JUST SELF DELUSIONAL –
Jan. 27, 2024 – One of many misunderstandings about addiction is that it is self-destructive. However, people suffering from addictions are not either intending to harm themselves or uncaring about their well-being. The unimportance of self-destruction in addiction is especially clear if one understands addictive behavior.
The very same psychological factors that drive addiction regularly lead to similar symptoms that are not self-destructive. A compulsion to wash hands, or compulsively clean the house, can have the same emotional basis, and be understood in the same way, as a compulsion to drink alcohol or to gamble. If we eliminate self-destructiveness as a criterion for judging any behavior then it becomes easier to see that these compulsively driven symptoms are at heart all the same.
The unimportance of self-destruction in addiction is especially clear if one understands addictive behavior as I’ve described: an effort to reverse feelings of overwhelming helplessness. It does this by taking an action that restores a sense of being in control. Seen this way, the apparently irrational behavior is seen to be psychologically sensible. It would also be harmless, except for one fact: this reversal of helplessness occurs in displacement. Instead of expressing the normal drive to reverse feelings of overwhelming helplessness by taking direct action, this drive is shifted—displaced—to a new behavior.