The Power of Psychic Pain -The 1st in a Series of 3 Articles – Starting with Freud’s Pleasure Principle

Freud’s writings addressed pleasure and identified it as the absence of pain, and described man’s (person’s) search for pleasure and avoidance of pain. He called this the  “Pleasure Principle”. 

I consider his approach to be a partial description of the human condition and helpful in understanding the nature of addiction. Anything can be the drug, which can create a distraction from psychic pain, a distraction from intense emotional experience, a distraction from the anxiety that often foreshadows the emergence of unwanted sensations. Drug addictions come in all forms, shapes and sizes. The substance doesn’t have to be cocaine, alcohol or any of the well-known tangibles so prevalent in our society.

Very often the drug can be food, work, or any behavior that removes us temporarily from the natural flow of the emotional experience of everyday life, from the interaction in relationships, or from the moment to moment emotional reactions within us. These reactions might be triggered by a present day experiences, or by lingering unresolved memories.

In addictive dependency we can be seduced to believe that the substance will never abandon us; the substance will always be on call; available to us at any given moment. I recall someone once saying, “Smoking is my ‘best friend’.” The truth is, not only can some substances like cigarettes, kill us, but they can reliably prevent us from revealing and healing the primitive experiences we are afraid to experience.

Even sexuality can be devoid of intimacy and used as an escape from one’s own relationship with one’s self and/or one’s significant other. In fact, it appears that in some instances, a relationship itself can serve to distract us from the essence of who we are, and remove us from relating to our inner world.

The Power of Psychic Pain – 2nd in a Series of 3 Articles “You Can Never Get Enough of the Wrong Thing”

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Mim Collins Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy serves the San Fernando Valley Communities of Valley Village, Studio City, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Pasadena, Encino, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Sun Valley, Panorama City, Tarzana, and Lake Balboa.

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Mim Collins, Psy.D., M.F.T.
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