Thursday, 18 August 2011

The main problem of the alcoholic ...

... centres in the mind.

Something will fail to go 'my way'. This will happen frequently, as the universe is, by nature, chaotic. There is some order (e.g. gravity), but we are part way through the process towards the establishment of order. There is a long way to go.

Consequently, I feel terrible, and I want to make sense of it. The idea of a chaotic universe is really quite frightening, especially if I value all sorts of external or imaginary things which are beyond my direct control.

So I deploy my mind to construct an interpretation of 'what just happened' that establishes some kind of order and sense.

First of all comes the evidence-gathering: out of all of the facts available, I will select just a few.

Then I will fill in the blanks, by assuming certain other facts (including other people's motivations and what they are saying to each other or doing behind my back). These are not, themselves, facts, but, to my mind, they serve just as well as real facts.

Then, I apply my perception of those 'facts'.

Did Sally leave the room or 'storm off'? Well, once I have applied my perception, I will start to believe my own narrative about the 'fact'. The real fact is that Sally left the room. The perception is that she stormed off. What is real?

Then we have interpretation. 'She stormed off because ...'.

And now we have a story. And that is really what it is: a story. But I believe the story to be the representation of reality.

It is not.

The story is a misinterpretation of a distorted perception of a fraction of the facts, which have been supplemented with other 'non-facts' of my own concoction.

Then I tell the story to everyone I know, and, because I am feeding them a particularly well-honed version, I can elicit from them precisely the response I want: 'yes. Aren't they awful? Aren't you innocent?' And, each time I tell the story, I distort it and refine it down to its essence.

And the character I am playing in this fairy tale is Snow White. Where it gets really perverse is the self-pity of being the Snow White who is the victim of her own personality, upbringing, character defects, etc.—even when the finger is pointed inwards, the distortion is so great there is no real humility, because I have built a version of myself which is beyond help.

Why would anyone do this?

Well, I'm not a psychologist. But I do know that I can perversely find implacable, inexorable, unfixable doom (especially doom which is your fault) more comforting than randomness or chaos. In particular I can find victimhood appealing.

If the universe is chaotic by nature, there is no hope of controlling my life.

If my life is the way it is because of your wrongdoing, then the crime-and-punishment model (I identify what crime you have committed and punish you in order to mend your ways) offers hope—hope of control.

And who is in charge of the universe then?


"We had to quit playing God. It didn't work." (62:3, Alcoholics Anonymous)

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