Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is an addiction?


What is an addiction?


BY Brian Lynch, M.D.




Someone mentioned how it seemed to them that no one had any idea why they where addicted, this was a person that recently started being active in the treatment of those that used drugs.

So why is it that people use drugs or are addicted to anything?

Regularly I will repeat some basic concepts. One of those concepts will be that "we feel and then we do something." We never just "do" something. That is we never just have the thought "oh I think I will have a beer." That thought comes from somewhere. Some feeling motivated the thought.

But we can feel "good" or "bad" or "hurt" or "confused" and then do something. When hurt or confused this "something" can be staying on the computer 12 hours a day, or watching T.V. 16 hours a day or having a different partner every month and of course eating eight meals a day as well as using drugs and or alcohol. So it is interesting as a therapist how unawares people initially are of the connection between the hurt and the act of using whatever substance or behavior they engage in to help relieve the pain. 

In these few words I offer the suggestion that we so easily lose track of essentially where we where going in the first place. This is why when we are asked why we do what we do we have such poor answers. What happened is we where going along fine and long ago something happened to keep us from getting what we wanted. A relationship was damaged with our parents, a sibling, a romantic partner, a job or a degree not achieved. It can be anything at all that can crush us in a moment. We then find something to take away the pain. When we find something that works to relieve the pain, boy does it feel good! So good does it feel that it actually removes the memory of what we originally wanted! Well almost. But if we stay with the addiction the addiction becomes the dominant thing in our life. It becomes, as they say, "a life style" and if asked we have to really think about why we did start it in the first place.


Brian Lynch
brianlynchmd.com


Copyright 2008


References:

Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.

Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree

"A Thanksgiving Memory"

"A Thanksgiving Memory"

"You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant."


By Brian Lynch, M.D.

Thanksgiving as usual was a mixed bag. It is so often a terrible occasion for so many as are so many holidays and birthdays. Instead of joy, shame, humiliation, fear and disgust raise their heads.

So it was for me a mixed situation as I could not be with someone dear to me and we that is, they and me often accustomed to having the day not be pleasant to start with. I, however, after a number of years of tiring of ambivalence and a few solitary holidays have, of recent years, sworn to spend them with family outside the country. So Thanksgiving being an American holiday makes it a bit confusing all around.

So, why bother at all? And many don’t. My thought for today is that we need to arrange our lives in some fashion. We have a history. We have tradition. Things change slowly. We do our best. All we can do is be as aware as we can and adapt slowly as we learn. The traditions we have are to help us manage our emotions and relations. We cannot get together with family all the time as much as we wish. It seems that holidays, birthdays and other festive occasions are a way to “force” us to do just that. They are as artificial and as full of fantasy as they are in the end very practical. They are solid parts of the yearly calendar that are going to come ”hell or high water” and we have to deal with them. Lucky we are if those days will represent anticipation of interest and joy.

Unfortunate we are if not. But if not we can ask the question what if we did not have these opportunities? Would we really organize our lives to have like reunions without such social sanctions? Surely we might well hope that we are evolving towards such a world where we would care as much for each other in the middle of March as the middle of December but we are not there yet.

This is still not to say that people do not suffer terribly when important anniversaries and holidays come by especially if they find themselves alone sometimes. But if progress is to be made we have to start somewhere. Somewhere is with noting those things that are not going to change. The calendar is not going to change. The events of the past are not going to change. What can change is, if we are ready, and maybe we are not and if not that is ok. But if we are ready and for example we are reading this, then some course of study about our emotions might be in order. We might start to realize that we have never really learned or been taught much of anything about our emotions.

I am certain that if holidays and anniversaries are difficult that there are ways to learn to prepare for those days and seasons differently and to change our emotional response to them and once again live in the present with those around us. It does take interest.


Copyrigth 2008

References:

Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.

Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Jealousy"



“Jealousy”


By Brian Lynch, M.D.


