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 Addiction & counter-position of values

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Thrasymachus
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PostSubject: Addiction & counter-position of values   Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:51 am

Addictions are not only "physical" but are also largely psychological in nature. We might identify addictions for our purposes here as behaviors we desire to stop or reduce but continue doing anyway, or behaviors which prevent us from doing what we otherwise desire to do. This is quite a broad (and as we shall see, useful) definition of addiction.

What happens in a typical addiction is that one's values and valuing-mechanisms are in conflict. One desires to stop smoking for a set of reasons, but does not stop smoking because one also has a set of reasons why one still desires to smoke. This applies to almost all behaviors that we would like to curb or avoid but continue to do. This touches upon the idea of "willpower", although this notion is usually highly misunderstood. Willpower is not some certain type of energy which we have some storage or productivity of, willpower is not "the ego" or "who we are". What we call willpower is little more than a feeling/awareness we have of functional mechanisms operating in the consciousness -- the notion of willpower tends to mystify and obscure us before ourselves. The end-result of these operations of consciousness produce certain behaviors and effects (e.g. actions, thoughts, feelings, expectations, etc.) which are then thrown into contrast with our perceptions and understandings of our internal and external environments. An operation of consciousness produces the activity of smoking a cigarette, for example, and this same consciousness (although probably involving now different mechanisms within it) sets this activity into the context of a general overview of how one feels and thinks/intends toward this activity. This produces awareness of the values one has that are counter to smoking. Because of this awareness there is a feeling of internal conflict and struggle, friction.

People want to exercise more or eat healthy, but they do not. Why is this? Typically we revert to talking about motivation and willpower here, but this tends to obscure what is actually taking place, these concepts are not precise enough. We need to speak of values, of valuing-behavior and of the more narrow and specific operations taking place in the interplay between mind-body and environment/s. So in this example, someone possesses various values such as "being healthy", "looking attractive", "losing weight", "feeling good", etc. These values materialize with/in a particular moment to participate in producing a "desire", a more individuated affective drive-toward certain outcomes. It would be correct to say that this drive has a certain energetic quantity, although this is of course quite abstract. This quantity is what allows this drive to exert force against conditions to which it is subject, altering to some degree those conditions. The drive must attain a critical threshold of force in order to impel the body or thoughts-cognition to action. This threshold is contingent on many factors involving both the individual subject's state/s of consciousness at the time plus the situation/s in which this subject presently or recently finds itself. Often it happens that for any number of reasons the force of this drive is insufficient to impel this activity in light of the presence of other counter-manding influences. In the case of sitting on the couch and watching TV rather than going to exercise, this could be for any number of reasons, not the least of which being simply the inertia of the moment, that the body-mind's own inertial gravity must be overcome before the desired action can occur.

When viewed through the lens of desire, and subsequently then through the lens of valuation/s and the production of moments/qualities of consciousness, addictions becomes quite easy to understand. Every activity-behavior has a certain catalytic threshold that must be met or exceeded in order for this activity-behavior to occur. If this is not met then the original energy driving toward this potential activity-behavior is dispersed and re-appropriated elsewhere. This is equally the case with addictions, either positive (addictions to doing something, e.g. drinking alcohol) or negative (addictions to not doing something, e.g. exercising). Now we can see how these "different" sort of addictions are in fact identical, merely two perspectives on the very same functional-productive processes of consciousness. We have desires in conflict, we have values and means of valuing that are set against each other. Because some of the bodily organism is employed extra-consciously in the production and occurrence of these activities, a certain "physical addiction" can also develop wherein physical-chemical aspects of the organism contribute to the catalytic threshold which conditions the potential energy of the activity in question (e.g. neurons may now need more synaptic stimulus in order to release neurotransmitters than they did in the past, as a consequence of a period of repeated activity).

So how does one overcome addiction, based on this model? This is very simple. No appeal to abstract-metaphysical concepts like "motivation" or "willpower" are needed. What we need to do is simply cultivate value/s counter to that/those which contribute to producing the addictive behavior we otherwise desire to alter/avoid. This counter-value must possess more force, more energetic quantity and quality, than those values against which it is placed. In the case of smoking, one who now understands the above-explained nature of addiction and consciousness now knows that what is needed is to enumerate and better explicate the values that contribute toward producing the desire to not smoke (and this need only mean "to not smoke in this very moment", it need not be projected upon the future as a universalized ultimatum of "I will never smoke again", as this would involve both an increased magnitude of catalytic potential energy in order to successfully counter-pose values as well as a certain degree of self-deception and fantasy-wishful thinking). Examples of these counter-positional values here may be, "to be healthier", "to save money", "to not get cancer and die suffering by the time I am 40", "to not die before my loved one and leave him/her alone", etc. These values can be anything really, so long as they function to produce desires, which is to say so long as they function to introduce a flow/s of energy (potential for force-change) into various avenues-channels of consciousness, pushing closer toward catalyzing thresholds. These values will be best created the more deeply and strongly they spring up from witnin the subject him/herself, which is to say the more truthfully that they are already present in/to a subject pre-conceptually. So the task becomes simply to cognize these counter-values, which involves a modest degree of introspection and self-honesty, and then to consciously consolidate and (re-)create these values in a stronger, more active and subjectively-central aspect. Time must be spent contemplating these values and why they are important, why and how one values them. Making conscious the process of counter-position of values will help here.

