Thursday, December 07, 2006

To be an addict or not!

Went out yesterday for the end of year party which, since we are actually such a small company, is quite a low key affair. On top of that, most of the personalities are not exactly what one would call extroverted, mine included.

The whole company, all fourteen of us less two absentees, went to Montecasino for breakfast and thereafter to the bird show which was quite amazing and about which I will post in a couple of days time. While we were having breakfast we were looking over the fake stream, past the fake trees into the, anything but fake, casino and the conversation got going about how gamblers are addicts in the same way as smokers are. They just can't stop themselves. In light of "The God Delusion" which explains religion as a sort of a disease I started thinking along the lines that religion may more closely resemble an addiction than a disease and would explain quite nicely why people can't give it up and will sacrifice everything for it including their families and on occasion, themselves.

For purposes of this discussion, an addiction is anything that one just can't give up and includes some commonly acknowledged addictions as well as some which are not and it is definitely debatable as to whether they really are addictions at all.

By connotation, addictions are generally deemed to be 'bad' but since we, as people, seem to suffer from an awful lot of them, is it possible that some are actually good even if they are addictions? Furthermore some behaviour, in moderation, is typically deemed to be good and beneficial whereas the same behaviour in excess is typically deemed to be bad.

So far my list of possibly addictive endeavours, and yes, the definition of addiction is purposefully vague, are:

Substance Addictions : Where the body is addicted to something which is ingested into ones' body.
Sugar (just you try and give it up!)

Activity Addictions : Where the addict performs some kind of physical endeavour which results in the body itself producing chemicals to which the body becomes addicted.
Extreme Sports (Adrenalin)

Mind Addictions : Where the addicts' mind indulges in thought patterns, once again producing chemicals to which the body becomes addicted.

I doubt anyone would argue too hard on the Substance and Activity Addictions not being addictions but the Mind Addictions needs some explaining. Basically what I am trying to do is look at illogical behaviour that results from some kind of mind set and posing the question, is this actually an addiction that determines the behaviour so here goes.
Love - Ever done anything really stupid or embarassing because you were 'in love'? What is this feeling of 'in love', could it be a bunch of chemicals which your body likes and the thought of the object of your desire generates these chemicals, hence Love.
Porn - I don't think I need to explain or provide examples, pretty self evident.
Religion - People have excommunicated parents, children or siblings for not believing the same way. They have even sacrificed themselves for what they believe in. Could this be because religion provides the addict with some kind of assurance of acceptance by a god and the mere thought of this creates an addiction? People who challenge this assurance by not believing the same way need to be excommunicated just in case they influence the addict and he/she loses the assurance of acceptance.
Altruism - Same as Religion except that the acceptance is by the addict themselves.
Nationalism - What posseses a soldier to jump out of a trench and run straight at the enemy who is trying to shoot him. Death is near certain and yet people do. Could this be the same desire for acceptance but this time by the Nation? The 'For king and country' saying comes to mind.


Tip for the mercenary capitalists out there, create products for people with addictions, it is a guaranteed market, the consumers just can't help themselves.


Anonymous said...

I'm not going to comment on anything other than the glaringly obvious omission of coffee from the list of "Examples" of addictive substances... Just you two try and give it up!

Roland Elferink said...

Quite! Actually I do give it up ... between cups.