Doing Life Together

love addictedSome of you remember singer Robert Palmer’s well-known music video, Addicted to Love. The chorus repeats the line, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

What if Palmer was on to something here? Can people be addicted to love?

Psychiatrist Vineeth John at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, thinks this could be possible.

He and his colleagues are studying  neurobiological love to see if love could indeed be addictive. They defined love addiction as “a pattern of maladaptive behaviors and intense interest toward 1 or even more romantic partners at the detriment of other interests and resulting in a lack of control and significant impact on functionality.” In other words, love addiction would be harmful, destructive or dangerous to a person and cause much distress.

In the study, Dr. John noted that the same parts of the brain associated with substance abuse were activated when a study participant was shown a picture of his/her love. The neural circuits associated with attachment and addiction disorders were shared.

Because of the neurobiology involved, Dr. John wonders if this reflects attachment problems. He speculates that love addiction could be a form of attachment disorder that goes beyond the average person falling in love. Specially, love addiction might come in to play when a person can’t get over a broken relationship  or stays in a relationship despite danger.

Most of us can think of someone like this–a person who just can’t let go of a relationship that is not healthy.

Dr. John believes that people who might become love addicted have these qualities:

1) They have an immature concept of love.

2) They have high levels of impulsivity and anxiety.

3) They are in a maladaptive social environment.

4) They have an anxious-ambivalent attachment style.

5) They experience structural affective dependence.

Love addiction is only in the process of being studied. It is not a mental disorder or a condition psychiatrists treat with medications. It is one of those conditions that we see with people who can’t seem to let go of an unhealthy relationship and move forward with life.

In those cases, maybe he or she is addicted love!

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