While working on a paper, I often collect cigar boxes of ideas and suggestions to be filtered later. Such is the case with my efforts to quantify the problems in our culture which seem so obvious to some and completely missed by others. My cigar box is labeled: "Delusional Normalcy Personality Disorder," and I started collecting ideas back in my college days regarding the need to be thought of as Normal in society. Since normalcy is really a relative term, depending upon the culture in which one lives, my research centered around the American culture. I never got around to writing that paper, but that cigar box has followed me for many years.
Today we have a multitude of pharmaceuticals to ease the pain of every-day survival. Pain-killers, mood altering drugs, fungicides, treatment drugs for illness, vitamins, minerals, sedating and stimulating chemicals enter your blood stream to change most any discomfort. I can imagine the television ad suggesting that if you feel yourself not-normal, consult your doctor. I believe it was Robin Williams who first suggested the concept of Fukitol, and while it won't correct much of anything, it relieves the anxiety of living outside the norm.
We live in a society of not only pharmaceutical drugs but also mental drugs, not taken into the bloodstream but absorbed by our mind-set. I have tried to list some of them below, but I'm sure I have missed many more.
We all grew up with our personal heroes - role models to be followed in order to live a rich and fulfilling life. Superman, The Green Hornet, Dick Tracy and Spider man all led the cause for social justice. In America we live with the idealization that we are the greatest country on the planet, we salute the flag as it is representative of our nation's greatness. American Exceptional-ism developed through the years, and now our claim that we are the best, smartest and the hardest working society, calms our fear of not being in control. Idealization is a tranquilizer for our mental processes that deadens fear and anxiety.
Rationalization is a drug:
To use logic in all situations is the goal of the thinking person. Some are fanatical about facts and figures, empirical evidence, and being correct. Rationalization allows the user to make up excuses for the failures which don't fit his/her logic. Rationalization allows the user to be correct even when he is not. Often used after the fact, rationalization is a mood-enhancing opiate drug that deadens any feeling about being wrong.
Cynicism is a drug:
Originally from the Greeks, cynics were thought to be "dogs." They were persons who hounded others about their desires for wealth, power, health and fame. They believed that the purpose of life was to live a life of virtue, free from the suffering caused by false judgment, customs, and convention. Cynicism today has developed into a religion-like belief that seeking truth through lies is not acceptable. "No" is always their first reaction to anything that does not promote virtue. Cynicism is a fungicide applied to convention.
Why do soldiers return to the theater of war operations time and time again ? It can be that they enjoy the adrenalin rush of living on the edge. Aggression is linked with testosterone and a lack of serotonin circulating in the bloodstream. Athletes enjoy the "high" they experience in competition and actively seek the rush felt in winning over others. Aggression is similar to meth-amphetamine - once hooked it is hard to do without it. Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors tend to mellow aggression in most people, but people who like the excitement of adrenalin seek it often and everywhere. Why else would someone jump out of a perfectly good airplane ?
Oppression is a drug:
Oppression is experienced as a consequence of an assumption that the given target is in some way inferior. Racism, sexism, and religion form the big three reasons for oppression. We tend to dehumanize, demonize, and scapegoat people who are different from ourselves, often resulting in aggression towards a targeted person or group. Oppression is the drug of powerful people or organizations (governments) which cannot accept the idea that all people have universal rights to freedom, liberty, property ownership, and the pursuit of happiness. Prejudice is the fuel of oppression. Oppression is a drug of power, a stimulant, and a steroid used to build an ideal society.
War is a drug:
War is a combination drug that aids the expression of power, oppression, aggression, idealization, and prejudice. War is the vitamin and mineral combination which feeds the military-industrial complex to be all that it can be. War is surely a racket; as some would suggest, it feeds our sense of righteousness, power, and dominance over others. Once tasted, war becomes as addictive as cocaine, even if we lose a few, we come back to war again. The drug of war soothes all our feelings of inferiority; it is a pain killer while inflicting killing pain on the oppressed.
Money is a drug:
Recent MRI studies have shown that the areas of the brain that become excited with the possibility of sex, become just as excited, perhaps even more so, with the possibility of amassing money and wealth. Most people cannot get enough money. Some will cheat, steal, and even kill if there is money to be made. Money is a drug that throws caution to the wind, making people reckless. Money is like a beta-blocker drug; it allows people to face normally scary situations with complete calm and composure. If you have money, you need not be afraid of anything. Money can buy your way out of jail; it can bring about the illusion of greatness and above the rip-rap of humanity.
Sex is a drug:
Feelings of acceptance - even if you have to pay for it, sex is a universal pacifier. Sex feeds the soul with warm feelings of being as good as the next guy/gal. Sex is like morphine, an alkaloid narcotic drug extracted from opium, a powerful, habit-forming narcotic used to relieve pain. Sex relieves stress; it improves blood flow and encourages an overall feeling of health and wellness.
Power is a drug:
Those who have been blessed with power over situations and others are reluctant to give it up. Power is like having super-human capabilities, that of being better than others and above the law. Power is the drug of choice in both the mafia and government. It is a steroid.
We maintain status as a measure of who we are. The more we have, the higher our status among others. Like narcotic drugs, status is addictive and can lead to our demise. Trying to keep up with the neighbors, status seekers often over extend themselves in seeking power, property, and happiness. Living a life on amphetamines often results in the severe pain of withdrawal, once our status is lost.
Religion is a drug:
Once coined as the "opium of the people," religion feeds the soul with hope and inspiration. Those addicted to religion are cuddled with love and acceptance, while at the same time living lives rejecting others for their beliefs and values. Religion is a hallucinogenic drug. Through religion we see things not as they are, but how we wish them to be. Religion breeds rationalization to our mis-deeds, and absolution allows those who sin against society a free pass.
Prayer is a drug:
Prayer is asking God, Alla, Buddha, or whoever is in charge to bend the rules of physics, natural consequences, and reaping what we sow for our benefit. Prayer is asking for special favors from a deity we turn to when we are in trouble. In Prayer we ask that 2+2 = 5; we ask that the dead are still alive;we ask that the natural consequences of our actions not be forthcoming. Prayer is like insulin to the diabetic; it allows us to continue our lives as if there was not a problem.