#18 – Addiction, JK Rowling and Collectivist Societies with Vem Who

Today in The Quest for Wisdom Podcast, we’re thrilled to have Vem Who as our guest, a multi-talented artist known for her work as a video editor, musician, comedian, and overall creative force. Vem manages the content creation for the Comedy Clubhouse in Barcelona.

In this episode, we delve into a myriad of topics, including the challenging journey to sobriety, J.K. Rowling, the dynamics of collectivist societies, and much more.

The conversation takes a deeper turn as we explore our personal journey, particularly focusing on the battle with addiction and the path to sobriety. We discuss the societal pressures that drive individuals towards substance abuse and the void it can create in one’s life, replacing passion with a temporary escape.

This personal revelation segues into a broader discussion on societal norms, the influence of cultural figures like J.K. Rowling, and the impact of collectivist versus individualistic societies on personal identity and community dynamics. The conversation also touches on the challenge of relearning how to socialize and find joy in life’s simpler pleasures, a relevant topic for many navigating similar paths.

In summary, we discuss the words of wisdom that resonate with the core theme of the podcast: the importance of self-love and acceptance, regardless of where one might find themselves in their personal journey.

Vem Who’s episode is a profound exploration of personal growth, societal dynamics, and the pursuit of happiness, making it a must-listen for anyone on their own quest for wisdom.

Find more about Vem Who here:


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Topics/Chapters Discussed in this Episode

  1. Introduction: Who is Vem Who? [00:00:00 – 00:03:15]
  2. Overcoming Addiction & Benefits of Sobriety [00:03:16 – 00:15:25]
  3. MDMA, Mental Health & The Cycle of Negative Thoughts [00:15:26 – 00:26:00]
  4. Disgusting Food Museum & Harry Potter Scenes [00:26:01 – 00:30:40]
  5. J.K. Rowling, Black & White Perspectives, Reading Habit [00:30:41 – 00:37:15]
  6. Creativity & Humanity, The Philosophy of Hurting People [00:37:16 – 00:45:10]
  7. Ethical Consumerism, Healthy Living and the Environment [00:45:11 – 01:10:05]
  8. Sweden’s Socialism, Capitalism & Culture [01:10:06 – 01:15:23]
  9. Martial Arts & Religious Practice [01:15:24 – 01:21:25]
  10. Collectivist vs Individualistic Societies [01:21:26 – 01:31:00]
  11. Reflecting on Identity, Sobriety, and Pleasure [01:31:01 – 01:43:16]

Resources Mentioned

Other insightful and inspiring resources mentioned in this podcast episode:

  • Angry Mosquito – Comedy Poetry – Conor Monaghan
  • Disgusting Food Museum
  • Sir Richard Branson: Losing My Virginity (1998)
  • Seaspiracy (2021) – Netflix Documentary Film
  • The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (2006) by Peter Singer & Jim Mason
  • Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses (2015) by E. Freya William
  • Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (1964) by Hou Bo and Mao Zedong
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell
  • Brave New World (New Longman Literature) (1932) by Aldous Huxley

Insightful Quotes

  • Ultimately when you start obsessing over these types of things (sugar, gluten, processed food, meat), you just become depressed and then when you’re depressed, you’re no use to anyone around you. Do what you need to do to keep yourself in a good frame of mind then you can be positive and then you can be a good force.” – Conor Monaghan
  • “It feels like that’s what a lot of these bigger corporations want, they want to put the blame on individuals instead, so they don’t have to really do anything about it so that people don’t rise up together and they are like ‘hey stop why aren’t you doing the thing that I’m doing, why aren’t you being environmentally conscious’?” – Vem Who
  • “Nowadays, you can actually make more money than you would have done by doing sustainable things because people like that. This could usher in the new wave of social capitalism where profit is not the only marker of success, your balance sheet is not the only marker of success, your marker of success and reward in some sense comes from the social good that you do with your company and it’s finding that balance there between socialism and capitalism somewhere in the middle.” – Conor Monaghan
  • “We’re all human, we’re not angels or saints or anything, and if you give too much money or power to one person it actually goes to your head changes your brain chemistry and it just never really works out in the way that you would want, even if you start with good ambitions, your mind will get fucked up.” – Vem Who
  • “People have just devoted all their time and energy into feeling nice things, which come from drugs, which come from alcohol, which come quick bolts of pleasure, but then most people then realize that makes you just depressed. Because those quick bolts of pleasure just make you chase more and it’s not real.” – Conor Monaghan
  • “One of the things that you have to, when you stop drinking and taking drugs, you have to retrain yourself to be sensitive and susceptible to the small little pleasures in life, and that takes ages because when you’re used to having loads of serotonin or loads of dopamine from drugs, sensing the tiny little rewards that you get from hard work or something, it takes a lot longer to train it back.” – Conor Monaghan

Thank You!

Thank you for listening to The Quest for Wisdom Podcast with your host Conor Monaghan. If you enjoyed the episode and would like to support the show then please like it, subscribe and leave a review on whichever platform you are using. This small act is a massive help and hugely appreciated.

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I would like to thank the Comedy Clubhouse in Barcelona for allowing us to record here and for their ongoing support. If you are ever in Barcelona make sure to check it out for daily shows of comedy and performance art in English.   

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