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How Child Abuse, Drug Abuse, and Porn Addiction Wreak Havoc.

Part 5: Clearing a Path to Personal Growth

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Welcome to the fifth, and final, installment of our blog series covering the “Trilogy Modum” theory.
In the first three parts of this series, I defined each of the factors and toxic behaviors that make up the Trilogy Modum. These are:

  1. Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse suffered as an adolescent.
  2. A family history of drug abuse and addiction (be it alcoholism or otherwise)
  3. Pornography Addiction  

In part four, I touched upon “the Elixir,” the simultaneous presence of all three of the above factors, which I consider to be the Modum’s most dangerous form.

Now, I’d like to conclude this series by offering a more in-depth exploration of the world “beyond” the trauma and toxic habits of the Modum; one where introspection and personal growth are not only encouraged, but vital. It’s my firmly held belief that once a person identifies the barricades that block their path to greater growth and success, such as those present in the Trilogy Modum, and takes full responsibility for eliminating those obstacles, they can unlock their true potential and lead a life of fulfillment. The following excerpt from my book, An American Lawyer, covers this in greater detail:


It’s a whole new ball game in today’s world in dealing with these issues concerning young men, but also in dealing with personal success on any level, no matter what age you are. I still see men and women in their forties trying to figure out what they want to be in life and what direction to take. In my opinion, there are many fallacies about how we need to succeed in life.

Many times, all of us try extremely hard to do the right thing to be successful. The problem is that so many people don’t understand “how” to be successful.

What success means is defined by the individual. Most people don’t even understand how to begin to address success. The underlying belief by most is that money equals success. This is so far from the truth that it’s almost laughable. There are many ways to succeed in life. Yes, financial freedom is one of them. But there are other types of success in life that are just as important. Many would argue that these other values are more important than money—that is, happiness within yourself and those around you.

I don’t think many people even understand themselves, let alone other people. Sometimes, I look at clients and am amazed at the dysfunction that is occurring in their household. It’s as if no one can see each other and there are glass barriers between everyone.

I realized a long time ago that I will never fully understand myself. What does that mean anyway? If each of us found the true meaning in ourselves and what we are all about, could we even put that into words? Many people seem to feel that eventually they will understand themselves from the standpoint of what they want to do in life and what they’re all about. This is true to a degree. I, for example, may enjoy practicing law rather than practicing medicine. That may be more what I’m all about, and it may fit my aptitude better than medicine. But how can we ever understand ourselves fully? Aren’t we constantly evolving in life? We can only understand the big picture of how our thought process was created and has evolved.

In my particular situation, I realized that I thought and acted in a certain way because of my “training” as a kid and young adult. As I previously described, the morals and principles learned at an early stage are like a computer program loop that will affect every decision you make in your life. That includes love, how you deal with your children, and how you approach business and society. The key for me in this situation was to uncover what made me tick. I never thought and I still don’t believe that I will ever fully understand every component of my thought process. None of us do. To try and do so is a quixotic effort of tilting at a windmill. You will never fully get there. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. I realize that once you understand the basics about yourself and the people around you, success will start to come.

In Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, the author tackles what is called “the ego state.” The ego can never be satisfied. It’s a device put in place for humans to wallow through life to survive. No matter what happens, it will continue to reset the bar and constantly need more of whatever it believes is required at the time. Any satisfaction will be short-lived and quickly be accompanied by a feeling of deep anxiety and inadequacy. This feeling plagues people who are highly successful as well as people who only have moderate success.

Tolle states, “The ego identifies with having, but its satisfaction in having is a relatively shallow and short-lived one. Concealed within it remains a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction, of incompleteness, of ‘not enough.’ ‘I don’t have enough yet,’ by which the ego really means, ‘I am not enough yet.’” It’s a brilliant book and uncovers the work of many historical religions throughout the centuries. My point is that there is nothing wrong with trying to obtain “more,” but just understand that is not the result that many of us are really looking for. Tolle puts it this way: “No content will satisfy you, as long as the egoic structure remains in place.” No matter what you have or get, your happiness won’t occur on a long-term basis. Although I agree with his general premise, I don’t agree with it in toto. Achievement and success, whether financial or in other areas of life, can bring satisfaction. The key, in my opinion, is to understand where you want to go and realize that material items will not be what brings you ultimate satisfaction.

Of extreme importance to me was the thought process about being a victim. As Tolle writes, “A very common role is the role of victim, and the form of attention it seeks is sympathy or pity or others’ interest in my problems, ‘me and my story.’ Seeing oneself as a victim is an element in many egoic patterns, such as complaining, being offended, outraged, and so on.”

In many ways, this sense of victimhood has permeated society today. After all, the more of a victim you are, in many ways the more standing you have in society. It used to be the other way around, the complete opposite. Now, sympathy for things that have “occurred” to you gives you more standing and credibility in the victim mentality of our political and social system.

I don’t want to be a victim. I am not a victim and will never be. I only allow myself to be a victim if, in fact, that is something that I as a human being succumb to. There is no question that any person who has been abused in any way must recognize what has occurred.

