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Women's Dress and Men's Thoughts

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I think of it this way, if Jesus, as a mortal, had seen a woman's breasts, and then struggled afterwards with having impure thoughts, would He still have been able to perform the Atonement?  Or would those impure thoughts have been a sin?  Could the difficulty or hardness of the temptation ever make a sin less a sin, for our Savior?  Did the difficulty of the temptation ever matter? Could it ever serve as justification for falling?

I definitely don't know how it is to be a man, and I'm not going to say that I do, (and I expect men to follow suit, and not think they have any clue what it's like to be a woman), but I think I understand sin and that is what we are talking about here.  

How I understand sin is that our choices make us clean or unclean, not the choices of others.   There is nothing that anyone else can do, that can cause us to sin.  There is nothing that anyone else can do that can negate or justify our sinful choices. Sin requires agency.  You can't sin without choosing to sin.

We all have difficult temptations, that is neither the realm of men nor women.  There are things that women struggle with that you cannot comprehend, and the same is true for men that women can't comprehend, I have no doubt.  There are things that you don't personally struggle with at all that someone else might say 'if only you knew'.  And the reverse could be true for your struggles and someone else who is barely impacted by such temptations.  

None of that matters.  Whether it's an 'if only you knew' sort of temptation, or a 'shrug your shoulders' temptation, the expectation from Christ is the same-that we lean on Him and stay the course with His help.  And praise God for the gift of repentance when we fail.  But when/if we fail, it will be because of our choices.  We won't be able to implicate anyone else on our day of judgment.  

No man's repentance ever begins with 'but how was the woman dressed?' because, as far as his choices are concerned, how a woman was dressed is completely irrelevant.

 

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. We are mostly on the same boat. I think there will be accountable for the influence we have on others, whether it be for good or ill. We do all that we can to ease one another’s journey. Fortunately, our Judge will know our circumstances, what influenced us, what our motivations were, what repentance we offered.

My “if you only knew statement” refered to the conditions elders and sisters had to deal with in our mission, not about some sort of special temptations people may or may not not share. I’ve been about as detailed as I care to be about it.

If a missionary allowed his thoughts to linger on the experience and offend the Spirit, it would impact his work and service. He would need to repent in order to get back on track. He would have violated the Savior’s warning not to look upon a woman with lust. As you said, your friend who exposed herself to missionaries sought forgiveness. For what did she need to repent, as you understand it?

Edited by Bernard Gui

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9 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

As you said, your friend who exposed herself to missionaries sought forgiveness. For what did she need to repent as you understand it?

My opinion....for treating them as objects for her own entertainment and pleasure.

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18 minutes ago, Calm said:

My opinion....for treating them as objects for her own entertainment and pleasure.

Thank you for responding. By using her body to exploit a potential weakness in them just to get a laugh? Would that merit an apology?

Edited by Bernard Gui

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4 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

By using her body to exploit a potential weakness in them?

No, it is not about them, but about how she views others.  They did not have value as people in her eyes, she did not consider whether or not they might feel bad.  All she thought about was her own fun.

Her sin was selfishness.

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12 minutes ago, Calm said:

No, it is not about them, but about how she views others.  They did not have value as people in her eyes, she did not consider whether or not they might feel bad.  All she thought about was her own fun.

Her sin was selfishness.

Does she have any obligation to her targets? Could she have harmed them because of her selfishness? Does it matter what the act of selfishness is? For example, out of selfishness someone could swindle another person out of her life savings. She was harmed. Was there anything more than selfishness?

 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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13 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Does she have any obligation to her targets? Could she have harmed them because of her selfishness? Does it matter what the act of selfishness is?

 

Obligation in what sense?

We can harm others by just opening the door (someone standing there gets their nose slammed).  If we want to avoid harming people we should just stay home....but that may harm someone by depriving them of our skills when they need them.  I think speaking in generic broad terms isn't helpful.

