I have never been happier to lose subscribers than today.
In one fell swoop, I had lost all the subscribers with less than 60 IQ, all the subscribers were grandiose enough to believe that they know medicine better than medical doctors and experts, and all the subscribers who are sufficiently psychopathic to be defiant, contumacious, reckless, and to endanger the lives of others. Such scum I don't want on my channel.
Okay, my name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and a professor of psychology.
As an aside, I have medical education, a secret none of you knew before you commented on the previous video.
So, all of you who are intellectually challenged, grandiose narcissists, and defiant psychopaths, I ask you to please unsubscribe.
Exodus, leave the channel, get yourselves and everyone around you sick and dying. I am sure that will fulfill your day because you are capable of doing nothing else probably in your empty lives.
And today at PropoEmptyLives, we are going to discuss love addiction.
But before I go into this highly complex and very new topic in psychopathology, I would like to make clear that love addicts fall in love not only with real intimate partners. They fall in love not only with people they had met, people they had chatted with, people they had worked with, people they had shared experiences with, people they had been intimate with, sexually or otherwise. They fall in love also with total complete strangers they had just met and known nothing about. They fall in love with fantasies. They fall in love with characters from books and from films, movies. They fall in love in their minds.
Love addiction is a fantasy defense. The fantasy could be displaced and projected upon a real person. That real person could be a true intimate partner deeply involved and enmeshed in the love addicts life or that other person could be a total stranger the love addict had just metor it could be a fictitious character, believe it or not.
There had been such documented cases.
Love addiction is a fantasy defense and it leads to dysregulated and unboundaried behaviors. The love addict would do anything to perpetuate the fantasy of love. To perpetuate the rush because love addiction as the name implies is an addiction. To continue the fantasy coming, to continue the experience of infatuation and limerence, the love addict would do anything.
She would engage in hyper promiscuous behaviors. In group sex, she would drink to oblivion. She would cater to the real or imagined needs of her partner, fulfill all his fantasies no matter how extreme they are. She would do anything. She would do anything because she's a junkie.
And why do I keep saying she? Because the vast majority of love addicts are unsurprisingly women and love addiction is closely allied with codependency and other issues. We'll tackle this in the continuation of this video.
These two points are crucial.
The role of fantasy in love addiction is enormous. It outweighs the role of fantasy in typical normal romantic love.
And love addiction, like many other addictions, by the way, love addiction leads to extreme emotional dysregulation, mood lability and unboundaried behavior.
Behavior which is often socially unacceptable, reprehensible, problematic, dysfunctional, reckless or just of putting or shocking.
Having said all this, let us dive right in.
And we start with an article by Sanchez, John and others published in 2019. The article is titled Treatment of Love Addiction, Current Status and Perspectives. It was published in the European Journal of Psychiatry, volume 33.
Love addiction, also known as pathological love, according to this article, refers to a pattern of behavior characterized by a maladaptive, pervasive and excessive interest towards one or more romantic partners, resulting in lack of control, the renouncing of other interestsin behavior and other negative consequences.
I would only add to this the misperception of fantasy element.
So this behavior could be motivated by total fantasy, which has nothing to do or little to do with reality. For example, fantasy projected onto a total stranger.
And the other thing I would add to this is the element of unbounded, dysregulated behavior.
The love addict sacrifices her standards, her norms, her values in the pursuit of love, in the pursuit of the addiction of love.
And when she does this, of course, she experiences dissonance and she resolves the dissonance either by dissociating the ego, dystonic incidents, dissociating her misbehavior, dissociating her misconduct, or by reframing the whole situation and saying, well, I actually wanted it. I did it because I desired it. I wanted it.
Very important thing in love addiction is to understand that what love addicts call love is not love and has very little to do with love. What love addicts call love is actually being desired, experiencing lust, infatuation, limerence, the dopamine rush of attraction, the chase.
So what love addicts call love are typically the initial, the extremely initial phases in romantic love or even just in an encounter between two parties.
So the love addict would tell you that sexual attraction is love, that infatuation is love, that limerence is love, that dysregulated sexual behavior is indicative of love, that sex leads to love, that the first phases of being fascinated and intrigued and inexorably drawn to someone is love.
