HYPOISM IN A NUT SHELL
IN A LETTER TO RONBEAS
ronbeas: I see you're an engineer. You should have less trouble with Hypoism than most. The part of the brain that causes addictions is quite similar to an oil burner thermostat set so high by inherited low (hypo) activity genetic alleles that it, as the on-off switch for the decision-making apparatus, is always ON. The more severe the Hypoism the, higher the setting; the more ON it is. [Outside influences, so-called environmental influences, such as “stress,” can affect (raise) the settings, but there’s no evidence that stress alone, absent the inherited genetic deficiencies, can cause addictions. In other words, stress can exacerbate Hypoism but not cause addictions absence pre-existing Hypoism.] The second critical issue is the location of this "thermostat" in the brain. Read the book, The Emotional Brain, by Joseph LeDoux, who spent his life studying the amygdala and other parts of the Limbic system, the area of the brain where this "thermostat" is located (the unconscious and instinctive brain). The key properties of this part of the brain are 1) it has many axons going to the cortex (conscious brain) but few axons going to it from the cortex. 2) It unconsciously effects decisions while being unamenable to conscious influences. This means that the homeowner is unable to change the settings of the thermostat. Because this thermostat directs three processes, behavior motivation, decision-making, and evaluation of situations (internal and external), this combination leads to three consequences in people who have critically low activity of the "thermostat." 1) Constant and unconscious motivation to raise the activity of the deficient neurotransmitters in the thermostat by using chemicals or behaviors or beliefs that raise these levels, drugs, and instinctive behaviors and beliefs (drug and behavioral addictions). 2) Decision mistakes that raise these levels (unrelated to realistic and consciously known consequences), and 3) Evaluation mistakes concerning self (low self esteem) and situations that also lead to disasters. Thus, this part of the brain which is so valuable in instinctive decision-making in non-hypoics becomes a liability in hypoics when used to make everyday survival decisions and evaluations. And, it is unresponsive to cortical inputs that might have some ameliorating influence on it (psychotherapy, just-say-no, fear of consequences, etc.) Thus, hypoics appear from the outside and even to themselves to get addicted and make seemingly self-destructive decisions while ignoring reality. However, because of the engineering of this system, these are against the conscious "will" of the hypoic and thus appear compulsive and impulsive. The characteristics of this system that were so beneficial to human survival hundreds of thousands of years ago, when commodities were scarce, are today, on the other hand, in the presence of limitless commodities, a liability (the evolutionary psychology of this system and its genetic variants-hypoic genes).
Add to the above thermostat principles one further major hooker: Every time the oil burner is turned on, used to heat the house, this itself causes a resetting of the thermostat to an even higher level and, moreover, opens the windows of the house to the cold air outside! [This is called down-regulation] The more the burner is used, the higher becomes the setting and the more open become the windows. In neurobiological terms all this is called neurophysiological adaptation. This adaptive response by the living brain is what makes the brain so much more confounding than a simple mechanical thermostat. This is why addicts need more and more drugs to get the same effect (tolerance) as well as withdrawal symptoms. Lastly, these new high setting remain higher than when they were to begin with for years afterwards, the reason for craving and relapses even following detox and recovery. [The current theory of addiction, The Hijacked Brain Hypothesis, utilizes the information in this paragraph but not that from the first paragraph by saying the addict-to-be uses drugs and behaviors initially for conscious and willful reasons but then neurophysiological adaptation occurs and this causes the addiction. This theory is false because the concepts in both paragraphs have been proven to be required for addiction to happen.]
Lastly, this entire system (both the above paragraphs are required for addiction and have been proven to be the case) is on automatic and is outside the control of the owner of the thermostat.
Because psychologists have never understood or appreciated the workings of this neurobiological system, they have misconstrued decisions and behaviors coming from it and devised "therapies" that are based on these misunderstandings that, by their very incorrect nature, don't work to help people with Hypoism. My book delineates this conceptual history and the workings of this complex mechanism in the production of Hypoism along with its implications for "recovery" from this disease (rather than from its symptoms, addictions) as well as public policy changes demanded by this knowledge. Hypoism is an inconceivable paradigm until one dumps all preconceived and incorrect beliefs about how this part of the brain actually works. This is difficult to do, but is necessary to move onto a valid understanding of addictions, symptoms of HYPOfunctioning (thus the derivation of the name of the disease, HYPOism) of the regulator of the decision-making apparatus. Hypoism is the first delineated genetic disease of this part of the brain and is the beginning of the full understanding of how this part of the brain actually works. Hypoism turns addictionology on its head and presents the world, for the first time, with a human nature paradigm that will lead to a better understanding of how the human brain works, via its neurobiological and evolutionary underpinnings rather than by psychobabble. If you can dig this, the book will be quite helpful to you. There's tons of valid human and animal research behind this hypothesis that is in the midst of being delineated and proved while we sit here although the researchers who are proving it haven't yet put the hypothesis together in such a parsimonious package as I have in Hypoism.