Phillip Seymour Hoffman: The patch that could not repair


Another untimely death. Another social media storm of shock, pity and dismay. Grief pouring out of keyboards, lighting up radio phone-in desks and 24 hour news channels. All justified. But according to some tweeting away in the comfort of their safe so-called addiction free lives, souls such as Philip Seymour Hoffman deserve no compassion. The choices addicts like he made are just that, choices, and the circumstances of their decisions need to be lived with.

The question has been asked since the announcement of Hoffman’s death of how a man so successful, so rated by both his colleagues and critics, so full of promise, can sink so low as to inject heroin. To have such demons. The answer is easy and carved on the hearts of many. To succeed, to triumph is to be enjoyed, embraced and engaged with. It refuels the soul and pushes it forward, stepping onwards to the next achievable wonder. Or not. Not if your head, your soul, your fragile mind says so fucking what? That was yesterday. This is today and today you are not good enough. Its a demon so many of us have. It has many labels. Its hard to dismiss. And often, like with Hoffman it appears, the only way to push it to the back of your troubled mind is to numb it. He was no different from the homeless junkie, the weekend obsessed recreational user, the shopper building a mountain of debt on the back of disposable goods or those hiding their empties at the bottom of the recycling bin. He was no different and we are no different because we’ve all been there. Each of us killing our demons with drugs, drink or with whatever addiction drives the pain away for a day, a endless night. To patch but not to repair.

Tragically all the money in the world, all the success, all the charm, all the talent could not help Hoffman repair his demons, to dull the noise that tormented him. For that he and his family deserve our compassion. Here’s hoping he can now rest in peace and we can find the awareness and nous to help those around us to repair. Addiction comes with many things attached but the most important is reason, the reason why a person becomes an addict. Isn’t it time we address that rather than condemn?