#3-27

 


f Addicts Can’t Control Themselves, Don’t Let Them Control You.




“He was hospitalized for recurring breakdowns in 1964 and 1968 and 1996, the last time after a motor vehicle arrest when he argued that red lights were only for others.”—David France, Our Fathers, about the priest who had two children with a married parishioner who was lobotomized because she suffered from serious depression.  When she killed herself by taking an overdose, he left the scene rather than being caught with her.  He also had a tendency toward pathologically obsessive affairs with teenage single mothers.

   

“Does s/he have a pervasive ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ attitude?”—The Thorburn Substance Addiction Recognition Indicator, which also asks about other attitudinal problems

“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”—the unredacted Serenity Prayer

“Even though open discussion has become more common through the years, there are still myths and mindsets that seem never to progress.  ‘Forgive and forget,’ they say.  Offenders are champions.  They are champions of denial and rationalization and minimization and intellectualization, all used to make themselves feel better.”—Jacqui Theobald, Forgive and Forget Doesn’t Work, Sexual abusers find ways to justify their actions

 

Go to Page 3-26

     

 

ictim correction when abused looks like sociopathy or addictive personalities, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the main influence on modern self-help, were the ex cathedra statements from the founders of AA, as recorded in their Big Book.

Both addictive personalities, and the anti-repression and pro-self-help worldview that’s typical of modern psychology, have the same Wagnerian and morally bankrupt quality to them.  Absolute moral bankruptcy is absolute moral bankruptcy is absolute moral bankruptcy, no matter what it came from.  A possible symptom of the Antisocial Personality Disorder, listed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, is “lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.”  The intent of this, might seem radically different from the intent of a Stoic self-help guru telling the victim of sinfulness to be serenely indifferent to it, or to rationalize another’s having had hurt, mistreated, or stolen from him since then he’s more likely to adjust to the little misfortune.  Yet not only would both lead to moral bankruptcy, but those with selfishly indifferent attitude problems, would be all too likely to treat indifference as the most important good attitude to have.  Addictive personalities likely come with Nietzschian attitudes that winning through power is honest while winning through assertively standing up for one’s own rights is insidiously scary.  Yet that’s also how post-Reagan self-help tells us how to think, that assertive words don’t serenely accept or courageously change anything.  The only reason why this extremely wishful thinking doesn’t seem to be magical thinking is that in the real world someone will solve the problem, i.e. the victim.  If he doesn’t, then he’d seem to be engaging in the magical thinking, believing that he doesn’t have to worry about his own problem.

For example, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, the Final Report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, says near the beginning of its Executive Summary, “In any given year, about 5% to 7% of adults have a serious mental illness, according to several nationally representative studies.  A similar percentage of children — about 5% to 9% — have a serious emotional disturbance.  These figures mean that millions of adults and children are disabled by mental illnesses every year.  President Bush said, ‘…Americans must understand and send this message: mental disability is not a scandal — it is an illness.  And like physical illness, it is treatable, especially when the treatment comes early.’”

 

 

 

When you’ve seen ads and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  That’s one excessive social problem, with some excessively culpable behavior causing it.  The sorts of coping skills that we’d need to cope with it, would have to be so unconditional that they’d be morally bankrupt.  If we cared about who have the morally responsibility for that much devastation, we couldn’t be well-adjusted in such a society.  And that’s exactly how those with addictive personalities would want everyone to see the question of moral responsibility.  An addictive personality’s utopia would be one where no one cared about who is morally responsible for what, and instead took care of their own problems, since they didn’t want to be naïve, controlling, manipulative, judgmental, resentful, etc.  And that’s exactly the goal of expecting anyone and everyone to idealize, ‘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’!  Of course, like any other absolutist utopias, this would leave plenty of unanswered questions, such as how each of us are supposed to just accept that much moral bankruptcy, personal responsibility that’s based largely on whose problem it is, and rampant depression.  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.

