View Full Version : Addict's "crutch" - another view


dvdnvwls
03-06-16, 06:56 PM
We often hear it from people who are addicted to something - or from their critics - that the thing they're addicted to is a "crutch". They're not using the true meaning of the word (a useful and beneficial support for a body that's unable to support itself), but an invented meaning (an unreliable and dangerous pseudo-support).

For now, I want to take that invented meaning, the "addiction meaning" of the word crutch, and look at it in a different way. Maybe someone else has already done this before me. If they have, I'm not stealing from them - just wasting some time "reinventing the wheel".

I think the worst, most dangerous, least reliable, least helpful "crutch" of all - far worse than illegal drugs, alcohol, gambling, and all the rest - is shame. I believe that people who tackle their addiction and "kick the habit", whatever their particular habit was, but who maintain the old shame that they've always had, are probably barely any better off than they were before. And I think that too often shame is regarded as useful or helpful or safe, either by the person who's addicted or by others in their lives.

If you're addicted to shame, then in my opinion you have a much tougher road ahead of you, because unlike substances or activities, you have an endless supply of shame inside your mind available for free, and far too often, people - even the ones who love you - especially the ones who love you :( - will unthinkingly hand you more and more shame because they think it's good for you.

Treat the people who would shame you, in the same way that we know an alcoholic should treat his old drinking buddies.

ginniebean
03-06-16, 07:20 PM
Shame ceremonies are so routine we barely notice them unless we're the recipient.

These shame ceremonies are designed to assign status, an attempt to reduce status, (put one in one's place, or to maintain a low and humble status.

These are imposed social controls, from letting the waitress know in no uncertain terms you are her superior, or a boss, or a family member or a friend.

When this shame is reinforced often enough it get's internalized and the person themselves start reinforcing it.

Pavlovian response to some really crap social engineering.

All of this better/less than is toxic. You don't have a place.

Dvd, I don't know that I see shame as a crutch in any definition. I can see the spirit of what you're saying and couldn't agree more.

It's possible i am not understanding you. Nice Topic!

ginniebean
03-06-16, 07:24 PM
I need to add, this really is a massive topic and I realise it can be looked at thru many lenses.

dvdnvwls
03-06-16, 07:30 PM
Dvd, I don't know that I see shame as a crutch in any definition. I can see the spirit of what you're saying and couldn't agree more.

It's possible i am not understanding you.
I was seeing the "addict's crutch" as "the person thinks [thing] is helping them and supporting them, when really it's ruining them". To me, that seems to be what's meant when people use the word "crutch" in the context of addictions. And I think far far too many people are labouring under the mistaken belief that shame is good for them and will help them fix their problems - in other words, the same thing they are warned not to believe about alcohol or whatever. Shame is addictive, people think shame will help them deal with their problems, people think shame isn't all that dangerous, they think they can handle more shame than the next person, they start taking more and more shame when the amount they used to use doesn't seem to be doing the job anymore...

Hope that helps.

aeon
03-06-16, 07:32 PM
I’m more confused.

Would you provide an illustrative example of someone who thinks shame will help them deal with their problems?

I can’t make any sense out of that whatsoever.


Thanks,
Ian

dvdnvwls
03-06-16, 07:36 PM
A few examples:

- People with low self-esteem who try to shame themselves into being a better person

- People who are addicted to something and are trying to shame themselves out of it

- People who were abused and who have come to view shame as their natural condition (similar in concept to babies born addicted to illicit drugs), and who need to keep their "shame tank" filled at all times

- People who use shame as a fuel for being a workaholic

- and so on

aeon
03-06-16, 07:39 PM
OK, thanks, that helped.

ginniebean
03-06-16, 08:25 PM
I get what you're saying. I have on many occaisions and in different ways spoken of accepting your adhd and without exception someone will say, if I accept adhd I will give up. I think people have been taught that psychological lashing thru shame is motivational. For me, this does not work.

Making yourself feel bad I've discovered is counter productive because while it may provide short term motivation it also exposes people to long term psychological wounding. Eventually this catches up and you have a big mess.

It is difficult to get across at times that acceptance is necessary for objectivity. If you can't accept your adhd and feel that you must deny it even to the point os really looking at it, how can you assess what will work for you? What's worth working on and what isn't?

Sadly, adhd advice, management discussions are loaded with shame such that it seems almost normal and appropriate to be scolded non stop.

I often hear the phrase "Adhd is a reason, not an excuse" but as I've looked at this phrase over the years i have come to see it more as a shame weapon than anything beneficial. Adhd needs to be a reason and sometimes an excuse. That may sound shocking but unless we have the right to excuse ourselves from activities or tasks that task us beyond our abilities we will be forever beating ourselves. That is no way to live. People without legs are excused from walking up stairs. Accomodations are made to include them as full citizens in thr public sphere. Adhd is also a disabilitu and I don't think it's possible to effectively deal with shame until we give ourselves the right and acceptance to excuse ourselves from some things that are just too difficult. Right now, advocating for access accomodations for adhd isn't barely on the map. This is work that has to be done whethet it be personal or professional.

