In a brief addendum to my last post on Addiction is Good For you, I would like to share a quote from Rollo May (1977) in his book, The Meaning of Anxiety. This quote in one way helps to illustrate the usefulness of addiction in people’s lives. The addiction helps to actualize the self and break down old patterns. It can often bring a sense of newness, or creativity.
Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves destructive as well as constructive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If you do not do this, you are refusing to grow, refusing to avail yourself of possibilities; you are shirking your responsibility to yourself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms.
That is just a lot of truth in one paragraph. You can see how aspects of what he is talking about can be facilitated by addiction. Addiction helps to “destroy” the status quo of both culture and individual. If one does not listen to the tension of addiction, they are “refusing to grow.” Not working to actualize one’s potential, will result in guilt and continue the feedback loop of guilt and addiction. Ultimately, from a psycho-spiritual perspective, I believe addiction exists to “destroy old patterns within oneself,” and culture.