Rachel Resnick on Understanding Her Addiction

Question: What was your childhood like?

Rachel Resnick: My mother was very young, she was mentally ill, and it was a period of time when… it’s 30 years ago, when people didn’t know the difference between paranoia, schizophrenia, manic depression. They didn’t know how to treat it, so she was kind of self medicating with alcohol. This bond that suppose to happen, because it keeps going back to relationships and bonding, she wasn’t really able to show up as a mother, and as I understand that your neurochemistry doesn’t develop a certain way as an infant and you need kind of jolts, so you’re kind of being prepared to be a love addict in that way, and she was also for me the original love junkie if you flipped through the book, there’s that line, “My mother cried over all the men in her life,” and so, clearly there was a depressive thing which has an effect on kids, again, laying the ground work. She wasn’t really available, so I’d be reading fairy tales which no doubt fed into romantic ideas of love, sacrifice, yearning, because you’re yearning to have the original attachment. Then, layer on top of that the father. Again, they’re both young and so I’m not blaming them, and in fact, that’s been a big part of breaking out of this cycle is it’s not anyone’s, you know, responsibility except your own. You’re an adult at this point, let’s go. It’s enough. You’re not going to get the parental love, that wouldn’t be an ideal. We already have a mentally ill mother which has its own drama in the house and there was always chaos and drama and her choice is kept getting worse in men. Her next choice for a husband was someone who was very violent, who had maimed himself to get out of going to Vietnam. He was alcoholic, very abusive, controlling. So, he ran out and I’m glad my mother had enough presence of mind to take me and we were off to New York and left that and she was 7 months pregnant at that time. It’s very, yeah. So, interestingly that aspect of the Dickensian just these overblown incidents, which I didn’t really think of that way when I was growing up, because you can’t. That’s so confusing [IB] you get so into your survivor mode and gallows humor. But the truth is now when I look back and this memoir was a hugely informative for this, I realized that that was one of the spots like there [IB] words were called spots in time that kind of flashpoints were I experienced diffusion of fear and pleasure. And that, I think that violent experience and the abuse there really had something to do with informing some of my choices with ex-cons and various other unsavory but exciting [seeming], smart, charming but dangerous men later on.

 

Recorded on: September 30, 2008.

Rachel Resnick has struggled to understand the psychological underpinnings of her addiction.

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.