Archive for November, 2010

The 15% Solution – Part Deux

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2010 by dredslack

After the applause stopped, Simon sat down and readjusted his cam. “I agree with you,” I said, “it’s unfair to criminalize some people for the supposed good of the whole but I think your story misses a bigger picture; the fact that so many people equate drug & alcohol use with a BIG life, one that’s fully lived and experienced … and that’s just not true, it’s a myth, a romantic rock-n-roll excess ideation.”

“Go on” Simon said as he put his elbows on his desk, looking a bit spent from his theatrical diatribe. “Well I think its crap that so many people equate drugging and excitement when for most, it usually ends up being quite a bore. If it works fine but if it doesn’t, big deal. One of my clients was a bank robbing, don’t care if I die heroin addict, who had a miserable existence; he cleaned up, went back to school, got his degree and became a drugs counselor. He also took up competitive running, got into a relationship and created a great life. Who’s to say his life isn’t as good if not better than the client you we’re just on about? Who’s to say anyone who doesn’t use for whatever reason has less of a life? Perhaps the brains of the 85% who ‘can’t’ see and feel things more brightly than the 15% who ‘can’ because of some sort of perceptual or experiential sensitivity?”

His face looming large on the screen Simon scowled and said, “I don’t buy that ‘living large’ baloney either, I was simply saying dear Mr. Richards is not an isolated case. My client’s situation is also a small example of a much bigger issue; how the variety of abilities and capacities inherent in human beings is not respected. Sociologists speculate that we stopped being nomadic hunters and gatherers and became community based farmers so we could ferment beer. It seems pretty clear that most everyone wants to change their state of consciousness now and again, so it’s really a matter of how far it’s good to go, for each individual. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s a huge range in what can logically be considered ‘appropriate behavior’. If someone’s not hurting themselves or others and isn’t doing any sort of damage, who cares what they get up to? Hopefully, one of the next steps in our evolution perspective-wise, is to realize that and stop trying to have a ‘one size fits all’ society.”

“But what about the children” I chided, “won’t anyone think of the children?”

“I know you’re trying to be funny” he said, “but you’ve actually hit the nail on the head. Our desire to protect our kids and create a safe world for them is probably the biggest motivation for creating so many limits and so much ‘one size fits all’ thinking. This creates many problems and the drugs issue is a relatively small one. For example the laws prohibiting gay marriage or the type of sex consenting partners can have are completely irrational, that’s no one else’s business but the people involved. We’re an over mothered society choking on the fear based rules of people who think they ‘know best’ but who really can’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground. Resultantly, many people are unhappy and restricted because they go along with this normative charade. They won’t face the necessary risks to build a life that’s authentically theirs because that would be out of bounds. Then ‘surprise, surprise’ they end up depressed, self-stuck in crap lives.”

“Sounds about right” I said, smiling as I looked through my desk drawer for a Reese’s peanut butter cup, “but you know what? Look on the bright side; you won’t be going out of business anytime soon will you?”

Simon chuckled, “well I guess there is that. I gotta get to my one o’clock. Next week?”

“You got it. Say ‘Hi’ to Sharon for me”.

Eureka! I found one.


The 15% Solution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2010 by dredslack

“Did you see that Keith Richard has a new book out?” I asked my old shrink buddy Simon. “I didn’t know he had an old one” he replied, before tacking a bite out of a fish taco that looked so good I wished I was back in California. I deftly retorted “Wise ass” and completed my lunch chat revenge by adding a few head bobs so his screen would freeze up … he hates that.

After pretending not to notice my coo Simon replied, “When I was a kid I thought he was always knocking on deaths door, but it doesn’t surprise me anymore.” “Why’s that”, I asked. “Well….” he said hesitating, as he exaggeratedly enjoyed his taco as pay back for my head bobs, (we enjoy a bit of repartee and it often veers into the sophmoronic). “I’ve had a number of long term clients who’ve used all types of drugs and haven’t crashed and burned at all, some have been using steadily for over 20 years”. “Including heroin?” I queried. “No not heroin, but everything else; coke, weed, booze, e, pills, you name it and without more consequences than the occasional hangover or waking up in the wrong bed”. I expressed some skepticism but Simon brushed it aside. “Ed, I understand your perspective and I think most people share your sentiments but, I’ve had the chance to have people who’ve used drugs all their lives open up about because of the confidential nature of our relationship. You’re not going to attract this type of client because you’re the guy people go to when they want to get off drugs. With that rep I doubt you’re going to have people who see you for other reasons open up about that part of their lives, if it’s there. I’d wager, and this is a conservative figure, that 15% of the population doesn’t need any protection from drugs at all, even hard drugs; they simply have a low propensity towards addictive behavior. Keith Richards is just one of many but when he opens about it everyone regards him as a special case because of his musical genius, pretty much everyone else in that position has to stay quiet about it”.

At first I thought dear old Simon was messing with me as part of our light hearted competition, but he seemed genuinely sincere. “OK, I’ll bite, why do they have to be quiet about it? Not that everybody is really, there are a lot of pro-pot people, Woody Harrelson, Snoop Dog, and y’all even have a governor who’s arrogantly smoked a joint on film”. “I’m not taking about just weed; you don’t see any pro-blow celebrities do you? All you hear about are the Lindsey Lohans and Charlie Sheens, the out of control stuff, nobodies stumping for the legalization of e or mushrooms are they? There’s a number of reasons people who get away with using harder drugs don’t talk about it but the main one is that if only 15% (or so) can do it, the other 85% (or so) can get into a lot of trouble trying to do something that they just can’t. It’s easier for them to believe that it’s all bad rather than admit they don’t have the capacity to make it work”.

