• Overcoming key barriers to healing addiction
    Overcoming key barriers to healing addiction
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    Earlier today, I walked two separate clients through the exact same material: An understanding of 8 key barriers to escaping from addiction and how those barriers actually represent a very clear roadmap out of addiction and into healing.

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  • Five key choices people make that result in addiction
    Five key choices people make that result in addiction
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    Really, no one wakes up one day and consciously chooses addiction. People do, however, make five key choices that, together, do amount to a choice of addiction. Or, perhaps another way of saying it is that the combined impact of those incredibly damaging choices makes addiction seem to be inescapable and seem to be something you are powerless over.

    Let’s look at those damaging choices:

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  • Make change happen.
    Make change happen.
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    During graduate school, one of the comments I most frequently heard from different professors was the line, “Change is a mystery.” At the time, it seemed so philosophical and wise. In retrospect, it just sounds like complete nonsense generally uttered by those who now appear to have fled the real world for the safety of teaching.

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  • Are you finally done with antidepressants?
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    Science Daily

    Ending Antidepressant dependancy with mindfullness meditation

    The study aimed to establish whether MBCT is superior to maintenance antidepressant treatment in terms of preventing relapse of depression. Although the findings show that MBCT isn’t any more effective than maintenance antidepressant treatment in preventing relapse of depression, the results, combined with those of previous trials, suggest that MCBT may offer similar protection against depressive relapse or recurrence for people who have experienced multiple episodes of depression, with no significant difference in cost.

    Over 2 years, relapse rates in both groups were similar (44% in the MBCT group vs 47% in the maintenance antidepressant medication group). Although five adverse events were reported, including two deaths, across both groups, they were not judged to be attributable to the interventions or the trial.

    According to study co-author Professor Sarah Byford, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, UK, “As a group intervention, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was relatively low cost compared to therapies provided on an individual basis and, in terms of the cost of all health and social care services used by participants during the study, we found no significant difference between the two treatments.”

    According to Professor Kuyken, “Whilst this study doesn’t show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works any better than maintenance antidepressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse in depression, we believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.”

    In so many ways, the above linked is not news — psychology has known for years that drugs are not the only or necessarily even the best treatment for depression. It’s no surprise that yet another study has found that therapy is as good or even slightly better then the drug route.

    But, in another way, this is most news worthy.

    Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a grand sounding name for something that is both incredibly simple and drastically limited when considered against all of the other tools we have for non-drug related treatment of depression.

    MBCT is simply teaching a person to be aware/accepting of thoughts and feelings, to remain detached from them and not react to them — perhaps choosing to change a reaction into a reflection.

    Yes, that’s it…

    It doesn’t involve skills at processing pain, addressing emotions, learning about the self, finding general health, coping with trauma, addressing stories from a family of origin, dealing with triggers, coping with lies about God or even getting basic needs met in relationship. (Or about 20 more areas needing to be addressed in the treatment of depression…)

    And, that one, simple, incredibly limited technique still worked as good or possibly even slightly better then drugs.

    It’s almost redundant to even say it but, yes, therapy is a remarkably effective cure for depression!!!

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  • Inside the mind of a terrorist.
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    In some four decades of work as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist with deeply destructive, violent clients, I have observed that fanatical acts are usually perpetrated by people who believe that at their core they are unworthy and evil. Aspects of themselves that they have regarded as virtuous are split off from their own personalities and projected onto a leader and a strident religious cause. The self-denigrating fanatic, devoid of any constructive sense of self other than his identi�cation with an omniscient and omnipotent leader, experiences his totally worthless self as having to be disregarded or sacri�ced, so that the “good� self— now identi�ed with the leader and the cause—can survive and reign as Absolute Truth, the ful�llment of God’s commandments. In paradise, he is told, his self-sacri�ce will be abundantly rewarded.

    By means of tactics such “loading the language,� asserts Robert Lifton, the cult leader and his lieutenants begin to exclude or blind the critical faculties of the left hemisphere. Speaking in metaphors and cliches that appeal to the typically unsophisticated, underdeveloped right hemisphere of most individuals, these cult leaders gradually take over the thought processes of their flock.

