Ice Climbing and Other Legal Addictions

by Charles Lyell on October 19, 2013

According to his Athlete Bio on “British ice and rock climber Tim Emmett has put up first ascents across the globe, including Cuba, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia. One of his most nervy feats to date was a 2012 ice climb up British Columbia’s Helmcken Falls, widely thought to be the most difficult ice climb in the world. Emmett doesn’t restrict himself to simply going up, however. He also BASE jumps, flies wingsuits, skis, snowboards, and surfs.”

Mr. Emmet is an adrenalin addict who does what he does to trigger chemicals in his brain. In other words, Tim risks his life for the same reason junkies risk their lives — to score dopamine and other neurotransmitters.

Granted, Tim’s addiction is healthier than shooting heroin. At the very least, his dopamine triggers are legal, which means that the costs of indulging them aren’t inflated by black market forces and he doesn’t have to lie, cheat, steal, sneak around, or worry about getting arrested.

Mr. Emmett’s addiction is healthier than many legal addictions that pass for normal behaviors. I’m talking about addictions to the survival behaviors humans share with chimpanzees. Abraham Maslow called them deficiency needs (d-needs) for food, sex, safety, power, acceptance, approval, attention, and status. Unfortunately for humans, our primitive ancestors turned natural survival behaviors into natural addictions. Hooked on dopamine, our more recent progenitors finagled unnatural addictions to score gratuitous dopamine by using drugs, gambling, social media, money, and religion. Then they fabricated deceptions that allowed them, and their progeny, to pretend that addictive behaviors are rational and acceptable.

Legal addictions that are unhealthier than Tim’s adrenaline addiction include:

Money addictions that make it difficult to distinguish reputable CEOs from drug lords. For example, the junk food executives who profit by seducing and addicting consumers to unhealthy products.

While drug lords are reviled, money addicts pushing foods that destroy children’s health are revered. If drug dealers tried getting away with what food pushers consider smart business practices, the outcry would send politicians tripping over one another to end the outrage. Instead, the food execs are rewarded for creating and feeding a worldwide obesity epidemic.

Food addictions that fatten waist and bottom lines. Unlike junkies, who are arrested for using heroin to trigger the same dopamine everyone else is free to trigger with edibles, food addicts are encouraged to consume sickening quantities of carbs, sweets, and fats. As a result, food addicts pose a bigger threat to the healthcare system and the environment than junkies do.

Sex addictions that results in deadly STDs, pornography, human trafficking, and countless unwanted, unloved, neglected, and abused children. Children burdened with unfulfilled needs are easy prey for money and power addicts pushing addictive substances, beliefs, and behaviors.

Safety addictions that turn self-deceptive cowards into manipulable racists, bigots, and tools of clever money and power addicts.

Power addictions that keep out-of-control control freaks clawing for control. Money and power addictions aren’t considered addictions because money and power addicts control the institutions that define normal, abnormal, moral, immoral, acceptable, unacceptable, legal, and illegal.

Acceptance addictions that send approval addicts swarming to groups that thrive by feeding the dopamine needs of credulous followers.

Esteem addictions that send esteem addicts scrambling to dismiss, mock, and ignore the implications of current dopamine research whenever they threaten dopamine flow by threatening esteem. Esteem addiction is the reason so few people are interested in understanding that all behavior can be explained in terms of protecting and triggering dopamine flow.

Religion addictions* that help safety, power, acceptance, and esteem addicts pretend they are superior to junkies. Safety addicts are attracted to religions that help them protect dopamine flow by assuaging fears. Approval addicts seek religions that help them trigger dopamine by providing them with instant acceptance. Esteem addicts prefer religions that help them score dopamine by convincing members they are special for picking the one true lottery ticket to heaven. Power and money addicts love religions that keep the dopamine flowing by allowing them to fleece unquestioning flocks. Organized religion is especially destructive because it provides dopamine addicts with an easy, socially acceptable, legal, tax exempt, and tax deductible way to score their favorite neurotransmitter.


* Mandatory disclaimer. Genuinely spiritual individuals are kind, compassionate, non judgmental, humane, and disdain killing. Religion addicts flock to religions to protect and trigger dopamine flow.


4 Responses to “Ice Climbing and Other Legal Addictions”

  1. man im so amazed i found your website.

    You are hitting the nail on the head, i have noticed another major addiction is FACEBOOK and TEXTING, these too have a direct effect in my brain going in to “dopamine seeking” mode.

    of course porn addiction too.

    anyway just wanted to thank you for sharing, i’m passionate about this topic will be following you more

    Posted by sean stewart | November 1, 2013, 11:54 pm
    • Sean, I totally agree. I can almost feel the dopamine spurting in my brain when I hear the little ding that means I have a Facebook notification of a comment on something I posted or someone tagging me. It’s fascinating. I catch myself sitting around and waiting for it sometimes. I think it happens more so with FB than with texting because there are more people involved with FB.

      Posted by Sharon Wheeler | November 11, 2013, 12:59 am
  2. I have been fascinated by dopamine my whole life. You have put great insight into this subject.Keep up the good work

    Posted by GURPREET | November 6, 2013, 5:48 pm
  3. Thanks for all of this, I really mean it. Also you should add novelty as a very powerful source of dopamine flow, however it doesn’t fit into your theory of Maslow’s “needs”. Examples include: internet, FB, twitter, any forum ever made, TV, movies, video games, magazines, news papers,even music, and multitasking (any combination of these). You should be able to figure out why/how these sources provide novelty if not I can elaborate each one in the future.

    Posted by KV | November 15, 2013, 12:35 am

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