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oppose drugs that treat these new "disorders" (bipolar, manic/depression, social anxiety).  I oppose them because I feel that the only reason doctors prescribe them is to make more money for the drug industry...i feel that human beings have the power to change whatever they want in their consciencesness if they choose the right system and structure their mind accordingly.

My father had bipolar disorder aka "manic/depression." It is caused by a brain chemistry imbalance, not something that can be fixed using conscious processes. Social anxiety is more dubious but more extreme cases may also be caused by chemical imbalances.

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Why would I want to, or need to, dull my mind and senses in order to socialize?

My thoughts too. None of the things I enjoy go better with impaired mental capacity. I don't enjoy the influence of alcohol on my mind, I just have the feeling that words come more slowly to me. I don't feel "happier" at all. Plus most alcohol just plain tastes bad to me, so it pretty much needs to be in a really good tasting mixed drink for me to be happy about drinking it. Occasionally I find a glass of wine to be not entirely unpleasant tasting, but I'd avoid drinking more than about one glass, to escape its mind-dulling effects.

The worst thing about socializing with alcohol is that most people around me become increasingly dumb without realizing it, start finding dull jokes humorous, etc. There's also inevitably someone who sees it as a mission to ensure that everyone gets as drunk as he is.

When I was younger, in college, socializing over coffee late at night, discussing ideas with friends, that was much more interesting than alcohol-based socializing. I knew an Objectivist who owned a coffee distribution company and ran the Tampa Bay Objectivist club, who was a big proponent of coffee as a mental stimulant. He was certainly a rapid and sharp thinker well into his sixties when I last saw him.

[Edit: Corrected the quotes.]

Edited by MisterSwig
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Rather than looking at social drinking as "purposefully dulling my senses," I think of it as an enjoyable way to lessen the inhibitions I otherwise have when it comes to accurately and honestly presenting some of my views.

Example: A friend of mine (actually a friend of a friend, but we get along fine) is a pretty staunch Democrat, but not for any principled ideological reasons. He's a member of the Bush-Hatin' club, and seems quick to buy into many of the shadowy conspiracies surrounding the eeeevil Bush administration. He'll be voting for Kerry on the grounds that Kerry isn't Bush.

Now, I've had talks with him while we're both stone-cold sober, and I almost always find myself backing down when he goes on the bizarro conspiracy-theory attack. I always, always feel bad about this afterward-- I feel like I've betrayed myself by not standing up for what I know is true, and for just timidly conceding whatever argument we'd been having. To quote George McFly: I just don't like confrontations.

However, when I've got a half-pint of Southern Comfort in me, I am much quicker on the responses, and much quicker to cut his nutty arguments down to their wacko, self-contradictory essentials and expose them for the nonsense they are. I challenge his statements because I feel like I have to, and I often feel pretty exhilarated doing it. In these cases I *enjoy* the confrontation, because I know that my statements are firmly rooted in reality and that I can back up anything I say.

So, is this immoral of me? Do I "use alcohol as a crutch" to make up for my inability to confidently stand by my views in the face of someone who I believe to be totally and utterly wrong (not about everything, but about politics)?

I have to admit I don't fully understand many Objectivists' aversion to any- and every substance that may in some way affect their mind. I hope it doesn't come from "Because Rand said not to." She knew perfectly well that cigarettes were detrimental to her health, yet she smoked anyway. For her, is that considered a "vice?" So, coffee is great because it sharpens up the ol' brain, but alcohol is awful because it turns you into a slobbering caveman?

In my case, I'm not talking about getting falling-down, lampshade-on-head drunk. But I am talking about drinking, and liking it. I tend to agree with those who call booze a "social lubricant."

And, in a certain sense, drinking reminds me of simply standing on your head. Have you ever looked at a familiar place, like a room in your house, while upside-down? It's (literally, heh) a whole different perspective-- you'll notice things that you hadn't before, and see sides of things that you hadn't previously considered. Since I'm sober more often than inebriated, substances that affect my mind can provide a rare, interesting, alternate perspective, and (this is the important part) without serving as a replacement for, or escape from, reality.

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Do I "use alcohol as a crutch" to make up for my inability to confidently stand by my views in the face of someone who I believe to be totally and utterly wrong (not about everything, but about politics)?

Sure sounds like that to me.

And, in a certain sense, drinking reminds me of simply standing on your head.
I could not have said it any better myself.

Since I'm sober more often than inebriated, substances that affect my mind can provide a rare,  interesting, alternate perspective, and (this is the important part) without serving as a replacement for, or escape from, reality.

Uh-huh.

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Rather than looking at social drinking as "purposefully dulling my senses," I think of it as an enjoyable way to lessen the inhibitions I otherwise have when it comes to accurately and honestly presenting some of my views.

It does dull the senses. Look it up. It also affects every cell of your body, most notably the brain.

An even more enjoyable way to lose your inhibitions is to seek the help of a psychologist to find out why you have these in the first place.

Are you saying that you do not honestly present your views unless you've had something to drink?

Now, I've had talks with him while we're both stone-cold sober, and I almost always find myself backing down when he goes on the bizarro conspiracy-theory attack. I always, always feel bad about this afterward-- I feel like I've betrayed myself by not standing up for what I know is true,
I'd feel bad too, I'd also feel bad that I needed something to get me to act the way my mind is telling I should act. That you need alcohol for integrity is not a good sign.

In these cases I *enjoy* the confrontation, because I know that my statements are firmly rooted in reality and that I can back up anything I say.

Are you saying that without alcohol, you are not sure that your statements are grounded in reality?

I have to admit I don't fully understand many Objectivists' aversion to any- and every substance that may in some way affect their mind. I hope it doesn't come from "Because Rand said not to." She knew perfectly well that cigarettes were detrimental to her health, yet she smoked anyway.
That is not the view that has been presented here. And the position that has been presented is not "Because Ayn Rand said not to." Aside from severe psychosis' man's mind comes ready made to grasp perceptually and conceptually the facts of reality (and for the enjoyment of life as well believe it or not). The different perspective in drug experiences is merely a distortion of some magnitude of some form whether it be subconscious, perceptual, emotional, cognitive, bio-chemical-you name it. Maybe what you are speaking at the time is not distorted (and this is the usual basis upon which one assures oneself that they are still "right with the world") but what you are bringing in through your senses and your mind's ability to deal with it and process it effectively is affected.

How long did you know Ayn Rand? She never said anything publicly about the dangers of smoking, so I am wondering what she told you.

So, is this immoral of me? Do I "use alcohol as a crutch" to make up for my inability to confidently stand by my views in the face of someone who I believe to be totally and utterly wrong (not about everything, but about politics)?

Now that you have named your problem to yourself so clearly, yes. The proper step would be to address the problem and attempt to fix it. Otherwise you are merely evading the problem which can result in established behaviour that will, over time, become harder to break.

I once wrote in a journal of mine that I forgot about, that my failure to resolutley quit my cigarette habit would have serious consequeces on my mental efficacy; mentally, psychologically and morally. I even enumerated the exact effects. Years later when I came across this entry again I was stunned (not only at my excellent insight into the problem, but also my horrific memory!) at how true it all came. Do not ignore long term cosequences of patterns of behaviour that you engage in.

Ps. This was not written by an Objectivist that has never touched a drink or anything. Although I do not touch anything other than coffee now, I have drank oceans upon oceans of beer and hosts of other crap, and blah, blah, blah...

Pps. Not only is there strictly sober, but there are actually sharper and sharper levels of focus and concentration, wider powers of integration, keener ability of analysis that can be acheived. That is the direction to go. Nothing but your own unaided rational mind can get you there.

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geoff27: Actually from what I have read (can't remember where) Ayn Rand quit smoking on the spot when her doctor told her it was bad for her. (Remember that this was decades ago, when the evidence for harmful effects was just coming out.)

Why would I want to, or need to, dull my mind and senses in order to socialize?

For me at least a few drinks, usually with food, just relax me a bit. It doesn't "dull my mind and senses."

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geoff27:  Actually from what I have read (can't remember where) Ayn Rand quit smoking on the spot when her doctor told her it was bad for her. (Remember that this was decades ago, when the evidence for harmful effects was just coming out.)

The version of that story that I read is that the doctor repeatedly told Ayn Rand that smoking is terribly bad for her health and she should quit and she defied the doctor to give her one good reason why she should quit and she didn't want to hear about statistics. The doctor showed her an xray of her lungs, showing cancer. Then she quit.

There was statistical evidence in Ayn Rand's time but she didn't accept it as valid evidence. But even without statistics, doctors even as far back as the 1800s were familar with the bad effects of smoking. I could list some of these doctors. Besides any person of common sense should know that breathing dirt is bad for lungs. If evidence is necessary, simple observation of what it does to oneself should be enough.

What puzzles me is, given Ayn Rand's reasoning, why did she quit? She got lung cancer, so what? That's only anecdotal evidence, even worse than statistical evidence.

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ThoydLoki:

"Are you saying that you do not honestly present your views unless you've had something to drink?"

No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that I am generally hesitant to confront someone face to face with my political views when they've told me theirs and I find myself disagreeing-- except when I've had a few drinks. I thought that was pretty clear.

