Dopamine Dreams

Madness manifests in people and countries in some ways that are obvious to other people and countries, even while the crazy ones remain oblivious to their own affliction. People with dementia, for example, often don’t see anything out of the ordinary in having to be reintroduced to people they have known for years, who just left the room a few minutes ago, but friends and family understand instantly what has been lost. Countries that repeatedly invade patches of jungle or sand in Asia or the Middle East, expecting each time they do the same thing to win hearts and minds, accept their state of constant war and failure as normal, but the countries around them do not.

The crazier you are, it seems, and the more completely unhinged your behavior, the less aware you are that anything is amiss. It’s one of those situations where, if you think you have a problem, you don’t; it’s when you cannot conceive of anything being wrong with you that you are screwed.

Lots of crazy people have lucid moments. And in crazy countries, not everyone is crazy. Yet it is clear to others who is nuts. And America, my friends, it out of its collective mind.

I am not making any attempt here to be clinically correct, to use the pretentious jargon of the psychologically stylish — narcissist, sociopath, schizophrenic, whatever. If I did I would be likely to apply them incorrectly. I prefer the language of common sense to make my point about whack jobs and looney tunes.

There is a state of being that I have observed in people close to death, in which they float in and out of reality, at one moment conversing with someone in the room, at the next enjoying a reunion with an old friend who’s been dead for 20 years. Like that last waking thought you and I have at night, the one that starts normally but in mid-sentence swerves into sheer fantasy, and then sleep.

I have often thought that this must be a very pleasant place to be, high on dopamine (some researchers think that when the nervous system comprehends that the jig is up, it floods the system’s pleasure centers with dopamine), all rules of behavior (including those of gravity and time) suspended, all experiences pleasant, all apprehensions banned. But it’s not where you want your driver to be, or your airline pilot. Or your president.

But that is where we are. Our president is displaying all the symptoms of someone who should be in hospice care — floating in and out of reality, confusing false memories and old movies with what really happens, preferring fantasy to life. He seems to be in a dopamine-fueled dream of himself as a king adored by his vassals and his empire’s vassal states. He talks fondly of having a tank parade down Pennsylvania in his honor, seems to lust for a war in which he will lead his legions astride a white charger, his golden sword aloft.

Obviously, a total whack job, to use the technical term. There are plenty of people pointing that out, which you could use to bolster an argument that although he is batty, the country is still sane.

But wait there’s more. Donald Trump was elected president by the vote of a hair over 25 per cent of the people registered to vote in the United States. In that election, nearly half the people eligible to vote did not bother to do so.

Now that, America, is just crazy.

Shall we do it again, and see if we get a different result?

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11 Responses to Dopamine Dreams

  1. An MI Abrams parade might be splendid. Think of it. As each main battle tank passes the reviewing stand it could swivel its turret in the direction of the podium, and waggle its gun in salute.

    To my recollection, nobody’s choreographed that move before, not even the most creative of the military procession planners of yore, the Soviets.

    Or is that how they got Sadat in ’81, they came with the old parade ground fake-a-roo salute? Don’t matter. I think I can sell this idea to the Boss despite the dangers.

    I just need some face time.

  2. “elected president by the vote of a hair over 25 per cent”. Did you do that on purpose? “of a HAIR over”? Trump, with an alien life force disguised as his hideous hair, will probably only be remembered for that foul nest atop his head. I won’t say he is more of an idiot that Shrub, or any less of a meat puppet than Obammy ( thanks for unaffordable health care, BTW ), but he sure rubs salt in the wound with that hair.

