How to Feel Good and How Not To

The Ethics of Using Marijuana, Alcohol, Antidepressants, and Other Mood-Altering Drugs


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Never before in the life of our nation have more drugs – legal and illegal – been consumed than now, and in such an acute time as this, it is difficult to evaluate which mood-altering drugs carry moral legitimacy. In these pages, author John-Mark Miravalle explores, through a Catholic lens, the phenomenon of chemical mood alteration and reflects on our feelings of pleasure and suffering and how they relate to the rest of our humanity.

Masterfully combining philosophy, theology, and science, Miravalle equips you with the tools you need to make decisions based on your own particular circumstances. With the help of these edifying pages, you’ll learn what effect the uses of particular substances typically have on your ability to regulate your feelings and cultivate an emotional life that leads to happiness and fulfillment over time. 

You’ll also learn:

  • Why it matters whether a drug is used for recreational or therapeutic purposes

  • The moral distinction between casual marijuana use and the enjoyment of alcohol

  • The difference between bodily passion and psychic passion – and why it matters

  • Why good and evil and right and wrong do not correspond to pleasure and pain

  • Why some people claim to have mystical experiences when using psychedelic drugs – and why they’re wrong 

  • Why not all delight is true delight

  • How sorrow can enhance your faculty for joy

  • What to do when suffering becomes disordered

Fr. Charles Connor photo

"Some decades ago, America’s First Lady, Nancy Reagan, told young people to 'just say no' to the entire drug culture. Now, this wise admonition has been clarified, intellectualized, philosophized and theologized in a marvelously nuanced fashion by Doctor John Mark Miravalle. An esteemed colleague and highly respected scholar, Dr. Miravalle has beautifully combined several disciplines to enlighten his readers on the correctness and incorrectness of drug and alcohol use. For all seeking moral clarity, clear direction, and sound teaching, this book is a must read. May it enjoy much success and great circulation. "

Fr. Charles Connor
  • Pages: 144
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-64413-086-5
  • Product Code: 0865s
  • Availability: In Stock
  • Publication Date: August 04, 2020
  • Categories: 5 and 10 Dollar Books, By Title, eBooks, Culture and Politics
critical review of using drugs
Dr. John-Mark Miravalle's book is very thought provoking. In today's culture of instant gratification, the use of marijuana, alcohol etc. is a popular "go to" when striving to find what we all aim for in our lives - contentment, peace and happiness. The book is an excellent resource for any individual trying to navigate between society's acceptance of the use of recreational drugs/alcohol and how drugs/alcohol truly affect the individual. Dr. Miravalle explains the moral and emotional difference between recreational cannabis, depressants and alcoholic beverages. Dr. Miravalle clearly and thoughtfully explains to the reader the fundamental difference between the drugs and most importantly the moral danger when drugs are consumed with the wrong intent. In my 27 years of working drug cases as a law enforcement officer, I've seen first hand how drugs destroy lives, families and to a large extent society. Dr. Miravalle's book offers the reader a critical and insightful look into how people should view drug use. The book provides an informative look at the real reasons individuals use certain drugs and the fundamental moral ramifications of their use. Dr. Miravalle explains the major difference between the user's intention when consuming drugs and the discipline needed for any individual to live a full balanced and beautiful life.
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The purpose of life is to know reality and engage reality
How to Feel Good and How Not To by John-Mark Miravalle will make you feel really good after you’ve read it. It’s truly wise and inspiring. His thesis is that the human soul needs reality and the ultimate reality is God. As Miravalle states: Recreational drug use compromises intelligence and freedom. The human soul was made to engage reality and the evil of drug use is that use of drugs is a divorce from reality. Pleasure-seeking through drugs opposes the goal of engaging reality. The standard for mental health, the standard for psychological functioning, has to be reality itself and whether a given behavior or treatment causes you to engage reality more or less fully. That’s the fundamental human, the fundamental moral, criterion for evaluating the use of any psychoactive drug. He continues: The human intellect, will and passions were all made to respond to reality. Our emotions are designed to engage reality precisely through the intellect and the will. Our feelings should, when properly functioning (1) respond to the truth perceived the intellect and (2) motivate the will to choose the good. That’s it. That’s what our feelings are designed to do. [The purpose of life is to know reality, engage reality and respond correctly to reality.] He has a good definition of emotions as “Emotions are our cognitive mental reactions, based on sense data, toward what we perceive as being good (and therefore pleasing) and away from what we perceive as being bad (and therefore displeasing), that lead to bodily reactions.].” Note that emotions are both mental and physical, and emotions are meant to provide us with the proper reactions to reality. Here is another excerpt: This means there are two ways in which the natural purposes of our passions can be frustrated. Our feelings are thwarted, first of all, when our intellects and wills don’t do their jobs. If we don’t know the truth, our passions will respond to a faulty picture of reality. If you have a wrong perception of things, your feelings will be correspondingly imbalanced. For example, if you think the world is a brutal, senseless place, or if you think that you yourself are worthless, you’re going to feel pretty lousy about everything - even though you shouldn’t. Something similar happens when the intellect gives a false picture of reality to the will, which prompts the will to make vicious choices. The passions are meant to propel us to will the good, as we’ve seen. So if you don’t choose well, if you’re constantly making bad choices, the passions won’t be reaching their goal. In fact, if your will is consistently directed the wrong way, your passions will become similarly deformed. [If the intellect has the wrong view of reality and prompts the will to make evil choices, the will and the intellect will disorder the passions.] If the emotion is good, but the will resists the good impulse for long enough, then the emotion itself will eventually bend to evil as well. Do something bad enough, and you’ll get used to it, and then you’ll get to like it, and then you’ll get to need it. And at that point, your emotional life will be all out of joint. [This explains why some men can choose to go to hell. Their reason, their will and their passions are disordered, which means they are insane.] So if the intellect and the will go wrong, the passions will be damaged in both their origin and their direction. But the other way the passions can be frustrated is if they are separated from the intellect and the will - that is, if the passions are no longer responding to perception, and if they’re no longer motivating the will. A workhorse’s job is to follow the reins and pull the cart; if it shakes free of its bridle and harness and runs wild, it is no longer fulfilling its function. By the same token, if a person takes drugs in order to let his feelings enjoy themselves, regardless of what the person’s thoughts and choices are, his feelings will be set adrift from the only anchors that can give them stability and meaning. [Drugs generate feelings that aren’t connected to reality, and that disorders the passions, which then disorders the reason and the will. Recreational drug use is a grave evil.] With many states now legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, this superb book is needed now more than ever. The point John-Mark Miravalle is making is that life is a great gift, and we live in a good, beautiful and magnificent universe. The artificial, superficial pleasures of recreational drugs pale in comparison to the wonders that surround you, and missing out on the real wonders of our world is perhaps the greatest loss due to recreational drug use.
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