    Some cult leaders have relied on techniques such as psychedelic and mood-altering drugs, nutritionally de�cient diets, sleep derivation, and the monotonous repetition of religious rhetoric or slogans to control their followers in mind, body, and spirit. Taken together, these practices induce a state of psychological confusion and thus dependency on the leader and his doctrines. The follower is caught up in seemingly contradictory worlds of both overstimulation (the seemingly unending repetition of ritual and dogma) and understimulation (such as intellectual and physical deprivation).

    When a religious movement becomes a social cause, it is often because mainstream religious groups and other segments of the social order have failed to meet the sociopolitical as well as spiritual needs of a segment of the population. When this occurs, the appearance of an inspired and inspiring charismatic leader is required. Otherwise, the nascent movement comes to a halt or expires.

    Fanatical violence is an attempt to seek social justice (this is an explanation, not a justi�cation), but crucial to the enactment of his violence is the condoning of the destructive person’s deadly actions by his fanatic leader and his group.

    It is doubtful if anyone commits murder without some belief—perhaps only momentary—that it is justi�ed. The violent fanatic’s sense of entitlement in violating society’s deep taboos against murder is buttressed by his leader’s and his group’s interpretation of the social contract.

    On a deeper level, a fanatically violent person is deeply frightened, experiencing himself as in danger. Like the child that each of us once was, he still demands automatic justice, a spontaneous assuagement of all his painful feelings of mistreatment. His desperate reasoning holds that those denied their humanity by the social order can only be healed of their shame and self-contempt by the exercise of force. His own inner-loathing is speaking.

    There is no more unbearable virulence visited on any of us than unremitting, unrelieved self-contempt that brooks no examination. To survive this contempt, the individual must somehow cast it off. He soon discovers that regarding others as sinners and vermin temporarily relieves his self-loathing, and he gradually learns to convert his unexamined and unchallenged self-contempt into contempt for the world outside his band of true believers. This is the long, dismal history of fanaticism.

    Terrorists are collectors of injustice. They are extremely sensitive to slights and humiliations inflicted on themselves or on members of social groups to which they belong or with which they identify themselves. As one observer remarks: “The terrorist seems to be hypersensitive to the sufferings and injustices of the world at large, but totally insensitive to immediate, palpable suffering directly around him, especially if he has produced it himself.� This may be due to the terrorist’s propensity to dehumanize his victims by regarding them as objects or impersonal concepts. Indeed, the dehumanization of the enemy is a critical component within the belief system of terrorists in general.

    In the end, however, the threat we face is not from a weapon but from a cluster of beliefs, motivations, and cultural forces that have molded a human mind.

    The terrorist perceives himself part of an elite engaged in a heroic struggle to right the injustices of a cruel world. “The struggle in which they are engaged is an obligation, a duty, not a voluntary choice, because they are the enlightened in a mass of unenlightened,�says Cindy Combs in Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Going beyond these characteristics, some observers have speculated that many terrorists may be stress seekers with a need to interrupt the monotony of their daily lives by the pursuit of adventure and excitement.

    Rushworth M. Kidder, a prominent researcher on terrorism, has identi�ed seven characteristics observed in interviewing well-known terrorists around the world:

    – oversimpliď¬?cation of issues

    – frustration about an inability to change society

    – a sense of self-righteousness

    – a utopian belief in the world

    – a feeling of social isolation

    – a need to assert his own existence

    – a cold-blooded willingness to kill.

    according to Abdul Aziz Rantisi, cofounder and political leader of the terrorist group Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, instead of using the term “suicide bomber,� we should speak of a “self chosen martyr.� Certainly, the writings found in the luggage of Mohamed Atta, one of the key organizers of the suicidal terrorists who carried out and died in the September 11 attacks, contain several references to martyrdom, sacrifice, and serving as a witness.

    Since no compromise, no coexistence, between these two world views is possible, the resort to violence, including its most extreme forms, comes to seem perfectly acceptable.

