One classic symptom of control addiction is enabling.

Enabling is anything you do to solve a problem that ends up making the problem worse.

Like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

Or scratching a rash left by poison ivy.

Or trying to get an alcoholic to stop drinking by hiding their booze or nagging them to enter treatment.

Or trying to improve communication with your kids by forcing them to talk to you.

Or trying to improve your marriage by reminding your spouse how disappointing and inadequate he/she is.

The forms it takes are infinite.

What they all have in common, though — and what makes them so difficult to stop — is that they gratify a short-term need.

The need to do something.

We hate feeling helpless.  We hate facing the fact that some problems we simply cannot solve.

So we cling to the illusion of control.

Maybe this time it will work, we tell ourselves.

Or Maybe if I try it this way.

Or This is too important.  I can’t do nothing.

Pass the gasoline.

6 responses to “Gasoline

  • Leslee

    You have a novel and well grounded approach to control addiction ( which I have lots of personal experience with). I would love to see you write a book. The field of psychotherapy could use a book that speaks to an endemic/ pandemic addiction with a fresh perspective.

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks so much, Leslee.
      Your timing couldn’t be better.
      In fact I am writing a book, and plan to begin publishing it (or most of it) here on Monkeytraps, hopefully next month.
      Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  • Shankar

    Sir, can you elaborate with some examples on control addiction inflicted on the self by the self that is originating internally? The examples of spouse, kid, alcohol, poison ivy are external. Though, I understand, control addiction itself is theoretically an internal factor.

  • d00fus

    If you’re looking for suggestions for topics–how about one on communicating about a problem to a spouse. You’ve often spoke about unproductive methods. Let me give you a situation, if that makes it more concrete–how to tell a partner that he is being incredibly (illogically) controlling about finances.

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