1 06 2015

Another book I picked up from the shelf captivated by the title and the book cover. Speed by Dr. Stephenie Brown is about rampant addiction to “speed” – trying to be fast and faster – and how to overcome it. The subject interests me a lot. I don’t consider or even recognize myself as a speed addict, but I must admit that being part of the culture which highly regards speed, to its own doom in the long term, I’m aware that I’m influenced by the popular notion and just on the verge of the deep pit that is the addiction to speed, which of course is not a good position to be in to start with.

SpeedI’m more intrigued by this topic because, I have recently started thinking about the toxic mental habits “perfectionism”, and “maximizing”, which are cutting big time into my happiness potential. I realized that speed and its addiction is closely related to it and will provide greater insight into everything that is under play about which it serves me well to be aware of.

The author starts with providing a checklist of twenty questions, the answers to which will determine whether one is addicted to speed or not. She moves on to describe what this addiction actually means, how it evolved, and more importantly what are the reasons underlying this increasingly common phenomenon.

I’m impressed by the honesty and the forthrightness with which she pointed out, right in the beginning of the book and touched upon frequently throughout the rest of the book, that the American culture rooted in the core beliefs of sense of entitlement and unlimited power is what led to the national addiction to speed. She emphasizes that the notions that there is nothing impossible, that the individual is in charge and control, that there is no limit to progress etc., result in a culture which makes slowing down and recognizing limits extremely difficult. With the prevalent cultural and societal norms, it’s even difficult to realize and recognize that one is addicted to speed, that it’s not a good thing.

She explains in detail, what characterizes a speed addict. How their thinking and behavior are. She mentions, more than once, that the impulsiveness inherent to the speed addiction (or any addiction for that matter), is a basic quality of a typical child and the overcoming it is an essential part of growing up. But addicts are stuck in that psyche as they involve in their compulsive actions.

Overcoming speed addiction involves a process akin to conquering any other addiction. She says that the principles of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) prove to be a strong foundation. AA’s basic tenets like accepting the loss of control, turning to others for support, taking one step at a time etc. go a long way in truly enabling one to overpower their speed addiction. She believes that for true and sustainable change to occur, it needs to be focused on behavior, emotions, and thinking making it a comprehensible approach. Unless, we break our previous detrimental behaviors and replace them with new constructive ones, unless we acknowledge and address our feelings before, during, and after speed, unless we replace of  old ways of thinking with new ones, we can’t envision a brighter, slower, and more rewarding life.

This book provides great detail not only about the nature and root causes of speed addiction, but also elaborate background on and instructions about how to embark on and succeed in the recovery process. As such, there is a wealth of information in this book for both who is interested in the topic and who seeks help in regards to their own speed addiction.

Despite the prolific interspersion of personal cases of several people (I’m guessing hypothetical, nevertheless must be based on real subjects), the narration seemed a drag. When you look at it critically, it has all the elements to be a good read. But somehow it didn’t live up to other more engaging non-fiction I’ve read before. There is a lot of repetition throughout the book. But I think it’s a strategy to drive home the main points.  Nonetheless, I believe that this book can be written in a more interesting way.

When I’ve read all those Malcolm Gladwell books and quite recently a book on Habits by  Charles Duhigg, both journalists of New York Times, I distinctly remember getting bored (towards the end of 4th or 5th book) with the unchanged style of presentation – with chapters divided into multiple parts, and several stories running in parallel throughout the book etc., and wondered whether there can’t be any other way of presenting/narrating the content. Even so, all those books were really engaging. I feel that this book failed in this aspect, despite the running parallel stories that enable the readers to identify with the characters.

I really had to exercise my perseverance in order to finally finish the book. But of course, one’s experience can seldom be objective. There are almost always several things going on in life at any point, which influence richness or otherwise of every other experience. 🙂  So, the bottom line is that don’t get disheartened by my negative remarks, but focus on the positive stuff and if you think this is something that interests you or will help you, go for it! This book truly provides a compelling case of the reality of speed addiction, and the need to surmount it.




One response

16 07 2015
Dreams limited | Peek Inside My Mind

[…] amount of stress on people to achieve and succeed, leading to detrimental effects like depression, addiction to speed etc. Like everything in life, finding the right balance is the key. Aim to reach for the stars, but […]

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