Dry Drunk" Syndrome and George W. Bush

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Dry Drunk" Syndrome and George W. Bush
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'"Dry Drunk" -- Is Bush Making a Cry for Help?'
Ordinarily I would not use this term. But when I came across the article '"Dry Drunk" -- Is Bush Making a Cry for Help?' in 'American Politics Journal' by Alan Bisbort, I was ready to concede ... in the case of George W. Bush, the phrase may be quite apt.

Dry drunk is a slang term used by members and supporters of Alcoholics Anonymous and substance abuse counselors to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking -- one who is dry, 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 First there were the terms -- "crusade" and "infinite justice" that were later withdrawn. Next came "evil-doers," "axis of evil," and "regime change," terms that have almost become cliches in the mass media.

Something about the polarized thinking and the obsessive repetition reminded me of many of the recovering alcoholics/addicts I had treated (a point worth noting is that because of the connection between addiction and "stinking thinking," relapse prevention usually consists of work in the cognitive area).

Having worked with recovering alcoholics for years, I flinched at the single-mindedness and ego and ethnocentricity in the President's speeches (my husband likened his phraseology to the gardener character played by Peter Sellers in the movie, Being There). Since words are the tools -- the representations -- of thought, I wondered what Bush's choice of words said about where he was coming from. Or where we would be going.

First, in this essay, we will look at the characteristics of the so-called "dry drunk" -- then we will see if they apply to this individual, our president -- and then we will review his drinking history for the record.

What is the dry drunk syndrome?

"Dry drunk" traits consist of:

Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity Grandiose behavior A rigid, judgmental outlook Impatience Childish behavior Irresponsible behavior Irrational rationalization Projection Overreaction

Clearly, George W. Bush has all these traits except exaggerated self-importance. He may be pompous, especially with regard to international dealings, but his actual importance hardly can be exaggerated. His power, in fact, is such that if he collapses into paranoia, a large part of the world will collapse with him. Unfortunately, there are some indications of paranoia in statements such as the following:

"We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends." The trait of projection is evidenced here as well, projection of the fact that we are ready to attack onto another nation which may not be so inclined.

Bush's rigid, judgmental outlook comes across in virtually all his speeches. To fight evil, Bush is ready to take on the world, in almost a Biblical sense. Consider his statement with reference to Israel: "Look my job isn't to try to nuance. I think moral clarity is important ... this is evil versus good."

Bush's tendency to dichotomize reality is not on the Internet list above, but it should be, as this tendency to polarize is symptomatic of the classic addictive thinking pattern. I describe this thinking distortion in 'Addiction Treatment: A Strengths Perspective' as either/or reasoning -- "either you are with us or against us." Oddly, Bush used those very words in his dealings with other nations. All-or-nothing thinking is a related mode of thinking commonly found in newly recovering alcoholics/addicts. Such a worldview traps people in a pattern of destructive behavior.

Obsessive thought patterns are also pronounced in persons prone to addiction. There are organic reasons for this due to brain chemistry irregularities; messages in one part of the brain become stuck there. This leads to maddening repetition of thoughts. President Bush seems unduly focused upon getting revenge on Saddam Hussein ("he tried to kill my Dad"), leading the country and the world into war, accordingly.

Grandiosity enters the picture as well. What Bush is proposing to Congress is not the right to attack on one country but a total shift in military policy: America would now have the right to take military action before the adversary even has the capacity to attack. This is in violation, of course, of international law as well as national precedent. How to explain this grandiose request? Jane Bryant Quinn provides the most commonly offered explanation in a recent Newsweek editorial, "Iraq: It's the Oil, Stupid." Many other opponents of the Bush doctrine similarly seek a rational motive behind the obsession over first, the war on terror and now, Iraq. I believe the explanation goes deeper than oil, that Bush's logic is being given too much credit; I believe his obsession is far more visceral.

On this very day, a peace protester in Portland held up the sign, "Drunk on Power." This, I believe, is closer to the truth. The drive for power can be an unquenchable thirst, addictive in itself. Senator William Fulbright, in his popular bestseller of the 1960s, 'The Arrogance of Power,' masterfully described the essence of power-hungry politics as the pursuit of power; this he conceived as an end in itself. "The causes and consequences of war may have more to do with pathology than with politics," he wrote, "more to do with irrational pressures of pride and pain than with rational calculation of advantage and profit."

Another "dry drunk" trait is impatience. Bush is far from a patient man: "If we wait for threats to fully materialize", he said in a speech he gave at West Point, "we will have waited too long." Significantly, Bush only waited for the United Nations and for Congress to take up the matter of Iraq's disarmament with extreme reluctance.

Alan Bisbort argues that Bush possesses the characteristics of the "dry drunk" in terms of: his incoherence while speaking away from the script; his irritability with anyone (for example, Germany's Schroeder) who dares disagree with him; and his dangerous obsessing about only one thing (Iraq) to the exclusion of all other things.

In short, George W. Bush seems to possess the traits characteristic of addictive persons who still have the thought patterns that accompany substance abuse. If we consult the latest scientific findings, we will discover that scientists can now observe changes that occur in the brain as a result of heavy alcohol and other drug abuse. Some of these changes may be permanent. Except in extreme cases, however, these cognitive impairments would not be obvious to most observers.

To reach any conclusions we need of course to know Bush's personal history relevant to drinking/drug use....

Full Article:

www.greenmac.com/World_Eve...drunk.html - fff , posted 01/18/05
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