Irresistible Podcast Trailer

Irresistible Podcast Episode 1


Music “You know I’m no good,” Amy Winehouse

Bad habits, well…

Yeah, i watch youtube a lot

I have a bad habit where i smoke pot probably every day of the week

My bad habit is that I fall in love too easily

I think I have a lot of self doubt

One of my worst self destructive behaviors is that i have sex with strangers more frequently than i should or would like

Yeah, I drink too much on the weekends

X: Hi, I’m Xavier Koontz Miller.

C: I’m Corey Pettengill.

X: And you’re listening to Irresistible.

C: So, everyone has them: bad habits. The personal, little bad behaviors that we do everyday, and their generally negative side effects on us.  

X: And it’s interesting because we’re almost always aware that we’re doing them.

C: What?

X: Yeah, like I know I’ve got a pretty common bad habit; I get distracted and procrastinate a lot. I’ll sometimes start projects the night before they’re due.

C: Haha, yeah, I am always late to stuff.

X: But – it’s not new… the whole idea, that everyone has some sort of bad habit can actually be traced back to over two thousand years ago.

C: Wow.

X: Yeah, almost all the heroes in ancient Greek myths have what’s known as their hamartia, or their fatal flaw. Some trait that heroes like Achilles or Hercules have to come to terms with, to rise above– or for some, to succumb to.

(Music – King of Gods from Apotheon Soundtrack)

C: Like not finishing a school project on time?

X: Ha, yeah. Achilles’ heel is a translation mistake, it’s actually Achilles’ essay.

C: So… if we’ve known about these bad habits for so long, why do we keep doing them?

Music break, “you know I’m no good” by Amy Winehouse (0:50-0:59)

“Like I knew I would”

X: This week we’re looking at, not just bad habits, but behaviors that are actually harmful and self-destructive.

C: The story tellers we’re about to hear from acknowledge that their behaviors actively detriment them. So, knowing this, why do they keep doing it? Is it simply irresistible? Is there some unknown benefit?

X: Our first story is a bit of an… unusual behavior.


X: Our first story is a bit of an… unusual behavior.

C: What do you mean when you say the word “unusual?”

X: Well, a lot of people including myself, might hear the words “self-destructive tendencies” and think of struggles with alcohol or cigarettes or drugs. But bad habits can come in many forms.

C: One of our producers, Liam, talked to his roommate Kyle about his peculiar bad habit.

I’m Kyle Mac, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Brooklyn, NY

I’m playing super Smash Bros for the GameCube.

Music – Super Smash Brothers Melee Theme)


X: Oh nice, I love smash bros.

C: Yeah, it’s a classic.

X: For those who don’t know, super smash bros, or “smash” is a fighting game from Nintendo.

C: And a lot of people play it.

X: Young kids, college kids, pro gamers and tournaments…

C: It’s super simple, everyone chooses a character, (announcer voice: choose your character)

X: you choose a stage, (Stage select sound)

C: and then you fight. (announcer voice: Ready Go)

(playing sounds)

X: Kyle, like a lot of kids, grew up playing video games like Smash.

C: The noises you’ll hear in the background are actually Kyle playing smash while being interviewed… and he’s winning.

I’ve always played video games as a kid  Both my brothers were older than me so they always had systems so I grew up playing Super Nintendo, 64, and it was sorta just a fun thing to do as a kid. Then I went to middle school and being in middle school kinda sucked really bad.

X: Middle school can be a rough time for everyone.

C: When it got rough for Kyle, he turned to video games.

that was the same time I started playing video games online and like meeting people and just like having fun online which was like more pleasurable than being social or like talking to people who were kinda mean (1:33)

It was really fun but then… well i guess around high school, like, well in terms of school work i was always smart i could do school work at the same time, but in high school, i started playing a lot more and i got really good

Liam: what’d you play?

Uhh counter strike

Music – Counter Strike Main Menu Song


Gun Loading

Bang Bang Bang

“Enemy Down”

X: So, now we’re taking the gaming up a notch.

C: Counter Strike is a super competitive, fast-paced shooter game for the pc.

X: Players like Kyle actually need to train to perfect their reflexes and aim. This can take a fair bit of time.

And i was playing on this community server, and people were just recognizing me as this really good player. It just gave me like a high i guess

C: After putting in so much time, Kyle improved a lot. But with his increase in skill, there was an increase in ego as well.

I was really mean. I would just tell people like wow you fucking suck at video games

–you were just going off in the chat?   

–yea, I was just–

–on the mic?

–well the thing is I didn’t have a mic,

–oh in the type chat?

