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Post 0

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 3:53pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff, I know why you posted this, and thank you for bringing it up. I respect Szasz and try to honor his crusade against the myth of mental illness as a disease. Since we're not mincing words anymore at SOLO, to label Linz as an alcoholic could be seen as an attempt to deal with his behavior in the manner in which Szasz warns us not to, diagnosis as "social control." I really hope that it is not the case. Only Linz knows for sure the truth about this.
But Szasz would still say that a person is, when defended by insanity, still responsible for that behavior. Drunk or not, Linz's behavior is what got him to this point.

(Linz has admitted as much when he wrote:
"Drunken??!! Now that's an arbitrary assumption. Yes, I'd had a few. Friday night. Unwind time after a hard-working week in the office, presenting the Dreadful Face of Linz to unsuspecting television viewers. How terrible. But I knew exactly what I was saying. What I was saying was wrong, on reflection, as I've acknowledged (to no avail), but it wasn't alcohol making me say it."


So if we are to take Linz at his word, that he is in control of his thoughts and simply says what he means, then let's not hold the wine responsible, but the man.


I think what's happening is not social control but self defense, because many people here have bent over backwards trying to understand this man and others, only to have those attempts spit back at them.

Linz tries to claim that he has a thick New Zealand skin and that "we Americans" are a bunch of psycho-babble thin-skinned sissies with no spines.

He mistook kindness for weakness.


(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 7/31, 4:26pm)

(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 7/31, 7:15pm)

(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 7/31, 7:19pm)




Post 1

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 4:06pmSanction this postReply
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Szasz is wrong that "...there are no addicts..." It is a scientific fact that use of certain drugs can lead to physical dependence and/or psychological dependence.



Post 2

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 4:09pmSanction this postReply
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I don't deny addictions, btw...just wary of diagnosis as social control and abdication of responsibility.



Post 3

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 5:45pmSanction this postReply
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If Bob Palin would take the time to read a short but illuminating book called Addiction Is a Choice by the psychologist Jeffrey Schaler, he would shoot his mouth off somewhat less confidently about non-existent "scientific facts."

JR




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Post 4

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 7:10pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

I suggest you read this and this and this and this and this before YOU shoot YOUR mouth off.




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Post 5

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 7:40pmSanction this postReply
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Drug addiction certainly is very real. The mechanism of drug-induced molecular adaptation in human has been the subject of intensive investigations in many first rate labs, including that of Nobel Prize winner Paul Greengard at Rockfeller University. 



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Post 6

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 8:24pmSanction this postReply
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The fact that drug addiction is real doesn't mean it's not a choice. The physiological component of addiction isn't the only one.

--Brant




Post 7

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 7:41pmSanction this postReply
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Bob -

Okay, I've read all that.  But I've still seen nothing that validates what Jeff Schaler calls the "far-fetched, scientifically worthless fantasy" known as the theory of "physical addiction."

JR




Post 8

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 8:58pmSanction this postReply
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Brant,
You are of course right that man absolutely have the choice of not to abuse himself! To this day I still cannot comprehend why anybody would choose to do otherwise.




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Post 9

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 11:07pmSanction this postReply
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It is obvious from inspection that certain substances are habituating: we get used to them.  The chemical basis for various addictions is apparently the subject of lucrative research projects. The fact is that the physical component of addiction is also easy to counteract: just stop taking the substance.

That is easier said than done.  I was greatly impressed with Alexander King's autobiography Mine Enemy Grows Older.  He writes cogently of the addiction that ruined his life and of the various treatments for it.  (These are elements of a full life of creativity as an artist for major magazines in the 1930s thru 1950s.  At one point, having used pseudonyms for his works, he was scheduled to accepted several awards on the same night, but avoided giving himself away.)  The physical component is one thing.  The psychological side of addiction is another.

Barbara Branden discussed smoking, or rather, not smoking.  http://solohq.com/Articles/Branden/On_Smoking.shtml Like King, she writes of a nagging desire that haunted her as she attempted to quit smoking.  Unlike King, Brandon got over it with insight. 

