Alcohol Does Not Reveal Someone’s “Real” Personality

Contrary to what some people hold, I do not hold this to be true. I’m going to explain why.

I’m a Zen Buddhist. As such, I don’t believe that there is any real self that can be uncovered. Everything we call a self is an ever-evolving set of causes and conditions. Forcibly, there cannot be any real-er self that can be revealed when someone is drunk.

The explanation above, however, is not a very satisfactory explanation, even for me. It is likely to be even less satisfactory for people who are not Buddhists. So let me explain further. It is a well-known fact that alcohol, for most of us, reduces the power of our own inhibitions on our behavior. So Jim will get drunk and declare to Bill in a fit of love:

I love you, Bill.

This kind of declaration has never led, the next day, to a discussion between Jim and Bill about the extent of Jim’s love, and whether Jim actually wanted to bed Bill. Yes, I was once young and stupid. I heard such declarations between friends. I’ve had a few tossed at me. Likewise, I probably tossed some at other guys. Nothing came out of it. That’s because nobody thought that the declaration of love was anything more than platonic, like the love between friends.

Now, imagine that Jim gets drunk and says:

I hate you, Bill.

Aha! Now Jim has revealed his true colors, right? Not so fast. Let’s make a parallel. Some honest parents admit that, sometimes, they hate their own children. Not all the time, mind you, but sometimes. Some people are going to gasp and clutch their pearls, and declare these parents to be Satan incarnate. However, as far as I’m concerned, this is merely proof that these parents are human, and consequently have human flaws. So one parent gets drunk. Their kid does something hateful, and the parent goes:

I hate you!

Aha! Now the parent has revealed their true colors. Every past declaration and action of love is now forever tainted by this new declaration. They were liars when they told their kid that they loved them.

See, I have a really hard time accepting that the person who says I hate you is any more the real person than the person who lets a hateful thought arise but lets it fall down without acting on it. In my view, these two persons have the exact same degree of reality.

Cards on the table, here. I’ve sometimes told people that I hated them, and I was sober. Sometimes, such a declaration, that we do not really mean, can be uttered to just get someone out of our faces while we calm down. If I’ve done it sober, some people can certainly do it while drunk.

I can give an example from my own experience. I have a medical marijuana card. I’m also a caregiver Dom. Sometimes, I’ve been called to play a Dominant role with a submissive while I was under the influence of weed. I don’t recommend it, because the weed alters my sense of responsibility. I find that when I try to dominate someone under the influence of weed, I do a crappy job.

Lest you think that being a Dom is merely about barking orders, I’m a caregiver Dom, and the well-being of my subs is of the utmost importance. If I tied them and I accidentally produced a knot that will cinch around their limb and cut off circulation, I’ve failed at my task, and I’ve become a crappy Dom.

I do not, for even one second, believe that the influence of weed on me, has revealed a real self. It just messed up my ability to dominate my partner. So it is with alcohol. If I drank, it would be just the same. I’d be a crappy Dom while under the influence of alcohol. It would not reveal a real self.

I can give you another example. Last summer, I was in a deep depression for about one month. This depression was caused by the anti-reflux medicine I was taking. Mind you, I took it for over a year without any problem, but it eventually caused my depression. It is akin to taking alcohol and doing stupid stuff under its influence. I do not think, even for one second, that my anti-reflux medicine revealed my real self, when it caused my depression. The medicine was akin to alcohol, in that it did affect how I behaved.

Now, let me be clear. Yes, in some cases, it is possible for alcohol to reveal the real motives animating someone. However, in these cases, the revelation will be confirmed by behavior before or after the alcohol drinking. I’d also say that if someone acts like a douchebag prior to ingesting alcohol, and they continue acting like a douchebag under the influence of alcohol, it merely confirms what you already knew. You’ve gained no new information.

Ultimately, I do not believe that the self which listens to inhibitions is any less real than the self who ignores them.






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