If you can't say "no, I won't force myself to do a task I continue to fail, I'm going to put my energy to work over here on this thing instead" we never fully take ownership of our condition.

Just as onr example, spousr asks person with adhd on a frequent basis to do some task on the way home from work. Notes and stickies are written as reminders and yet over and over the adhd person fails this task. A true assessment using acceptance might look like. No, tasks at this time are not something I'm willing to subject myself to, I'm mentally drained after work and I'm not willing to put myself thru this. If you are never able to say no or even conceive of it then you can never take ownership over tje managment of your condition. Setting boundaries, umderstanding your limitations and enforcing them is all part of adult self managent.

The messages get mixed up when we're told we need to manage our condition and then have it reinforced over and over that we need tp feel shame for not meeting expectations even if they are unreasonable.

dvdnvwls
03-06-16, 08:33 PM
I think people have been taught that psychological lashing thru shame is motivational. For me, this does not work.
I think (and I don't believe I'm stretching my analogy one bit) that, just as with alcoholics, the people who do believe shame is helping them are ignoring the greater harm it does, or are deluding themselves, or whichever way that concept ought to be worded.

dvdnvwls
03-06-16, 08:58 PM
I think I see why I've been so hard to understand. I thought I had something to say, but maybe I actually had two different things to say and was mixing them together.

1. Shame is addictive stuff, like alcohol only worse.

2. Imagine that you have a problem. You decide "I'll use shame to fix my problem". Now, you have two problems.

ginniebean
03-06-16, 09:35 PM
Well put!

Greyhound1
03-06-16, 10:36 PM
I agree that shame can become an addiction. I also think it can be useful in small doses to re-evaluate the cause of the shame. A wake up call if you will. I have been ashamed of my behavior before and made positive changes because of it.

If someone feels ashamed of themselves for abusing drugs and it motivates them to quit it can be a great thing. Assuming their shame ends after they quit and their pride and confidence take over.

Being addicted to shame is it's own seperate real problem. I think shame can be cautiously used and effective in certain circumstances but not when you're addicted to it.

dvdnvwls
03-07-16, 02:39 AM
I think shame can be cautiously used and effective in certain circumstances but not when you're addicted to it.
Yes, precisely. I think your example was a really good one.

There are too many people addicted to shame who don't even know that they are, and who truly believe that their own misuse of shame on themselves is right and good.

ginniebean
03-07-16, 03:28 AM
I have thought about this most of the day. I can't agree that shame is useful even in moderate amounts. I wonder if "remorse" is being seen as a form of shame?

I don't see these words as related even tho i'm sure many would or could argue.

I don't mean to be argumentative or simply play word games. Something is niggling me and while I can't articulateit, I've come to trust this subconscious niggling as important.

"Flicks the lint out of my navel"

Lol sorry I know how this post sounds...

dvdnvwls
03-07-16, 04:18 AM
The difference between shame and guilt, or between shame and remorse, or whatever the right words are. In any case, I tend to agree with you, ginniebean.

Pilgrim
03-07-16, 01:44 PM
Perfectionism.

Pilgrim
03-07-16, 01:46 PM
You put that very well. Dvd

Pilgrim
03-11-16, 11:16 AM
We often hear it from people who are addicted to something - or from their critics - that the thing they're addicted to is a "crutch". They're not using the true meaning of the word (a useful and beneficial support for a body that's unable to support itself), but an invented meaning (an unreliable and dangerous pseudo-support).

For now, I want to take that invented meaning, the "addiction meaning" of the word crutch, and look at it in a different way. Maybe someone else has already done this before me. If they have, I'm not stealing from them - just wasting some time "reinventing the wheel".

I think the worst, most dangerous, least reliable, least helpful "crutch" of all - far worse than illegal drugs, alcohol, gambling, and all the rest - is shame. I believe that people who tackle their addiction and "kick the habit", whatever their particular habit was, but who maintain the old shame that they've always had, are probably barely any better off than they were before. And I think that too often shame is regarded as useful or helpful or safe, either by the person who's addicted or by others in their lives.

If you're addicted to shame, then in my opinion you have a much tougher road ahead of you, because unlike substances or activities, you have an endless supply of shame inside your mind available for free, and far too often, people - even the ones who love you - especially the ones who love you :( - will unthinkingly hand you more and more shame because they think it's good for you.

Treat the people who would shame you, in the same way that we know an alcoholic should treat his old drinking buddies.

Every so often someone writes a post that you would like to put on the wall.

This one is a good example for me.

One thing I would like to add is that dealing with and receiving of shame is sometimes the only currency you can work with.

sarahsweets
03-11-16, 12:26 PM
I agree that shame can become an addiction. I also think it can be useful in small doses to re-evaluate the cause of the shame. A wake up call if you will. I have been ashamed of my behavior before and made positive changes because of it.

If someone feels ashamed of themselves for abusing drugs and it motivates them to quit it can be a great thing. Assuming their shame ends after they quit and their pride and confidence take over.

Being addicted to shame is it's own seperate real problem. I think shame can be cautiously used and effective in certain circumstances but not when you're addicted to it.

