In the days since Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his $10,000/month NYC apartment with a needle in his arm, while his three children and their mother waited for him just blocks away at a nearby playground, and with a body of work amassed over the last 20 years that has led some to call him the Brando of our generation, it’s been interesting to note how utterly inexplicable his death has seemed to many in the mass media. As if someone with Hoffman’s immense talent, and wealth, and accomplishments, not to mention 20+ years of sobriety, would have built up enough armor to withstand the slings and arrows of a run-of-the-mill drug addiction. As if.
The attached article (https://medium.com/p/ae81e19b0289) was written only a few hours after the news of Hoffman’s death began to spread. It’s ironic the author claims NOT to be an addict or alcoholic, because she seems to understand better than most how hopeless it is to try and explain rationally why someone like Hoffman could have perished in this manner. Because as messy and frustrating and sad as it may seem, the truth is, addiction (or, more accurately, the behavior caused by addiction) very often defies explanation. Other than to say simply that Hoffman was, like so many others similarly afflicted, powerless over drugs and alcohol, and that his life had become unmanageable. It’s that simple and that complicated. Which is why, rather than trying to wrap our minds around this tragic problem that affects so many, we might try to wrap our hearts around it instead. Only by listening with compassion to the struggles of those in the grips of addiction can we respond with any kind of effective, life-changing solution.