Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behavior

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dannydawiz
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Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behavior

Post by dannydawiz » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:54 pm

Hello everyone! It's Danny back here with another question. This time I have two that I'd like to bring up.

The first question is actually more of a personal discovery that I've made. It's regarding the neurochemical in the brain known as dopamine. For those of you who don't know what dopamine is it's the chemical that your brain makes whenever you feel a reward. Examples of things that result in dopamine are paychecks, food, music, sex, cocaine, heroine, and buying new things. Back in ancient days dopamine was our brains way of letting us know that what we're doing is good for our survival. Nowadays however it seems that people are becoming more addicted to it than anything.

I've found that the majority of people I've asked describe Happiness as a feeling. That feeling that they're looking for is really that dopamine release. The problem with this is the dopamine was only meant to be distributed in short bursts. This is why people say that happiness is always fleeting. This is why when you get something new it might feel GREAT for the first day but after your brain becomes habituated to it, it no longer gives off that feeling. This is why if you listen to your favorite song over and over again it doesn't "feel" as a good as that first listen. Our brain becomes habituated to it and it no longer releases dopamine.

My point is that most addictions revolve around this neurochemical. When we become addicted to happiness/dopamine however this is a very strong cause of suffering. Looking back at this it's been my own addiction to dopamine that has caused me all the suffering I've experienced. My addiction to music was a result of that "feeling" that I experience when I listen to a new song that I like for the first time. I wanted to be able to write music that gave me that feeling all the time but then I discovered that it wasn't the music that was causing the feeling. It was really my brains reaction to it that resulted in that euphoric feeling. The problem was that when I couldn't write anything good I became really depressed. I had been craving that feeling but I just couldn't bring it out and it just led to very long cases of depression.

When people become addicted to happiness and they're deprived of the resources that they use to reach it what you get is depression. People no longer enjoy activities that they once found joyful because their brain has become numb to it. It has become habituated to that feeling of accomplishment but once you no longer accomplish what it is that you want it is no longer interesting.

I just thought I'd share this discovery with you guys because I feel that It was really important to me and it might be able to help a lot of other people.


My second question is regarding the causes of our behavior. What is it that causes behavior? One thing that I've always struggled with is social anxiety. It's not severe but it is starting to become much more apparent in my life the older I get. I find that I distance myself from relationships and friends because I'd much rather be alone than give them the chance to ridicule me. Before they can get to know me and criticize me I distance myself away from them because I don't want to give them the chance. This is all subconscious of course but I know nowadays that this is ridiculous. That I have no self-image to defend because essentially who I am isn't something that can be described with labels or words. When other people criticize me or think anything of me they're just thoughts. They don't have any objective existence in reality.

Regardless of knowing all this I still can't get rid of this feeling. It's like my body automatically responds to "certain" people with fight or flight. This makes me question what is it that's causing my behavior. Are thoughts the cause of behavior? If that is so then all I need to do is change my thoughts correct?

Phil2
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by Phil2 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:17 pm

dannydawiz wrote:If that is so then all I need to do is change my thoughts correct?
No you can't do that because your thoughts are compulsive, they happen outside your being consciously aware of them ... those thoughts arise out of your beliefs and identities ... your beliefs are founded on your fears and education ... and your fears are built upon your past wounds ... all this contributing to create your inner structure called the "defense system" which is 'ego' ... and this defense system takes control of your thoughts and emotions and ultimately your actions ...

So what needs to be done is the healing of your emotional self ... in other words your "heart" (as emotional center) needs healing from your past wounds and fears ... as long as your past wounds and fears persist, your defense system (which is another word for 'ego') won't dissolve or let go and compulsive thoughts and actions will continue to control your life ...

There are many ways to heal your heart, which are not incompatible with each other:

- the 'intellectual' way, like reading good philosophy or psychology books, books from Eckhart Tolle or Don Miguel Ruiz or Byron Katie are excellent and easy to understand ... discussions in this forum (or with friends in real life) can be part of this too ...

- the 'action' way, sometimes called 'karma yoga', you put yourself at the service of others without selfish interests, loving other people as much as you can ...

