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Similarities between TMS and an addiction

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Endless luke, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I thought it might be interesting to make a list of the similarities and differences between TMS and addictions. (I first read about this similarity in the Presence Process which would categorize TMS as an affliction.) Please add to either list...

    • Serve to distract from painful emotions
    • Eliminating one can cause the replacement by another (i.e. an addiction can be replaced by another addiction or by an addiction)
    • Condition is made worse by triggers
    • Identification as having the condition is considered a key part of the recovery
    • With addictions what you have to give up is very clear. (It would be wonderful if TMS were as easy to get away from as alcohol or a drug).
    hecate105 likes this.
  2. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I'd like to add this similarity between addiction and tms:

    • Both are based on a difference of opinion between the conscious and the unconscious and indicate that war is raging within the self.
    I am inclined to disagree that with addictions "what you have to give up is very clear". The problem is (in my experience and believe me I've had some) NEVER alcohol or drugs. Rather, we experience conflict and then try very hard to deny it by focusing our attention elsewhere. Pain (tms), work, success, patriotism, religion, science, family, fitness, flower arranging -- everything has the potential to become as "addictive" as any street drug. The degree of harm comes from how vehemently we deny the inner dialog that must take place if we are to find balance and peace.

    If we are all conflicted (some more, some less) and if most of us divert ourselves for as long as we possibly can, does this mean we are all addicts? I suppose that's one way of looking at it.

    Anyway, thanks for mentioning the Presence Process. Youtube has some interesting videos on this.
    Ralph99, Mad, hecate105 and 1 other person like this.
  3. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I think you are making some good points and I'm to integrate them into my understanding. I agree that the unconscious plays a role but it seems incredibly hard to understand, let alone wrestle with so perhaps my first point (dealing with emotions you don't want to deal with) is more practical?Second- I absolutely believe what you are saying about the underlying issues. I found the second sentence in this Wikipedia article fascinating
    But I also feel that an addiction should be treated (thought of?) as a physical addiction at the same time. Yes, deal with the underlying issues but also just quit the addiction.
    Mad likes this.
  4. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I recently told my therapist that I thought of TMS like alcoholism--something I will always have, or be recovering from.
    Mad likes this.
  5. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I come from a long line of alcoholics, etc. and had my own problems as a teenager so I understand the "alcoholism is a disease" model but I also think that the Rat Park studies (above) apply to people. Here is a true story that might illustrate something about this point:

    Many years ago I lived in a duplex, next door to an RCMP officer and his wife. One day, the wife and I were chatting and she kept chuckling to herself. Finally she said, "I can't keep this to my self" and told me the following:

    Her husband had gone to work a few days earlier when two detachments were joining together to learn to operate some new blood alcohol testing equipment they were soon going to be using on the job. One detachment was told, "You are the testers" while the other group was given cases and cases of beer and told to "have a party". Of course, the drinking group went at their assignment with enthusiasm.

    The other cops waited and watched until it was time for testing to begin. At that point one of the head cops came out and called the meeting to order. Of course, there were cops lying in heaps, throwing up, dancing and fighting by this time since they had been drinking an awful lot of beer. Then the head cop announced: "There's no alcohol in the beer".

    The "drunk" cops instantly sobered up and they all learned a good lesson about alcohol and behavior. Basically, my understanding is you want to relax, act stupid, beat people up, etc. and the alcohol is an excuse.

    A book by Lance Dodes, M.D. called
    The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors
    takes what seems to me to be a similar perspective. The author is a psychiatrist who has treated addictions for many years.
    hecate105, Ines, Endless luke and 2 others like this.
  6. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Love this story, njoy! Gabor Mate of 'When the Body Says No' fame has also written a book about addictions that looks interesting. I work for an organisation that supports people with all sorts of issues, including substance misuse. It can be rewarding work but we can also get very frustrated. I see plenty of TMS issues too.
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    You might want to listen to Gabor Mate's talk about addiction in our Media section, based on his experience with his addict patients who reside in the the Portland Hotel on Vancouver's Lower East Side:


    Dr Mate you will notice goes into the brain chemistry to answer the question why these people keep doing these damaging things to themselves even though they are painfully aware that what they are doing is terribly self-destructive. He makes the point that drugs in and of themselves are not what drives addiction but are part of a psychological process of addictive behavior that he suggests pervades our whole culture and civilization. In a soft voice and with a slow measured rhetoric he is actually saying something quite disturbing about the fundamentally addictive psychology behind consumer culture. When he talks about a reapportionment of society's resources to solve the problem he's aware that he's a voice crying in the wilderness but it aware that what he's saying needs to be said.
  8. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Since starting this program my insight has been that people with terrible emotional pain want to feel numb. I have tried the alcoholic path many times over the years. Now I don't feel the need to drink at all. As I see TMSers around me, not all but a few have prescription drug addictions or alcohol addictions. I never understood why I felt the need to drink too much alcohol..now I know.

