I recently read the story of Dr. William Halsted, an early 20th century pioneer in the arena of modern surgery. He arguably possessed one of the greatest minds of the last century. He performed many surgical experiments on lab animals that eventually gave way to countless routine procedures that remain in place in modern medicine; however, despite his substantial contributions to the field of medicine, Dr. Halsted had a secret…he was a morphine addict of “the hopeless variety.” It is widely suspected that a narcotic overdose eventually cost him his life…in spite of his intellectual capacities.
Very early into this journey, I was taught about a disease that “centers in the mind.” This directly contradicted my long held beliefs related to the importance of developing one’s intellectual acumen, and frankly, the self-purported superiority of my own mind. Since I can remember, I have relied solely upon my intellect, and for many years, this was conducive to a certain amount of success, both academically and personally. When I was told I had exhausted my resources, and that my level of intelligence (fancied or real) was completely irrelevant in this endeavor, I found myself quite incredulous.
Apparently, my knowledge that Dr. Halsted developed a technique that involved incorporating fine silk sutures into the submucosal layer in intestinal anastomosis would be useless. Though it proved to be a struggle, when I was finally able to accept this fact, and concede that I was ultimately the problem, remarkable things began to happen. When I started to straighten out spiritually, I found that, as promised, my mental and physical states began to improve as well.
I still engage in a daily battle, and fight a tendency to rely upon my mind, but I also continue following the directions I was given at the very beginning, and focus on “perfecting and enlarging my spiritual life.” While I still enjoy my intellectual endeavors, my primary focus has become feeding my spirit, and through that, I have found a purpose much greater than my “mind” could have ever dreamed of.
Libby Arnold is a Recovery Advocate at Addiction Directions. She studied Biological Sciences and Chemistry at the University of North Texas. She is a former Math and Science tutor.