The Circular Trap Of Addiction

I find it significant that so many people are currently involved in the issue of addiction. To me, addictions stand for the deeper conflict between maintaining one’s old conditioning and breaking free.

The root causes of addiction are hotly debated, but one aspect of the syndrome is that it brings pleasure to people who cannot find it any other way. As Alice Miller observes, “People who as children successfully repressed their intense feelings often try to regain – at least for a short time – their lost intensity of experience with the help of drugs and alcohol.”

I think it is obvious that many people have anesthetized a huge portion of their feeling self. To show strong emotions is rarely considered an acceptable form of behavior in our society, while paramount importance is placed on self-control.

As a result, many of us may reach the point where we panic at the first sign of emotion starting to well up. Repeating the denial of emotion imposed upon us in childhood, we now exert enormous pressure to deny ourselves.

Addiction “solves” this problem by permitting pleasure while at the same time insuring that the pleasure is furtive and guilt ridden. The essence of any form of compulsive behavior is helpless repetition, which pleasure alone would not be strong enough to incite.

Often it is the pleasure itself that alcoholics and heroin addicts, food bingers and compulsive thieves find shameful; therefore, they have no alternative but to seek pleasures that have built-in dissatisfaction.

I would like to apply the diagnosis provided by the rishis and say that addiction is basically the result of a mistake. The addict is caught in a circular trap of his own devising; he cannot get enough pleasure to finally abolish his guilt; he cannot suffer enough guilt to keep him from the next fix. Rather, the two impulses circle each other in an endless dance.

Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).


Rebecca Wylie
Rebecca W6 years ago

I wanted this to be more helpful. But it wasn't.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Care2 members: thanks for all your interesting comments on this article.

Gloria Wood
Gloria Wood6 years ago

Recently read Ken Keyes; his opinion of addiction is anything that is more than a preference, for which you feel some emotion when you cannot have it--sleep, getting your own way, french fries. It's not all about chemicals in your brain. So if as a child you are encouraged not to feel, becoming addicted to something allows you to feel emotion when you can't have it(anger, disappointment, frustration, sadness)MHO

Nancy Mayer
Nancy Mayer6 years ago

This is an interesting and wise way to define addiction

myra d.
myra d6 years ago


Gaby D.
Gaby D6 years ago

continued.... And THAT is to me, where the problem in our modern society lies.....the feeling that we can't possibly measure up, it's never good enough, we feel as if we fail to live up to the standards that 'we' *through conditioning' have set up for ourselves.

It is these feelings of inadequacy that in my view lead to the addictions, to alcohol, drugs, still the panic, the fears, we do not want to feel inadequate. The addictions that take the edge of.....fortunately, I've found that exercising makes me feel better, a run makes me feel energized, those natural endorphines are cool.
So I will devote myself to accepting the fact that I am HUMAN, and not even the strongest kind of human being physically, emotionally ....I will accept that fact and celebrate that I am human....not super human. I think that is probably my safest 'bet' to prevent me from falling into the circular trap, even though I am no less prone to addiction than the next person. On that happy note...I'm of to my yoga mat:-) Namaste!

Gaby D.
Gaby D6 years ago

Goodmorning Deepak, and all other Care posters, readers!
Interesting, intriguing and very enlightening post and comments here. I really liked Zee's comments: Addition being the similar to devotion. At first I wondered...but then I read that the moment the guilt becomes part of the equation we are no longer devoting our time, ourselves to 'whatever the object of our devotion is' but are becoming addicted. That makes sense to me.....but that too, is a two-way 'sword'.
Let's take exercise or yoga, or journaling or reading soular energy. On the face of it 'good things to do' right? Yet, the moment you start feeling guilty for 'devoting your time to them''ve got a problem. Yet, you could also start feeling guilty because you are not doing them, for whatever reason.
I truly see how both sides of that coin can lead to 'addiction'. Why? On the one hand we try to do what's good for us and we take the time out to exercise, do our yoga, meditation, read Soular Energy, volunteer work whatever....yet....the mundane...daily work also needs to be done..... getting sufficient sleep also ranks high on the list. Aha.....guess we have to start making choices!:-) And that's where the feeling guilty about 'whatever we cannot accomplish' steps in......and the feelings of "aah just can't do it all!" And THAT is to me, where the problem in our modern society lies.....the feeling that we can't possibly measure up, it's never good enough, we feel as if we fail to liv

TERRANCE N6 years ago

Addiction to drugs, sex, drugs, work, school, etc,. are natural if there is not an environment that promotes and teaches balance in all things in life.

The main addiction I see plaguing our society is greed and avarice. The former addictions mentioned is mainly self inflicted. The later ones prey on and disrupt our entire society.

Susan W.
Susan W.6 years ago

Sorry to say they have it only partially correct and mostly wrong. Most people who are prone to addictions start our physically different from others who are not- repressed feelings or not.

Becky Y.
Rebecca Y6 years ago

I could never understand addictions and have never been addicted to anything but Deepak's article puts a better slant on the various whys of an addictive personality. To me, it always seemed that taking any of the addictive drugs was just another added problem and it would eventually do you in worse than the problem with which you began. My heart goes out to the young kids who think drugs are the answer and to those who suffer from long term addiction and just can't break the cycle. I wish you peace.