Seeing is Believing

The term Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) describes a disabling preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in appearance. It can affect both men and women, and makes sufferers excessively self-conscious. They tend to check their appearance repeatedly and try to camouflage or alter the defects they see, often undergoing needless cosmetic treatments.

Onlookers are frequently perplexed because they can see nothing out of the ordinary, but BDD causes devastating distress and interferes substantially with the ability to function socially.

Here is a fascinating and illuminating podcast by Brian Cuban on the excellent Klen + Sobr recovery website.

Brian’s recovery journey took him through clinical depression, twenty-seven years of eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, alcohol and drug addiction. He went from an 18-year-old anorexia/bulimic to the brink of suicide at 45 years old to then finally turn it around, walk away from a successful legal career, restoring himself, his family relationships, and finding his true passion in life.

Brian is a an author whose Amazon best-selling book. Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from eating disorders, drug addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

Brian speaks regularly about his recovery, childhood bullying, fat shaming and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.

Brian on the Web:
Twitter: @bcuban
Cubanity Blog @
Shattered Image, Amazon:…der/dp/0988879581

“The Smartest Guy in the Room”

Checked this out again last night and well worth another listen.  In the first half hour, in particular, I explain  why I think addictive behaviours of all sorts are emotional disorders – how the “spiritual malady” of 12 step recovery  can also be seen as an emotional disease.
Trying to get to the heart of what constitutes this pathology of addiction and the pathomechanism that drives it is still the burning issue.
For us emotion processing deficits are the most likely candidate that explains all the important aspects of addiction demonstrated in research, it explains impulsive behaviour, distress based thinking and decision making, it explains heightened reward systems, obsessive compulsive behaviour, intolerance of uncertainty etc and it also explains why most people relapse.
We have to help people in recovery learn how to cope with negative emotions and distress as well as negative self schemas which wrongly say we are not good enough have a successful recovery.

 The recovery brain is different to the addicted brain.  Recovery alters the brain’s functions.  The brain does recover.

Click image to listen or download on SoundCloud

Here is Paul Henry  being interviewed at length by Chris Aguirre on his excellent Since Right Now podcast about his theories of addiction, and other research, his experience of addiction and recovery and how academic and so-called anecdotal or “experiential”  evidence have been combined to shape his world view regarding what he believes is at the heart, the pathomechansim, of addictive behaviour and also what recovers in recovery and why?


The Final Destination Arrives At You


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One month ago I was hoping to start EMDR therapy for my PTSD.

Unfortunately it has not happened as yet. I spent the whole summer preparing myself to start therapy but it is yet to start.


My wife also suffers from PTSD and anxiety disorder. Due to this and that, I have been looking after her for the last few weeks, supporting her, and getting her back to work as she had been off with acute stress. This was exhausting given my current emotional state.

Then someone tried to kicked my front basement door in – unsuccessfully I am glad to say.

It was however a bit traumatic and upsetting, this invasion of our privacy, this violation of our home.

So I had to fix the door. Unfortunately it also rained and rained the night of the attempted break in and the basement room got flooded which cost nearly £2000 to fix.

Fortunately the Insurance will cover it but it is still distressing and stressful. I have spent days installing cctv and security lights.

So I had to get my wife back to work followed by this break in followed by having to work with builders for the last four-five weeks (a long story in itself!).

The basement door was replaced and then the laminate floor was taken up as it was ruined by the flood. Then we realised  we may have rising damp so we had to get that fixed.

The floor was treated and the walls painted with a tar. The basements steps are had to be re-cemented and the front windows and doors resealed to prevent further problems with damp.

We then laid tiles which took forever and re-plastered the ceiling which has been damaged, strangely by the flooding also as the roof is below ground level, i.e. in the basement.

It has been stressful and exhausting. I could lie down on the floor and sleep, if they weren’t full of dirt and plaster. I have done all this while in a stew of trauma which is like a puss capsule waiting to burst.

All my life I have been a person who fixes stuff, helps people out in an emergency. A go to guy.

As a child I tried to be a caregiver, caretaker to my Valium dependent mother. I parented her as she struggled to parent me. I also took all my father’ anxieties about his troubled wife and his general woes.

I grew up in role reversal.

I am primed to help in emergencies.

I never had anyone to share my concerns with.  My sisters would ask me how are you? Then not wait for the reply.

It was a prelude to me having to listen to how they were. I have been a receptacle for other’s to deposit their anxieties. Often without offering this service.

Who listened to me? I have always felt like a “poorly drawn boy” tiny, lacking definition in my mind’s eye when I look back at my childhood.

