Dr. Drew on The Emptiness of Entertainment

I picked up Dr. Drew’s book Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic and am hooked. He details the mechanics of drug addiction, along with his own codependency issues. His honesty is refreshing. He also spends some time griping that the entertainment and advertising industries subtly ruin the lives of people without a healthy emotional base:

If I get angry, it’s at the bigger picture. In genreal, our culture offers us solutions that only intensify our problems. I’m prone to rant about this, I know—but after all, surgeons are permitted to rage against cigarettes and fatty foods, psychologists about poor communication skills. So why shouldn’t I go off on the culture?

I have plenty of reasons to call the culture up on charges. Katherine. Amber. Mitch. And hundreds more just like them. The culture is like a living, breathing beast that feeds its own need to exist and grow at the expense of the individual. Our world is full of people with narcissistic problems who look to escape those feelings and be gratified—and the culture steps right up to meet those needs. Many of those contributing to the culture are sick themselves. It doesn’t take a shrink to count the number of celebrities who end up in rehab, getting into fights, or posing for mug shots. The media has become an instant-response machine, ratcheting our tolerance ever upward in cycles of arousal and gratification. All of this can be arresting, fun, secy; most of all, it sells. But it doesn’t heal.

What our culture lacks are honest messages about what it really means to be a healthy human being. Or how you make humans grow. These are sort-of-boring topics that won’t sell Budweiser or Nikes. Cervantes, writing in Don Quixote, goes on a rant like this about the theater of the early 1600s. He has the same complaint. Just because people gravitate to something doesn’t make it good or right. I want more messages about how healthy humans are created, and as much as I want them, others need them.

And later,

The lives we lead today are longer than those of our parents, but more hectic. I can’t imagine the world my kids, Douglas, Jordan, and Paulina, will inherit when they are my age. It frightens me. Our culture is just like the junk food we live on: It fills you up without the distracting burden of nourishment. An average person exposed to television, movies, and magazines is overwhelmed by messages that arouse, stimulate, and suggest that the answer to all problems is the same: gratification. Have a beer, take a pill, roll on the deodorant, get a Whopper, JUST DO IT!

These are just diversions from an empty world. If you’ve been abused, if you don;t know how to trust, and if you’re already overwhelmed bu feelings you can’t handle, an icy six pack won’t solve anything. Nor will a new pair of Nikes. Nor will ninety-nine new ways to drive your man wild in bed, as all the women’s magazines promise. They aggravate the situation. They ignore the problems. Sadly, the culture offers few messages that address what it means to be human, how to go about feeling healthy. We forget that people feel best when they’re interacting, talking, helping, and creating with other people.

Fortunately, this book contains many of the things he laments our culture lacks. He’s honest about his own emotional problems and details the ruthless pain his patients go through detoxing from drugs, both prescription and illegal. Reading someone being so open is comforting.

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