The term “behavioural addictions” usually refers to addictions with otherwise normal and in certain cases or to some extent even necessary substances and activities, such as eating, sex, romantic relationships, surfing the internet, shopping, gambling, even exercising. Some people overly indulge in these activities with dire consequences for their health, relationships, work efficiency and other aspects of their life. It seems that humans can become addicted to almost everything that gives some pleasure or at least provides an intense, even if unpleasant, experience (inducing self-harm through cutting, for example).
In comparison with chemical addictions to substances like alcohol and mind-altering drugs, which are the main focus of medical and psychological studies as well as psychotherapeutic treatments, the research and treatment of behavioural addictions is still in its infancy. The fact that these are mainly normal and even necessary activities prevents their treatment through abstinence, which is still the dominant paradigm for dealing with chemical addictions. A much more thorough understanding of the mechanism of addiction is therefore needed. The aim of the project is to establish the Centre of Behavioural Addictions Research at SFU Ljubljana, with the emphasis on the inner experiencing of the people affected. First-person or phenomenological research will therefore be the main paradigm. Later on, the Centre could expand to provide psychological treatment for behavioural addictions.
SFU coordinator: Dr. Matej Černigoj, Psychologist