27 Chapters
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20. Drugs: Dependence on an Unreliable Container

Williams, Arthur Hyatt Karnac Books ePub

In considering an individual drugtaker, one is confronted with a need to consider preexisting psychopathy, character structure, and the development of that person. There is also the need to discern and study the modifications that have resulted from the effect of the drug(s) taken over time.

Even before the efflorescence of drug use in modern societies, audiorities such as Simmel, Rado, Glover, and others, working as far back as the 1930s, recognized several constant characteristics that could be delineated and agreed upon:

1. The psychic use to which the drug is put is more important uian the choice of the drug itself.

2. The underlying cyclothymic personality of the user is significant, but it is generally agreed mat it is not quite like manic-depressive illness. The foregoing workers, and later, in I960, Herbert Rosenfeld, underlined certain similarities but also differences between the drug addict and the manic depressive.

3. The struggle between life and death instincts was tilted toward death, but in the main, the conflict remained unresolved.

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26. Life-Threatening Illness

Williams, Arthur Hyatt Karnac Books ePub

An individual’s life cycle can be, and sometimes is, threatened by an illness that could prove to be fatal. In the past, such fatalities were by no means uncommon. Since the proliferation of more and more effective chemotherapeutic agents and antibiotics, the scene has altered dramatically, so that diseases hitherto known to be killers have been brought within the realm of effective life-preserving treatment. I am thinking especially of pneumonias, tuberculosis, and severe streptococcal infections. We have also, however, been confronted by other diseases, of the heart and lungs, for example, which by and large are due to cigarette smoking, alcohol, diet, and so on. In recent years there has been the HIV illness that segues into AIDS. Many who are afflicted by life-threatening illnesses appear to have developed a special kind of splitting in which the destructive parts of themselves are expressed by means of the illness, while the creative part is left fairly free to be expressed in work, art, poetry, or other often impressive ways.

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8. Escalating Violence

Williams, Arthur Hyatt Karnac Books ePub

Anyone who stands at the edge of a sandy cove will have noticed how the power and fury of a stormy sea expends itself as the broken wave runs up the sloping sand and then gendy runs back down the beach, leaving a smooth expanse of sea-washed shore. This is what happens in ordinary circumstances with the ebb and flow of the tidal cycle. Under some conditions, however, forces such as cyclones, storms acting upon the sea, eardiquakes, or other volcanic actions stir the depths. They infuse a more inexorable menace into the situation, so that instead of losing power and slowly flowing back into the matrix of origin, each successive wave, more powerful than its predecessor, escalates the violence, sometimes to the destructive crescendo of a tidal wave.

Violence is an essential part of each one of us and, like the sea, it can run a benign course or it can escalate to a dangerous and destructive crescendo. An example of nondestructive violence is a man I saw who fainted and fell into fairly deep water. I was on the point of jumping in to save him when my colleague, a man so slow and gende in ordinary life that we liked to call him “the sleeping clergyman,” was in the water before me. His organized se-quence of violence ended with successful artificial respiration and the relatively quick recovery of the man. When things were calm, I mentioned that his rapid, life-saving, violent action seemed to contradict his everyday behavior. My colleague replied, “It had to be done. I don’t expend energy unnecessarily.”

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6. The Nature of Aggression

Williams, Arthur Hyatt Karnac Books ePub

Aggression consists of the use of force to express feelings and to achieve aims. It is used to intimidate, to impress, to manipulate, and sometimes to subjugate other people and the environment and the various things contained in it. In former times the vanquished, whether other human beings or animals, were not necessarily killed but were enslaved so that they became subordinate factors and aids to achieve the further aims of the victor. Aggression is used for purposes of self-preservation and in the service of species preservation. It is used at times to save, rescue, and defend. These functions contrast markedly with the opposite functions mentioned above, namely, to dominate, to annihilate, or simply to seize and use. Aggression thus has a positive developmental function as well as a predatory function exercised for egotistic purposes, usually to the detriment of other people.

Pathological Aggression

These two aspects of aggression might be termed as normal parameters, but in addition to these there is a kind of aggression that from the first is essentially pathological. In this type of aggression, which may be characteristic for the particular individuals who use it as the habitual currency of their interpersonal relationships, there is violence and destructiveness beyond the need of the task in hand. Some of these people smolder sullenly for long periods of time only to burst out into flagrant aggressiveness in an episodic way for adequate or sometimes totally inadequate reasons. The important point is that the severity of the explosion into aggrievement gready exceeds the provocation that triggered it off. This suggests that something rather like a time bomb inside an aggressive kind of individual is so situated or anchored within the psyche that certain kinds of provocation can detonate it. Sometimes the detonating agent seems minimal and totally inadequate.

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19. Victims and Victimology (II)

Williams, Arthur Hyatt Karnac Books ePub

Someone said to Oscar Wilde, “Each man tries to kill the thing he hates.” Wilde replied, “No, each man kills the thing he loves.” Both these statements express an aspect of the truth. The hated aspect poses a threat, is experienced as a persecutor, and is a conscience arouser. It is an enemy of one’s own peace of mind and of success in life. In extreme examples in literature and in history, one finds that the categories into which the activities of a nonmitigator of murderous impulses fall are few in number. Oedipus Rex, Cain and Abel, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, followed by Orestes and Clytemnestra, all exhibit patterns that one can discern in repeated murderous actions over millennia. Roughly, they can be matched with the states of mind of the respective villains—envy, jealousy, greed, suspicion, retaliation, revenge, or, more psychologically, paranoia. In addition, there is the confusion between a hunting approach and an amorous, courtship one, as if the two currents of human endeavor had not been sufficiendy differentiated. At base, the problem in Shakespeare’s Othello demonstrates the military dilemma: how to proceed, from within a warm, “homosexual” pattern of military comradeship, to a quite different kind of pat-tern, that of family relations and development. Under “attack”—a military kind of attack by Iago—Othello resorts to a military ruth-lessness in his attempt to settle his domestic problems, but is tactically outmaneuvered by Iago.

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