Pure grace allows some people to escape alcoholism

BOOK REVIEWIn the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, M.D.:  At page 307, Dr. Mate says that: “It is useful to study and consider what combination of self-knowledge, strength, supportive environment, good fortune, and pure grace allows some people to escape the death grip of hard-core addiction.

In addition to the visible factors, there are also many subtle, invisible ones that may positively influence our psychic strength and our capacity for choice. Integral components may be,a kind word spoken long ago, a fortuitous circumstance, a new relationship. Perhaps we were enlightened by a flash of sunlight. Maybe our hearts were healed by a memory of love. What is often required is a sudden opening to [spiritual experience] rather than faith. Sometimes there is nothing to believe, only God’s love to experience.

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Celebrate Recovery

People who have overcome severe addictions deserve to be celebrated, and they have much to teach, but their example cannot be used to condemn others who have not been able to follow in their footsteps.


It is equally unjust to hold a traumatized and neurologically impaired adult to the same standard as one not so afflicted, says brain researcher Martin Teicher.

What hidden life-enhancing experiences has one person enjoyed that another has been denied?

Freedom of choice, understood from the perspective of brain development, is not a universal or fixed attribute but a statistical probability. In other words, a given set of life experiences, a human being will have either a lessor or a greater probability of having freedom in the realm of the psyche. A warmly nurtured child is much ore likely to develop emotional freedom than is an abused and neglected child. “The brain forces us to become reflections of our personal histories,” write two U.S. research psychiatrists. “Simply stated, children reflect the world in which they are raised.” As we have seen, the in utero and early childhood experiences of hard-core addicts will likely diminish the possibly of freedom. The probability of these children attaining even a basic level of psychic freedom from automatic mechanisms and drives is correspondingly less–not completely absent but less.

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Better late than never

The solution is to promote healthy brain development later in life when the conditions for it have been lacking from earliest childhood onward.

As prominent researcher Richard L. Gregory expressed it, it’s not a matter of free will but of “free won’t.”

How much time elapses between impulse and action? In that sliver of time we see ourselves about to perform the act, and, if necessary, we can stand between ourselves and the behavior in question. This is called preattentive analysis. Preattentive analysis give us the ability to develop our “free won’t.””

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By Dean McAdams

Born a poor peckerwood in a Tujunga holler, Dean overeducated himself beyond his social station to end up a retired paralegal in the coastal paradise of West L.A.