Addiction. It’s a well-established notion. It’s simple, you see. If you can’t stop doing something, then you’re addicted to it! Must be. Otherwise you’d stop. If you say you’re going to stop doing something, but then you don’t – if the ‘thing’ (alcohol, gambling) apparently overrides your conscious recognition that you’d be better off not doing it, then the ‘thing’ must be controlling you: addiction!
But doesn’t that assume that your conscious mind normally directs all your behaviour? In denial of a Subconscious mind, in fact?
So Lizzie has finished with Malcolm, because he’s a rat. On a conscious, rational level she KNOWS she shouldn’t ring him, but as the days go by there are these frequent urges (it’s the craving system again) to pick up the phone. Sometimes she does – then she puts it down again. Nobody has told her Subconscious mind about the new Don’t Ring Malcolm policy, that was a meeting that took place on a conscious level and the minutes of the meeting haven’t been passed on to the Emotional Department. So there is a battle going on within her mind between the conscious intention to leave it at that, and the emotional Subconscious which keeps harking back to happier moments and wondering what all this unnecessary isolation is supposed to be about … good luck, Lizzie’s conscious mind. You’re going to need it, because I always put that capital ‘S’ there for a reason. It signifies something pretty important.
Gina has made a conscious decision to go on a diet, forsaking all things creamy and sugary. There’s a new regime, and the conscious mind is all signed up to it for the next few months. Trouble is, her Subconscious mind signed up to nothing, and doesn’t know anything about this. So after a week or two with no cake, no biscuits – no chocolate – Gina’s Subconscious mind is thinking: “What’s happened to all the biscuits and chocolate all of a sudden?” and starts sending reminder signals (cravings, memories and dreamy thoughts, a bit like the Marks and Spencer adverts on TV: “This isn’t just a chocolate eclair! This is an M & S chocolate eclair, with Belgian chocolate and thrice-whipped cream from hand-milked Grecian cows…” Meanwhile Gina’s poor little conscious mind is trying to insist that a Weightwatchers caramel bar will do just as well. Good luck, Gina’s conscious mind!
So: the heroin addict that promised to stop taking heroin but did not stop, that’s because they are addicted. Their body needs the heroin. Simple concept, the heroin’s to blame – blame the heroin. Ban it.
The gambler who promised and promised to stop gambling but did not stop, that’s because they are addicted. Their body needs… hang on – no drug! And yet the behaviour is very similar, is it not? Promises broken, lies, deceit, theft? Seemingly unable to stop doing this, even if it costs them a marriage, a business, custody of the kids? Some gamblers end up suicides.
And what about Duncan’s compulsive urge to pick his nose? Doesn’t matter how often he’s told… Is he addicted to it? Or Edwina’s nailbiting, Stuart’s shoplifting, Amanda’s nymphomania? Addicts, all?
Convenient hook, isn’t it, the word “addiction”? Useful shorthand term for all sorts of things. Now, once or twice readers of this site have referred to my “theories” about these things, which bugs me because I DO NOT theorize. All my observations have come about through practical hypnotherapy with thousands of individuals who have smoking habits, gambling habits, drinking habits, drug habits, bad eating habits and yes – nailbiting too. And the ONLY ONE that I cannot shut down with a single session of hypnotherapy is: heroin. That, I believe, comprises a genuine physical dependence, combined with compulsive habit, and very often with an emotional complication too.
All the others can be eliminated without withdrawal and without relapse in many cases too, which proves that they never were addictions, they just looked like addictions. They are compulsive habits. See Read The Book for more info.