3 Nov 2013

Elephant in the room

Sunity Maharajh has written a brilliant editorial in TT Express 2013-11-02 on an issue which the Captain touched recently.

It is about perceptions of a Prime Minister having a drink (i.e. alcohol problem) – which the PM has dismissed.

The Captain has responded as follows:

Sunity, your article is carefully worded - leaning towards the moral high ground - whilst avoiding an accusation/allegation that the Prime Minister is an alcoholic.
It is well considered to encourage 'anyone' who has an alcohol problem to face their demons.
However, you have stepped well outside of your presumed expertise - and I do not know that you are an expert in addictions or mental health problems - which alcoholism is.
Yes - alcoholism is a 'disease'. However - there are biological and psychosocial determinants which underpin what may be taken as weaknesses. You can review genetic, familial and psychosocial determinants in your own time.
It is fair comment all over the blogosphere, that the PM recently appeared to be 'out of it' or 'out of touch' in a recent public address. Political leaders have been well known to nurse and hide alcohol problems - and readers can befriend Google to find out more. By the nature of political office, there are particular stresses that predispose individuals to depend on alcohol - even if they are not of lesser moral fibre than average persons. The fact is that they take on far greater pressures than people with even greater moral fibre. Let us not forget that even religious leaders may suffer with alcohol problems - and they are closer to Gord and must be presumed to be of greater moral fibre than most.
Alcoholism amongst political leaders and those of celeb status is particularly difficult to treat.
Firstly there is a need for secrecy - because the 'image' of strong leader will be smashed simply by an admission. In the case of political leaders - it may be incompatible with continuance of holding office - on grounds of health (or ill-health).
Secondly, those surrounding the loved leader will think that they know how best to advise. In reality most of the time their strategies will be coloured by the same need to maintain political power. In the end the leader is actually sacrificed - but only comes to realisation of the unconscious plot at a late stage. After all the afflicted person has to trust those around them. It could well be a no win scenario.
Other political leaders have suffered illnesses as well. The unwritten history is that whole wards in St. Ann's Hospital had been cleared on occasion - a fact that officials will deny. [I am not referring to any recent issue in relation to the PM - at all].
There is also a sort of pseudo-martyrdom syndrome that affects some leaders. This is where they decide that it is altruistic to continue on the same path until some perceived acceptable end - knowing that lovely words will be written on their epitaph - a sort of self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Alcoholism is therefore a political disease as well - but I doubt that many medical doctors are trained to manage alcoholism in that realm. I'd expect doctors to do what they have been taught to do - which is to use their usual bio-psychosocial models. Unfortunately - the likelihood of success is not good. The treatment of alcohol problems requires a good degree of openness - and that's very unlikely to be found in the corridors of power. Very sad indeed.”