In Search of Addiction’s Roots, Part 5

If a situation is to be dealt with, obviously the first step is to name this allegedly unfaceable dilemma; and even here, a person might encounter a surprise. Sometimes, taking the trouble to clarify and really fine-tune the definition of a problem can cast a whole new light on it. For instance, a person might discover that part of the responsibility for a crummy situation is actually their own.

Imagine a fellow named Joe, with a chain of thought that goes something like this:

“Being persecuted by the history teacher has become a serious roadblock. That old man is really out to get me. Now, he is going around telling the other faculty members not to write any recommendation letters. Where’s my phone app? Okay, it says here to define the problem. That’s easy. The guy has been out to get me ever since I stink-bombed the classroom… Wait a minute. What did I just say?”

It is totally possible that even in the process of accurately describing the problem, some new thoughts might crop up. One might be, “I have been kind of a jerk. I could try to reverse his opinion. Or it might be too late, but you know what? I deserved some payback.”

Epiphanies do happen

Of course, the average BrainWeighve user is not a congenital troublemaker like Joe. Even if Joe takes a step toward maturity by accepting that he is sometimes part of the problem, that alone won’t get him into college. But it might come to mind the next time he is tempted to do something self-destructive that could easily backfire.

A situation could be interpreted in different ways, and the healthy move is to at least consider the possibility. Sometimes, all that is needed is a reinterpretation that the person can wrap their head around. Just following the steps suggested by the app can joggle something loose. The ability to reframe one’s thoughts about a situation is a basic coping mechanism, and can even be the first step toward resolving the problem.

Dr. Pretlow and co-author Suzette Glasner wrote,

A perplexing aspect of the displacement mechanism is why it becomes excessive and destructive in some individuals — that is, why do some people abuse drugs/alcohol and food, yet others do not? We speculate that those individuals may lack basic coping mechanisms and are unable to face, avoid, adapt to, or solve their underlying problems. We further speculate that for such persons, the destructive displacement behavior may become their sole coping avenue, may be self-reinforcing, and may reach a “point of no return”.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reconceptualization of eating addiction and obesity as displacement behavior and a possible treatment,”, June 2022

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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