Addictive personalities, "wanting", and "destructive power and control"
March 24, 2018 at 1:47 pm #8435
Wanting and liking are expressed very differently in the brain. Wanting means to have a goal, and exists as massive pathways within the brain architecture. Liking means to achieve a goal, or to move closer to it, and when that happens, the nucleus accumbens (pleasure centre) lights up.
Clearly, the more the “wanting” pathways are active, the more they are reinforced as pathways.
There is a hypothesis that addiction is based on the wanting pathways being overactive, which is why, years after someone has given up alcohol or heroin, they could begin their addiction again after one drink or hit of the drug they were previously addicted to.
Perhaps, psychological wanting and chemical wanting are treated the same by the brain. So if someone has missed out on crucial things they’ve needed (usually, a parent) then their wanting pathways are going to be huge compared with an average person, and they can be more likely to have an addictive personality.
Also perhaps: 1) most psychological damage results from social loss or trauma, or both; 2) for some people this results in an addictive personality; 3) for some of those people, they consume people instead of / as well as drugs. This leads to the behaviour we can call “destructive power and control” over others.
Hoarding may be a manifestation of social loss or trauma or both – the desire both to have and hold on to (wanting) and to control one’s environment.March 27, 2018 at 10:22 pm #8486
Hoarding has positive selection behavior in some animal species, and I wouldn’t be surprised if humans evolved increasing tendencies for it, especially when they started to grow larger societies during active periods of agricultural settlements. Hoarding could be exaggerated to a dysfunctional degree in some people simply because having a hoarder in the neighborhood could at times be a valuable asset, and then subsequent, natural variation of any behavior can vary into extremes.
Now that we humans tend to live “unnaturally” isolated from others in our local neighborhood (e.g. in our own apartments and houses), extreme hoarding behavior easily becomes hidden and dysfunctional, and untreated in its isolation. In fact in these modern times, the dysfunction doubles as a social isolator, hence the plethora of freak show hoarders on display on TV!
The less freaky-show/dysfunctional hoarders just become affectionately known as ‘collectors’. 🙂March 28, 2018 at 12:26 am #8494
I tend to obsess over things, and overdo at times, which feels addictive. It’s part of my Aspergers – extreme focus on specific topics or themes. So I start to hoard or over-collect. It’s unclear what the neurologic cause is, but is a common situation. This obsession to knowing everything about something, can become a talent and advantage in some situations – for engineers, scientists, some medical professionals, it means extreme focus and can be an advantage but annoys other people. U nfortunately, I also can become addicted to a person, which is bad for me and for them.March 29, 2018 at 4:42 pm #8513
@popebeanie – of course hoarding makes sense as part of a spectrum of “keeping things”, but as a dysfunction, it probably depends on the reasons why people do it, and how easy it is for them to stop. We probably all collect things.
@danielw – I’m sure that your “Aspergers collecting” is a separate thing from addiction or hoarding – I’m always hearing that Aspies love to collect absolutely all information on a subject, for example.
“I also can become addicted to a person”
– you see? We all want things, a lot. Perhaps if one is not “neurotypical” then there is more opportunity to miss out on social fulfilment, leading to more addictive behaviour in general.
I always used to be accused of being autistic, aspergers etc. but I was just screwed up. Now I eat, sleep and breathe this moral philosophy stuff – I don’t even listen to the radio or watch TV any more, only music sometimes – but I don’t consider it abnormal. When I tried to do other things as well, like big hitting on social media, I just had a breakdown.March 30, 2018 at 8:24 pm #8542
@danielw I have a strong tendency to consider a lot of uniquely human qualities in terms of rushed evolution, such that the wide variation of qualities never had enough evolutionary time/history to be honed or fine-tuned or eliminated from us, genetically. E.g. some people are born with a small tail, or even gill parts next to their ears… which in themselves cause no harm. Hoarding behavior is largely passed on genetically, especially in certain animals.
One of the “rushed” evolutionary outcomes for humans (in my speculation) is the wide range of psychiatric, psychological, and especially social-behavioral variations, and I think Aspberger’s is probably one of them. Just as with hoarding behavior at its extreme, I’ll bet Aspberger’s had its benefits for the tribe and/or larger societies. In fact in our ancient societies, we were much more face-to-face on a daily basis, and we likely quite happily integrated each others quirks and specialties into our daily interactions and cultural activities.
Personally, I suffered greatly growing up with social phobia, to the extent that I often couldn’t even comprehend simple conversations taking place between people around me, especially (say) at parties. Looking back, I consider it as a major handicap, to say the least. I developed a highly technical and logical mind, super-skeptical of other people’s opinions and how they represent themselves to each other. My social ‘dysfunction’ was real, but in the bigger picture of how I learned to interact and contribute to society, I made different kinds of valuable contributions, in technical knowhow, troubleshooting various problems, fixing things, innovating solutions, and so on.
All those brain parts Simon mentioned are complicated and non-optimally evolved, again, in my opinion/speculation, but along with other *simultaneous* physical evolution (e.g. bipedalism, sweat-cooled marathon running/hunting, fantastic manual dexterity), we humans are a pretty mixed up bag of tricks who’ve even learned how to out-do mother nature’s traditional evolutionary methods. Many dysfunctions are kinks in our machinery that never had time to get weeded out, because we were otherwise moving along so fiercely on such a fast track of success.March 30, 2018 at 9:46 pm #8544
“All those brain parts Simon mentioned are complicated and non-optimally evolved”
– I agree the brain is complicated and I can never understand neurology very well. I think the “wanting” pathways and “pleasure centre” are very well designed for their purposes: making us seek and enjoy food, water, sex, the things that every living being needs.March 30, 2018 at 9:52 pm #8545
It’s interesting how, even though human beings have a number of variations from “neurotypical”, all the variations tend to fall into distinct types. Penny Spikins and others have said that Aspergers or autism can have been advantageous on the savannah when it came to being good at technology, and certainly, it’s a very skilled job making hand axes out of flints, for example.April 2, 2018 at 10:10 pm #8601
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