Please Note: The ideas contained in this FAQ are the opinions of the writer and are communicated without reference to supporting documentation in most cases. Other inspiration and influence for the writing came through consultation with other mental health professionals but the writer “Peter Quintano” is also fully qualified in DBT making him qualified to talk about the things discussed in this article.
Nearly everyone is addicted to something, whether it be food, money, shopping, sex, technology, power, religion, or any combination of these and many other enticements readily available in modern societies. How could it be any other way since most of us live in free-market economies and have items and ideas marketed to us continually? Not only are the items and ideas marketed to us continuously, but specifically with the intent of winning us over and creating repeat customers (addiction, on some level). For a person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it can be especially difficult to recognize and break free from these ongoing addictive potentials because emotions are so naturally intense, hard to manage, and easily influenced by marketing tactics.
To be addicted, in my view, means to be using and over-using things when they are not needed for health and well-being. It also means using things to distract or escape from taking real responsibility for critical human matters (such as health and well-being). Becoming aware that we have developed addictions can also be difficult since everyday living and addiction share so much in common. It can be hard to believe that our patterns of product consumption could be laced with addictive potentials because of the ways products have been marketed to us (loaded with half-truths and sometimes complete falsehoods). Seriously, think about it! If all the products we consumed were marketed to us with full transparency, would the products stand a chance at selling enough to turn a profit?
To participate in a capitalist society is to create addiction, promote addiction, enable addiction, and quite often become addicted. Addiction is a highly natural consequence of living to make money, whether we realize it or not, and whether we agree with the reality of it or not. With addiction also comes the natural consequence of promoting, enabling, and actively destroying self, others, and the living planet. The invisible and undeniable truth about addiction is that it kills the addicted and undermines life support. To refuse to accept this truth is to increase the odds of remaining trapped in conditions like BPD since the not-so-obvious patterns of addictions will always be viewed as non-threatening and steal energy and attention away from health-promoting attitudes and behaviours.
I realize I may sound like “Mr Negativity” by discussing ideas about economy and capitalism in these ways, but clearly, I am not interested in being a cheerleader for empire. My primary interest is freeing people of self-destroying and relationship-destroying mental disorder that I believe goes hand in hand with free-market systems. That being said, I am not suggesting that people with mental health vulnerabilities abandon capitalism (as if that were even possible), but rather I am encouraging people to become precisely and thoroughly aware of the intents and natural consequences of capitalism, which ultimately are to monetize and dominate, regardless of costs to health and well-being.
There is freedom to be found in Borderline Personality Disorder, at least in part, through harsh criticism of free-markets and capitalism. Without this criticism, there is passivity and vulnerability for entering into addictive relationships with all enticements that abound in such a system. Without this criticism, we can also find ourselves in a “cycle of addiction” because when we give up one addiction, it can easily be replaced by another. Again, how could it be otherwise when there are endless addictive opportunities and campaigns aimed at getting us hooked on products, and furthermore, when there is so little common consideration for the long-term health consequences of living in such a system? Being appropriately vigilant and critical about capitalism at least offers some potential for sanity to the emotionally sensitive individual forced to conform to such an insane way of living.
At the end of an article like this, you have the choice to disregard everything said or recognize there must be some truth to be found. A person with BPD, above all, needs to learn how to live with difficult-to-feel emotions and also needs to have an approach that works to achieve this goal. Developed addictions of any kind can keep a person with BPD from focusing on learning the skills required to manage emotions effectively. Addictions can also quickly add to the tendency for making unwise decisions that make life harder to live, and that further decrease the odds of finding the right BPD treatment. Whenever there is a mixture of capitalism, low prioritization of mental health, and emotional sensitivity, there is a cycle of addiction waiting to happen. Many who get caught in the addictive cycle never find their way out and remain lost to BPD.
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