Overcoming Impulse Through Relaxation and the Prayer

In a previous post, I wrote about our innate double-mindedness and how those two minds are often at war with each other when it comes to addictive attractions. At the time of temptation, the rational mind finds itself hijacked by a hyperactive impulsive system that grabs our inner steering wheel driving us down the road of impulsive behavior. For the impulsive, there are certain triggers that are experienced through anyone of their five senses (or even memories of those sense impressions) that excite them and propel them toward the impulsive behavior. Focusing on those triggers or even … [Read more...]

Impulsivity: Just Say No or Just Say Yes

In the early 1980’s, First Lady Nancy Reagan kicked off a signature campaign against drug use in the United States. She called it the “Just Say No” to drugs.  The phrase was memorable, catchy, and seemed to be the essence of simplicity itself.   After years of failure in the presidential sponsored “war on drugs”, many believed that the First Lady had found something that just might work. Decades later, we know that the “Just Say No” campaign didn’t work.  In fact, some may argue that it had the opposite effect, especially in urban areas like New York City where the crack epidemic was about to … [Read more...]

Impulsivity and Self-control: The Problem of Being of Two Minds

The Apostle James once wrote, “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). That being of two minds, or more literally of two souls (δίψυχος), creates an instability of the will that makes the task of overcoming impulsivity especially challenging. Part of us is utterly persuaded that addictive behavior is bad for us and part of us is completely convinced that it is good for us, and the self is at a loss to explain its actions, for as Saint Paul once put it, “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19). Commenting on this passage, … [Read more...]

Impulsivity, Addiction, and the Passions

It should come as no surprise to those familiar with individuals struggling with addiction that impulsivity is a core issue. In technical terms, there is a certain fundamental correlation between addiction and impulsivity. People who are impulsive are more vulnerable to developing addictive behavior, because they give little regard to adverse consequences (Impulse Control Disorders and Co-Occurring Disorders, Potenza, p. 51) or to be more precise, they prefer immediate reinforcers to delayed ones, instant gratification to long-term satisfaction. Being impulsive means acting without … [Read more...]

Introducing a New Series on Impulsivity

There is something to be said about impulsivity being a particularly contemporary problem. The more control we appear to gain over so many technical aspects of modern life, the less control we seem to have over ourselves. An “I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it” disposition towards life governs not only the actions and reactions of infants, but also the behavior of the developmentally more mature. Today’s marketing campaigns certainly encourage such thinking and modern technology provides ample space for practice in acting on impulse to such a degree that it can become the default mode for … [Read more...]

Suffering and Alcohol Addiction

In the last blog post, I mentioned maladaptive means of coping with alienation from God.  This so-called “second level” of human suffering is integral to any hopeful analysis of suffering, because it’s precisely the level at which we have the responsibility and capability to effect change in our personal situation.   In terms of the suffering that comes as a result of alcohol or drug addiction, the actual use of alcohol or mind-altering substance is the symptom of a more deeply rooted problem.  This problem is rooted in a mindless captivity to dysfunctional thought patterns, which lead to … [Read more...]