That is the point.  However habituating a substance may be, addiction is all the head.  It is a choice.  The failures of whatever therapies to cure all addicts only reflects the failures of the theories of therapy.  Different people respond differently.  Trashing out AA is fine if you are an Objectivist.  It is no surprise that they find a lot of success among Irish Catholics who accept the religious framework.  For an Objectivist, some other model would work better.  It still remains that addiction is a matter of choice.

I have smoked and quit over the years.  Not having smoked for about 15 years, I took it up socially.  From about 1999, I smoked between a pack a month and a pack a week.  I would buy a pack, smoke a couple and throw the rest away.  Going without has been easier and harder depending on undefined factors at the moment, but going without is possible and doable.  Reading Barbara's essay made it much easier.  I have not had a cigarette since May.

Drinking has been much easier to stay away from.  Where the difference is in me, I am not sure.  I just know that I was never a drinker, a one beer date.  There was one time about 2000 when I bought a six-pack on Friday night and Monday morning when I went to make my lunch for work, there was the six-pack. I had forgotten all about it.  Living  in Northern Michigan made drinking easier: two to four beers a night, every night.  (And the cigarettes to go with them.) Finally, after we moved to Ann Arbor, and I was still drinking, I blew a Monday morning interview because I was hung-over from the weekend.  That was in May and I have not had a drink since -- but neither have I wanted one.  I just quit.  For me, apparently, there is no chemical component to alcohol habituation.  My wife still drinks.  We have a case of pretty good wine here.  I have no interest in it.  My wife has 1000 murder mysteries and I have no interest in them, either.  For me, the two are the same: no physical component.   

As for the "addictive personality" I have been a coin collector.  You will find my posts here on Numismatics.  I write professionally about the forms and uses of money.  When I was a collector, there was a physical component to the process.  Buying started with an urge.  There was the thrill of the hunt, the growing excitement in seeing material, considering choices, etc., and then the consequences: pride of ownership versus buyer's remorse.  Buyer's remorse can be compelling.  After about five or six years of active collecting, I got a job as an editor at Coin World newspaper.  Call it "aversion therapy."  I was so thoroughly and completely forced to participate in the hobby in ways that I did not like that I sold my collection.  At that point, I stopped having urges to own things. 

But I was never a material person.  Like many Objectivists, I celebrate the mind side of the mind-body dichotomy.  I always saw consumerism as social metaphysics and pseudo-self esteem.  I drive a 1990 Camry. There was one time, I was walking home from the store with my daughter.  She was about ten.  It was March and it started to sleet.  She looked at my feet and my tennis shoes had holes in them, my toes were sticking out.  "Dad! Aren't your feet cold?!"  Yes, I said, but we'll be home soon.  It doesn't matter. 

So, for me, as habituating as "buying" had become, it was pretty easy to give up.  Other people have other needs.

Identifying those needs and addressing them is how addictions are overcome.  The physical side of it is pretty easy in most cases.  However, there are exceptions.  Native Americans never got addicted to tobacco, but they were destroyed by alcohol.  For Europeans, the matter is different.... or not...




Post 10

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 11:09pmSanction this postReply
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If different folks have different tolerances of mood-altering substances, then why?

What does it mean for us to react so differently to the same substances? Do these undeniably different reactions lend more to the theory of molecular addiction -- or to the theory of individual responsibility? I say the latter.

Some folks may be more genetically prone to addiction, and some more prone to introversion, or some more prone to extroversion -- but that is THEIR problem. Their problem to work out. Their hurdle to jump over in order to co-exist well among other humans.

Individuals have different hurdles to jump over. Some have higher hurdles in certain areas -- lower hurdles in others. None of this lessens our personal responsibility to discharge our moral duty to ourselves to live a happy life.

There is no free lunch. No "get out of responsibility free" card. If there were, then we would have to have a separate "card" for each and every strength and limitation of each and every individual walking the planet. That is absurd. We're dealt out of a deck, and it's how we play that counts -- not the cards we were dealt.

Dealt cards are for nihilists.

Ed





Post 11

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 5:03amSanction this postReply
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It is a widespread misunderstanding that a diagnosis should be treated as some kind of external animal, a scapegoat that will carry our sins to the land of no responsibility.

To say "i have a drinking problem because i'm an alcoholic" is rubbish, you ARE an alcoholic, if you have a drinking problem.

A disease is a condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful. Addictions exists, and any addiction is a disease, by definition. A diagnosis is simply a precise articulation, a name, defining the nature of the abnormal and harmful tendency, for any addiction to stop, the realization that it is a problem will need to be the fist step.

Some types of addictions does change the addicts ability to judge their own situation, pointing a finger at them, saying its their own responsibility, seems ineffective in removing the problem. An addict blaming anyone else than himself is an addict in denial, but helping addicts to help themselves seems to be working, let's not kill a working treatment if to prove an arbitrary point or to gloat over the fact that "it was him, it was him".

The logic of Szasz would ultimately lead to the fact that there is nothing because everything merely is what we call it. Reality is what reality is, we can only relate to this reality by the means of expression available to us in music, painting, writing et al. Niggers exists as do christ-killers - they came into existence the moment their name was uttered the first time, they live as abstractions together with caucasians, jews, kings and giraffes, it just doesn't matter unless we want to remove the problem by closing our eyes.



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Post 12

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 7:09amSanction this postReply
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1. Alcoholism is an inherited trait.
2. Psychology is not a science.




Post 13

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 7:54amSanction this postReply
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The percentage of people who choose alcoholism is, I suspect, greater among those who are genetically less able to process alcohol.



Post 14

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 9:26amSanction this postReply
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Soren,

--------------
Addictions exists, and any addiction is a disease, by definition.
--------------

Soren, that is not quite right. I am addicted to food and water, and the daily ingestion of them helps me to lead a happy life -- I have a natural need of them (an inherent addiction to them).

It is up to me to work out how and when to get them into my system -- it is not up to others to engage in condescending (or even merciful) speculation about my personal relationship to food and water. It is for me to work out, that is how I'll grow in competence in this world.

No one else is quite in the position to judge whether I'm jumping through the right hurdles, in the right manner, at the right time, etc. The inherent collectivism in the Kilbourne article "Drooling Beast" offers clear insight into the subsequent counter-productivity of some of us putting ourselves in the position of telling others precisely how to go on leading their lives. That article was anti-individualist.

It's true that the natural needs I alluded to above (food, water, sleep, freedom, etc) are that which justify Rand's outline of ethical individualism. These natural needs stem from the type of beings we are. But as soon as you go off the path (of the things true for all of us -- by our common nature) and start diving into the specific life paths of specific individuals, then you've missed the point of individualism; and undercut your -- and, if you are a political leader, every else's -- ability to discharge their moral obligation to themselves to grow toward actualization and happiness.


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Some types of addictions does change the addicts ability to judge their own situation, pointing a finger at them, saying its their own responsibility, seems ineffective in removing the problem.
--------------

Soren, who's problem? Your mindset -- in this instance -- is one of collectivist utilitarianism. One aimed at "Societal Happiness." When someone's "problem" becomes "the" problem, then you've crossed the line. The only 2 problems there are are:

1) personal problems (individual hurdles) that we work out for ourselves and -- in doing so -- become self-actualized human beings with all the pride of self-determination and overcoming personal crises

2) relational problems (interpersonal trade) in picking, choosing, supporting, privately reprimanding, teaching, and growing alongside -- others with whom we trade values


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... helping addicts to help themselves seems to be working, let's not kill a working treatment ...
---------------

This is pure humans-as-atoms pragmatism. How much help is good? No answer? Can you give too much help? No answer? Can personal pride and self-esteem be undercut by these "working" methods advocated? Could they be undercut for a lifetime (effectively killing an individual's chance for happiness)?

"Helping" is a very, very dangerous thing.