 

The Bishop Accountability website includes a transcript of a TV news broadcast showing a confrontation between New Jersey alcoholic ex-pedo-priest James Hanley, and his victims and their family members trying to warn his neighborhood about his pedophilia.  This transcript shows Hanley as acting very remorseless, which isn’t surprising since pedophilia often impairs the same parts of the brain that alcohol impairs in causing the disinhibition, so pedophiles are often as remorseless and compulsive as drunks.  (A man in the neighborhood had thanked them, since Hanley had given some balloons to his sons, obviously the first step in “grooming” them.)  The transcript says that after the mother of the most activist victim, Mark Serrano, pointed her finger at Hanley, he responded, “Don’t you dare point your finger at me.   Three fingers are pointing back at you.”  “When one finger is pointed at someone else, there are three pointing back at me,” is one of the standard AA slogans.  Since Hanley had been in treatment for his alcoholism, this could very easily be where he’d picked it up.  Of course, this wasn’t the intent of that slogan, that people use it as an evasion of accountability.  Yet, in fact, since it says that accountability is bad, it’s only natural that those who want to evade accountability would like it.  (Of course, one could always say that now efforts against Hanley could change things so they’re good, but when he was molesting they likely wouldn’t have changed things so they’d be counterproductive.)

Other webpages in this series include quotes from notable people on the Great Crash of 2008.  After all, whatever would result from the crisis would be the realities that people must deal with, and the same rules would apply.  Yet certainly, no notables would say explicitly that you should ignore blame and other questions of moral responsibility regarding the crisis.  As in a head-game, saying explicitly what’s expected of someone would give the game away.  Yet everyone who had to deal with hardship caused by Wall Street’s sinfulness, would have to deal with it.  If they thought only in terms of material practicalities, as if caring about blame was just for losers, they’d be most likely to succeed.  Sure, the only difference between this and the obliviousness of an addictive personality, is that it would condemn people who whine about one’s own behavior, whereas the formula for success would condemn only one’s own whining about how others would affect him.  Yet both would end up anathematizing and dreading weakness.

A spirituality based on Christian forgiveness could look amazingly like a sociopathic remorselessness.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on pedo-priest Franklyn Becker, “Documents detail church coverup,” by Marie Rohde and Mary Zahn, says “In 1983, a psychological report described Becker as a pedophile who was in denial,” and that recently he said, “There is a gospel of forgiveness and redemption, but that apparently doesn’t apply to me.”  For him to say that he needs forgiveness and redemption, certainly doesn’t sound like he’s still in denial.  At the same time, for him to believe that he’s entitled to them so if he doesn’t get them his rights are being violated, would mean that he’s just as lacking a sense of responsibility as if he was in denial.  Unless one doesn’t have a Fundamentalist literalism toward Christian forgiveness (and, in a society with rampant depression, often enough being well-adjusted would have to mean that you can’t decide to take the forgiveness figuratively), this forgiveness could easily coincide with what a sociopath, addictive personality, etc., could believe that he’s entitled to.

The book that accompanies Addiction, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, “The Twelve Steps discussed in AA meetings and writings involve the steps suggested by the collective experiences of those in recovery that lead to development of an honest, helping, forgiving lifestyle—the kind of life that is inconsistent with addiction.”  Actually, the only way in which the extreme forgiveness of, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” or even, “As long as it’s your problem, you’re just going to have to courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t,” would help recovery, is that no matter what addicts’ problems are or what caused them, the more pragmatically that they handle their own problems, the less likely these problems are to drive the addicts to relapse.  Other than that, those with addictive personalities certainly would relate to that sort of moral bankruptcy!  No doubt those with addictive personalities regularly find themselves in situations where they’ve caused other big problems, and those with the addictive personalities would figure that these others had better not get resentful, passive about solving their own problems, etc.

Addiction has got to be the epitome of irrationality that’s a lot more harmful than malicious, which is just the sort of damage that well-adjusted people would be most willing to forgive.

