The Brain Physiology Behind Addictions

Last Thursday I got to attend my daughter Virtue’s class that is facilitated by TJED queen Aneladee Milne. It is a pilot project to test out the lastest LEMI offering, the self-directed scholar phase project. The kids in the class are supposed to have finished Thomas Jefferson Youth Certification (TJYC), so we call the class Beyond TJYC. If you don’t know what LEMI is, it is a training program for parents to learn how to mentor scholar phase for their youth. Go to to learn more.

Aneladee used to be part owner of LEMI, but a few years ago she left to do other projects. Now she is working for This is company devoted to helping LDS young men break free from porn addictions. She is learning all about the brain physiology of addictions. The night before this class I got to go to Aneladee’s son’s wedding reception so the rest of the pictures in this post are from that lovely enchanted evening. 

This is Aneladee dancing with her son and the bride dancing with her father. The song they danced to had the words, “I held you first…” It was so sweet!

She shared what she has learned from Maurice Harker, the therapist behind Sons of Helaman, and it fascinates me. Basically, it supports the scripture from the Book of Mormon that we must watch our thoughts, or words and our deeds. satan never rests. He is always there whispering lies to us. Not only that, but willpower is a limited resource. If we don’t acknowledge and apply these two principles, then we can be caught in lies and addictions.

This training program at Sons of Helaman teaches parents and youth to realize right away when satan is talking to them so they can immediately resist and not even entertain the lie that satan is telling. At first it is hard to tell because the whisper sounds like your own voice. You have to realize that if the thought is telling you to do something bad, to give in to your carnal desires, it is not from you, it is from satan, and you can just immediately tell him to bug off and that you are on to him.

Whisperings from our conscience also sound like our own voice. To know the difference is the subject of a discussion forum I started here on this site 

Kirk Duncan of has a whole mentoring program to help you know the difference, it is called Building a Mind of Steel. I took the course back when it was called the Dot People course. Basically, satan and his minions can’t create, and they use the same lies over and over. If they tell you to do something that is destructive not creative you can be sure it is them whispering to you. By writing down any thought you hear in your head that makes you feel bad you create a record, and eventually you see that they are telling you the same dumb stuff over and over. They aren’t creative at all!

Aneladee explains that if we give in to the temptation or lie that satan tells us then we start down a slippery slope of sin and self-deception. There’s a brain chemical behind it all. It starts spilling in our brain and gives us pleasure, and this brain chemical, which is actually a cocktail of chemicals, weakens the connection between the frontal lobe of our brain, the part where we logically think, and the limbic part of the brain, which gives in to appetites and animal-like behavior. So there is truth behind the phrase, “The devil made me do it.'” When you give in to the first thought then this chemical starts spilling in to your brain, causing you to rationalize your behavior. That is what she means by saying that willpower is unlimited. Your brain chemistry changes and makes it so you can’t do what you know is right.

The good news is though that we can learn to recognize which thoughts come from satan, immediately identify it as such, and not go down that path. We can keep ourselves out of places where satan and darkness tend to be. We can do everything in our power to be thinking and doing things that invite the Spirit.

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