LifeRing member Charles D. has written the following review of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. It’s an older book — 1993 — but still very relevant and available as both a paperback and an e-book. Here’s Charles’s review:
In the book Empowering Your Sober Self, Martin Nicholas, one of the founders of LifeRing Secular Recovery writes about a divided self causing addictive behavior. One part of the person is called the addictive self and the other part, the sober self. In his view, an addicted person “chooses” to allow the addicted self to have free reign over one’s life and decision making. The addicted self then chooses people and situations that reinforce its power. The road to recovery is then presented as deciding to let the sober self run the show and doing things and associating with people that will reinforce the strength of the sober self and extinguish the addictive self.
The New York Times’ Nick Kristof has a good new column about the biochemical nature of addiction, based on its influence on dopamine and other brain chemicals. He’s writing about DavidLinden’s new book, “The Compass of Pleasure,” which I am now reading.
Kristof notes that things like altruism and acts of charity, not just chemical addictions or “process” compulsions/addictions, can light up the pleasure centers of our brain, as can things like exercise. (And yes, the research that Linden notes says that “processes,” i.e., gambling, overeating, and extreme sexual behavior, can become addictive in the same way as chemicals.
More on this below the fold:
A LifeRing convenor, K.M. Cusack, has written a book that brings together many themes that will be familiar to those who have been involved with LifeRing meetings. Even the chapter headings will be recognizable from discussions: Barriers to Change, Relentless Self-Honesty, and Commitment, for example. These and other topics are discussed along with revealing insights into Cusack’s own experiences.
The goal of the book is to help the recovering addict to make the choice not to drink or use so deeply ingrained as to become second nature – something that is no longer an active issue. To that end, Cusack covers areas of thought and behavior that may need to be changed during the recovery process. Many of us have learned that we need to change a lot more than just our drinking/using behavior and this little book probes into many of those areas.
The book is an easy read, avoiding deep analysis in favor of accessibility. It can be found at Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/3rhua4c . And you can visit the author’s website at www.secondnaturesobriety.com
Warning: For persons concerned about “triggers,” this book has some specific descriptions of drug use.
Two medical pioneers — including pioneers in the potential medical use of, and actual personal misuse of, cocaine. Howard Markel paints a cautionary tale of addiction that powerfully resonates a century and more later.
Many people know a bit about Sigmund Freud’s history with cocaine, despite later attempts to cover up just how much he used (or abused), how long he used it, and how much it affected his general work habits and his psychological theorizing.
Markel gets behind the story, not just with Freud, but a somewhat older near-contemporary, William Halsted. Halsted, less familiar to many, was essentially the father of modern American surgery, a pioneer in antiseptic and operating techniques in surgery, mainly from his perch of director of surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
When I was a kid, I read a mini-biography of Halsted in a compendium of lives of great doctors, so I had heard about his “sea cruise” attempt to overcome his cocaine addiction. But, the story closed with what Markel notes was long the “official line” about Halsted: that he had no major problems, or problems at all, after that.
How wrong I was, Markel shows.
I had no idea he was “committed” to Butler Hospital, a “sanitarium.” Nor that he was given morphine to “help” with cocaine withdrawal. Nor that he, as a result, apparently became a lifelong morphine addict. Nor that he apparently struggled to some degree with cocaine addiction for the rest of his life.
Markel, an M.D. and Ph.D. with addiction support help background, shows a clinician’s skill in diagnosing how addiction affected Halsted’s life, his work at Johns Hopkins, his relation to surgical interns and patients and more.
The Addiction Solution, by David Kipper, MD (with Steven Whitney)
Rodale Press 2010, 284 pages, $25.99
Reviewed by Patricia Gauss, August 2011
Written by David Kipper, MD, a Beverly Hills doctor who specializes in addiction, The Addiction Solution provides a simple, straightforward account of the brain science underlying addictions. He also proposes that certain individuals are extremely susceptible to addictions, and shows how we get addicted, in part, because of pre-existing chemical imbalances in the brain.