Introduction to Addition Based Problems

Addiction as a Disease, but not the kind you think

A lot has been discovered about addiction in the last decade. Many Treatment Centers have been built. Tolerance/acceptance of dependence on substances, specifically alcohol and drugs, has spread, because the blame has been taken off the victim, as more people understand that ‘Alcoholism is a disease’ – in other words, you can’t help it if you have it.

In the theory, we can agree with the experts; nothing is truer than that a disease exists. However, our reason for agreeing is more than slightly different from what the experts believe!

Many people battle addictions of all sorts: the earlier-mentioned substance abuse is just one of them. Others include: gambling, shopping, internet-, sex-, work-, normalcy-addiction.  Then there are the ones that are commonly seen rather as disorders, but which are based on compulsion, just like Addiction: Bi-Polar Disorder, Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder, Violent Behavior, Multiple-Personality Disorder, Dissociation-Disorder, Sociopathy, and maybe even Schizophrenia. I am convinced there are many more.

The True Disease: 

The thesis on which the theory is based is that a fundamental Lack of Sense of Self is the root cause of every form of Addiction.

From reading this Theory so far, you probably understand by now that a person who hasn’t been lucky enough as an infant to have the circumstances necessary to develop a healthy Natural Sense of Self is bound to become dependent on aSubstitute Sense of Self for his compensatory and unhealthy kind of Self-experience.

A Substitute Sense of Self is basically an ’emotional high’ state of feeling-good-about-self. And we mean quite literally, ‘high.’ Being able to reach that state is experienced subconsciously as a matter of life and death, because that emotional High counters, covers, and momentarily diminishes the person’s ever-present fear of Annihilation. This in itself is a true addiction, and is the fundamental addiction which generates all others.

Over the course of her life, the person is solely preoccupied with fulfilling Ego-References to get to that ‘high’, so she lives a life that has nothing to do with ‘who she really is’. To describe her situation even more clearly, I dare to say that ‘the person skips her own life!’ Isn’t that an inevitable and sad part of every addictive situation?

There is a hint of this true cause, and of the circumstances in which Addiction/Compulsion arise, in what is commonly said about Addicts: ‘Nobody in his right mind would actively engage in self-destructive behavior like Addiction to a harmful intake of an alcoholic – or chemical substance’. ‘Nobody in his right mind would spend so much money at the gambling table that he ruins his own life and that of his dear ones’. ‘Nobody in her right mind would yield to buying certain goods, even if she doesn’t need them, while already being deeply in debt’.

And so on…But it is literally true: these people are NOT in their ‘right’ mind. A ‘right mind’  includes being in awareness of one’s very own life and being. Only when ‘nobody is home’ (grounded in one’s being with a healthy Sense of Self) does addiction/compulsion have a chance to walk in the door!

How does Lack of Sense of Self create addictions?

When a person is dependent on a Substitute Sense of Self, her constant concern is how to reach that ‘emotional High’ which ultimately is rooted in an absolute need to get the (external or internalized) parental approval enabling the ‘feeling-good-about-self’ emotional ‘high.’ The absence of a healthy Natural Sense of Self has left a void in the person’s self-experience that needs to be continuously filled. It is a void without a bottom. The endlessness, the need for constant renewal and input, is what ultimately causes the compulsive/addictive behavior of providing oneSelf with endless opportunities to work on gaining the emotional High.

The need for that ‘high’ is so profound and constant, that sometimes a person will turn to things other than approval (which is the original addictive substance). The excitement of gambling-, sex-, internet- and shopping sprees will serve to create a fake version of a fake Sense of Self, when no approval is at hand.

The person with a Lack of Sense of Self’s problems are on a deep psycho-emotional level. His or her need to hide in the world of alcohol (and drugs) is big. People who have a healthy Sense of Self don’t need to hide. The Sense of Self enables them to take charge of situations, no matter how bad it gets. For them, the ‘I’ is present to pick up the pieces and make changes.