  3. Brian says:

    Have you ever heard of Hans Selye’s “General Adaptation Syndrome”? Organisms, and by extension individuals, communities, populations and countries can literally go Batshit Crazy when a sufficient number and intensity of stressors accumulate. From Wikipedia:
    “Physiologists define stress as how the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term; chronic stressors over the longer term. The general adaptation syndrome (GAS), developed by Hans Selye, is a profile of how organisms respond to stress; GAS is characterized by three phases: a nonspecific mobilization phase, which promotes sympathetic nervous system activity; a resistance phase, during which the organism makes efforts to cope with the threat; and an exhaustion phase, which occurs if the organism fails to overcome the threat and depletes its physiological resources.”

    I notice it not just in the overt or the spectacular, but in the banal, the quotidian. It seems now to be a diffuse, distributed and creeping phenomenon. For example, I’ve been noticing that radio hosts on CBC here in Canada stumble and stutter over their words more frequently than they once did. Many other examples come to mind as well. It’s like an interminable collective fibrillation just before the heart attack hits.

  4. Tom says:

    Our Commander Covfefe?

    In the past week or so I’ve seen predictions that say

    a) he only has a 30% chance of completing his first term, and

    ii) that he won’t finish his first year in office.

    We’ve come a long way since JFK.

    Does anyone remember ‘statesmen’ who stood for “principles” and didn’t have to “act” the part, as it was simply part of their demeanor? People like Dag Hammarskjöld, Paul Wellstone, and some others from the distant past.

    Since the Jerry Springerization of politics, they’ve been replaced by talking heads, bought by the likes of the Koch brothers and others dabbling in politics with their billions for minions programs.

    There seriously has not been anyone of any real character to elect since maybe Jimmy Carter, who we got the Carter Doctrine from (in my best South Park guidance counselor voice) – mmm-koi, ya see that oil over there in the Middle East? That’s OUR oil, mmm-koi?

    We’ve had a (3rd rate) actor as President, a crook, a stumble-bum, and many more characters that can lie to you on national tv and sell you down the river behind closed doors. NONE of them are concerned with the citizenry at this point. They’ve all been subsumed by the corporate sector and the .01% class to do their bidding.

    They’ve all played their parts, gifting us with NAFTA, GATT, TTIP, out-sourced jobs, and especially with regard to tax laws, non-existent or unaffordable health “care,” minimum wage, militarized “law” ENFORCEMENT, Homeland (In)Security, the rogue CIA (with a long history of messing up what was once a respected country), and (not to be out-done) the new FBI, that brings us all the excitement of home-grown terrorism disguised as “drills” with live-fire, blown ops, disappeared witnesses and specious explanations.

    Yeah, we’re on a roll all right. I doubt we’ll even see the 2020 election, since just ONE of our myriad enemies has stated that nuclear war can happen at any moment, and that his tiny arsenal of nukes carried by his pump-forced water-propelled rockets can wipe out 90% of America by zapping our power grid, putting us on a par with Puerto Rico.

    Meanwhile Russia and China are abandoning the petro-dollar, while economic collapse, natural disasters, the pathetic state of our infrastructure,
    and many more human-caused catastrophes loom in the background.

    Thanks for this piece, Mr. Lewis. Somebody had to say it. You did it well.

    • Max4241 says:

      “Meanwhile Russia and China are abandoning the petro-dollar,”

      Yup. A very courageous move, too, if you ask me. The US just laid waste to Libya and Iraq for doing the same thing.

      Rule Number One: If you talk about abandoning the petrodollar, you will be surrounded.

      Rule Number Two: If you abandon the petrodollar, you will be destroyed.

  5. Karl Kolchak says:

    “In that election, nearly half the people eligible to vote did not bother to do so.”

    I didn’t vote in that election–what was the point?

  6. UnhingedBecauseLucid says:

    Well, if one consents to looking at things on the bright side — well ok, if one contrives oneself to phony optimism should I rather say, one should find out a few positive outcomes from the election of such buffoon.

