Addiction and Dependent Love
Depending on other people to provide you with value and worth.
I find it virtually impossible to engage in a discussion of shame, blame, and guilt without a corresponding look at the role of core beliefs. Core beliefs are what people hold as truth, most often, I’ve found, developed in childhood. The way childhood affects these core beliefs is explained in a concept called “attachment theory,” which involves the bonding — or lack thereof — that takes place between infants and primary caregivers. Core beliefs revolve around how you feel about yourself and others as well as how you interpret the world you live in. As such, core beliefs provide the filter to determine how shame, blame, and guilt are internalized, strengthening either addiction or recovery.
Feeling capable of giving love to and receiving love from yourself and others is a healthy core belief. Dependent love happens when you believe love is something you can get only from others and never from yourself. You become dependent on other people to provide you with value and worth.
People, however, are notoriously slippery. They act in ways we don’t like, they say one thing and do another, they impart hurtful things without thinking, and they have conflicting reasons and motivations for the ways they act. Basing your sense of value and worth on the whims and capricious reasonings of others can be like stepping out onto unstable ground while fraught with anxiety.
Addiction, however, promises the stability of predictable results. Drink this, eat this, smoke this, shoot this, take this, do this and feel better — every time. I have seen this sentiment expressed by those with food addictions. They can speak of their addiction almost like a relationship, as if it is a friend or lover, someone who provides proven comfort. Food can produce the scents and sounds, textures and tastes that mimic the physical sensation of a hug, a kiss, or a caress. Is it any wonder so many people resonate with the term “comfort food”?
Addiction seeks to create dependent relationships by solidifying the addictive relationship and alienating any other. Addiction is ready to step into the breach of a shaky relationship with its lies and false promises. It promotes shame, at the same time claiming if others knew about it, they would surely leave. Addiction buries a person in blame for succumbing to the temptation. It heaps disproportionate guilt for the difficulties in finding and maintaining a viable, loving relationship. Addiction jealously beckons you to love it above all others, including yourself.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques.