Wednesday, 26 February 2014


edited on Feb 6, 2015
This is not about being addicted to being helped, it's about being addicted to helping. 

In my frame, addictions are a natural defense against the isolation that comes with being shunned by our herd because of wounds caused by border violations and other trauma. And that is an explanation, not an excuse - everyone owns responsibility for dealing with their addictions. 

One common and very “normal”, even “positive” addiction is help addiction … distancing oneself from harm to one's own childhood vulnerability by helping others. I was a help addict for many years, and I now see this as a near relative of violence: Instead of “I am powerful, I am not helpless”, I did “I am helping, I am not helpless”.

I also did the logic of nice:

And the judging of people I helped:

Link here in case you can't see the clip:

Brené Brown: Are You Judging Those Who Ask For Help? 

Quoting from the video clip:
“How many of you are comfortable asking for help?” Few hands go up.
“How many of you would rather give help than ask for help?” Nearly all hands in the audience go up.
“When you cannot accept and ask for help without self-judgment, then when you offer other people help, you are always doing so with judgment.”

Well-meaning professional mental helpers can show symptoms of help addiction: judgement, aggression, emotional shutdown, and whingeing when harmful help is criticized. 

Help addiction is related to violence, and ...

Shutdown, which can be lauded as “professional detachment”, can lead to harmful labeling and the humiliating mental help that a patient advocate called Jake describes here. Aggression often occurs without witnesses, and whingeing is an effective defense against criticism.

Linking to a blog post by Monica Cassini: Healer heal thyself (to the mental health professional)
Clinicians are trained to never, ever identify with the client. Why? What is wrong with recognizing shared humanity, even a weakness or flaw, and bonding in that? In providing a safe container from that understanding? The mere instruction to avoid such intimacy at all costs seems like a violent denial of oneself and clients both. It seems indicative of a deep fear of ones own dark parts. How do we help others find their way out of the dark if we hide from our own darkness? Such identification may not always be appropriate to share, no doubt, it may also not be present with many clients. But when it is present and appropriate to share from such a place, with adequate boundaries in place, it can be an incredibly healing experience for both parties. 
And I recently came across a blog post by Clare Slaney, where she  writes bluntly and honestly about help addiction: 
"If you want to be loved and liked, don't go into psychotherapy."
She links to an interview with Estela Welldon:

When we treat patients as poor souls in need of our expertise we distance ourselves from them and patronise them. As a matter of principle, we are all equals. And it’s dead true that therapy attracts do-gooders, people in massive need of care themselves who find satisfaction in exerting control over others. Therapists come into training because we’re interested in our own inner lives above and beyond almost everything else; we’re a desperately solipsistic lot and we’re all a bit bonkers. Therapists have to accept that about ourselves to keep the privileges that we’re given under control.

[Welldon] says she has an "enormous amount of violence myself, and I think the patients know that too.”

Hoorah. Many of us are seething with violence a lot of the time but we’ve learned to tone it down, disguise it, pretend it’s something else because that’s what gets rewarded and it’s why so much of Paganism is pathetic. Sitting with some friends the other day one said, ‘If one more person tells me I’m strong, I’ll scream.’ Another replied, ‘Tell them you’re not strong, you’re violent, that’ll shut them up,’ and we laughed with recognition and pleasure. Religions in particular tell us we must be meek and mild, totally accepting, utterly non-judgemental and it’s a very rare person who can come close to that even occasionally. Patients who are wild with fury, often very justifiably, don’t want to be met by someone who would really like them to talk about rainbows and puppies and the power of forgiveness. Whilst it’s often important for a woman patient to have a woman therapist there must also be room for a woman to meet with a male therapist who’s au fait with his responses to sex and gender and is comfortable with a woman who needs to rage or talk honestly about her dangerous feelings around her children. I’ve met too many women therapists who make their fear and disapproval of women’s rage and violence all too obvious.

I don't have a solution to this,  just a suggestion. Check how you communicate with people you help. If you are being helped, check how the helper communicates:

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