What is this feeling? Does everyone feel it?
 I am not sure. I don’t think so. First of all it is my feeling that most all emotional words, and this is something I will often say, are composite words. That is they are made up of more basic emotional words and therefore may not signify the same feelings for each of us.

That is when you feel “jealous” you might feel “angry” while if I say I feel “jealous” I might “translate” that to saying I have a feeling of “disgust” or a feeling of “disgust” and “fear.”  I might say I am “hurt” but I think being jealous usually denotes a more active or aggressive stance while saying you are “hurt” might seem more “passive.” That said I think all jealousy comes first from a feeling of being “hurt” and evolves into a more aggressive posture.

It is a simple dynamic. I am interested in this or that and I feel a threat that I am not going to ever get this or that or I am going to lose what I already have. The operative theme is that it is about me. This is true even in a relationship. It is still about me, not about the relationship. It is about me losing the relationship.

Jealousy is negative input. It is essentially saying “I do not trust you.” It is also saying that you do not trust yourself.

In some sense it has to do with your thoughts of you’re not being smart enough, good looking enough, rich enough, caring enough to stay attractive to the other person.  Fear and distress build and anger follows and we blame others for what we perceive to be our inadequacies.

On the other hand if we say that we do not trust our mate is it not the same thing? It is our own insecurity.

Now it is different if there has been a history of betrayal with others past or present. It is hard to trust again. But they can and often are very different types of circumstances and feelings. Can we believe that the good times can continue?

Jealousy is often a way of sabotaging a relationship. We have deep in our mind that no relationship can survive so negative thoughts always creep in and eventually destroy the “good scenes.” The good times that could have been. We accuse, blame and presume and limit a person’s actions and associations without the least knowledge or basis.

It is also, is it not, that psychological disaster of tempting the person to do exactly what you do not want them to do? Don’t eat the candy! So they do?

Now what if someone is unfaithful? Well, do we own someone? Can we really control anyone? I think not.
In such situations something is wrong with the relationship! Either we look at ourselves first and then 1) see if we  a) want to continue the relationship and b) if the other party wants to and if we both can repair it together or 2) we move on.

We might think it is “natural” to “attack” the other party. I say nothing is “natural”, there are just as many people who blame themselves for their partners infidelity.

We need to start to see the complexity of these situations and one way to do it is to start to stop using “simple” words like “jealousy” and start thinking about how we actually feel and why we feel that way.

brianlynchmd.com

http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let’s Be Happy Today!




By Brian Lynch, M.D.


We do not worry about the fact that we didn't eat yesterday or better yet that we did not breathe yesterday. Nor do we preoccupy ourselves with the fact that we where thirsty or sleepy yesterday. What are these situations? Well, they are referred to as drives. We have a drive to eat and sleep and breath.

Our drives are bodily functions that take place pretty much in the background and function on a daily basis; hunger, thirst, the need to breathe, the sexual drive, the need to evacuated and sleep. Of course this is not always the case. When food or money is not plentiful we will worry about tomorrow's meal and the hope for sexual activity occupies many a mind but again, for the most part the drives work on a twenty four hour cycle.

I now suggest that our emotions are meant to do the same. That feelings and emotions should be thought of as bodily functions that work throughout a given day. If they are not treated this way I suggest that almost all of life's problems center on the fact that we are after some type of "happiness" that does not exist. A hoped for future that we have no power over or means of knowing that we can achieve.

I now work on the belief that we have a basic set of feelings that are just as physical as our heart beat or kidneys or lungs. We are either angry, happy, distressed, fearful, experiencing shame, surprised, repulsed or interested. So, just as we have to go to the bathroom within a twenty four period and breathe, at least every few minutes, so we have to feel in our bodies. When do we feel? Well, I think we are "feeling" all the time but we are so used to it we usually hardly notice. Most of the time we have at least a low level "interest" in our environment. And interest is an emotional feeling.

