Saturday 8 June 2019

Addiction is evil

There is a lot of addiction around - and I used the expression myself in the title of a book about the Mass Media.

Addiction could be defined as a psychological response to captivity, by which the captive ends-up desiring and serving that which holds him captive.

(Somewhat, although not exactly - and from a different cause, like Stockholm Syndrome among kidnap victims.)

Addiction is an actual evil, because it is a choice

An addict is not just dishonest about his basic situation; but because dishonest he actively endorses and advocates his dependence as a good. An addict is morally-inverted and a systematic liar.

As when a heroin junkie extols the benefits of the drug (there have been several example in literature), and organises his life around the drug, and his primary aim becomes enhancing the experience of fixes - this justifying dishonesty, theft, violence, prostitution, even murder. 

A real addict does not want to be free of his dependence. And it is this quality which I seem to see all around me in the modern West - it is indeed characteristic of the modern West.

The typical modern is truly addicted to the Mass Media and Social Media - his life is organised by and around these.  He does not want to be free of this dependence, but will justify and advocate his state. He will expend tremendous time, money and other resources to enhancing these experiences.

And media addiction exhibits the classic signs both of craving and escalating dosage.When temporarily prevented from using media, there is mounting agitation - and the user takes a fix as soon as possible - immediately after the restriction or prohibition has been lifted.

More broadly, modern Man has become addicted to mainstream modernity itself. Many examples could be picked - addiction to politics, bureaucracy, fashion, and of course - sex. Modernity is literally and extremely addicted to sex.

Not, mostly, to doing sex - but thinking about it. Sexual reference and stimulus, sexual identity and preference, sexual advertisement and craving is everywhere, almost all the time, and escalating - but instead of acknowledging their dependence, and wishing to be free from it; moderns embrace their state of dependence.

There is no such thing as neutrality on any significant issue in Life; and when something is not regarded as bad it will be regarded as good.

When dependence is not repented, it will be celebrated: it will become addiction, and thus a sin.


James Higham said...

It’s a choice at first, until a line is crossed. This is where the Spirit kicks in for those who accept it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@James - Not sure what you mean.

stephen cooper said...

I think .... I could be wrong,,,,, I think he means that the typical addict chooses to tempt God, again and again, seeking pleasure, or seeking forgetfulness of what he or she could have been --- (a) sometimes with anger at the fact that one seems not to be loved (b) sometimes with the brutish selfishness of the homme moyen sensuel (a French phrase from Voltaire or some similar loser, meaning simply the type of person who just expects the good things in life to offer themselves to him in their proper order (and who thereby usurps the prerogatives of the Creator, who did not create this world for selfish pleasures, but for kindness and enjoyment without brutal selfishness - not that hard to understand) ----and the (a) angry and disappointed person who becomes an addict, and (b) the Casanova-type person who becomes an addict, are among those simple people who are loved by God because, at least, they tried to find a place in this world. Of course they tried in an evil way, and that is bad ---- but at least they did not give up seeking (as the existentials would say), and they waited, patiently, as the sinners who are described so often in the New Testament, for one KIND WOrD from the Lord, and they iMMEDIATELY turned their heart to God (anyone who has read and reread the Gospels knows there were dozens of such people named in the Gospels, and there must have been many many more, as Saint John says, for whom God performed the miracle of conversion)..

The other point of view is this ---- (and I am plagiarizing a little from your next post with its quote from Steiner) we all know God loves us, that is the ocean in which we swim, the air we breathe, the water we drink and that keeps us from being dehydrated, and any addiction to sin or pleasure or to distraction is an AMAZING BETRAYAL of what we know in our hearts, and we all know that no matter how nasty the people we have known in life were, that God loves us, and God forgives those who were unkind to us, and God wants us to forgive them too if they want forgiveness, because it IS SO SIMPLE. It is, after all, so simple to live in this world and to want this world to be a better place because we are in it .... leaving aside our sad selfish individual dramas .....

The addict sadly ries to make this simplicity into a great drama of sorts, from weakness of his or her will, or from simple lack of having lived with examples of goodness from friends and relatives - and many addicts are, unwillingly, one hopes, mean spirited people who simply want to extend their pleasures to the point where there is no pleasure left and at that point they HOPE TO HAVE A FEW MOMENTS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

and they hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel

of course the best advice to any addict is ---- don't wait, just be who God wants you to be right now .....

and .... if one is a Christian, not really addicted to anything in this world, one asks oneself, when was the last time one took the risk of looking an addict in the eyes, and explaining the goodness that Jesus wants for us, and risking being mocked because one wanted to make that person happy .....
and if one is not Christian, but is still someone who still wants people not to ruin their lives, the similar question asks itself --- how much energy does one have, we are all on lifeboats and really how much energy does one have to take care of someone else????

we all have known dozens or hundreds of people, what have we said to gladden their hearts, what have we done to show them that we too love Jesus, or that if they do not know how much Jesus loves us, what have we done to let them know that their is a better morning ahead if only they ask God for tomorrow to be a blessed day for them and for those they love???

Francis Berger said...

"An addict is not just dishonest about his basic situation; but because dishonest he actively endorses and advocates his dependence as a good. An addict is morally-inverted and a systematic liar."

I appreciate the bluntness of this post. What you expressed here really puts my own pathetic, awful, weasel-like addiction to tobacco into the proper focus. I now feel inspired to recognize my vice for what it is, and I will commit to making the necessary changes going forward. Thanks.

Bruce Charlton said...

I should clarify what I said in the post that some people really are dependent, and cannot (and there can be many reasons) actually give-up or get the dependence under control (some addictive behaviour cannot be given up altogether - eating, for example; or nowadays the mass media. But the point is to acknowledge that this dependence is A Bad Thing.

This was the situation for Coleridge with opium. He could not break his dependence, but he knew and said that this was a bad state to be in; therefore by my reasoning he was Not an addict.

stephen cooper said...

There is a very good sermon, posted from the Fontambugault Abbey,for Pentecost 2019, titled "Television and the Internet are invasive weeds on our soul, taking the place that belongs to the Holy Spirit", which goes into this subject in a profound and helpful way. For the foreseeable future you can find it on the internet .... (yes I get the irony of the fact that you can find such a beautiful anti-internet sermon on the internet)

As always, Dr Charlton, thanks for this forum (your comment section) and thank you for your thoughtful posts (that is, thank you for what this website would be even if it did not have a comment section), it has been very helpful to me as I try to understand this world, and as I try to help others at least a little to understand this world, and please don't think you are obliged to clarify what you say, you try hard to say the truth, and that is appreciated by more people than you might think