    This religious justi�cation for acts of violence stems from a literal interpretation of a passage in the Koran that promises the most coveted spots in Paradise to those martyrs who die in the course of a jihad (in this context, meaning a holy war, carried out in the interest of religion or partisan identity). So powerful are these distortions of istishad and jihad to the highly suggestible, that they become the justi�cation for the killing of innocent civilians, even children.

    The above is a compilation of quotes from a much larger document (Above linked) which is itself a collection of essays from a variety of different authors. It’s an attempt to compile a summary of what these thinkers have come to understand about the roots of terrorist acts.

    It’s a disturbing but worth while read…

    The above is written about terrorism — but what’s most disturbing about it is how easily we could substitute another theme into the same text for our tactics differ so little from it…

    Our North American militaries use chants, pain and deprivation to mold soldiers. (Barely a day goes by without another report of injustice from the similarly trained police services of our worlds.)

    Our fundamentalist churches oversimplify nearly everything, convince people they are evil, subsequently confer upon their most zealous members a covering sense of self-righteousness, socially isolate them and create a frustration about an inability to change society mixed with a utopian belief in how the world would be if it ran by their rules. They fan the flames of injustice, swamp minds with fear and create alternative group identities based on shame and disinformation.

    Our media’s talking heads constantly beat the drums of war and violence and repeatedly justify even us actually torturing others while setting up our leaders as heroes to worship.

    Because, hey, we’re justified in OUR fight against injustice — right?

    Maybe the terrorist acts we are seeing are really the breaking edge of a wave? Maybe they are just the result of an increasingly radicalized world, coalescing around varied but equally increasing themes of injustice that has seized onto whatever ideology happens to be available to justify their violence and allow them to fight back?

    Maybe there is a greater, world wide problem of growing injustice that our financial markets, our predatory foreign policy, our shameless exploitation of those with no voice and our callous disregard for human life has created?

    Our solution, of course, is to meet their violence with a nearly identical violence and culture of such — instead of asking why the world isn’t getting to be a better place to be and what we have to answer for in such.

    This guy closes it best:

    Centuries after they lived, such enlightened paradigmatic �gures as Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Socrates still profoundly influence the lives of others in positive ways. Many other charismatic leaders, however, have been enraged, deluded men and women who have wreaked havoc in the lives of their followers.

    each of the ancient prophets that I named earlier presented himself as an ordinary man patiently demonstrating by personal example how to live the examined life. They also created a climate in which their disciples could question and reach their own conclusions about how to live. For example, while Jesus believed in the paramount value of life in the hereafter, he apparently did not minimize the importance of the present world nor ask his followers to sacri�ce their mortal existence.

    Above all, the true prophets did not teach their disciples to hate or flee those who opposed them; they all proclaimed that human love is universal and unlimited. They did not need the dubious validation of collecting followers who would embrace their beliefs; nor did they demand that others die for them. Socrates resolutely chose his own death, and Jesus braved alone fear and doubt on the cross.

    The true prophet, by not presenting himself as omniscient or omnipotent, allows his followers to transform themselves by choosing their own ordeals, not trials that he imposes on them. In short, he asks his followers to courageously examine their lives. Courage, in this sense, means to know our limitations, to accept ourselves as less than perfect, to live to the best of our ability, and to come together with others to heal the wounds of loneliness, shame, and self-hatred. This is the stuff of love and virtue. This is the stuff from which we can build a more compassionate and just world.

    How little that last bit defines any part of our world — including us…

    Any sort of honest assessment of the problem of terrorism has to start with the realization that we have met the enemy — and it looks a whole lot like us.

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  • Perhaps we need to pick our heroes more carefully?
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    Calling all cops and troops heroes insults those who actually are heroic – the soldier who runs into the line of fire to protect his division, the police officer who works tirelessly to find a missing child – by placing them alongside the cops who shoot unarmed teenagers who have their hands in the air, or the soldier who rapes his subordinate.