–yea people just like knew me as the guy who would just type savage shit

–thats mad funny

X: It wasn’t always competitive and intense, though.

some of it was like actually really fun memories,

C: It wasn’t long, however, before Kyle realized this behavior would take a toll. He started talking about some of the more negative implications of his gaming.

When I was like, just playing every day like right after school and stuff like that, I just like wasted my high school experience pretty much, just a lot of it was spent online

C: Sometimes his family would get involved, which could get pretty intense.

My parents and my brother were like you are playing too much and I would just like show them my grades but mostly they would make like off-handed comments (5:33) sometimes it got really bad where like me playing video games wasn’t the cause but I did something else that was wrong and they would bring that it and it was like this whole thing with my parents and brothers. It was definitely something they would use against me.

X: At a certain point, Kyle realized his habit had a direct impact on his social life, and he didn’t like it.

socially I don’t do well like meeting people terrifies me umm and like its way easier on video games especially when you don’t have a microphone and like people already recognize you as being really good it was just like easy to make connections online and I’d rather do that there and i just didn’t like high school

C: Despite how many friends Kyle made online, he soon found himself among a lot of gamers who weren’t exactly the most positive influence

those communities that I played with in like middle school and high school like I do have them added still and like I hop on their voice chat and say what’s up it’s sad. It’s actually really sad. they’re still stuck in it i feel like

There’s so many things, like just the way they talk about things like sleep, and it’s like yea i played 16 hours today,

–are they in college or no

–I’m not sure I feel like some of them are and some are just like doing video games all day and like maybe working some job and it’s just like really sad

–are any of them making money off it?


–but like were you ever good enough to get there?

— I was good enough to be friends with people who did it competitively like I never had the drive to, like, train and join a team it was always just fun to me to be good

X: luckily, Kyle wasn’t affected the same way a lot of gamers are today.

they’re very toxic personalities, they make like extremely edgy jokes I don’t wanna psychoanalyze but they seemed really bummed out by life and this is like where they go

whenever you isolate yourself alone or with a community that’s like online you just kinda develop a sense of the world that’s very not in tune with reality

Music – Title theme from legend of zelda Ocarina of time

X: Kyle hit a point where he realized what he needed to do. He loved video games, and he was so good at them, why would he ever want to stop?

C: The answer came at the end of high school.

well I was like really sad when I looked at my yearbook on one of the last days of school. I was just like ‘wow i kinda wanna do things different for college’ and maybe not playing video games is a start (4:34)

C: He saw the opportunity presented by going to college– it’d be a second chance, especially in terms of his social life.

X: The first step was leaving his gaming PC at home.

C: Kyle spent his first two years at UVM making friends and meeting people. He lost a lot of the skills he gained over the years, but he doesn’t mind.

X: Now that he lives off campus, he’s playing again – but he’s much more in control.

i play now but like i’m a lot more aware of like how much time im spending on it and like how it could be bad now when I play it for too long I like just get bummed out cause like well I don’t wanna do this too much like its getting kinda boring

to realize like the behavior you’re putting yourself in cause realizing i thought i was like ‘yeah I’m having fun this is fine’ but i didn’t realize i was like since the social life i had outside of it was so bad i didn’t realize i was like sorta compensating for it through video games(10:32)

once I realized that that’s when my relationship with video games like changed

(Little Big Planet – Neopolitan dreams)

C: Now that he’s got a handle on things, he’s taken away some positive lessons from his experience, which he’s found helpful in college.

I guess some aspects of video games does help me in other aspects of life. Like I realize that to be good at something is a really big time commitment. If I wanna be good at writing or like computer science I just have to do it a lot

X: And another bonus is, when he plays now, he plays for fun.

I guess I am pretty good at video games now. I can beat all of my friends

C: Up next, we’re talking to one of our producers about his habit, and how he’s grown from it

X: We’ll see a much more intense version of how fun habits can lead to drastic consequences. Sensitive listeners be advised: this next story deals with serious emotional struggle.

C: That’s coming up, right after the break.

Music –  the egg and I – Cowboy Bebop OST


X: This next story comes to us from one of our very own, one of the producers of this podcast.

My name is Jacob Russo and I’m from Williston, vermont.

C: Jacob’s story starts out pretty similar to a lot of kids.

X: As a highschool student, sneaking a drink or two after class.

C: Having a good time.

X: Hanging out with some friends.

Yeah I just started out and it was fun. (2:04) The first time I drank was in my friends basement in freshman year,

C: And it didn’t seem too serious.

Just me and my friends drinking and being idiots.

X: Here’s this classic coming of age activity, doing something you know you’re not supposed to.

