Addiction’s Jekyll and Hyde: Bifurcation

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

The word bifurcation means “the division of something into two branches or parts.” It may not be a widely known and used word within our vocabulary. Yet its prevalence abounds.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are two figures which describe a person who is radically, even morally different, depending upon the circumstance.

Indeed, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella appears to capture the chaotic struggle, as an individual wars in the battle between good and evil.

It’s an excellent portrait of addiction.

For, according to the literary classic, Dr. Jekyll, endeavoring to win that battle, creates a potion. Doing this spurs the persona of Mr. Hyde, who increasingly gains more power.

And, we see how the regular consumption of this potion becomes destructive. Eventually, the personality of Hyde becomes so strong, the person of Jekyll grows dependent upon the potion to simply function.

Again, this Jekyll and Hyde schism mirrors addiction. How many times have we heard, witnessed or behaved in a manner which is diametrically opposite of our “normal” selves? We encounter examples of “the angry drunk” or “the happy drunk.” We see the introvert who, because of various substances, becomes the life of the party.

Personality is altered. And, frequently, that alteration has adverse results.

Concerning our addiction experiences, it would, therefore, be beneficial to examine the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within each of us.


“…Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

First, we have to face our attitude about willingness. There is no neutrality here. We veer toward yes or no: to face our truth and to admit we need help.

Dr. Jekyll in us may, indeed, be cooperative. But, let’s be real, even if that is the case, at best, we are often clueless, even if we are agreeable.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do. Romans 7:15

That’s where the recovery programs come in, touting “trust the process” and “surrender.”

For now we see through a glass, darkly… 1 Corinthians 13:12

We need to admit we are not capable of objectivity and of successfully running our own lives when it comes to our addictions, disorders and vices. Clearly, we cannot.

If we could effectively do that, we wouldn’t be where we are in our assorted messes.

We may be well intentioned, like Dr. Jekyll, not wanting to cause harm, believing we have things under control. Yet, we are unsupervised with our personal solution potions; and a door to someone-and something- else opens.

…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

So, most of the time, our “no response” to both matters of willingness and wellness, ushers in Mr. Hyde.

Where there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs 29:18

There’s another translation to this powerful scripture:

Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint.

I believe that particular translation speaks more accurately of us. Here exists our dangerous addiction alter ego, Mr. Hyde. We are confronted by self-sabotage. Many of us are wrestling with various demons, compelling our passions. We possess psyches which, already broken and bruised, operate from negative assertions, things like…

I am worthless.

I am pointless.

I am joyless.

Indeed, what drove Dr. Jekyll to look for something outside of himself? Deep insecurity? Some form of “less than?”

We certainly don’t see this character as content with himself and with his life. He believed he needed something extra, something more, to enhance things.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7

He, in essence, believed the hype of his Hyde; he believed that persona was his answer.

And that makes the next reality even more challenging.

The Tricky Heart:

“…Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

Before Mr. Hyde, exists Dr. Jekyll. Before behavior, comes the issue-laden heart.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34

Failure to know, to acknowledge and to deal with that truth leave us even more vulnerable to Matthew 26:41’s point.

“the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

But, if Dr. Jekyll is oblivious or hardened to that perspective, inevitably, Mr. Hyde surfaces. He is the attitude which refuses to accept and deal with individual, flawed humanity.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

He is that direct defiance of addiction as ugly truth.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

And, once we allow that to be our “normal,” we cross into another dangerous level. We are emboldened to believe our actions will never catch up with us.

He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. Psalms 10:6

Mr. Hyde, sooner or later, will kill and destroy. My Hyde rages against our lives.

And that affects the rubber meets the road truth of active recovery.

Doing the Life’s Work:

“…Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

The recovery phrase, “doing the work” not only addresses the healthier action of sobriety, but to an improved life overall.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

And again, our baseline is Dr. Jekyll. He is our vulnerability and our potential for destruction.

“…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

“One day at a time,” therefore, is the necessary, daily commitment we make. When we recognize both our need for willingness and our fragile humanity, we, in essence, say “yes” to John 5:6’s question. We engage in our work and welcome the Divine intervention which oversees the entire process.

“And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7

However, if we say “no,” Mr. Hyde rears his destructive head again. He comes with toxic defiance.

He hath said in his heart, “I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.” Psalms 10:6

…”God hath forgotten… he will never see it.” Psalms 10:11

Mr. Hyde’s lifeblood is denial. And this mocks our need to do the recovery work, to change, to heal.

Our Creator knows us: every thought, motivation, delusion and sickness. He knows. He knows if we are Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde right now, right this second.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. Proverbs 21:1-2

This is comprehensive knowledge of our entire health. And that health must extend beyond ourselves.

Being Mindful of Others:

“…Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

Dr. Jekyll has enough common sense and decency to realize he is not an island unto himself. There is a sphere of influence close to him. Impressionable souls are watching.

Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. Romans 14:13

This stumbling block factor amplifies where we stand on health and recovery. For, if we truly have embraced the tenets of sobriety, we take ownership of our influence on others. In our addictions, we have caused pain; in our addictions, we have caused others to stumble.

“…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

But, again, refusal to face that invites Mr. Hyde to do what he does best: destroy.

Where there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs 29:18

Again, we’re back to casting off restraint.

Addiction, much like our dear Mr. Hyde has, at its core, rampant, potentially murderous, selfishness. All we chase is our high. How much was laid waste because we let it rip?

Recovery unflinchingly challenges the addict to face his/her personally executed desolation. And, part of that healing addresses our role as destructive influencer, luring others into disease.

Again, no person is an island unto himself/herself. The ripple effect, unfortunately, can drown anyone in its undercurrent.

Let’s face it: Mr. Hyde would rather have his potion than anything else. Nothing bothers him in the throes of his passion. A relationship or even a person could die and it would not matter. He has his beloved. Everything and everyone else is expendable, save his cherished addiction.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

This Jekyll and Hyde factor, to a certain degree, affects all of us by its precarious duality.

But those of us prone to addiction have an even more intense vulnerability.

Bifurcation’s definition, indeed, is “the division of something into two branches or parts.”

If we refuse to acknowledge and deal with that, we convey we are agreeable to any misfortune which inevitably follows our self-destructive decision; it is synonymous with our potion/addiction and its madness for which we see no reason to quell.

Right now, we have a decision to make: we can choose the single or double minded path. We can confront our Dr. Jekyll, our Mr. Hyde and our disease.

We can choose to stop or continue the division. We can choose.