12 Nov 06

Psychotherapy with Dr O’Malley (7)

In a Polo shirt, Dr O looked more like a stockbroker than a psychotherapist. He had two new books: The Human Mind Explained and The Executive Brain. His Scientific American magazine was headlined: "Do stem cells cause cancer?"
Dr O examined my homework: what I was thinking when I was high on drugs at raves, and how I presently think about these actions.

At a rave: I’m having the time of my life. So is everyone else. I’ve got my security guys over here. I’ve got my female friends over there. My inner-circle are behaving as bizarre as can be. There are thousands of people dancing to electronic beats because I put an event together. I’m getting hugged and thanked all night long. I’m about to host an after party at the Scottsdale Hilton that’s going to see drug-consumption extremes. My wife is bisexual and we may get together with some of our girlfriends. I’m rushing on drugs. I’m high on Ecstasy. My skin feels warm and sensitive. I can’t stop smiling. I’m feeling the cap of GHB, the bump of Special K, and a half of a Xanny bar. Life is wonderful. The music and my heartbeat are moving in sync. Gooseflesh is rippling across my body. Just breathing, tasting air, makes me feel so alive. I’m doing it and I never want it to end.

Now: At the rate I partied I’m lucky to be alive. We did a ridiculous amount of drugs. That lifestyle equals trouble and incarceration. It was an immature chapter of my life. Outside of being a party person, there are other things to enjoy in life such as creativity. I intend to buckle down when I’m released, and to use my skill and knowledge so that I’m known for things other than partying. It’s as if incarceration was meant to happen to give me an education. To accomplish what needs to be accomplished, I can’t mess up my decision-making processes, otherwise I will not succeed. Love of life overrides my former idiocy.

