Brain on Chemicals

Fortunately, our brain has a blood-brain-barrier (BBB) that is 95% successful in protecting it from foreign substances. Unfortunately, the BBB is easily crossed by alcohol and drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin. Crossing the blood-brain-barrier allows for activation of the brain’s Limbic system’s pleasure center. The consumption of drugs and alcohol is about getting high (pleasure), and to avoid the dissatisfaction of one’s life. Chemicals are about dopamine; a neurotransmitter that gives pleasure. Dopamine is Nature’s brain pharmacy that motivates behavior (a good thing). The trouble comes with addiction. Those who use chemicals chase a constant overstimulation of the pleasure center (a bad thing). The chase is for the euphoric effects of dopamine release. Dopamine is a natural award being introduced artificially. Artificial chemical stimulation is the opposite of natural stimulation and interferes with a natural neurochemical balance. Drugs and alcohol inadvertently distort this natural system by releasing 2-10 times the dopamine if rewarded naturally. Ultra-euphoric brain stimulation has the inebriated person come back for more and more of dopamine release. This is addiction (psychological). Chemical addiction is a fatal pathological psychological attraction to drugs and alcohol of “chasing the dragon.” It has an overpowering and depowering effect where the addict can lose the freedom to make choices. There is a genetic predisposition (seed) of chemical use for some people. This inherited predilection is brought to life in the environment (soil) the addict is raised in. (Research based on genome meta-analysis has discovered a variant of the beta-klotho gene that suppresses the desire to drink. It will be interesting to see if additional research on this gene can be applied to those genetically prone towards alcohol). Addiction is about substance abuse. The only way to control the addiction is to eschew, abstain from, and remove the substance that is being abused (much easier said than done). 

Addicts

Addicts live a disorganized, fear-based, and tenebrous life that is on the edge and in the process there is ancillary damage of a busted-broken body that burns out quickly. Addicts are uncontrolled and uncontrollable. There are ingenious “patients” going to poly-pharmacies, to get poly-meds, prescribed by poly-docs. We live in a high-flying, thrill-seeking, and pill-popping culture. In our mindless-endless addictive society people use chemicals for artificial stimulation to cope with ennui, hopelessness, dissatisfaction, unmet needs and as a way to reach altered states of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness may give the illusion of managing life; even if it be through booze, tranquilizers, and illicit drugs. Altered states of consciousness = altered states of reality. Sadly, addictive chemicals in their own dysfunctional way may actually keep some individuals from additional self-devolution. It was Julien Offray de LaMettrie (1748) who recommended drugs for some; for drugs at least can give the appearance of happiness (be it only illusive and temporarily). Tolle maintained that, “if it weren’t for alcohol, tranquilizers, anti-depressants and illegal drugs, which are consumed in vast quantities, insanity would be more glaring. If deprived of drugs, a large part of the population would become a danger to self or others.” (1999) Certainly a sorrowful commentary on the state of an addict’s life and a culture and society where such a lifestyle can exist.

Chemical Addiction

In this section I detail chemically addictive behaviors and the whirly, twirly, and nightmarish  strangeland existence of being captive to an external substance. A major zeitgeist of our time is relying on chemicals to cope with life. Self and cultural-devolution is happening right before our eyes. We have a mindless chemically addictive society. Addictive behaviors are colossal mindless and endless behaviors (act without thinking) to chemical constant temptation. It is an endless quagmire of corybantic behaviors of chasing the next high due to a subjugation to an external substance. Addiction is a chronic condition of psychological and biological cravings. It is an artificial lifestyle that is serial, unreal, robotic, and meandering. It is an er satz reality of going down the rabbit hole that cannabilizes one’s future. It is a peripatetic mushraking journey of the distraction of chasing chemical wants instead of innate needs. If an addict tells me their dreams, I can tell him/her the depths of their meandering (their addiction).

