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When Love Becomes a Drug – understanding obsessive relationships

Did you know that a study suggests the euphoric, romantic feeling of being in a relationship affects the same part of the brain that drugs like cocaine and opium do? While romantic relationships are meant to be sweet, making one’s heart flutter the moment they see their partner, it is indeed thought provoking to think that love can become a drug and actually cause negative effects in a relationship.

Quest International University Perak (QIU)’s recent webinar titled, “You are MINE: When Love Becomes A Drug” dwelled into the matter of obsessive nature of love, how our attachment styles could cause it, and how we can form healthier forms of love.

Moderated by QIU’s Mr. Alex Lim Lian Sheng, Program Coordinator for Bachelor in Psychology programme, the webinar saw two experts offering tips to family members and friends to help those who are involved in toxic relationships.

The first guest speaker was Dr Ooi Pei Boon, the Principal Teaching Fellow at the department of Medical Sciences at Sunway University. She is a certified hypnotherapist with the American Board of Hypnotherapy and registered and practitioner counsellor with the Board of Counsellors (Malaysia). She focuses on regional healthcare development, research, and leadership programs locally, regionally and globally.

Also speaking at the webinar was Dr Nor Sheereen binti Zulkefly who is a senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)’s Department of Psychiatry. Currently, she is practising at the Psychiatric Clinic Hospital Pengajar Universiti Putra Malaysia (HPUPM). Her specialisation is in children’s and adolescent clinical psychology.

The speakers kicked off the session with first telling the audience how to identify a toxic relationship. Dr Ooi highlighted that everyone wants to be loved but this does not mean it needs to be a romantic one. Relationships also include among friends, peers and spouses. She emphasised that when a person’s partner makes one feel guilty or belittled, then the relationship would be considered toxic.

She urged the audience to listen to your body, inner voice and people around you when wanting to understand the relationship you are in. Our body reacts to a negative relationship such as when one experiences insomnia and tiredness.

Dr Nor Sheereen pointed out what a healthy relationship looks like such as when both parties are comfortable with each other and accept each other as who they are. It is also when they can depend on each other for emotional support and feel at ease. The relationship gives both parties high esteem and positive views of themselves.

The speakers also discussed why toxic relationships come about and how to avoid them. One interesting point to note is that how a person was brought up as a child will most likely be the way they treat their partners in a relationship.

Other topics discussed included how to get out of a toxic relationship. Key to getting out include having positive thoughts and attitude. One should surround yourself with positivity and make the decision to get out and stick to it. Training your mind to identify what you are doing right instead of what you are doing wrong will help you move forward.

The panel also spoke about the relationship between parents and children. Being open is key to a good relationship. Parents must remember that regardless of their children’s age or location, whenever they are in distress and need support and comfort, parents must be ready to listen and affirm their feelings, rather than antagonising them.

Finally, seek help if you need by acknowledging you need help. There are many sources of help such as talking to a clinical psychologist or finding help online.

The webinar definitely resonated with the audience as reflected in the lively and engaging Q&A session. This is understandable as everyone is in a relationship and this thought provoking session challenged the audience to think about their relationship.

Once again, we thank Dr. Ooi and Dr Nor Sheereen for taking time to be part of this wonderful webinar and congratulations Mr. Alex for doing a fantastic job in moderating this session.

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