Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Smells Like Caffeine Spirit

I first heard the term “addictive personality” in 1994, when my best friend’s brother was diagnosed as an alcoholic. The term made me curious. And, as befitted my status as a self-absorbed person, it made me self-conscious. Puritan that I was (am), I little understood how anyone could get hooked on nasty-tasting liquids or scary, mind-altering chemicals. My body seemed fragile enough without such intervention. (Heck, I threw up each time I took a birth control pill.) It took me a few more years and an ugly marriage finally to comprehend the impulse to expand and obliterate oneself.

But, back then, the “addictive personality” label made me reflective for two reasons. First, I wondered if those who developed addictions were actually a little more astute than the rest of us. Was it possible that what we lauded in the non-addicted as “better coping mechanisms” were, instead, better blinders, better calluses? (A romantic vision, perhaps, but one that still makes sense to me.) I also suspected that the person completely lacking in “addictive personality” would, in fact, be deadly dull. The people I love most are all compulsives of some sort—addicted in their sensitive, stubborn ways to reading, writing, learning, and art.

My friend’s strong brother has long since recovered now and made a good life for himself. He who still counsels folks in AA and NA wouldn’t want me to sugarcoat destructive addictions. And I don’t. But the older I get, the more I believe that every person harbors a secret catalog of cravings and dependencies. Some of these we’ll wrestle and suppress. But others—the socially acceptable sort—we’ll find useful as the kernel of an identity.


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Kevin Jackson said...

Well, this is interesting. I did a blog search for amount of caffeine in coffee and found your site. When I get some time I'll come back and find out where amount of caffeine in coffee appears and how it relates - if it even does. Take care - nice work.


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