Addictive Behaviors

Unhealthy addictive behaviors are the consequences of a raucous, boisterous, disorderly, and directionless worldview and philosophical path of living. A worldview built on a proverbial house-of-cards will not endure. Addicts haphazardly roll-the-dice and figuratively and in fact run many red lights. They honor few stop-signs or stop-lines. Addicts are uncorralled risk-takers who go through life with slash-and-burn, and hit-and-run behaviors that reverberate throughout their journey and cause an exacerbation and proliferation of trouble in other areas in life. Trouble follows trouble. I am reminded of the lines from Macbeth that read, “double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble” (Act IV, Scene 1). The great thing about great literature for me is the allowance it makes for different interpretations depending on a person’s emotional and psychological maturity. I interpret this double entendre incantation from the witches as a doubling down and a foreshadowing of once trouble starts it is often the beginning of additional toil coming from karmic calamitous happenings. Addicts find their way into trouble; they just can’t find their way out. Addictive behaviors are the trouble coming from our demons through the perversity of obsessive and compulsive subservience to whatever addiction we are shackled to. In one way or another we all have our demons to fight. The dysfunctional behaviors emanating from our demons will continue until: 1.) arrested development from Limbic Brain trauma (rooted hurt) is addressed by confirming (it did take place), and confronting (challenging it). If not addressed this hurt can last a lifetime and metastasize to other areas of life, and 2.) unmet needs are being experienced and satisfied, and thus the lowering of symptoms starts to take place. I consider all addictions as impediments that stand in the way of meeting our inborn needs.

Addictive Society

Addictive behaviors of all kinds including alcohol, drugs, and a wide range of behaviors are also ways to check-out. For Carl Jung, “every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” (1960) Addictive behaviors of all kinds are erratic, impetuous, fractious ways to cope with life. Vitriolic high-risk addictive behaviors inadvertently and frequently make for our own predicaments. In devolutionary times we often discover unhealthy counterproductive ways to cope that run the risk of becoming chronic. At some point in time a person decides to take the entry on-ramp and chooses their addiction <—> ultimately it will have to be their choice to exit the off-ramp. That is, at some point in time a person signs-in to their addiction and only they can sign-out. I view addictive behaviors as selfish, self-centered, and obsessive-compulsive. They take the form of persistent and unceasing behaviors like gathering stuff,  hoarding, dogmatic religion, sex, gambling, endless work (workaholic),  and even social pathology (crime or domestic violence). There are unhealthy addictive eating behaviors like obesity, anorexia, bulimia, and toxic chew & spit. The eating disorders of obesity (gluttony) and anorexia (starvation) are at different ends of a continuum. Obesity (to eat away), and anorexia (without appetite) often transition into each other. Addictive behaviors originate from the sources of insecurity, low self-esteem, loneliness, selfishness, and solipsism.

Hopelessness

Hopelessness is the most potentiating factor for suicide to become a fait accompli. Suicidal checking-out and cashing-out is a saturation of life’s demands, a capitulation to life, and denotes a life that is ill-suited to meet needs. Humans require at least a modicum of hope to go on. A hopeless life is a tormented and troubled life that is extremely out of balance and is un/ill-healthy. A person is most vulnerable to suicide during self-devolutionary meltdown times of hopelessness. Most people don’t want to die! They just want to end the pain. To suicide is the answer to the existential question, “Is life worthwhile?” For Albert Camus, “killing yourself amounts to confessing. It is confessing that life is too much for you or that you do not understand it  . . . . . there is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental  question of philosophy.” (1955) I ask, “Is it ever appropriate to end life’s journey <–> to shorten one’s story?” If so, what makes it appropriate? Is suicide an act of violence against the Self? I wonder where suicide fits into Albert Schweitzer’s “reverence for life.” It is a sad commentary and catastrophic situation for a person to make their life expendable by ending it through suicide.  In an ideal world no life would be thrown away.