The definition of love is so wide and so fuzzy that literally any interaction between the love addict and another person is immediately translated into a perception or a misperception of love.
And that's where the fantasy comes in.
In love addiction, immature love, love that is uncertain, external, blind, dysregulated, beyond one's control and discipline, in defiance of standards, values and norms, this kind of love is the only love there is.
We don't know how prevalent love addiction is. We think it's anywhere between 3 to 10% of the population and we found much higher incidence among college students.
And of course you must distinguish pathological love from other conditions which imitate pathological love.
Dependent personality disorder or co-dependency, borderline personality disorder. In these disorders, the dysfunctional behaviors characterize every dimension of existence. It's not limited to love.
While in the love addict, the rest of the love addict's life, the love addict's career, the love addict's family of origin, the love addict's friendships, the love addict's behavior in public places, the rest of the love addict's behavior is highly normative and highly regulated.
Only when it comes to attachments, only when it comes to interacting with potential partners does the addiction manifest.
Addiction is not a psychotic disorder and love addiction is not sex addiction. It's not a rutomania.
Love addicts can go years without sex. They can be celibate. It's not, it's not to do with any of this. It's a delusional disorder. It's a kind of fantasy defense.
Rutomania, for example, is a delusion that someone is in love with the individual. And in some respects, rutomania and love addiction share this in common.
The love addict can mistake behaviors and utterances, speech acts by another person, a total stranger, to mean love.
Pathological love appears to be an impulse control disorder. It is characterized by impulsivity, novelty seeking, and therefore it has an interface with psychopathy.
Psychopaths are risk takers, reckless novelty seekers, impulsive and to some extent defiant.
And so love addiction is very common among Cluster B patients, narcissistic patients and psychopathic patients.
Pathological love is also a mood disorder. These people experience extreme mood states like hypomania or elation.
So they have mood lability and they use love or the misperception of love or what they call love, which is essentially just attraction, mainly sexual attraction or limerence or infatuation. They use this to regulate their moods.
You could say that love addicts are constantly in a state of falling in love. They are in constant, they are all the time falling in love. They can't exit this state of intense romance. They seek it, they're addicted to it and they can never extricate themselves from it.
In this limited view, love addiction is an obsession or compulsion or both. It's an obsessive compulsive behavior.
People with love addiction experience repetitive and intrusive thoughts, but the obsessions pertain to a person they are attracted to, a person they love, a person they are infatuated with, a person they fall in love with, sometimes on first sight, sometimes secretly, sometimes from afar, sometimes without communicating anything to the unsuspecting stranger.
Some researchers suggested that love addiction could be understood as what we call a biaxial continuum. The vertical axis is attachment, the horizontal axis is reward seeking and impulsivity.
In some individuals, high impulsivity and reward seeking behavior co-occur with high levels of attachment behavior and that results in obsessive or dependent kind of love. In others, high reward seeking and impulsivity co-occur with attachment deficits and this results in high sexual interest and multiple sex partners.
Be it as it may, pathological love is an addiction. It's what we call process addiction or behavioral addiction. It's not an addiction to a chemical substance although dopamine is of course a neurotransmitter in many respects a biochemical.
But this addiction is exactly the equivalent of chemical addiction.
In the first stages, love addicts experience intense pleasure, satisfaction, elation and euphoria. They become preoccupied with these experiences. They show signs of dependence.
So as the article says, there's increased amounts of the behavior to achieve the desired emotional effect, in other words to increase the time spent, love seeking.
So there are urges to continue engaging in the behavior despite trying to stop.
So when the love addict is not pursuing these behaviors, she feels alone. She feels desperate when she is no longer in a relationship and in this sense, she is a lot like the borderline.
The borderline reacts this way to abandonment and rejection. The love addict reacts this way to a lack of stimulus.
She is addicted to the stimuli that come from infatuation and courtship and chase and sex. So she would tend to transition smoothly and seamlessly from one relationship to another.