Yes, the act matters...being selfish by taking the last piece of bread if not hungry without seeing if someone was hungry is worse at a homeless shelter than at the dinner table, refusing to give someone life saving medicine is worse than refusing to give them an extra piece of pie.

However, if no one is hungry, no one is harmed.  If no one needs the medicine, no one is harmed.  Yet the selfishness is there whether harm is or not.

Edited by Calm
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42 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I think there will be accountable for the influence we have on others, whether it be for good or ill. 

Just curious. How many total lifetime minutes have you spent worrying about how your dress and actions might impact those around you that are gay? This is a sincere honest question. 
 

Given my experience at the MTC and the “Tree of Life” showers I’d say those at church headquarters have given a sum total of zero. I wonder why the discrepancy. 

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11 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Just curious. How many total lifetime minutes have you spent worrying about how your dress and actions might impact those around you that are gay? This is a sincere honest question. 
 

Given my experience at the MTC and the “Tree of Life” showers I’d say those at church headquarters have given a sum total of zero. I wonder why the discrepancy. 

I have been wondering about attitudes towards this discrepancy.  In a group of 20 or more young men, there is a good chance there are more men there struggling with being aroused by being in close proximity to another young man 24/7 than having difficulty with the young women dressed in churchwide mission standard clothing.  Are measures taken to ensure little to no skin exposure for elders among elders?  (Not saying they should)

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23 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

The brethren can’t be held responsible for every isolated nutcase in the church, but problems with how modesty is taught are pervasive. So if the brethren’s words are being misinterpreted all over the church where does the buck stop? Doesn’t it stop with the brethren? 
 

“The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.“

This may be true but it’s also lacking. The truth is, any woman the young man finds attractive may prompt improper thoughts even in the mind of a young man striving to be pure. She could be dressed in a cloth bag and still prompt improper thoughts. She might not even be present and still prompt improper thoughts. So whose problem is it? Teachings like these have given leaders and young men all over the church the grounds to approach women and tell them they are dressed too immodestly because they are having bad thoughts. Woman feel shamed. These are not isolated incidents. Tshirts over bathing suits? Missionaries forced to wear coats over dresses? If the brethren aren’t responsible to stop this nonsense who is? Do the brethren actually say the words “women are accountable for men’s thoughts?” No. The effect is the same, however, and the buck stops with them. 

 

11 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I mentioned earlier my son Persistissimo’s experience as a missionary in Colorado. In one university city, some coeds thought it was funny to flash the missionaries when they came to their doors. This happened more than once.
 

This raises some questions.
 

How does this work with the bolded statement above? Did the young ladies bear any responsibility, or was it all on the elders to keep their thoughts in check?
 

I don’t see any problem with the part that you bolded. We don’t choose what thoughts come into our mind. The stimuli around us (both external and unconscious internal) produce our conscious thoughts. All we get to do is interpret them and then dwell on them or not. 
 

The young ladies in question were having fun at someone else’s expense. That is immoral to me. What the Elders decided to do with the thoughts that came unbidden to their mind is 100 percent on them. 

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Would getting flashed prompt the same reaction as coming to the door in a cloth bag? 
 

Who can say? I say that sincerely. Maybe they had beautiful eyes! You realize that for some Muslims, the cloth bag isn’t enough to protect men’s thoughts, so the forbid gender mixing entirely right? Why wouldn’t this be a good idea?

For most men in our culture, getting flashed is a much more arousing experience than a cloth bag. But here’s the thing, if everyone walked around with bare breasts (as in other cultures) it wouldn’t be a big deal. And if you were raised in a culture that forced women to wear cloth bags, an ankle flash might be the same as a breast flash. If an Elder is traumatized by the sight of someone’s mammary glands, they need a little help in the form of counseling. 

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Do intentions affect the balance of the equation?
 

I think we are all accountable for the intentions behind our actions. 

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Would it be the same if some guys thought it would be funny to flash the sister missionaries?