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The logic of Szasz would ultimately lead to the fact that there is nothing because everything merely is what we call it.
---------------

No it wouldn't. Szasz believed in common human nature (which I mentioned above). That commonality PRESCRIBES appropriate action to take toward others -- ie. ethical individualism -- and it proscribes other, potentially spirit-killing actions, such as certain forms of "helping."

Ed



Post 15

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 9:41amSanction this postReply
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Soren, to make my point more salient here are some quotes from Bentham and Mill:

Bentham:
---------------
... if, in the general tenour of human conduct, self-regard were not prevalent over sympathy, -- even over sympathy for all others put together, -- no such species as the human could have existence.
---------------

Mill:
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As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions; so is it that there should be different experiments of living.
---------------

Bentham's warning to not live for others, overandabove living for self; and Mill's caution to not presume for others -- capture well the pitfalls inherent to altruistic (ie. anti-life) "helping."

Ed



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Post 16

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 10:46amSanction this postReply
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Thomas Szasz says:
There are no niggers; there are only black-skinned people whom some white-skinned people don't like and call "niggers."
Nowadays only niggers call niggers niggers.




Post 17

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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Any addiction requires that the adict WILLFULLY continue to act in an addictive manner. The drinker CHOOSES to drink, the heroin addict CHOOSES to shoot up, etc. No physical pain or pleasure FORCES the indicidual to act without choice. They often CHOOSE to evade the fact that they CHOOSE to continue to act in a harmful manner towards themselves.

This is why I have such disdain for 12-step-programs. They require that you admit that you have no power over your addiction. I'm convinced that this is the reason the recidivism rate is so high. If they focused on the fact that ONLY the addict has power to CHOOSE to act or not act they would have more success.

Ethan




Post 18

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:20amSanction this postReply
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I don't believe addiction is a disease, like cancer, say. But, for all practical purposes, it acts like one, so I'm not sure it matters. I consider it a behavior, and there are all manner of things that can produce that behavior, including flat out denial of reality.

For the most part, though, I find that the underlying cause of alcohol abuse very often points to what you could call a spiritual (or sense-of-life, if you prefer) kind of sickness. It involves the choice of disconnection from what is.

But, alcoholics are not all degenerates, either. Alcohol says "yes" to you in a world that has a lot of "no" in it. Instead of going to an opera or a carnival, alcohol provides instant entertainment, in the form of temporary ecstasy, but at the ultimate cost if used regularly. Although it is not written of as fondly by artists as it used to be, it still opens up a certain kind of connection to existence that many find desirable. The problem with that, again, is the price of admission.

In the end, I will say it again: it is about disconnection, and once disconnected for a long time, it's hard to even imagine another way of being.  




Post 19

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

An addiction is a compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. Water and food you need but they are not habit-forming substances and your body could get the energy it needs by other means.

I agree that unwanted help is a dangerous thing - and deeming other people lost, trying to save them is not my business - but as you are painfully aware then saving other people can be in your own interest, when addicts because of their addiction pose a threat to you, it is very much your business. That altruism doesn't exist i see as irrefutable fact, that we have plenty of friends when they need us, is clear to most. That said, the world is not black and white, i see examples where it is not clear cut - abused children can't speak up for themselves, should we be concerned about undercutting self-esteem there?

I don't see alcoholism as a choice, i see the act of becoming a non-drinking alcoholic a choice, and a choice alcoholics, according to themselves, might not be able to make while drinking... an analogy; as you pass your local windmill you see a bloke hit unconscious by its blades, every time he wakes up he is hit again. Should you help him? You don't know if he ended up there by accident. Would he choose not to be hit by the blades of the windmill if he could choose? Would a good solution not be to allow him the option to choose for himself when not unconscious, we can't drag him out from under the mill without indicating to him that we don't approve of his choice to be there, we may hurt his pride, should we let him die so we don't risk undercutting his self-esteem?

Dragging him out, asking him if he would want to continue is my proposal for both the bloke in the windmill, and the friend, or family member that is close enough that i can drag him out of his alcohol abuse for a moment to ask if that is what he really wants.



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