- the 'investigation' way: know yourself by investigating your thoughts, feelings and emotions and questioning "Who am I ?"

- the 'religious' way: you believe in a God who can protect you and loves you, you could even enter in a monastery and retire from this world ...

- the 'experiential' way: you go back to your past to relive your past experiences and make the unconscious conscious like in psychotherapies or other more specific methods (like Dr Arthur Janov's "primal therapies") ... or even more simply by suffering in plain normal day-to-day life situations (what happened to Eckhart Tolle)

- the 'spiritual' way like following a teacher or a 'guru' like Adyashanti or Mooji or Gangaji and many others

- the 'meditation' way restoring silence of mind which reveals your true self and inner peace progressively

- and probably many other techniques or methods

There is no silver bullet but if you are serious you will succeed without any doubt because no illusion can persist in the light of truth ... the good news is that truth is what you are already ... here and now ...

So as some philosopher said "Become what you are" ... what could be simpler than that ?
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

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dannydawiz
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by dannydawiz » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:49 pm

There are quite a bit of methods I agree. Just as you have said I can try to tackle it intellectually, spiritually, action wise and many more.

I wouldn't be surprised if the problems aren't coming from my thoughts. Even when I talk myself out of it and try to reaffirm to myself that I have no reason to fear anything the problem still persists. I'm in the middle of reading psychotherapy books and I'm currently looking into a few different methods. NLP, exposure therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy all being a part of it. These are all meant to be performed with a therapist but Im still young and can't really afford it right now so I just read up on it as much as I can.

If the problem isn't under my conscious control then I can only assume that they are lying somewhere in my unconscious beliefs. In this case I must find a way to communicate to my subconscious beliefs and change them. I haven't yet discovered how to change them. I'm sure I can find something to help myself however. Now that I feel normal again it's my next goal.

Phil2
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by Phil2 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:14 am

dannydawiz wrote: If the problem isn't under my conscious control then I can only assume that they are lying somewhere in my unconscious beliefs. In this case I must find a way to communicate to my subconscious beliefs and change them. I haven't yet discovered how to change them. I'm sure I can find something to help myself however. Now that I feel normal again it's my next goal.
Yes, this is excellent ... but don't forget that as Jung said the unconscious is really unconscious ...

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

C.G. Jung
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

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dannydawiz
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by dannydawiz » Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:37 pm

Phil2 wrote:
Yes, this is excellent ... but don't forget that as Jung said the unconscious is really unconscious ...

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

C.G. Jung
This is good. The quote resonates very well with me. The only question I haven't yet figured out is how do you make the unconscious conscious?

I've just recently started reading a book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it basically says that the cause of depression is always a distortion of thinking. This is also more commonly known as cognitive distortion. The book basically explains that our thoughts are the cause behind our emotions and behavior. If we can learn to perceive the world more realistically instead of overgeneralizing, catastrophizing, and labeling everything we would be far better off.

The book claims that the way that you change a behavior or a repetitive thought pattern is by observing your thoughts when you feel anxiety or depression. You might think to yourself "I suck at everything that I do" just because you fell off of a skateboard but the book advises you to challenge those repetitive thought patterns. Instead you begin to think to yourself "Just because I fell off of a skateboard doesn't mean that I suck at it or at everything." This makes a lot of sense to me.

One pattern that I've noticed in myself that happens to be unconscious is the "what if the worst happens?"

I was in track one year and I always thought to myself "What if I'm last?"
In every show that I play I've always thought to myself "What If I mess up or forget the notes?"
In every presentation I've given I've always thought to myself "What If I forget the words"
In every response that I've given to a person I always think to myself "What If they don't approve or disagree?"

All of these were unconscious of course. None of them I was consciously aware of. The book describes this cognitive distortion as "fortune telling". Fortune telling is when you are always predicting negative outcomes of events.

The result of this? Anxiety. I seem to have a repetitive thought pattern that has its basis in the future. This is proof that although I may THINK that I'm living in the present, I am still being run by unconscious thought patterns. My unconscious thought patterns all have their power in the future. Always assuming the worst case scenario is going to occur.