    I wonder if all alcoholics and drug addicts are trying to drown the emotional pain. My strong people pleasing personality kept me from going off the deep end. Couldn't stand the disapproval.
    Endless luke likes this.
  9. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think what Dr Mate is saying is that drugs function as chemical replacements for naturally occurring agents in the brain that provide feelings of success and social fulfillment. Those chemicals are missing in addicts, he implies, because of some kind of trauma that occurred while their brains were developing, sometimes even inside the womb. What's disturbing is that addictive consumerism is based on this same kind of replacement theory where buying things compulsively creates feelings of personal fulfillment and social well-being. Hence, addiction is a metaphor that pervades our whole culture but strikes those who are most damaged and least able to keep spending to feel "okay". Drug addiction and consumerism don't exist in primitive tribal cultures.
    Endless luke likes this.
  10. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    Your focus on the chemistry is dead-on but what happens is more than replacement. The dopamine hit given by an addiction is often more than what the person would get normally and this in turn causes the person to become desensitized to other normal stimuli. This causes the person to only be able to increase the dose of what they are taking and then it spirals.
  11. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, crystal meth and heroin are not 'natural' highs like running up Half Dome, completing an MA thesis or falling in love. Such 'artificial paradises' do serve as powerful substitutes for those kind of satisfying experiences, especially for someone who's been severely traumatized or emotionally deprived during the first six years of life. You'll notice in Dr Mate's talk that 100% of his female addict patients were sexually abused as children. You can see how for someone like that drug use just spirals and spirals out of control in a failed quest to feel human. But it's the underlying psychological mechanism of addiction that lies at the heart of the problem, not the addictive qualities of the drugs themselves. Junkies detox over and over again just so they can lower their tolerance and get high again the same old way. If it weren't for the childhood trauma, the drugs in and of themselves wouldn't hold such an addictive allure. You can see that same principle in alcoholism: At a teenage party one kid drinks a shot of Vodka, doesn't like it, and spits it out. Another kid drinks a whole water glass full and feels like it's the greatest thing on earth. Of course, the natural drunk turns into an alcoholic and the other one can take it or leave it. The problem begins and ends in personality type and probably in early ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) not in the drugs themselves no matter how powerful.
  12. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    You also need "permission" to become an alcoholic or whatever. Family is perfect for that.
  13. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    So true. I know so many alcoholics that take directly after dad, like dad's alcoholism gave them carte-blanch "permission" to drink. Obviously not so much genetic as psycho-social. I can still remember my late cousin (who died of alcoholism in 1988) saying about his compulsive addiction to drink: "Well I sure had a fine example at home". There was my uncle sitting in front of the TV watching boxing matches drunk each and every day on red wine. Post hoc, propter hoc.
  14. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Stella asked, "I wonder if all alcoholics and drug addicts are trying to drown the emotional pain." Gabor Mate, in the video, says that people become addicts because of the abuse and trauma they've suffered. I was a natural-born blackout drunk from age 13 until I quit drinking just before I turned 18. I had "permission" because my parents were both alcoholics but, lucky for me, alcohol didn't blot out the emotional pain effectively enough to override the other consequences.
  15. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    There are so many different things a person can do if they have unwanted emotions that they cannot process. As we know, this can lead to TMS, but it can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, gambling, workaholism, phobias, OCD, and many other symptoms that serve to distract you from these emotions.

    Recovering from some of these may focus on giving something, such as alcohol, but unless the person addresses the emotional cause it is very likely they will develop some other repressive behavior.
  16. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Thanks Forest,
    Help me to understand people with TMS (they don't know it) who have years of therapy discussing their childhood trauma but they never get over their physical pain, anxiety or depression.

    It appears to go back to understanding how thoughts can drive all the symptoms but the connection was never made for them They did not have the tools of Sarno, education, journaling, etc.
  17. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good point Stella. Simply going to therapy won't cure someone of TMS. They need to know that they have TMS, and understand how their thoughts and emotions can drive these symptoms. If a person goes to a therapist who does not know about TMS, then they may even be told they are being resistant by wanting to be pain free. It really comes down to a pillar of Dr. Sarno's work. If you continue to believe that your symptoms are caused by a structural issue, you will continue to have them, even if you explore your emotions in therapy.
  18. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    Another similarity between addiction and TMS is the concept of "triggers". In addiction they tempt the person to act out and in TMS they tempt a flare up.
  19. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    Is it possible to separate opioid dependency and TMS? I'm very aware that long-term opioid dependency can actually cause chronic pain, usually as part of the withdrawal syndrome to encourage the individual to consume more of the drug. So I guess my main question is - is it even possible to recover from TMS while continuing to take these medications? My problem is complicated of course, like everyone else here, however it has become very clear that life is better for me with these medications than it is without. Yet I am concerned that the medication is impeding my recovery from TMS. I take the meds for a couple of conditions, not all TMS-related. However I am stalled on my TMS recovery, even though I was able to banish the pain (same location) 20 years ago very quickly. Any thoughts?
  20. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think addictions are tms - part and parcel of the same emotional/psychological problems...
    My father was an alcoholic and over the years i could see his patterns of emotional behaviour - all go back to losing his mother's attention as a small child, all his life he was the he-man - but had to have successions of women jumping to 'look after him' - i had far more aunties than any one should...! I think many addictions come down to that tiny child inside - there is often (not always) a hugely selfish component. I have had addicted friends who have grossly neglected their kids but not themselves. Others who have brought their own parents to pernury, crime and death thru their selfishness - and not just for the substance of addiction - for everything they wanted. Callous use of others seems normal - but with every person i have known well with an addiction - they have all had abuse or issues with abandonment as a child. And all underneath had been or could be, incredibly sensitive people.
    It is like TMS with a turbo attached!
    BruceMC likes this.

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