We love our buzzwords, we do, we do. We glom onto an expression or term and then we begin to apply it to virtually anything that might apply, no matter how tenuous the connection might be.
One such word is: Dysfunction, and its adjective, Dysfunctional. In certain ‘helping’ circles nobody is ever a drunk, a pervert, a druggie, a thug, or just a plain asshole. Everybody is dysfunctional.
And, if a person is dysfunctional, he or she likely came from a dysfunctional ‘family-of-origin’ (another au courant cliché reference), so they are cursed down all their generations.
I probably use the term too much myself, mainly because I used to be in one of those damn ‘helping’ circles, providing whatever skills I might have as an addictions counsellor. Not that I didn’t feel the work was important – it was and is – but it was just that in my mind a client I was dealing with was really a ‘crackhead asshole’ (by his behavior, at least), which seemed more realistic than, “Oh yes, Fred is dysfunctional to a degree.” Bob is dysfunctional in every respect, damnit. Fred does no functioning at all other than scoring and going back to the pipe.
And the silliness continues to permeate the ‘sweetness-and-light’ brigade that is currently mounting a campaign over on these shores based on a bit of London inspired naïve nonsense with the slogan: “Nice People Take Drugs.” Welcome to the ‘anti-stigma brigade! It is designed to stop us being mean to the crackhead who is ripping off your TV. In a pig’s eye, I say. People in active addiction are ‘not’ nice people. At heart they may be ‘nice’, but based on my therapeutic experience, they are not nice when they are using. So, back to dysfunction.
Dysfunction is intended to be a ‘gentler’ term, as is the bullshit ‘niceness’ campaign. But, dysfunction is in its own way actually a bit harsher and more judgmental in that it tends to indict the so-described as being virtually valueless in all areas of his or her being.
Fred, he can’t function. No, as long as Fred isn’t addressing his addiction, he can’t function very well. And as long as Fred isn’t addressing his addiction he will have to bear with the stigma. Goes with the territory. I’ve known not a few addicts who kicked. They revert to their default which rendered them charming and intelligent people, and no longer dysfunctional nor carrying a stigma. Choices, y’see.
Of course the person who flew in the face of all the aforementioned indictments was Hunter S. Thompson. One of the great minds of our time was the ‘Doctor’, scribe of Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing tomes and so much more. I cannot help — being the age I am and doing what I do – being in awe of his creative genius.
But, he was also a madman. He was also a hopeless alcoholic. He was also a hopeless drug addict. And as the years went by he got more and more out of control. He got away with ‘everything’ in his day because he was a legend and everybody loved him.
I am currently reading an intriguing book called ‘Gonzo’ which is a series of anecdotal accounts of the man by everybody from George McGovern, to Jack Nicholson, to Johnny Depp (who revered him) and many others It’s great. But as the seasons turned down all the years – despite the anecdotes of his outrageous behavior – like marching up to board a plane, beer in one hand, hash-pipe in the other, and being granted the right to board because of who he was.
But then, as the book evolves, reality intervenes. His physical health breaks down, is psychological health deteriorates, he loses his craft, and ultimately does what he perceives as his only option. He offs himself.
Such a loss. would he have been the creative force he was had he not been dysfunctional? I have no answer for that.
But I will say he was an anomaly. Most of us aren’t. Most of us are like Fred.