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Blake Lively in Savages

Spiritual Surf: “Flight” and 5 other titles that are giving addiction a buzz

From Denzel Washington’s contender for an Oscar to the Scientology allegory, The Master, Hollywood’s biggest box office is hooked to addicts

The Master

Joaquin Phoenix plays a sex addict and violent drunk who seeks salvation from a guru who is part-Werner Erhard and part-Ron Hubbard. Director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) screened the film for the world’s most famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise.

Boardwalk Empire

America’s oldest addiction juiced every clan from the Kennedys and the Seagrams to iconic U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, according to HBO’s flagship series.

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How change can trigger addiction—or recovery

Addiction actually alters the way your brain works. How to meld your mind, body, and spirit to re-wire your neural networks.

BY MARY COOK, M.A., R.A.S. — The year that will go down in history as 2011 was marked by yet another parade of news stories about public figures whose lives ended due to addiction — from Amy Winehouse to Alice in Chains musician Mike Starr. What these stories have in common is this: while everyone from economists to motivational gurus like Tony Robbins advocate constant change, change itself means constant stress.

That even goes for positive changes — like getting married or buying your first house.

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What is Ibogaine, and why does Charlie Sheen’s ex want to do it?

What is Ibogaine, and why does Charlie Sheen’s ex want to do it?

A hallucinogen long used in shamanic and spiritual practices, Ibogaine is a non-pharma prescription for addiction

BY SOUL’S CODE — Brooke Mueller is the ex-wife of Charlie Sheen who called 911 a couple of Christmas holidays ago in Aspen claiming that the Two and a Half Men star he was threatening her with a knife (listen to the tape here). Since then, they have both done revolving doors through rehab — and Mueller’s latest attempts and failures at sobriety are a highlight reel on Paris Hilton’s new reality TV show on the Oxygen network.

Mueller’s latest stab at AA-style 12 Steps has apparently failed again, and the gossip site TMZ reports that she made plans to fly to Cancun to undergo Ibogaine therapy.

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Escape from Hollywood: The Soul’s Code list of 2011 summer movies

Escape from Hollywood: The Soul’s Code list of 2011 summer movies

Spiritual cinema: From the Rolling Stones to religious war, these 5 flicks are enlightened and entertaining.

1. 9th Company, the Russian side of “Charlie Wilson’s War”, the website where you can play TV and movies for free, finally has a foreign flick worth watching. (Actually, make that any flick).

Hulu just posted 9th Company, “9 Рота” in the original Russian — the first time that a mass American audience has been exposed to the best movie we’ve ever seen from the post-Soviet Union (and in that spirit, it’s a co-production with Finland and the Ukraine).

Yes, the movie does has subtitles. But think of it as the Rus version of Platoon with the nitty-gritty psychological naturalism of Stanley Kubrick’s Natural Born Killers. But it’s actually based on a true story.

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Addictions, the last defence

Wonder why Congressman Weiner went weird? He might show skin but he is not comfortable in his own. Addicts never are.

BY MARY COOK, M.A., R.A.S. — Read any night about the most privileged people on the planet. Nic Cage is arrested for spousal abuse and public inebriation. Days later Cage’s son attacks his personal trainer. Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen is acting out again.

When our primary needs or desires in childhood are insufficiently gratified, we experience a deep and lasting sense of fear, incompleteness and inferiority.

Because it is difficult to contain fully conscious awareness of these feelings, defense mechanisms arise to dull, block or defensively glorify them.

We might adopt narcissistic or avoidant behaviors, or dangerous thrill-seeking practices, in order to distract ourselves from original fears.

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Goals collecting dust?

Goals collecting dust?

Why we stagnate despite our best intentions to achieve greatness, overcome addictions and compulsions — or, like, just be happy.

BY MARY COOK — The next Pulitzer Prize winning novelist might be living next door to you but, for whatever reason, has yet to write a novel.

Your best friend might want to quit smoking but is on the porch having a smoke right this minute. Why?

What psychologists call associations.

Perhaps the non-writing writer associates hard work with her overbearing parents, and the smoker associates cigarettes with self-affirmation or self-pampering.

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The DNA of addiction

“The greater the disparity between our healthy needs and our childhood environment, the greater our focus on survival rather than maturation.”

BY MARY COOK — “But I’ve always been like this.”

“I’ll be hurt if I become vulnerable.”

“I’ll have no power if I don’t intimidate.”

“Without my character defects there’ll be nothing left of me.”

Those kind of thoughts usually come out in therapy. But many of us run on auto-pilot, and such archetypal ‘beliefs’ loop in auto-pilot in our unconscious mind — the operating system of our psyche.

And out of fear we hold ourselves hostage to defense mechanisms that keep us dysfunctional.

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The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

Loving someone hurts when we can’t slay their monsters. The King’s Speech is about coming through the worst of it alone.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – Movies want audiences to sympathize for their characters, and I usually oblige. My heart sank right along with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic. I ached for Jamie Foxx as his character battled schizophrenia and homelessness in The Soloist. I even mustered some emotion for Angelina Jolie as she screeched about her stolen son in The Changeling. Pretty heavy subject matter compared to public speaking – yet I have never felt such agony for a character as I did for Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

The actor reportedly had a similar response when he watched a newsreel of the real King George VI stammering through a speech. Though the King did a good job of making his stutters sound like dramatic pauses, his obvious struggle brought tears to the eyes of Firth and director Tom Hooper.

This isn’t a story about someone being mocked for his impediment. The King had support. The British masses in stadiums and in their livingrooms sat with bated breath, respectfully rooting for the King. Yet all of their collective good will and that of his loving wife and daughters could not help His Majesty get those words out smoothly and painlessly. For me, it’s a story of not only the King but those who loved him.

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Intervention? That’s not reality. Try this new documentary about an addict’s spiritual journey

Intervention? That’s not reality. Try this new documentary about an addict’s spiritual journey

Mark Hogancamp’s alcoholism was literally beaten out of him. Now his trauma and transformation are on the big screen in the new documentary, Marwencol

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE — I started dancing, really dancing, at 38. Until then, that ultimate form of stepping-out-of-my-shell was too much like stepping out of Michelle. My turning point came four years ago at Halloween when I donned a mini-dress with a wild psychedelic print, a big blonde beehive wig and electric green gogo boots. As it turns out, the alter ego I created — “Gogo Batgirl” — can dance, and not in a lame, white-bread way. She has no fear, moves gracefully and is a lot more fun at parties than my official “me.”

As freeing as that costume was, I was okay with storing it in a box afterward and going back to my everyday self.

The line between self and alternative-self is not so clearly defined for Mark Hogancamp.

A part-time illustrator and full-time drunk living in Kingston, NY, he was severely beaten outside a bar in 2000. When he woke from a nine-day coma he remembered nothing of his former life — not even that he liked the taste of alcohol. Instant recovery from his addiction, however, was only small solace for the brain damage that cost him his memories and fine motor skills and forced him to relearn to eat, walk, read and write.

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