The latest research on addiction has demonstrated that the brains of even recovering addicts, are impaired in such a way that they could relapse as if they were compelled to do so.  Even if they fully realize that a relapse in their addictions could mean horrific consequences, they could still relapse as if they were on autopilot, and do this repeatedly.  This is very similar to how many pedophiles, whose brains are also impaired, feel compelled to molest, as if they’re in cars coasting downhill toward children and are incapable of slamming on the brakes.  The reason why we need Meagan’s Lists is that the effect of pedophilia on the pedophiles could be called “cunning baffling and powerful.”  Both relapses in addiction and pedophilia could involve cognitive distortions, beliefs that what the people are doing isn’t really harmful, not matter how much they’d been taught what harm it does.  Of course, this could mean that these recovering addicts and pedophiles have this extreme impulsivity only toward what their pathological desires make them want, but their impulsivity toward everything else is normal.  Yet it seems far more likely that the impulsivity that resulted from their diseases, as well as the impulsivity that caused them, would tend to come with a general impulsivity that could affect much of their decision-making.  And this impulsivity is exactly what would lead one to adopt a morally bankrupt ethos, that would care about whether one seems to have untermensch defects of character, but insist that übermensch defects of character are at least forgiven.

To hold that since even recovering addicts’ biologies could make them relapse we must therefore take any relapses as a given, really isn’t much different from Niebuhr’s favorite theological premise, the Doctrine of Original Sin.  As Dr. Nora Volkow said at the beginning of the HBO special Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop, “How can we comprehend the concept of a person that wants to stop doing something and they cannot despite catastrophic consequences?  We are not speaking of little consequences, these are catastrophic, and yet they cannot control their behavior.”  This includes when recovering addicts relapse.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” certainly doesn’t imply “unless the consequences are catastrophic,” since Jesus (and millions of his followers throughout history) certainly took some catastrophic sinfulness.  If someone’s desires made him do something catastrophic, then that’s reality.  As long as someone feels a need to do something, and he has the power to do it, then we’ll just have to take as a given that he’s going to do it.  In order to seem realistic, one must be willing to take a lot of frightening realities as givens.

Dr. Volkow is a descendent of Trotsky, about whom, François Furet’s The Passing of an Illusion, The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century, says, he was “never to be outdone in his talent for error.”  One could say the same about anyone who thinks that morality could get control over compulsive desires to relapse in an addiction, no matter how catastrophic the consequences of relapse may be.  Whatever our brains make us do, is whatever our brains make us do.  Both drug abuse and addiction go several steps beyond Niebuhr’s favorite theological doctrine, the Doctrine of Original Sin, since both involve depravity that’s unnaturally added to the brain.  Of course, we live in a competitive and self-responsible society, nothing’s guaranteed, and human imperfections are whatever they are, and if addicts are biologically compelled to do what they do, then that’s how human imperfection happens.

The article Toward a Philosophy of Choice: A New Era of Treatment, by William L. White, MA, in the February, 2008 issue of Counselor, the Magazine for Addiction Professionals, says, “In May 2007, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, presented a historic lecture at the annual American Psychological Association (APA) conference entitled ‘The Neurobiology of Free Will’ that signaled a turning point in the field’s understanding of addiction as a brain disease.  Dr. Volkow described the most complex picture to date of how drugs compromise multiple regions of the brain in ways that place continued alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use as a priority over other best interests of the individual, family and society.”  Though this is about a radically impaired neurobiology, and the sinfulness in “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it” results from unimpaired neurobiologies, the basic idea is still the same, that if someone’s neurobiology makes him do something destructive, then that’s imperfect reality.  This sinfulness would necessarily be a priority over other best interests of the individual, family and society, but we must take this as a given.  The same would go for any of the destructive behavior that does contribute to our rampant depression, but isn’t prohibited by one’s favorite holy book.  Probably the main idea of the Romantic Era of Central European culture, which followed the Enlightenment and seems to have been a big inspiration of Nazism, was that the faith that The Enlightenment put in intellectual thought was misplaced, since the animalistic, biologically determined, parts of human nature would shape our thoughts more than would a rationality based on free will.

W. H. Auden wrote, “All sin tends to be addictive and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation,” which might sound preachy (unless, of course, “sinful” seems synonymous with “to be forgiven”), but if you replace “sin” with “destructive tendencies,” and “what is called damnation” with “the possibly catastrophic consequences,” you’d have the parallels between Niebuhr’s and Volkow’s realisms.  If one is unaware that people’s brains would make them do certain destructive things, that confidence would be just an illusion.  Realists serenely accept whatever hardship and/or sinfulness that oneself is helpless to change.

