We append three testimonials of members, given when they were still heavily in denial:

Joe K.: Well, first of all, I'm not an academic, per se . . . but even if I were an academic (let's say), I don't see that there's any problem with talking to those outside of academia in a normal, civilized manner. I certainly never change my inflection or tone . . . well, almost never . . . There was that time when I was calling around town to get an estimate on a repair job for my Chrysler, and my daughter claimed that I began speaking like a "redneck" just so I'd sound like "one of them." I scoffed then; I scoff now. There is no "us" and "them." We are all the brotherhood of man. If my tone changed (and I'm not saying it did; my daughter listens to heavy metal music, and we all know what that does to your mind, let alone your hearing), it was purely a sympathetic reaction; not a conscious attempt to "pass."

(Joe came to us with a problem that still plagues Bill: the desire to deny his academic status altogether, although Joe's academic credentials are even more sterling than Bill's, who is a Doctor of Arts working as an instructor at a third-rate university. Joe is president of a major northeastern research institution with more than forty books and two hundred articles to his name.(DR)

(Still "plagues" me? What's that remark? It could only "plague" me if I had a problem with it . . . and I don't. It's simply a matter of fact: I'm not an academic. Category error on your part. If anybody has a problem here, it's you, Dougy-boy, and your pathetic desire to heap anybody with a college education into your pile of addicts. BK)

(You lose, Bilious. "Category error" is academic discourse. DR).

(Just proves what I'm saying, Doug-man. For you, everything is academic discourse. At least everything that you want to diagnose. BK)

Sam S.: Actually, with all of this stuff I've seen on TV about academic addictions and the poison of literacy, I really don't want to be an academic. Oh, I'm still in school, almost through with my Ph.D., it's true, but I won't ever look for work in the academy. No way. I have a big enough problem with pills and booze. In fact, right now I'm working at a gas station for a living . . . they don't even suspect that I'm an addic-- er, I mean, academic. I'll probably just keep working there after I graduate . . . these are really my kind of people. Salt of the earth.

(Sam's channel of denial is a really very insidious one, difficult to uproot, because it seems at first glance to be so in touch with his problem. "I have a big enough problem with pills and booze"--how could this be denial? The catch is that he likes to hang around with academic types in bars, and discuss Sartre and French existentialism (at least until his buddies from the gas station come in), and is fond of stopping by the university library on his way home from work--just to look at the college girls, he tells the guys at work, but he has been seen furtively carrying out large stacks of dusty philosophy books. If he doesn't name his addiction soon, he will spend the rest of his life fleeing it in a series of menial occupations and finding it again, secretly, in sordid bars and dusty libraries. DR)

Juliet C.: I refuse to be known as "Doctor" C. Won't let anybody call me that. I say, always, "call me Juliet." In class, I try to relate to my students on a personal basis, go beyond the usual teacher/student bullshit and really get down to our lives, what's really important. Sure, sometimes I get somewhat uncomfortable--all right, damned uncomfortable--in this "professor/doctor" role, but after all, I've got to like it a little: I mean, I never had any power before, you know? I was always just a victim. This is my chance to make a positive change in people's lives, to help tear down some of these walls that separate us . . . to give some of my power to those without any . . . to help them find their voice in a dehumanizing world. Still, even though I think I can do good here, I feel like, well, maybe I'm a fraud or something. I just don't know anymore . . . It's all so confusing.

(This is a particularly virulent pathology that Juliet presents, given that, along with many younger faculty members in today's academy, she is constructing a more "human" and "humane" professorial role than her teachers ever offered. It is a deadly temptation indeed: if I could only humanize my work in the academy, I would not be so easily boxed into the places that drive addictive behavior. Juliet's problem, which she has come to recognize clearly in the fellowship, is that her "humanized" professorial role IS her addiction.

She is tied in a deadly knot, indeed: on the one hand, she despises the power of the academy and wishes to be free of it; on the other hand, she enjoys the power and wishes to use it for "good." But what, ultimately, is this "good" for Juliet? She KNOWS she is hooked on the prestige that comes with academic "success," yet she realizes that this "prestige" is draining her of what she REALLY, deep down inside, believes to be "good" power. The more she cares about her students as people, and helps them to learn to care for her as a person too, the greater the blows to her prestige, which she needs to keep doing what she does.

Is there any hope for Juliet and the hundreds like her? No. Well, actually yes. But it's such a DRASTIC solution. We recommend suicide. BK)

(Oh, we do not. Bill wrote that. We don't recommend anything, except going to meetings, working with your sponsor, taking it one day at a-- DR)

(You should really just kill yourself, Doug. I saw how uncomfortable you were getting when we dealt with Juliet. BK)

(Not uncomfortable. Just stretched across the strands of my own double binds, which is--okay. I'm dealing with that. DR)

(You mean it's dealing with you. Get on, man. Bust through that denial. The only way out is a one-way dance with Mr. D. BK)

(Your negativity is positively ruining this book. You're fired, buddy. Out. I'm taking over. BK)

(Well, this is usually against my principles, you understand, but in this case I'll make an exception and kill you. BK)

(Arrggghhh! DR)

Back to Am I An Addict?

Copyright 1992 Bill Kaul