I was deeply saddened to learn of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic and untimely death today. In an interview a few hours ago, I heard someone from the film industry comment that “he had his demons.” I wish we could move away from that sort of language. In my opinion, Mr. Hoffman did not have “demons.” He died as a result of the disease of addiction, which is recognized as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” If someone is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the complications of that disease tragically take that person’s life, there is no mention of demons, weakness or moral failings.
I don’t mean to be hung up on a small string of words, but it is the language we use that influences further dialogue, which alters perception, which can ultimately impact thousands of lives. Every single day we lose valued and loved men and women, young and old, to addiction. And most are mourned privately . . . but just as painfully. If we can gain insight and understanding about this devastating disease, and change our thinking and language, perhaps we can talk about the desperate need for help and support of those who are in pain.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Rest in Peace.