Marina Kon Bilenky, 13 December 2019

Bringing Addictions to the center of the debate, our e-Journal Psychoanalysis.Today opens a wide tour of our theme, with an array of questioning and thinking coming from diverse psychoanalytical experiences.

Dealing with this issue is fundamental in our contemporary world. Addicted behavior has never been so present in our day to day lives. The excessive medicalization promoted by psychiatry and the ease of buying drugs, licit and not licit, has created an enormous number of dependent people and creates critical social problems around the world. The debate deepens when we take in consideration that addictions go way beyond chemical substances. They are connected to numerous other objects and experiences that appear to promise to improve one’s performance. This all occurs in light of continuous growing demand and constitutes attempts to overcome the uneasiness caused by a culture that stimulates perfection at the same time as it accepts fewer and fewer human errors, doubts and natural human suffering. 

Addictions are present in various behaviors such as eating habits, physical exercise, sex, buying habits, cellular phone usage, social networks, TV series which stimulate vicarious watching and many other possibilities spread out on the social environment that each of us belong to.

In our world today, as is so well described by Noaille, “proscription becomes prescription” and the reference to addiction moves away from being a threat to becoming a seduction criteria that gives value to different objects of consumption. The impossibility of using words to give meaning to excesses and to the voids of the soul is seen as the vehicle for behaviors where addictions prevail.

For Durand, any life experience, including psychoanalytical treatments, could become addictive. Human beings could self enslave in the face of any aspect of their own life. The argument here is that an addiction is an illusionary protection that our self offers to free ourself from our own deep psychological pain.

When Catz talks about tattooing, she emphasizes that these body inscriptions function as “symbolizing marks“.  She argues for the need for psychoanalytical work to give room for the symbolizing process of intense anguish as a counterweight and alternative to the addictive solution.

The issue of dependence crosses many of our writers in this issue.  Gurfinkel looks at addicted dependence as a consequence of human’s paradoxical development, which begins with child vertical dependence and reaches horizontal adult interdependence, with the mishaps encountered throughout the road.

Kaul offers us a rereading of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in order to talk about the compulsion to daydream and the insatiable appetite for accumulating proto- aesthetics objects with the goal of creating a omnipotent world where the individual would be able to defend him or herself from helplessness, loss and pain.

Tintner and Juliano develop the subject from a clinical perspective, as they consider the difficulties faced during psychoanalytical treatment with addicted patients. Tintner describes the path and difficulties faced during the treatment of a patient who needed to lose weight after bariatric surgery.  Juliano, when treating patients that are addicted to drugs that alter their minds, describes how delicate it is to maintain the bond, deal with specific transference and countertransference and the challenges in this kind of treatment.

Still pursuing the clinical view, Lunn speaks about the difficulties faced during the psychoanalytical treatment of patients suffering from anorexia nervous. The essay charts the different meanings of the development of these kind of symptoms.

Tatarsky, in his interview with Adrienne Harris, points to the conceptual changes that have been occurring within addiction studies: from a biological based illness in which treatments are based on the ideology of abstinence, to the idea that the addicted patient could become involved with the therapeutic process that aims at giving meaning for the symptoms. His work on harm reduction, argues for the fundamental role that psychoanalysis plays in this mode of action.
Enjoy reading and watching!