Video Game Addiction and Compulsive Personaities
Peter Ford was an excellent athlete, his specialty was the low and high hurdles. I believe his senior year he was undefeated. Peter ran the 440 relay and also the 100 yard dash. Hawthorne usually took state in track as we had so many fast black athletes. Kent Jackson and Phil Estep battled it our week after week in the hundred yard dash, sometimes Kent would win and sometimes Phil would win. Both had run under 10 flat that year. Kent had run a 9.8 and Phil had run 9.6 after the season on a rubberized track at U.N.R. But today they were on a dirt track for the state championship, the last time they would face each other that year. Phil Estep was from Yerington so he had the home track advantage.
As fast as Peter Ford was he could only manage a third or fourth place finish against this stiff competition. Peter had never won the 100 yard dash nor had he ever run the 100 yard dash under 10 seconds.
Hazel Green was a four foot nine inch bundle of energy and personality. I don’t think I ever heard Hazel Green laugh softly. I think if Hazel thought something was funny, everyone in the county needed to hear her laugh about it. Hazel couldn’t laugh sitting or standing still, she had to grab on to someone and spread her laughter all over them. Hazel was so into people that when you were speaking to her she tried to finish your sentences. Sometime she would steal your words right out of your mouth. When Hazel finished your sentence wrong, she would just back up and redo it the way you just said it, and then have the both you nodding in agreement.
About a week before the State Track Meet, Hazel had a dream. Hazel told her boyfriend Peter Ford that he was going to win the 100 yard dash. Peter laughed, “Hazel, I’ve never won the 100, and I’ve never beat anyone who runs the hundred.” Hazel was undeterred. “It’s ok Peter cause I had a dream and you gonna win the hundred.” Well, this talk went on all week long. Peter kept telling Hazel to stop bringing it up cause someone might hear and it’s embarrassing. Well Hazel wouldn’t stop talking about it and pretty soon a lot of people were talking about it, you know about the fact that Hazel had a dream and she wasn’t bashful about telling everybody that Peter was going to win the hundred. Peter started avoiding his girlfriend Hazel when she wouldn’t stop talking about her silly dream, after all Kent Jackson and Phil Estep went 1 and 2 at every meet.
Well the day of the championship finally came and the stands were jam packed. Yerington was always a close second cause they has so many kids enter races that you got 1 or 2 points for 3rd and 4th places, so they always managed to come in second. Hawthorne won most of the gold medals and this year they announced that Yerington actually won the State Championship and we got second. It wasn’t till a week later that the news paper wrote a retraction and stated that Hawthorne had actually won State. It was kind of a downer cause Yerington got all the glory and the pictures and the press and kinda stole our victory from us, well at least until a week later. Its kinda like kissin the head cheerleader in your sleep and you hear about a week later. All the fun is long gone.
The whole stadium waited for the start of the 100 yard dash. Kent and Phil were next to each other in lanes 3 and 4. This is where the race was going to happen. Peter was in lane 8 all the way outside away from the action. All 8 sprinters were kneeling in their starting block waiting for the gun to fire. Guns up, ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET-------- Phil Estep jumped the gun. We were pretty happy about that, one more false start and he’s out of the race disqualified. After a couple minutes all the runners were back in their blocks. Guns up, RUNNERS ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET-------Kent Jackson false started. We were pretty upset about that because one more false start and Kent would be disqualified.
After a couple more minutes all the runners were again in their blocks. The tension in the air was thick. Guns up! RUNNERS ON YOUR MARK, GET SET---------BANG!!!!!
This time nobody jumped the gun and they were all off and running. Peter Ford looked like he was shot out of a cannon. To say it wasn’t close was an understatement. The runner in lane 8 clearly had the best start and left everyone else sitting in the blocks. At the 25 yard mark Peter Ford was in the lead by at least 6 feet. Kent and Phil had yet to make their move into the lead which everyone expected to happen any moment. At the 50 yard mark Peter Ford still maintained his lead. Hazel was on the front row of the bleachers near the finish line and was jumpin out of her skin. She looked like a gyratin jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
At the 75 yard mark still, Kent and Phil were in 2nd and 3rd places. Peter was not going to relinquish his lead easily; he had a dream to fulfill. When did Peter actually begin to believe? Was it at the twenty five yard mark, the fifty yard mark, the seventy five yard mark? Hazel was in near cardiac arrest. She had to be restrained from leaning to far over the rail and nearly falling onto the track as Peter ran by. As Peter crossed the finish line a full six feet ahead of Kent in second place, the field erupted. But the epicenter was coming from the 4ft 9in girlfriend Hazel Green. Hazel ran onto the track and grabbed Peter around the neck and repeated over and over “I told you, you was gonna win the 100, I told you, you was gonna win the hundred”, over and over and over.
I ran up to Hazel who was more out of breath than Peter. Hazel was laughing, crying and hyperventilation. It took several minutes before Hazel was able to carrying on a normal conversation. We should have entered her in the shot putt competition at that moment, because just off adrenaline alone she could have beatin the state champion from Yerington and the runner up from Hawthorne, Jim Graf who by the way was State Champ the year before.
