Ulrich Lanius, a clincial psychologist, researcher, therapist, and writer in Vancouver sent me this:
"The connection between dissocation, depression and addiction is a fascinating one and more likely than not related to attachment. An article written by Bessel van der Kolk some insight into this:
For more intensive reading, Alan Schore describes the effect between attachment and infant trauma and how they lead to traumatic stress syndromes:
There is little doubt that dissociation is in part mediated by an excessive release of endogenous opiates/endorphins. Animal studies that mimic neglect also suggest that animals that have experienced lack of caregiving have fewer opiate receptors. This likely leads to lack of pleasure and sometimes intolerance of positive emotions, a common phenomenon in human beings that have experienced attachment trauma and who suffer from depression.
Addictions can be seen as an attempt by the addict to make up for impaired functioning of their own opiate system. Except that the pleasure derived is short lasting and commonly leads to negative outcomes in the long run, health or otherwise.
Another exciting development in the research on opiates are the effects of opiate antagonists on immmune system disorders but also potentially positive effects on depression. A review paper can be found here:
Thanks so much for link to the article by van der Kolk. I have been really wrestling with some relational issues and reading that article actually acted as a catalyst that led to break through in my understanding of my behavior. I really appreciate all the great information you provide.
Really appreciate the introduction to the van der Kolk article; unfortunately, for me, Schore’s writing style made that piece completely inaccessible.
Schore’s writing style is often completely inaccessible. Some of his presentations, too.
Have you had any experience with clients with an off-label use of naltrexone, to stop endogenous opioid manufacture in the brain (with exactly the idea that the brain is “addicted” to numbing via dissociaton)?
i have did. there is a corroborated reason for it.
the thing is that i am certain that when i eat dairy and wheat products i get very very dissociative and almost non-functional. i also have what might be called an addiction to those foods. when not on them i can live more clearly. i read somewhere that autistic kids are helped by reducing gliadin and casein because those become opiates which cloud their minds. i am certain that wheat and dairy worsen my dissociation. have you seen this before. also i have long histories of bulimia and anorexia – i dissociate less when anorexic and this is partly why i do it – the anorexia – to maintain some sanity.