There are many behavioral, cognitive and emotional patterns that are pathological and destructive. Many have “official” diagnosis, symptoms and treatment protocols. Many don’t. Many conditions are quite common, yet we don’t acknowledge or recognize them in the standard mental health vernacular. We should. A condition I call lazy sickness is a good example.
Lazy sickness is identified by a behavior of spending an inordinate amount of time wasting time ie computer games. The hallmark of these activities is they are not goal directed. Due to these activities, priorities often become skewed and responsibilities go by the wayside ie computer games over homework. Lazy sickness is compulsive, chronic and obsessive. The intensity of laziness begins to impact interpersonal relationships and important obligations and reresponsibilites are ignored.
Treatment for Lazy sickness
1. Recognize and acceptance are hallmarks in the treatment for most pathological conditions. Most people that I have worked with who have lazy sickness are aware of it. They may not admit it to their families, but in counseling they will be honest and admit to profound laziness.
2. Do a honest pro/con analysis of the behavior. What is it costing you? Flunking out of college because of a computer addiction is quite a cost. Is it worth it? Working with a therapist during this stage is crucial if defense mechanisms such as denial and minimization are used to justify behaviors.
3. Set goals for change – Identify specifically what the change will look like? Realistically, how can the problem improve in one week, month, or year?
4. Make a decision regarding treatment. When a person decides they cost of laziness outweighs the benefits it is time for a treatment plan. Problems solving skills, strengths and resource inventory, and coping skills help mobilize the tangible skills to reach his goal
5. Behavioral modification with positive reinforcement – Use rewards to reinforce non-lazy behaviors. For example, when you do homework (instead of computer games) you get a reward (favorite meal)
6. Behavioral modification with negative reinforcement – Engaging in the behavior you are trying to change results in an unpleasant experiences you would rather avoid. The room is intolerable with either noise or temperature manipulation while playing computer games.
7. Taking in the Good – Neuroscience tells us that we naturally cling to negative thoughts with a great deal more energy than positive thoughts. Therefore, when we make positive steps in the right direction, it s very helpful to purposefully enhance the positive experience. Rick Hanson provides practical guidance in his book Hardwiring Happiness.
8. Become friends with Discomfort – Not-liking, unsatisfactory conditions, and frustration are ongoing conditions. By the end of this minute, hour or day we will likely experience them. Learning coping skills to deal with discomfort is very important.
9. Willpower – The kryptonite of laziness. The use of affirmations is simple yet can be effective in helping us to build our willpower reserves
10. Aerobic exercise – Some researches describe aerobic exercise as the Willpower Miracle. Studies indicate that aerobic exercise strengthens the centers of the brain where Willpower sits.