This is exactly the sort of understanding that, currently, is to be given to recovering addicts.  Addiction 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.”

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.”  These are also the contradictions inherent in any mental illness that leads to destructive behavior, and that doesn’t impair the person so much that he’d be not guilty by reason of insanity.  That would include a lot of Americans.

The same goes for blaming the victim of anything non-violent.  Even victim-blaming as extreme 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,” is victim-blaming, but at the same time, it isn’t.  We all must deal with the vicissitudes of life, and the whole topic of how morally wrong was what caused your problem, is subjective.  Focusing attention on how you could take care of your own problems better, would benefit you.  If we set limits to what victim-blaming goes too far, we’d be setting limits on self-reliant problem-solving in problematic situations.

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.  Like victim correction as a panacea, this is done for vitally pragmatic reasons.

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.

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, following the pattern that addicts had originally set.  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!)

The bottom line of such self-help has to be the goal, that since you’re the one with the most reliable motivation to take care of your own problem, you do so as pragmatically as possible.  Conceptions of personal response-ability that would include “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would be

As Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind says, the American culture has taken to German ideas about the ineradicability of aggression and other destructive impulses from the id, without also including the German awareness of what the consequences of this are.  “Freud was very dubious about the future of civilization and the role of reason in the life of man....  [Max Weber’s] science is was formulated as a doubtful dare against the chaos of things, and values certainly lay beyond its limits.”

That’s the sort of acceptance that addicts’ family members are supposed to have toward the behavior that results from the addiction, even if the addict wasn’t so overwhelmed by the symptoms by his addiction that he was basically not guilty by reason of insanity, his disease.  That’s just the way that human nature is, so we’ll just have to accept that that’s reality.  Those who realistically accept such realities are more likely to succeed in life, etc.  It seems that any accountability, even Situation Ethics when the addicts are sober, would be too preachy, repressive, guilt-based, etc.

As Paul Gilbert’s Depression, the Evolution of Powerlessness says, clinical depression obviously isn’t deviant, and since it’s biologically based, it must be, largely, a natural and warranted biological reaction to the sort of helplessness that would warrant it.  As the chapter The Evolution of Social Power and its Role in Depression begins, in a psychobiological sense, “This chapter explores the theory that depression is about not being able to control one’s social place.”  At the top is a quote that begins, “Micropolitics, like all politics, has to do with the creation and negotiation of hierarchy: getting and keeping power, rank and standing, or what I call ‘social place’.”

Yet the school of psychology that’s based on “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,” says that if you’re powerless, you can’t control your social place, then that’s one of those facts that you can’t change, so you must serenely accept.  There’s a good reason why you’re hard-wired to feel as you naturally feel, but this sort of human nature we do try to re-engineer.  Who’s to say that you don’t deserve any inability you have in controlling your own social place, or that your “expecting life to be fair” wouldn’t violate others’ rights?  The whole idea of the sort of person who in America and Britain is known as the mollycoddle, and in Germany known as the untermensch, is that if we didn’t treat those with a low social place as if they deserved it, then people could unfairly raise their own social places through manipulative machinations.  If only everyone were humble enough, no one would think that his own social place was too low, so we wouldn’t have this cause of depression.  Optimists would figure that if only you were smart and determined enough, you COULD control your social place.  (This humility and this optimism might look like opposites of each other, but since both are pragmatic, cognitive therapists would very likely try to program you into believing both.)  It’s as if your powerlessness, and others’ power in relation to you, don’t matter, only your own state of mind, and the fact that you can’t say for certain that you can’t control your social place.

Not only that, situations that involve not being able to control one’s own social place, tend to be very banal, so naturally others wouldn’t want to be burdened by hearing about them, let alone treating them as public health issues.

Yet we certainly don’t hear about how we simply must take these biologically-based needs as a given.  That’s purely because those who have them don’t have the power to get what they feel they need, whereas addicts do have this power.  This would include conflicts between addicts and those devastated by them.

 

 

 he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~

 

 

 

     As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

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.  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, including one to an addict’s family member, 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.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  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.   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.

 

 

As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  As Langdon Gilkey’s On Niebuhr says, “Thus transcendence is perhaps the key word in Niebuhr...”  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian.

