Addictive Traps & Their Detector

The descent to Hell is easy; the gates stand open night and day;
but to reclimb the slope and escape to the upper air, this is labor

- Virgil

Once you have developed an addictive relationship with an incentive, escaping it is one of the most difficult challenges a human can face. It helps to understand the cause-and-effect principles that make creatures such as ourselves so vulnerable to relapse, even when we intend not to.

There are many principles that cause people to act counter to their intentions. To make your task more manageable, the principles that promote relapse are categorized as six addictive traps. Your first task is to focus your energies on the most important one first, rather than attempting to solve all the puzzles at once.

The Trap Detector

The Trap Detector is a self-test that will help you identify the trap most worthy of your attention right now. You can access The Trap Detector by clicking the link below. After completing it your scores will be shown on your screen. The one to focus on now is the trap that has the highest score.

Attention: Please override the impulse to continue reading this page until you have completed the Trap Detector [ Click Here for the Trap Detector].

After you have gotten your scores, please return to this page. On the table below, please click on the trap with the highest score. This is the one you should focus on now. It is important that you understand how it works, so you can develop a method to free yourself of its pathogenic influence.

The Six Addictive Traps

The PIG is a cute name for an important principle: The relationship between the immediacy of the payoff and its influence on subjective phenomena is hyperbolic. A small but immediate payoff has a much greater influence on subjective phenomena such as motivation than a larger but delayed payoff. Despite being taken in by it again and again, most people continue to underestimate the PIG's power. Please click here for a more detailed discussion of the PIG.

Counter-Regulatory Motivation: The Imp of the Perverse is Edgar Allen Poe's name for the perverse motivation to act counter to your own interests. There are many variations of this kind of trap. For example, some people are stongly motivated to rebel against a restriction of their freedom, especially when the restriction does not apply to other people Alternatively, as Mark Twain observed, "There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable." In addition to the motivation to rebel against external pressure to conform or obey, there are internal pressures, also known as Ironic Processes that contribute to the perverse motivation to act counter to what you say you want.

The Karma of Behaving Badly: Don't worry about paying for your sins in the after-life; you will pay for them during this life. The true curse of the sinner is that the sinful behavior becomes easier with practice. With enough repetition, the sequence of events that leads to incentive use becomes habitual, and now requires conscious effort to interrupt. The path of least resistance you create by exercising some habits rather than others is your Karma.

The natural consequence of exercising bad habits is that they become progressively easier to perform. Once the behavior sequence has become so easy that it automatic, it can unfold all by itself and take considerable effort to interupt or prevent. Please click here for a more detailed review of the Karma of past of choices.

Recursive Traps: Your beliefs influence your emotional reactions to the things that happen. Your emotional state influences how you perceive things and how you cope with the things that happen. Some beliefs are special; they evoke unwanted outcomes that confirms the belief that gave rise to them  —  for example, "I won't perform well." Moreover, there is often reciprocal feedback between negative emotional states, beliefs about one's value or ability, and relapse, whereby each component confirms the others. Please click here to learn more about positive feedback and addictive traps.

Attachment to Outcomes: Some people fail because they don't care enough to perform well, and others fail because they care too much about outcomes to perform well. Attachment to outcomes increases emotionality, and thereby disrupts performance. Individuals with low self-efficacy are particularly desperate for validation by good outcome and so are particularly vulnerable to emotional reactions to success and failure. The ancients understood this problem and developed disciplines that can free you from this handicapping condition.

Dependence: Whatever has the power to give you happiness or take it away will be your master. You will remain its slave as long as you wait for an external agent of change to free you

Freedom from dependence is the outcome of developing the procedural skills required to exercise your will. This kit contains information and tools that will help you complete the developmental passage from dependence to self-determination.


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