Robins was my counselor in rehab. I got to know him well after the many attempts. He was a cross-eyed crack head set on using his past to help people stay clean and sober. His groups were comical but laced with serious life or death implications. He became a mentor to me over the years. He’d always say, “We have a mind that is trying to kill us.” I never really knew what he meant, until I dug deeper.
On the scientific side…
In active addicts, it confuses drugs for an object of survival when the pleasure threshold is raised (by the drug). The midbrain sees the drug as the only thing capable of bringing pleasure and lowering stress—a person becomes possessed by its demands to self destruct at the high price of quick feel goods—the midbrain tries to kill the active addict. (See here for a report I wrote on Dr. Kevin McCauley’s presentation).
On the abstract, spiritual side…
A non-local parasite of the psyche that latches on to blind spots of the unaware and causes them to act out of cognitive dissonance—causes them to self destruct. It tries to kill the unaware (but slowly, because a quick kill would only mean it would kill off its food supply).
The hungry ghost:
In Buddhism, this is a big bellied, thin necked demon like figure who has an endless appetite for all things unsavory, never able to feel satisfied. This leads to destructive behavior. And, if unaware of it for too long, embodying the hungry ghost can lead to death.
The predator (of human awareness):
From Carlos Castaneda’s books, the predator gave us its mind, a foreign installation (an ego suit?), and it gave us fear because it feeds on fear. Fear is not in line with the voice of the heart and can lead to destructive behavior.
Something all of these sources have in common is this: the predator/adversary makes its host think that their destructive behaviors are good for them. (Remember, in active addicts, the midbrain truly believes the drug equals survival).
The bad wolf:
In what is known on the internet as a Cherokee story, we have the bad wolf within us (as opposed to the good wolf). It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. Feeding these negative expressions isn’t the way to longevity—feeding these things will kill us, if not physically, then spiritually.
How to stop the murdering mind?
Being aware of it is the first step to rendering it ineffectual.
I don’t subscribe to one particular belief, but instead I try to create a link between them all.
With awareness and a well rounded view (scientific facts paralleled with various spiritual views as reference points), we have a better chance of standing on balanced ground in the face of our adversary…we have a better chance of turning our adversary into fuel for growth—of turning the murdering mind into something that inspires, and, dare I say it, gives life.
But there is more action…
Being able to distinguish the cunning voice from the quiet voice within is a valuable tool to have. Dean, my counselor in rehab, always said “You don’t have to believe everything you think.” He was right. We don’t need to bend to every thought that arises between our ears, because we aren’t our thoughts.
From my experience though, stalking the inner voices always proved futile until I conceded to addiction being a disease…a disease that I had. Without conceding to this, I was giving the murdering mind a whole stadium in which is could kick me around in.
What are your thoughts? Have you had any experiences with recognizing these voices within? What tools do you have for quelling the chaos? Or, if you have no chaos within, how did you achieve the commonly sought after peace of mind? Do you think an active addict has a mind that is trying to kill him or her?
Jacob O’Cain is a recovering drug addict and teaches ESL to kids in China. He’s the author of The Addict with a Thousand Faces (not yet published) and believes we are all on the hero’s journey. He is actively looking to connect with people in the recovery community. Send him a message on Instagram @jacob_ocain or contact him through www.jacobocain.com.