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)

 

 

It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “...science leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “...in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)

 

 

 

 

In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.  This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.

 

 

Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.

 

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.

♦♦♦♦♦

 

Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  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.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.  Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.

 

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

 

 

Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.

 

 

 

Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008

 

 

That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.

 

 

 

For More On Correcting Archie,
Click Here

 

“FREEDOMExemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint’s infinite multitude of methods.  A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly.”—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

 

 

 

We’re to have the same faith in this failsafe sort of self-responsibility, that we’d have in any other cultural norms, as if it’s a universal truth that will work forever.

 

 

The Fine Art of Propaganda, by Alfred McClung Lee and Elizabeth Briant Lee, quotes Hitler’s Mein Kampf as saying, “A lie is believed because of the unconditional and insolent inflexibility with which it is propagated and because it takes advantage of the sentimental and extreme sympathies of the masses.”  It should be obvious to anyone that the problems of the victims of alcoholic parents (or anything comparable) aren’t inside of themselves.  Yet the sentimental and extreme sympathies of Americans tend to insist that one take personal response-ability for his own welfare.  If he doesn’t, he could be insolently and inflexibly accused of having “pity parties” and the like.  A stolid self-reliance with self-empowerment simply seems good, while passivity simply seems bad.

As It’s Not Okay to Be a Cannibal, How to Keep Addiction from Eating Your Family Alive, by Andrew T. Wainwright, Robert Poznanovich, and the National Intervention Team at Addiction Intervention Resources, says, “We have heard addicts express this conviction [that their addiction is pro-freedom so those who oppose it are anti-freedom] as if they were constitutional scholars.”  Impulsive people would have to be ever vigilant against the resentment, judgmentalism, guilt-based reasoning, etc., that would preach at them, inhibit them, manipulate them, etc.  For decades, the ad and public relations campaigns of Big Tobacco have expressed this cowboy “How dare they try to violate our freedoms!” mentality, as if they realize that this is exactly what would appeal to those impulsive enough to start smoking.

On one hand, Twelve-Step groups try to get us to accept that even recovering addicts are not responsible for some of their own disastrous choices, but on the other hand we’re not to regard the addicts’ ethos that come out of such groups, as irresponsible.  They can’t control themselves, yet they’re supposed to control you, by formulating the self-help school of psychology that’s to shape your thinking.

The Gamblers Anonymous book Gamblers Anonymous, the First Forty Years, tells of “the saddest moment in GA history,” which they call “Tampa Gate.”  They had their 1994 Southern Conference in St. Petersburg, and the chairman of the Conference, Dick D., “had spent the money” that was to pay for the conference, $35,000, “but he planned on returning it.”  This says nothing about Dick D. being seized by an urge to gamble with it.  He just felt like “borrowing” it.  He ended up pleading guilty and being sentenced to 8 years probation and full restitution to GA.

This book includes a letter to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, which says, “When we as a body begin to even consider to ‘bail out’ any individual in this organization, we send out a very negative message.  Many of our members will interpret this as saying, ‘Go steal from GA and don’t worry about the consequences.  Nobody will prosecute you.  Chances are you will have a budget meeting that sets up some kind of repayment plan with no interest involved and take years to pay it back.’  I truly believe these thoughts came into Dick’s thinking when he did this.”

The victim correction as a panacea that the psychology from the Twelve-Step groups loves so much, is supposed to stop addicts’ selfish resentments, and whiny evasions from responsibility by playing the victim role.  Yet it should be very obvious that one result of “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would be an ethos of, “Go ahead and violate others’ rights and don’t worry about the consequences.”  If coping skills mean the sort of forgiveness that also constitutes jailhouse religion, then these coping skills would be along the lines of addicts’ aggressive selfishness, where addictive personalities mean doing what one feels like doing.  Chances are very good that, either consciously or subconsciously, expectations of such forgiveness would come into the thinking of those who have such a sense of impunity.  Anyone who lives in a society with a lot of Christianity and/or Buddhism, could engage in jailhouse religion, but only those with bad characters actually do.

