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Dancing among the Maenads

The Psychology of Compulsive Drug Use


Kevin Volkan

Although a number of scholars have looked at the phenomenon of compulsive drug use from a psychoanalytic perspective, an objects relations approach has not yet been defined. Nevertheless, it has become increasingly clear that compulsive drug use is related to early object relations pathology. This study outlines the major tenets of classical psychoanalytic and object relations theory and practice with regard to the compulsive drug user. These theories give a clear understanding of the role drugs play in compensating for the experience of the object. It is concluded that individuals with healthy early object relations are not likely to become pathologically compulsive drug users. On the other hand, those with poor early object relations are at risk for addiction.