Sunday, August 18, 2013


Psychiatrist, William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy (now referred to as Choice Therapy), introduced POSITIVE ADDICTION to the world in 1976 (Harper Collins Publishers).  In that book, Glasser had decided that one should become positively addicted to something to overcome an addiction that was considered to be negative.

Generally, an addiction is an activity considered to be detrimental to one’s spiritual, physical, and social growth. Most of us have pursued certain shortcuts to our destinations of feeling good (too much shopping, sex, drinking, drugging, or television) and for some of us these shortcuts have become problematic.  Some people are impulse buyers and spend, spend, spend.  Some people are forever searching for Mister or Missus Goodbar.  Some people consume alcohol until they are falling down drunk.  Some people live in Needle Park.  When the remote goes click, some people immediately become tuned.  An addiction is the price some of us pay when taking such shortcuts to be happy.

Glasser’s notion of POSITIVE ADDICTION was to seek happiness in a more socially and acceptable manner.  Glasser believed that if one were to pursue an activity that was viewed to be socially acceptable (bird watching, violin playing, long-distance running, being some examples), that eventually that activity could become so consuming that it would become positively addicting for that person.  I know an ornithologist who spends hours driving and then hours walking while looking birds.  A band mate of mine, Eric of the Grand Trunk Troubadours, sleeps with his violin.  Running, according to Glasser, is the hardest but surest way to Positive Addiction.  My own skinny definition of POSITIVE ADDICTION is that it is better to be hooked on something considered to be socially positive than on something socially recognized as being negative.

In 1976 I was in attendance at a Glasser workshop in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  The great Glasser, himself, was the keynote.  And I remember my disappointment.  At that time, Four Weddings and a Funeral was the popular movie playing.  In his main address, Glasser analyzed the fictional lead characters of this movie according to his Reality Therapy motives (love, power, freedom, and fun).  This I found corny. As a student of Reality Therapy at the time, an address such as the one William Glasser presented … I could have done!

(I must apologize right now to Carole Eaton, Executive Director of the Phoenix Residential Society and Psychology professor at the University of Regina.  Carole and I sat at the same table at that workshop.  Carole was certainly more academic and devout than I was, and Carole still is a faithful and academic follower of Glasser and his newly packaged, Choice Theory.  I write this apology because I know that Carole reads this blog:)

I’m moving on now to Martin Seligman, the founder of POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY.  In 1998 Seligman’s notion for client centered therapy was to find and nurture talent to make clients’ lives more meaningful, rather than just treat their assigned mental illnesses.  Seligman referred to having a good life as using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.

And now to Edward Diener, an American psychologist, et al (1999) in his studies of SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING, who suggested the following equation:


In my personal world of Phenomenology, everything does get connected.  POSITIVE ADDICTION, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, and  SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING all give hope to those with SCHIZOPHRENIA.    When he introduced POSITIVE ADDICTION, William Glasser had never heard of POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY.  When POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY was introduced, Martin Seligman had never read Dr. Diener’s equation (though I do understand they do work in concert on occasion).  I’ve now read and thought about all of the above and cannot help but make some positive connections.

Positive Addiction is a theory of counseling to help any client seeking therapy.  Glasser was not a fan of doctors who prescribed many medications to those patients assigned with mental illnesses, and believed Positive Addiction, a spin of his Reality Therapy, would certainly be beneficial to anyone choosing to participate.

Positive Psychology is, really, the study of happiness.  Most people want to be happy, and most people are inclined to exhibit behaviors in their pursuit of that happiness.

Lots of addictions and other disorders cause distress for lots of people.  Generally, people with afflictions can continue with their lives.  However, people with schizophrenia, it seems, cannot lead ordinary lives. 

According to the DSM-IV, people with schizophrenia, a complex disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions, exhibit at least two of the following on a regular basis:
  1.  Delusions
  2. Hallucinations 
  3. Grossly disorganized
  4. Negative symptoms

(Check out the debates on the validity of the DSM-IV on such sites as PSYCHOLOGY TODAY -LATEST BLOGS.)

I've met lots of people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and I shall confess, that I do agree with the characteristics listed.  My only quarrel with this particular literature is that schizophrenia is so specifically and technically described, and that gives a medical license to the diagnosis.  I prefer to understand schizophrenia as a series of prescribed and enacted behaviors that are socially destructive to one's well being.  And whereas, schizophrenia is generally considered a lifelong illness, deciding that it is a series of behaviors some how, for me, makes the cure and control of schizophrenia much more hopeful than what the medical community officially states.

Presently, the best therapy encouraged by the medical community for the treatment of Schizophrenia is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  

      CBT, indeed, is a great therapy, and in fact, smacks of Reality Therapy, but only older RT's (Reality Therapists) such as myself, would recognize this.

        I also recognize that as a social entrepreneur, the definition of SCHIZOPHRENIA needs to be redefined:

        For those clients of mine that have been diagnosed with SCHIZOPHRENIA, I tend to direct them to participate in the POSITIVE ADDICTION THERAPY model.  Having a private counseling practice allows me the leeway to do this and to date I’ve had clients become long-distance runners, clients become drummers in a musical band, and clients who’ve given poetry readings in public.

        Whenever I busk, I offer free counseling services.  A few street people take advantage of this service (which is good) and our counselor/client relationship usually lasts just 15 minutes or so.  These brief, brief, street counseling sessions are, in part, a segment of my SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP philosophy of busking.

        A social entrepreneur is a person who recognizes when a part of society is stuck, and therefore offers opportunity and new ways to get unstuck.  Personally, as a buskologist, I am attempting to open pathways for the some of the marginalized and disadvantaged.

        I’ve done enough conservative contract counseling with various private agencies to recognize that people, who’ve been medically assigned with a mental illness, become next to being untouchable when it comes to private counseling practices.  This is, in part, mainly due to the imagined liabilities that could occur.  For example, should a private counselor in a private practice take on a client who has been formally assigned with schizophrenia, and that particular client exhibits suicidal behaviors (in actions and dialogue), and that particular client does commit suicide, the subpoena scramble is on.  Is the client or is it the counselor who is responsible for the death?

        It is much easier to refuse to serve such clients upon their first mention of having a mental illness, and to instead, refer them directly to the nearest mental health clinic.  Liability is a risk – a referral to elsewhere is never a risk. 

        In most private counseling practices, street admissions are not welcome.  It is not much fun having a vis-à-vis encounter with someone diagnosed with a mental illness. It is much easier to vilipend those with a mental illness compared to cuddle-counseling those who recognize their problems and are more than mentally and physically capable and willing to actively participate in their recoveries.

        In a line and from a mercenary business perspective ...  Having a client with a mental illness is more bother than worth.

        My particular buskology practice means offering pro-bono counseling, in widdershin fashion, to those mentally ill solitudinarians who tend to wander the downtown sidewalks.

        Simply, I am a social entrepreneur, recognizing the values of POSITIVE ADDICTION, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, and SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING. 

        At every busk spot I attempt to combine my skill of busking with that of my love of listening, that I might change the world in a positive regard, one street client at a time.


        I’ve just one consumer marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week.

        • Munificent Mike, the new manager of the new grocery store, INDEPENDENT on Broadway Avenue, took time from his busy schedule to come out and chat whilst I was busking.  He also tossed five dollars of coin into my guitar case!
        • Sir Paul McCartney did not march in my Chaucerian Parade; but rather, I did march in his.
        Yes, Sir Paul came to town and I, of course, attended his concert! 

        Paul is ... POSITIVELY inimitable!


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