C: But as the end of high school and the transition to college came, Jacob, like most college students, started feeling more stressed. Really stressed.

X: The fun feelings of getting drunk or high weren’t just for fun. They eventually became routine comforts. Here’s Jacob:

By my junior year it was when it got bad, drinking every day, smoking every day. I had a fake ID and all I had to do was go to city market and get alcohol and I was fine, and then weed I can get from any one of my friends pretty much. It got really bad when I was consistently doing it as a form of relief and as a form of my escape. And it got really bad freshman year and then it just escalated from there.

X: Jacob, who already struggled from insomnia, found he often couldn’t sleep without being under the influence.

(Music – Ditch – One Way Trip to the Sun)

(3:30) I would do it nightly and it wasn’t just a social thing then I would do it on my own then the fact that I was doing it on my own and my intake just kept going up. And I remember going to bed every night and everything would be spinning and I would listen to music. I would also start drinking Nyquil.

you almost feel like you hallucinate like you are dreaming while you are awake.

It’s hard to describe kind of, it was an enhanced escape.

When I first started it was not too much, like a serving and a half my rock bottom, but by that point it was down to like half a cup, like half a bottle of Nyquil.

Uh, I’d say probably a month with the Nyquil but with the drinking by myself drinking getting nearly black it was months. (pause) It was months.

I remember always feeling judged, and rightfully so and just that whole experience of going into work that way and feeling insecure and it just enhanced my shitty feelings and it didn’t help me it was just a perpetuating cycle.

C – But this can’t have gone on forever, right?

X: Yeah. Jacob realized this was unsustainable.

I had two moments of epiphany. The first was I took a semester off because for nearly a year and a half I was feeling unstable  and I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I could in life in school in everything. I was questioning a lot of things at that time. I would wake up and I would have to go to work. I remember going in the majority of days still fucked up. I would drive to work still fucked up and my boss would tell me that he could smell me the alcohol on me and I looked like shit. I felt like shit and I was drinking every night and I was like what can I do… SO one day I decided I was going to run away.

Music – Society – Into the Wild SoundTrack

X: This isn’t metaphorical. Jacob decided to literally run away.

 I bought one of those huge hiking backpacks, I bought a cheap sleeping bag and all that shit, and then I went to Powder horn and I bought a gun the simplest thing to work and then I bought a knife. I felt like I was stuck in a bubble and I didn’t think my friends were being positive influences either at the time so I was like I should just go. I was going to leave my phone, I wrote a note and I was just going to go.

C: Jacob had a plan. He was going to pack up and leave.

X: Like, leave (pause) everything?

C: Everything.

X: And this isn’t like “run away to a different town,” or “start over in a new state” kind of escape?

C: No. This is like, “run away from society” kind of escape.

X: Wow. Escaping to the wilderness.

Not necessarily the wilderness but I guess like the wildness of society and just run away and see where I go, sleep on the side of streets. I felt like that was the only way I was going to learn anything and I felt like I had to force myself to learn something.

C – but, in the end, jacob decided not to run away

I didn’t do it because part of me was nervous and scared of course. I thought that would be really selfish of me running from my problems at the end of the day nothing was going to change unless I really found it within me. But unfortunately that didn’t stop the behavior that I was still partaking in.

C: Now if you’ve been listening so far you might be asking yourself, ‘does this get better?’

X: Luckily we can tell you yes, it did.

C: After a particularly rough morning,

X: waking up at the rock bottom,

C: Jacob had an epiphany.

Music – Hurt – nine inch nails

One morning… I woke up fully dressed, tv still on in my room and I just wake up, its two in the afternoon. I’ve slept through work, I’m still feeling kind of fucked up and I look around and there are empty beer cans on the floor, empty little nips and shit and I was a state of solitude I wouldn’t want to go to the bathroom, but obviously I was drinking so I had to piss. So I had this disgusting orange juice bottle, a big one and I would just piss in it. and I see that filled with piss in the corner of my room. And I’m like Jesus Christ and so I go to the bathroom and I look at myself and my hygiene is horrible and I’m just sitting there just looking at myself.

*Droning bass in the background*

X: Jacob went to the bathroom and looked at himself.

C: Like a moment of introspection?

X: Yeah. As he says himself, he really looked inward. Let’s get back to Jacob.

I got into like this trance and I was staring at myself in the eyes and when you do that long enough you kind of like think about you and you as a person and you start to see inside and everything that has contributed to what you are at that point and I was doing that for like 15 minutes. I was like, ‘this is pathetic, this is really fucking pathetic’ and I’m just making myself so much worse and the point of me taking the semester off was to get my shit together so then that moment I decided that was it I wasn’t doing to drink wasn’t going to smoke wasn’t going to do anything.

