Where's the Problem?
A look at a specific choice of words both in the profession and beyond, that promotes a trend many counselors may need to question. Are people 'addicted', are substances or other items 'addictive' or are some people, for whatever reason, more prone to becoming 'dependent'. Are things evil, or are people vulnerable? Should items be banned, or should people be viewed as responsible for their behaviors? Further, do these people have 'diseases' or poor coping skills? Are they helpless victims of medical / physical ailments or have they learned behaviors that short-term are successful yet in the long term they are disruptive to their well being?
The Serenity New Testament, available at Amazon.com, lists about 20 things that are addictive. The list was published before other things have come onto the market. Since the list was published, "Internet Addictive Disorder" has surfaced in our field. Working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I get tempted to add a few as a result of my own experiences with clients:
"Pity-me Disorder": This is actually a family of disorders which manifests themselves as an attempt to cope and manage stress by retreating into a woe-is-me frame of reference. Often found in clients that have been over-protected while being raised. They have learned from experience that this works for them. A plethora of reasons to pity can be listed, and often are. Whichever one has worked in the past is most likely the one they are 'addicted' to and eager to use again. Whenever I try to help them accept a higher level of responsibility, they almost instantly fall back into it. When I don't accept or endorse it, they seem to show signs of classic withdrawal. Two more specific examples of disorders that would fall in this family are listed below.
"I-can't-do-that,-I'm-Blind Disorder": Closely related to the Pity-me Disorder discussed earlier, but this one focuses directly on the blindness issue. Because I am (comparatively) sighted, and work with blind clients, I tend to find this disorder more frequently.
"If-only-God-would-provide-a-godly-man-for-me-my-life-would-be-wonderful Disorder": In this particular case, a devoutly religious woman (in her mind she was not only devoutly religious, but always doing better than God) refused to let go of this mindset. Silly me, I should get with the program, understand that God is failing her, and stop trying to find fault with her. After all, if she's waiting for God to provide on His promises, who am I to question her? Let us remember, that this disorder is not limited to women, because men are capable of being addicted to the provision of a godly women to solve their life's problems.
"Soap Opera Disorder": I have several friends, who when they go on vacation, make arrangements for the taping or timely viewing of their favorite soap operas. When I suggest that they take a 'total' vacation, meaning that they even leave their soap operas behind ... our friendship seems to be at stake. I get a response similar to the response when asking someone if their drinking is the cause of their drunk-driving conviction and loss of driver's license. I should be careful with this one, because my children would love it if I taped the Pokemon series on TV, and if anyone knew that I secretly want to tape every Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager episode. Don't tell anyone, okay!
I seriously believe that more such 'Disorders' could be listed. I confess that my behavior is certainly more humane after that morning cup of coffee, and have witnesses at work to attest to that fact.
If these items are evil, then we are right to try to ban them. However, as shown elsewhere on this website no items can be evil, only people are capable of being evil. Our beliefs would be supported or challenged based on the results of such a banning. Look at the attempts at gun control. Logically, if guns are the culprits, then the banning of the guns would end the problem. However, the statistics show that the cities with the tightest gun control laws are the cities with the highest violent crime rates. Yes they do. America's murder capital is either Washington D.C. or Richmond, Virginia. They both have EXTREMELY tough gun control laws. Why? I believe it is because bullies will always go after helpless people to turn them into victims. Why should I go rob a store in a city or state that allows concealed carry permits, if I can go to a city or state that makes it illegal for someone to prepare themselves against violent crime by arming themselves? What if we did ban the internet because of Internet Addiction Disorder? Or made gambling illegal because of Gambling Addiction? Or took my thoughts above and banned soap operas? Or Pokemon or Star Trek? Were is the end of it?
Instead, I propose a review of our own literature, and some in-depth analysis of what are we telling ourselves and our community and our churches:
Are people dependent or are things addictive? Are people helpless medical / physical victims or poorly trained / raised members of our society? Surely, to claim that all people classified as 'addicted', are merely poorly trained members of our society is going as far overboard as the current victim mentality is also too readily accepted. Yet, many of these dependent people are merely addicts, and will go from one addiction to another if you deprive them of their current 'drug-of-choice'. By the way, the phrase 'drug-of-choice' is very well known by the 12-step community. It don't matter what your crutch is, you are still addicted to it! And too often, if someone takes the crutch away, it is replaced with another!
At a child-adolescent psychiatric center where I did part of my internship, I saw children medicated and incarcerated to settle them. Meeting with my supervisor after family therapy sessions I was told, "Remember, the child is the client, so don't document family problems in the notes. The child is the problem." This came to me from a Christian counselor as practical advise which fit the business. I had difficulty with it, because it was clear to both of us that the child's behavior was a symptom of the bigger problems at home. So I had to swallow what I saw and was taught, so that payments could be made. We have children acting out in an attempt to get attention from their self-centered parents, and we DRUG them for it. (Visit www.drugawareness.org to learn more about this travesty!)
I am not capable of helping people with medical/physical problems, I am not in the medical field. Those I refer there wholeheartedly. But, if this is not a medical problem, but one of perception, I can help on the psychological / social / mental / spiritual / emotional challenges.
By the way, for those people that have a sense of humor, and have vision problems, I ask them to not use the term 'sighted' for people with vision. I ask them to use the term 'sight-dependent'. I believe you can see why!
Addendum: Why did God design us in such a way that we can easily become "dependent" on things? Wrong question, the better question is to ask, "Since we are so easily dependant, on what SHOULD we be dependant?"
That's easy: God. He wants us to be dependent on Him.
That way we do nothing without Him, through our weaknesses He is shown strong, We rely upon "Abba, Father" and live in faith focused on Him. He doesn't want us to get rid of our "dependent" personalities, nor does He want us to transfer our "drug-of-choice" from one thing to another. He wants to be our "Drug-of-choice". The "high" felt in an addiction is only a taste, gotten in a twisted manner, of what God has is store for us.
His 'high's' won't be so short-term, nor will we be incapacitated during them. We'll still be aware of our surroundings, and still be functioning. We'll just be very, very satisfied with Him!