Many of these relationships are imaginary. Many of these relationships are fantastic and only in the love addict's mind. Many of these relationships in today's world are digital, digital using cameras. But she can't be without someone in her life with whom she believes herself to be falling in love. It's not love that interests her, it's falling in love that interests her.
So as the article says, there's a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the behavior. Such people may decide I would never fall in love again.
But in reality, when the relationship ends, it is replaced immediately. It's the love addict reaches out compulsively to the next one and the next target and the next partner, real, imaginary, fantastic, total stranger, good friend, someone.
She needs someone in her life. There's abandoned behavior of neurochemical and neuroimaging evidence to support the claim that love is or could be an addiction, much the same way that chronic drug seeking behavior can signal an addiction.
And in love addicts, it's gone awry. It's gone awry.
So love addiction or pathological love is a behavioral addiction characterized by attempts to regain extremely pleasurable feelings associated with the state of being deeply in love. It's linked to reckless behavior, unbounded behavior, and negative outcomes to one's life.
I refer you to two additional articles.
Sussman, Sussman, love addiction, definition, a theology and Treatment, 2010 in Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, Volume 17. And Earp, Love Addiction, Love Addiction, and others.
An article is titled addicted to love, what is love addiction and when should it be treated?
It was published in Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology volume 24 and we will come to it a bit. We'll come to some of their insights a bit later.
It's a great overview.
This last article is a great overview of the question, is love an addiction?
I have a video on this channel about love is a pathology and I recommend that you watch it.
The love addict is desperate. The need for rush, the love rush, the need for this next dose, next fix of love. This creates emotional despair, this fear of rejection of being alone. They endlessly search for someone. They feel that they are not whole, they are not complete without someone.
But they don't want to, they don't want love, they don't want to be loved, they don't want intimacy, they can't do intimacy actually. They want the initial stage only. They want infatuation only, limerence only, the drug, the dopamine rush only. They want the attraction, they want the chase, but they don't want the whole package.
When they get the whole package, when someone loves them, offers them intimacy, they sabotage, they undermine their relationship, they withdraw, they become approach avoidant.
Love addicts are attracted to the intense experience of falling in love. They don't seek peaceful intimacy. They perceive intimacy as mini-death, kind of death. They are bored with a real, true, deep relationship.
And so, they are much more into hunting. They are like hunters. They hunt for the one, but they never want anyone to be that one.
The life choices and decision making of love addicts is based on the desire and the search for a perfect, unattainable relationship. So, everything they do is to look for a partner which can never materialize, can never be realized. And there's no healthy intimacy or healthy romance. There's just this intense drug fix.
And there's consequently no bonding and no intimate attachment.
Indeed, love addicts probably have severe attachment problems. And because their relationships never develop and never reach emotional maturity, they feel detached. They feel unhappy, restless, irritable, and discontented when the rush fades, when they need the next fix.
When they are not in a relationship, though, they feel desperate, unworthy, alone.
And so, they keep looking for a new potential mate to experience this high of falling in love once more. And they don't spend a minute. They don't waste a minute.
You break up with them or you had a fight with them, the next thing they do is look for someone.
I'm going to read to you a list from a website called The Ranch. It's a good list. Well compiled list of signs of love addiction.
Mistaking intense sexual experiences and new romantic excitement for love.
This confusion is very critical. It's the hallmark of love addiction. These love addicts have the craziest sexual experiences. Totally socially unacceptable. Totally dissonant and egodystonic. Experiences which will traumatize and shock everyone.
But they regard it actually as romantic excitement or even as love or the beginning of love, at least.
Constantly craving and searching for a romantic relationship.
When in a relationship, being desperate to please, fearful of the others' unhappiness, so love addicts would do anything.
Love addicts are pushed to participate in gang banks and in group sex by the intimate partner because they are the most extreme form of people pleases imaginable.
When not in a relationship, feeling desperate and alone. Inability to maintain an intimate relationship once the newness and excitement have worn off. Finding it unbearable or emotionally difficult to be alone.
When not in a relationship, compulsively using sex and fantasy to fill in the loneliness. Choosing partners who are emotionally unavailable and or verbally or physically abusive. Choosing partners who demand a great deal of attention and caretaking but who do not meet or even try to meet the emotional and physical needs of the love addict.
