May 9, 2013

We can't just treat everything as mental disorders and we can't solve everything with drugs.

I may consider myself to belong to the tough school when it comes to experiences and life lessons. For example, falling in love and getting your miserable self dumped is painful and debilitating but the experience is invaluable. I've been taught to cope with the loss, even grief and severely depressive emotions. I couldn't have without the natural life-experiences and the natural reactions to them.

With this said, in the introduction to "Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated?" (Earp, Wudarczyk, Foddy & Savulescu, under review) we find statistics such as "In 2011, over 10% of the murders committed in the United States were committed by the victim’s lover (FBI 2011).". Firstly, this is a correlation, not a causal relationship. The structure of their paper however leads one to believe that these ten percent are caused by "addictive love". Later on, however, they suggest diagnostic criteria contain "(2) the person would want to use the technology, so there would be nonproblematic violations of consent". I doubt they are going to lower the 10% by recruiting people who already want help, as it is conceivable that the ones who would want to already have sought help by being offered the technology in the first place.

In their paragraph on "Implications for treatment" (before which, they go through different theoretical models for, among others, well-being and love) we find another curious quote "Although it is that case that, on this view, everyone who loves is technically addicted, only some subset of cases should be judged to be appropriate candidates for treatment because of their effect on other aspects of our well-being.". The reason this comes out is because they have a "broad view" of addiction, in that, "the state of being in love" is connected (by them through scarce empirical research) to the same neurotransmitters, and in some cases neural substrates, as in other addictions. Here, we are seeing yet another turn to diagnosing normal, but perhaps extreme, reactions as mental disorders (in light of grief being diagnosable after two weeks in DSM 5).

"In this article, we have argued that there is now abundant behavioral, neurochemical and neuroimaging evidence to support the claim that love is (or at least that it can be) an addiction, in much the same way that chronic drug-seeking behavior can be termed an addiction. And we have argued that no matter how we interpret this evidence, we should conclude that people whose lives are negatively impacted by love ought to be offered support and treatment opportunities analogous to those that we extend to substance abusers.". First of all, anything can become an addiction, secondly, if there is abundant evidence, then the article needs more empirical sources to convince me. The last sentence is also part redundant as those people should (and are) offered support, there is counselling, CBT, psychoanalysis available for example (and this is mentioned in the paper) -but why on earth would we want treatment to be analogous to substance abuse users opportunities? To push pills.

The trend seems to be to classify any strong emotion, regardless if it is a natural reaction, as mental disorders. And not only that. The proposed solution? Push pills. It's degrading, at best. Natural fluctuations and reactions in people's lives are treated as sickness and instead of teaching valuable coping methods (which lead to life-long ability to deal with similar situations) we should just wish the sickness away with pills.

Paper available here (it's on the academia.edu website).

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