No It’s Not

A man is driving down the road.  He hears a noise coming from the front of the car.  Fortunately there is  a gas station right ahead.  He says to the mechanic “I have a noise coming out of the front of my car.  Can you take a look at it?”  The mechanic looks at the car, and says, “Sir, you have 3 wheels, that’s why you have that noise”.  The man automaticatically and without hesitation says “No I don’t” and angrily drives off.  The man continues to drive from gas station to gas station.  He repeats his complaint about his front end sound.  Each mechanic gives him the feedback about him driving on only 3 wheels. The man gets angrier and angrier after each gas station stop.  Instead of examining the car himself and possibly considering that he may only have 3 wheels, he continues his drive.  In fact he continues the pattern every day of stopping at gas stations, hearing about his 3 wheels, and driving off angrily.

Our driver is using his defense mechanisms.  He continues to hear something that he is unable to hear.  He defends with the “no its not” automatic response keeping himself from having to acknowledge something that everyone sees.  This is addiction.  Everyone else can see the man has only 3 wheels except for the addicted person.  He needs to tells us that this is not so.  This is his denial, his refusable to admit the truth.  If he admitted it, he would have to with great fear, apprehension, and dread, examine his car and potentially do something about it.  It’s much easier, more familiar, more comfortable to just keep driving!!!

Addiction to chemicals like alcohol or other drugs, or processes like eating, gambling, spending or sex has built in to it this defense stucture.  The addicted person as a result of his/her behavior  uses the addicted behavior and needs to deny, minimize, or rationalize why it happened, how it happened, or that it happened at all.  Over time, as the addiction grows and progresses, the person feels great guilt, shame, remorse and self loathing(gsrl).  As the gsrl increases and progresses, there’s a need for more denial, minimization, rationalization.(dmr).  This become directly proportional –the more gsrl the more dmr etc.  Interesting enough, over time, the addicted person needs to go into the defense mechanism “bag of tricks” the dmr just isn’t enough.   This is described in detail in this article from wikapedia :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_defenses

In the article,  the “level 2 and level 3″ defenses are  used more and more to protect the person from their ever growing  gsrl.  Over time, the entire system collapses, leading the addicted person to seek some type of help.  This of course, does not mean that our driver has gone to Goodyear and is adding that wheel.  He might go to Goodyear and evaluate  the type of mechanics they have, the type of servies they offer, the cost of these services, and if they are interested/ready to drive differently.  If not, those defense structures may activate one more time and the person may “choose” to continue his/her bumpy and familiar 3 wheel drive. 

This cycle can and often does continue many times.  Each time, the defense structure collapses, and the person considers treatment, it gets them closer and closer to permanent change.   For a caring outsider, it’s hard to see that these “pit stops” are actually steps of progress not failure. 

Ultimately, and over time, the person will go to the mechanic of his or her choosing and utter the words of surrender ” I quit”.  From there, the process of recovery will begin.  At that point, we will hope that the driver will begin to notice all the sounds of the car and hope that the very familiar “No it’s not” will not create further driving disasters.

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