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Addiction – it’s your decision to stop

Most of our human desires and wants, upon reaching a certain level, become addictive. Many if not all of these ‘addicts’ are unaware of it and keep on doing things to satisfy their wants.

Libido is a term used in psychoanalytic theory to describe the energy created by the survival and sexual instincts. According to Sigmund Freud, the libido is part of the id and is the driving force of all behaviour. While the term libido has taken on an overtly sexual meaning in today’s world, to Freud it represented all psychic energy and not just sexual energy.

‘If the id had its way, you would take what you want, when you want, no matter the situation. Obviously, this would cause some serious problems’.

Freud believed that the id was the only part of personality present from birth. The id, he believed, was a reservoir of unconscious, primal energy. The id seeks pleasure and demands the immediate satisfaction of its desires. It is the id that serves as the source of our wants and impulses.

Freud termed the id as the ‘pleasure principle’. It is the id that essentially directs all of the body’s actions and processes to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible. Because the id is almost entirely unconscious, people are not even aware of many of these urges.

This has proven true in many of our human addictive practices, namely in drug addition, smoking, gambling; even in the dark world of crime and gangsterism as well as sexual acts.

Try stopping the act of buying lottery or 4D numbers; try persuading your wife or husband to stop smoking; get the cockfighting enthusiasts to pay the maximum fine of RM20,000 (newly amended amount under the Cruelty to Animal Prevention Act 1960?) to stop their craving in ruling the roost; try persuading any of your relatives or family members to do away with their drug addiction. There are many more ‘addictive’ practices that society members can do without or can stop doing to live a better life.

It seems easy just to say, but to get one to really stop or discard such acts is the real hazard. This is where Freud’s id and libido theory applies. It is about how easy and how difficult one overcomes the desire to stop. It is about mind and will power.

‘The superego is the part of  personality that involves the  ideals and morals internalised  from parents, authority figures and society’.

Let us see how the libido functions in the id. If the id had its way, you would take what you want, when you want, no matter the situation. Obviously, this would cause some serious problems. Our wants and desires are not always appropriate, and acting on them could have serious repercussions.

So what stops people from simply acting upon their most basic instincts and desires?

The ego is the part of personality charged with harnessing the id’s libidinal energy and making sure that these urges are expressed in acceptable ways. The ego is governed by the reality principle, which is focused on helping the person achieve their goals in ways that are realistic and acceptable.

So while the libidinal desires of the id might tell you to grab that donut off of the store shelf and start eating it immediately, the ego reigns in this impulse. Instead, you take the socially acceptable actions of placing the donuts in your cart, paying for them at the register, and taking them home before you finally give in to your urge to eat the tasty treat.

Adding a further complication to this process is the superego.

The ego also must mediate between the basic demands created by the libido as well as the idealistic standards imposed by the superego. The superego is the part of personality that involves the ideals and morals internalised from parents, authority figures and society. Where the id pushes the ego to maximise pleasure, the superego pushes it to behave morally.

So this helps to balance the human act and produces the act based on logic. For example, if one has only RM50 as spare cash, one should only spend a maximum of RM30 on 4D numbers and still have a balance of RM20 for food and other expenses. The same goes to the ‘logical principle’ pertaining to other expenses. One should divide the amount (of RM50) for needed items such as food, cigarettes, 4D, medicines and other necessities based on logic.

In this case if one finds out that the RM50 is not enough then do away with the items that are not basic to your needs. For example, since cigarettes are to satisfy your secondary needs, they can be done away with. After all, smoking is a created need, unlike food which is your basic need that you cannot do without. This logic will certainly help one to have a second thought about smoking. It is just  a state of mind and a decision to make. So limit your spending in buying numbers, cockfight, gambling and smoking. Spend logically on food for your good health.

You are the person to make this decision for your own good and try not to put yourself as the culprit.

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