Feelings motivate. Feelings tell us what to do. And we first want to get through today before we move on to tomorrow. This is important when we are thinking about "happiness."

If we "feel" in our bodies then we "feel" happy in our body now, today, not tomorrow. It would seem best then to pay attention to the "here and now" and solve our problems today and not get caught up in some sought after possibility of being "happy" tomorrow but we do so, so very often and neglect our problems of today.


Copyright 2008

References:

Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.

Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"THE SPACE BETWEEN US"

"THE SPACE BETWEEN US"

BY Brian Lynch, M.D.

Good day everyone!

For a living I talk to people, a pretty nice job. I try and help people solve their problems. We sit together and just understand the problem a little better. I wish I was powerful enough to solve the problems!

What I do is called psychotherapy.

The people that come to see me often are really just coming in for a “tune up” or to check to see if what they are thinking is on course, to compare their ideas with someone else. Often I find, very importantly, that the people they live with are more in need of help then they are!

So today I want to focus on an aspect I will call “the space between us.”

The other day a patient commented on how his wife would often come to him and insist on talking to him when he was in the middle of watching a movie. You could see in his eyes how intensely this bothered him. Certainly we have all been in this situation. We might in fact all suffer such a situation in some way every day.

Last week, in this space, I introduced the concepts of “hurt” and “confusion.” Isn’t this man simply “hurt” when his wife does this? Is he not “confused” at some level? Does there not have to be at least some formulation in his mind such as “Why is she doing this at this time?” “Doesn’t she see? I am interested in this move.”

Again the man was interested and now he is “hurt” and “confused.” This happens to us all the time. This happens throughout the day many times during the day. Not, of course, in such dramatic fashion but in little ways. For example, an expected letter does not come, the Internet slows down, and an appointment does not show. That is an interest of ours is interrupted.

Now, I asked the man to stop and think for a moment and put himself in the shoes of his wife. How many times had he felt exactly the same way? He immediately seemed to understand and agreed that he had felt the same way.

I said yes, we all do it. We are “pushed” by our emotions so much that we are exploding and cannot control ourselves. We even, often, are saying to ourselves “I should not bother him/her”, but do it anyway.

Of course this is the art of being in a relationship. How do we tolerate each other and manage these situations. How do we express ourselves appropriately? How are we fair to one another?

It is the art, I say of being “listened to and listening at the same time.” Impossible but that is what is happening as each party needs to be heard and listened to!

The truth is we are just beginning to develop rules for mature adults to live in harmony as partners after hundreds of thousands of years.

Many of us know there are no easy answers and that many of our partners, if not ourselves have extreme difficulty in controlling their and our own actions and feelings. But we must start somewhere.

A beginning is to look at four guidelines proposed by the psychologist Silvan S. Tomkins.
He says that:

We want to be sure to work towards the MOST INTEREST AND JOY in our lives.
We want to be sure to work towards the LEAST NEGATIVE FEELINGS in our lives.
We achieve these goals by expressing or letting out ALL of our feelings.
But to do that we have to have some sensible rules.

First of all it has been apparent to me over the last ten years that humans amazingly do not have very good rules for expressing their emotions, especially the negative ones.

For the most part we are not supposed to express our negative emotions. This has been a big problem throughout history. So step number two in the above has been seen as meaning NOT to express negative emotion. We say “children should be seen and not heard” or that “big boys and girls don’t cry.” I say this is all wrong. From an early age we need to teach children to express themselves when they are fearful, angry, distressed or shamed.

Now, if they do I think they will grow up and will feel safe and will not be fearful of not having someone around to express themselves to and will not have to interrupt their partner in the middle of a movie.

We interrupt people because we have an “irrational” fear that they won’t be there in the next five minutes! But again this comes from not being permitted to express negative feeling, or for that matter positive feeling, interest and joy, from early in our life, and now we are continually “ahead” of ourselves, “bursting” to tell someone!

Copyright 2008

References:

Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.

Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree