My Doctor recently retired, I was under his care for 20+ years. I appreciated his demeanor and willingness to listen. After he would listen to me, out of mutual respect, it was my turn.
Right on cue, his facial expression turned to that of a muse. He would raise his finger and politely ask, “if I may share something” and then skillfully weave his medical guidance with relatable anecdotes and carefully selected metaphors.
He had seen me through years of anxiety management, from Zoloft, Paxil, therapy and today, happily, anxiety med free.
On the topic of alcohol he called it, “The Great Deceiver”. He mused, “alcohol may momentarily numb emotional pain, but it doesn’t address the source of the emotional distress..” I filed this away in my brain housing unit under the category: “Hmm, I might have to think about that”
Recently I read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers “in which he presents the theory of Alcohol Myopia (short sidedness). My interpretation in layman’s terms was an alcohol induced “tunnel vision” where depending on YOUR individual state of mind(happy, depressed, angry, adventurous, etc..), as you enter “the tunnel”, will effect your alcohol induced experience.
I grew up around alcoholics and had a front row seat to a wide variety of drunks, kind, angry, racist,loving, deceitful, and the list goes on..I always wondered why alcohol effected people differently and to me, the “tunnel vision” theory makes perfect sense.
Not to limit my position as simply being a spectator, I can speak also from personal experience. I have drank my share of alcohol and can attest to many of the theoretical effects of alcohol myopia.
I look at it as if you are going on a ride at an amusement park. Step right up folks! What’s it going to be tonight?
Enter the Happy, Celebratory Ride: Enter the tunnel happy, excited. Who doesn’t love a good wedding or celebration. Next morning: man what a great time! Memories made for a lifetime.
The Cocky ride: Feeling cocky going into the ride and the beer muscles appear. You feel invincible. I still have a busted up nose as proof.
The Lonely Depressed Ride: Enter sad, lonely, perhaps self loathing.Next morning: Low self esteem is even worse than before. This can become an endless cycle, and the rider simply wants to numb the emotional pain..
The Anger Ride: Enter the ride mad at the world and watch out to whomever is in front of you. I saw this first hand as a kid. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Racist Ride: I had no idea that the person I was with had racist tendencies until he was drunk, and started shouting racist epitaphs at the middle eastern taxi driver.
The Empty Promises Ride: I experienced this as a kid, yeah yeah we will go fishing, next day, had no clue they even said it.
I am not condoning or discouraging alcohol use and any clinical psychologist’s out there please chime in.. After reading about alcohol myopia and the fact thatalcohol doesn’t change, it makes sense that a key factor of your alcohol experience depends on your state of mind and environment while consuming.