The web page “What Is Alcoholism?: Basic information about alcoholism - what is it, what causes it, and who is at risk,” had said under the heading Personality Traits, “Studies are finding that alcoholism is strongly related to impulsive, excitable, and novelty-seeking behavior, and such patterns are established early on, if not inherited.”  The webpage Factors Contributing to the Development of Pathological Gambling, now says basically the same thing about addictions in general, in more depth.

Joseph Califano, Jr.’s High Society, How Substance Abuse Ravages America And What To Do About It, includes,

In many states, there are essentially no standards for individuals who profess to be treatment counselors.  Indeed, the chief qualification 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 Fundament Christian don’t like since it measures the 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.  The big problem would be changing such a psychological approach into an approach for everyone, under the pretense that emotional repression and guilt-tripping are bad, and serenely and courageously dealing with one’s own problems is good.

 

                 

                 

Michael Craig, Miller, MD, the Editor in Chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, wrote in the February, 2006 issue, “Genes shape temperament: People who are impulsive, take risks, and habitually seek new experiences are more likely to become addicted.”  The same article also says that one of the way in which genes “influence the brain’s susceptibility to addiction,” is in “the prefrontal cortex, which organizes our responses to the environment,” and that this is the same obliviousness that constitutes an effect of booze: “Addictive substances may also cause the prefrontal cortex to work at low power—one of the reasons addicted persons often deny that they have a problem.”  This is also the reason why booze, which is a depressant, feels like a stimulant.  Other genetic effects, such as that drugs feel unusually good to some people, wouldn’t lead to addiction in those who have a strong enough awareness that no matter how good they feel now, overusing them would have the dangers of addiction.

This sort of personality would engage in Magnification and Minimization to an extreme degree, minimizing their own moral responsibility, and magnifying victims’ response-ability to face their own problems with backbone.  AA’s Big Book, in its Chapter 5, “How It Works,” gives a sermon anathematizing resentment anger and fear.  “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....  If we were to live, we had to be free of anger....  Notice that the word ‘fear’ is bracketed...  This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.”  Even recovering addicts are unusually likely to have some impulsive excitable and novelty-seeking attitudes toward the world.  The emotions that people who have a pervasive “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude, would most like to see eradicated from this planet, are resentment anger and fear.  Hurt feelings are the “number one” offenders, the emotions which most offend addictive personalities.  Though alkies are more respectable offenders than are pervs, those who cause problems would naturally be champions in denying, rationalizing, minimizing, and intellectualizing about, the effects of these problems.

Bill O’Reilly said, “we should have given the citizens of Baghdad forty-eight hours to ‘get out of Dodge’ by dropping leaflets and going with the AM radios and all that.  Forty-eight hours, you’ve got to get out of there, and flatten the place....  Now after we know that the final battle is going to come to Baghdad, that the people who remain in Baghdad, the civilians, bear some kind of responsibility for their own safety.  Am I wrong?”  This is basically the same idea as his self-empowerment advice for blacks, such as, “Get off the abuse excuse.  Get off the pity party and black Americans will prosper.”  Yet the first of these ideas could be called an abuse of the second.  The first shows the sort of moral bankruptcy that alcoholics, sociopaths, perverts such as those who make obscene phone calls, etc., choose to have.  The second could seem to be the tough love that those who believe in productivity would express toward those who don’t seem productive enough, as in Enron International’s Rebecca Mark’s statement defending some extreme public relations machinations in India, “There are always ways to include people, to make them productive when they could be counterproductive.  That’s not corruption, that’s economic interest.”  Victim-blaming that would make the victims more productive through independent resiliency and perseverance would be self-empowering, irrespective of what they must handle resiliently resourcefully and independently.

Dubya, himself, did have a drinking problem.  His lack of caution in invading Iraq, is rather typical of addictive personalities.  When he said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” this was in his usual childish voice.  Now that all have seen that Saddam didn’t still have WMD, Dubya says in the same childish voice, that the only thing that matters is that now the world is a better place without Saddam.  Of course, if this was an adequate reason to invade, then that’s the reason that Dubya should have given beforehand.  Now, he’s acting as if, no matter how much he said to rely on the claims of WMD, it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether or not they did recently exist.  Of course, he could use the sort of moral bankruptcy that addictive personalities love, and say that whatever anyone said in the past doesn’t matter, that the only thing that does matter is that we deal pragmatically with the consequences in the present, that we move on rather than linger on the past.  Yet that, also, would mean that anything that Dubya glibly says in the future, could turn out to be unfounded, in which case anyone who objected would be told to stop his resentment about the past, and get on with life.

