Why We Are All Addicts

Why We Are All Addicts

We operate with some stock images of the addict:
a person with a heroin needle in a park, or who nurses a bottle of gin in a paper bag
at nine in the morning or who sneaks off at every opportunity to light up another cylinder
of marijuana. However dramatic and tragic such cases of addiction might be, they are
simultaneously hugely reassuring to most of us – because they locate the addict far
from ordinary experience, somewhere off-stage, in the land of semi-criminality and outright
breakdown. Such examples are dangerously flattering, categorising addiction in a sentimental way
that lets most of us off the hook – and at the same time, cuts us off from identification
with, and therefore sympathy for, the most wretched victims of addiction. There are,
in truth, far more addicts than we think. Indeed, if we look at the matter squarely:
we are pretty much all addicts. The official statistics on the consumption of hard drugs
or alcohol don’t begin to give a fair representation of the issue. We need to define addiction
in a new way: addiction is the manic reliance on something, anything, in order to keep our
dark or unsettling thoughts at bay. What properly indicates addiction is not what someone is
addicted to, for we can get addicted to pretty much anything. It is the motives behind their
reliance on it – and, in particular, their desire to avoid encountering the contents
of their own mind. Being inside our own minds is, for most of us, and very understandably,
a deeply anxiety-inducing prospect. We are filled with thoughts we don’t want properly
to entertain and feelings we are desperate not to feel. There is an infinite amount we
are angry and sad about that it would take an uncommon degree of courage to face. We
experience a host of fantasies and desires that we have a huge incentive to disavow,
because of the extent to which they violate our self-image and our more normative commitments.
We shouldn’t pride ourselves because we aren’t injecting something into our veins.
Almost certainly, we are doing something with equal commitment. We are checking the news
at four minute intervals, to keep the news from ourselves at bay. We’re doing sport,
exhausting our bodies in the hope of not having to hear from our minds. We’re using work
to get away from the true internal work we’re shirking. The most compelling addictions sound
very righteous to the world. To get a measure of our levels of addiction, we need only consider
when the last time might have been that we were able to sit alone in a room with our
own thoughts, without distraction, free associating, daring to wander into the past and the future,
allowing ourselves to feel pain, desire, regret and excitement. We may start to see how much
we have in common with the traditional addict. When we come face to face with them, we’re
not meeting anything especially foreign, just a part of ourselves in a less respectable
form – opening up new opportunities for kindness, towards them, and us. We could start
to think, too, of how we might wean ourselves off our chosen addictive pursuit. We need
to lose our fear of our minds. We need a collective sense of safety around confronting loss, humiliation,
sexual desire and sadness – knowing that we will have to keep running so long as we
do not rehabilitate our feelings. On the other side of addiction is, in a sense, philosophy
– understood as the patient, unfrightened, compassionate examination of the contents
of our own minds. Thank you for watching, liking and subscribing. If you want more why not visit us in person and attend a class? Or take a look at our shop at the link on your screen now.


  1. I very strongly feel regardless, that a truth happens to be discomfortingly under-emphasized here– the fact that complete concentration/devotion could be, in lieu of a possible symptom of addiction as is (justifiably) hammered in the video, essentially an offspring of passion+/purpose+/etc.

    That entirely immersing oneself in something, is not necessarily synonymous with running away from something else.

  2. We are all addicted to consumerism and materialism.

    We hold.a terrifying (and incorrect) view of how we used to live without technology and industrialisation.

  3. Good video. I now must admit that I'm addicted to Facebook, constantly checking the feed, which ranges from various news and political sites to friends' postings. I think, hopefully, with a dose of discipline and some conscious awareness, i can break free of this…

  4. Very well put. One of the most important things in life to develop is the ability to be with ourself — without distraction, without filters, without accompaniment, just be with and deal with the me. It's so vital to being authentic (because we'll know who we are), for having peace of mind (because we're not always frantically trying to keep things at bay), and to creativity and freedom. It's all to darn easy these days to get hooked on something to avoid this very intimate contact with ourself, especially at a very young age (and it only gets harder to learn later on). We may be amused, but we're not fulfilled. So own that addiction for what it is! Be proud! And then put it aside and see what shows up in the space that remains. 🙂

  5. Spot on! So far I've found the rehabilitation approaches of Eckhart Tolle and Jan Frazier most helpful. I'm new to School of Life, will check it out. Thank you!