Once these counter-values are sufficiently consolidated and strengthened they will serve to sufficiently alter the catalytic threshold in such a way that the addictive behavior/s are no longer able to impel behavior. While at first appearing counter-intuitive, what also helps here is actually contemplating the addictive behavior in question, when one is in the process if considering the behavior/feeling the pull of the addiction. For example, when one feels a desire to smoke a cigarette, this may first be overwhelming, but rather than trying to suppress or ignore this craving one ought rather to admit it and even cognize it fully, saying to oneself, "I would really love a cigarette right now, I love smoking!" Do not hide from the desire or try to ignore it away, do not resist the awareness of the value/s which one possesses that impel one toward smoking. Rather accept and embrace them, they are a part of the overall subjective valuing-system and should be understood and utilized. Making this craving fully conscious and cognizant will then make it easier to impose the counter-value/s against this other value/s productive of a desire to smoke. If one has successfully consolidated and consciously strengthened the counter-values ("I value being healthy, I value my spouse", etc.) then one will not engage in the behavior of smoking. One will dispassionately experience the process of weighing values against each other, in the conscious realm of thought and affect, one will even affirm very much that one enjoys and values smoking, but still one will not smoke. Furthermore this will produce not stress or frustration in the subject, but a sense of joy and relief. This is because one is now re-wiring the mind-body to generate feelings of reward-joy upon following one's strongest and most salient values (which is really how the body-mind is wired already, but we are now becoming more cognizant of this and are also taking a more central-conscious role and power in/over it, utilizing it, employing it).

In short, one must make more cognizant, salient and consolidated/"strong" the value/s which one counter-positions against the value/s that otherwise produce catalyzing desires for addictive behavior. Once this has been achieved, and really it is not that hard (I arrived at this theory because I realized it was what I was teaching myself to do, with respect to my own addictive behaviors, and I can state it works very well) then one gains mastery over this aspect of behaviors and consciousness, and one can choose where and when one wishes to indulge addictive behaviors. One is no longer the slave to these addictions, one rules them and commands then directly, either indulging them or blocking them, with no stress or struggle in the final result.

 

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"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

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PostSubject: Re: Addiction & counter-position of values   Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:58 pm

This theory works well for most addictions, but harder drugs are more complicated.


Opium and opiates I know from personal experience over time split the brain in two. You become two selves, the self without the drug and the self on the drug. The conflict is in the ego not the ego's valuations, as it would be for most addictions. You cannot resolve which is your "real" self.


Through this fragmentation, all of your regret, pain, sorrow, "negative valuations" are submerged beneath the new opium-addled ego, they are attached to the other ego, and everything good about yourself is attached to the new ego. The two grow separately now. The more you consume the drug, the more perfect the new ego becomes, and the more depraved the other ego becomes.


When deprived of the drug, you are essentially deprived of your own self, at least your better self. At a certain point if you stop without psychological preparation for merging the two separate selves you have created, you will very likely go insane, at least for some time.

The fragmentation can become too great to fix, depending on the gravity of your psychological and physical problems which have been attached to the depraved ego and the sublimity of those virtues which have been grafted upon the new ego.

 

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A sik þau trûðu


Nisus ait, "Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?"

Have the gods set this ruling passion in my heart,
or does each man's furious passion become his god?
- Virgil.


It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must
from time to time be present.-- Antonin Artaud
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PostSubject: Re: Addiction & counter-position of values   Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:02 pm

You cannot master the addiction until you can affirm this depraved self as a part of your real self, until you can re-baptize it as genuine life.

 

___________
A sik þau trûðu


Nisus ait, "Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?"

Have the gods set this ruling passion in my heart,
or does each man's furious passion become his god?
- Virgil.


It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must
from time to time be present.-- Antonin Artaud
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PostSubject: Re: Addiction & counter-position of values   Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:22 pm

Yes that makes sense, in the case of "hard" drugs these more potently and fully impose themselves upon the body-mind, raising the catalytic threshold out of sight. What I call addiction here is a very general definition, this is more an exploration of behavior and intention, and what most people think of as willpower and motivation. Mundane addiction functions as a good metonymic example here of the overall process of how decisions are formed and carried or not carried out. But in cases of extreme imposition or constraint upon this process, the process warps, even splitting within itself, as you mention.

Once this split occurs, I can see how this could cause an irreparable break in the process itself, totally changing the 'rules of the game'.

 

___________
"Since the old God has abdicated, I shall rule the world from now on." --Nietzsche

"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

Odinwar <---[truth]---> Jeraz

Peace. War. Love. Wordz




“Grow a pair, preferably between your eyes.” -Styxhexenhammer666

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