Hitting Bottom While Still on Top
We are all shaken up by the terrible tragedy in NY. How could someone who looked and acted so normal stoop to such a horrendous crime?
Steve from the morning 12-Step phone conference wrote:
"We spent some time on our call today speaking about the tragedy in Brooklyn, and trying to find messages that we on the call need to get from it. One veteran was using it to show how far down we could fall if we don't get help from our addiction."
I sent Steve the following articles, to bring-home the point even stronger:
A famous serial killer, Ted Bundy, blames addiction to inappropriate material on his actions:
In the Dobson interview before his execution, Bundy said that violent inappropriate material played a major role in his immoral crimes. According to Bundy, as a young boy he found outside the home again, in the local grocery store, in a local drug store, the inappropriate material... And from time to time he would come across even more inappropriate books.... Bundy said, "It happened in stages, gradually. My experience with inappropriate material generally, but particularly with inappropriate material that deals with violent immorality, is that once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far - that jumping off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.
And this is what Arthur Gary Bishop, another serial killer that killed five boys and was sentenced to death, wrote after his conviction:
Inappropriate material was a determining factor in my downfall. Certain bookstores offered graphic and explicit inappropriate materials. I purchased such books and used them to enhance my acting out fantasies... Finding and procuring lust materials became an obsession. For me, seeing inappropriate materials was lighting a fuse on a stick of dynamite. I became obsessed with immoral relationships. I became stimulated and had to gratify my urges. My conscience was desensitized and my appetite for lust entirely controlled my actions.
Steve wrote back:
"I feel very uncomfortable with the notion that all porn/lust addicts will become serial killers if they do not stop their "progressive disease" in it's tracks. There is a difference between being a sexaholic and a psychopath, and one doesn't necessarily lead to the other.
Then again, I remember hearing an interview with a recovered crack addict. He said that when he was overcome by his addiction "If you stood between me and my next hit, I WOULD kill you. No questions asked." But that is in the midst of a physical cycle of craving. Would we say that if left unchecked, my cycle of craving could lead me to such terrible things?"
Response to Steve:
It is true that pedophilia and violence in sexual cases are often results of other "mental illnesses" that are not always directly related to lust addiction. Not all lust addicts will become pedophiles, and not all pedophiles got that way through lust addiction. However, fantasy is only a step away from action. And the more entrenched the addiction becomes, the closer the fantasy stage gets to the 'action stage'. Many sex and lust addicts have pedophilic fantasies. And the more they feed the addiction, the more the disease progresses, it demands more and more stimulation and the addict gets closer and closer to the "action" stage. And once a "terrible" action takes place, there is no telling where it can lead. As in the story in Brooklyn, it wasn't his addiction that killed the innocent child, it was his panicking that he'd be caught that led an otherwise "normal" person to commit such an horrific act of murder.
The Medrash says that someone who transgresses "eishes ish" transgresses on all of the Ten Commandments. The Medrash elaborates and explains how he transgresses each one of the dibros. When it comes to "Lo Tirtzach" the Medrash explains that an adulterer transgresses murder because in the midst of the act he is ready to kill or be killed, if caught.
Although these are extreme examples, one of the goals of GuardYourEyes is to help people "Hit bottom while still on top". We should not wait for the addiction to destroy our lives or other people's lives, c"v!
This idea of hitting bottom while on top is discussed in beautiful clarity and detail in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions:
In A.A.'s pioneering time, none but the most desperate cases could swallow and digest this unpalatable truth. Even these "last-gaspers" often had difficulty in realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did, and when these laid hold of A.A. principles with all the fervor with which the drowning seize life preservers, they almost invariably got well. That is why the first edition of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," published when our membership was small, dealt with low-bottom cases only. Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.
It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?
It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression. To the doubters we could say, "Perhaps you're not an alcoholic after all. Why don't you try some more controlled drinking, bearing in mind meanwhile what we have told you about alcoholism?" This attitude brought immediate and practical results. It was then discovered that when one alcoholic had planted in the mind of another the true nature of his malady, that person could never be the same again. Following every spree, he would say to himself, "Maybe those A.A.'s were right . . ." After a few such experiences, often years before the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return to us convinced. He had hit bottom as truly as any of us.
In light of the above, it is clear that anyone who sincerely wants to stop lusting and understands that they can't do it alone is a perfect candidate for serious recovery. As soon as we acknowledge in a deep way that we cannot succeed our our own, and we also understand where these behaviors will lead us, then we have hit bottom just as truly as any helpless addict.
So let us take our recovery deadly serious, and let nothing stand in our way of doing all we can to get better!