There is little substance to my self schema

I somehow need to get better drawn, coloured in, made more full, more me. Take back the pieces of me strewn across the wreckage of my past. Piece them together to see what I end up with, end up as.

At the moment I feel I am in danger of disappearing.

Is this a bad thing? This feeling of evaporating. Is the old me disappearing, am I shedding skin, a turtle-like replacing a shell with another?

Hopefully a lighter shell!

I do not fear emotions like before, however negative or troublesome. I think something is coming to the surface, like a vapour on my stew.

Impurities  being cleansed just by my decision to look at my trauma therapeutically, professionally.

This may have started a stampede of squashed emotions, trampling their way to the surface of my mind to get recognition, to finally be heard.

All I know is that if I don’t deal with my trauma it will deal with me. It is the most pressing concern for me not only in terms of general mental well being but in terms of relapse risk. It is by far the greatest risk to relapse.

I find AA meetings are good for sharing about certain things,   to a certain extent, for sharing what is going on with me but no longer fully. AA does not really deal with shame, trauma or the other issues that propelled my addictions to near death and psychosis.

It deals with shame of addiction for sure but The Big Book was written at a time when even psychotherapy did not consider shame, instead concentrating on guilt.

The steps deal effectively with guilt and the shame around what we have done to other people, sins of commission,  but they do little in my opinion for the sins of omission, the sins sinned against us. What do we do with this stuff?

The stuff that often propelled our addictions in the first place? Haven’t some of us been just dealing with the cart and not the horse?

Just some observations.

Roughly 65% of AAs have outside help, with what? The causes of their addictions?

Or certainly development childhood aspects which later contributed to the severity of their addictions?

This is where I am at, looking out for others while fit to burst myself. I am bottling up a primal yell, and request to be heard, at last.

As the youngest in my family I had no one in whom to deposit my anxiety and distress. To offload on.

AA has been instrumental in helping me share tonnes of stuff about my alcoholism. My trauma and neglect form childhood has often met with fairly closed ears. Some things people don’t want to talk about in depth. Some things they don’t want to touch for fear of making worse. I can relate to this. I have done this myself for years in recovery. But now it is inevitable that I deal with this stuff.

The damn is about to burst as I have said and will do…eventually.

I will hopefully keep you posted.

I am also very hopeful that it will have a chrysalis effect too.

I have  faith that God goes deep!

Prevention – Is addiction inevitable?

Just added another page…called “Prevention”

This blogsite suggests that addiction is the consequence, most often, of maltreatment in childhood.

The “hole in the soul” is often the result of poor attachment to caregivers in early childhood, or the effect of abuse or trauma in childhood.


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This reduces a brain chemical called oxytocin”the love chemical” which moderates stress levels in the brain and the effect stress has on dopamine, two of the most important brain chemicals in addiction.

We suggest in many articles on this blog that this “hole in the soul” is not only a brain chemical deficit but that this creates a problem with processing emotion, something akin to alexithymia – the reduced ability to identify, label and describe/verbalize emotions.

This emotion processing deficit is very common to all addictive behaviours, not only substance addiction but sex, gambling and eating disorders etc.

Thus this emotion processing means some children are vulnerable to later addiction may not use emotion to guide behaviour.

If you cannot differentiate emotion or what you are feeling then it is like a distress like state which prompts “fight or flight” responding rather than recruiting the prefrontal cortex in reasonable, rational decision making. If you constantly make poor decisions you constantly resort to maladaptive behaviours like substance abuse to eternally regulate your emotions, you fix your feelings via activities which help escape, avoid, or cope with negative emotions.

How can we prevent this in vulnerable children, often children of alcoholic and addicts etc? We teach emotion processing and regulation skills from childhood, in nursery, kintergarten and primary/junior schools.

I believe if we start doing this and also do this with their parents we can perhaps alter the seemingly inevitable course of addiction. Alcoholics and addicts use substances and behaviours to cope, we can instead teach coping strategies and emotion regulation strategies so that we do not need to run away from our emotions and our selves.

Please if you need any more help or directing to suitable article then please contact me again. I am very happy and encouraged that some people are considering this approach in their jobs with children, in their schools, recovery communities or other communities.

At the very least it would not hurt children to have the opportunity to express more articulately how they feel and to help them with these often distressing feelings.

Growing up in a family where there is addition is heart breaking and causes untold hurt and distress. Children in these families often need the wider support of communities, whether educational or other.

Addiction is a combination of genetic inheritance and environment. If we change the environmental influence of genetic coding we can then change behaviour, there is a possibility we can help very young people not become addicts in later life.

We are the environment, all of us.

This is my belief.