Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Learning from Addiction

Embarrassingly, a professor of moral theology mentions how he was addicted to gaming when in Germany for studies after a period as an assistant priest in Korea. He writes about it in Bible & Life. He had finished the busy life in parish work and with the change he found great pleasure in gaming. After Mass in the morning he would be gaming, excepting meals, until evening.

Addiction is a kind of neurosis on which we depend. Up until the second part of the 20th century addiction was expressed mostly by a dependence on alcohol and drugs while now it is gambling, sex, eating, and the like which are included. Authorities now see it as addiction to substances and activities. The common element of the two—with desire and obsession one loses freedom and even with the knowledge of the evil effects one continues in their use and action.

In Korean society mentioned is often made of addiction to alcohol, gambling, drugs, and gaming. Proposals were made in efforts to curb the harm of these addictions but when it came to gaming, many scholars opposed the consideration of gaming as a disorder. This year the world health organization WHO was planning to include gaming as a problem but scholars say there is not enough proof of being a disorder. He mentions in Korea we have seen the results of gaming on families and individuals to know that it can have deleterious effects on the citizens. Of course the gaming itself is not a vice but can be.

Monkeys, in an experiment on addiction, shown two colors one was rewarded with the same amount of juice and the second color would at times give little juice and at times a great deal of juice. This was repeated three times with the same results. The color that gave the great amount of juice with the danger of getting little juice was chosen overwhelmingly over the one that gave the same amount each time. The ecstasy that came with great amount of juice would erase all the losses. The scientist see this as the reason for addiction to gambling and the other addictions. Even if the head says one thing the chance for the ecstasy takes away freedom.

With few exception we desire freedom. We need to examine this issue with great seriousness. When do we really experience freedom? Is it at the market where we can select what we want?  Or is it rather when we buy only what we need and use the money saved to help others.

Expressing it differently it's not when we can do what we want, when we want but when our wills are able to select the greatest good that we are really free. This is the way we should live and addiction takes away this freedom.

The writer reminds us of the incident on Mount Tabor where Peter in ecstasy wanted to build three tents and Jesus takes him by the hand to descend the mountain and return to  the others who were waiting at the bottom.

He concludes the article, reminiscing on his experience with addiction. Although embarrassing he learned a great deal; it helped him to enter his studies with enthusiasm, complete them successfully, and now sees the experience positively.

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