And by raising levels of serotonin, you suppress the dopamine circuit. Everybody knows that. Dopamine is associated with romantic love. Not only do they suppress the dopamine circuit, but they kill the sex drive. And when you kill the sex drive, you kill orgasm. And when you kill orgasm, you kill that flood of drugs associated with attachment. The things are connected in the brain. And when you tamper with one brain system, you're going to tamper with another. I'm just simply saying that a world without love is a deadly place.(citation)
So as you can see, the normal hierarchy of needs and desires for us humans as social animals is to obtain qualitative/nurturing(not quantitative/many) and secured(not shallow) social connection through empathy. Or what social science referring the human nature is nurture. But what you both misunderstood is exactly how mere obsession which leads to addiction, can reduce an individual's mental capacity and resiliency. When obsession is simply a habituated thought process that repeats itself through cultural and social conditioning, the context of your own thought and how forcefully you were made to think of said context alone, can change your brain for better or worst through social epigenetics/perception management/conformity.


Ha! That, sir, is very impressive. I actually learned something, I have nothing really productive to say except thanks for the lesson. (If sarcasm is sensed, it is not intended. I mean this sincerely)
Posted 8/30/11

Reigasega wrote:



Ha! That, sir, is very impressive. I actually learned something, I have nothing really productive to say except thanks for the lesson. (If sarcasm is sensed, it is not intended. I mean this sincerely)
Thanks, and I'm glad to be of help. To be honest I wasn't sure how you'll receive my message, since I know it's rather complex and not the popular default opinion. But I think it's important for yourself to understand both the reason and the science behind why the classification for addiction as mental illness. So that you may gain inspiration, insight, and most of all understanding on your father's condition. Because without understanding, you'll be missing one of the three major components for real compassion. And your father will need that in order to prevent himself from "loosing it".

May you journey well.
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Posted 9/4/11
I almost feel that, in our current day and age, so many classifications and categories exist for "mental illnesses" that it has become a subjective matter..... That is, without a standard measure of what completely normal behavior and brain function is, some of the most
benign behaviors and thought processes get coined "illness"..... The word "illness" obviously is indicative of sufferance or something afflicting and in many cases in my opinion peoples quirky cognition or behavior which may not in fact be "ill" whatsoever gets coined as such..... So ultimately, in today's world at least, I think the deciding factor on whether or not someone has a mental illness is in truth only determined by whether or not they are afflicted in some sense mentally, emotionally or behaviorally (is that even a word.....?) in a fashion that renders suffering.

Now prefaced with that, I believe its clear that addiction easily slips into the category of mental illness by toady's standards.... And on a personal note, being an addict in recovery now for about 4 years, I can most certainly say first-hand that no matter what type of addiction you suffer from (be it physical mental or emotional) it IS and affliction that degrades your quality of life..... The problem today is that too many people get coined "addicted" who simply are using a substance, person, place, thing, object or behavior for comfort without any inherent suffering or unmanagability.

As I said, I am in recovery for 4 years now.... To be a slave to a chemical is a love affair as stated above.... It is also your job, but you pay to work..... It is your first thought upon waking and your last before sleep.... It is your priority over survival and nourishment..... It is your priority over that which your consciously are aware you love.... It is the very mechanism and structure by which you make every decision from eating and going to the bathroom down to the company your keep..... These are examples of the illness that is addiction, or more accurately what I experienced to be the "affliction" or "diseased" nature of the beast.....

Now I also knew and know many individuals who engaged and still engage in many of the same activities I did who are NOT ADDICTED. Have they at some point been coined by society as addicts or will they be? Of course!!! Does that mean they are suffering to any degree?? Not at all.....

So in closing I must say that yes, addiction is a form of mental illness because not everyone is even capable of swinging to that degree of extremity in any aspect of their lives...... But no I do not believe that everyone who swings a bit outside the realm of the "perceived normal" and gets the grim label of addict is in fact "addicted" or suffering any illness at all.

Lastly in response to the OP..... It is not medication or divine intervention that is necessary to overcome addiction if someone is truly suffering the illness.... It is simply a matter of a faith based willingness that allows an individual to act in a way beyond there reason or judgment because it essentially that which is flawed as a result of their illness..... Faith in anything is a powerful tool that enables individuals to do/accomplish/produce a great deal of extraordinary things that they could not typically do. This is demonstrated time and time again throughout history and in our daily world. But that's another discussion entirely.....
Posted 9/11/11
I think addiction can be considered a sickness due to the damage it is capable of doing to your life. If you think it can't, go out and get hooked on some controlled substance and see if you are strong enough to avoid allowing your beloved drug to get in the way of everything.
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Posted 9/13/11
The fact that addiction is capable of doing damage to your life is hardly enough to concider it a sickness.

Personally, I don't concider it a sickness.
Unless it's an addiction to something that makes you physicly ill when not getting your "fix", addiction is just a matter of wanting something really bad. It's a matter of willpower. And I doubt that an "intense craving for coffee" should be concidered an illness...
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