    #1. It’s the first politician, and a “republican” unbelievably, that is manifestly of no religious persuasion. (I know he said he belonged to some brand of church I can’t recall at the moment… but let’s get fucking real here for a second and appreciate that nobody that is unmedicated would believe him to have faith in anything but his royally tacky self. )

    #2. It is very true that even though The Machine can still more or less function with a moron at the helm, it is also very true that the Machine has always preferred loyal servants who were just dumb enough to accept TINA, but still smart enough to go with the program smoothly, with just a few “innovative” attempts at governing allowed by the script — you know, so the Proles don’t pick up too fast the stench of ‘phonyism’.
    So we know for sure that even though the System didn’t want him there, it is at the moment, still committed to the notoriously hackable idea of democratic voting.

    #3. As irresponsible as it may sound; and considering this is coming from the relatively detached perspective of a French-Canadian steelworker who won’t have to bear the full extent of his cluelessness, I confess to having pondered the possibility that had I been born in another quantum reality, as an American version of myself 15 years ago, there is a possibility that I’d had given in to the temptation of voting for that pig JUST to buck the [M]achine. I say possibility, because the way I’m wired makes me have very low tolerance for the vanity of a real estate flipper and casino owner catapulted into wealth by inheritance. But in an alternate Quantum Universe …

    The fact remains that the condescending liberals who think they came to be a success because they have a fucking law or business degree, which makes them fit to govern, are, on their own, a full half of the problem. The predicaments we face are not merely economic, social and legal but TECHNICAL by nature, so yes, Dumb & Hostile is a really risky proposition, but so is Clueless & Condescending…

    • UnhingedBecauseLucid says:

      Sorry for the non-sequitur, but my point #3 above is merely the suggestion that as destructive as this could turn out to be, when every sane person looks at each other following Trump’s daily ‘stepping into dog shit’ routine, a case can be made for it to have a certain shock therapy value. People operating the Machine’s Master Console can certainly appreciate now that there is such a thing as too stupid to be ‘this influential’…
      As far as I’m concerned, there is absolutely no leader, no political platform in existence that demonstrates knowledge of the root cause of our predicaments.
      Since I am still hearing trite stupid shit like “Green Energy”,”Green Growth”, talks of climate change without the SLIGHTEST mention of peak oil (you NEVER hear these two words from ANY politician or ANY mainstream journalist\ editorial ), I’m going to observe & enjoy (a guilty pleasure) the process of a System willing to lie to itself to the bitter end.

      Or perhaps not. Perhaps the shock will jolt some enlightened enough person with the means to spill the beans forcefully and with unprecedented efficiency.

      One thing’s for sure, judging from passed conduct, the democrats plan would have amounted to JACK SHIT besides some cosmetic tinkering. And when they’d eventually came to the realization of the [S]ituation, the banker inspired ‘slow boiled frog’ trick would probably still be their preferred ‘tool’ to handle the matter along with a few pinches of “The Arc of Justice is long and tortuous, but it Bends Towards Justice” …
      … and in the end I’d still have a glass of Fukitol to wash it down with a wry smile.

  7. Thank goodness someone speaks the truth – thank you.

    You may not be an expert, however, my PhD is in Special Education; it’s only 7 years old so the research is new. Also, I was certified cross-category in the State of Arizona as well as an Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD) Specialist. I taught for years and raised sons and foster kids with EBD. In my professional opinion our #45th president is emotionally unstable, lacks average levels of compassion, is ego-centric at the stage of a young teenager, has very limited common sense, has a limited basic understanding of the real world, and is academically limited.

  8. Arnie Allison says:

    Too many big words. Clinton, Greenspan and Bernanke were the trail of destruction! Give Pres. Tweeter a chance to cleanse the problems – It won’t be nicey nicey but it can’t get much worse.

    Is God angry. Maybe. When the sin hole advertises for house wives to go solo and play with the gigolos and then go back to the boring husband with the statement, What goes on stays their you are in big trouble! When you mess with the family people who raise the next generation, you are threatening the survival of the earths civilization. Let the players play in the gutter, but leave the families alone!
    Arnie Allison