Dr David Marjot on the anti-boredom effect, and Dr Ian Flintoff on the damage done by a materialist society
I am a retired consultant psychiatrist who specialised in the field of addiction (Constant craving: is addiction on the rise?, G2, 9 January). My conclusion was that most, perhaps all, drugs of addiction were very effective ways of passing time with minimum distress – the anti-boredom effect. Even “unpleasant” experiences will pass time very effectively. Similar experiences are achieved by shopping, TV and sexual activity etc. I thought that heroin and tobacco were the best anti-boredom drugs. Nicotine is not intoxicating, the withdrawal symptoms are severe but not obvious to the observer, easily relieved by the next fag, and disease and death are delayed until towards the end of working life, thus saving the public the expense of a pension. The ideal drug?
Dopamine is incidentally involved in addiction. The function of dopamine appears to be in a system or systems for the initiation and maintenance of our behaviours – the way we think, feel and act. These systems could be called systems for iteration.