Thoughts of Phillip Seymour Hoffman

PSHI remember seeing the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman for the first time in Twister in which he stole several scenes. Since then, he has clearly made his mark on stage and screen including attaining the coveted Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role. Since his untimely death only a few days ago, the internet has been a place of much discussion and debate regarding the nature of drug addiction. I want to offer some thoughts here. We must not tag wrong behaviors with legitimizing terminology, even with the best intentions. It is discouraging to read web articles that express the idea that Hoffman’s brain would not allow him to make the right choices. If one has a quasi-scientific excuse for wrong behavior, then one is free from responsibility and/or culpability and more importantly–he is stuck in a trap. There is far more encouragement and hope for the person who understands that since he has gotten himself into a mess, he can get himself out. Labels like “disease” “disorder” or “addiction” really trap the person into a hopeless corner. Moreover, these terms provide excuses for things such as drunkenness or getting high; thereby releasing one from responsibility. Granted, choosing to use substances becomes easier over time because it has become habitual but the choices are in no way a final snare as some have purported. Once someone begins creating new habits, one can begin to climb out from frequent use of substances. Addicts do have a way out and in Hoffman’s case, it would have been hard but not impossible. I offer Mark Shaw’s “The Heart of Addiction” and Edward Welch’s “Addictions:A Banquet In The Grave” as resources to stimulate your thinking in this area.

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