Diagnosing our Governor

This weekend’s Portland Press Herald featured an opinion piece that has since been pulled from their online edition. The link to that article now connects to an apology from the editor that notes, “The article never should have been published.”

The piece was copied and pasted by a friend and sent to me. I find it both fascinating and disturbing. It was written by a gentleman who describes himself as a Vietnam veteran and as a “recovering alcoholic with a two-year degree in chemical dependency counseling, a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling.”

The writer took the liberty of diagnosing Governor Paul LePage without treating him and without his consent.

His conclusion: our Governor shows obvious signs of both being an active alcoholic and living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

“I have no doubt as to the nature of Gov. LePage’s problems with resentments, impulsivity, black-and-white thinking, self-absorption, rigid, negative attitudes, rage reactions and what the co-founder of AA once called “self-will run riot.” He is also overweight, bloated and often sporting facial flushing – all common with excessive use of alcohol.

Given the trauma of LePage’s childhood (his horrifically abusive father, his life on the streets when he was homeless by age 11), it is little wonder that he has deep-seated and unresolved psychological and emotional issues. They should be addressed with expediency and with compassion.”

The author concludes with:

“The supreme irony here, Paul Richard LePage, is that you are turning into your father. The booze has hardened your heart and clouded your view. It is making you abusive. Get some help for the sake of us all.”

I would dearly love to have coffee with the author. I commend his instincts but am concerned about his delivery, his expectations, and his righteous anger.

I get why he’s outraged, but he calls for compassion without offering any.

Anyone who understands addiction has speculated and likely concluded for years now that our governor may well be both an alcoholic and mentally ill. To go to the extremes of publicly accusing him of being those and appealing to his loved ones to intervene is to perpetuate the stigma of chemically dependency and mental illness.

Hate the behavior, not the person. Condemn his attitude, but do not presume to know the cause of it. In truth, only Paul LePage knows the entire truth of his story.

I will continue to condemn the governor’s actions but I do not presume to know anything about the man he is. It is only his behavior and policies that I hate. So with compassion I sincerely offer:

Governor, if you want help and/or need help, I will help you and will not label you.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.