Thursday, March 30, 2017

Secret Attachments II

In case anyone has actually taken my advice to read

Secret Attachments: Exposing the Roots of Addictions & Compulsions, by Peter Michaelson

and gotten hinked up* real quick (because it might could maybe probably, well, definitely will offend you in some deep down don't want to admit it way), this example from the book is one that anyone other than a compulsive gambler will make his Michaelson's point.

From the chapter Compulsions Galore:
"Consider the compulsive gambler. The gambler is secretly attached to the feeling of losing. His major defense, however, is to rush to the telephone to call in a bet to his bookie to "prove" that he really wants to win. His gambling is out of control to the degree that he is attached to losing. He becomes convinced that his compulsion is due to a lack of willpower, or selfishness, or cruelty to his wife, or being a bad father, or being too lazy to make an honest living. He will not be aware of the real cause of his compulsion - his attachment  to the feeling of losing. Told this, he will usually resist believing it or even considering it."

Think about it. The feeling any gambler gets more than any other is losing. Every gambler Knows the advantage is with the house, no matter what the game. He Knows that if when he gambles, he will have hundreds of losing experiences for every win, no matter what the amounts won or lost are. The house is not the gambler's enemy at all, the house is providing exactly what the gambler is paying to get - the feeling of losing.

Not so? Then why do non-gamblers find gambling so wretchedly dull? What's the point in paying if you keep losing? Non-gamblers want to win money. Gambling addicts want to feel loss.

We had a family reunion down in Tupelo, MS at one of the casinos "on the river." (They've dug big moats that connect to the river and the gambling portion of the building has to be on floats - so it's "on the river." Desperate and ridiculous.) I had never been to a casino before so I gave myself a gambling budget before I went, lest I been drawn into the den of iniquity and be captured by the addiction to gambling. $20. No point in tempting fate, you know.

In any case, I started at the nickel slots, I thought I'd learn to work the machine and see what games were available. $5 in and LOTS of noise and not even a nickel won in return. I think I moved up to some other things besides slots, some kind of group machine where you pick something and a wheel is spun - nothing. I watched some card games, which was much too social for me since I had no clue what the etiquette was or how to play. I searched all over and all I could find was people losing their money. I lost all of my $20, not even five lousy cents won to keep me going!

Looking back now, I can see there is a bit of hypnosis going on at the slots. I get the same repetitive, can't stop feeling when I play Mahjong on the computer. I played it a lot when I was dealing with Maggie constantly, it was just something other than all the everything else. I'd hit the "next game" over and over before I could think about how long I'd been at it, even if it was late and I'd rather sleep. And once you start a game, you can't stop, right?

Compulsion.

Michaelson is writing out of a Freudian model, so you have to make sure you are hearing the word "attachment" in the Freudian definition. The repetition cycle here comes out of the emotional mind, not the rational. We keep doing these things because they bring the comforting familiarity of our emotional childhood, we keep returning to what we've felt as a child, and we do what it takes to keep feeling those feelings. It's not rational, it's irrational. It's not linear thought, it's emotional, gut level thinking.

Michaelson does have a bit of comfort to offer in his model, and I think he may have it right to some extent. He says that if you are aware of what you are really seeking (control, rejection, shame, loss, etc.), then you can learn to observe what you are doing in your actions and thoughts to set yourself up for those gut level emotional results. His premise is that you will start to change as you gain insight, without having to mount a fight against your gut or your mind or your personal history. Just keep letting the light in.

Emotions are powerful things. To the extent that I have to give up the emotional patterns and payoffs that I've been clinging to, I've got to step out, experience, and be satisfied with emotional patterns that I've never known and am not emotionally convinced have sufficient payoff. Oh, I know they do intellectually, but I don't know it emotionally. Opinion versus experience, two entirely different kinds of knowing.

I've spent a lifetime not feeling, not being emotional, being rational and linear. I was praised for being responsible and reasonable, and that only, because manipulative people can talk you into nearly anything. It is the liar's refuge. Now I've got to start, I dunno, doing something with that whole emotional life system down in my gut. The first feeling I get is ewwww and panic, not unlike being told I've got to rout out the drain line in the bathroom and rewire the lights. Rational thinking is the design and decoration of my self-house, emotions are the guts that make it all work effectively and live pleasantly, like plumbing and electrical.

Rebuild.
Gut job.
Apparently, I wasn't kidding.



We're going down to the studs, kids, but the framework is sound. I'll talk about that later.





* hinky - apparently neither auto-correct nor online dictionaries are familiar with this word anymore. Hinky is without at doubt related to the old Scot's meaning of limp or hobble. We use it in the South all the time. It means to catch and fail, the way a gimpy leg fails only part of the time. If you were running a motor and it kept catching on something unpredictably, or if you had a chain on a bike that sometimes jumped the wheel, or if you were trying to work a line of thought but found it kept halting and going sideways into something else - your walk, the motor, the chain, or your mind would have gotten hinky on you. I can see where the term would be used to describe a drug user (hinked up), they definitely get hinky in their behavior or thinking.

1 comment:

Sweetbriar said...

I'll spare you the dreams and translations, but my part in all my heretofore attachments is being vomited up in nightmares not unlike something written by the Brontë sisters, (Thank you, BBC.) With a dash of Twilight Zone. Respective theme songs are Silver Blue, by Linda Rondstat, and Karma Chameleon, by Boy George.

I saw some blurb on FB that said the more you dream, the higher your IQ. The hell, you say. I'm going to church this morning. I need an exorcism.