It looks like I have a lot to work on.

Phil2
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by Phil2 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:28 am

dannydawiz wrote:
Phil2 wrote:
Yes, this is excellent ... but don't forget that as Jung said the unconscious is really unconscious ...

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

C.G. Jung
This is good. The quote resonates very well with me. The only question I haven't yet figured out is how do you make the unconscious conscious?
Basically there is a self protection mechanism called 'repression', which has been evidenced by the early psychanalysts like Freud and Jung. It means that any memory that can hurt us is unconsciously repressed and hidden ... but it is still there, operating in the shadow, and those old repressed wounds cause the majority of our mental disorders like neuroses (depressions, obsessions, anxiety etc.) and even psychoses (paranoia, schizophrenia etc.) ...

So in order to make those repressed memories conscious, what needs to be done is to 'allow' them to appear, but our defense system (which is 'ego') will not allow this until it does not feel 'safe' doing this ... so basically we must put ourself in a safe condition ... and one way to do this is to realize that we are NOT our story and drop the false identifications ...

This is also why Albert Einstein said:

"The most important question a person can ask is: Is the Universe a friendly place ?"


As long as we believe that this universe is dangerous and threatening, our defense system will not allow us to drop our many defenses ... another way to trust the universe is to believe in a loving God and trust His decisions and surrender to whatever HE decides for us ...
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

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dannydawiz
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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by dannydawiz » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:36 pm

Phil2 wrote:
dannydawiz wrote:
Phil2 wrote:
Yes, this is excellent ... but don't forget that as Jung said the unconscious is really unconscious ...

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

C.G. Jung
This is good. The quote resonates very well with me. The only question I haven't yet figured out is how do you make the unconscious conscious?
Basically there is a self protection mechanism called 'repression', which has been evidenced by the early psychanalysts like Freud and Jung. It means that any memory that can hurt us is unconsciously repressed and hidden ... but it is still there, operating in the shadow, and those old repressed wounds cause the majority of our mental disorders like neuroses (depressions, obsessions, anxiety etc.) and even psychoses (paranoia, schizophrenia etc.) ...

So in order to make those repressed memories conscious, what needs to be done is to 'allow' them to appear, but our defense system (which is 'ego') will not allow this until it does not feel 'safe' doing this ... so basically we must put ourself in a safe condition ... and one way to do this is to realize that we are NOT our story and drop the false identifications ...

This is also why Albert Einstein said:

"The most important question a person can ask is: Is the Universe a friendly place ?"


As long as we believe that this universe is dangerous and threatening, our defense system will not allow us to drop our many defenses ... another way to trust the universe is to believe in a loving God and trust His decisions and surrender to whatever HE decides for us ...
This seems to make quite a bit of sense. If I am to look back into my past experiences consciously and think of all the times I have been humiliated, criticized, and ridiculed I can find more than a handful. Usually being in the present moment is my way of forgetting about all these labels. I move into the present moment because it frees me from my past identity. I know when these thoughts come up I have a tendency to whisper to myself aloud. When I catch myself thinking of these thoughts I do my best to repress them because they are to painful for me to think about. What I've been doing all along is simply reinforcing an already existing problem into my subconscious. They still appear every now and then and these are probably the thoughts that bring me my anxiety.

I'm learning to reframe negative thought patterns. In essence thoughts don't have any existence in objective reality. Just because I may have forgotten my words in a presentation for example doesn't mean that everyone is going to think badly of me. All it means is that I forgot my words during a presentation. Instead my thoughts distort reality by adding things to the situation that aren't really there.

I have quite a bit that I plan to work on soon enough.

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Re: Society's Addiction To Dopamine & The Cause Of Our Behav

Post by SJD » Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:22 pm

dannydawiz wrote: One thing that I've always struggled with is social anxiety
One thing about social anxiety is that people are reduced to a means to an end. You use people to project, enhance, maintain, or even destroy your mental image.

I believe in psychology its called impression management.

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