    It also degrades the collective understanding of heroism to the fantasies of high-budget, cheap-story action movies. The American conception of heroism seems inextricably linked to violence; not yet graduated from third-grade games of cops and robbers. Explosions and smoking guns might make for entertaining television, but they are not necessary, and more and more in modern society, not even helpful in determining what makes a hero.

    A social worker who commits to the care and advocacy of adults with developmental disabilities – helping them find employment, group home placement and medical care, and just treating them with love and kindness – is a hero. A hospice worker in a poor neighborhood, providing precious comfort and consolation to someone dying on the ugly edges of American healthcare, is a hero. An inner-city teacher, working hard to give essential education and meaningful affirmation to children living in neighborhoods where bullets fly and families fall apart, is a hero.

    Not all teachers, hospice workers or social workers are heroes, but emphasizing the heroism of those who do commit to their clients, patients and students with love and service would cause a shift of America’s fundamental values. It would place the spotlight on tender and selfless acts of solidarity and empathy for the poor. Calling all cops heroes too often leads to pathetic deference to authority, even when the results are fatal, and insisting all members of the military are heroes too often reinforces the American values of militarism and exceptionalism.

    The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.� Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists. If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick. If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers.

    Today we stand in honor for those who gave their lives in the defense of freedom. There are many, self included, who had family members who fought in WWII on each side (in my case, half on each side) and who did die — some, honorably — in the cause of, well, something…

    Both sides believed they fought for freedom. One side currently gets to write the history books and be the side who claims title to such — the other gets to be the villain.

    But, today we stand those who fought for freedom… Or, do we just stand with military people now — because military = good???

    It’s really been 70 years since we had a war even remotely about freedom. Sadly, it definitely hasn’t been 70 years since we got into a war. (It seems nearly every politician who reaches the top of their respective political system also seems to have an urge to order something militaristic.)

    Right now, Canada is involved in a war — a war that very well could also send some of our soldiers home in a box. Because, well, just because…

    But, what is it a war about? Should those who fight in this sort of dubious excursion even remotely be classed under the fight for freedom? And, who or what are we celebrating anyway?

    Remembrance day was never intended as a celebration of misadventures of a military nature or a theater to elevate the unfortunate necessity for it or the practitioners of such. It was based on the understanding that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. It was a day of sober second thought about the wisdom of war and the policies that led to such. It was about the horrendous inhumanity we are capable of and a call for the building of a very different world.

    We were supposed to be celebrating the end of war — because we had committed to building a different world based on human rights and freedoms instead of violence and control. Not celebrating war and deaths in such.

    Why? Because a world that starts with fundamental rights, freedoms, equality, dignity and a political system that seeks to offer such to other political systems will see so many fewer soldiers coming home in boxes then a world that longs to see, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,� be the order of the day.

    Today it’s politically correct to say we stand and honor fallen heroes. It’s not politically correct to talk about how England goaded World War One into being or how impossible punishments for Germany created World War Two. It’s not politically correct to talk about our role in that inhumanity or to speak of honor that the soldiers of the loosing side deserve. It’s even less accepted to talk about how few of the modern deaths we honor were for anything but some leader’s ego…

    Really, there’s no such thing as honor in war to remember.

    True, military protection may never become unnecessary and the persons who undertake such do not deserve condemnation — if it is actually protection they are offering. But, the role models we need are hardly more, “Heroes,” bearing guns.

    And, what we really need to remember today is that the VERY last thing we need are leaders continually beating the drums of war and acting like there is even the tiniest shred of honor inherent in such.

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  • Are you trying to be different?
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    Consider assertiveness, as a random example. People who are very assertive were simply born that way. They were the little 2nd graders bartering for extra candy from the teacher while you looked on, probably rolling your eyes.

    Sure, they reap the benefits of being assertive. However, is it really self-improvement when we try to mold ourselves into those we view as “successful?� If a timid person coerces herself to be assertive, does she really reap any benefit? Probably not. On the contrary, she might set herself back, stress herself out, or worst of all, lose sight of what she’s good at. In cases like this, we’re trying to be a different person while calling it self-improvement.

