“Many of us have hurt a lot of people, especially the ones we love, and we are ashamed.”—The Red Road to Wellbriety, by White Bison

 

roblems such as alcoholism and drug abuse could clearly grow out of some of the seemingly harmless traits that hyperthymics tend to have, since they’re the opposite of overly-restrained chronic depressives.  Of course, overly-unrestrained could be far more dangerous.

 

                 

                 

 

The more that you’ve been close to this, the more that you could relate to:

The whole idea of a codependent, was originally someone who, due to her supposed narcissism, thinks that,\ through her own tenderness, she could win an addict over to getting and remaining sober.  Sure, the brains of addicts, even recovering addicts, are changed in such a way that they’d be very likely to have addictive cravings that override any logical desires to remain sober, a lack of insight into the fact that they can’t safely drink or use drugs, etc.  Yet the improvement would be so great, that it really is understandable to have this as a goal.  Everyone knows that the dangers of abusing drugs (including tobacco and booze), both to the abusers’ health and to those hurt by the consequences of the abuse, are of such magnitude that to try to stop this even in one life would be of infinite benefit.  The reasons for continuing in the abuse are usually so stupid, such as that it seems cool, to stop seems square, the normal life that would result would be full of the conventionalities that could seem square, and one’s friends approve of the drug lifestyle so he could feel reassured.  Yet most people realize just how empty “cool” can be when it’s at the expense of what really matters, much of what might seem “square” is actually so natural that most people would find it vital, and it’s possible to find friends who’d agree with just about anything, even Nazism, so this is hardly a good sign that one’s own lifestyle has truly been validated.  Those with hyperthymic personalities are those who’d be the most likely to get excited about not conforming to the norm, and to find this very profound and necessary, so they’d be the most likely to have these self-destructive beliefs, as well as other tendencies that could increase the chances of a drug problem, such as impulsivity.

Everyone knows how much drugs, even booze, transforms the personality, ruining even the pricelessly good parts of hyperthymic personalities.  Even those who devoutly believe that our minds come from our souls, have to realize that when anyone is given full-sleep anesthesia for surgery, that would be all that it would take to make the mind unconscious, no matter what one’s soul would have wanted.  Likewise, even someone with a beautiful soul could become very ugly after taking drugs that would make him grotesquely selfish.  As Shakespeare wrote, “O God that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal their brains away.  That we should with joy, pleasure, revel and applause transform ourselves into beasts.”  As an old Saxon poet wrote in reference to alcohol, “He who grapples with me and struggles against my strength inevitably seeks the earth with his back.”  Everyone knows this.

Sure, Tom Wootton’s The Bipolar Advantage includes in its list of the good things that could come with bipolar disorder, “street drugs unnecessary,” yet the impulsivity of Hyperthymic Personality Disorder makes the abuse of street drugs more likely.  Frame 12 of Module 3 of Preventing Alcohol Abuse and Dependence, NIAAA Social Work Education, lists the following as “Individual and Interpersonal Factors” that give a greater risk of someone becoming alcoholic:

•Sensation seeking
•Poor impulse control
•Family behavior/attitudes promote alcohol
•Inconsistent parenting/discipline
•Family conflict/low family bonding
•Academic failure/low school commitment
•Rebelliousness
•Early onset of alcohol use

Frame 19 of Module 2 lists as Temperament Traits and Increased Risk for Alcoholism,

•Novelty seeking
•Reward dependence
•Harm avoidance
•“Difficult” temperament
•Internalizing / externalizing

This is your classic addictive personality.  Those who abuse illegal drugs would have to be more daring and impulsive than are those who’d abuse booze.  The table on frame 27 of Module 2, “Comparison of Type A [drinks for escape] and Type B [drinks for thrills] Men on the 17 Dimension Scores,” and the table for women on the next frame, says that two different “bipolar character dimensions” are more related to alcoholism than are by far most of the other dimensions listed. The webpage of the GP Notebook, Hyperthymic Personality Disorder, says that those who have HPD, “tend to be rash and show poor judgement,” the sort of rashness and poor judgment that you’d expect of someone impaired by disinhibiting uppers, not the sort you’d expect from an unimpaired person.  HPD is the only personality disorder that, for the most part, could be excused away with, “Oh, well, everyone makes mistakes,” though since HPD is diluted mania, it’s actually a lot more selfishly impaired than are most personality disorders.

That’s exactly the sort of impairment that’s very likely to lead to the above risk factors to alcoholism, the sort of impairment that could seem both self-destructive and hurtful, and could seem to have resulted from addictions.  This is also exactly the same pattern that the banal destructive behavior of celebrities tends to follow, and celebrities would indeed tend to be hyperthymic, since they’d need the productive attributes that tend to come with hyperthymic temperaments: the charisma, motivation, intelligence, creativity, and panache.  And we all know how likely celebrities are to have drug and/or alcohol problems.

Also, it’s all too easy for a “so cool, he’s frozen” attitude about drugs or booze, exactly what hyperthymics would be unusually likely to have, to lead to addiction.  The Addiction Process, Effective Social Work Approaches, by Edith M. Freeman, lists the steps on the path to addiction as “Use,” “Abuse or Problem Use,” and, “Addiction.”  You might think that “Abuse or Problem Use” means someone choosing to be a pothead or Jack Daniels devotee.  Yet according to this, those who came up with that formula, “state that the difference between use and addiction is quantitative rather than qualitative,” though the disruptions in one’s own life would obviously be a lot higher with addiction.  Though we tend to associate drug tolerance with addiction, those who simply use may have developed it.  And though we certainly associate dependence with addiction, “Abuse or Problem Use” involves it, just not to the degree that it would seem only natural to treat the abuser as if he’s not guilty by reason of insanity (“Oh, well, we’ve just got to accept that his disease made him do it.”)  At the same time, it’s very easy to be impaired by a disease that doesn’t make one not guilty by reason of insanity, but does impair one to a degree that’s somewhere between that and normal irrationality.  You could still say that the person’s “real self” wouldn’t have done what he did.  A classic sign of addiction is that the people just go ahead and keep doing what they’re addicted to despite serious consequences, but it wouldn’t really take that much impairment to figure that a lot of these consequences are “accidents that sometimes happen,” problems that before they happen don’t seem real and after they happened are impossible to undo, etc., especially when the person is under the influence.

On CNN Headline News’ Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell of July 10, 2009, criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh, when discussing Michael Jackson’s drug problems, said, “And if anything, thank you for having this topic, because families who are watching this, even if their children who are at risk can’t do the moonwalk, addicts are addicts are addicts.  They are powerless to control their addiction.  You must step in.  They don’t answer the call; you go there and you do something before somebody dies,” i.e. do an intervention.  Yet since all that intervention is, is a form of persuasion, if addicts were powerless to control their addiction, intervention couldn’t persuade them to control it.  Even “hitting bottom,” which is a form of deterrence, wouldn’t work for those who truly are not guilty by reason of insanity, i.e., “He’s just a passive victim of his disease.”  The same goes for attending self-help support groups such as Twelve Step groups, which is a form of coaching.

 

Rodney Dangerfield, in his memoirs It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me, A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs, wrote of being so enthusiastic about smoking pot, that if he didn’t have to maintain his square reputation for his square audience, he very easily could have done a Cheech and Chong style routine.  On the first page of the introduction, he wrote, “It’s hard for me to accept the fact that soon my life will be over.  No more Super Bowls.  No more Chinese food.  No more sex.  And the big one, no more smoking pot.”  He then goes on to tell of how once, after smoking a joint, he proceeded to eat half of a German chocolate cake, then saw that it had been covered with red ants so, “I realized I had eaten an army of red ants.”  In the book he wrote about his pot smoking as if it were cool, though the Washington Post article about his death told of, “his psychological troubles.  He brooded.  He was a longtime marijuana user and attended regular sessions with a psychiatrist.”

Rodney also wrote of having problems with the legal recreational drugs, “People often say, ‘It’s a miracle I’m alive.’  And for me, they may be right.  I was a heavy smoker for over fifty years,” and, “I still had my bouts with depression.  Like most people in that situation, I tried to self-medicate, which is New Age talk for ‘I got loaded.’  I used to drink.  A lot.  Too much.”  When he wrote about his boozing, though, this had the tone of showbiz wildness rather than anesthesia.  “I tell ya, I’m a bad drinker.  I got loaded one night.  The cops picked me up.  The next morning I was in front of the judge.  He said, ‘You’re here for drinking.’  I said, ‘Okay, Your Honor, let’s get started.’”  (Interesting that when that Washington Post article mentioned his marijuana problem, they didn’t include his problems with legal drugs, which were just as bad.)

He also tried cocaine but decided it was too addictive.  “I did coke for a while.  What a mistake that was.  Coke is easy to start, and hard to stop....  Coke makes you do stupid things.”  Also, when he was given Dilaudid in the hospital for very real pain and was told that it’s synthetic heroin, he felt so good he thought, “I can see how people get hooked on the real stuff.”

This same book includes, in the chapter “I Am Not High!,” a picture of Rodney with John Belushi, captioned, “Nobody partied harder than John Belushi—not even me.  Here’s a rare shot of both of us standing up.”  Absolutely no mention of the fact that the average American associates Belushi’s doping with his dying from it.  Also, this book doesn’t mention the fact that during the 1970s and 1980s, the concentration of THC in pot went way up.

Of course, Rodney could figure that his use of cigarettes was more dangerous than was his pot smoking, booze problems often lead to problems such as violence that pot smoking can’t, and he didn’t abuse hard drugs to the point where they really could become very dangerous.  “Booze is traffic accidents, booze is wife beating....  They oughta think about what booze leads to—you lose your wife, your home, your life.”  At the same time, pot smoking does have its dangers, some of which would be as bad as the dangers of booze if pot smoking were legal so people smoked it with the same sense of impunity with which they now drink booze.  Also, Rodney was so unusually prone to smoking pot in full public view, when he was in intensive care in the hospital and when he was in an airport (during which a cop ran up to him but only asked for his autograph, so Rodney commented, “Don’t try that unless you’re in show business—and out of your mind.”), that anyone should have been able to see that he wasn’t logically weighing the costs and benefits.

When you consider how self-destructive was his boozing and cigarette smoking, it seems pretty obvious that he shouldn’t have trusted his own judgment regarding what risks in smoking pot are acceptable.  He told of both of his parents being way too impulsive, with his dad moving out and living with various girlfriends, and Rodney’s mom being cold and off in her own world.  (Plus, once her sisters physically attacked her, yet they went on being on good terms.)  That really should have taught him the problems with impulsivity, even pothead impulsivity despite its trendy appeal.

But at least Rodney also lived up to the positive stereotypes of artists.  As Roseanne Barr wrote in the afterword of this book, written after he died, “His sensitivity for people sometimes translated into long bouts of depression.”

In the HTML for Module 7 of this course, is this table showing the lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse/dependence disorder with specific Axis I disorders:

Table 1. Lifetime Prevalence of Any Alcohol Diagnosis with Axis I Diagnosis

 
Any Alcohol Diagnosis
Major Depression
16.5%
Bipolar I Disorder
46.2%
Schizophrenia
33.7%
Anxiety Disorders
17.9%
Panic Disorders
28.7%
Phobias
17.3%
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
24.0%

(Regier et al., 1990)

Then you could add to this the fact that included in the list of family pointers to bipolar disorder, meaning those problems that tend to come with bipolar spectrum disorders, and therefore a good deal of them in one’s own family would indicate a good chance that he has bipolar disorder, are (along with various addictions): “anxiety or panic attacks,” “depression not related to life events,” and “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”  And one big reason why schizophrenia is likely to come with alcoholism is that schizophrenia often includes impulsivity resulting from impairments in the same parts of the brain that can come with varying degrees of bipolar disorder.

Unfortunately, people could radically change the courses of their own lives for the worse, by doing certain very banal things, and once their lives are changed, it’s too late.

Though it’s all too easy for those who’ve already caused such problems to play the helpless role by saying, “But now I’m completely helpless to turn back the clock and undo what I did!” and/or, “But I didn’t intend these consequences, so I’m guilty only of making a mistake!” the fact would still remain that those who are impulsive are far more likely to make such choices than are those who aren’t impulsive.  It seems very adventurous to act as if such daring norms are cool, though as one suddenly realizes once he’s hit bottom:

 

 

To some degree certain phases of addiction are a matter of choice, and to some degree they aren’t.  The book to accompany the HBO special Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, quotes Walter Ling, MD, director of UCLA’s addiction program, as saying about whether addicts’ relapses are their own fault, “Yes it is and no it isn’t.  It is not their fault but it is their fault.  That is, it’s unanswerable and ultimately it’s irrelevant.  The bottom and relevant line is that we—addicts, their families, healthcare professionals, researchers—all have the same goal: keep people sober.  Let’s focus on that instead of these circular, unanswerable arguments.  They relapse and, if they survive, they then have the opportunity to get sober again.”

This same book also says, in its chapter on adolescent addiction, “The period after treatment is vitally important; most adolescents relapse in the first three months after treatment.”  This doesn’t say what percentage of these relapses resulted from biological malfunctions in the brain that made the teens compelled to relapse, forget the horrible consequences, etc., and what percentage  resulted from choice.  The reason why these relapses make the period after treatment vitally important, is that even with these disease symptoms, the actual relapses could often be prevented.  It would be pretty hard to prevent a relapse by physically keeping the teen from getting more booze or dope.  Either he’s basically imprisoned, or it is very possible to prevent by pressuring him to stop his own disease symptoms.

Just before, this book quotes Ling as saying that affordable addiction treatment has to be more available, since, “Addicts need to be treated when they are ready to be treated.  If they have to wait a month or two or three, they may change their minds.  We can easily lose them.  They can die.”   In treating no other disease would we have to worry about possible patients dying from changing their minds.  Yet since LIVES ARE AT STAKE, we’re simply going to have to ignore 18th century Western ideas that people will rationally choose to do what serves their own self-interests.

Just after this, the same book quotes Richard Rawson , also of the UCLA program, as saying, “The disease makes [addicts] do terrible things, but it doesn’t make them terrible people.  At the same time, it doesn’t mean they are not responsible for the bad things they may do.”  The book then goes on to say, “These are the contradictions inherent in addiction.”

They’re impaired enough that their choices to do something very consequential aren’t the same as unimpaired people’s choices to do something very consequential, but at the same time, they’re not so impaired that they’re not guilty by reason of insanity.  The webpage What Addicts Do, on the website of Sober Musicians, is all about how intractable active addicts are, and is obviously addressed to those who are personally close to addicts.  This includes, for example, “You cannot make me treat you better, let alone with any respect.

“All I care about, all I think about, is my needs and how to go about fulfilling them.”

Of course, the law doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity when they commit, for example, driving while intoxicated.  Not only that, if someone tried to convince lawmakers that they should be more realistic about, and understanding toward, criminal addicts, and he did this by telling them, “You cannot make them treat society better, let alone with any respect.  All they care about, all they think about, is their own needs and how to go about fulfilling them,” that certainly wouldn’t convince any of the lawmakers that these people are not guilty by reason of insanity, and plenty of anti-crime activist groups would be outraged.  If a woman’s husband or boyfriend simply is a non-addicted butthead, realists would tell her, too, “All he thinks about is his own needs and how to go about fulfilling them, and you’d better just accept that that’s just the way that he is,” but of course the law would never just accept anyone’s horrendously bad character.  The weak, but not the strong, lose respect by getting upset about harm done (including harm done by non-addicted buttheads), etc.  (As can be seen in Nietzsche, the weak could easily seem to be the dangerously WILLFUL ones, since everyone’s beliefs regarding what they deserve are shaped by their own SELF-WILLS, and the weak can exercise their supposed SELF-WILLS only in ways that would seem mollycoddle, “dishonest” and “ignominious,” whereas red-blooded strength is “honest,” proud, and at least forgivable (i.e. must be forgiven).  We must appreciate all the hidden dangers of unchecked “victim-power.”  As Niebuhr wrote, power, which would include victim-power, “cannot be wielded without guilt, since it is never transcendent over interest,” over (hidden and surreptitious) SELF-WILL, though we dare not talk in such overgeneralized terms when passing judgment on overt sinful power.  We fear fearmongering, but not greed-mongering.  “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could happen to anyone.

As one could see in the Great Crash of 2008, such a laissez faire concept of personal response-ability could seem good ’n’ gutsy, until you see the consequences of the moral bankruptcy.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, and dogmatically necessary illusions as laissez faire economics has, the very illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  Economist Steven Landsburg said, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’  The rest is commentary,” and that’s also how this sort of self-help could be summarized: You’re the only one who has a reliable incentive to solve your problems, and nothing that disagrees with this “natural” pragmatism could matter, no matter what chaos and helplessness result. Realism simply must be oriented around the fact that you absolutely can change what’s tactically wrong with your own reactions, and absolutely can’t change what’s morally wrong with others’ actions; not being realistic would be ridiculous (said sardonically, or maybe to encourage victims to empower themselves in what laissez faire economists would call “tough love,” though the expression “tough love” originally meant the authoritarian and coercive approach that parents could use on their teenagers who have drug problems and the like).  Our economy reward$ those who think like this.  And even if this sort of thinking leads to a worldwide economic catastrophe, it could always be blamed absolutely on the supposedly mollycoddle weak.  (We all know how insidiously dangerous they are!)  All relationships and marriages considered codependent are treated just as fatalistically, whether or not the problem person is addicted.  As Greenspan said, that’s what works; even behavior problems who aren’t addicted aren’t motivated to change so expecting them to do what they don’t feel an incentive to do won’t work.  Victimhood doesn’t produce anything, so why should we give it any credit?  The ends justify the means, since the ends, functionability and good coping skills, are necessary.  Is someone sociopathic?  Avoid him since you’re incompatible!  End of story!  NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO ENDURABILITY!  Endurability has to come from somewhere.  Either we have self-responsible self-reliance, or we have nanny-ism, whining, trauma-drama, etc.  Both the economics that led to the financial crash, and self-help for anyone in trouble including addicts’ family members, wear the cloak of realism, which is both all-important and expected of all red-blooded people.  After all, we must have an un-ignorable incentive to do certain things that we may or may not be able to do.  One could say that the fix is in, not in the sense that a conspiracy put the fix in, but in the sense that our untermensch-bashing cultural norms did, so it’s predictable that if you’re the one with the problem, you’d be held response-able for “empowering yourself,” “taking care of yourself,” etc., by solving it.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

 

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, can really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s, Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.

 

 

Anyone who’d love the Nazis, couldn’t help but love victim-blaming, targeting weaknesses (as in whiny) of character, etc.  Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.

 

Paul Mankowski, S.J. wrote about pedo-priests, in Pastoral Proposals for the Problem of Clerical Sexual Abuse, in the July 1995 issue of Catholic World Report, “Undeniably the pathology of the abuser must be taken into account, but frequently his turpitude is dealt with as if it were a tragedy striking from outside the realm of human choice, a disease like Alzheimer’s for which no one is responsible and for which ‘healing’ consists in being frank and open with one another.”  This is exactly how addiction is usually treated.  The main idea of psychological therapy for addicts’ friends and loved-ones is that they heal by being frank and open with one another about the addicts simply being victims of their diseases.  Of course, if everyone who had a disease were therefore allowed to act however disabled they acted, our society couldn’t function. Also, even if the victims were victims of behavior that couldn’t possibly be attributed to any disease, as long as they can’t change the behavior, their therapists could expect them to “heal” by accepting it serenely; you’d have just as much control over others’ choices as you’d have over others’ Alzheimer’s.  Plenty of other psychiatric diseases that wouldn’t make one not guilty by reason of insanity, such as pedophilia, chronic anxiety and mild chronic depression, are diseases, but that doesn’t mean that whenever those who have these diseases do something because of them, their friends and loved ones shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, well, their diseases made them do it.”

The wives of addicts, but not of pedophiles, are encouraged to have that sort of accepting, “healing” attitude:

Mankowski has such insight into this question, that I wouldn’t be surprised if he grew up in an alcoholic family, got the usual preachings about how he was supposed to just accept alcoholism as he’d accept Alzheimer’s, and got fed up with them, so became a religious-order priest so that he could spend his life thinking about what’s right and wrong yet not seem resentful! (Frankly, when my aunt with Alzheimer’s lived with my parents, I figured on my own that self-help books on living with an alcoholic family member would be perfect for that situation, since those books are all about accepting the inevitabilities of a disease!)

Yet the main idea of psychological therapy for addicts is to persuade them to become and remain clear and sober.  If things go right for them then this would have some chance of shaping their thinking, but their thinking is still very likely shaped by inadequate self-regulation in their brains.  The more that they relapse the more likely they are to learn from this experience not to relapse again, yet we must understand when these people act as if they’re incapable of learning from experience.  Mankowski suggested that pedo-priests’ treatment include self-responsibility like the “fateful glass of beer” testimonies that alcoholics often give in their therapy, which have proven very effective in controlling their diseases by controlling their attitudes.  Psychologists who’d get enough training that they could counsel all sorts of people, would have to learn both how much more likely an addict is to remain sober if he got plenty of opportunities for support and understanding, and how much non-addicts would be putting themselves at risk if they gave opportunities and support to people who are in such need of understanding.  These psychologists would have to figure both that psychiatric diseases come in different strengths and only some cases are strong enough to make the person not guilty by reason of insanity, and that simply because addiction is a disease, it makes those who have it, not responsible for anything they do because of it.

The addicted Ben Affleck told Vanity Fair in 1999, “The reason I’m single is because I wouldn’t want to be with anybody right now who would be willing to be with me.”  This might sound something like Groucho Marx’s joke that he wouldn’t want to join any club that would accept someone like him as a member, except that Affleck’s statement was in all seriousness.  One big problem with addiction is that the consequences are a lot worse than the intent.

The basic picture looks very similar to the basic picture of Hyperthymic Personality Disorder, in which the person’s disease obviously distorts his thinking, so those hurt by it shouldn’t take it personally, yet he’s hardly not guilty by reason of insanity wherein everyone should be frank and open with one another about this inevitability.  Those with HPD could very easily not want to get very close to those who’d be willing to be with them, yet not hate themselves, since those who’d avoid them would avoid the consequences of what they’d do, and that’s a lot worse than their characters are.  Since HPD means that the person has basically the same rashness and poor judgment that you’d expect from functional alcoholics, HPD means that the people have the level of impairment that would make them do terrible things, but not be terrible people, but still be responsible for the bad things they may do.  Such a person is likely to do plenty of the sort of thing that a moralist would regard as “sinful,” but a psychoanalyst would regard as a sign that what the person really wanted was to punish himself, and/or be dependent on others since he screwed up his own life so much.  After all, it would have been obvious to anyone that these would be the consequences of what he did, so on a subconscious level, he must have chosen them.  After all, you and I avoid doing impulsive things, since we choose not to let ourselves in for trouble....  If someone who doesn’t realize that another is a functional alcoholic sees him acting rash and disinhibited, this could seem to be just slightly excessively normal human imperfection, and the same goes for HPD.

The afterword of that book, an addict’s personal story, includes “Most people can be counted on to do what benefits them.  Not addicts.”  Hyperthymic Personality Disorder, also, causes one to do things that feel right in the short term, but which certainly hurt himself in the long term.

All that many codependents are actually guilty of doing is figuring that their dedicated tenderness is enough to coax sober addicts into remaining sober.  The fact that this isn’t enough, should say a lot about just how much impulsivity really is necessary for tenderness that aims to save them from disaster if not death, not to work.  It seems that this must mean that they want to play the martyr role, since this simply is how dangerous even recovering addicts with this sort of support from loved ones, inherently are.

Considering what’s at stake, one certainly wouldn’t have to be codependent to care a lot about this.  Renaissance poet John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”  Then you could add to this all the other harm that addiction does to people’s lives, that didn’t have to happen.  The only reason why the rewards aren’t that great, is that even recovering addicts are very likely to behave so self-destructively that many psychoanalysts held that addiction is actually a form of self-punishment!

For example, the December, 2007 issue of Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals includes an article, Culture Change by James E. Burgin, about the current changes in how addiction professionals must now run their businesses to deal with third-party payors, whereas before the counselors were more focused on counseling.  This article says, “In our deep history we were too much of a crusade to be a business.  Some feel that we are becoming too much of a business to be a crusade.  We are called upon to go into the crusade business...”  When you consider how much is at stake, and how much could be saved if only the addicts could be counseled into not losing everything, it’s no wonder that this is such a crusade!

 

 

 

 

Remember, the list of adjectives describing hyperthymics from Dr. Hagop Akiskal given by Dr. Peter Kramer in his book Listening to Prozac, is “‘irritable,’ ‘cheerful,’ ‘overoptimistic.’ ‘exuberant,’ ‘overconfident,’ ‘self-assured,’ ‘boastful,’ ‘bombastic,’ ‘grandiose,’ ‘full of plans,’ ‘improvident,’ ‘impulsive,’ ‘overtalkative,’ ‘warm,’ ‘people-seeking,’ ‘extraverted,’ ‘overinvolved,’ ‘meddlesome,’ ‘uninhibited,’ ‘stimulus-seeking,’ and/or ‘promiscuous.’  They are habitual short sleepers, even on weekends,” and Fractal’s Australian website, describes an addiction-producing attitude common among hyperthymics that the website calls the “romantic renegade.”

We can’t stand to conform, be 

Sure, the song Cocaine says, “Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back,” but the problem with impulsive people isn’t that they forget this fact, just that they don’t notice it until it’s too late.  (Of course, once it is too late, these people could act as if they’re just helpless victims of the fact that, at present, they can’t just turn back the clock and undo what they did.)

Al-Anon’s original handbook, The Al-Anon Family Groups, actually includes the following:

Alcoholics are likely to be persons of intense, if brief, enthusiasms.  They have a tendency to try to do too much too fast.  They are apt to demand perfection in themselves and in others, too.  When frustrated, they are likely to be over-depressed or over-aggressive.  Hence, they often lack the emotional stability to face life’s problems in a realistic manner.

Alcoholics are generally most attractive and intelligent people.  They may hold very high ideals, which they seem unable to practice in daily living.  Their attractive qualities account for the fact that so many non-alcoholics choose them as life partners.

That’s basically a description of hyperthymic personalities!  We Heard the Angels of Madness, One Family’s Struggle with Manic Depression, by Diane and Lisa Berger says, in its section on cyclothymia, “Someone with this disorder may be moody, irritable, antisocial, unstable, impulsive, and volatile.  The cyclothymic sometimes abuses drugs or alcohol.  He may have marital problems or be promiscuous; start projects or jobs that he never finishes; change jobs or homes constantly; argue loudly, then feel very contrite; swing between feeling inferior and feeling grandiose and superior; or go on spending sprees.”

As Addiction, edited by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, based on the HBO series, says, “Jack was an exceptionally bright, handsome, and popular boy.  How often do we hear people who become addicted described like that—bright, handsome, successful, charming—the last people on earth you would ever expect this to happen to?”

And Al-Anon completely replaced their handbook in 1995, to reflect the thinking of the era when Al-Anon pioneered the idea that, instead of, “Their attractive qualities account for the fact that so many non-alcoholics choose them as life partners,” those who’d be attracted to such unstable people must be codependent.  While the older thinking talks positively about attempts to get the alcoholics  to go into rehab, the newer thinking discourages such naïveté, attempts to control the alcoholics, etc.

(This is the heading of the section of Al-Anon’s workbook Blueprint for Progress, Al-Anon’s Fourth Step Inventory, for those who seem to be codependent to take a fearless moral inventory of behaviors, including helpful ones, that are labeled as “controlling.”  Frankly, just about any helpful behavior in a relationship that’s considered codependent, would be considered “controlling,” as in, “Sure, you think that what you’re doing is trying to help, but supposedly trying to help someone is a great way to control him.”  This morality-based “control” is in the same sense of what the Mississippi preacher mentioned by Bobby Kennedy’s administrative aide James Symington, meant by tyranny, “One preacher let me into his church, and told me, ‘You represent a tyranny.’   I said, ‘How do you think black people feel living in Mississippi with no rights?’   He said, ‘Well, it’s better to have a lot of little tyrannies than one big one.’”  Control based on one person having power over another, is only a little tyranny.  Of course, if those driven into depression, anxiety disorders, etc., by such behavior, instead fixed themselves by taking antidepressants, choosing to think positively, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, etc., that wouldn’t seem controlling, anti-freedom, manipulative, resentful, etc.  If you object to sinfulness, that’s really your will-to-power.  One could only ask: if control, resentment, etc., really were character defects so the person who had them got bad karma, what would be the learning experience that he’d get to teach him what’s wrong with them, that he be reincarnated as an SOB so he could see what it feels like to be on the receiving end of victim-posturing control tactics?)

Sure, Giuseppe Roccatagliata’s A History of Ancient Psychiatry’s account of Aretaeus of Cappadocia, “the clinician of mania,” who lived in the second century AD, “He described a kind of cyclothymia which presented only intermittent stages of mania: ‘It arises in subjects whose personality is characterised by gayness, activity, superficiality and childishness,’” might sound like the pathologies are limited to a lack of such things as depth and maturity.  Yet such things could lead to a very destructive presence of attitudes that this is what’s good, and the depth and maturity are what’s bad.  Some forms of dedication that those without such pathologies would consider to be irreplaceable, those who do have them would consider to be “square,” “trapping,” “repressive,” etc.  Sure, an AA member said that the best antidote to addictive thinking would be to ask oneself, “Would a dog do that?” but dogs don’t have these feelings that doing certain self-destructive things is attractively daring and dynamic.  Dogs aren’t going to insist that such behavior simply is what’s right for them,

 

so if you disagree then you’re trying to preach at them, trap them, control them, etc.  If taking the right medication gave them a normal sense of the consequences of their own behavior, that easily could make them as ashamed as someone who’d just “hit bottom.”  One’s wildest dreams would be that since addiction depends so much on choices made at different times, the addicts whose lives would be in danger don’t really have to die.  Heck, social factors, such as the drug culture and the honky-tonk culture, do make a difference in how many people suffer from this disease.  As Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, by William L. White, a Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute, says, “The factor that distinguishes susceptible from nonsusceptible neophytes is the existence and intensity of rewards experienced from initial drug use....  Later events and decisions can lead the nonsusceptible population into an addictive pathway by actually altering and increasing their susceptibility.  It is unlikely, however, that such events will create a pattern of addiction as chronic and intense as for those who were vulnerable from their point of initial use....  For susceptible individuals, the rite of initiation comes not from just the drug ingestion, but also from affirmation of the experience as desirable, from attraction to those who symbolize the drug experience, and from desire to ‘join’ as a regular in the drug experience.”

This goes on to say that one could recognize susceptible people in “the honeymoon period” of their addictions, in that, “In contrast to the guidelines that characterize controlled users, the drug use of susceptible individuals is undisciplined and unpredictable.”  So the pattern that one could most see with PCP, that just because it felt good the first time that the users used it, they keep thinking of it as good no matter how bad it feels after that.  This is an almost surreal level of impulsivity.

The book’s list of “Pathways out of the culture of addiction” besides a planned recovery, includes “The ‘Super Ex-Dope-Fiend Folk Hero’.”  This is someone who, mainly in the 60s and 70s, recovered on his own and made himself available to speak to groups to praise recovery.  Yet since they didn’t have a planned recovery program, they were very likely to relapse.  Sure, relapse involves plenty of involuntary phenomena, such as great excitement in one’s brain once he sees things that remind him of the drugs he did.  Yet if one is as enthusiastic about his own recovery as would be one of these folk heroes, you’d think that he’d be pretty unlikely to relapse.  Yet such cultures treat as exciting the sorts of things that hyperthymics often irrationally think of exciting, such as the chaotic lifestyles.

This book also says, “The culture of addiction gives purpose and order to daily life by providing both a worldview and a code of values.”  Sure, addiction is a biopsychiatric disease, but the ways in which plenty of biopsychiatric diseases ultimately affect those who have them, depend on what their cultures say is good and bad.  Sure, the avid druggie culture considers itself to be a “fantastic lodge,” until each person develops a tolerance so the drugs don’t feel good and are used just to keep from feeling bad, but a natural life offers far more satisfaction.  And this book also says about this “fantastic lodge,” “It is a culture marked by an ‘every person for himself or herself’ mentality and morality.  Loyalty to one’s own addiction is the driving value.”  One could add to this the fact that market discipline and market forces couldn’t provide what the addicts need, since addiction consists of a lack of rationality regarding what’s for one’s own good, few addicts could afford the help they need, and while it might seem very codependent to regard such destructive people as helpless victims who need rescue, the fact would still remain that they are helpless and do need help.  When you consider how many recovering addicts are out there, one can feel akin with a whole lot of people!  The tendency for hyperthymics to fit the positive stereotypes of artists, would make them very likely to work against the horrors that drug abuse causes, with that unequalled soaring vibrancy and soulful dedication!

 

 

Joseph A. Califano Jr.’s The High Society says, “Indeed, the chief qualification [for addiction treatment professionals] often appears to be that the counselor is a drug or alcohol addict now in recovery.  In no other disease is there an insistence that those who suffer from it are best qualified to treat it.  No one makes the claim that cancer or heart attack victims, or those suffering from mental illness, are the best-qualified oncologists, cardiologists, and psychiatrists.”  Those who believe in this practice would say that those with addictive personalities have such an aversion to being preached at, that even Situation Ethics, which Fundamental Christians don’t like since it measures wrongness of destructive behavior by its consequences rather than by what any holy book says about it, would seem too draconian.  What it all comes down to, is that recovering addicts can be persuaded by other addicts, who understand how addicts’ free will can be only partial, more than recovering addicts can be persuaded by those who think that their free will was just like anyone else’s.  Recovering addicts would see how inappropriate anything that looks like preaching, moral responsibility, etc., would be in treating a disease.  Yet if addicts’ problem is that, at least at certain times, they didn’t have any free will at all so they’re not guilty by reason of insanity, then persuasion couldn’t have any effect on this at all.

Addictive thinking can be clearly seen in that statement by the founder of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, “I thought I was living the life that others secretly envied. ‘They are the gutless ones,’ I thought, ‘too scared to take a chance on living.’  The possibility that no durable happiness or fulfillment could ever come from living out this pointless pattern did not occur to me at all,” and, “It was society that was sick, I thought, trying to force bondage upon me.  I was a true pioneer of alternative modes of living—and loving.”

This is what’s known as the “addictive personality.”  Even without the addictive cravings, that sort of thinking could lead to enough destructive choices!  As Dr. Edward Kaufman wrote in Psychotherapy of Addictive Persons, “Interestingly, there are ‘addictive personalities’ who can become addicted to almost any substance, from food and caffeinated beverages through over-the-counter drugs to illicit drugs.  These individuals also demonstrate addictive propensities to other risk-taking activities (e.g., gambling, motorcycling, skydiving), as well as to exercise, work, relationships, and sex,” and “The masculinity, exhilaration, autonomy, and potential self-destructiveness involved in motorcycling, compulsive gambling, skydiving, and other risky sports, as well as in buying stocks and commodities on margin, can temporarily substitute for drug abuse.”

A few years ago, I read a book on Hepatitis C, thinking that it made very interesting science.  Recently, when suffering very distressing but not physically serious symptoms of sinusitis, I read the same book.  In that state of mind, naturally what I noticed was just how dramatically grave those symptoms are.  Those who are the most likely to get Hepatitis C, as well as AIDS, the consequences of smoking, etc., would be those who have addictive personalities.  These are also the very same people who are very likely to have an almost religious faith in nature.  And if their uninhibited enthusiasm leads to their getting Hep C or AIDS, they’d likely end up dying like that.

A good example of a symptom of addictive personalities, is the “Al-Anon joke.”  For example, Set The Twilight Reeling says about an AA meeting in the same building as an Al-Anon meeting so the AA members could see the Al-Anon members going to their meeting, “We felt superior and ashamed and rolled our eyes when they trudged past.  On Wednesday nights, someone in the A.A. room inevitably told an Al-Anon joke that ended with a wagging finger and ‘alana-nana-na.’  That broke us up.”  One “Al-Anon joke” that made it onto an Internet bulletin board was, “Do you know why an al-anon makes love with their eyes closed? ...cause they can’t stand to see their A have a good time.”  The A-Z Encyclopedia of Alcohol and Drug Abuse gives, as an A-Anon joke, the definition of “Supreme Al-Anon test,” as, “indicates that the mechanism of ‘denial’ was so strong in the spouse that he/she was the last person to know that the husband/wife was an alcoholic.”

“Interestingly, cohort of birth and ethnicity are two major individual factors that also affect the susceptibility for developing alcohol dependence. Even though it is extremely unlikely that the human genome has changed significantly over the past 100 years, more recent birth cohorts have higher prevalence rates of alcoholism than birth cohorts from the earlier part of the twentieth century (Reich et al., 1988; Grant, 1997). The differences in prevalence rates are thought to be due to variations in the availability of beverage alcohol resulting from Prohibition, economic depression, or wartime shortages.”

These follow the same übermensch = good (or at least excusable), untermensch = bad (and inexcusable), pattern that AA’s neo-Buddhist psychology, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen,” has.  (After all, everyone knows that The Serenity Prayer’s conception of personal responsibility, is very good.)

 

 

The main discrepancy in the thinking of those diagnosed as codependents, is that they believe that they could change at least recovering addicts into people who have normal caution, but with these addicts this wouldn’t be realistic, and, therefore, could be labeled as “narcissistically believing that they could save the addicts.”  It should be very clear that those who care about the addicts could play a very strong part in keeping them clean and sober.  Yet naturally those with addictive personalities would treat them as untermenschen, mollycoddles, who are voluntarily weak, controlling, restrictive, manipulative, self-serving in a way that doesn’t seem proudly honorably and honestly STRONG, etc.  The addicts would seem to be the übermenschen, redbloods, who are the victims of these supposed manipulators and controllers who expect the world to be as they’d have it without winning the right to have this.  This has plenty of social norms, social circles, and positive associations backing it up; even if someone along the lines of John Wayne, who said, “Republic... it means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose,” did something destructive, of course that wouldn’t give us the right to restrict him, act as if those hurt by him who could have protected themselves better are his victims, etc.

 

 

Other forms of impulsivity have been linked with addiction, too.  The chapter on suicide, in Manic-Depressive Illness, by Drs. Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison, includes,

...low levels of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), the principal serotonin metabolite, are correlated with aggression and impulsivity, and it has been shown that patients with the most violent and impulsive suicide attempts have low 5-HIAA levels.  It is of interest that Rosenthal and colleagues (1980a) found significantly lower levels of 5-HIAA among depressed patients with a family history of alcoholism compared with those with a negative family history.  Low 5-HIAA levels also have been found in alcoholics after recovery.

In other words, the brains of alcoholics and those related to them, are considerably more likely than average to produce low levels of serotonin, and serotonin dampens impulsivity.  Therefore, this is another genetic factor leading to increased impulsivity that increases the likelihood of alcoholism.  I’d imagine that to abuse illegal drugs, would require a lot more impulsivity than would pre-alcoholism drinking problems.

And if the addicts’ sense for the consequences of their own behavior were like that of average people, then as soon as they’d recovered from addiction they’d dread relapsing, other than addictions that create permanent addictions in the brain, such as cocaine.  An old edition of Public Citizen’s Questionable Doctors listing, is one that describes a doctor whose license was revoked, as, “CLINICAL PRIVILEGES REVOKED BY U.S. NAVY BASED ON IMPAIRMENT FROM ALCOHOL ABUSE.  PARTICIPATED IN NUMEROUS RECOVERY PROGRAMS.  IS STILL UNABLE TO REMAIN SOBER FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT LENGTH OF TIME.”  Once he was sober, both the disinhibiting effects of booze, and addictive cravings, wouldn’t have been impairing him.  Yet even the fact that if he relapsed, he’d obviously have his medical license revoked and/or pose a great danger to his patients, wasn’t strong enough to keep him sober.  As Manic-Depressive Disease by Dr. John D. Campbell,  from 1953, says, “The manic, given to excesses, is restless, obnoxious, self-centered, unconventional and often oblivious to the rights of others.  Excessive gambling, reckless driving, wild business ventures, confusion of records if not actual embezzlement, promiscuity and unreasonable argumentation are likely to occur during the manic episode or sporadically in manic patients who are never committable but never entirely well.”  Most of those behaviors listed, as well as an alcoholic doctor repeatedly relapsing, require just as much obliviousness of consequences that hurt oneself, as consequences that hurt others.

The “cunning baffling and powerful” thinking that haunts many recovering addicts, “Come, on, you should have one more,” or, “Come on, you need one more,” is also what impulsivity looks like.  AA’s Big Book has several allusions to the character and thinking distortions of hyperthymics, and how they could very easily contribute to alcoholism.  Chapter 2 says, “The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual way, ‘It won’t burn me this time, so here’s how!’  Or perhaps he doesn’t think at all.  How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, ‘For God’s sake, how did I ever get started again?’  Only to have that thought supplanted by ‘Well, I’ll stop with the sixth drink.’  Or ‘What’s the use anyhow?’”  While alcoholics are probably more likely to think impulsively and obliviously about alcohol than about anything else, hyperthymics are more likely to allow such impulsive oblivious thinking at all, than are most people.   Chapter 3 gives two examples of the “insane” thinking that leads to relapses, “Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim.  This man has a charming wife and family.  He inherited a lucrative automobile agency.  He had a commendable World War record.  He is a good salesman.  Everybody likes him.  He is an intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for a nervous disposition,” and, “Fred is a partner in a well known accounting firm.  His income is good, he has a fine home, is happily married and the father of promising children of college age.  He has so attractive a personality that he makes friends with everyone.  If ever there was a successful business man, it is Fred.  To all appearance he is a stable, well balanced individual.”  Chapter 5 has a classic example of the victim-vilifying morality that tends to come with the oblivious impulsivity, that when doing a searching and fearless moral inventory, “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.  From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.  When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper.”  The following is what such an inventory would look like, with the column’s headings showing what a person is held accountable for, as well as what he isn’t:

 

I’m resentful at:

The cause:

Affects my:

Mr. Brown 

His attention to my wife.
Told my wife of my mistress.
Brown may get my job at the office.

Sex relations
Self-esteem (fear)

Mrs. Jones 

She’s a nut—she snubbed me.
She committed her husband for drinking.
He’s my friend.
She’s a gossip.

Personal relationship.
Self-esteem (fear)

My employer 

Unreasonable—
Unjust—
Overbearing—
Threatens to fire me for my drinking and 
padding my expense account.

Self-esteem (fear)
Security.

My wife 

Misunderstands and nags.
Likes Brown.
Wants house put in her name.

Pride
Personal sex relations
Security (fear)

 

 

I.e., I’m having an affair and giving my boss a raw deal, but what I’m confessing to is that I feel resentment about the discomfort of the possible consequences.  Of course, if they feel resentful about my doing these things to them, then they’d also committed The Number One Offender.  This sort of thing is why Black street slang calls victim-blaming, “The Flip Game.”  Soon after this inventory is, “Perhaps there is a better way, we think so.  For we are now on a different basis of trusting and relying upon God.  We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves.  We are in the world to play the role He assigns.  Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.”   Chapter 10, “To Employers,” says, “A look at the alcoholic in your organization is many times illuminating.  Is he not usually brilliant, fast-thinking, imaginative and likable?  When sober, does he not work hard and have a knack of getting things done?” and, “As a class, alcoholics are energetic people.  They work hard and they play hard.”

Boy, oh, boy.  As Leaving Islam, Apostates Speak Out, by Ibn Warraq, says about Sufism, “There was even a group of dervishes, collectively known as the malamatiya, who deliberately committed the most outrageous acts possible to draw upon themselves the contempt of the populace.  This in turn enabled them to show their own contempt for the contempt that others had of them.”  While the above exercise in getting rid of resentment doesn’t say to instigate others’ contempt, it does say that if you deserve others’ contempt, then you should use transcendent mental self-discipline so that it wouldn’t bother you.

More along the lines of the de rigueur amoralism of the “searching and fearless moral inventory,” is on my A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction webpage, but simply from this inventory and the entire Serenity Prayer, you could certainly see the difficulty of trying to persuade someone who has an addictive personality, with even Situation Ethics.  He’d respond to even Situation Ethics with, “Confess thy resentment!” “Why do you keep letting yourself feel bad like this?” “Sure I caused your problem, but finding blame isn’t going to accomplish anything.  Why don’t you just look for the courage to fix your own problem?” and, “Don’t pass judgment on me!”.

 

Joseph H. Califano, Jr.’s High Society, How Substance Abuse Ravages America And What to Do About It, says, “...Americans often feel most comfortable turning to their clergy for help with a substance abuse problem in their family.”  The classic response that you’d get if you tried to hold an addict responsible, using a logic like Situation Ethics, would be, “Stop preaching at me and trying to guilt-trip me!”  Sure, ideally, clergy would be able to refer addicts’ family members to treatment that’s compatible with addicts’ tendencies, and, therefore, would be most likely to succeed with them.  Yet, in the end, if the clergyman is loyal to his principles, he’d have to start talking about what the addict should and shouldn’t do.  Yet this seems to work, at least a good deal of the time.

As I said on my About Us, the Summary webpage, “Especially if this is your sort of person, all you’ve got to do is learn to recognize the signs of hyperthymic temperament, and you could very easily answer some of your friends’ biggest questions, why they tend to do certain things though they realize that they cause big problems, etc.”  One big example of this is the addictive personality.  As Treating Substance Abuse, by Frederick Rotgers, John Morgenstern, and Scott T. Walters, begins its chapter “Theoretical Perspectives on Motivation and Addictive Behavior”:

Without an appreciation of the role of motivation, substance abuse treatment can read like a mystery novel with a missing page: How did the butler get that knife in his hand and what does he plan to do with it?  Indeed, addiction counselors are often frustrated with exactly this sense of missing something.  Laments one: “My client came in last week desperate to make a change.  He finally got off parole and was really going to make it work this time.  We spent the whole session talking about his plan for avoiding relapse, and now I found out he nearly OD’d this weekend!”  The irony is clear: Why would a person persist in behavior that is clearly harming him- or herself and others?

Sure, plenty of people who are this impulsive, might not want to hear about how much their impulsivity goes against what they really want.  Yet sooner or later, once they “hit bottom,” all of a sudden those who seem to be just passive and helpless victims of diseases such as addiction, would suddenly acquire enough free will to choose to stop.

The thinking prescribed by the Serenity Prayer is especially a favorite of psychologists, so if hyperthymics felt that their lives were empty and went to a psychologist about this, they’d get the same sort of shallow Nietzschian worldview, where it’s all a matter of how much strength that each person has to effect his will by changing things to what suits him.  This sort of character defect involves mollycoddle ignominious cunning, which might be harder to defend oneself against than would be open and honest aggression, and is insidious rather than explicitly willful, so an untermensch-phobia could become popular.  The closest that this gets to meaningful depth is the spirituality of unquestioning agápè (Greek for unconditional love, a word that the New Testament uses a lot) forgiveness.  Giving hyperthymics the sort of depth that they really do need, could be very difficult with this.  I have no idea how one would deal with problems where what someone really needs, like that suicidal guy, is depth and meaning.  Something very vital is missing.

Sure, as Native American leader Tecumseh said, “Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise men turn to fools and robs the spirit of its vision,” but to the “romantic renegade” and the impulsive, only squares would be too hung-up about such things.

As Freud wrote,

Life as we find it is too hard for us; it entails too much pain, too many disappointments, impossible tasks.  We cannot do without palliative remedies....  There are perhaps three of these means: powerful diversions of interest, which lead us to care little about our misery, substitutive gratifications, which lessen it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensitive to it.  Something of this kind is indispensable.

Since intoxication could seem so inevitable, glorifying it as the free-spirited thing to do, is only one step farther.

 

 

 

Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery says, “Think about it.  If we completely eliminated alcoholism as it is defined in this culture today, would alcohol-related traffic fatalities disappear?  Would the role of alcohol in homicides and suicides disappear?  Would the impact of alcohol on business and industry be completely eliminated?”  The same would go for alcohol’s role in other accidents, crimes and dysfunctionalities.  Those who cause these problems without being addicted, can’t blame their diseases.  Rather, they thought that booze means freedom.  Booze is what this book calls a “celebrated” drug, other than in the case of alcoholics, but it seems that they’re different.  When, on July 16, 2007, the US government released a report saying that more than ten million of America’s full-time workers, nearly one in twelve of them, have illicit drug or alcohol abuse problems serious enough to need treatment, this included both those who are, and those who aren’t, addicted.

A CNN webpage from September 5, 2005, about Hurricane Katrina began, “At least two bars in New Orleans’ fabled French Quarter are honoring the tradition that drinking establishments in the boisterous tourist district stay open during hurricanes, even apocalyptic monsters like Hurricane Katrina.”  It seems very pro-freedom to keep the faith of boozing, even before the levees were fully repaired so New Orleans was still fully flooded.  If any alkies had an attitude like that, it would be considered the “insane thinking” of alcoholism, but when non-alkies assert it, that would sound like the party spirit.  Sure, this may feel that it’s doing a worthy job, by rebelling against moralism such as that of the East Texas church which, during the Katrina flood, put on its marquee, “The Big Easy is the Modern Day Sodom and Gomorrah.”

At the same time, addictive thinking, or similar logic, would have just as much of a problem with free-thinking ethos, such as Situation Ethics and secular humanism.  Paul Kurtz wrote in the April/May 2005 issue of Free Inquiry, “Being of good will means that we are not mean-spirited or surly, despairing or nihilistic, vindictive or hateful,” which is typical of secular humanism, and Situation Ethics would base moral responsibility on the consequences of a behavior rather than on what any holy book says about it, but addictive thinking would condemn both as judgmental, controlling, guilt-tripping, etc.  Instead, we’re to practice such spirituality as, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....   Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” since this self-discipline would give us more confident outlooks.

 

 

           

 

And then there’s also the obvious question of why the rate of addiction to anything, is greater among men than women.  Certainly this isn’t because men’s brains have all sorts of tendencies to react to the chemistry of various addictive drugs, in ways that would make them more prone to addiction.  Rather, this is obviously because the personalities of “real men,” are far more likely to lead to the booze and dope problems that lead to addiction, than are “real women.”  Also, the more liberated that the average woman gets, the more likely that women are to become as addiction-prone as men.

In a statement by an AA member, he had such a great hyperthymic stage presence that the following quotation, completely lacking all of the exquisite expressive nuances in his voice, doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but here’s what he said: “If you have an allergic reaction to alcohol, and it’s coupled with some fascinating thinking, it’s referred to as ‘alcoholic thinking.’  In... in... meetings of AA it’s a source of a lot of mirth.  And I love it.  I love reasons to drink.  I collect them.  I have a friend named Mark, who the first time he ever read our book, he read the first page of Chapter Four, which contains a sentence which basically says, ‘Facing an alcoholic death or a spiritual life is not always an easy decision to make.’  Very tough decision.  Die in a pool of my own urine, spiritual life, very very tough.  What am I gonna do?  And when he read that sentence he said to himself, ‘Well, how bad of an alcoholic death are we talkin’ about here?’.  That’s not a normal reaction to that sentence, but I don’t have a normal reaction!  I still don’t have a normal reaction.  At sixteen years sober I don’t.  Two years ago, at fourteen years sober, I need hand surgery, surgery on my hand.  Doctor says to me, ‘Mr. Jones, you’re gonna need general anesthetic.’  I said [in an irrationally gloating giggly tone of voice] ‘Oh-ho general anesthetic!  Oh, ho, man!’.  Normal people don’t get excited about general anesthetic!  No normal person gets excited about it!  And I’ll tell you why!  You’re generally anesthetized for it, you’re asleep during it, but you see, I know somethin’ about general anesthetic.  When they hit you with it, they say, ‘Count backwards from a hundred,’ and you go, ‘a hundred, ninety-nine, [loud puttering sound of person quickly dropping off to sleep].’  I love ninety-nine.”  Some people in the audience then clap.  “And it sounds like some of you love ninety-nine too.  They don’t love ninety-nine at the Lions Club.  You say it at the Lions Club, and they’ll go, ‘What in the hell is he talking about?’; at AA, guys are going [boisterously and enthusiastically approving] ‘Whoa-ho!  Ninety-nine!’.  I found out last year I might have to get the same surgery on this other hand, and I’m still going [gloatingly again] ‘Wo-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!’.”  He then goes on to say that he’s certainly losing sight of all the pain and hassle that follows surgery, but he’s still excited about ninety-nine.  Fairly soon after, he tells of how a doctor prescribed “Mickeys” for him to use as sleeping pills, but he did his best to stay awake after taking them, by slamming his arms into the wall, etc., because “I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good Mickey.”

 

On the Scan radio program, produced by the Lutheran Church, appeared a recovering alcoholic who told of how he went from being a prominent writer of advertisements to living in a Skid Row mission because of his alcoholism, then after sobriety resuming his advertising career and then running the same mission.  He said that the reasons why he became an alcoholic were that he’d always felt that his emotions were like others’ emotions but more intense so he wanted to calm them down (i.e. self-medication), and normal life seemed so “gray” to him that he felt that without alcohol he’d get so bored he’d go insane (i.e. stimulus-seeking).  I’m sure that if I had such frustratingly restless feelings driving me with that much of a sense of desperation, this alone would be as much of a “monkey on my back” as would addictive cravings.  His own personal definition of what alcoholics are, is people on whom alcohol has an unusual effect, that it provides so much “color” and alleviation of anxiety and sensitivity, rather than just “dulling” the boredom anxiety and sensitivity as alcohol does in most people.  The more that the alcoholics drink the more that normal life seems boring and anxious in comparison, and this is why many alcoholics seem compelled to relapse by these incessant fierce feelings.  He said, “…the children turn gray and the job is gray and the car is gray and the house is gray and you wonder what am I doing in this stinking town and I know that I could blow much of that gray away with a few drinks and I don’t drink because I’m a drinker.  I drink, I tell myself, because I feel things intensely, because I am cursed with the ability to think.  Why couldn’t I just be a dullard like these people around me?  I drink to add a little color in my life.  And stopping drinking, it was recommended to me many times along the way, but it had no effect because I always felt, ‘They see me drink, and they think my problem is drinking.  They can’t smell how I feel.  There’s no blood test; they can’t take a drop of blood out of your ear and determine the level of anxiety in your system because there’s a lot of pressures on you.  There’s no balloon you could blow up to measure your feelings of being different.  There’s no white line to walk to determine how much love you need today to make you feel secure,’ and on and on.  So the whole battle gets to be, to try to find an answer to these problems, never understanding that as long as alcohol provides color in my life, it continues to artificially enhance my perceptions, and every time it works, it makes reality look a little bit grayer.  So it really is, it’s a funny thing.  And well meaning people with thin blue lips say, [in a prim voice] ‘Now, I want to talk to you for your own good.  Don’t you think your drinking is bad?’ and depending on the amount of trouble you’re in you may have to simulate agreement, but deep in your heart you know, ‘But you don’t understand.  You don’t understand,’ and that is the curse of every drinker in the world, who feels in his heart, ‘But you don’t understand.  My case is different.  I’m not a drinker, really.  I have these feelings…’.”  Later on, when speaking with the alcoholics in the audience, trying to talk them into sobriety, he says that he knows that they might thing of him as an “old fuddy-duddy” but he hopes that they take what he says seriously anyway.  This, along with the “thin blue lips” characterization, suggests “romantic renegade” thinking, as if alcoholism is a heroic rebellion against prim and proper restraints, too scared to take a chance on living, and trying to force bondage upon him.  If, hypothetically, I usually had such strong feeling of anxiety, and of boredom and restlessness, that these gave me significant problems getting through life, for these a doctor legitimately prescribed tranquilizers, and some people I spoke with thought that I should give up these feel-good drugs, I wouldn’t think of these people as old fuddy-duddies with thin blue lips, just as people who don’t understand the difference between feeling good and getting a balanced state of mind by eliminating the loud shrieking background noise in my mind.  All of what this alcoholic said about alcoholism could also apply to street drugs that relax people while giving them a sense of euphoria, and, with slight modifications, such as alleviating people’s sluggishness instead of anxiety, would also apply to stimulant street drugs.  I read in a scientific anti-drug book that marijuana, especially, adds color.  The only street drugs that wouldn’t qualify are the intellectual drugs like the hallucinogens.

 

 

 

ymurgy...

 

           

 

 

 

 But wait.  There’s more...

 Go To the Next Page, which Tells of How the Savvy Could Recognize these Distinctive Idiosyncrasies, Intuitively.

 


 
     

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



 
 

 

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     About Us, Introduction

   About Us, the Summary

   About Us, Index

   My Story

    To the Abuse Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

   Men Dying for Love

  On Doping

  “Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

    Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary

(Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3)

     Cancer Victims Corrected Too

   Victim Correction as a Panacea

   Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression

   Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea

   Schopenhauer on Predators

   Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

  Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

  Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book

  Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

   Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

   Candace Newmaker’s Experience

  Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

    A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

   Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

  Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

   Herbal Experiences for Women

   Some Ideas for Rapport

   Hotlinks