In my situation, I had to recognize why I was living my life the way I was. Why did I have problems with intimacy? Why was I angry all the time? Why did that prevent me from giving myself a true “look-over” in deciding what I was all about?

Someone who I admire greatly is Victor Frankl. His story is unbelievably brave and fantastic. In 1946, shortly after being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, he wrote his groundbreaking work, Man’s Search for Meaning. The book became a highly influential book. In it, he reflects on his own life and his fellow prisoners’ suffering.

Notably, he enumerates several principles. First, take responsibility for your life. He wrote, “Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” In other words, no matter how many terrible things the Nazis did to him, they could not force him to relinquish how he would conceive his own inner attitude. He believes that taking full responsibility for oneself, not for the criminal actions such as in his case by the Nazis, is the key to inner freedom.

Frankl has observed, “Every day, every hour, we are offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the forum of the typical inmate.”
He believes one must “allow” happiness to emerge. “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued: it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

What he is saying is that “purpose” is the conduit to achieving success, not success unto itself. There must be a cause in your life, a purpose. My purpose is the law and how I can help others by applying it.  What is yours?

This fits squarely into my continuing conversation about being a victim. There is a difference between trying to determine what occurred because of another person injuring you and labeling yourself as a victim. If you don’t get out of that mentality, you will never take control of your destiny and place the burden of success and happiness on yourself as opposed to allowing yourself to believe others have the control and ability to take that away from you. They don’t, only if you allow it.

Frankl never allowed the Nazis to take that last part of him away. He would not let himself be labeled as a victim even though most of humanity would do so. He had to take control of his destiny, even if it meant death in the concentration camp. In essence, they could starve him, torture him, abuse him, and even kill him, but they didn’t win because he would not allow his personal responsibility to be stolen.

The Trilogy Modum, as I have labeled it, affected me by preventing not only the understanding of why I was limited in my success in business and the practice of law but also in my personal life. Once I understood the dynamics of abuse, and the effect of alcoholism, it made me look at myself in a way where I no longer could make excuses. I no longer could allow myself to get only “so far” in business success and in life and then pull back. It forced me to come out of my comfort zone and confront feelings that I had suppressed since I was a kid. The coup de grâce was also understanding that pornography is an addictive “drug” that compels individuals in so many levels of society to simply stay numb and not address these issues or make any progress in their real intimate life.

It wasn’t as if I woke up one day with this revelation. It was a series of epiphanies over a period of time. Initially, when I realized that most of the decisions I had made in life about my personal beliefs and business attributes stemmed from the old Trilogy Modum structure, I freaked out a little bit. It was as if I had wanted to run as far and fast as I could for so long, but I was shackled. Now, I realize I can take the shackles off myself. I am free to run. I can now sprint and explore as much as I want to in life. However, I didn’t initially jump up and start to run. Why? I asked myself that question many times. Part of it was because I wasn’t secure that the revelation was accurate. Could this have been the ego that Tolle was talking about? Was it simply the fact that I wanted more in life and my ego could never be satisfied? This is something I had to struggle with and come to a conclusion about.

Once I understood the fact that I truly did limit myself in many ways because of the fears and thought processes that were implanted in my head as a kid, I became free emotionally. However, that doesn’t mean that one is completely sure about their choices in this type of discovery. There are always questions about choices and decisions to be made.

Reaching an understanding about the effect that abuse and alcoholism had on me was profound. Among the realizations was that I would not allow myself to reach the full epitome of success but only a certain limit before stopping. My motivation was always to provide for others around me. In many ways, that is a good thing. However, I was unable to grow beyond that to see the big picture. Once I realized that my own mental restraints had been removed and I “didn’t have” to allow myself to live in that repeated decision-making loop anymore, I walked out of the internal prison that was created for me many years ago.

The unusual paradigm with the Trilogy Modum is that I was able to reach some level of success despite my limitations. It wasn’t as if all of my success occurred only after I identified the Trilogy Modum. But having made that identification removed the “cap” that was preventing me from going further in life.

Now, even though I was free to try to achieve the goals I wanted and had the apparatus in my brain to do so, there was still a problem. Striving for success still had its obstacles. It’s not as if simply understanding who you are and the previous apparatus that held you back puts you in a position to achieve constant wins and glory. It merely removes the barriers that didn’t allow you to “get into the game” and win. It then becomes about real life and trying to achieve whatever goals you may have. It allows you to look at yourself and more freely ask the question, “Why can’t I achieve this particular goal?”

There is no question that this awareness has brought me a great deal of peace and unleashed the dragon of success for me. It’s not perfect. It’s not a one-and-done answer. It’s simply understanding and removing an impediment that will allow me to move forward to the next step, whatever that may be.

There are a million people who give advice about how to be successful. The purpose of this book is to explain to people the path that I had to take, which took me decades to discover. It is my hope and primarypurpose that someone may read this and understand that the same decadent elixir of the Trilogy Modum may, in fact, apply to them. If it does, this book may save them years of searching for the reason why they continued to spiral. In some cases, I fear that individuals will never figure out how to escape their demons. I hope the explanations shared in this book can shed some light on the solutions for people who may need them.

James Crawford