“It seems,” Dr O said, “you’ve compared and contrasted your present thoughts with your past actions. You’ve realised if you go back to partying it’s not going to do you any good. You’ll also have to look more closely at the decisions you made that led you to the substance-abuse lifestyle.”
“Drugs enabled me to socialise. I figured I could do them to have fun when I felt like it – most weekends – and I told myself I wasn’t addicted because I could stop, and seemed to function normally before I chose to do them again. Was I in denial?”
“Yes. You were addicted otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”
“I thought addiction was like a heroin addict who’s got to get his fix every day or else he feels ill.”
“Addiction is when doing drugs interferes with your ability to function. You have a limited – a narrow view. Acknowledging your addiction exists is difficult for you. You must look at it in terms of how you would introduce yourself at an AA meeting: ‘I’m Jon. I’m a drug addict. I’ve been clean and sober for so many years.' Have you heard of the book The Yoga of Discipline?”
“Have you read any Pantanjali?”
“Yes. I’ve read Pantanjali’s aphorisms. There was a commentary about them in the Siddha Yoga lesson I did last night. It mentioned stilling the thought waves or the tendencies of the mind. I can learn that stuff for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t seem to stop the waves of thoughts swamping my mind when I get in certain emotional states.”
“Such as?”
“An example would be a recent visit I had with a female I like. I was so happy I couldn’t get to sleep for several hours. I couldn’t push the thoughts away. Maybe that’s an example of my manicness?”
“Actually, it’s normal. When you’re deprived of female contact you’re going to have a tremendous physiological response. It feels good. It’s a great thing. Yadda-yadda. In the emotional context, neurotransmitters are being released. It can feel quite intrusive.”
“I was on a natural high. I couldn’t stop thinking about the visit.”
“And it’s not necessary to get rid of those thoughts. You just need to be aware. To be able to observe them run from fantasy to fantasy. What the prisoner deprived of female contact experiences is similar to how teenagers react. How you reacted in your earlier lifestyle led you to being in here. You’ve got to learn how to analyse data in every situation. If you don’t factor in your previous mistakes you’ll repeat those mistakes. How did you analyse stocks?”
“I’d apply statistical formulas, moving-averages of price, volume, that kind of stuff. I’d review thousands of charts, read annual reports (especially the notes), look at various financial ratios, and come up with a short list of stocks I felt had a high probability of success.”
“When you were running the math, how did you feel?”
“I had tunnel vision. Nothing else existed. That worked well. I got rich, but I self-destructed.”
“Did you read about Warren Buffet giving all that money to Bill Gates?”
“Why do you think Buffet has done so well?”
“He’s a natural. He must have a genetic predisposition for finance. He had an excellent mentor, Benjamin Graham. He must be a master of forensic accountancy - but more importantly, he must be a master of his own psychology.”
“Are you familiar with where he lives, Omaha, Nebraska?”
“A little bit. It’s folksy.”
“There are corn fields. Its rural, agricultural, a small-town environment. Buffet eats at the same places and he’s approachable. He hasn’t succumbed to the trappings of power. He said it’s easy to make money but hard to give it away responsibly.”
“For me, it was easy to make money, but then I’d go nuts.”
“That’s why you have to look at the reasons, understand the road map, watch for the danger signals, blinking lights, cabarets, dancing girls, whatever.”
“So was my happiness with the visit a danger signal?”
“Most guys think with their little head. Do you have a penchant for that?”
“I did in the past. But the visit wasn’t about that. We were intellectual equals. I was engrossed in conversation with her, electrified by her personality. It was reassuring to feel that good sober around such a kick-arse woman.”
“Then in situations like that you just need to be aware of your chattering little monkey mind. In relationships in general you need to apply the analytical discipline you apply to stock selection. Here’s what I’m seeing: with Siddha Yoga, you’re doing well with your spiritual side; with stocks, your pragmatic side seems fine; it’s the emotional side that you’re having problems with.”
“I do have a deficit in that area. My sister wants to put her seal of approval on future girlfriends. In the past, I’ve chosen the wrong partners, and my depressions and drug-taking came about during the break ups. I never realised I should step back and analyse potential partners with the discipline I analyse stocks. That’s an important point you’ve made. The comparison makes sense.”
“When it comes to relationships, you’ve got your ratios all wrong.
For homework, I’d like you to write down your awareness of who you were, who you are, and who you’re going to be. And after that we’ll start getting into personality stuff.”
“OK. Thanks.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood


joannie said...

I think it's hard for someone who is truly manic to understand their emotional turmoils and highs aren't "normal". I'm involved in drug recovery programs, and usually when the addiction is stopped, there's a condition behind it that needs attention and feeds the behavior.

I'm coming to understand this of myself, because certain emotional states feel so real and so powerful, that that isn't a base to make wise judgements upon. I'm told by more intelligent friends than myself, you do not ever HAVE to do anything-in other words, don't react, respond. I've heard for years the axiom and order of respond is 1. fact (or truth) 2. faith 3. feeling. First find a truth or something unchanging to live by, believe it and measure every feeling or reaction by it. I'm not very good at this but getting better. Thanks for the very honest and personal information.

Anonymous said...


Given your personality and how prone you are to being swept away in moments, you need to stop and think before acting (and perhaps speaking and letter writing, too).

However, emotions are a feature so unique in this world that I don't think that your rational self should always rule over your emotional side. Life is about keeping healthy balances, which is something EVERYONE should work on. While you work on that, don't be so hard on yourself when you slip up.

As per usual, keep your chin up and your eyes focused on your release date.


Devout Melist said...

It is hard to be honest in a world full of untruths, which warp the borders of the familiar. When we were children, it was so easy to be emotional or unemotional. Of course at that stage in development, we are being told how to act, so it is easy to be in those pesky social settings. Along the way, one starts to feel better than the other, be it emotional or unemotional. I am not sure if there really is a right choice, honestly. They all have there positive and problematic points.

I am not sure if what I am saying makes any sense or could be classified as advice. Probably more along the lines of 'food for thought'.

Moral of the lengthy comment: get in touch with your inner child. They often know what is best. :D