I could tell Simon was winding up for one of his big lectures and because they’re usually pretty entertaining, I got out of the critical path. “Let me tell you a story about a client of mine. He was an A- actor who played a cop in an 80’s TV show. He came to see me for depression and marital problems about 20 years ago, when his career was winding down. We got through the issues just fine and he decided he liked bouncing things off me so he continued seeing me, on a bi-weekly basis. He liked his coke and occasionally a bit of everything else and never had a problem with it. His wife drank a bit but didn’t do any other drugs. She didn’t care if he did as long as long as it didn’t cause problems and he didn’t mess around with other women, without her participation. A few years back when they were going to a costume party at Halloween, they were pulled over by the police and told to get out of their car at gun point. My client loves flashy cars and was driving a blinged out Escalade similar to one that was recently involved in something nefarious in the general area. He was dressed up as the Devil so the cops didn’t believe him when he told them who he was. They went over the car with a fine tooth comb and came up finding five grams of blow”.

“Luckily the paparazzi didn’t get involved; he’s a bit under the radar these days. He posted bail and all that and everything was kept quiet. He actually got some pretty special treatment, kind of like he was a real cop. The DA offered his lawyer a deal where my client would get probation if he did a 30 day rehab and some community service work speaking out about the evils of drugs. His lawyer found it to be a sweet deal, and it was, but my client was having none of it. He’s a very religious guy and from his perspective his religion prohibited him from falsely representing himself by pretending to be a problem ridden addict. Personally I think his pride had more to do with it, but he was firm about it. He had his lawyer tell the DA that if he went to trial his defense was going to cite his history of long functional drug use and attack the validity of drug laws all the way back to the Harrison act of 1914. He even went on about how his constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness was being impinged upon. Even though his lawyer thought he was nuts, the DA relented and gave him the deal of a suspended sentence, a fine and an admonishment to keep quiet. His lawyer couldn’t believe it.”

“Well, that’s a hell of a story Simon but what does it have to do with not speaking out?”
“If you look at the evidence as it’s presented I think it’s pretty clear my dear fellow”, he said, in a Basil Rathbonesque Sherlock Holmes impression. “The DA relented because he didn’t want to have a successful and respected member of the community, who has never gotten into the least bit of trouble, come out and say they’ve used hard drugs their whole adult life and have never suffered the least ill effect. It would open too big a can of worms, one that might be hard to close again. It doesn’t have the Hollywood code type ending where the good guy always wins, extra-marital sex always leads to disaster and drug use will always ruin your life”.

He was ramping up to the crescendo now, so he stood up, adjusting the skype cam to compensate. Thrusting a righteous finger in the air he said, in an impressive impresario voice, “It’s elementary my dear Dr. Slack. The 15% who ‘can’ keep quiet to insure the health and safety of the 85% that ‘can’t’. It’s the 15% solution!”

I had to applaud, if he was right or not, it was a fine performance.

The Elephant in the Living Room

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by dredslack

In the early 1990’s an alcoholism recovery hospital ran a series of TV commercials where a normal family was going about their daily business with one unusual facet; there was a huge elephant in the house that everyone was ignoring. Of course the elephant represented the obvious but denied problem of alcoholism. We have a similar situation in America right now albeit on a much larger scale; without the education to discern honest endeavor from bombast, vast numbers of people are easily guided into supporting practices that threaten not only a sensible way of life but the physical well being of our planet. Simply said, too many Americans are easy to dupe.

How can we expect a voting population who does not know the first thing about sophistry or techniques of manipulation to see through rhetoric slingers like the Tea Party, Fox News and the like?
We can’t!

It’s painfully obvious that many Americans desperately need to be educated as to the ways of those who work to manipulate them, but how do we get it done? Like driving and sexual prowess most people are pretty prideful about their abilities when it comes to who to trust, so it’s doubtful a direct approach is going to do much. I’ve written a fun and informative book on the basics titled Two Legged Snakes: Understanding and Handling Manipulative People to contribute to overcoming this problem but the book sales and radio shows I’ve been able to generate are attacking an oceanic size problem with a paper cup. Like a Chihuahua trying to direct a stampeding herd of wildebeests.
A logical long term step towards resolving this problem is to make a class such as ‘Participating in the American Political Process’ a requirement in High School. The types of manipulation that are currently the most problematic are very simple and could easily be taught to anyone who’s capable of driving a car. Speaking of cars, we require drivers to obtain a drivers license and periodically renew it, what about a voting license? A 20 question, multiple choice test could filter out voters who don’t know the first thing about methods of manipulation and are thus vulnerable to being duped by the nefarious. A simple booklet could be used to explain the basics & the test could be taken as many times as needed so any sincere voter could vote. A compulsory $2 ‘voter education’ tax could be added to our yearly filings to pay for it, easier said than done but possible.
Any solution to this problem is going to be difficult to implement but if it’s not confronted and we just complain about ‘dumb voters’, the foxes will continue to have too much access to the chicken coop. And that will certainly end up stepping on the toe’s of our right to the pursuit of happiness, and perhaps life and liberty as well.
We’ve got to figure out what to do with this frikin elephant.

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