    On the other hand, real self-improvement would be to look at the people who have what you lack, and try to learn a bit from them. That helps us become well-rounded. It’s a slight nuance from the previous scenario, but it makes a huge difference. In the first scenario, we are not respecting who we already are.

    The simple fact is that all innate traits have benefits, even if you don’t see yours as valuable. The most valuable traits are not always the ones that get the most attention in society, but who cares? Mainstream society is typically behind in the learning curve anyway. If you aren’t reaping the benefits of your strongest traits, then you aren’t quite honoring who you are. If you neglect your strengths, other people won’t recognize or benefit from them either.

    Carl Rogers, a long dead great grandfather of psychology, held that if people were treated with unconditional positive regard, their automatic response would be to come to enough of a state of rest, look at themselves, abandon futile self protection and finally start living the lives they were supposed to have had before they became so intimately acquainted with shame, fear guilt etc…

    People now expect the above from a therapist – but, from themselves, they still lean towards the motivational ‘power’ of tearing pieces out of themselves.

    Apparently, it’s called, “Self help…”

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  • The power of small.
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    I’ve spent two years meeting with a class of people I call “Invisibles� — highly skilled professionals whose work is critical to whatever enterprise they’re a part of, yet who go largely unnoticed by the public. I wanted to know, in a culture where recognition is so prized that fame is often an end unto itself, what kind of person thrives — both professionally and personally — behind the scenes?

    The zeitgeist today declares that in order to matter, to exist even, you must be seen; yet these people who work without public recognition are some of the most satisfied among us. And in the era of business consultants and marketing gurus extolling the value of the “branded self� and of building a personal “platform,� many of these professionals, often self-effacing and who choose to be seen as members of a team even while in leadership roles, have reached the top of their fields, are well paid, and are even at the helm of multimillion-dollar endeavors.

    How did they achieve this when they weren’t promoting themselves?

    This article is never more true then when applied to the world of Psychology. The guy with the branded image, the huge book, the TV appearances, the massive conferences — yep, he’s the guy with the least to say because he spent all of his time crafting that image instead of thinking, learning and trying out what he learned on himself to see if it works.

    And, frankly, he’s spouting the ideas the rest of us spend way too much time talking other people out of believing…

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  • How fear based control thinks.
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    The Province

    The idea of a tent for cops to stake out the beach didn’t go swimmingly with some of the nudists Monday.

    “Everybody’s been down here for years,� said “Croc,� a local fixture.

    “We see things before they go down.

    “We see the people who are being jerks. We confront them, and they don’t come back.�

    “Having a police tent is a ridiculous, unnecessary idea,� said an angry woman who refers to herself as “Swims With Seals.�

    “I don’t think a police tent has to be installed. Maybe they can just use an umbrella.�

    Grainger said that if any officers act less than professionally at the beach, they will be re-assigned.

    “Did you like the view?� one young woman asked Winpenny flirtatiously, apparently reacting to the sight of a female officer in uniform.

    The smell of marijuana wafted by regularly, but Grainger and Winpenny simply shrugged their shoulders.

    “After decades of patrolling this beach,� Grainger said, “we know we can’t ticket and arrest our way out of this.�

    Control is the strategic application of shame, fear or guilt to extract the compliance of another without paying the relational costs which would cause him or her to meet your needs because of desire to do so.

    It’s the way all systems of force (Governments, police, religious organizations etc.) operate. It’s also a way of thinking that blinds the practitioners to any other means.

    As strange as it is, this beach is a perfect example of the alternative. A bunch of hippies want to lay around naked — and sometimes smoke dope. They take over a beach — and unconsciously develop their own code of conduct which they successfully enforce for decades through nothing more then words.

    The police admit they can not, “Ticket and arrest,” their way to anything different. So, why set up a tent and make their own impotence even more glaringly obvious?

    Because, once shame, fear or guilt based control gets going in a life, a marriage, a society, a system of government, a police system or anywhere, it blinds the practitioners of such to even fully functional alternatives standing before them naked telling them that the alternative works and begging them to go away.

    Because, my way is the ONLY way — and that’s all the justification I need to force you to __________…

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