Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Adaptation, Acclimatization, Assimiliation

The monopoly word "addiction" is obsessively in vogue. If as I say it is horribly over and falsely used, how so?

It boils down to using it to describe things that are not being recognized in their own right. Three of these things cover the basic design of the human animal. I know, sounds portentous. All mean more or less the same thing, to alter to fit in with your environment.


We are designed to fit in with our surrounds. To be able to function well in various climes. To adapt is to change yourself to be more in accord with your environment. If you've lived a nomadic life and settle on a farm. You have to change to adapt your rhythms and your mindset from the needs of travel to those of being settled.


To become in tune with the time, tone tempo or mood of your surrounds. So if you move from a hot to a cold climate or vice versa. Your body temperature regulation, changes becoming attuned to the new outer temperature. It can be the same for things like mood. If you go from a society that expresses itself loudly with big physical gestures, to one where quieter tones and smaller gestures are favoured.


To assimilate is to be submerge characteristics that mark you out as different from your surround as much as you can. Often this is used when speaking about recent immigrants to a society. Or someone who 'passes' assimilates by virtue of them looking the same as those in the dominant category.

It's become fashionable to ignore these behaving as if we are somehow mechanical rather than animal. Not sure why as this is undoubtedly a regression. Perhaps it is the influence of computers on our collective psyche. In the absence of an overwhelming, human centered guiding principle-like religion-maybe we've unwittingly taken our cue from this as the way function occurs.

The same underlying principles appear for good and ill.  So for example, the reason why it can be heart wrenchingly hard to stop a habit, is the same reason why you become expert at something.

Take learning to read. Try to remember what it took you to learn that and how well you now do it. Imagine if it never got any better than when you first learnt.


That's how we'd have to function, to not get 'addicted' to any habits.

The structure of doing something without thinking is the structure of (gaining) expertise. Would you be without that? Where you had no prospect of a flow of actions?

What we really need to do is to find better ways to derail the process when its not or no longer felt to be to our advantage. Rather than brand everything "addiction" it's time we graduated from the pretence of pure free will or no will.

It's entirely possible to be unable to directly stop doing things you don't want to do, via pure elective will alone, certainly. It's possible to feel compelled to commit acts that can only come from your own decision. That's scary and hard, but hiding behind addiction isn't an answer. For anyone. We know this so why do we insist on setting ourselves to need to pretend otherwise?

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