The following text is an excerpt from a conversation with Todd Goodwin, Board Certified Hypnotist at GoodwinHypnosis.com, who was interviewed by Conor Flynn, host of the Rx Podcast (DrinkRxCoffee.com), on July 30, 2018.
This ninth segment addresses the myth of the “addictive personality.”
CONOR FLYNN: I have been told my whole life when I do something, I’m 100% or zero, there’s not much in between. It’s like, “Oh, you have an addictive personality, you do this, you do that.”
TODD GOODWIN: Well, hopefully you’ve never had a therapist tell you that. Because when you have an authority figure tell you something, maybe a parent, someone with real authority, where you’re giving your power away to that person, and letting them influence you, you could have been hypnotized into believing it. And if you weren’t as self-aware you are or weren’t as conscientious of your own thoughts, then you might have accepted or swallowed hook, line, and sinker, the lie that you have, or are, an addictive personality. Quite honestly, I think the addictive personality concept is bullshit. I mean, I can’t speak to you specifically. But in general, I don’t think that’s accurate.
I think what when someone says addictive personality, they’re referring to someone who is easily attached to a variety of different addictive tendencies, right? They could be chemical, personal, behavioral, or any combination. You know, they might say, “I’m a sex addict, or a social media addict, or a gambler. I drink, I smoke, I do drugs, I can’t stop watching something on Netflix.” Really, ultimately, it’s all the same in terms of brain chemistry, for the most part. It’s not a personality type. It is simply a sign that that person in that case is disempowered. And the degree of their disempowerment dictates how many behaviors or interactions with external sources of immediate pleasure they need in order to feel okay.
So the person who just smokes and doesn’t have any other “addictive” tendencies might not be labeled as an addictive personality. But the person who, you know, smokes a pack a day, tends to overeat, has compulsive drinking tendencies, and goes to the casino a lot. Most people would say that guy is an addict or an addictive personality or something, when really, I will say, if you show me a person like that, I will point to someone who is truly unfulfilled in their life, they have this ongoing gnawing, underlying stress or anxiety, they’re unhappy on some level, no matter how they might portray the opposite on the surface. And until or unless that person addresses that underlying unhappiness and fixes it based on their thought process, they’re going to continue to struggle with the addictions. They will usually go from one to the other. They may quit smoking, but they’re going to eat more. They may quit drinking, but they’re going to do something else. Because the truth is, those behaviors that are undesirable are actually serving a good purpose to help the person reduce stress temporarily or feel better.
So until the root causes are addressed, the superficial symptoms, however antisocial or self-destructive or unhealthy they might be, are going to continue to come back. Therefore, it’s not an addictive personality, but it’s the extent to which that person needs all those different things in order to feel okay. And the more someone needs it, the more diverse or intense their tendencies are likely to be. Maybe one thing is not enough, they need to have like 10 different addictive things.
CONOR: And if those people can find, maybe they liked the excitement and the risk taking. And if they can replace those bad behaviors with healthy behaviors that would be good for them. So as I got older, rather than going out on the weekends and drinking in a bar, or things like that, like you know, I go to my friends gym, do some obstacle course racing, I go to a yoga class, I go for a run, I go do CrossFit, there’s all these different things, there’s a million different things you can do out there that are exciting intense. So I like those intense things that I’m not going to stay up all night drinking and have a hangover the next day and be a productive member of society and enjoy my life and be happy. And I’m not against people drinking, that’s fine. There’s a time and a place for things like I was at a friend’s bachelor party a few weeks ago, and I had a few too many. I’m sure for his wedding, I will too. But on a regular basis, it’s just not something for me that I enjoy. And I got caught up in my 20s. For the most part, I would go out to these bars and these lounges and these places where it became a ritualistic part where I wasn’t even having fun doing it. And I’m there in the moment. I’m like, “Well, why am I here?” Because it’s almost like I didn’t know what else to do. I think a lot of people get caught up in that in life.
TODD: Yeah, and if everyone else is drinking, let’s say as an example. It could be a wedding, networker, any of those type of situations. And you’re not, then you kind of feel like you should. Now, you want to hear something else that’s interesting? I said in the beginning that most people, when they hear that I’m a hypnotist, focus on the hypnosis as being the most interesting part. And I’ve been doing this work for about 11 years. And I can tell you that that’s not as interesting to me as the human behavior aspect. Notice, mostly we’ve been talking about human behavior and our tendencies emotionally, behaviorally, That, to me, is far more fascinating than hypnosis. They’re both really important in the work that I do. It’s just that the technique, the technology, the methodology of hypnotism, while making any kind of intervention more effective, is in and of itself, not curative, if you’re not dealing with the real underlying issue. So the assessment of the person’s individual issue, the understanding of the human condition, I think, is far more valuable. And that’s what we’re talking about, you know, the self-awareness, the consciousness that so many people lack, more and more today. We’re asleep due to the media and environmental influences and food that all numb us.
The next segment discusses how social groups often reinforce addictive behavior.