Participating in activities that do not interest you or that go against your personal values in order to keep or to please the partner.
So a love addict would do anything. She would create self-pornography on camera and distribute it to hundreds of people just to please her partner's fantasy. She would fulfill the partner's wishes, sexual, emotional and others. She would do anything. There are no boundaries and no limits to what she would do.
Giving up important interests, beliefs or friendships in order to maximize time in the relationship or to please a romantic partner.
Using sex, seduction and manipulation, guilt and shame to hook or hold onto a partner. Using sex or romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions. Missing out on important family, career or social experiences in order to search for a romantic or sexual relationship. Using anonymous sex, pornography or compulsive masturbation to avoid needing someone, to avoid all relationships.
So there are periods in the love addict's life where she is celibate and compulsively masturbates or when she consumes pornography or when she creates pornography and distributes it, self-pornography, pornography with her body or when she does anonymous sex.
And when I say anonymous sex, I mean like totally casual sex, sleeping with men after one hour and one drink. Finding difficult or impossible to leave unhealthy or abusive relationships despite repeated promises to oneself or to others to do so. Repeatedly returning to previously unmanageable or painful relationships despite promises to oneself or to others to not do so.
So this is a partial list. This is a partial list. There are other signs.
For example, needing to be in love, putting the romantic partner on a pedestal, obsessing over romantic interest, experiencing cravings, withdrawals, euphoria and dependency on the partner, needing to fall in love very often, seeking emotional comfort from a partner to the point of unrequited love and an inability to be alone. These are all hallmarks and signs of love addiction.
Of course, all romantic relationships have elements of this, but we are not talking about elements. We are talking about a preponderance of these dysfunctional behaviors, choices and decisions. We are talking about extreme unboundary behavior intended to please the intimate partner or a fantastic intimate partner, not even a real one, a total stranger. We are talking about extreme mood lability, highly reactive and dependable infatuation and limerence.
And so this dysregulation, this lack of boundaries, this sacrifice of standards and values, just in order to please a romantic partner which very often doesn't even exist except in the love addict's mind, this is love addiction.
Love addicts are searching for something outside of themselves, a person, a relationship, an experience, a stranger who could theoretically be perceived as an intimate partner. They are looking for these people to provide them with emotional and life stability. They feel that they miss something. They are half, half, they need another half. They are like complete and whole and stable only when they have someone in their lives.
Love addicts use their intensely stimulating romantic experiences, falling in love, to fix themselves, to feel emotionally stable. They feel, when they fall in love, they feel alive. So they are profound elements of self-harming in love addiction. It's exactly like someone who self-mutilates, the borderline for example, the love addict feels alive when she is falling in love, even with a total stranger who is not aware that she exists. She feels that she can drown out negative introjects, negative moods, negative affectivity with the process or during the process of falling in love. These are classic self-harming functions.
Now we said that love addiction creates fixations and compulsions and is unhealthy. We dwelt upon the issue of people pleasing, extreme people pleasing.
And the problem is that love addicts try to please real or imaginary intimate partners, not in accordance with the needs of these partners, but in accordance with the fantasies of these partners.
So it's not that the love addict tries to cater to the needs of the intimate partner. What she's trying to do is fulfill his wishes and fantasies.
So this results in a panoply of dysfunctions, mess, chaotic relationships. This results in divorces, affairs, extreme sexual promiscuity, poor job performance, relationship conflicts, poor concentration on everyday tasks and measurement, clinginess, neediness, emotional distress and anxiety and depression. This intense passion is always contrasted with intense disappointment and heartbreak. And it creates anticipatory anxiety.
The love addict fully expects to be dumped, to be abandoned, to be rejected exactly like the borderline. But in her case, being rejected and being abandoned and being humiliated leads to dysfunctional behaviors which are simply intended to find the next target, the next so-called intimate partner.
So while the borderline acts out and becomes self-destructive and other destructive, the love addict simply moves on. She's heartbroken and she moves on to mend and to fix her heart with the next man or next intimate partner.