In our culture? Absolutely not. There is an inherent power imbalance that exists between men and women, where most women in a situation like that would genuinely fear for their personal safety, most men would not. 
 

As a side note, there is a fixation on modesty in conservative culture that is just unhealthy psychologically. At least it was for me growing up. Sex and nudity were so taboo in my house that it created some really weird dynamics. My mother will bathe with my one year old and then tell me not to worry - she was wearing a bathing suit. This sexualization of the human body just isn’t healthy. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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For example, out of selfishness someone could swindle another person out of her life savings. She was harmed. Was there anything more than selfishness?

This was added, so responding now....I don't think there is anyone who would not be harmed by losing life savings...unless they had a really strange situation where they are better off without money.

There are some actions that are almost always harmful in one's culture and therefore can be predicted or seen as a given.  Often these are illegal for that reason.  Murder, theft, fraud, rape, assault fall in this category for our cultures.

Whether or not someone is successful in taking another's money, the desire is sinful.  I don't think the sin is greater if they are successful or if they only wish they were successful and failed.

I am not sure what you mean by "anything more than selfishness"?

Edited by Calm

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5 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

most men in a situation like that would genuinely fear for their personal safety, most men would not. 

I think the first men is meant to be women

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Would it be the same if some guys thought it would be funny to flash the sister missionaries?

Would guys believe the sisters would be aroused if they flashed them? (Genuine question)  I don't see this as generally taught in Western society at this point...unlike some movies and TV shows which show boys and men loving it when a woman intentionally undresses in a window or answers the door seminaked. (Not saying either is correct, just different situations)

Edited by Calm

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@mfbukowski

You said: "I think the innate desire for men to rape women is simply much stronger than you think and more universal."

I'd be interested to know how "much" stronger and how "more" universal?

Are you suggesting a majority of men? Or what percentage of men? If someone thought 1% of men wanted to rape women and you believe that 2% do, then that would qualify as a doubling and make your statement true.

But honestly it appears as if you are saying that many many men have an innate (a strong choice of words) desire to rape.

Can you clarify, specifically as to how many men innately want to rape women?

ETA: if you think it is high, you'll probably find many feminists who agree with you, especially with the idea of rape culture. My questions at this point aren't rhetorical -- I'm not trying to make a point -- I just want clarity on what you mean so I can respond to your actual meaning.

Edited by MiserereNobis
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About the women flashers...my family went to Jackson Hole several years ago and during the western shoot out, there were four women streakers that ran through the show naked with cowboy boots and then hopped in the back of a waiting pick up truck and took off. My oldest daughter was maybe 18 and her sister 16, and three sons 14, 11 and 6. The boys were probably shocked, but what struck me was that my two oldest daughters were crying. For some reason it bothered them so much they cried. Still to this day haven't delved into why they cried. I think we were all in shock and probably all the other families etc. were too. So definitely these four streakers were very selfish. 

So maybe women do need to be respectful in how they dress, but they still are not responsible for a male's thoughts, but responsible if they are dressing to shock or draw someone to them sexually I guess. But making sisters wear sweaters and putting t-shirts under a little girl's sundress is going a too far. I think there is a need to use good sense all around.

I do think it's a cultural thing as well. In Africa or the jungle, some women go topless, and no big deal. 

 

Edited by Tacenda

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7 hours ago, Tacenda said:

About the women flashers...my family went to Jackson Hole several years ago and during the western shoot out, there were four women streakers that ran through the show naked with cowboy boots and then hopped in the back of a waiting pick up truck and took off. My oldest daughter was maybe 18 and her sister 16, and three sons 14, 11 and 6. The boys were probably shocked, but what struck me was that my two oldest daughters were crying. For some reason it bothered them so much they cried. Still to this day haven't delved into why they cried. I think we were all in shock and probably all the other families etc. were too. So definitely these four streakers were very selfish. 

