Paradigm Attachment Disorder

Paradigm Attachment Disorder for Addiction Recovery

Did you know that according the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), that half the population has some mental illness? It’s true! We are a culture suffering from all sorts of disorders that include such psychiatric “diseases” as caffeine-induced sleep disorder, “Mathematics Disorder (or even worst, Developmental Arithmetic Disorder”), “Intermittent Explosive Disorder”, “Disorder of Written Expression”, “Breathing Related Sleep Disorder”, “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” and even “Bereavement Disorder. And this is just to name a handful out of the 300 mental “diseases” listed in the DSM-IV. 

Defining Paradigm Attachment Disorder

The latest version, DSM-V, is due out in 2013 and it should most definitely include a very serious mental illness called “Paradigm Attachment Disorder.” What exactly is “Paradigm Attachment Disorder”? This disorder is common, insidious and subtle and manifests as an inability to look at any new information, data or even facts that would upset, contradict or turn upside down a belief system that a person, or system is invested in. It is also completely understandable. In a culture where taking a stance and being “right” is far more important that reaching a resolution, it is no wonder that we tenaciously hold on to beliefs that no longer serve us, that have been questioned or disproven, or are simply not true. Careers are built on and huge financial, personal and often emotional investments have been made on certain scientific, political or economic theories. To have these theories turned upside down and inside out naturally causes some level of discomfort, or even chaos, to our perception of reality and a sense of safety and security in our lives. Change, especially in core beliefs, upsets the proverbial apple cart.

The time has now come to reevaluate the latest accepted medical position, or “belief” regarding addiction and its treatment and perhaps to break free of the paradigm attachment disorder. According to The American Society of Addiction Medicine, “ASAM”, The American Board of Addiction Medicine “ABAM”, and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence “NCADD”, addiction is a chronic and incurable disease, comparable to other such labeled diseases as asthma, diabetes and hypertension, and addiction treatment is a life-long symptom management program that includes some combination of pharmaceutical drugs, behavioral and cognitive therapies.

What if this belief is not an absolute truth? What if a person can heal from the disease of addiction? What if treatment does not have to include a lifetime of symptom management and the ability to merely “function” in the world, but rather would allow a person to really tap into vitality, creativity, meaning and purpose in their life?

Recent scientific discoveries in biology and neuroscience have provided new data that show we can affect how our DNA is expressed, create new neural networks and grow new brain neurons throughout our lifetime. This is a huge revolutionary, or more to the point, evolutionary, paradigm shift in our understanding of how our bodies and minds can heal. Rather than viewing our genetic code as a fixed blueprint for our lives, or that the brain is a hardwired, programmed organ unable to adapt and change or grow new brain neurons, the sciences of Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis have shown otherwise.

So the question is, why if new discoveries in science indicate that addiction may be overcome, are the treatments for addiction predominantly based on lifetime symptom management through support groups, talk therapies and/or pharmaceutical drug protocols? The reason may be due to “paradigm attachment disorder.” As discussed, in the last decade there have been groundbreaking scientific discoveries regarding our DNA and our brain, yet the current addiction treatment model is still based on the old medical paradigm that our genetic makeup and brain is unable to change or grow to create a new genetic blueprint, neural pathways or brain cells.

Based on this new scientific data, isn’t worth at least being open to the possibility that addiction is a curable disease. It is important that we remain hypervigilant about not falling prey to “paradigm attachment disorder” which keeps us not only stuck in a narrow frame of reference but also keeps us from discovering new healing modalities that could allow a person to potentially live a life free of addiction.