Emotional problems of the love addict can be fixed only by falling in love, so she believes.
Emotional distress, compulsive behaviors, obsessions, they're all about falling in love.
And so very commonly, love addicts find themselves in toxic and abusive relationships because they idealize their love interests. They pursue relationships for the sake of the honeymoon phase, the grooming, the love bombing.
While healthy people try to continue beyond the love bombing and grooming phase, the love addict actually seeks exclusively the honeymoon phase. She becomes very clingy and overly dependent on anyone who can provide her with this drug.
And the love addict needs to idealize her partner because in order to fulfill his wishes and fantasies, she needs to reframe him as worthy of her sacrifice because she often sacrifices her standards, her values, her decency, her self-respect, her dignity. She self-trashes sexually and otherwise. She would do anything. And when I say anything, trust me, I mean anything. Even if the partner is emotionally not responsive, not affectionate, abusive, she would still go for it. She would still continue.
We don't know why. Genetics, trauma, upbringing, we don't know why. We know that love addicts have low self-esteem and other underlying problems, mainly mood disorders and anxiety disorders. But we don't know if these are causative, if these are connected or only correlated or maybe one led to the other. The love addiction led to these. We don't know which preceded which.
And love addicts exactly like co-dependence in the initial phase, in the infatuation or limerence phase, they become emotionally extortionate. They emotionally blackmail the partner. They use the guilt trip the partner. They shame the partner.
And it's all done in order to fill in a void. And this void can be a result of childhood trauma like sexual abuse, low self-worth or fluctuating sense of self-worth, lack of self-love or having been rejected or abandoned or neglected as a child. It may all be simply a form of abandonment anxiety or abandonment fear.
Lust for the partner, its experience is lust. Its experience is an irresistible sexual urge. And it creates obsessiveness because we know that sexual activity releases chemicals.
And the first step of a love addict is sex. The love addict would have sex on the first date. She would have sex after one hour. She would have sex after one drink because she firmly believes she confuses sex with love. And she firmly believes that sex leads to love, not the other way around. I repeat, sex leads to love. She needs to sleep with someone because it is sex that is the first inkling, first hint, a foreshadowing of love.
The sexual act is in itself euphoric, in itself fulfilling of the curiosity of the other, in itself a form of communication which binds and bonds.
The love addict regards sex, immediate instant sex, unbridled, non-normative, unboundary right away promiscuous sex as a form of love, as falling in love.
And this may have to do with the chemicals released during sex like oxytocin, but we don't know. It may also have to do with low self-esteem, having sex buttresses self-esteem. I have to do with codependency. We simply don't know. It's a very new field. It's a very new field, but we do know that the love addict experiences life, excitement and value when she has sex for the first time. And she has sex for the first time with total strangers because she had already projected onto them her fantasy that they are potential or even actual intimate partners.
Even in one night's tense, crazily, when she knows full well that she will never see that person again, the love addict is in love, telling herself, lying to herself within a fake narrative that the guy she's sleeping with is actually her boyfriend or intimate partner.
And so this creates a lot of pressure on the partner to be everything. This eliminates emotional boundaries and develops leads to codependent unions.
And because the love addict feels the department has all the traits that she lacks, she idealizes the partner, she constantly seeks approval for the partner.
Again, it seems that there is a lot of childhood trauma in the past of love addicts, child abuse, rejection, emotional neglect. We are not quite sure yet.
Susan Peabody had written about love addiction and she made a distinction between four types of love addicts.
Susan Peabody obsessed, obsessive love addicts, codependent love addicts, narcissistic love addicts and ambivalent love addicts.
According to Susan Peabody, obsessed love addicts struggle with detaching from the partner, even if the relationship is no longer healthy or the partner is emotionally distant.
The codependent love addict uses her partner for her source of self-esteem and self-worth. She is a people pleaser in relationships hoping to get validation from the significant other. If the other partner is codependent as well, it may not be a problem early into the relationship, but resentment can build if the partner seeks a more emotionally independent partner.
Codependent love addicts can look for worth in their relationships and may give to the point of exhaustion. They are compulsive givers. They connect with partners who have addictions or are emotionally unavailable wanting to fix the partner.
