It all starts when we punish our kids.
What all starts? Well . . .
Addiction is a strange thing.
I used to say, getting high, getting drunk – that I can understand, but gambling? Spending all your money to feel the high from heroin, or from weed, you’re getting something, at least some relief from all those pesky feelings, and with alcohol . . . well, I think with drink what you get is different. I think what alcohol gives you is a chance to vent, a chance to give voice to your worst feelings with no worry that you might remember doing it.
But gambling? That seemed like only half an addiction to me. You lose all your money and . . . nothing. Talk about cutting out the middleman. That is some pure, un-cut self harm right there.
And that is the clue to what’s really going on with addiction.
The addict tends to think that the very thing that is ruining him is the thing that’s saving him – that’s another clue. The addict sees good in the harm, perhaps it’s possible to say that the addict can’t tell good from bad, but probably more accurate to say that for him, the harm looks like good, or feels like good.
Harm from which good is said to come, or good that is derived from harm?
That is what punishment is supposed to be, that is the theory of punishing, good from harm, harm to create good. And this is where the addict learned it. Where we all learned it, at home, from our caregivers.
When a parent punishes, either hits, spanks, grounds or puts us in time-out, confiscates a desired object or simply withdraws his love in order to hurt us and induce us to avoid that hurt by doing what he wants, this is what is shown: good from harm. Worse, the parent explains it, spells it out: this harm is good for you. For many of us, for so many of us, this lesson is applied for nearly every possible hard lesson we get.
It’s no wonder so many of us think harm is good, at least that harm brings good.
Yep. I struggled with bulimia, self-harm, and binge drinking. This weekend was one of those where the self-harm urge reared it’s ugly head. I fought it this time. It is as if I pick right up where my mom left off.
Well, I think your mom was abusive by anyone’s standards. I just think that all punishment is abusive. It’s like heroin, or some other poison: you can overdose (outright, illegal abuse), but really, there is no amount that is actually good for you. That’s the big secret, the big joke. Society believes a little bit of abuse is good for us, even though everyone has scars and problems, addiction etc., even though as a society we’re screwed up enough to condone wars and even genocides, racism, etc.
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