The Habit of Avoiding Pain — The Dynamics of Addiction

OSHO International
9 min readMar 13, 2024
The Habit of Avoiding Pain — The Dynamics of Addiction

“All compulsions become slaveries.” Osho

Your human brain is probably the first wonder of the world! Tens of billions of cells with zillions of connections, buzzing with activity that allows you to read these words from anywhere on the planet. In fact, part of the buzzing is the process of verbalizing, putting words on experiences and events. We can call this activity “minding” — a process that we often just call “the mind.”

One of the amazing qualities of the brain and its mind is the ability to learn.

To understand the way our addictions and compulsions work, you can imagine a brain cell (in reality a complex network of cells) that registers “hunger.” It soon learns to link up with another cell (again another complex network of cells) which can arrange for you to go to the fridge and get something to satisfy that hunger. And off you go to get something to eat.

A perfect system. The body knows when you need food, and the mind learns where the fridge is! A natural response, like a lion knows how to find its prey when it is hungry but doesn’t bother when it is not hungry. The learning system is so smart that this can all happen automatically, unconsciously.

The problem is we are no longer natural, and food doesn’t only relieve our hunger.