I had a reader contact me today with a question I’ve been asked a few times now, why Adam doesn’t just “fix” his addiction or have it “fixed” by the Guild Structure people. This is a good question! And I love that my readers are thinking deeply about the world and the rules of the world. Since I’ve been asked it a few times now, I thought it was time to go ahead and answer it on the blog in more detail for everyone.
Thanks to Frank, who wrote the text of the original question from today (copied below).
I am reading the first book in the Mindspace Investigations book, Clean and I have a question.
Currently I am just on Chapter 11.
In Chapter 10, you describe Constructs as being able to ” If you want a criminal to literally not be able to think about molesting children again…” . If that part is correct, then why hasn’t the hero had this done to remove the ability to think of Satin to cure his addiction?
Thanks for contacting me! Always great to hear from readers.
I’ve gotten this question a few times, and there are three major issues at play.
(1) Addiction is complicated, because it’s not just about the behavior. With an addiction to a substance, it’s usually about an emotional need or pattern as much as the substance. So the Guild has learned over time that blocking thoughts of Satin just leads addicts to seek out a new drug or new destructive behavior in the short term to meet those needs or patterns. In the long term, the patient often regresses right back to the addictive habits, often to new ones on top of old. It’s not specific enough a trigger to be adequately treated, if that makes sense. You can block the Satin but you can’t block the need that’s driving the addiction.
Even with the criminal treatment for convicted child molesters–which is to a very, very specific set of triggers and behaviors–the criminal will often act out in other ways to try to fill whatever need for control or lust he/she was getting through those sets of behaviors. The treatment and rehabilitation team will try to channel this into a form that is much less destructive, but it’s often very bad for the criminal’s mental health and future, or very bad for those surrounding the person. Sometimes with enough patience and determination, the criminal can even get around the mental block, which is also bad. For this particular set of criminal behaviors, the future society is willing to pay that price. For other situations the unexpected consequences could far outweigh the thing you’re trying to fix, and society may not be willing to pay that price. Humans are complicated, and messing with their heads is complicated.
For addiction, the Guild has by this point determined that Structural intervention just isn’t worth the trouble. Better the addiction you know about and can deal with in other ways than new addictions and new problems you can’t predict.
(2) Adam has Structural training. Any telepath who can “see” what’s been done to his/her brain has a much better shot that average of undoing what’s been done, and someone with Structural training can rarely be permanently “changed” without his or her active and ongoing participation. The problem with addiction is that Adam’s emotional needs will keep forcing him to “pick at the scab” and undo what’s been done. So “fixing” Adam isn’t really worth it if he’s fighting you, because it likely won’t work, or won’t work the way you planned.
(3) Humans don’t as a rule like having their brains altered. Like so many folks with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses, they don’t “feel themselves” on drugs that change the brain. Sometimes the difference is worth it to the individual. Sometimes people go off the drugs as soon as they can. Sometimes it’s something in between. And drugs are a lot less personal and less invasive than having someone prodding around in your head. Not to mention that having that sort of thing done against your will–to alter who you are as a person–is traumatic. I imagine that “fixing” your brain is very much the same. If you actively consent and want the benefits from the change, perhaps it works because you’re willing to pay the price. But it’s a brain change, and is going to change how you feel overall and how you experience your mind and yourself. People as a rule don’t really like that, and will choose it only if the benefit outweighs the price.
For Adam, considering his desire for control and anger towards the Guild at the worst time of his addiction, he would be very, very wary of having anyone change his brain. He wouldn’t want a stranger poking around in his head and making wholesale changes. He fundamentally wouldn’t. So he’d have every reason in the world to fight and possibly undo what had been done, even if the Guild had somehow decided to go against their policies and intervene with the addiction.
What about you guys? Would you choose to have someone go in and “fix” your brain? What unintended consequences do you think something like that might have?