Author`s note, Peter Ford not only won that race, a race that he had never won before, but set a personal best of 9.9. Was all of this just a coincidence you know, the dream and all? Some things in life never leave us. I think we are to learn form the lessons of the past. Did it matter that Peter didn’t believe that he could win the hundred? Often life kicks so many in the teeth that not only do they lose the ability to believe in themselves, they also lose the ability to believe. Some have mistakenly thought “ that if I can see, then I will believe.” This false belief is bassackwards. Take God for instance, many say I will only believe if I see. They don’t understand that believing is seeing with spiritual eyes. There are other ways of knowing, other than sight. When I die, I’m not going to be surprised or relieved when I am in the hereafter. When I see God I’m not going to have the urge to jump up and down and shout hosanna “I’m so glad that you are real”. At that day my eyes will see the things I already knew through the eye of faith. That will be the day when I cross the thin veil of faith to the kingdom of pure knowledge. Having said that, I don’t believe I will know any better then than I do now, for believing truly is seeing.
When we come to that defining line, even the same line that our special friend Hazel has recently crossed, we will all find a Heavenly Multitude who love us and have always believed in us; even if there may have been times when we personally forgot how to believe.
Dedicated to Hazel Green 1954-2012
I have a compulsive and an addictive personality. It has always been all or nothing. I am all the way in, or all the way out; there’s no in between. I’m still working on that. As my wife, Gialee, and I have been involved in the Twelve-Step addiction recovery program, our eyes have been opened even wider than before. I didn’t know that such programs were available. I wish I had enrolled thirty years ago. We now believe this; there are two kinds of people, those in denial and those who attend meetings. We are the coordinators for Northern Nevada; we also lead two meeting a week.
I didn’t know that there was so much power in the twelve steps. One brother who attended his first meeting stated, “I haven’t been able to believe that I could ever live a day free from pornography.” In a recent meeting, he stated, “It has been 365 days since I viewed pornography.” There is power in the twelve steps.
All addictions cripple us. I want to talk about an addiction that is more cleverly disguised, more well hidden, more out in the open, more mind numbing, more devious, more relationship destroying, more emotionally and mentally crippling, more energy zapping, more motivation suppressing, more family neglecting, more spiritually darkening than anything that hell has unleashed on the compulsive addictive personality in the history of the world. I will begin with three examples.
I hadn’t seen Sara and Mark for several years. I was in the neighborhood, so I took a chance and dropped by. Mark answered the door and was reluctant to ask me in. I persisted, and he swung open the door. It looked like Sara was busy working at the computer, so she just waved her hand and kept to her work. Mark and I chitchatted for a bit. I asked about the kids, how work was going etc., etc. I asked how Sara’s job was going. Mark said, “She quit her job.” I was a little stunned, as her job paid nearly six figures. “Did she get another job?” I asked. “No, she hasn’t worked in over a year,” Mark said. I asked, “Why did she quit?” Mark responded, “She quit so she could play video games.”
Sara didn’t look up or even know that we were talking about her. She had earphones on and was connected to several others somewhere in world, playing some important video game. I asked Mark, “How often does she play?” He said with no small hint of disgust, “Twelve to sixteen hours a day.”
A young man, age nineteen, had visited our family for dinner on several occasions. He was difficult to get to know, maybe he was just shy. I tried to converse with him, but he was pretty closed up. I noticed that when he did speak, he didn’t have much pizzazz. His whole demeanor was drab and boring. It wasn’t that he was boring, which he was, it was more than that. I could sense that this young man was very uneasy when he had to engage in conversation.
At dinner one day, I asked the golden question. His name was Elder. I said, “Elder, what’s your favorite video game?” He came alive! His eyes perked right up, his voice filled with excitement, as he commenced to testify about this incredible video game. When he calmed down, I asked “What’s the longest you've ever played a video game nonstop?” He said “Fifty-eight hours.” I choked, “Fifty-eight hours? Where were your parents?” He told me that they were on vacation. He did say that he had to stop once in a while to go to the bathroom and get something to eat. I said, “Really!” I asked him why he stopped playing after fifty-eight hours. He told me, “The game ended.”
I taught Robert in an early morning religion class for high school seniors. Robert slept every class period. After class, I asked him what time he went to bed last night. He told me 4:00 a.m. I said, “That was only two hours ago.” I asked if his parents were aware of his late night schedule. He said, “No, they sleep upstairs, and I sleep in the basement.” Robert started playing video games at 4:00 p.m. when he got home from school, and played until 4:00 am on a school night. He didn’t graduate his senior year.
As I have learned more about the video game addiction, I have discovered several similarities.
#1 Nearly all addicted gamers are in one level of denial or another. Many gamers call it a “harmless addiction”.
#2 Many gamers develop aggressive behavior towards anyone who interferes with their addiction. A young man once asked me, “How do you tell if you are addicted?” I said, “By the way you react if your game is threatened.” Acting like a wild animal, fighting over a piece of dead meat, is a good indication.
#3 Gamers can play for endless hours at a time.
