In The Forbidden Keys to Persuasion, Blair Warren discusses seven “hidden addictions”: the need to feel needed; the need for hope in difficult situations; the need for a scapegoat (to believe our problems are the fault of someone or something else); the need to be noticed and feel understood; the need to know things others don’t; the need to be right; and the need to feel a sense of power.

Another author commented,

This is by no means a definitive list. It is just one author’s way of organizing and categorizing our most potent and insatiable desires.

I'm simply looking for a way to correlate this with psychology. What's the best technical term for "hidden addiction"? I'd ultimately like to compile a more complete list of these "hidden addictions," something I can do more easily if I know the correct terminology.

I know this is something that's probably covered in Psych 101 - which I took 150 years ago - but I can't think of the correct term.

  • $\begingroup$ There's no technical term... because anything qualifies. You can call the desire to have children a "hidden addiction" (of your genes). Etc. Does Warren give a definition for his notion, other than by enumeration? $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    May 20 '18 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Fizz - there is such an addiction as an addiction to having children. I cannot find a science article on it but it is a real addiction $\endgroup$ May 20 '18 at 8:44

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. Often it can start with a habit but then it becomes an addiction because there is a compulsion to continue the habit.

Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, but it's possible to be addicted to just about anything

Some of these addictions listed by Warren (the need to feel needed, the need for hope in difficult situations, the need to be noticed and feel understood, the need to know things others don’t, and the need to be right) can be classed as compulsions which can lead to a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the others (the need for a scapegoat (to believe our problems are the fault of someone or something else) and the need to be right) are covered by cognitive biases such as confirmation bias as you thought. The need to feel a sense of power can be covered by both.

Many people have focused thoughts or repeated behaviors. But these do not disrupt daily life and may add structure or make tasks easier. For people with OCD, thoughts are persistent and unwanted routines and behaviors are rigid and not doing them causes great distress.

In the case of needing to be right, you can have the need but it may not interfere with your life. Where someone challenges you and the need is so strong that it stops you doing anything until you confirm that you are correct about something, then it is an addiction which can also be a part of OCD.

I would say that Warren has legitimately created a category of behaviour which fits the bill of addiction as these behaviours can indeed be habit formations leading to addiction. The thing to remember with these are that all of them are compulsive thoughts and behaviours but not all of them can lead to OCD diagnosis.


You'll have to buy his books, go to his seminars, maybe book a series of private sessions, and then maybe you'll find out what he's talking about. That's how (what I call) the neo-Freudians work. Let me quote from an interview with him:

The idea of hidden addictions refers to the exploitation of a series of drives that govern our behavior usually without our awareness. The drives to which I refer aren’t the drives most people think of such as the pursuit of love, sex or money. Though I agree we have such drives and they clearly play a large role in our behavior, I think there are other, more basic, less noble drives that are of much more value and interest to the persuader. Teaching these drives, or hidden addictions, is a large part of my work with clients so I’m not going to simply list them here. However, I will say they focus largely on the maintenance of our self-image and the models we have developed to explain reality to ourselves. In other words, they have to do with the way we see not only the world, but our role in it. When these hidden addictions are met, we automatically have a deep feeling of satisfaction and comfort.

Blather, blather, don't forget to pay for it.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting answer; I up voted it. However, I'm not convinced that Warren's words are 100% blather. For example, addiction #6 - the need to be right - can be correlated with confirmation bias (though I'm not sure if that's a psychological term). At any rate, I'll wait for more answers before I mark yours as the correct answer, though it is illuminating. $\endgroup$ May 20 '18 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidBlomstrom: presumably he's indeed talking about some kind of biases (including confirmation bias)... although frankly in this area even the academic world isn't terribly systematic; google "please, not another bias". $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    May 20 '18 at 5:45

There is far more to be said about both addiction and bias. Essentially I disagree with Warren's theories (I have not read the book) at least as they seem to be based on the old Freudian principle of drive theory, which, in effect, was a very Newtonian notion of hydraulics as applied to human motivation and reduced (ad absurdam) humans to machine-like entities. It also denied any higher motivation than performance, and strongly reinforced the idea of separateness and isolation in what Alan Watts called "the skin encapsulated ego." One may find oneself habituated to almost anything. Using the term "addiction" simply pejoratizes human activities, and is biased (that word again!) in therms of an ostensible clinical view (based initially on the ostensibly august opinions of the "Fathers of Psychiatry" and exponentialized since, gaining political and social power by being aligned with the psychopharmaceutical industry.

  • $\begingroup$ I bought a book about mind control which lists Warren's ideas, and it has been roundly criticized. One psychologist gave me a tip about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is itself quite controversial. So I'm working on my own list. ;) $\endgroup$ May 24 '18 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Do you have any reference materials to provide which back up your claims? We require answers to be backed up by research and as it stands, your answer could be open to challenge as just opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    May 24 '18 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ I would refer you to my book "Crucible of Shame: Trauma and Transformation" that contains a great deal of information and citations re: this and related subjects, esp. the rise of "modern psychiatry". I will gladly send a free e-copy to anyone who wishes it. boiledbones61@doctor.com $\endgroup$
    – phoe47nix
    May 24 '18 at 18:59

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