The classic sign of sociopathy and similar distortions in thinking, is that they lead to the person not learning from experience.  Yet if one truly believes in the sort of American norms that led to Ayn Rand being put on an American postage stamp,

he couldn’t learn from the experiences that would show why this zeitgeist would be very likely to lead to rampant depression with victim-self-blaming.  Molly Ivins’ introduction to Robert Bryce’s Pipe Dreams, Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron, ends, “It’s horrifying because even after all we have seen, we are still having to listen to people making patently absurd claims that all that has happened only because of ‘a few rotten apples’; still having to watch exactly the same financial industry lobbyists crawling all over Capitol Hill trying to kill or gut every reform proposal; still standing by as powerful corporations buy the votes of the elected representatives of the people with their huge campaign contributions.

“It’s time to get mad and get even.  And that’s where this book leaves us: with a far better understanding of why it is so necessary to make the fixes to our system—or watch it happen again and again and again.”

This is about a failure to learn from experience.  The big problem is that to whatever degree we do learn from experiences like this, it would go against certain of our mores: that blaming problems on the big picture would be just judgmental restrictive and whiny opinion, that if we fear lobbyists or anyone else who are trying to limit governmental restriction then we’re anti-freedom, etc.  If those on the anti-intellectualist radio talked like this in absolutist terms, that would sound exciting, while if they talked about making sure that the depression-producing consequences don’t happen, then those programs would sound far less “hot” (unless, of course, they angrily blame uppity women).  Those with the money, who finance much of the organizations that give information and analysis to the media, aren’t going to compromise as to how vociferously they advocate their own interests.  Most Americans would understand that the more that they held to a Randroid zeitgeist, the more likely they’d be to succeed, so in the name of pragmatism they’d try to eliminate any “negative attitudes” or “whiny blame-finding” that might cross their own minds.  Even before the Enron scandal became known, it was known that the company treated selfishness as a virtue and that this included keeping certain debts off the books, yet the public tended to cheer Enron as a gutsy, innovative role-model.  Is this mentality supposed to stop as soon as we experience enough bad effects from it?

Carl Bernstein said on Larry King Live on February 17, 2006, “There is a disinformation campaign in which words mean almost nothing.  It’s almost Orwellian.  If you went back and read 1984 that’s not to say that this presidency is 1984 but if you look at 1984 it’s about largely the use of language and the use of language by this president and by Mr. Cheney is disingenuous and I think that is not always disingenuous but on the big questions it has been.”  That’s what it looks like when one tries to practice positive thinking in statements made to others.  When AA gives its members such positive-thinking slogans as, “The people we hate teach us the most,” “I don’t have a problem unless I think I do,” “Everything is perception,” “Optimism is an intellectual choice,” and, “Forgiveness is relinquishing the role of being the victim,” these would certainly prohibit people from seeing what moral responsibility really means.  Expecting anything to mean anything, would seem too literalist and resentful.  That’s also the basic idea behind thought reform, brain-washing.  Thoughts are to be reformed into what conforms, and honest opinions that disagree are to be washed from the brain.

Elsewhere the Big Book gives passing criticism to the aggressive forms of self-interest, but doesn’t go on and on about them.  This could be partially because the Big Book consists of ex cathedra statements that some addicts made and other addicts found persuasive.  If AA’s Big Book did sermonize about the aggressive forms of self-interest, it might have said for several pages, “Impulsivity 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....  If we were to live, we had to be free of thrill-seeking....  Excitability somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.  It was an evil and corroding thread....”  Yet sermonizing about such moral weaknesses of character would come across as sermonizing, a mollycoddle attempt to control the redbloods.  Sermonizing about what seem to be self-help weaknesses of character, would seem to be trying to replace weaknesses with strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ymurgy...

 

More of this on Victim Correction Webpage 22

Go to Page 3-28

(Go to the Main Page 3)

 

   

 

 

 


 

 Home Page

 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)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main 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