#4 Gamers often struggle finding joy and pleasure in activities not connected to a video game.
#5 The addicted gamer looks at the normal daily routine with boredom.
#6 The addicted gamer has the ability to isolate himself from family for hours and days at a time.
#7 The addicted gamer feels more at home in a video game, than he does in his real home.
#8 The addicted gamer becomes irritable and grumpy if he hasn’t played video games in a while.
#9 The addicted gamer lacks motivation and dislikes change.
#10 The addicted gamer tires easily.
#11 The addicted gamer is often lazy and out of shape.
#12 The addicted gamer is not aggressive in improving his standard of living.
#13 The addicted gamer can lose interest in any of these activities over time. Sex, exercise, sleep, diet, employment and many other important family responsibilities.
I spoke with a young lady who had just returned from her honeymoon. She said the first thing her husband did when he got home was to spend the next twelve hours playing video games.
#14 Spouse and children become burdens, especially when they interfere with the gamer’s addiction.
Recently I was told by a disgusted mother-in-law, that while her daughter was suffering in childbirth, her loving, concerned husband was sitting on a chair in the corner with his laptop playing video games. I referred to Webster. I could not find a word to describe this imbecile.
These are just a few attributes of the addicted gamer. There are many more. Not all gamers will have every attribute just mentioned. Until we rip the mask off of this addiction, and call it an addiction, millions will continue to suffer. If idle hands are the devils workshop, then an idle mind is the devils concentration camp.
This addiction is so new, there is still a mountain of info yet to be discovered; however, I have yet to see an addicted gamer rise up and put this millstone behind him. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is the fact that the devil has so well hidden it in plain view. We have not come to grips with the destruction it is causing in the lives of all those involved.
Elder Boyd K. Packer put it this way: “The worst form of deception is to know not, that you know not.” In others words, we are so in deception and denial that we do not know that we do not know. We have been deceived without knowing that we have been deceived.
The Los Angeles Times printed an article entitled, “Frequent Games Have Brain Differences, Study Finds”, November 15, 2011. The study examined fourteen year olds that were considered frequent gamers. Research found grey matter in the reward center of the brain that didn’t exist in youth who didn’t play video games. MRI discovered grey matter in the portion of the brain, known as the left ventral striatum which affects the interplay of emotions and behavior. Previous research identified striatal function as a “core candidate promoting addictive behavior,” the author wrote. The author noted that gamers and gamblers had similar responses, with increased levels of dopamine in the ventral striatum.
After I read this report, my mind turned to a passage of scripture familiar to me. “The whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief and because you have treated lightly the things you have received. Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.” Doctrine & Covenant Section 84
I will comment on the word, vanity. There are many definitions that could fit in this context, but I prefer this one: excessive self-satisfaction, worthless futile behavior. Ancient and modern prophets have warned against spending our time and money on that which hath no life. Then we suffer the poor and the hungry and the sick and afflicted to pass by us and we notice them not.
#15 The addicted gamer loses his natural affection for loved ones over time.
#16 The addicted gamer always wins. In the fantasy world of the gamer, he plays until he wins. He knows that if he plays long enough, his skills will allow him to win. In real life, with real people, the gamer quickly tires of those whom he cannot conquer. The aggression that becomes part of his nature as a gamer, has no benefit to him in inter-personal relationships outside of his world of fantasy. There is a disconnect of emotions from the gamer and his family.
Natural affection is the love we naturally feel for wife, children, sibling, parents and extended family. I have seen addicted gamers who come home from work and pass by their wife and children, and notice them not. I have seen the addicted gamer lock himself in his room while children suffer from emotional hunger pains of neglect. I have seen mothers weep and mourn over the neglect of a gamer husband. If there was ever an addiction that deadens the heart and puts a gamer past feeling, this is it. Surely when the Apostle Paul said, that in the last days, men would be lovers of their own selves, proud, without natural affection, unholy, incontinent, meaning out of control, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Having their conscience seared with a hot iron. He surely saw our day and the effects that addiction would have, even among those who profess to be believers.
An ancient prophet by the name of Lehi, had several sons and grandsons that must have had addictive personalities. I’m sure that they weren’t gamers, but the counsel they received made you think they could have been.
“Ye were past feeling that ye could not feel his words.” How can the gamer continue shutting out the emotional cries of broken hearted loved ones? I repeat what Lehi said to his wayward sons, “arise from the dust and be men”. I would rephrase it this way, “Arise from the laptop, and be a man.”
Jesus called them whited sepulchers. A sepulcher was the room the dead were buried in. Everything was perfect and tidy and ready for the dead body. He called the Pharisees, whited sepulchers. Meaning, they looked beautiful on the outside but inside they were filled with dead men’s bones. How apropos to describe a person, whose heart is dead to the pains of his loved ones, but on the outside looks very normal; however, has nothing on the inside. No love or affection or concern for his suffering wife and children.
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself”-Susanna Wesley
“When I do right, I feel right.” Abe Lincoln
“Wickedness never was happiness.” God
“Since (narcissists) deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the worlds fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil, on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others” M. Scott Peck, “The Road Less Traveled”