The Extensions of Denial: Philosophy of the Real and Addiction.

unfinished notes…

On the possibility of philosophy:
Philosophy, which once seemed outmoded, remains alive because the moment of its realization was missed…

…This describes the same situation as ‘the philosophical revolution’

…The summary judgement that it had merely interpreted the world is itself crippled by resignation before reality, and becomes a defeatism of reason after the transformation of the world failed. It guarantees no place from which theory as such could be concretely convicted of the anachronism, which then as now it is suspected of.

Theodor Adorno. Negative Dialectics.

It is clear that certain philosophers have noticed the issue and address it head on. The question then becomes if our institutions are really serving knowledge. This is because we are left to wonder about whether or not this situation is being recognized. We have to wonder about how it is being addressed, or more pertinently, if it is being addressed by ignoring it.

There has to be a discernment in philosophy as to what we are doing, and this pivotal Mark can be described for those who already understand, but then also to whom only need an acknowledgement of their situation. But there are those who don’t already understand who then think that they understand through the description, and profess to understand through their questioning and gaining new understanding from other descriptions.

*

I am reminded of a problem in a persons spine. In the case of a pinched nerve or herniated disc or some sort of vertebral situation whereby people have pain or numbness or other sort of radial abnormalities along the legs and arms, tingling and numbness and soreness are symptoms of the early situation. Often these problems can be corrected through various types of physical therapy, stretching and strength training in various muscle groups can help the sufferer get the vertebrae, nerves and discs in their proper places so no more symptoms occur.

 For our philosophical situation, In this analogy I wish to touch upon here is the contingency where the doctor will say ‘”if you feel weakness in that arm”…then were into something serious that might need surgery’.  The question then is what is weakness? If I’m having muscular pain that prevents me from moving in particular directions or causes problems in my every day activity, how or when am I supposed to know when weakness has occurred such that I should tell the doctor that yes I am weak in that hand, for example.

I will bring up a further analogy of substance addiction. Common recovery rhetoric describes a process of recovery wherein one of the first events the addict must come upon is acceptance of her situation, but further and most significant, the addict must reach what the recovery community calls ‘a bottom’.

There are at least two aspects of this bottom:

  • There is the bottom that the loved one’s of the addict wishes upon the addict herself. These people are taught what addiction is and to enact a kind of enforcement of boundaries which is hoped as it is supposed to help the addict to reach her bottom by removing the ground upon which the addict finds her ability to keep using.
  • There is the bottom that the addict must reach.

A bottom is that point that allows the addict to reach out in an effective manner for help. We say ‘in an effective manner’ because if a bottom does not achieve the desired activity, which for the addict and her loved ones is a cessation of using, then it is not a bottom.

The question here, though, is what constitutes a bottom. This is not a conceptual theory about what psychological forms might be used or involved to bring about a bottom. The issue is what the difference is between someone who has reached a bottom whence that addict no longer uses, and this is to say, becomes effectively ‘permanently sober’, and the addict that either does not stop using, or ends up using again after a period of not using. 

The arguments and discussions around addiction and recovery are contentious as they are multitudinous.

Yet, We can thus come to define the usual and most true answer to this question, in these contexts, of what weakness is and what a bottom is:

These are moments of decisive significance.

 These are moments that divide those who know from those who merely understand through a discursive context. The issue here then is whether a communication accross this division can take place, and what is occurring within such communication. The issue also concerns whether contextual discursive understanding is sufficient for the purpose that is supposed by the effort communication.

In the case of addiction, the recovery community knows very well its limitations. Aside from the well-doer, on the one hand we have addict who has reached the bottom and thus succeeds in staying sober, who feels an obligation to try to help ‘the addict who still suffers from active addiction. But ask anyone in this situation how they actually achieve this (effective) helping, they will readily admit that they are doing nothing but being there for when the addict is ready, as a sign to them that when they are ready there is help. In effect, they merely wait for the addict to reach their bottom.

In the scenario of the herniated disk, the doctor will often tell the patient “you will know” when the arm becomes weak. The question here is always ‘how will I know?’ For the insecure patient, the question will always pop up at moments of the acute discomfort. Is this weakness? Is this pain significantly different than what I am being treated for such that I need prompt attention from my doctor (surgery) ? The answer is “you will know”.

Indeed, those who know have no more question upon the situation; they know. They have experienced the weaknessthe bottom. Until that point, the patient is only guessing, the addict, as they say, is only fooling himself. In addiction recovery, the common and typical goto method of recovery is the 12 Steps of Recovery, but everyone who knows also knows that if the addict had not reached ‘her’ (true) bottom, the Steps will do nothing for them, and often enough one will hear that to take an addict who is not ready through the Steps, or to accommodate the Steps to the addict who is not reached bottom, rather than the addict to the Steps, actually may hinder the effectiveness of the Steps when they Are ready, so that when the addict indeed is ready and needs the help, they may be disenchanted with the Steps, thinking that they didn’t work before and so won’t work this time. In this view, there is a miscommunication occurring at various junctures, and it is likewise the misunderstanding of the situation that brings about all sorts of untested and untestable disclaimers for the recovery method (here, the 12 Step Program). 

The analogy to philosophy should not he missed: What i shall call ‘conventional philosophy’ Is like the addict who has not reached bottom. In fact, it would be more truthful to say that conventional philosophy doesnt even see that there is a problem beyond the problem it sees. 

In addiction recovery, this is called ‘denial’ and it manifests through various sorts of reasonable distractions that seem quite plausible. For example. Addiction is understood to be a primary disease. A Primary disease is: “Definition: a disease that arises spontaneously and is not associated with or caused by a previous disease, injury, or event, but that may lead to a secondary disease”.

This means that addiction is not caused by anything but the interaction between the subject (addict) and the substance. Yet, becuase of the open nature of what we mean by ‘subject’ or ‘addict’, this primary designation becomes vague and elusive to the point of meaning very little for the method or application of treatment. 

This then translates into a rationale for a psychological approach to the problem. Therapists want the addict to search themselves to uncover hidden traumas and feelings; it is assumed not only that confronting these ‘hidden catalysts’ will allow the addict to stay sober, but that everyone who becomes addicted does so becuase of some dyfunctional psyche attempting to ‘escape reality’ due to some unconscious and denied trauma or ability to cope with ones ‘feelings’.

So we find that the treatment of addiction is placed in the lap of the addict herself, but in a dual manner that reinforces a chaotic confusion for what might work to solve the problem. The addict who is unable to stay sober quickly learns that she needs to address her ‘issues’ and that it these issue that are aggravating the addiction and making her unable to get sober. So over time she begins to behave in his manner, ‘telling on herself’ in encounter group meetings and psychological therapy sessions.

See that this is not a jab at recovery methodology so much as it is an example of not only how people behave, but more how philosophy and its conventional method functions. Similar to the conventional methods of philosophy, Addiction as a ‘primary diease’ is treated through methods that deny it primacy. 

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