Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior

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Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior
Author Martha Nibley Beck Author John C. Beck
Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1990

Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior

Reviewer Jonathan M. Chamberlain

Written to Latter-day Saints who are addicted to compulsive behaviors and to their family members, this work presents a simple and refreshing new paradigm. It describes four steps of a "compulsive cycle" which can be replaced by opposing steps in a "joy cycle." The addictive cycle begins with feelings of isolation, followed by actions of self-indulgence, followed by feelings of self-hatred, followed by actions of self-concealment, followed by deeper feelings of isolation and so on. The opposing "joy cycle" consists of replacing the negative feelings and actions with self-enhancing counterparts such as feelings of belonging, progressive actions, feelings of self-esteem, and actions of self-disclosure, which lead to greater feelings of belonging.

To bring about change from the negative cycle, those attempting to help the addict are enjoined to focus on the addict's feelings, not on changing actions or behaviors. Three fictionalized representative cases--Ellen, an anorexic; Bill, a drug addict; and Warren, a homosexual addict--are presented in helpful monologues. These three characters reveal their internal struggles to break the cycle of compulsive behaviors. Chapters 7 and 8 are especially full of helpful insight for the loved ones of the behavioral addict and are worthy of serious discussion in the family. While there are no magical panaceas, the authors offer the lay reader doable instructions for change.

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