ThoydLoki:

"An even more enjoyable way to lose your inhibitions is to seek the help of a psychologist to find out why you have these in the first place."

Do you mean to tell me that the desire to avoid potentially uncomfortable confrontations is so uncommon as to warrant psychological help?

ThoydLoki:"I'd feel bad too, I'd also feel bad that I needed something to get me to act the way my mind is telling I should act. That you need alcohol for integrity is not a good sign."
I'm curious as to how you arrived at that conclusion based on what was said in my post. Lacking integrity isn't part of anything I said. I don't lack integrity, nor would I search for it in a bottle. My post was about generally not wanting to get into arguments with people who are my friends, and simply being more inclined to do so with alcohol in me.

I'm having trouble understanding how my post could be so grossly misinterpreted, and admittedly rather suprised at the quick-to-judge nature of some of the responses. I don't pour drinks down my neck with the mindful purpose of confronting people, nor do I cower in fear of opposing viewpoints while sober. I'm saying that I have observed in myself the following pattern: I am more likely to correct, confront, and/or argue with someone with whom I disagree when I've been drinking, than when I haven't. For all intents and purposes, you can pretend my entire post was just that previous sentence.

I was just offering my two cents on the subject of "vices." I don't mind being judged, but I'd prefer if it's done based on information that is actually provided, not on ill-conceived conclusions.

I always know when my thoughts and opinions are grounded in reality. I don't always want to argue with people about them. Simple enough?

And stuff like:

ThoydLoki:

"How long did you know Ayn Rand? She never said anything publicly about the dangers of smoking, so I am wondering what she told you."

Is that really necessary? I mean, I could play the same card and ask you how you're certain that she never in her entire life spoke aloud to anyone any words regarding the dangers of smoking, but I won't, because that's ridiculously petty. Feel free to correct me on this irrelevant-to-my-point bit, but I was of the understanding that Rand smoked cigarettes while knowing that they were unhealthy. I would be utterly stunned to learn that she (or anyone who lived during her lifetime) was under the impression that cigarettes were totally harmless.

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While we intellectuals might damn alcohol because it lessens our mental abilities, it is a healthy and enjoyable thing when done in moderation. I don’t think that drinking should be a solution for physiological problems that are best dealt with at the source, so I don’t drink alcohol for such reasons. Alcohol is good for the digestion, good for your cardiovascular health, can taste really good (pleasurable), and if you are in the jungle can sterilize your water B) . Of course everyone has a different tolerance/reaction so people need to decide for themselves what moderation is - it might very well be not-at-all. All in all though the fact that I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or cup of sake while I’m watching anime is not a sign that I have problems, actually It's the life that makes the alcohol good - not the other way around.

I’m saying that not all drinking can be called bad, in the context of American culture today most of it probably is, however I won’t stand to be lumped with a group of people that should be buying a psychiatrist’s time and not a bottle of Southern Comfort (I don’t like that stuff :dough: ). Anyways, there is more to a drink than just the dulling of your senses.

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While we intellectuals might damn alcohol because it lessens our mental abilities, it is a healthy and enjoyable thing when done in moderation.

On the subject of alcohol in small quantities being healthy. Dr. Mercola pointed out a flaw in that study. The people who never in their lives tasted alcohol were put in the same category as those who used to get smashed and hit bottom and then quit, probably after they did some irreparable damage to their health. It should not be surprising that those who did no more than dainty wine tasting were on average healthier than those who wrecked their health and then quit.

A proper study would have separated those who never in their lives tasted alcohol and ex-alcoholics who now abstain.

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Dr. Mercola pointed out a flaw in that study.  The people who never in their lives tasted alcohol were put in the same category as those who used to get smashed and hit bottom and then quit, probably after they did some irreparable damage to their health.  It should not be surprising that those who did no more than dainty wine tasting were on average healthier than those who wrecked their health and then quit.

Cardiovascular disease is not caused by alcohol in any quantity (as far as I know), and I don’t think damaging your liver early on would matter much (in terms of cardiovascular disease - as far as I know). Cardiovascular disease involves the long term build up of plack in your arteries, so I don’t think that a splurge in college really would have much affect on it, it’s people who drink in moderation all the time vs. people that don’t. So long as nobody corrects my premises on cardiovascular disease I don’t consider Dr. Mercola’s criticism of the study a good debunking of it’s primary conclusions (I don’t know the other conclusions of that study that could be brought into question).

As I said though everyone has to be their own judge (or ask their doctor I guess) of their own moderation. I have some German blood… It flows better with Guinness. B) I also have some Scottish blood… :dough:

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Do you mean to tell me that the desire to avoid potentially uncomfortable confrontations is so uncommon as to warrant psychological help?

