Mittwoch, 30. März 2016

Just imagine you're James Bond!

When counselling, I often advise: Just imagine you're James Bond! Needless to say, I usually get rather irritated looks. Is he probably slightly mad? seems to cross quite some minds. And, so I start elaborating: I do not mean you should attempt to become superman (or superwoman), I mean something completely different. Can you imagine Bond suffering from motivation problems? Sure, after a completed mission he prefers to stay under the duvet with his lover and does not want to be disturbed by calls from London. But that is at the end of the movie. Apart from that he's always ready to do what is required from him. Never does he complain, criticise or find fault with the universe. He always acts like a gentleman. In this sense, he could very well be a role model.

Hans Durrer, 2016

Mittwoch, 23. März 2016

On Addiction & Philosophy

This is how Life on the Rocks. Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery is introduced: "My name is Peg O'Connnor. I am an alcoholic and I am a philosopher. I think many addicts are philosophically inclined and are searching for a or the meanimg of life. We just tend to look in the wrong places for a long time."

That's me, too. No, I'm not a trained philosopher, but definitely philosophically inclined. Like Peg O'Connor, I have no doubt that "questions about addictions are, at rock bottom, questions about the meaning of life."

But isn't addiction basically a medical problem and thus, like every other disease, beyond our control? Well not everyone subscribes to this concept, quite some argue that addictive behaviour is a choice. Such an either/or approach isn't helpful, argues Peg O'Connor. "A classic binge drinker is a prime example: his choices are constrained with the first drink. He both has and does not have a choice (The moment before the first drink or drug is what the philosopher Owen Flanagan describes as a 'zone of control.') But he still bears some degree of responsibility to others and to himself."

"Forms of life: Addicts are from Mars and nonaddicts from Pluto", as one chapter of Life on the Rocks is entitled, doesn't want to stress how different we all are but, rather, that the various "forms of life are not discrete and disconnected from one another. Rather, they overlap and crisscross and, importantly, share the same background of the human form of life."

Addicts live in the "land of NUM (Nobody Understands Me)" and spend much of their time comparing their insides to the outsides of others. Or, differently put, they judge others by their actions and themselves by their intentions. This, however, can be changed by becoming "awake and alert – physically, intellectually, and emotionally" to the fact that others suffer too.

One of the most inspiring chapters (for me) asks "Why is it so hard to trust yourself?" Self-knowledge, Peg O'Connor argues, "is deeply social." This had never occurred to me for I had always thought that self-knowledge was entirely about introspection. But: "How I see myself is certainly important, but I need to concede that others can see me and know me in ways that I cannot. I can learn about myself from others."

True words indeed! They made me think of a friend who's into astrology (I'm not) and once told me  that I was actually a very lucky person. This was new to me, I had never thought of myself as being lucky. But, after looking into it (although I'm still not a believer in astrology) I had to concede that she was right!

I do love this book for insights such as "What worked five, ten, and twenty years ago may not work so well today. I am a different person now, so I need different things in my recovery." And, "Living in recovery is living with passionate commitment. It is an ongoing commitment to caring for your person and character."

And, I thought most helpful to have the term "surrender" explained in such an illuminating way: "To surrender is to stop clutching core beliefs or parts of one's identity so tightly. When a person loosens her grip, she makes it possible to hold something new – perhaps very tentatively – in her hands. In the case of a person whose self-worth or humanity has been decimated, it is a matter of being open to the possibility that just maybe she is worthy of a little dignity and respect. Surrendering can be simultaneously liberating and terrifying."

Last but not least, Life on the Rocks has made me want to reread William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, and to know more about Ludwig Wittgenstein. In sum: helpful and inspiring.

Peg O'Connor
Life on the Rocks
Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery
Central Recovery Press, Las Vegas 2016

Mittwoch, 16. März 2016

Sentir la caresse exquise de la vie

Quelle que soit la durée de votre séjour sur cette petite planète, et quoi qu'il vous advienne, le plus important c'est que vous puissiez– de temps en temps – sentir la caresse exquise de la vie.

Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau
Avis de Passage (1957)

Mittwoch, 9. März 2016

Follow your nose

Follow you nose, that's the recipe for an interesting life. What's the point of plotting and planning anyway? You might die tomorrow. That was Stella's problem – one of Stella's problems: she was always in a stew about what might happen and what can you do to stop it? You can't. What you do is go with the flow, see where it takes you, spot the next possibility. One thing throws up another – that's the charm of it.

Penelope Lively: How it all began

Mittwoch, 2. März 2016

Was ist ein "Dry Drunk"?

Für so jemanden kann ich unmöglich arbeiten, mit solchen Leuten will ich schlicht nichts zu tun haben, erklärte ich meinem Freund Sepp, der wissen wollte, wie meine Probewoche als Berater für Alkoholkranke gelaufen war. Der zuständige Leiter sei ein typischer dry drunk fügte ich hinzu.

Was denn für einen solchen typisch sei, fragte Sepp .

Das ist einer, der zwar keinen Alkohol mehr trinkt und sich weiss ich was darauf einbildet, aber sich nach wie vor völlig besoffen verhält, antwortete ich. Stell Dir einfach einen extrem dünnhäutigen, leicht irritierbaren, schnell gereizten, total rechthaberischen Heini vor, für den an allem, was schief läuft, immer die anderen Schuld sind. Ein totaler Ego eben.

Da, wo ich arbeite, sind alle so, lachte Sepp.
Er verdient sein Geld im Finanzwesen.