In his article, Fisher covers the discussions about the behavioral addictions. Based on the examples of gambling, binge-eating, hypersexuality, and overusing the internet, the author discusses the complex discourse surrounding these issues. Most of the researchers tend to agree that behavioral addictions are similar in their mechanisms and causes to the alcohol and drug addictions. They state, that since the brain scans reveal similar patterns in both types of addicts, all of these pathological behaviors are caused by the reward system adapting to the constant stimuli and reducing the dopamine output resulting in extreme repetitions of pleasurable activities. However, as Fisher points out, the problem is much more complicated. While there is little doubt that the mechanism was described correctly, the causes of the disorder vary in different cases. The author describes a more comprehensive approach introduced in 2000 by Alex Blaszczynski. It states that the behavioral addictions can be caused by three major factors: behavioral conditioning, emotional vulnerability, and general dysfunctional impulsivity.
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Originally, the theory was created to describe gambling addicts but was later proven to apply to other types of behavioral addictions, namely online games. Fisher states that this approach is much more useful for designing treatments for addicts. It does not ignore other problems that a person may have which in some cases seem to cause and aggravate the pathological behavior. The author also mentions the social consequences of addictions being recognized as mental disorders. He argues that official recognition might lead to the diagnosis being used as a tool to excuse criminals. On the other hand, the lack of recognition might hamper the attempts to identify and treat people actually suffering from mental disorders. It is hard to determine where the unhealthy habits end and pathology begins. However, the author notes that the psychologists should focus less on that issue and instead seek the ways to help people affected by addictions, no matter what or how causes them.
Developmental Psychology and Addictions
From the standpoint of the developmental psychology, the most interesting part of the article is the theory created by Blaszczynski. The factors he has named as common causes for behavioral addictions are tied to the psychosocial development of a person. Emotional insecurity is often caused by the incomplete development. For example, a transition between emerging adulthood and adulthood can lead to an identity crisis. The middle age is supposed to be an emotionally stable period of a person’s life. At that point, the formation of personality and self-image must be complete if the person is developing normally. However, often that does not happen. Identity crisis and dissatisfaction with one’s social position may lead to a drawn-out transitory period, creating emotional insecurities (Berger 420).
And gambling or other behavioral addictions can be the result. Behavioral conditioning as a cause of addiction is also a curious topic from the lifespan development standpoint. Conditioning through positive reinforcement is a common mechanism used in education and upbringing. The idea that it can cause addiction seems extremely logical since the goal of such conditioning is to form behavioral patterns. Another part of the article related to the problems of development is the neurological mechanism behind the addictions. It is related to the reward mechanisms of the human brain which regulate which behaviors we see as preferable. The article describes how the vulnerability of this system can lead to pathologies and disorders which can be hard to treat. From the standpoint of the developmental psychology, this neurological mechanism must be considered when viewing various stages of human development.
Real Life Applications
From the personal standpoint, the contents of the article seem concerning. Since the mechanisms of addiction are not well understood, there is no way to know whether you risk it by engaging in various behaviors. And considering the behavioral addictions are linked to a huge variety of activities, including simply eating food, it is a danger everybody faces. My future profession is a nurse. Nursing professionals promote and protect health and well-being of individuals and communities. Addictions, both behavioral and not, prevent healthy development and negatively affect the quality of life. Thus, in order to do my job as a nurse, I need to understand addictions and know how I can help people suffering from them. The article presents a comprehensive look at the problem making it valuable for my future practice and education.
The issue of behavioral addiction is complex. Its exact mechanisms are not well understood, and the problem may affect anybody. The article covers some of the most recent theories and research connected to the issue providing insight and discussing possible complications that might happen as the arguments in the psychological community continue. This information is especially valuable for me as a future nursing professional since I will be able to apply it to my future studies and practice.
Berger, Kathleen Stassen. The Developing Person Through The Life Span. London, Great Britain: Worth Publishers, 2014. Print.
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