Thursday, March 3, 2011

Abstracting reality

I'm researching heroin again. Last time I perused the internet on this topic was when I was writing one of my NaNoWriMo novels. It was really quite sickening, at two in the morning everything is more poignant and vivid, and the vision in my mind's eye regarding the difference between "popping" and "mainlining" made me want to abandon the plot point.

And this in turn makes me think about San Francisco. Think about what to do with my summer. Think about Summer of Service with YWAM, and whether . . . well, why not? I can't really think of a why not. But I feel apprehensive about applying anyway. Uncertain. What's the worst that could happen? They say no, okay. They say yes . . . do I go? I don't know. But it wouldn't be hard.

So I'm reading about heroin, for my psychology class. Which is gratifying to me, because it's just an intro class, but this is what I wanted to study psychology for. My university has a drug counseling certificate program, and, I don't know, we'll see. I just think it's really interesting. A few new pothead friends have come out of the woodwork this week, and I really just have a billion questions, I'm so inconsolably curious, probably too much for my own good.

But anyway, it turns out that most heroin "overdoses" are not actually overdoses at all. Though they occur in experienced users who theoretically have a high tolerance, in autopsy it's frequently discovered that victims don't have very high levels of the opiate in their system at all. Which is curious. I'm assuming the point to the article is to demonstrate the role of Pavlovian conditioning in these overdoses [which is really sharp of me to ascertain, since that's the title of the article], but I'm not sure what that role could be. I'm trying to guess before I read the rest of the article. Conditioning increases sensitivity?

Oh. Next sentence. They die because tolerance is not developed. Because of Pavlovian conditioning. Spoiler warning.

It's all so clinical. With statistics and citations and bland sentence construction. All information, no life. Which on the one hand is fitting; the facts, just the facts, no value judgments or disrespect. But on the other hand, it's dehumanizing in its detachment. Were these not individuals? Did they know, did they know when they started that they would eventually kill themselves? I do feel naive. I could never know, never understand what drives a person to pick up such a habit. I am, after all, afraid of needles. And I have it so easy. But.

Evangelism and justice are not an either/or but rather a both/and.
He came to seek and save the lost. Seek and save.
So I try to understand. And if not understand, then learn.


Nicole said...

Great questions. I often think about how dry and clinical language is. "There were four casualties last night during a shoot-out between gang members and the police." And we breeze on by. Or think "Only four? That's not many."

Until we stop to realize those were four whole people. They had mothers and fathers. Maybe sisters or brothers? What about the one who was in the gang because he was looking for a father figure? What about the cop who was working overtime that night to pay for his son's college education? What about the grandparents and friends and aunts who now are taking a short leave of absence from work because their hearts have sustained a cruel blow? What about the state of their souls? Had they heard the news that they cannot atone for their sins? Had they responded?

It was only four casualties.

Nicole said...

[Also, I have to say when I first read the opening sentence, I thought it said "I'm returning to heroin again." And I had a mini-brain-explosion. Then I reread it and my brain put itself back together.]