Ever Heard of the Expression “Terminal Uniqueness”?
So, one of the core tendencies of the addict mind is what I’ve heard referred to as “terminal uniqueness.” The words themselves make recovering addicts nod their heads and chuckle–because it is so familiar to each of them.
Terminal uniqueness is a fabulous way to describe the addict mind. It basically expresses the tendency of addicts to bob and weave, shuck and jive, obfuscate, justify, dismiss, minimize and lie in order to convince themselves and others that their “little problem with porn” is so unimportant that it’s almost not even worth mentioning.
“Other people may be addicted to porn, but that will never happen to me (or hasn’t happened yet) because I’m unique. I’m not like those people that get addicted to drugs or alcohol or sex. There is something special about my mind and spirit that allows me to dodge the effects of addictive substances and behaviors. Addiction will never happen to me!”
Why Does Anyone Smoke Anymore?
A great example I read about here is cigarettes. Everybody knows (except the tobacco companies) that smoking causes lung cancer in smokers and those around them. Lung cancer is a horrible way to die. And yet so many people continue to smoke. Why? First, a lot of them are addicted to cigarettes. Second, these addicts suffer from terminal uniqueness. “Lung cancer won’t happen to me. There’s something special about me that will protect me from getting lung cancer.” See, it’s terminal because the smoker keeps telling himself he’s special right up until the day he’s diagnosed and then keeps telling himself he’s still special (as he continues to smoke) right up until the day he dies.
Terminal uniqueness is of course a tongue in cheek description of addiction, but it’s important to understand. If addicts suffer from terminal uniqueness, they can’t see that they’re just like every other addict out there. Their false sense of uniqueness is killing them.
I Suffer From Terminal Uniqueness.
I struggle with terminal uniqueness in a big way. I am always trying to convince myself that certain behaviors or ways of thinking aren’t really lust-driven or lust-focused, and even if they are, there’s something special about me that allows me to indulge in lust-driven thinking or behavior without getting lust drunk off it–and without having to deal with the consequences. “I can watch this movie or read this book or go to this place and inhale the lust just like any other regular person because there’s something special about me.”
“I Am Superman!”
I am, I am, I am Superman. And I know what’s happening!
I am, I am, I am Superman. And I can do anything!
It’s the addict’s version of the power of positive thinking.
Does terminal uniqueness strike a cord with you?
In an effort to combat the effects of terminal uniqueness, I thought it might be interesting to provide a few lists (absolutely and completely non-scientific and 100% subjective) of the folks who show up at Sexaholics Anonymous meetings. I’ve been to a lot of meetings and I’ve met a lot of recovering sexaholics. This is the makeup of the people I’ve seen there.
If you have a “little porn problem” but don’t find yourself on any of these lists, well, you should write a book about it! Congratulations! Now your job is to help the rest of us. Help us overcome this thing that is destroying our lives. Or maybe give this whole idea of terminal uniqueness some serious thought.
Without further ado and in no particular order:
Top Five (or So) Religions in SA:
- Other Christians of all shades including evangelicals, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and quite a few other denominations
- Those who are “spiritual but not religious”
- Casual believers in some higher power
Top Five (or So) Jobs, Professions and Occupations in SA
- Doctors from surgeons to psychiatrists
- Lawyers whether litigators, government, private, small-firm, big-firm, family law, criminal law, transactional, etc.
- Teachers (primary, secondary and higher education)
- Truck drivers, bus drivers, mechanics
- Office workers
- Programmers, IT
- Artists, photographers
- CEOs, officers and executives
- Writers, authors, bloggers
- Full-time and part-time workers
Top Five (or So) Educational Backgrounds in SA
- BSs and BAs
- High School diplomas
- Less than high school diplomas
Not Quite Top Five Priesthood Offices of Mormons Who Attend SA
- High priests
- Priests and prospective elders
These are useful lists for me because I find myself on each of them. There are other guys at SA just like me. I am not unique. I am a recovering sex addict just like a lot of other people.
Terminal Uniqueness Is Exhausting.
My addict brain is desperate for me to maintain secrecy and isolation, core environments for acting out and self-medicating with my drug, lust. Terminal uniqueness is one of the ways that it pursues that end. Meetings, phone calls and time with my sponsor destroy secrecy and isolation and help me combat terminal uniqueness. They are proof that I am not unique.
How grateful I am that I don’t have be alone anymore. Terminal uniqueness is exhausting.