I dont think I can agree with this. When someone needs to stop a negative behavior its usually because their life is unmanageable or a mess and through pain and or consequences, they need to make some changes. If they dont motivate themselves and decide for themselves that change has arrived, they wont stop the behavior. No amount of shame made me stop drinking. I didnt do it for my kids or my husband. I did it because I couldnt live with it anymore. In fact if I did feel shamed I usually ran like hell to a drink. I dont think that shame can be used to bring about healthy change. Sure the threat of losing things, or people or stuff like that can make it seem like shame works, all it really does is break someone down enough where they change more because the shamer wants them to change and less because they want to. And since when is shame ever cautiously used? And what would constitute caution? Would shaming an overweight friend be ok but not shaming a heroin addict? Because heroin seems so hard to kick and the uneducated think foor addiction is crap or something easy to overcome?
If you were shamed as a child for any reason and for anything, try and remember if that got you to change the bad behavior or if you changed it because you feared that your parents would withhold love from you.
It didnt feel good then and it doesnt feel good now.
If shame worked there would be a lot less addicts.

Fuzzy12
03-11-16, 12:39 PM
I think shame can be quite a powerful motivator. There are a hell lot of things that I do and have done in the past purely because of a sense of shame. In fact, personally for me nothing works better. Maybe one of the reasons why I'm so screwed up. Or maybe because I'm so screwed up. I don't know.

I agree though that there's nothing healthy though about using shame as a motivator and mostly it will cause more damage than good. I doubt it works with addictions because overcoming an addiction is just a million times more difficult I guess. Mostly it will probably just make you hide your addiction rather than try to overcome it.

ginniebean
03-11-16, 03:18 PM
You know fuzzy, I do find it interesting that you and grey both find shame useful. It makes me wonder if quite a few people do. I know for me it has never worked. It could be that people continue to use shame because it works for them.

sarahsweets
03-13-16, 04:40 AM
I think shame can be quite a powerful motivator. There are a hell lot of things that I do and have done in the past purely because of a sense of shame. In fact, personally for me nothing works better. Maybe one of the reasons why I'm so screwed up. Or maybe because I'm so screwed up. I don't know.

I agree though that there's nothing healthy though about using shame as a motivator and mostly it will cause more damage than good. I doubt it works with addictions because overcoming an addiction is just a million times more difficult I guess. Mostly it will probably just make you hide your addiction rather than try to overcome it.

You say you agree that shame can cause more damage than good but you say it's a powerful motivator. If you mean powerful in that it makes you feel like s**t then we can agree, but if you mean that it's powerful enough to affect positive change then we have to part ways there. If shame ever worked the way you say it does or should than none of us would have the issues we do because the shame we dealt with in our lives should have moved us to change and make them better.
Shaming doesn't make the person empowered to change. If anything it destroys the little self esteem they have left and further encourages them to keep doing the negative behavior. Have you ever thought " oh well this is happening anyway so f it I'll just keep doing it anyway "?
Does fat shaming ever help someone to lose weight in a positive way ? I was fat shamed in high school so my solution was bulimia. It didn't work long term but my psyche was very damaged. When a child has a potty accident does shaming them prevent it from happening again?

Maybe I'm looking at what the word motivation means in a different way then others ?

Fuzzy12
03-13-16, 07:26 AM
You say you agree that shame can cause more damage than good but you say it's a powerful motivator. If you mean powerful in that it makes you feel like s**t then we can agree, but if you mean that it's powerful enough to affect positive change then we have to part ways there. If shame ever worked the way you say it does or should than none of us would have the issues we do because the shame we dealt with in our lives should have moved us to change and make them better.
Shaming doesn't make the person empowered to change. If anything it destroys the little self esteem they have left and further encourages them to keep doing the negative behavior. Have you ever thought " oh well this is happening anyway so f it I'll just keep doing it anyway "?
Does fat shaming ever help someone to lose weight in a positive way ? I was fat shamed in high school so my solution was bulimia. It didn't work long term but my psyche was very damaged. When a child has a potty accident does shaming them prevent it from happening again?

Maybe I'm looking at what the word motivation means in a different way then others ?

No it makes me feel like ****. My point was that it does make me get things done but the damage it causes probably makes it not worthwhile (like in your bulimia example. I'm assuming you might have lost weight but just losing weight at any cost isn't worth it). And sometimes shaming doesn't work at all or is counter productive.

I wouldn't advocate shaming I'm any way as a method to get things done. Not ever.

Unfortunately it's how I do things..not in a puposeful conscious way but sometimes I can recognise it for what it is. I'd like to stop it but it's difficult .. maybe because it works at times..and also because I'm just so used to feeling shame.

It is a bit like an addiction possibly. Like using a substance or something else that at least initially helps but the damage it causes is too big....or like self harm. It gives you a moment of relief but really causes more damage beyond that moment.

I'm guessing that quite a lot of people use shame to motivate both themselves and others. They might just not be aware of it. In fact I think a lot of our society works on the concept of shame. It's one of the reasons why I hate unwritten 'laws'.

By the way I meant powerful as in 'effective'.