  6. Interesting thought….Drug addicts are simply the people who replaced addictions for one specific dopamine fix. hmmm

  7. I'm addicted to improving my life. I've taught myself to play the guitar, I became a minimalist, I exercise every week, I stopped watching pornography and masturbating, I eat healthy, I read a whole lot and meditate. But I still feel unfulfilled. I have done these things all because I have something deep within me that I can't quite grasp. Maybe I don't know myself, or maybe I need a community. I'm not too sure. I guess I should think about it. Thank you, School of Life.

  8. Judging by your standard, I am not an addict. I'll be on my way now, I just wanted to gloat for a second.

  9. What about Dopamine?
    It's kind of incomplete unless you add Physical Part of Desire, desire to get Dopamine Drip.
    You need to also talk about physiology of Dependence, the actual cause of dependence.

    Isn't it good to think about good thought instead of bad? Isn't it good to be positive than to be negative? We don't need to think about all our negative and bad thoughts, but instead replace them with good one.

  10. Addiction is often caused by undermethylation and can be treated with high dose methylated B Complex vitamins. Probably add some magnesium too.

  11. A co worker one time told me.
    "The brain loves drugs."
    Does that mean the brain loves getting that short or long feeling of comfort any sort of addiction causes? That hit!
    If the brain does in fact love drugs. Then we are very vulnerable to addiction.
    And what we need is a society that prevents addiction rather than one that enables it. As it does today.

  12. WTF!! I've been thinking precisely that these days. That we're all addicts in some form. Sugar for example. Society is just used to it and has accepted it as a item to stay.

  13. I'm addicted to caffeine and want to stop but you know all addictions are impossible to stop, plus I have a hart condition so I'm not long for this world.

  14. But can the sitting, thinking and feeling – which sounds for me kinda similar to meditation – also become an addiction?

  15. I am addicted to the people I love. It sounds cheesy, but there's a certain person I love who's never outside my thoughts. Whenever I'm not with them they're all I can think about and being away from them hurts. Whenever I'm with them I couldn't be happier. I'd say I'm so in love that I'm obsessed. The thought of losing them is unbearable. I fear if I ever did lose them that it would break me.

  16. All addicted to the self-constructed idea of separated self we created. A hidden form of self-harm

  17. I had to work at a place with almost no distraction and felt like a prisoner of my own thoughts. I was so glad when it was over, since I really felt like going insane.

  18. Loved the final image of the guy running… That's how we should be with our minds:let them run freely like a little child playing…hope someday I could do it again…

  19. I refuse to believe that the world is full of weaklings and pathetic, cowardly people who fear their own minds. Many of us are strong and still have good coping skills. I call BS on this theory. Addicts are a tiny minority.

  20. Now, loosing the fear of our own minds is the real challenge underlying in our subconscious as thinking human beings.
    I'm always afraid of ruining things, but maybe i will be doing a conscious effort to encourage myself to not be afraid of what might come my way from now on. Nice philosophy, this channel flows my mind with hope.

  21. This is one of your most helpful videos. I don’t remember the last time I sat alone with myself without a screen or the desire for one. Youtube accompanies me everywhere. I watch the same videos of broadway shows over and over again. Thank you school of life for giving me perspective

  22. I am addicted to gambling. Worst addiction possible. It is drive by my emotional insecurity as I desire to escape the cruel reality; but the more I gamble the more I detached from reality and eventually go bankrupt and hate life.

