Ideology Addiction: Part 2 (Typology)

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Continuing the discussion of my blog post Ideology Addiction: Part One, where I provided a brief overview of a psychodynamic perspective of ideology addition (it must be noted that this one of many potential perspectives of this disorder), I will now explore ideology addiction from a typological perspective. Simply put, from a psychodynamic perspective ideology addiction can be understood as a pathological relationship to an ideology that provides a misguided solution to narcissistic injury and shame.

There are many typological perspectives that can be applied in the context of addiction. One example is that of feminine and masculine types. “When we speak of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ we are not necessarily speaking of biological ‘male’ or ‘female’. Rather we are referring to a spectrum of attitudes, behaviors, cognitive styles, and emotional energies” (Dupuy & Morelli, 2007, p. 37).

Psychoactive substances can be classified according to a masculine or feminine typology. Depressants or ‘downers’ such as tranquilizers, and heroin can be classified as feminine psychoactive substances. And stimulants or ‘uppers’ such as cocaine and methamphetamine can be classified as masculine psychoactive substances (Du Plessis, 2010, 2012a).

Ideologies can also be classified according to a similar typological continuum. On the one side of the continuum we have collectivistic ideologies where the group/state is prioritized over the freedom/rights of the individual, for example socialism/communism. On the other side we have individualistic ideologies where the freedom/rights of the individual are prioritized over the group/state, for example libertarianism. I will classify collectivistic ideologies as ‘feminine ideologies’ and individualistic ideologies as ‘masculine ideologies’. (It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into a detailed discussion for the reason for the above classification, but it should be fairly obvious to the perceptive reader).

To elucidate a typology perspective of substance use disorders and ideology addition I will apply the bioself-psychological typology of addiction of Ulman and Paul (2006), which is a synthesis of the self-psychological and biological-psychiatric versions of bipolarity. Kohut, (as cited in Ulman and Paul, 2006) whose concept of the bipolar self represents the foundation for Ulman and Paul’s model, stated: “The self should be conceptualized as a lifelong arc linking two polar sets of experiences: on one side, a pole of ambitions related to the original grandiosity [feminine] as it was affirmed by the mirroring self-object, more often the mother; on the other side, a pole of idealizations [masculine], the person’s realized goals, which, particularly in the boy though not always, are laid down from the original relationship to the self-object that is represented by the father and his greatness” (p. 30).

In Ulman and Paul’s bioself-psychological typology, addiction is understood as a psychological end result of developmental arrest in the bipolarity of the formation of the self. Biological psychiatrists, in their conception of bipolar spectrum disorder, devote considerable attention to depression and mania as they manifest in this disorder. These mood disorders correlate with disorders of the bipolar self as understood by Kohut. He stated, “In general, a disturbance in the pole of grandiosity [feminine] may find expression in either an empty, depleted depression or, in contrast, in over-expansive and over-exuberant mania or hypomania; whereas a disturbance in the pole of omnipotence [masculine] may appear in either depressive disillusionment and disappointment in the idealized or, in contrast, in manic (or hypomanic) delusions of superhuman physical and/or mental powers. We maintain that an individual maybe subject to specific outcomes resulting from a disturbance in either or both of these poles of the self” (in Ulman & Paul, pp. 395–396).

Owing to the specific accompanying mood disorder of each of the possible disturbances of the poles of the self, individuals will be attracted to certain psychoactive substances and ideologies, which can be understood as an unconscious attempt at rectifying a specific deficit in self and coping style (Ulman & Paul, 2006).

Therefore, by using the masculine and feminine typology, we can see how the psychopharmacological properties of certain classes of psychoactive substances and the psychoactive effect of ideologies correlate with masculine and feminine typologies (i.e., depressant psychoactive substances and collectivistic ideologies with the feminine, and stimulant psychoactive substances and individualistic ideologies with the masculine), and how Kohut’s (1977) poles of the self can also be classified within a masculine and feminine typology (pole of grandiosity/feminine and pole of omnipotence/masculine).

We can, therefore, see how certain masculine/feminine psychoactive substances and masculine/feminine ideologies act as a structural prosthesis in an attempt to rectify dysfunctional masculine and/or feminine poles of the self and coping styles. Furthermore, I have observed that there seems to be a significant correlation between the quality of an individual’s early relationships with their father and mother and their drug(s) of choice (see Kernberg, 1975; Kohut, 1977), and the same should be true for choice of ideology.

Simply put, individuals are often attracted to a specific ideology because of their mommy and/or daddy issues, not necessarily for the utilitarian aims or logical and factual coherence of their ideology of choice, and ideological possession or ideology addiction is a misguided attempt to resolve these issues.

All of the citations in this post can be found in the reference section of my book, An Integral Foundation for Addiction: Beyond the Biopsychosocial Model.