13 August 06
Psychotherapy with Dr O Malley (Part 5)
Dr O was listening to "The Godfather Waltz." On his desk were a kiwi fruit, a bottle of Trader Joe’s Natural Mountain Spring Water and a Scientific America magazine headlined Quark Soup. He read my thought journal, which contained some highs (how I’d calmly read out a passage in the SMART Recovery class, and how I’d transformed energy from anxiety into writing) and some lows (getting mad at Frankie for instigating wrestling when I was trying to write, and my anxiety, embarrassment and worry over the lump on my behind).
“Before we begin,” Dr. O said, “is there anything you’d like to discuss?”
“Yes. There is actually. I’d like to get your advice about drugs. It’s self-evident that I don’t need to be running around raves doing designer drugs. But where do I draw the line in a world in which it seems everyone is doing drugs? Nearly everyone I know either drinks or smokes or pops prescription pills or does illegal drugs. Should I be drinking a glass of wine with my parents during the evening meal? Can I pop Xanax before flying because it raises my anxiety? Where do I draw the line?”
“There are two things you need to understand: firstly, you need awareness and mindfulness to understand the situations and the premises that are drawing you to drugs; secondly, you need an awareness of how drugs work. On the wall behind me is a diagram of the limbic system. It’s a system of nerves and networks that when stimulated makes you feel good and tells you, lets get higher and higher. Then, doing more and more drugs gives you immediate gratification. Instead of seeking such chemically-induced extremes, you must learn how to activate it at lower natural levels. Ecstasy, Special K or whatever do not come in nature. They are refined substances that cause huge cascades of neurotransmitters. You need to think about what gives you a little euphoria without doing drugs.”
“Writing, exercise, sex!”
“But frequent sexual encounters are not a positive addiction. If you’re having sex compulsively you’re not enjoying it.”
“I’ve never had any sex that I didn’t enjoy.”
“If you’re increasing the amount, and your sexual aggression is escalating, doesn’t that interfere with your ability to function normally?”
“I don’t know. I think we’re designed for sex, and it’s a natural and healthy thing.”
“Sex is a good thing, but becoming a sex addict isn’t a good thing. It may be pleasurable in the heat of the moment. Some people misappropriate Tantra for Tantric sex.”
“Yes. The idea is mindfulness. It’s part of being in a healthy relationship with a person.”
“Are you saying any kind of drug is out of the question for me? Say for example I get a wild idea to take a trip to do peyote with Mexican Indians or Amanta mushrooms with the Siberians? I read about professional people who occasionally do such consciousness-raising experiments.”
“Why would Mexican Indians or indigenous Siberians want you, some westerner, sharing their sacred rites or rituals?”
“I see what you’re saying: they’d be doing it for commercial reasons.”
“Which leads to problems. You’re assuming you can buy a cheap thrill through a mystical experience. A mystical experience is supposed to give you a profound understanding of the universe.”
“Timothy Leary claimed he got that through LSD.”
“Maybe he did, but my answer for you is a resounding no. There are no short cuts for you. Ahead of you is a journey down a long hard road that’s going to get you where you need to be. If you do drugs once, you’ll want to test yourself again and again. You’ll think, I can do this and this. When in actuality your will power is fucked up by drugs. Your neurotransmitters are screwed up by huge chemical loads in the brain. You’ll have to become like a teetotaller who learns to appreciate tea, or a highly-sexual person who learns to have sex with one partner, allowing your partner to look into yourself, and letting her look in synthesis.
Yoga will help you. Yoga was developed by people who sat outside, in isolated situations, and developed ideas that took place over 5000 years of tradition. You need to find things that make sense to you and explore those to achieve unity."
“Writing and creativity make sense to me.”
“There are many authors who have done drugs and done well. But on closer examination they did drugs to address internal turmoil, and when they look back after doing drugs they saw they had natural writing skills irregardless of whether they did drugs or not.”
“I’ve had internal turmoil.”
“It’s something you need to figure out.”
“By paying attention to how you talk to yourself.”
“Like with the thought journal?”
“Yes. But also you need to go back, way back and ask yourself what were you telling yourself from the ages of 12 to 25. That’s when your personality solidified and you chose certain paths in life. There was something about you you were not happy with."
To be continued.
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