Beyond hormonal impulses and compulsive behavior

Acharya Prashant
11 min readSep 13, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, how to remain conscious of my actions when hormonal imbalance overpowers my ability to opt for conscious behavior over compulsive behavior? And since it happens only at certain intervals, I am actually conscious of the facts. I don’t know if that is sufficient or whether anything can be done about the compulsive part.

Acharya Prashant (AP): So there’s the type of behavior that we call as, the questioner is calling as, compulsive behavior. And she is rightly relating it to bodily secretion and hormonal chemistry, latent tendencies, and such things. Something very visceral and overpowering just arises without notice and takes control of the being. That’s what we call compulsive behavior.

And then she has already thought of a remedy and the remedy, according to her, is conscious behavior. In conscious behavior, the ‘I sense’ knows in the sense of cognizing. It knows in the sense of rather recognizing, recognizing by pattern matching; detecting that is the same pattern that arose at some point in the past. “At that point, it is called by this name so this being the same thing, I would again call it by the same name.”

In conscious behavior, you recognize the pattern and have already known that the pattern is dislikable or harmful. You take active and conscious measures to disrupt the pattern. The whole framework needs to be revisited a little.

That which we call compulsive behavior, even that is determined by the ‘I’ tendency. It is just that compulsive behavior comes from a part of ‘I’ tendency that is not available to thought, and therefore knowledge. We very well know that what we call knowledge is totally dependent on thought and words. No thought, no knowledge. No words, no knowledge.

Compulsive behavior arises from the deep ‘I’ tendency where language doesn’t exist. That part of our being is common with trees and animals and with little kids. No language, just instincts. No thoughts, just surges. So when you call it compulsive behavior, it is not as if you are facing a certain compulsion from somebody else; that too is you. You are under your own compulsion. You are under the compulsion of your own…

Acharya Prashant