Sunday, April 13, 2008

Denial is Not a River in Egypt

Of all the evils that man commits perhaps the greatest of all is the tendency to blame others for one's misfortunes. In psychiatric jargon the mechanism of such blaming results from denial. Denial, the most primitive of the maladies to inflict the human mind is a stubborn resistance to recognition of one's own contribution to a negative set of circumstances. Perhaps the most frequent and familiar example known to most of us is the disease of alcoholism. Alcoholics deny the existence of abuse of alcohol in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary. Denial as the major factor in the disease process extends to other members of the alcoholic's family unit and friends. The wife says 'he is tired, depressed or just under pressure' when questioned about excessive use of alcohol in causing family chaos. Friends who drink with the alcoholic are quick to reject (deny) the notion that alcohol is a problem because they, too, suffer from the same malady. It is always some outside force that is blamed for the situation until the damage becomes so great and the circumstances so obvious that everyone surrounding the alcoholic, except the alcoholic, realizes what is going on. The successful treatment of alcoholism requires as a fundamental first step an acknowledgment by the alcoholic that he is powerless over the effects of alcohol in his life. In other words, the key to success is the removal of denial in the role of alcohol. This acknowledgment is at the heart of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, a program recognized universally as the most successful in allowing alcoholics to achieve recovery. While the first step is absolutely crucial it is by no means the cure to alcoholism. One can stop drinking, but it is not until the role of denial in one's life is thoroughly vetted and addressed can one be said to be in a good recovery state.

I have gone into detail on denial because it is my opinion that understanding its nature is essential to comprehend what is going on in the Bush administration. We know that Bush has demonstrated the past characteristics of alcoholism. He has generally admitted to a drunk driving conviction and the turn to religion to make the commitment to stop drinking as urged by his wife. While this is an excellent gesture and, on its face, needs to be commended, it is by no means complete in terms of what needed to be done for his recovery from the disease process itself. Remember that the key to understanding alcoholism is the role of denial. Most simply put, Bush is in an obvious state of denial about everything he has done which has caused havoc in our country. He is oblivious to the impact of his alcoholic thinking with regards to Iraq and this country's economic conditions. When cornered he is always quick to blame others, the media, Democrats, etc. for what has happened. Without a doubt he is the strangest president in the history of the United States. His strangeness comes from the fact that his denial is stubbornly in place. Only a man who is in denial could have done what he has done to our country. Remember back in his last campaign for the presidency when he was asked to name one thing he had thought he had done wrong. He was unable to do so. I rest my case. In the past I have argued for his impeachment, but given the lateness of the day in terms of the remaining length of his presidency it probably will not happen. It should happen. As his sense of urgency about leaving a legacy escalates, his conduct could drive our country into greater and greater chaos. It's a shame for the country and for him personally that our collective denial has lasted so long.

No comments: