To begin with, terminal uniqueness is rooted in addictive thinking. It can keep an addict stuck in the cycle of addiction because “no one understands me or is like me”. This type of thinking protects the addiction, and is a form of denial. Terminal uniqueness allows the individual to hide from the consequences of their decisions. If an addict views themselves as a special case (i.e. “I can handle this, I am in control-it’s those other people who are not”), they will not be able to see the truth. This denial feeds into the cognitive distortion that the addicted person is not an addict.
Terminal uniqueness provides a false sense of security, and divides the world into “me versus them”. The individual rationalizes why they are not the same as other addicts. They may believe that treatments that help other addicts will not help them, because they are so different. They may think that they are worse off or better off than other addicts.
Terminal uniqueness is so dangerous because it prevents addicts from seeking help. It acts as a barrier to reaching out and being honest with communication about just how severe their addiction is. Since the individual focuses on the differences between them and other addicts, terminal uniqueness may lead to feelings of loneliness and desperation. This often happens because they find it difficult to relate to anyone—“No one understands me”.
John Lee “AA and Terminal Uniqueness- Are You As Unique As You Think You Are?”
Written by: Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.
Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.