A couple of other contributing side-effects

As if that basic addictive situation weren’t enough to create a lot of subsequent addictions, there are three side-effects strengthening the trend. First, there is hardship in this way of living that isn’t recognized. It’s a huge amount of effort for the person. Thus often arises the need to ‘reward’ oneself for the hard work and occasional success, and guess what the handiest form of reward is!! Engaging in one of the compulsive/addictive behaviors provides an easily accessible – even if fleeting and pathological – way to experience an emotional High: feeling-good-about-self!

A second factor operating is: Due to the void inside, there also is a more than average ‘need to belong’ which is easily filled by hooking up (pun intended) with other people in the same condition. Needless to say, we all know how that reinforces addictions.

Yet another factor is the person’s inability to detect the harm they are doing to themselves. This detection might act as a brake, but it is not available. A lot more could be said about that:

No Self to listen to about the harm being done

For a person with a Lack of Sense of Self it is an enormous challenge to listen to ‘themselves,’ in order to be able to obey the  signs of their bodies – because in a way ‘they are not’! They don’t ‘own’ their own life and are, therefore, not in touch with their own body. In effect they have no Self to listen to; there is no Self to interpret what’s going on in their body either.

Self-Blame by No-Self people

The person with a Lack of Sense of Self has a no definite understanding of his or her own particular condition; he or she feels ‘weak’ for not having the willpower to stop ‘using’. The reason is because there is no Self to exert the willpower. There is no sense of being an independent autonomous human being who has a right to live and who is worth living for.

As a result there is a catch 22-condition: due to the invisibility of the root/real problem, Lack of Sense of Self, the addicted person keeps on hiding in their substance which exacerbates their condition as the physical addiction kicks in. For learning more about the addictive nature of the effects of substance (alcohol, drugs) on the brain but not only on the brain, on the life style of a person read: Under the Influence by Katherine Ketcham and R.J. Milam and ‘Beyond the Influence, Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism by Katherine Ketcham and W.F.Asbury (Bantam Books).

The use of alcohol and other drugs impairs the brain functions and takes away the desire to take responsibility for one’s life. These are two crucial characteristics that are needed in order to be even remotely successful in improving your Quality of Life by working towards a Restored Sense of Self Restored Sense of Self.  So we can state that there is one clear truth and that is: ‘a person who is continuously under influence of those drugs doesn’t stand a chance to heal himself’.

It requires the utmost dedication and focus to Restore your Sense of Self; once you have installed a Restored Sense of Self weaning yourself from abuse of substances becomes a natural decision making process: it all makes sense and there is no question left about it.


Instead of seeing the various addictions and compulsive behaviors as individual incidents this Theory affirms that we must recognize the common root cause: lack of a healthy and natural Sense of Self, based on early childhood deprivation of appropriate acknowledgement as a ‘real person’.

Therefore, this theory asserts that Recovery – and Relapse Prevention – can be successful and lead to a permanently sober lifestyle only if the person discovers herself as an independent, autonomous human being – in short, Restores her Sense of Self. In other words, the Recovery process from addiction must start with the process of Restoring Sense of Self.

All the information in the pages of the Pathology and Recovery Sections of this website will be based on the belief that  Lack of Sense of Self is the root cause – in fact, root cause for an even wider variety of problems than are mentioned in this site at this moment. It is my deepest wish that the Addiction Specialists grow more aware of this world wide problem of Lack of Sense of Self. It’ll take many years to address this issue with enough people, no doubt, but doing so will, I maintain, not only eliminate Addiction and compulsion from the world, but solve many other consequent problems as well.

So this is the message I fervently hope you will keep in mind: Addiction can only take place if you are not at the steering wheel of your own Self. So before anything else in the Recovery effort and process, being at that steering wheel needs to be made possible by Restoring your (currently non-present) Sense of Self. How can you be at the steering wheel of something if you don’t know what it is or where you can find it? I have concluded that Restoring your Sense of Self is a prerequisite for healing from Compulsion and Addiction.

HolisPsych’s theory aims to assist you with that.

Read more in Blog #8

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