Monday, March 21, 2005

We the Enablers

Dada sez:

Reading "Bush on the Couch" by Justin A. Frank. It's entertaining in that it's helping me to learn more about who I am. Perhaps you've known an alcoholic and, if so, how those closest to 'em tacitly support their illness by enabling it. You know? You don't want to upset 'em for fear of upsetting the family status quo; of triggering an excuse for them to drink or binge.

As Frank says....

As the unrecovered alcoholic father busily juggles anxieties in his constant struggle to avoid reaching for a drink, the status quo on which he depends eventually expands to include the entire family unit. When the family is threatened (by anything other than the father's alcoholism), all emphasis is directed toward finding a short-term solution that will preserve the stability of family life, often to the detriment of all other areas. This happens whether the threat is real or imaginary; the alcoholic's damaged internal reality determines the entire family's perception of material reality.

The model of an alcoholic family dynamic bears a telling similarity to the way much of our nation has behaved under George W. Bush--especially since the attacks of September 11. At times, the country has seemed to act like a family with an abstinent, untreated alcoholic at is head, overreacting to vaguely perceived threats by rushing out to buy duct tape or fretting over color-coded alarms. Once the crisis passes, Bush shifts the focus to another alleged danger closer to home--such as the threats to the social fabric posed by gay marriage or stem cell research. Like the alcoholic father who is threatened by the independence of his family members, Bush demands absolute loyalty and conformity, trying to freeze his national family in time--preferably a time before gays demanded their right to marry and women their right to abortion.

Whew! Okay, so now I understand why Bush stacks the press room with a softball reporter here and there. (I noticed at least one in his latest press conference who should be checked out!) Why the media adorns kid-gloves and walks on eggshells in questions they ask of him. Why he uses taxpayers' money to create phony "news" run on local stations across the country (i.e., throughout the "house") Why his trips around the country--"house"--selling his public relations job on his latest "emergency" are attended by his most approving loyalists (family members). No dissent permitted. Why demonstrators are not allowed within sight of "Daddy." Woe be to those who challenge him. Ask those who've dared. The reality constructed from the anxieties of Bush's untreated pathologies (we're not even mentioning his ADHD here) cannot handle real world issues.

So Bush is a dry drunk*. In his case, he found his "cure" sans Alcoholics Anonymous. (It came through Jesus according to Frank). But the anxieties swimming just beneath the surface that cry for a drink are always lurking. And I am a member of his family that enables him! As I look around the "house", so many of my brothers and sisters are adorned in kid gloves. They walk on eggshells. Bush'll be okay. We'll be okay too. Just so long as we don't piss him off.

* Traits of a dry drunk: "Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity; Grandiose behavior; A rigid, judgmental outlook; Impatience; Childish behavior; Irresponsible behavior; Irrational rationalization; Projection Overreaction" .....from "Dry Drunk" Syndrome and George W. Bush, Katherine van WORMER.

See also, "Bush on the Couch" a book by Justin A. Frank