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Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong (TEDTalk - 15 min)

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

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Yes Mem,

We would have to start asking some uncomfortable questions.  But they should be asked.  Isn't one problem with addiction and even trying to heal from child abuse and childhood adversity -- societal denial?  We don't want to know about that --- so abused voices are hushed.  Polite doctors don't ask about that - so hoards of physicians won't screen for ACEs in the medical office when these are totally relevant to their patients health.  Much publicity is given to the death of a 3 year old Syrian boy and we don't take into consideration part of the problem there is due not only to politics but to water scarcity created by Western Addiction to buying stuff that doesn't make us happy or healthy and this stuff is harming the environment (it is an addiction -  trying to fill a hole in the heart and soul that needs to be healed w/ connection to ourselves, others and the environment).   We have children here living in horrible poverty, abandoned and condemned buildings in rural Alpena, inner city war zones in the US but we don't want to know or to hear about it.   The truth doesn't care if we want to know or not (one can indeed deny their cancer but denial doesn't make one's cancer disappear),   But like any dis-ease, whether we want to know or not, eventually webwill be forced to listen.   We are addicted to stuff (junk) and not to loving and caring for our planet or each other.  I am not referring to everyone but many of us.  I do see the hypocrisy in it all. As I think about it, it is as if there is an oozing score on my arm with pus and muck and I don't want to have to endure this alone.   Addiction is bigger than a singular individual putting a needle in his or her arm, it is a problem all of us have to face and look at in one way or another. Right now many of us can live in euphoric denial but I'm pretty sure we won't be able to do this for much longer as the problems get right in our faces when there is no water to drink and this becomes about our survival not just some child in a country far away.

Having grown up in very horrific poverty where my life was meaningless to everyone around me (eating stale bread sold for animal feed, living in unsafe and unfit housing, sleeping in a snowsuit during the winter due to no heat in a very cold Michigan, daily threats to life), makes me look at these concerns in a very different way than most probably do.  Oh and I hope I don't sound mean... This is just something that really concerns me and I logically know it should be concerning everyone.

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True, true! But most people would not understand or would deny this is an addiction! Of course, because if you didn't you might have to start asking some uncomfortable questions.  If you came to the conclusion you wanted more connection, you have to find like minded, who have arrived at the same idea.  

We humans can also be somewhat hypocritical. It's rather complicated, I think!  On the other hand it's not really, but one has to be very clear about one's values and act them out accordingly.  Mindfully, perhaps! 

And connection could never allow us to live well above our needs when our brothers and sisters are suffering war, famine, poverty, child homelessness and rampant environmental destruction and poisoning.  This consumerism is a dangerous and selfish addiction.  Seeking more and more material items understanding the results are harmful is addiction, is it not?

Calvin Klein vs connection?! Yes we've come so far yet...

It seems you can't have one (human progress in all its positive aspects) without the other (rampant consumerism).  It comes at the cost I think of perpetuating the us and them mentality. 

So Tina you're going into the interesting world of politics here, naturally, because how can you not, when you come to certain conclusions....   Mind you, we wouldn't be having this conversation if we didn't live in first world countries.  Yet we know something is very wrong... Something is missing... So better not to think too much: just consume, or a bit of both if you're "middle class".  Take care of your immediate family is the best one can do, attitude.

Yet it was Johann Hari (again on the radio this morning!) who said:

"The opposite of addiction isn't sobriety. The opposition of addiction is connection".

Hmmm indeed!

Absolutely! Choose your poison... They all have the potential to be lethal. 

Ice use is saturating the media and politics ATM in Australia, so the figure of those who are so called addicted surprised me.  I'm not making a judgement call (well I don't think I am!) here! 


"When we look at addicts, if we are honest – and I feel it too, even though I have loved many addicts in my life – it’s hard to keep out voices of moral judgement. We look at somebody who is chronically using alcohol or drugs, and we say with a shake of the head: “Well, I wouldn’t do that.” By the end of my journey, I had realized that makes as much sense as looking at somebody who has had their legs amputated after a car crash and saying: “Cutting off your legs is weird. I would never do that.” Addicts have been in car crashes of the soul."


Love this analogy from Johann Hari

It is always better whether for a child or an adult who has been unable to deal with the pain in their life, for culture to build individuals self esteem and respect everyone's humanity instead of dehumanizing and shaming already shamed people who are prone to self- hate.  To me this is common sense (but common sense seems not to be so common).  


Love, not hate, heals.  

Last edited by Former Member

From the description on the video:

Published on Jul 9, 2015

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

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