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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Dissociation is part of the way consciousness itself adapts to chronic drug use.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Where does the everyday self go during active cycles addiction? It is not a simple case of amnesia, or sleepwalking. It is more like a wak...
Where does the everyday self go during active cycles addiction? It is not a simple case of amnesia, or sleepwalking. It is more like a waking trance, or autohypnosis, it is a state of dissociation. For us, the three-headed dragon is both a part of us and not a part of us. It is integral to who we are, yet it is estranged from our core selves. When activated, the cycle of addiction lead us away from our genuine natures. Our sense of self becomes impaired through the processes of intoxication, denial, withdrawal, and craving. Our impaired sense of self causes behaviour that is baldly contradictory to our core beliefs and values. We will lie and steal in order to get our drugs.

 Definitions of dissociation, are rather vague,  “the splitting off of certain mental processes from the main body of consciousness, with varying degrees of autonomy resulting.” Recall that in the case of state-dependent memory, if you give a rat a mind-altering drug, and teach him to run a maze, the rat will perform this maze task more efficiently in subsequent runs if it is under the influence of the same drug. How autonomous were you, consciousness-wise, the last time you got drunk and parked your car somewhere you couldn’t remember?

Dissociation is part of the way consciousness itself adapts to chronic drug use.

…the inability to satisfy a physical craving or psychological compulsion will produce all kinds of unusual behaviour, but this is true for natural drives and appetites as well as for created ones. What might one not do to avoid starvation? Such behaviour alone cannot be used as evidence for an addiction. The failure to recognise this point has led to a considerable amount of confusing retrospective research--deducing a personality type after the addiction had developed. But in fact, a dependence on a substance or activity condemned by society as illegal or immoral leads us to act in antisocial ways; and this is the case far more often than that drug addiction results from an antisocial personality type.

 “None of the current treatment methods based upon the positivist scientific paradigm, be it psychodynamics (Freud, et al.) or behavioural (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner)—has demonstrated any particular superiority in the treatment of the ‘addictive disorders,“Many psychoanalysts readily admit the uselessness of that method for treating addicted individuals .”

 “It appears that the most successful means of overcoming serious physical addiction is abstinence—very often supported by participation in one of the twelve-step groups based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model.... The basis of recovery from addiction in these nonprofessional programs is unashamedly spiritual.” An illusion of disaster.

The problem for us, is not so much the matter of quitting, as it is the matter of not starting again. The resolve to quit is often present, but the resolve not to start again can be interfered with in a variety of ways. All addictions, more closely resemble “the whole host of automatisms that we accept as an entirely normal aspect of human behaviour than to some monstrous and inexplicable aberration.” Bicycle riding is a good example of an automatism, because once learned, “…it no longer requires the subjective effort of attention; more importantly, once learned, it cannot be forgotten. It is as though the organism says to itself, ‘Riding this thing could be dangerous! It’s much too important to practice truth trust and consent  will pay close attention to it.’”

So what does the mind do? It creates a new state called bicycle riding:

Number one priority in this state (after breathing and a few other things, of course) will be maintaining balance. In much the same way, the organism recognises that mind- and mood-altering chemicals disturb the equilibrium of functions and are therefore potentially dangerous. In response, it may form a new state in which the ability to function is restored, but in which a new set of priorities exerts an automatic influence. Just as one’s only hope of not riding the bicycle again (if for some reason that is important) is to never again get on one, once a particular addictive state has developed, there is no longer any such things as “one” (drink, hit, fix, roll, etc.). Addicts begin again when they forget this fact (if indeed they have ever learned it) and/or when they become unable to accept the suffering that life brings and choose to escape it without delay. Addictions can be transcended--not eliminated because they do not exist.Its Dissociation that exists, first we have to start to understand our dissociated self

 “The only modern Western psychologies that can aid us in our search to become truly human are, like AA, frankly spiritual or transformational in nature (e.g., those of Gurdjieff, Jung, Frankl).”
 Comparing the addictive state to a form of hypnosis accompanied by posthypnotic amnesia. This automatism, this subsequent amnesia about the drugged “I” on the part of the sober “I,” is highly reminiscent of the consequences produced by state-dependent memory:

A hypnotised subject is instructed to imagine that helium-filled balloons are tied to his wrist; slowly the wrist lifts off the arm of the chair. The subject smiles and says, ‘It’s doing it by itself!’ The ‘I’ that lifts the arm is unrecognised (not remembered) by the ‘I’ that imagines the balloons.... One part denies knowledge of what another part does. A cocaine addict, abstinent for a year, sees a small pile of spilled baking soda on a bathroom counter and experiences an overwhelming desire to use the drug again. Who wishes to get high? Who does not?

Interestingly, this type of amnesia is very similar to that seen in the multiple personality disorder (see Jekyll and Hyde), in which one entire ‘personality’ seems to be unaware of the existence of another. Even more interesting is the fact that confabulation, rationalisation, and outright denial are also prominent features of the addictive disorders.” Dissociation, then, can occur without the intervention of anything as dramatic as hypnosis. The common quality is automaticity, the experience of “us doing it by ourself.”




The Ten Stages is a studied recovery course. It is a source of reconnection a method of unlearning and a reintroduction to our child within which leads us back to our one true intuitive voice.We start to learn and come out of our protective dysfunctional shell and reclaim our lives. www.thetenstages.com

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