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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pride and Addiction - Part 2

You may ask, "Well, if addicts have a problem with Pride, and everyone else seems to have a problem with Pride as well, why aren't all people addicts?"

If you follow the strict construction of the disease model of addiction, addiction requires a 'physical allergy' (the physical-reaction component) coupled with the mental/emotional 'need' (personal problems), all occurring under the umbrella of an absent or dysfunctional spirituality.

Most 'normal' people don't have all these three components happening at the same time when they are exposed to an addictive substance or activity, which means they do not develop the 'disease.'

However, the presence of Pride is never healthy, and that is because it is a self-created falsehood.  And, because it is false, it can take on many forms.  Pride can say you are the greatest transcending all human boundaries or the worst sinner with no hope of salvation.  Both propositions are false, thus emanating from a single Pride.  Pride says, "I am special!"

But, you may say, "How can Pride convince me that I am the worst?"  If you are special, it means that whatever is good and healthy for average people will not work for you, so the exultation that Pride creates also creates a situation where normal rescue is impossible.  Pride breaks us off from God and others by convincing us we are well-beyond normal humanity, which is limited from both above and below.  Regular humans can be saved by regular means, but the proud man requires special attention.

The proud man goes on thinking that he has no hope because he never received any help when he scales the heights, so how could he possibly ask for help when he has fallen?  Pride blinds him to the fact that, along the way, others did help him, but because of his sense of entitlement, he never recognized such help.

This notion that 'I am special' is what Pride really is about.  The moment you think that you are different from others in a unique way, you are standing on Pride's porch.

While each of us is distinct, we are not different.  While we all have differing attributes, preferences, memories, values, opinions, thoughts... we all share the same humanity and the same God.

The 12 Steps rely on this single underpinning: no human is more or less human than any other.

Christianity takes this a step further: The Son of God took on this humanity in order to transform it.  We share in His new humanity because He shared in our humanity.  If Jesus Christ was indeed born as a human, and His divinity did not 'destroy' His humanity, then we humans cannot, of our own acts, destroy or distort our humanity.  It is, by its very nature, inescapable for us.  We cannot escape ourselves, either by flying too high or plunging too low.

The 'I am special' of Pride says that we can escape the 'mediocrity' of normal humanity.  If we accept this premise, then everything that happens to us afterwards is 'exceptional' because we consider ourselves to be 'exceptional' because nothing that happens to exceptional people is every ordinary, right?  So, the king may have to go potty like everyone else, but he does so on a 'golden throne.'

Religious people can allow their Pride to escalate to in a number of directions, including scrupulosity: 

Anxiety and panic disorders have a strong Pride component because they blind the sufferer to the world around him, in which their is ample evidence that the world around him is not suffering the same panic and danger that he is.

Pride creates anxiety, and the temporary escape from this anxiety can be the addiction.  However, addictive behaviors have a wide variety of occurrences.  Over the next few posts, we'll explore what happens when we embrace the 'I am special' message and go looking for our own solutions to our fear and anxiety.

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