Addiction and Recovery

The following was written by Paul Nyklicek, a Catholic, husband, father, psychotherapist and frequent visitor to CAM. We thank him for this contribution to our blog.


Recovery is the most natural response to any state of addiction. Addiction is a process of diminishing returns. It is a downward spiral into destruction and dehumanization. In active addiction one loses one’s sense of real identity and a kind of false identity takes its place. Who you are and what you have is never enough. There is a persistent desire for “more” in the pursuit of a satisfaction that is never realized.

At this point it is not necessary to pose the question as to whether, as a society, we are addicted to violence. It is painfully obvious that we are. The question is: How many different ways is our violence manifested? If we really stop and think about it we come up with quite a long list. If we view violence in its various forms as an addictive “drug” (it doesn’t take that much imagination to see this) then it is apparent that the corporate media serves as the ubiquitous “dealers” for the general population. In some form or another, violence is dispensed like Halloween candy to eager trick-or-treaters on a continual basis. The corporate media consistently presents violence as the problem started by the Bad Guys and as problem-solving when perpetrated by the Good Guys. The “product” is presented, packaged, and sold in the most seductive possible way to make the point that one is either stupid or a loser or both if you don’t buy what they are selling. Who wouldn’t want to feel the exhilaration of dominance, desirability, and superiority?

If you are a modern, sophisticated consumer you accept the Establishment’s framing of reality. This is a framework that extolls the “virtue” of fighting and killing for the “just cause” of Our Side. It extolls the “virtue” of committing state-sanctioned murder in the proclaimed defense of Our Way of Life and our “freedom”. We must kill Them over there so They can’t kill Us over here.

This is a framed reality that depicts Us as the innocent victims and Them as the inhuman psychotic killers who cannot be reasoned with and therefore must be exterminated. In this way the Home Team is justified in getting the job done by any means necessary.

Collateral damage? That’s just the cost of doing business.

And this is a very big business. A lot of people are making a lot of money from this “drug”. How much money do weapons manufacturers make every year? How much money is made from the sale of violent computer video games? How much money does Hollywood make from its war movies, its comic book superhero movies, and its crime dramas? How much money do television networks and their advertisers make from all their programs depicting “good-guy vs. bad-guy” stories where someone has to die in spectacular fashion? This is “must see TV”!

Yes, these “drug dealers” are making quite a killing. Violence is a kind of methamphetamine for the human ego. This “narcotic” deludes a person into believing that he or she has a god-like power to control others or the environment and is entitled to do so. This is true of an individual ego, a national ego, and true of the ego of a corporation. In each case the ego becomes so “super-sized” that the person, nation or corporation equates themselves with God. Believing in our own entitlement and in our own “benevolence”, any means to the “sanctified” end is justified. In this way any killing, maiming or institutionalized oppression is standard operating procedure.

What if we choose to be modern, sophisticated people who do not accept the framed reality as marketed by the Powers That Be? What if we recognize the “Halloween candy” as the addictive drug it really is? What if we admit our own addiction to violence in its many forms? What if we decide that enough is enough and that we need to stop it here and now?

Just as All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again after his fall, there is no Magic Politician who will make us whole and healthy. There is no Enchanted Political System that will save us from ourselves. All of us fallen addicts need to put ourselves back together again. It’s our responsibility. In our active addiction to violence we have forgotten who we are and if we are to recover we must start remembering who we are. We need to re-member ourselves. We need to put ourselves back together again. We need to be more of who we really are.

As addicts, we need to continually recover from this particular addiction. In this recovery process we can become free of our delusions of righteous omnipotence. We can let go of the fantasy that we are Zeus administering justice by hurling thunderbolts from the top of Mount Olympus. Instead we can be real human beings. We can embrace what is real and genuinely good about ourselves. We can reclaim our birthright as people of honest love.

It’s time to find out what this kind of recovery looks like.

–Paul Nyklicek


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