The Compulsion Inquiry

The Compulsion Inquiry


The Compulsion Inquiry (CI) can be used (in conjunction with the other inquiries) to look at addictions, compulsions, and cravings. These include food, alcohol, drugs, sex/porn, gambling, shopping, and obsessive compulsive behaviors

Addiction and compulsion often has two sides. These sides could be called craving and aversion. Should and shouldn’t. These two sides show up as the belief in a command/craving/urge to engage and the command /aversion/revulsion not to engage in the addictive or compulsive activity. This belief in both, equally, binds one. Each side tends to accentuate the other. In working with people I see this again and again. It’s interesting because many feel that just the craving is the “problem”.

Some examples of this are to be found with people who have addictions to porn and in those with bulimia. With porn addiction people generally crave things like relief, escape, excitement, orgasm, and ecstasy while feeling nasty, dirty, disgusted, and hopeless about it. With Bulemia the craving and aversion are somewhat built into the compulsion – binging and purging. The binging is often accompanied by thoughts like “I want to eat as much as I want” and “I’m going to get what I want”. Feelings like longing and wanting comfort are there too. The purging is then often accompanied by the fear of getting fat, guilt, and shame.

Two sides to the same coin. We look at both sides doing the Compulsion Inquiry.  Invariably, people swing, back and forth, between this craving and aversion. To identify which is which we pay particular attention to the sense of what is being expressed. If what are being expressed are things like urge, longing, craving, impulse, drive, desire then there is, likely, a should or a craving. If what is being expressed are things like shame, guilt, disgust, revulsion then there is, likely, a shouldn’t or an aversion. But we look exhaustively; sometimes those expressions can indicate just the opposite.

When looked at, in this way, neither the craving nor the aversion can be found. No should or shouldn’t.

But addiction and compulsion is much more than craving and aversion. An addiction or a compulsion is a natural consequence of your whole life.  Who you think you are your identities, what you believe to be true, what you fear, and your solutions to this fear.

The primary problem for most people is a case of mistaken identity – not knowing who they really are. These mistaken identities are stories such as “I am unloved”, “I am unwanted”, “I’m special”, etc.  Basing a life on a mistaken identity is the same as building a castle of sand or a house of cards. Such a construction is inherently insecure. With this mistaken identity, fear, anxiety, and numbness (and other afflictive states) arise. With the arising of these afflictive states, compulsive behaviors and addictions arise as well. These compulsive behaviors and addictions are misguided attempts to “fix” or “control” what is wrong. It’s inevitable that all of this would happen (given the original “mistake”).

The inquiry work, that we do, looks directly for the existence and truth of these mistaken identities, anxieties, and compulsions. We have inquiries designed to look at each of these. The Unfindable Inquiry (UI) looks at the mistaken identities, the Anxiety Inquiry (AI) looks at the flight, fight, and freeze responses that we experience (fear, anger, numbness), and the Compulsion Inquiry (CI) looks for the actual cravings and aversions. We use these inquiries in conjunction with each other or woven together in some fashion. When looking at a compulsion or addiction we utilize all of these inquiries in looking at your whole life. Just looking for and at the cravings and aversions (using the CI) helps. But without doing this kind of complete looking (using the UI and AI) the causes remain unexamined (the mistaken identities and the fear and anger)

Using the inquiries in conjunction with each other (and not being able to find the existence of these mistaken identities, anxieties, and compulsions) tends to lead to ease and peace.

What Can Be Looked For Using the Compulsion Inquiry? 

The Compulsion Inquiry can be used to address any addiction or compulsion including:

  • Compulsive Eating
  • Drugs
  • Sex
  • Alcohol
  • Pornography
  • Relationships
  • Shopping
  • Gambling
  • Cleaning
  • Being loved
  • Seeking enlightenment