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Endless Growth: Kevin Majeres on Addictions and Setting Challenges

In this week’s episode, we continue our conversation with Dr. Kevin Majeres, turning our attention to the importance of setting challenges and the way actions shape emotions. Drawing on these two topics, Dr. Majeres helps us think through how parents can best help a son that is struggling with an addiction of any sort.  

In particular, Dr. Majeres responds to the following questions: 

  1. What is addiction?  
  2. What is the neuroscience behind addiction? 
  3. How does the particular addiction of pornography tie into this general understanding of addiction? 
  4. How can we—or our sons—set challenges? 
  5. How is flow the ultimate in self-mastery? 
  6. For the adolescent boy struggling with addiction, what sorts of challenges are we trying to help him craft? How do we help him frame out the sort of challenge that will free him?

As we hear from Dr. Majeres, true freedom consists in the ability to form a deep bond and faithfully maintain it over time. Rather than a mere negation—a freedom from some outside force—the deepest freedom lies in a freedom for, the ability to give of oneself to another. We might well say, then, that there is no greater freedom than the freedom of friendship, and that the greatest of friends is He who leads us in libertatem gloriae filiorum Dei: into the glorious freedom of the sons of God. 


  • 3:22 Defining Addiction
    • 5:40 The Neuroscience of Addiction and the Divided Brain
    • 8:12 When the Left Hemisphere Takes Over
  • 9:15 Neuroscience and The Virtues
  • 10:11 Addiction to Pornography 
    • 11:35 The Danger of Responding with Mere Rules
    • 12:30 Freedom as the Ability to Form Faithful Bond 
    • 13:10 Growing Up Brave
    • 14:27 How Goods are Communicated through Bonds
  • 16:18 Parenting and Growth 
    • 17:18 Controlling the Controllable 
  • 18:54 The Physiology of Bonding
  • 19:10 The Neuroscience of Ends and Means
    • 19:55 Order in the Home 
    • 20:37 Focus on the Bond: People are not Projects 
  • 21:52 Growth in Mastery: Endless Dopamine 
  • 25:30 Types of Challenges and the Divided Brain
    • 26:25 Quality Challenges 
    • 28:04 Left Brain and Addictions
  • 30:12 Flow as the Ultimate in Self-Mastery
    • 30:48 Love as a Form of Flow
    • 31:20 Contemplation as a Form of Flow
    • 32:25 Contemplation and Work
  • 33:40 Helping Our Sons Craft Challenges
    • 34:20 The Importance of Deep Listening
    • 35:50 The Danger of Problem Solving for Our Sons
  • 38:34 How Should Parents Approach Challenges? 
    • 39:23 Outcomes vs. Growth
  • 41:10 Classical Virtue Theory and Neuroscience
  • 48:05 OptimalWork Resources

Additional Resources

The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist

Growing Up Brave by Donna Pincus

OptimalWork on YouTube

OptimalWork MasterClass

Also on The Forum 

On Freedom and Phones with Alvaro de Vicente 

Why Boys Need to Be Given Freedom by Andrew Reed

Freedom in the Upper School by Rich Moss

About the Guest

Kevin Majeres

Co-founder, OptimalWork
Dr. Kevin Majeres is the co-founder of OptimalWork. Born and raised in Minnesota, Dr. Majeres attended college at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, and then stayed in Dallas for medical school and residency training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After graduation he completed a fellowship with the Beck Institute of ...

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