Do You Know Why This Is SO Damaging?
If you want to have a healthy body, balanced mind and thriving life, you might want to give this some serious thought. More and more studies show that humans have a need to bond. And yet everywhere you look, you see people all around you ignoring each other, nature, beauty, and real experiences to focus on a piece of technology they hold in their hand.
Is This What A “Happy Childhood” Looks Like These Days?
Like everything, there is a point of balance that allows you to take advantage of things that can improve life, like smartphones, the internet and texts. But they may be taking things in the wrong direction. We have to change the course of things and that can only happen if we get back to connecting with each other again.
Do you think adults or kids would be thinking about bullying or going out to hurt another human being if they weren’t hurting inside themselves?
Just a few days ago, Nashville’s SWAT team killed a middle aged white male who had gone into a movie theater to kill people. Thankfully he didn’t succeed. But recently in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the man with a plan to kill was successful and four marines died.
I wonder what difference it might have made if someone noticed how alone and unhappy they were before they decided to cause pain and suffering to others. You hear testimonials all the time from people who were headed down the wrong road but changed when someone acted like they cared.
Is isolation, that feeling of being separated and lonely, the real underlying problem? Studies indicate that it just could be.
Limiting the time you spend looking at a screen and increasing the time you spend listening, talking and laughing with others could have a profound effect on your life and the lives of others.
I found an article written by Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.
It reminded me of a study that was done that was quite compelling. In a nutshell, rats turned to drugs when they were in an isolated environment but did not become addicts in a better environment. And even as addicts, they turned drugs down in a better environment.
We have the ability to create a better environment by doing something as simple as acknowledging the presence of another human being or as easy as smiling at a stranger.
Read this great food for thought…
If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.
One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.
The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”
But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?
In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.
The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.
At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.
But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.
Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.
After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)