June 11, 2015

Connectedness and drugs

I have written on several occasions (here, here and here) about the importance of connectedness to human health and thriving.  We need other people both psychologically and practically.  Man is a social animal and all that.

It is stronger in some people than others -- with Anglo-Saxons probably the most independent -- if French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd is to be believed.   At the other end of the scale, an Australian Aborigine will do his best to kill himself of you put him into solitary confinement, his distress at being even temporarily disconnected from others of his kind is so great.  The macho cultures of the Mediterranean are somewhere in between.

And I have also previously argued that conservatives have a great advantage in developing feelings of connectedness with others --  while Leftist hatred of the world about them militates against such feelings in them.  No doubt they have some connectedness with friends and family but their anger and hostility must make it difficult for them in general.

"The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood"

The above quotation from George Orwell is a fairly classic Leftist comment. "All men are brothers" is a cry from Leftists that goes back at least to the 19th century.  And we must not forget that "fraternite" was one of the 3 aims of the French revolution.

And it all fits in very well with the emotional importance of "connectedness" in human beings. Because of their disgruntlement with the world about them, Leftists tend to feel disconnected from their own society but do nonetheless miss that sense of connectedness badly. So they make up a fantasy (and impossible) world in which they have a superabundant amount of connectedness: A world in which all men are brothers.

It is therefore interesting that Johann Hari has  argued that lack of connectedness lies behind drug addiction.

Hari's dishonesty is well-known so I would normally ignore him but, once you get past the smarminess, the facts he recounts are correct and moderately well-known among psychologists.  And his summary of the findings concerned as hinging on connectedness covers the facts well.  And I of course agree with him that feelings of connectedness are hugely important to mental wellbeing and, indeed, mental health.

So is drug addiction more common among Leftists?  I have a subjective impression that it is but only a carefully sampled study would give a real answer.  I cannot in fact imagine a conservative doing drugs but maybe that just shows how little I know.

A major caveat is that the examples Hari relies on concern heroin and that heroin is a social addiction rather than a physical one has long been known.  What is true for heroin may not be true of other drugs -- methamphetamine, for instance.  There is also a view that there is to some extent an addictive personality, probably mediated neurologically.  So different personalities might give different results.

So there is room for a study there.  What are the politics of drug users?  Do heroin users and (say) marijuana users have similar politics?  And how does race and income affect it?  If most users are black and poor, that alone would produce a correlation with Leftist politics.  But a careful study using (say) partial correlation, should be able to disentangle all that.  The very first computer program I ever wrote was to do partial correlation but I don't have the energy to do original survey research any more -- JR.

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