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Pathology: The Study of Paths

You are not the passenger;
you are the ride.


- Chris Smither

Hedonism makes sense.  In fact, one of the important jobs of the Cognitive Processing System is to provide the creature you inhabit with as much pleasure and as little pain as possible.  Becoming dependent upon an incentive is a trap for suckers; it increases the amount of suffering you will experience and, in most cases, decreases the amount of pleasure you will get in your lifetime. 

Like mice, we are vulnerable to baited traps; the more we want the bait, the more vulnerable we are.  The fact that you understand the PIG will not protect you from being taken in by it the next time you are desperate for pleasure or relief.  The insight that your relationship with the incentive causes more pain than pleasure may motivate you to change your ways. However, to prevent falling back into relapse, the change has to be deep!

As is the case with élite artistic or athletic performance, responding as intended during the critical moments of genuine demand requires the procedural skills to be so well practiced that they can be performed without conscious guidance.  Remember, during a crisis the cognitive resources required to guide behavior intentionally will be occupied by local conditions, and you will not have access to the rational and creative faculties that you now take for granted.

Good outcome is rare because most people are simply not prepared to cope with the predictable, but deceptively compelling, stressors and temptations that life deals them.  To achieve the level of performance required, you will have to develop the procedural skills to a sufficient level to successfully cope with the actual high-risk situations your future has in store for you.  Fortunately, your difficulties have a particular structure that you can learn to appreciate and work with.  Exposures to high-risk situations will be good to you and give you many opportunities to identify your particular challenges, and to test ways of coping with them. 

Matching

Part of the complexity of this challenge is that there are different approaches to treating Incentive Use Disorders, and each is helpful to at least some individuals. Some institutions tout one treatment orientation or another as the only real solution.  In fact, there is no single solution, because each individual is unique. Some people are well matched with behavior change strategies that for others would be worth less.

This course is based on the bio-psycho-social model rather than the disease model, and is best matched with inner directed, high-functioning individuals. But even among this relatively small sub-group, there remains considerable variation in temperament and circumstance. The important question is: Which approach to achieving good long-term outcome is best matched with your personal traits and circumstances?

 

Matching Considerations > >
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