Since when is the commonality of a problem the issue? It is a very prevalent problem, but one that is still a problem.

You know most psychological problems (the exception being those induced by trauma) are not acquired overnight. You or I could have several potentially devestating ones in germination right now. Agoraphobics, for example, are not people that all of a sudden one day out of the blue shut themselves inside their house. They have a pattern of slow retreat over years and years. And, seemingly, before they know it, they can't get out of the corner they painted themselves in.

Now, such a person could have avoided this painful result by doing something to make them more brave in the world, but what remedy would result in a healthy psychology?

What I am saying is that alcohol used as a tool for anything-to get through anything-to enable you to acheive anything-is bad business. And it sets up a bad precedent of behaviour.

Have you ever pondered the parallels of legal precedent and psychological precedent? It is juicy. :dough:

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It would seem that the point I failed to make clearly was that I don't use alcohol as a tool to get me through confrontations, or to do anything else for that matter but enjoy myself. That is, I don't purposefully say, "I'm gonna drain this glass, and then I'll be able to debate my wacky Democrat friend." It's simply something I noticed --a rather well-known and obvious effect of alcohol, actually-- that I tend to handle confrontations more easily when drinking. "Well, duh" would be a perfectly appropriate reply to that statement.

In this particular case, I value maintaining a friendship (with someone who shares tons of my interests, political views being the exception) over confronting him and letting myself get angry or upset. I don't think that's terrible, or immoral, or worthy of psychological examination. I understand perfectly what you're saying about problems building up over time, etc. I just don't think this situation falls into that category. To put it bluntly... I've got my sh*t together, thanks in large part to Objectivism and the mental work I do in trying to integrate it into my life.

That having been said, I agree with GoodOrigamiMan when he says that alcohol is "a healthy and enjoyable thing when done in moderation."

As an aside, I'll mention that I also listen to quite a lot of loud rock and punk music, and enjoy watching violent horror movies... hobbies and interests that unfortunately confound many Objectivists. What can I say? Do such things automatically and axiomatically reflect in every instance a negative or disturbed sense of life? To some, the answer is unequivocally "yes." As far as I'm concerned, though, that's such a superficial application of Objectivist principles as to render worthless to me the opinions of those who denounce such hobbies on those grounds. Listening to classical music and watching science documentaries aren't prerequisites for having a healthy sense of life, and neither is abstaining completely from alcohol on the grounds that anything that impairs to any degree a person's otherwise lightning-quick mental processes is to be avoided at all costs. I'll quote GoodOrigamiMan again: "It's the life that makes the alcohol good - not the other way around." Beautifully said.

(OK, so that was more of a tangent than an aside. I said it all as someone who in the past was very easily turned off by other students of Objectivism when they'd preach to others about what one can and can't enjoy if one wants to lead a rational life. I apologise for diverging somewhat from the topic.)

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What puzzles me is, given Ayn Rand's reasoning, why did she quit?  She got lung cancer, so what?  That's only anecdotal evidence, even worse than statistical evidence.

I would be rather skeptical of any of these stories about Ayn Rand and smoking (and many other things about her personal life for that matter).

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As an aside, I'll mention that I also listen to quite a lot of loud rock and punk music, and enjoy watching violent horror movies... hobbies and interests that unfortunately confound many Objectivists.  What can I say?  Do such things automatically and axiomatically reflect in every instance a negative or disturbed sense of life?  To some, the answer is unequivocally "yes."  As far as I'm concerned, though, that's such a superficial application of Objectivist principles as to render worthless to me the opinions of those who denounce such hobbies on those grounds.  Listening to classical music and watching science documentaries aren't prerequisites for having a healthy sense of life, and neither is abstaining completely from alcohol on the grounds that anything that impairs to any degree a person's otherwise lightning-quick mental processes is to be avoided at all costs.  I'll quote GoodOrigamiMan again: "It's the life that makes the alcohol good - not the other way around."  Beautifully said.

I'm just really bouncing off things from your sentences, more mental exercise for myself than anything. I'm not presumptuous enough to think I can grasp somebody over text, that is why my original post was in the form of questions.

As for your paragragh quoted above. Every morning I open my kitchen with Back in Black as loud as the speakers can possibly take it. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that!

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Fair enough, Thoyd Loki. :) If I came across as overly defensive or hostile, I apologise. I agree: it is certainly difficult to fully grasp a person's character through a few message board posts (not that that's news to anyone, but nevertheless, it's good to keep in mind... occasionally you'll run into people who are presumptuous enough to think they can figure you out from just a few paragraphs!).

That said, "Back in Black" is a great record, and 'Hell's Bells' is a fantastic "Side one, track one" album-opener, as they would say in "High Fidelity."

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