A couple of journal articles elaborating the idea of ontological addiction:Research from the University of Derby has identified being self-obsessed as a new type of addiction, citing social media usage as an exacerbating factor. Dr William Van Gordon, a lecturer in psychology and a chartered psychologist, is behind the development of the new ontological addiction theory, and says it explains the third ‘missing’ type of addiction.
Among the scientific community, there is a general acceptance of two forms of addiction: chemical, for example a reliance on drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, and behavioural, such as an addiction to gambling or video games. However, his new theory proposes a third type of addiction – ontological addiction, which is the addiction to how we believe we exist.
Dr Van Gordon states: “Previous models of addiction have largely overlooked the possibility of being ‘addicted to ourselves’, yet ontological addiction meets all of the criteria for a genuine form of addiction.” For example, people with the condition often experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to overcome it, often leading to relapses following interventions, and over time it can cause exhaustion in the people it affects.
The scientist, who practiced as a Buddhist monk for 10 years, derived the theoretical underpinnings of his ontological addiction theory from the Buddhist philosophical perspective that all phenomena, including the self, do not manifest inherently or independently. He explains: “The tendency to become addicted to self is probably something that human beings are born with. However, we cement or weaken our ego and belief in self-hood, depending on how much we live out our lives through the lens of ‘me, mine and I’.”
http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27995/1 ... ffiths.pdf
https://akademiai.com/doi/abs/10.1556/2006.7.2018.45Published as: Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Cavalli, G. & Griffiths, M.D. (2016). Ontological addiction: Classification, aetiology and treatment. Mindfulness, 7, 660-671.
Despite the fact that there is increasing integration of Buddhist principles and practices into Western mental health and applied psychological disciplines, there appears to be limited understanding in Western psychology of the assumptions that underlie a Buddhist model of mental illness. The concept of ontological addiction was introduced and formulated in order to narrow some of the disconnect between Buddhist and Western models of mental illness, and to foster effective assimilation of Buddhist practices and principles into mental health research and practice. Ontological addiction refers to the maladaptive condition whereby an individual is addicted to the belief that they inherently exist. The purposes of the present paper are to: (i) classify ontological addiction in terms of its definition, symptoms, prevalence, and functional consequences, (ii) examine the etiology of the condition, and (iii) appraise both the traditional Buddhist and contemporary empirical literature in order to outline effective treatment strategies. An assessment of the extent to which ontological addiction meets the clinical criteria for addiction suggests that ontological addiction is a chronic and valid – albeit functionally distinct (i.e., when compared to chemical and behavioral addictions) – form of addiction. However, despite the protracted and pervasive nature of the condition, recent empirical findings add support to ancient Buddhist teachings and suggest that addiction to selfhood can be overcome by a treatment process involving phases of: (i) becoming aware of the imputed self, (ii) deconstructing the imputed self, and (iii) reconstructing a dynamic and non-dual self.
From the introduction:
...Ontological addiction is defined as “the unwillingness to relinquish an erroneous and deep-rooted belief in an inherently existing ‘self’ or ‘I’ as well as the ‘impaired functionality’ that arises from such a belief” (Shonin et al., 2013, p. 64). In line with the growing integration of Buddhist principles into Western treatment settings, aspects of the theoretical underpinnings of OAT derive from the Buddhist philosophical perspective that all phenomena, including the self, do not manifest inherently or independently (Shonin, Van Gordon, Singh, & Griffiths, 2015). The Buddhist teachings assert that human beings – and all phenomena they interact with – are marked by the property of “emptiness” or “non-self” (Tsong-Kha-pa, 2004). Emptiness (Sanskrit: śūnyatā) does not mean that phenomena do not exist or are not perceptible to the human mind but implies that they exist in dependence on all other phenomena and that they manifest only in a relative sense (Thurman, 2005). Thus, it could also be said that “emptiness” somewhat paradoxically implies “fullness,” because the attribute of interdependent existence that infers that a given phenomenon is empty of an independent self, means that by default, it signifies the existence of all other phenomena (Van Gordon et al., 2016a). For example, a tree exists in reliance upon (among other things) (a) water (i.e., that in turn relies upon rain, oceans, and rivers); (b) air with an appropriate composition of gaseous elements (i.e., that in turn relies upon respiration in other life forms); (c) nutrients and minerals (i.e., that in turn rely on the decay of organic matter); and (d) light of an appropriate composition, temperature, and intensity (i.e., that relies upon the sun and the filtering effect of the earth’s atmosphere). If any one of these contributing phenomena were absent, then the tree would not exist. Similarly, the tree is integral to the existence of all other phenomena. The tree is “empty” of an inherently or independently existing self but is “full” of the universe.
OAT deviates from the ontological stance adopted in prominent Western psychological theories of human behavior that, to a greater or lesser extent, imply that the “self” exists as a discrete entity (Van Gordon et al., 2016a). For example, Rogers’ (1959) humanistic schema of the self includes the dimensions of self-worth, self-image, and ideal-self that each plays a role in the formation of an individual’s sense of self-concept. Similarly, social psychological theories are invariably constructed on the assumption that there exists a relational self (Smith & Mackie, 2007), and theories of human motivation, such as self-determination theory, assume that individuals have evolved a tendency to grow and master their environment as part of integrating new experiences into a coherent sense of self (Ryan & Deci, 2017). A further example is Jung’s (1981) theory that is arguably situated closer to the Buddhist model (Van Gordon et al., 2016a), but nevertheless asserts that there exists a locus of self that cannot be definitively located.