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June 17, 2010

Complicit Denial

A favorite theme of psychologists and psychiatrists committed to the “addiction” model of disease is that denial is an invidious mechanism by which addicts avoid confronting their need for therapy. Such thinking dovetails very neatly with the (false) 20th Century model of coerced treatment that began with the Harrison Act in 1914 and has since gradually evolved into a “war” on drugs with essential help from the US Supreme Court, President Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury, and President Richard Nixon.

A mainstay of drug war thinking is that the only acceptable drugs are those approved by the FDA and prescribed by physicians. Self medication with “drugs of abuse,” especially for mental symptoms, gradually became a crime requiring intervention by the criminal justice system; also a major argument for a prohibition policy (euphemistically labeled Drug Control). Another mainstay of drug war dogma is that the optimal goal of treatment is total abstinence.

My almost nine-year experience taking clinical histories from chronic cannabis (“marijuana”) users seeking to become “medical” under existing law has decisively altered my own beliefs. Rather than seeing pot prohibition as a reasonable policy as I once did (when my children were adolescents), I have become convinced that it's delusional nonsense based on a dangerous denial of obvious reality, one most humans have been brainwashed into believing.

Well beyond that, I also think our human capacity for denial is one of our species' most dangerous characteristics. Perhaps once a useful tool for keeping differences of opinion from generating conflict when our numbers were small, it has become dangerously outmoded; precisely because both our numbers and our capacity for self-generated disasters are now among our greatest hazards.

Ironically, current events, both in the Gulf of Mexico and along our Mexican border provide worrisome examples. On land, it’s the amnesia of both governments for the lessons of Al Capone and Chicago as they vow to "crack down" on cartels fighting to control lucrative smuggling corridors for “bammer” being carried across the desert by expendable human “mules.”

Out at sea, it’s the real-time drama that began over eight weeks ago when an oil rig exploded, an accident apparently neither the Petroleum Industry nor its government “regulators” ever thought possible. Nor did the public,including this observer, even know drilling has been going on for years at depths where ambient pressures limit human activity to robot devices.

Finally, the best evidence for denial is that the first concern I've heard or seen expressed since day one about the enormous risk of economic catastrophe represented by an uncontrolled gusher was last evening.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 17, 2010 07:36 PM