  23. I'm still not totally clear on what it means to face myself or how that actually helps deal with the pain of loss. I've long been led to believe that I ought to do this, but every time I do allow myself to experience the pain of loss, I'm overwhelmed by the feelings to the point that I more or less drop out of functioning society. In fact, the only way I ever seem to come out of this is by avoiding the thoughts that lead me to feel so terrible. What does it really mean to "deal" with thoughts and emotions?

  24. When asked why he drank so much, an addicted friend of mine once answered that Life was boring. I now believe he meant life was actually torturous. There are so many things that we never talk about, especially to people we are close to: deep secrets, hurt feelings, awful experiences, dark desires. Generally, we don't open up to
    others because we fear some kind of negative response that would only lead to more shame or hurt.
    Eventually, we begin to keep it a secret from ourselves and that's when the torture begins. Binge eating, binge watching TV shows, drug use, maturation or sex addiction, texting, social media, video games, etc.
    I guess we all have a "Distraction Addiction". I believe that coping skills or emotional health should be taught in schools, maybe we would graduate more emotionally healthy young adults.

  25. So you want us to be addicted to philosophy? And with that philosophers. What an egotist you are alain de botton

  26. What If there were external and internal toxins that highjack your brain so that rational thinking, emotional stability, mindfulness/meditation are not possible or only when the load of toxins is reduced? Grains, dairy and sugar are for example foods that highjack the brain.

  27. When you start Detoxification of the Body the brain, mind, soul will heal too and thus your emotional balance and thinking.

  28. my dudes, great videos, buy please get a de-esser for your voice over. The SSS are so sharp they actually made my ears hurt. Thank you 🙂

  29. I have had different addictions throughout my short life but right now mine is food. I order new junk food everyday even when there’s left overs. I’ve spent an appalling amount of money on junk food & takeaways but I can’t seem to stop myself from consuming and consuming.

  30. Being alone in a dark room and thinking only leads to a choking sense of panic. It's feels better to keep myself intoxicated, hyped, or asleep. Last night I slept for over 24 hours because I was too nervous about an upcoming test but wanted to avoid studying for it or thinking about it. The day before, I was drunk. This morning, I had two cups of coffee already, and its only 0930 am. I must be addicted to everything.

  31. Addiction is awful and it is about a lack of connection and a way to distract from deeper pain. Once the healing begins and you sit with your demons and pain its awful just awful and you contemplate suicide on more than one occasion but it gets easier over time. Once you accept you are an addict and that you will have to live with that fact and that triggers could happen at any time and surrender to your higher power it does get easier, you have to change your life and completely change your life to make healthier choices, its a process but one over time that gives you so much power and courage its amazing.

  32. I love this videos, everything is so perfect to understand . Makes me feel normal and able to get thru anything and everything. We are all just humans .

  33. Can someone help me? I’m looking for one video from TSOL about how we make partners depend on us and kinda „put them in cage“. But I can’t find it anymore 😩 I remember a cage in the thumbnail 🤷🏼‍♀️ can anybody help?

  34. funny how "sitting alone in a room with our own thoughts without any distraction daring to feel pain, desire etc…" is precisely that which am addicted to. The mind is a self-deceiving instrument. Don't get tricked guys there is no way out of it!

  35. Umm 😐 I’m addicted to avoiding my in-laws because they lack normal levels of empathy & they’re abusive in passive aggressive ways, narcissistic personality traits. So, avoidance 😤is a great thing?🥳🤣😂

  36. It's painful understanding our own thoughts. I am changing habits, have realized that they're not healthy for me (mentally and emotionally). Like disconnecting myself to any forms of social media and a disconnect to toxic people. I'm having anxiety attacks and I often feel sad, I don't know what to do… I don't want to go back to my old self. I'm trying to acknowledge what I feel in order for me to grow. And there are days that I feel like I already know the answers but can't seem to apply it consistently.
    Well, I've been a long time addict and somehow philosophy is healing me.

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