Suicidal Check-Out

Suicidal Check-Out is a terminal act of checking-out. I agree with eminent sociologist Emile Durkheims use of the term “egoistic suicide.” The term is in reference to a person’s ego becoming de-individualized, disenchanted, and estranged from society. Social isolation is a lack of interpersonal and social connections. The Belonging-Need is not being met. Durkheim felt psychosocial isolation is the main factor that causes people to end their life. Isolation correlates with ennui (purposelessness, emptiness, and boredom), meaninglessness, and hopelessness. Isolation can lead to self-injurious behaviors and suicidality. Lewis Presnall felt “it is true that life is never without hope, but the fact remains that in real life some situations are more hopeless than others.”(1959) It appears some lives have become so irremediably messed up and beyond repair because the hole has been dug so deep that it is impossible to dig out of it. The person has been on a descending embroglio film noir spiral of abject despair, despondency, and hopelessness  from which he/she can find no escape. The person can’t move on in life. The consequences of past actions and poor choices have led to inextirpable pain, inescapable despair, and insurmountable odds. The Rubicon has been crossed and the person has reached the precipice and a PONR (point-of-no-return). Pandora’s Box has opened up and the devolutionary conflagrations and calamities of life (I maintain mostly self-imposed) are so severe, and the damage is so great that the person views suicide as their only option and decides to cash-out of life.

Emotional Check-Out

Emotional Check-Out is a coping mechanism for a chronically dissatisfied life of ennui. An emotional check-out is a Limbic Brain check-out. The individual doesn’t have the ability to accept, express, understand, or adequately label an emotion —> attach an accurate feeling to the emotion. The person doesn’t have the capability to be emotionally honest. The individual keeps the energy of negative emotions inside of the Self. A person who is chronically dissatisfied lives an un/ill-healthy life of neurosis, compounded anxiety, depression, addictions of all kinds, and always low self-evaluation. Until the deeply rooted emotional hurt subsides by confirming and confronting it, the emotional pain will continue. Emotional checking-out involves an effeteness, depletion, and exhaustion that often devolves into learned helplessness. Learned helplessness tragically amounts to having lost the self-confidence to face life. The loss of self-confidence is an impediment for a person of low self-esteem, and keeps him/her on an emotional self-devolutionary path of hopelessness. In a later post, I will discuss the Repression Option as one means of interacting with life —> an emotional shutdown check-out option.

Surreal Check-Out

Surreal check-out is a life of unreality, nondirection, and distortion. Surreal checking-out is a fictive time of reality distortion. As human beings we are already born with a solipsistic reality —> living a reality of self-focus. Dissatisfaction and ennui add to this self-focus and can further distance us from the real world. Surreal living is one of er satz reality (artificial). Artificial reality is illusive living that can easily morph into a norm for/of living. Surreal living can follow a fantasy worldview aimed at cravings, wishes, and unrealistic dreaming because of the inability to satisfy needs in the real world. In surreal living life is on autopilot and automatic drive. In the introduction to Everett Shostrom’s book, Fritz Perls said that “modern man is dead, a puppet  . . . he is deliberate and without emotions – a marionette.” (1968) Erich Fromm felt,”the paradoxical situation with a vast number of people today is that they are ½ asleep when awake, and ½ awake when asleep, or when they want to sleep.” (1956) Deikman also views modern man as ½ asleep, and consumed with unrealized dreams and wishes. (1983) Doesn’t it appear that many of us consciously or unconsciously have surrealistically checked-out of life? In a later post, I will discuss the Pollyannaish Option as one manner some people live their life —> a surreal “feel good” check-out option.

Checking-Out

I earlier stated that a life of dissatisfaction from not meeting needs is a sad life of ennui –—> purposelessness, emptiness, and boredom. I now state that a life of dissatisfaction is a life that lacks meaning, is out of balance, is un/ill-healthy, and can lead to various ways to check-out of life: 1.) Surreal check-out, 2.) Emotional check-out, and 3.) Suicidal check-out.  In the posts to come, I will discuss these 3 forms of checking-out.