The sad old drunk
"I guess we have to
talk about this" he
said, pointing to a
glass of wine
Atrios comments on the New Yorker article about Chris Hitchens, which young Ezra Klein transcribed.
Just for One Day
I remember when walking around Washington, D.C. one day some years ago I stumbled upon a rather sad little protest led by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchy-poo's pal Kissinger was staying in a hotel there and Hitch and a half dozen or so of his acolytes were waving signs and chanting. It was all very cute. Even then it was obvious how much Hitchens saw whatever causes he was championing as a personal heroic struggle. I don't really understand what deep psychological problem causes people to need to imagine themselves at the center some heroic struggle but it's especially surreal when they become absolutely bonkers.Hitchens isn't bonkers, he's suffering from alcoholic dementia.
My father dealt with drunks for 30 years and he could point them out like Jim Wolcott can tag birds. Hitchens is clearly suffering from the effects of long term, heavy alcohol abuse.
Expert: Kaye Mitchell, BLS, LCDC......................................
Subject: Behavior changes in a long-term alcoholic
My mother has been an alcoholic for the majority if not all of my life. I am 30 years old. She is a very slurry, uncoordinated, and mean drunk. Very mean drunk. I watched and helped when I could my mother drink my entire life but in the last 3-4 years I have witness changes that I am not sure what to think of. My mother is 51, went through menopause at 35, no health problems that we know of, and of course still drinks and smokes. She went through a divorce of 20 years around 5-6 years ago but these changes are still there and they are for the worse.
I need to know what, if any, changes an alcoholic goes through after they hit a certain age. If I am supposed to be looking for symptoms or signs. What is the difference between this symptom being an alcoholic or getting an old age disease.
My mother's values, morals, personality, attitude, memory, beliefs, and small physical changes have occured over the past 3-4 years. Drastic changes. Like raising me and my sister with no slip-ups with time outs in the corner. Now she believes in spanking, hitting, mental abuse (severe) of children. She hates me when we had been bestfriends my entire life. Almost codependent. To many changes to list them all.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks for writing. I will answer your questions and then offer some insights into what to do--which I feel is the real question.
Your mother is 51. That is pretty young. I am 62 and I am a full-time student at a University working on a degree. I say this so that we can take age out of the picture. What is real is that by the age of 51 your mother has had a long time to drink. Alcohol affects all the organs of the body including the brain. She may be experiencing what is known as "wet brain" syndrome. This can be seen on MRI and actually shows the brain to be smaller than a normal brain and surrounded by fluid. Many alcoholics get a syndome that resembles psychosis as a result of vitamin deficiency. I think this is called Korsokof's syndrome, but don't hold me to the spelling.
The bottom line is that you mother needs to see a Physician for a check up. You or another family member need to tell the Drs. front desk staff what is going on and what you fear as far as something like Altzheimers or other dementia.
People are trying to ascribe his personality and political changes to, well, politics. I'd say that being a full blown drunk has a shitload more to do with his actions and betrayal of friends than politics.
Because Hitchens is brilliant, his friends defend his chronic alcoholism as only part of the issue.
Nope, it IS the issue. As long as Hitchens remains a chronic alcoholic, heavily consuming alcohol, and I would bet eating poorly and smoking, his mental state cannot change. His wild, almost insane attacks on Howard Dean and the Clintons, his hostile response to being booed on the Maher show, his betrayal of longtime friends.
In the New Yorker article, his enabiling friends make excuses for his violently anti-social behavior. As the article noted, one of the signs of long tern alcohol abuse is a sudden change in opinion.
Anyone who drinks all day, every day, has a desperate need for intervention and treatment. At least my father's clients were trying to down Vietnam with their drinking. Hitchens has no such excuse. He's just another sad drunk who refuses to get help.
posted by Steve @ 12:44:00 AM