Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

I Kid Because I Love - I Didn't Really Mean We Should Bomb Spain!

European drinking

I wrote a post titled, End Alcoholism - Bomb Spain, focusing on the different attitudes Americans and Southern Europeans have towards alcohol. They allow kids to drink, while we believe youthful drinking causes alcoholism.

Fundamental cultural differences like that prove to me that attitudes influence psychological reality. But Americans don't believe that - we figure that what happens here is ordained in heaven, or in the science lab, which is pretty much the same thing to us.

I pointed up this solecism by playing the ugly American in my post and suggesting Europeans were dumb. Since I didn't think anyone would believe I would seriously propose blowing up Spain in a blog for Psychology Today, I thought people would find my post funny. And there were my additional recommendations, like that people not let their kids talk to Italians and Greeks to avoid being corrupted.

Wrong. Ten comments were posted expressing various reactions. The first anonymous comment expressed total confusion: "Is this a joke? Maybe I missed the point."

When the second came in "You Go Stanton!" I figured I was out of the woods. Wrong again. The next post, rather than focusing on my harebrained scheme to bomb Europe, focused on my hare brain. (No offense to rabbit lovers intended!) Gentle Path noted that, while in treatment, he or she learned that sarcasm was deflected anger. And although Gentle found my book "helpful at a difficult time in my life," he or she was now reconsidering this in light of my dubious mental health.

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But worse was yet to come. Paco, who IS Spanish, really took offense, titling his comment "You are ignorant." I responded that Paco must have misunderstood me - I didn't want to drop anti-personnel bombs on Spain, just to defoliate the country to prevent their growing grapes.

Despite my addiction to sarcasm, Paco caught my humor, and forgave me: "I laugh now with your sarcasm sharing with my little 16-year sister a big cup of red wine. Grapes will resist your radiactives nukes and next harvest I will send you a bottle." (Note to Paco - still waiting for that bottle.)

Okay, now surely I was home free. Wrong, oh so wrong. The latest comment arrived from Sophie, titled, "I am shocked by what I just read!" Sophie then recapitulated the argument I actually thought I was making, that cultural variations disprove the reductive reality Americans attribute to our own prejudices, and that the Southern European style of teaching kids to drink is actually superior to our own.

She went on to take my ugly American persona literally, declaring at the end of four lengthy paragraphs, "But of course all this coming from a 19 year old British university student of British/French heritage who regularly drinks won't matter to you at all [in my blog I described drinking with my 20-year-old college-student daughter], I need to 'get with the programme', I'm just too 'dumb' to understand."

Sophie - I love you! I hereby, with the power vested in me as a PT blogger, declare you Director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.* I also promise to share the wine Paco sends me with you when we meet!**

• Note to NIAAA: This is a joke.
• Note to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - I'm not really going to accept illegally imported alcohol.
• Note to INS - I don't really plan to facilitate an underage foreign national's consumption of alcohol.
• Note to everyone else I have offended without even knowing it - I'm entering sarcasm rehab next month!

Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! and developer of the online Life Process Program. He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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