So maybe women do need to be respectful in how they dress, but they still are not responsible for a male's thoughts, but responsible if they are dressing to shock or draw someone to them sexually I guess. But making sisters wear sweaters and putting t-shirts under a little girl's sundress is going a too far. I think there is a need to use good sense all around.

I do think it's a cultural thing as well. In Africa or the jungle, some women go topless, and no big deal. 

 

Since I can't give you a rep point, here's a thumbs up in its place.

👍

Edited to add: Something read sometime in the past had to do with the reaction of a woman in Africa where women almost always go bare-chested. Environmental conditions make clothing problematic, OR it's just part of their culture.  I think the Himba tribe in Namibia is one such.  The woman in the reaction, upon being told that Europeans consider female breasts an object of sexual interest found it hilarious and laughed out loud.

Of course I had to look it up (I look up EVERYTHING, which sometimes annoys my wife), so I found a Quora question and answer about this. Here's a response:

"...bare breasted attire is part of some African tribal culture. There is nothing embarrassing or shameful if you live among these people. Of course, people who are not exposed to this culture may not understand, especially foreigners and those who think they have been enlightened by a western lifestyle."

Edited by Stargazer

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Nope. My academic pursuits have shown me, clearly, that how human societies have socially constructed men and women and the relationships between men and women vary across both time and space, leading to a bewildering array of variation, all of it completely 'natural' and self-evident to, and therefore presumed universal by, the people influenced by these constructs.

Why? When people on this thread have disagreed with what you believe, you've spent thousands of pixels defending both the content of your beliefs and your right to believe whatever you wish without contradiction.

It not only was but still is a common belief in many human societies.

But no, I find that paradigm equally harmful to the one you've repeatedly championed here. I shared it simply to problematise your attempts to universalise your personal ideas.

You seem like the sort of person who would know traditional Christian history. Surely you realise that for centuries Christians have used the same story of the fall to portray women as spiritually inferior to men ... and to attempt to show that their disesteem of females was shared by God Himself?

If someone on this forum were using scripture narratives to argue the near-universal depravity of women, would you find it odd -- though savage is actually the word you used in one of your responses to me -- to see Latter-day Saints rejecting such a teaching?

No. Even relative truth is only relatively true.

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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2 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

It not only was but still is a common belief in many human societies...

…. for centuries Christians have used the same story of the fall to portray women as spiritually inferior to men ... and to attempt to show that their disesteem of females was shared by God Himself?

If someone on this forum were using scripture narratives to argue the near-universal depravity of women, would you find it odd -- though savage is actually the word you used in one of your responses to me -- to see Latter-day Saints rejecting such a teaching?

For me, such a historical view is easily the primary reason we currently have a patriarchy.

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14 hours ago, pogi said:

Peace after a trigger does not always come without severe pain and struggle - so I would not say that it is true that one can't be hurt unless they give in - there is still unsolicited pain, struggle, and seemingly impossible burden.  For healing to occur, like an alcoholic, one needs distance from the triggers, not repeated exposure in a misguided attempt to strengthen him against temptation so that he can just blow it off and laugh at it in the future

Not sleeping, so mind is wandering...I get that it is kind to be aware that people struggle and where this might be triggered unnecessarily, but this gets complicated very soon.  How many young women and women who have been sexually abused might get triggered by being told they need to be more modest, that their appearance may trigger sexual arousal in the males around them or worse, that if they aren't careful they might be like pornography to some men or it is implied that they attracted and married an abusive husband because of the way they dressed***?  Given the stats on sexual abuse, there is a chance abuse victims are significant percentage of almost any female group.

How to achieve a balance?

***

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In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

 

Edited by Calm
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13 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Pogi, do you mind if I ask about your friend's earlier life? Like was he an active LDS, or ? I ask, because I keep wondering if those that struggle with addiction to porn or even alcoholism, could stem from a strict upbringing in the church. It's my guess that it can contribute somewhat. Some LDS that drink, go all out and drink to get drunk in their youth. And with porn maybe they can't control it because of the stigma behind it in the church. I know many will think this laughable, but seriously wonder if any of this conincides. And those that stress about modesty, is it because they have a problem with worrying they're going to go all out into porn viewing or can't control their sexual feelings because they've had it ground into their psyche how bad it is. You people out there that are much smarter than me, is there a study/word/definition/condition for this?

The way to understand the roots of addiction is to seek out of the best books words of wisdom, and to talk to lots of knowledgeable people, rather than speculate in ways that uncritically blames institutions committed to helping those who struggle.  There are both genetic and environmental factors in vulnerability to addiction.  I say this as a life time member who has been a service missionary with the LDS Addiction Recovery Program for seven years.

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One potent argument against describing sexual behavior as addiction has always been that drug addiction involves putting foreign substances into the body whereas sexuality is natural. This overlooks the importance of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, such as the endorphins, (which are natural opiates chemically resembling heroin and morphine), serotonin, and dopamine. Donald Hilton explains:
 

In the brainstem, a chemical called dopamine is produced in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which has been found to be important in the brain’s pleasure and reward system. When activated by a pleasurable stimulus, the VTA causes dopamine to be released in an area of the thalamus called the nucleus accumbens. Other chemicals such as the brain’s natural opioids, the endorphins, also stimulate the nucleus accumbens. It may be that dopamine is more important in wanting pleasure, whereas the endorphins are more important in liking pleasure. These pathways are important because without them we would not value appropriate pleasures. An area of the cerebral cortex called the frontal lobe helps control the amount and context of the pleasure. It also helps us weigh the benefits and risks of a pleasurable stimulus. For instance, uncontrolled eating may be pleasurable, but it is unhealthy. Unrestrained sexuality may be pleasurable, but it destroys relationships and spiritual power and insight. It is the frontal lobe that tells us to judge these risks and benefits.

When we overuse pleasure centers, the cells that produce dopamine are overworked, and in what may be a defensive reaction, the brain decreases the amount of dopamine available for use and also causes shrinkage in the cells that produce the dopamine and in the frontal control areas. Paradoxically, the pleasure cells in the nucleus accumbens may actually enlarge in the addicted state because they have less dopamine available for pleasure and are seeking to extract every possible molecule. These physical changes in the brain have been called long-term potentiation and long-term depression. Thus, in addiction, normal pleasures are not enough to alleviate the craving for dopamine, and this craving in the newly reset pleasure thermostat in the brain is likely key in the desire to relapse. The shrinkage in the frontal control areas also contributes to the compulsivity and impulsivity seen in addiction. Interestingly, as neurosurgeons, we see these same characteristics in frontal lobe shrinkage from traumatic brain injury, and this has been recognized by addiction scientists. Sexual addiction obviously involves other neurotransmitters, two of which may be oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin is important in bonding and increases trust in humans, and vasopressin may be important in sexual bonding, particularly in males. [42]

So sex addiction not only involves behavior but potent drugs that the addict carries in their own body.  In Hope and Freedom for Sex Addicts and their Partners, Dr. Milton Magness reports that crack cocaine addicts have consistently reported that recovery from sex addiction is much harder to manage than recovery from drug addiction. [43]   I recently heard the lament of a man who had managed a year of sobriety from his alcohol and narcotics addictions, but couldn’t manage a week of sobriety from sex.  The addictive behavior--in whatever form--is not an end in itself but a means to access that internal drug supply. 
 

