chapter  3
3 Pages

Pragmatism and the participant perspective

One thing the documentary makes clear is that recovery from heroine addiction is a lifelong process; full recovery is something that one never truly attains. Hence there are limits to what an addict can be blamed for when in pursuit of a fix. At one point Doug forsakes Pam’s birthday celebration in pursuit of a fix, a violation most lovers would never tolerate. Yet, one gets the sense that, while Pam is clearly disappointed, even frustrated, with Doug, she does not blame him. Recognizing the limits of rehabilitation, Pam must tolerate behaviour that, absent Doug’s struggle with addiction, would otherwise be intolerable. And this toleration seems psychologically possible only if Pam views the behaviour as issuing, not from Doug, but from physiological forces inside him, this being Pam’s personal antinomy – to the extent that she is able to withdraw from the participant perspective, she must cease to view Doug as a full-fledged agent. The attitude that is required to tolerate much of his behaviour is directly at odds with that which is required in order to view him as an appropriate candidate for genuine friendship. Yet, if she were to constantly view him from this perspective, holding him blameworthy for every relapse, the burdens of that relationship would become unbearable. It is only by balancing these perspectives that Pam and Doug are able to maintain their close personal relationship.