Love addiction has more dependence on a partner in comparison to codependency even. Love addicts expect partners to give them purpose, but they are unable to receive love from the partner and this creates a catch-22.
Now, sadistic love addicts, according to Susan Peabody, place themselves in a position of power in their relationship. They exploit the partner, using the partner for a source of attention, ego-boosting, servitude and more.
Additionally, narcissistic love addicts can severely mistreat the partner by ignoring the partner and acting out in selfishness. And despite all this, they are attached to the partner, of course, as a source of supply.
And lastly, the ambivalent or avoidant love addict. She avoids true intimacy. She functions as the one who holds on to past loves. When she starts a new relationship, she drags her previous lovers into the relationship. She usually runs two or three parallel relationships because she can't let go. She engages in one-sided relationships, unrequited love, and often sabotages relationships.
And these ambivalent or avoidant love addicts, they are addicted to the illusion of relationships, that they run away, or they are inconsistent about getting real clothes, real intimate.
And so all these types of love addicts use sex to maintain unhealthy attachments, to lie, to manipulate, to play out past relationship dynamics, to breach boundaries, including social mores, norms and conventions. They even use sex to threaten themselves or their partner if they decide to leave.
So love addicts segue. They don't have clean breaks. They would usually cheat as a breach to the next relationship. And they very often would maintain parallel relationships for a few months until they decide who is who and who is the next love interest.
Love addiction exists with other mental or emotional challenges. I mentioned a few personality disorders, trauma. All these can lead to love addiction.
The highs of love, the dopamine release, the rush, is typical of addictive personalities in general.
And so the neediness, this addiction, love addiction or relationship addiction, usually goes with other addictions, with substance abuse, for example. The obsessive love addict cannot maintain the attention or affection of the loved one for long.
And so this creates anxiety or depression, as all relationships inevitably fall apart. And they fall apart because of the love addict, not because of the partner.
The love addict needs her fix. She needs to fall in love again. She needs to be infatuated. She needs limerence.
So she cheats and she moves on.
The stress that love addicts can place themselves in to obtain love, the compulsive need to maintain relationship, this destroys the rest of their lives. It destroys their careers, their well-being. They begin to abuse substances, do drugs. They begin to neglect themselves, self-care. They neglect their needs. They become utterly consumed by the highs and lows. The highs and lows becomes the regulatory mechanism. They seek the high when they are low and they anticipate the low when they are high.
And so they self-medicate or self-soothe to avoid the low. They are unable to function within healthy patterns. They need someone to love. They need someone to be loved by.
And so when they fail, they would castigate themselves, but they would accuse the partner of betrayal.
So they're always frustrated, always rejected and rejecting.
And the betrayal, the perceived betrayal by the partner creates uncomfortable feelings.
And these people become, gradually, very hypervigilant, a bit vindictive, somewhat sadistic.
There's an underlying shame, guilt, void, dissonance.
And the need for healing increases all the time because the wound expands all the time.
Obsessiveness and anxiety are desperate attempts to somehow exert control over the situation.
But love addicts cannot fix anything alone. They keep failing and their self-awareness is very, very low.
We use cognitive behavior therapy to help, meditation sometimes, but it's limited. It's a limited thing because love addicts are in the throes of enormous amount of suffering. We need to build their sense of self-worth. We need to fill in the void, the emptiness that Canva had described.
How to do this?
So there are rehab facilities and there's even a kind of self-help group. I think it's called, just give me a sec. I saw it somewhere. It's called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
But the success is pretty limited. Addictions in general are very hard to cure because they cater to a panoply of needs in very important psychological needs.
And no one likes to feel that they don't exist or that they are empty. No one likes to experience the absence. And that's where love addiction comes in.
A fake ersatz solution. A wannabe, one make-believe way out, which never works until the next victim, the next intimate partner, the next stranger and the unbridled, unregulated, dysregulated and unboundaried sex that comes with it.
Only to sink deeper into shame and guilt and dissonance and to need to become more needy, more compulsive in searching for the next partner.