Excessive Appetites: A Psychological View of Addictions

By Jim Orford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The Place of Expert Help

[My mum] finally confronted me, and I did something which I'd never even
thought of doing … I told her everything—and that was the first massive
step towards reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Now that she knew
everything I was able to talk to her … enabling me to GIVE UP … it was
sheer will power … with my family's backing to kick the [fruit machine]
habit .…

(Respondent 11, male, aged 18, cited by Griffiths, 1993a, p. 40)

I give up, see I better give up drinking grog. I never get any tablet, anything,
I just give up myself. I never drink. And today I never drink any beer or see
them boys they drinking in my place and if they bite my arm for drink—
nothing. They argue with ladies outside, that's why I give up today. This
year early I give up the grog.

(A Torres Strait Islander, cited by Brady, 1995, p. 7)

In the previous chapter it was argued that excessive appetitive behaviour could not be properly understood without taking full account of conflict, ambivalence and dissonance over behaviour. Such behaviour cannot be comprehended unless cognisance is taken of the restraints and pressures which oppose it. Excessive appetitive behaviour is not just repetitive behaviour, but is repetitive behaviour which comes into conflict with other needs of the person or with those of other people in his or her life. The present chapter and the following one, which attempt to reach a psychological understanding of the processes that occur when people attempt to regain control over such behaviours, will pursue this line of argument by presenting a model based upon the resolution of conflicts. According to this way of understanding the problem, the task facing a person who has developed a strong and troublesome appetite is that of coping with the dissonance created between actual behaviour (e.g. gambling incurring heavy losses, sexual behaviour which runs counter to the person's moral standards, heavy drinking which threatens the stability of marriage) and sensible behaviour or right conduct (saving money, being monogamous, drinking socially and moderately). One set of options for the reduction of dissonance consists of actions and attitudes which will be construed

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