Special interest Article;
Anthony J. Iantosca,
Three Phases of
Over the last year and a half I have spent a great deal of time in research
on Addiction, I have worked with two Psychologists and a Psychiatrist trying to
find a logical explanation for Addiction . Not Addiction in the sex, drug,
gambling sense. Although all addictions seem to take place in the same regions
of the brain. I was researching the cause of "Love or Relationship Addiction"
and why people are drawn to the same types of personalities over and over again.
What causes them to stay in abusive relationships with people who abuse them
Emotionally, Sexually and Physically. The explanations I received were very good
but they did not answer the nagging question as to "What is driving these
personalities" The explanation on the early childhood traumas and the
"Repetition Complex" and being addicted to the "Highs and Lows" of a very
Emotional unstable relationship were good but I knew there was more to it. I
was taught me in my early Profiling years "Tony we are Profilers and
Investigators" It is not enough to explain to our client when we have detected,
identified and analyzed a trait but also what that trait means, what may have
caused it and what we can do to help the client to understand it. Please
understand I am not a Psychologist nor am I trying to act like one. I am a
profiler. I hope this article will help you understand this very complex
behavior pattern called, "Love/Relationship Addiction"
When in love
Chemicals in the Brain such as Dopamine ( One of the reasons drugs are called
Dope) and Norepinephrine spark feelings of happiness and excitement within our
brain and bodies.
Dopamine levels increase as does levels of Oxytocin.
Cortisol a stress hormone goes down.
,touching, hugging and increased sexual contact keeps Dopamine and Oxytocin
flowing within the Brain.
It has been noted people who are in love have low
levels of Serotonin. People who have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) are
insensitive to Serotonin. So love becomes an Obsession.
When someone is dumped or rejected this Obsession intensifies,
memories of the lost love overwhelms the rejected person's brain. The breakup
becomes a puzzle that must be solved this process is called " Frustration
Attraction" rejection keeps Serotonin levels low which fuels the "Obsession" and
stimulates production of Dopamine which intensifies the passion. The rejection
is also very stressful which increases the production of "Norepinephrine" a
stress hormone, as far as the brain is concerned physical pain and the pain of
rejection is the same thing. Activating the same areas of the brain. Love hurts
as much as any physical wound.
With most people after a period of time the
person realizes that it will not get the love or love interest back it craves
like a drug. Levels of Dopamine and Serotonin normalize. With other
personalities this cycle continues for extended periods of time.
Love/relationship Addiction is very complex but I have come to learn that
the same factors that take place in the Limbic Brain when someone is addicted to
drugs or any other Addiction also takes place in the region of the Brain's
Limbic System with a "Love / Relationship Addiction" Co- Dependency and Love
Addiction are similar in appearance and behavior, but are not the same. They are
kissing cousins so to speak. Up until the early 1980's it was termed
Co-Alcoholic it was then termed Co-Dependent now it is termed Relationship
The cycle starts in early childhood with personalities who were not given
the love, caring, nurturing and sense of security from primary caregivers.
Personalities who have a low sense of self worth (Low Self-Esteem) can end up
with an Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style and fall victim to a Repetition
Complex where they attach themselves to personalities who closely resembles the
behavior patterns of their childhood primary care givers. In their mind being
loved and accepted by this new similar in behavior personality will fix all of
the old wounds from the past, this concept is doomed to fail. We can learn from
history but can not rewrite it. So this personality goes from relationship to
relationship always seeking out the same personality type who's behavior was
similar to the childhood care giver who abused them in the past, many times
without even realizing they are doing it. All in a failed attempt to right
childhood wrongs. The personality attempts to acquire the love and affection
that was denied them in childhood. There is much more to this behavior pattern
which I will explain in other articles. For now this is the first stage.
How is the Brain involved? This is what caused me the most confusion.
In everything I was taught over the years is, that the Brain runs from pain
and towards pleasure. This is true we are hard wired to protect ourselves from
danger and pain. The Limbic System ( Our Emotional Brain) has a very simple
protocol called the Freeze, Flight, Fight response. Which protects us from
danger and unpleasant/painful situations. So why run toward a painful and
sometimes dangerous person/situation.
This is where the Brain comes in and the Peptides within the Brain that the
personality can and does become addicted to, this is called, Cellular Addiction.
The same areas of the Brain that react to Heroin or Cocaine use that have shown
increased activity in FMRI scans also show the same increased activity in the
same area of the Brain when a person falls in love.
In my early years of training Ron taught me "Tony there is no Logic to
Emotion" He was so right, this may explain why. In the Trine Brain theory
postulated in 1952 by Dr. Paul MacLean we have the Reptilian Stem, the Limbic
(Emotional Brain) and the Neo Cortex ( Our logical thinking Brain) This behavior
is activated in the Emotional Limbic System. Not our Logical thinking Brain,
hence "There is no Logic to Emotion"
Within our Limbic System there is a chemical manufacturing plant called the
"Hypothalamus" this part of our brain assembles small Amino-Acid chain sequences
called Peptides. Peptides are chemical formations which exactly match every
Emotion we experience, love, anger, sadness, etc. It is very important to
understand that Peptides are highly addictive to our cells. The cells have no
preference over nice chemicals such as love, joy, bliss or bad chemicals
associated with fear, abuse, trauma or pain. The cells in our body are totally
unconditional. The cells never judge a Peptide as good or bad, the cells simply
get addicted and hooked on the Peptides intensity.
It is the largest rush of Peptides that get our cells attention. If the
cells are not receiving their addiction of choice, a little of the Peptide is
held back by the cell and secreted back into the blood stream. It then travels
to our brain neurons which then send messages to our Frontal Lobe calling up
images from the past (Emotional Memories), we start thinking the same thoughts
in order to create more of the same Peptide that were connected to that Positive
or Negative Emotion. The personality repeats the same behavior again and again
never realizing it is a natural cycle of "Cellular Peptide addiction. This is
why these Emotions cannot be addressed Logically. The personality is addicted to
a behavior pattern and the Peptides associated with the Emotion. As a Heroin or
Cocaine addicted to their drug of choice and the high that it produces in the
Brain, so is the Relationship Addict addicted to the release of addicting
Peptides and the behavior it produces. In the next article I will go over the
phases of love and the chemicals that are released in association with love and
how the Brain responds to those chemicals.
Attachment in adults by; Wikipedia
How the Brain works by; Graig Freudenrich, Ph.D
The Brain in Love and Lust by; Scientific American
DSM 4 TR
Narcissist Abuse by; Melinie Tonya Evens, Ph.D
Addicted to love by; Jennifer Gibson, Pharm.D
What Every Body is Saying by; Joe Navarro, M.A.