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"Dry Drunks" and Foreign Policy

 
 
Noddy24
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2003 12:54 pm
A friend forwarded me a column from last Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle by Katherine van Wormer, a professor of Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa and co-auther of "Addiction Treatment: A Strength's Perspective" (Wadsworth, 2003).

A quick summary:

She suggests that GWB's foreign policy may have been influenced by "Dry Drunk Syndrome"; that while he is sober now, his brain chemistry may well have been affected by his years as a party animal.

Characteristics of Dry Drunk Syndrome include: grandiosity, serotonin in the brain causing obsessiveness, and black and white thinking.

So as not to inconvenience browsers passing by, I'll post the text of the article below.

What do you think?
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2003 12:54 pm
As promised, the text:


BRAIN CHEMISTRY
The Serotonin Factor
Bush's 'dry drunk' thinking

Katherine van Wormer Sunday, May 25, 2003







On the surface, the launching of war in the Middle East to rid the world of a ruthless tyrant and gain control of rich oil resources seemed to make some sense. Scratch below the surface, however, and the price began to seem absurdly high financially, politically and socially.

So the question was: Why? Why the war? Protesters the world over chanted "No blood for oil," but some political analysts and commentators are probing deeper, searching Bush's psyche for the true explanation. Before the invasion of Iraq began, I became struck by certain traits of the president's personality that were highly familiar to me. The familiarity was based on the years I had spent providing substance abuse treatment and researching the dynamics of addictive thinking.

Brain studies reinforce what recovering alcoholics and their counselors have been saying for years: Long-term alcohol and other drug use changes the chemistry of the brain.

RIGIDITY IN THINKING



These anomalies in brain patterns are associated with a rigidity in thinking; both harm reduction and Alcoholics Anonymous treatment approaches focus on helping people in recovery work on their destructive thought processes.

"Dry drunk" is a slang term used to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking, but whose thinking is clouded. Such an individual is said to be dry but not truly sober; such an individual tends to go to extremes.

It was when I started noticing the extreme language that colored President Bush's speeches that I began to wonder. First there were the terms -- "crusade, " "infinite justice" -- that were later withdrawn. Next came "evildoers," "axis of evil," "regime change" -- terms that have almost become cliches. Something about the polarized thinking and the obsessive repetition reminded me of many of the recovering alcoholics and addicts I had treated.

FURTHER INSIGHTS



Hundreds of people, many of them in recovery from alcoholism, have written 'Aha" letters and provided additional insights to the hypothesis: "I spotted it right away -- he's a dry drunk." Or: "He needs to work on his issues."

Consider the most commonly delineated traits of irrational thinking known as "dry-drunk syndrome" and how closely they match Bush's personality characteristics.

GRANDIOSITY



Exaggerated self-importance and grandiose behavior: Unlike most others in this category, the president of the United States possesses awesome power. The way he uses it is another matter. Consider Bush's readiness to inflict "regime change" on another nation without any consideration that other nations might dare to do the same. His sense is of a divine mission to see that evil is punished.

As governor of Texas, Bush presided over hundreds of executions; in Iraq he ordered the firing of thousands of missiles into populated areas.

All-or-nothing thinking: This narrow and moralistic world view relates to extreme behaviors of indulgence and risk-taking. Because of the destructiveness of this either/or pattern of thinking in addicts, the treatment focus is placed here.

Bush's "black and white thinking," his view of the world in terms of good and evil, is evidenced in both speech and actions. "Either you're with us or you're with the enemy" is a favorite theme.

SEROTONIN IN THE BRAIN



Obsessiveness: This trait, related to levels of serotonin in the brain, is manifest as an inability to let go, the determination to pursue one path, whatever the cost.

Consider that Bush has been out to "get Saddam" since shortly after the events of Sept. 11. Consider also the extent to which he has been driven to accomplish his recent mission to the disregard of almost everything else.

I trace Bush's obsession over Iraq, in part, to his struggles growing up in the shadow of his much more successful father.

Sent away to the very New England prep school where his father's accomplishments were still remembered, the younger Bush became better known for his pranks than athletic or academic achievements. His later drinking bouts, arrests, and much later religious conversion are well documented. In Iraq, Bush junior had a unique opportunity to finish the job his father was criticized for failing to do -- to "take out" Saddam.

A PERSONAL CRUSADE



Going after Iraq became a personal crusade.

The man who knows George W. best, the person most familiar with his rashness of thought, recently sent him a message. In a speech at Tufts University, George Bush Sr. emphasized the need for the United States to maintain close ties with Europe and the United Nations. "You've got to reach out to the other person," he advised. If only George W. would.

Katherine van Wormer is professor of social work at the University of Northern Iowa. She is co-author of "Addiction Treatment: A Strength's Perspective" (Wadsworth 2003).
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2003 01:02 pm
Being that the woman never talked to Bush himself, has no clue how or when decisions were made and even if Bush actually made any of them and attributes actions to Bush that he had zero control over it looks to me like she's just another Bush-basher trying to make her personal political angst sound professionally plausible.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2003 01:06 pm
I think that the fact that Mr. Bush managed to overcome the alcohol addiction is rather a positive than a negative feature of his personality. It shows that this man has a strong willpower, and any leader needs such a feature.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2003 01:14 pm
My mother has taught social work for almost 40 years and was director of her faculty as well, and I think even she would consider this a flimsy theory if not completely bogus. I grew up listening to her complain about how many bad social workers there are out there, and bad social work teachers, who themselves cling to a single issue, inflate it to grandiose proportions, and make it their life's effort. Hmm....Ms. van Wormer may want to look at herself first.
0 Replies
 
rjwatrous
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 10:48 am
"Brain studies reinforce what recovering alcoholics and their counselors have been saying for years:..."

Sounds to me like old drunks and their counselors think alike.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 12:33 pm
fishin' wrote:
Being that the woman never talked to Bush himself, has no clue how or when decisions were made and even if Bush actually made any of them and attributes actions to Bush that he had zero control over it looks to me like she's just another Bush-basher trying to make her personal political angst sound professionally plausible.


Whereas i believe your analysis to be very plausible, i wanted to let you know how hilarious i found this at first. I personally feel that Bush usually "has no clue how or when decisions are made . . . "

heeheeheeheeheeheeheeheeheehee . . .

just a little Shrub bashin', nothin' too terrible . . .
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 06:08 pm
I wonder what she would have said about Winston Churchill,?
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 May, 2003 06:29 pm
Churchill was full on drunk...that's probably not her 'crusade', lol.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 May, 2003 06:41 am
IRMC
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 May, 2003 06:50 am
I must admit, I am not sure what IRMC means, but I found this interesting link: http://irmc-online.tripod.com/
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