I’ve read a lot of books on addiction and this has been by far the most helpful. I needed to make a change because the pandemic presented… lets say, irrefutable evidence. This is news to no one, a lot of us are there- a morning walk on recycling day says enough. I had to pick it up because of its subject matter and because I’ve seen this book recommended everywhere: from friends to podcasters.
Krishnamurti, a great philosopher (that will without a doubt show up on another Reccomensday) argued that the key to resolving not just addiction but any problem can be worked out by understanding it completely. That is, to accept every facet of the problem, not just intellectually but emotionally too, leads the knot of contradiction to undo itself. There is no ‘trying’, there is no will power required, it just is. To use his metaphor, once you see how something hurts, it becomes a hot stove, you have no resistance to it, there is simply no desire to touch it. Coming to that understanding is both a matter of intellect and experience. This Naked Mind walks the reader through the problem of drinking, and in the spirit of Krishnamurti, aims to get the reader to see alcohol totally rather than actively resist it. This method, as the author makes very clear, stands in stark contrast to the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy on sobriety.
What follows is a piecemeal approach to gaining that understanding. This is effective because the author takes the scientific and pyschological facts about alcohol and uses them to address the substance from every angle. She does this through research and data as well as penetrating questions and relatable stories. Her express goal is to “integrate” our subconscious view of alcohol with our conscious one. She does this deliberately with chapters meant to speak to those parts of the mind. This makes reading the book an active experience rather than a passive one. The writing is concise and direct, as the reader works through This Naked Mind, they will question their personal relationship with alcohol and better understand its context in society at large. At some points the reader will be challenged to dig deep into their uprbinging and personal experience to suss out the hazy connections between alcohol and their personal lives. Some parts of this book are light and factual and some are heavy and existential, but what hooked me were the first few pages- I kept reading because the Author’s struggle was so close to my own.
I did not intend to read this book and become some Ned Flanders teetotaler but rather to regain control over alcohol in my life after relying on it for some time. That said, after finishing This Naked Mind and experimenting a little, I could see giving it up altogether… I’m not saying I will and so far I have not been successful, but I feel confident in that choice should I choose to make it. Sobriety has not become a matter of resistance but rather disinterest. When I have had an interest, those times when I chose to drink, were more meaningful and well… appropriate. There was less consumption altogether and where there was, it was cause for celebration with friends, not the numbing chase so familiar. When things did go too far and I came to the next morning with a hangover and a sick stomach, I also carried with me a cold weight of understanding- The sadness that lingered knew its cause.
This book lends clarity to a substance with profound status in our lives. Annie Grace’s approach helps to isolate alcohol and see it with clarity. If you’ve gone on streaks of sobriety only to fall back into old habits This Naked Mind is a helpful tool in your arsenal to help break that cycle. The bottom line: There is a whole lot of material on this subject, but This Naked Mind works.