C: Jacob decided to quit.

X: Whoa. No drinking at all?

C: Yep. Cold turkey.

The first step for me to feel better was for me to feel good about myself. I was overweight, I had bad hygiene, so I had to start to feel confident with myself

That was the very first thing I did after staring in the mirror, I washed my face, I brush my teeth, get dressed, go home, cause I have a treadmill at my house and I was going to run for an hour and I started doing that daily and I started reading books and stuff and that is when it turned.

Music – Towers by Bon Iver

once I got fit again, started eating right, started thinking more clearly, then the next step was getting my social life together. At that point in my life I didn’t socialize much so most of my focus became on the social aspect of my life. That is when I started to drink again because you know you go to parties you go out, whatever you’ll be drinking.

X: You might be asking yourself – why would he start drinking again? Isn’t that the opposite of recovery? In Jacob’s case, it was different.

C: This time, Jacob knew he had it under control. He’s gotten so well acquainted with his limits that as soon as he begins to approach them or feels close to losing control – he stops himself.

X: The recognition is there, that when things are starting to slip, he can step back. And stop.

When you are doing that, it isn’t hard to know that what you are doing is bad. But it’s so easy to rely on external things to escape so for me it was alcohol and drugs and even though I knew it was bad, it was comfortable. I don’t think alcohol was necessarily the problem for me cause there was a different problem with me and alcohol was my remedy for it. So yeah it was just an easy remedy for something that was internal in me and that I didn’t want to face.

X: Usually when people seek help for things like addiction, or mental curiosities like Jacob suspected, you get a prescription. Jacob didn’t want that.

I didn’t want to rely on medicine because I thought it was just a temporary band-aid and if I can’t get my hands on medicine for whatever reason then I am fucked.

C: Instead, he relies on himself.

You have to realize that it is okay to lose track of yourself, you don’t have to feel guilty for yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes, the only thing that can change your situation is you.

Music – Celebrate by Anderson .Paak

X: In case you’re wondering how Jacob’s doing now or if he’s recovered, he’s happy to report that he’s maintaining a healthy schedule.

C: He makes it to his classes, a few parties with friends on the weekends.

X: And with the exception of two brief relapses, he feels on top of things.

C: But both of those setbacks are fruitful. Instead of losing hope, he gains a bit more.

Each time he’s gone through them, he gets a higher order of self-realization. It’s the same realization every time, but every time to a more evolved degree.

X: Recovering from an episode is improvement.

yeah I would say it’s getting better I mean that’s life it’s like a process but I think it’s getting better


C: Both Kyle and Jacob were able to come to terms with their behaviors and feel better about themselves in the end, but both of them used vastly different approaches.

X: Jacob turned to exercise, while Kyle worked on his social life.

C: But I still have this question.

X: What’s that?

C: Well, just what psychologically, caused their behaviors in the first place, and how were they able to get out of them.
X: To answer this, we turned to an expert in the field.

Music – Ill Be Around by Yo La Tango

My name is Eric Thrailkill, I am a research assistant professor in the department of psychological science at the University of Vermont.

C: Professor Thrailkill has been researching the psychology of habits for a number of years, and gave us some great insights into why someone might willingly do something with negative personal effects.

I’m interested in behavior and how behavior changes and I use different methods including experiments with rats and with humans to understand the underlying processes of how we learn to change our behavior and what we do to make that behavior change durable or fragile.

C: As professor Thrailkill explained to us, there are two main types of behaviors.

We’ve come to understand that there’s a specific part of the behavior, sort of the automatic aspect, that ends up being context specific (1:00:20) in psychology we refer to those as habits because they are performed without the goal of the action in mind. However if you have some sort of goal in mind you can sort of pursue that goal across different contexts because its that eventual outcome that’s in mind rather than stimuli that is propelling your sort of routine. The goal-directed process is more conscious. The understanding that if I do this, I will get this rewarding outcome so i will continue to do it to get that .

X: So, there are habits we do automatically, in specific contexts.

C: Mhm.

X: And there are goal-oriented behaviors that are thought out and can be performed in any context.

C: But what does he mean by context?

a context can be broadly defined, context can be sort of the external environment, the setting, the time of day, the smell, the sort of tactile sensations. Previous behaviors can be context as well  External contexts can even be other people around you. Context can be internal feelings as well. we have found that the habit process is what is specific to the context, whereas if you are focusing on the part of behavior, that transfers across contexts.

