Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Power of Habit [Chapter 9]

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups    

By Danielle Hall

In chapter nine of The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the complex links between deep-rooted habits as automatic behaviors, “the neurology of free will,” and the role of society in assigning responsibility. He queries “the ethics of habit and choice” through the lives of Brian Thomas and Angie Bachmann — both of whom on the exterior appear to have two remotely different experiences that result in loss. Yet, both examples demonstrate how the brain responds to ingrained habits and how neurological processes can trigger or impede one’s ability to make decisions.

According to Duhigg, some habits are indeed “automatic behaviors so ingrained in our neurology that, studies show, they can occur with almost no input from the higher regions of the brain” (255). In other words, Brian’s automatism/sleep terror and Angie’s pathological gambling look quite similar when viewed as reflexive behaviors or responses from individuals acting without choice. Despite the outcome in each narrative, Duhigg reminds readers that even under the most uncanny or dire circumstances, “habits… aren’t destiny” but that “every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable” (270).

He later states that the “real power of habit” is “the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be (273).” Based on the reading, do you feel that Angie Bachmann’s gambling case was (more/less/as) justified as Brian Thomas’ sleep terror example? Why?


Katrina S said...

I felt like Angie's gambling was very much so less justified than Brian's sleep terror example because although both may be viewed as habits, Angie made a conscious choice to begin on the route of her habit. I believe before she got too deep in it, she could have chosen to stop.

Angie could have chosen more constructive ways of coping with her losses and loneliness. She could have picked up a hobby or joined an organization. She had choices. Since little is known about night terrors, Brian's options were limited.

Julian G said...

I must say that this chapter was absolutely fascinating to read.I am shocked at the neurological processes that go into our habit making ability.

Based on the findings of the research, it would appear that Angie and Brian's habits are equally yoked. It wouldnt appear that either of their habits are more justified than the other granted that the neurological process for people indivivuals is the same.

Robin Caffey said...

Angie's gambling and Brian's sllep terror are very similar in my opinion and one does not out weigh the other nor is one more justifiable than the other. Both Angie and Brian need help in order to control there habits because of how deeply rooted they are in there minds.

Jessica H. said...

I feel that Brian's sleep terror and Angie's gambling are very similar. I don't think any of the two situations are more or less justified than the other. The habits that these two individuals possess are rooted in their minds. In order to resolve the issue they would both have to seek help.

B.Jeffery said...

Although I took a little from each of the previous comments, I have to say that I agree more with Katrina in that Angie had the initial upper hand in her habit. Angie's case is not less significant than Brian's, but I do not see them in the same light.

Although our neurological processes play a significant role in our decision making and habits, our own personal choices play just as big of a role if not more. To me, some people seem to have more addictive personalities than others. This could be because of their brains being wired differently, personal experiences, other factors or a combination.

Whatever the case, Angie had an initial choice not to gamble. Brian however, has a disorder due to a neurological defect that he played no role in creating.