[T]he sexual high comes from the neurochemical release that is found in the compulsive sexual behavior. Even if the addict finds a partner whose appetites are similar to his own, continued sex with the same person over a period of time results in more normalized neurochemical levels. What some call the ‘adrenaline rush’ or more accurately an increased level of dopamine, cortizol, norepinephrine, and other neurotransmitters diminishes. The lower level of chemical reinforcement does not satisfy the addiction.” [44]

So the addict eventually goes elsewhere to satisfy the addiction.  For this reason, marriage is not a cure for sex addiction in either heterosexuals or homosexuals. [45]   Steven’s disclosure, for example, came in a period of what Carnes describes as “de-escalation,” when he is not binging, but is still guarding the secret world:
 

The addict makes every effort to make life manageable and to live an honorable life. …there is a rapid de-escalation to safe or acceptable behavior…They continue to guard their secret world, either to hide their obsession (which convinces them they are not curable) or to keep intact the web of lies they wove during the time they were acting out. Thus de-escalation is not recovery. Honesty with oneself and others, self-acceptance that includes one’s illness, and support for change by people who know the addiction’s power to delude are prime determinants for recovery. [46]  

In addiction the brain is tricked into treating the object of addiction as equivalent to survival. [47]   Subsequent cravings and impeded judgments reflect that distortion of values. Something that should be optional or, worse, taboo and/or dangerous, feels necessary. The distortion of values leads to impaired choices, aptly described in recovery literature and experience as “bargains with chaos.” Addiction in this model is not a moral issue to be addressed by either shaming or punitive approaches directed at symptoms. It is not a matter of a “true self” to be nurtured by an enabling society that strives to protect people from the consequences of their impaired choices.  Compulsive acting out accompanied by impaired judgment is a symptom of addiction, not the disease itself.  I see aversion/reparative therapy as an attempt to re-direct the symptoms while failing to recognize and treat the actual damage.

And addiction is a progressive disease.  A person may begin with subtle cravings and slightly impaired judgment. Such things do not go away with neglect or shaming or imprisonment or suppressing or social disapproval or legalization and enabling. To do comparisons and say, “I’m not as nearly as bad as some other addict” can be a way of saying, “I am only slightly brain damaged so far, and my consequences aren’t bad yet.”  To do comparisons and say, “My modes of acting out are more socially acceptable than some conveniently extreme example,” also serves addiction. Periods of de-escalation are not the same thing as recovery. [48] It can get much worse. 

There is an addiction treatment that works, that actually does address and heal the physiological damage involved in addiction, a treatment that shrinks the enlarged area of the brain containing the dopamine receptors, and restores the area of the cortex associated with weighing costs and benefits. 

http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleChristensenRashomon.html

And an essential way to deal with "triggers" is to reframe them as "threats."   An addict who is talking about triggers has already surrendered their initiative, is already blaming circumstances for their behavior.  Successful recovery involves a commitment to deal with threats as they arise, strategically by avoiding them, and tactically with a planned and practiced response, rather than making excuses about having been triggered.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA 

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18 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

An addict who is talking about triggers has already surrendered their initiative, is already blaming circumstances for their behavior

And I presume then see them as innate, or that would be one self-protective rationalization.

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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

The way to understand the roots of addiction is to seek out of the best books words of wisdom, and to talk to lots of knowledgeable people, rather than speculate in ways that uncritically blames institutions committed to helping those who struggle.  There are both genetic and environmental factors in vulnerability to addiction.  I say this as a life time member who has been a service missionary with the LDS Addiction Recovery Program for seven years.

http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleChristensenRashomon.html

And an essential way to deal with "triggers" is to reframe them as "threats."   An addict who is talking about triggers has already surrendered their initiative, is already blaming circumstances for their behavior.  Successful recovery involves a commitment to deal with threats as they arise, strategically by avoiding them, and tactically with a planned and practiced response, rather than making excuses about having been triggered.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA 

Very good, thanks for that.  As far as "triggers" vs "threats" goes, I (along with the recovery groups I associate with) use the word "triggers" in the same way you use the word "threats".  It's simply a semantic difference, and one shouldn't assume that because a recovering addict is talking about "triggers" they have already surrendered or blames circumstances for behavior.  The way I use the term, it simply means being tempted (threat).  Of course, you are right about how to respond.   

Edited by pogi

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13 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

For what did she need to repent, as you understand it?

I think that Calm already answered this question perfectly.  

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