X: But, as he elaborates, there are benefits to being able to do things unconsciously.

the habitual process can be going on in the background making it easier to pay attention to our goals  So it’s very important for us to sort of learning to perform behaviors automatically, but it’s those, the automatic aspect of behavior, that end up being particularly context specific.

X: When we do something, and we do it over and over and over in a specific situation- it eventually becomes ingrained. Like tying our shoes before going outside, we don’t actually think about each individual step.

C: And those ingrained actions become habits?

X: Yeah.

What can happen is that if we get into such a routine such that all that we are doing are dominated by these habitual processes, I get up I go to work I come home I sit on the couch … it becomes this sort of routine driven through the day you can end up in a rut.

X: So, if you come home from work and watch tv, it’s fine. But if you start doing that day in, day out, that’s where it can become part of a routine.

C: For Jacob, this was drinking, to help handle his internal struggles and for Kyle, playing video games to get away from social interactions. Eventually, these distractions became so natural, they started doing them habitually.

these are patterns that we can get into that are counterproductive to our long term health or our long term goals in life. Not everyone goals are going to be the same but we can get stuck in these ruts or patterns because life gets a little easier that way.

C: Most people know that if you keep doing something it becomes a habit, and may have been stuck in some kind of rut in their life.

X: The thing we want to know is – what does it take to get out of these ruts?

when you’re used to doing something and then all of a sudden it doesn’t work or there’s something new that violates your expectations this is very very important for learning new things about it. something unexpected is very important when learning a new behavior.

you sort of learning that ‘okay well what i was doing before is not gonna work and I’m gonna stop doing that and then i’ll do something else’

C: It’s helpful to learn something new about your behavior, or gain a perspective that you maybe didn’t expect.

this sort of violation of the expectations can pop us out of being in this routine this habit and give us this chance to think and reevaluate what these behavior patterns are getting us in the long term and lets us focus on the more goal-oriented aspects of our behaviors

X: This is what happened for Jacob and Kyle.

C: For Kyle, when he was reflecting on his social life in high school, the benefits he thought video games provided were actually hurting him. This snapped him out of this behavior.

X: With Jacob, his moment of realization came when he was looking in the mirror. Even though he thought alcohol was a remedy for his internal struggles, it was perpetuating his negative feelings. That sparked a change.

C: They both encountered something unexpected about their behaviors, that changed their perspectives. After that they were able to take steps to change themselves.

Music – Lovers Craving – Bibio

part of quitting is actually learning to quit learning to stop the behavior and just like when we were talking about learning to stop playing video games it might be context dependent and so what lots of research is saying is that you have to learn to quit in many different contexts

C: So, if you want to fully stop a behavior,

X: And does that mean any behavior?

C: Well, any habitual behavior, but yeah. In order to quit, you have to learn to stop in a variety of situations.

X: So – just to get this straight – quitting isn’t a one and done event, but a process?

C: Yes, exactly. A process of learning, conscious prevention, and self-reflection.

C: You have to stay aware of your behavior, set goals for yourself and be able to handle situations that may prompt relapses.

For humans you can reflect on what has been going on and decide a new course of actions you go through lots of experiences in life and you can’t undo those, you can’t erase them and so a lot of being successful in stopping is learning strategies to cope with those old experiences. What therapy is going towards now is learning to accept those experiences and value who you are in the present and set goals for your future

X: Kyle wanted to be more social, and make his college experience better than high school

C: Jacob wanted to feel better about himself, so he turned to healthier alternatives like exercise.

X: And both of them experienced something that helped identify the harm in their situation and make a conscious effort to change.

Music – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright by Bob Dylan

if you are in a rut, and you would like to get out of it and you are not happy, I would suggest doing something you don’t want to do that is healthy. When you are super comfortable see how changing something affects your day. Doing something that takes your mind out of your normal thought patterns, even if it seems like it is a gigantic mountain to climb and it’ s so difficult to do that, make yourself do that and a lot of the time that is enough to give yourself a little bit of perspective like oh that wasn’t that hard – just being able to realize that there are other options that can be more rewarding or differently rewarding that can help you turn it around. There is hope for change, there always is

C: That wraps up our episode for this week.

X: Once again, I’m Xavier Koontz Miller

C: And I am Corey Pettengill.

X: Special thanks to both of our producers, Liam and Jacob for helping create this podcast.

C: As well as all of the people we interviewed, especially  Kyle, Jacob and Professor Thrailkill

X: We hope that if you form any habit, it is listening to this podcast.

C: Until next time

X: This has been…

Simply irresistible by Robert Palmer

thank you friend

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