Humans instinctively run to aid others in pain. The urge is so strong that people will dive into dangerous waters and risk their own lives.
I learned early on to avoid people who gave off signals that they didn’t value other people’s feelings. Most of us do this out of self-preservation. We can’t know what’s going on in their heads or why they can’t feel others’ pain, and we have enough to do taking care of ourselves and the nicer people we know.
I have an acquaintance who I’ve always avoided because of this meanness (and note that “mean” means stingy as well as unkind — mean people often acting that way because they cannot feel secure enough to be generous.) But I’ve also felt “there but for the grace of God go I,” because under the surface I sensed a congruency and could easily see how I might have gone down the same dead-end addictive path.
Not to delve too deeply into what I think the meaning of life is, but humans are also instinctively attuned to watch out for others who don’t pull their weight — who “cheat” by taking and not giving. Addicts have an unfulfilled need, a hole at the center, which is temporarily filled by the experience that they are addicted to — whether it be drugs, gambling, shopping, sex…. the need expands to take over as the organizing principle of their life, and everything they do is increasingly about getting more. More and more desperate, they circle ever closer to the drain; if they have a lot of resources, they can circle it for many years. But whether they fall in or not, their potential to do their bit for the human project is wasted while they are completely self-absorbed. They take more and more, and give less and less, and alienate their friends and community.
Who are you to try to change things? After all, you could be wrong — it’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t really know that this person’s in trouble, and it’s presumptuous to think you can rescue someone who hasn’t asked for your help. But once you’re sure, you’re obligated to at least try. And when you try, almost always you’ll be rebuffed, because the last thing an addict wants to acknowledge is that he’s not in control any longer.
It’s easy at that point to dismiss the addict, telling yourself you can’t help, he’s really a jerk, and to Hell with him. The hardest course is to stand back and let the addict’s needs consume him, while not taking it personally and remaining watchful for your chance to help — which comes when the addict realizes even the biggest hit won’t fill the need, and their life is in danger.
You are not the only person waiting to help, and you may not be the one with the key that gets past the addict’s defenses. And you may never be called on.
A friend pointed out this passage from an Iain Banks novel:
She told him he spread himself, too thinly. He wasn’t really destroying himself, he was stopping himself from developing. He was still in a sort of childish state, a boylike phase where numbers mattered more than anything, where obsessive collecting, taking, enumerating, cataloging all spoke of a basic immaturity. He could never grow and develop as a human being until he went beyond this infantile obsession with penetration and possession.
He told her he didn’t want to get beyond this stage; he loved it. Anyway, even though he loved it and wouldn’t care if he remained promiscuous until he was too old to do it all, the chances were that he would change, sometime, eventually , over the course of the next three centuries or so of life which he could expect… There was plenty of time to do all this damned growing and developing. It would take care of itself. He wasn’t going to try and force the pace. If all this sexual activity was something he had to get out of this system before he could properly mature, then she had a moral duty to help him get rid of it as quickly as possibly, starting right now….
She pushed him away, as ever. He didn’t understand, she told him. It wasn’t a finite supply of promiscuity he was draining, it was an ever-replenishing fixation that was eating up his potential for future personal growth.
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations
[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]
Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”
Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.
More on Attachment and Personality Types:
What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
“Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management
Dismissive-Avoidants as Parents