The Average Joe Wants More: Anywhere But Here, Inc. is Here

This was written for Washington State University SOC-368 “Drugs and Drug Use”.


In Chris Bell’s (2015) Prescription Thugs, a father says of his son’s drug use problem, that his problem is that he wants more than being an average Joe, and rather that his son should be an average Joe, “… because average Joe fights for his country, steps up the plate, and takes care of the problem” (00:56:14). Earlier in the film the same father says, “… really you have to do it for yourself, and until you’re ready, in here, you’re not going to accomplish anything” (00:13:46). It was this second line that struck me considering Sutherland and Cressy’s (1977) differential association theory (pp. 75-77). In saying this, the father is saying that the not-average Joe (i.e., his son) doesn’t fight for his country, doesn’t step up to the plate, and doesn’t take care of the problem. The father, carries an extreme forms of individualism—“you have to do it for yourself… or you’re not going to accomplish anything”. Anyone asserting this is American, forgot the entire point of unity. In this statement, an average Joe’s father expresses Sykes & Matza’s (1957) appeal to higher loyalties not toward an individual self, but an ideologization of American males as “average Joes”, a mix of Merton’s (1938) typology of strain adaptations as innovator-conformist. Becker’s (1963) labeling theory of “not average joe” is at work as well as differential association of not actually listening. It from exactly here, and nowhere else, that a lightweight model of drug enabled competitive strain adaptation is presented.

“Anywhere But Here” Model

Core Construct. Barring observations of pressured speech and knowledge of its presentation in several psychological disorders and comorbidity with substance abuse disorders noted throughout Bell’s film, I kept going back to, at the risk of cliché, a sociological phenomenon of a culture possibly leading to drug use and addiction by way of what DeGrandpre (2006) describes as an “anywhere but here” motivation (p. 149). The bounce between “uppers” (i.e., stimulants) and “downers” (i.e., depressants) seems like self-administering chemical analogues to ups (e.g., manic episodes, hypomanic episodes) and downs (depression) of bipolar disorder commanding a lifetime prevalence of 2.1% (Blanco et al., 2017). Is it possible that a valence above psychophysiological space as sociological space is merely recursively reflecting bipolar behavior? A model is forming with respect to drug use. Against a backdrop of increasing social strain of neuroticism based in desires for “nation building, industrialization, urbanization and technological hybridization of ‘nature’ and the social status of certain groups” (Simandan, 2006), moderating variables driving demand for “altered states of consciousness” are interdependent with mediating variables manufacturing internalization of attitudes (i.e., manufacture of consent) with respect to said strain inducing desires. First are moderating variables indexed by saturation of theoretical constructs (e.g., habituation [Rankin et al., 2009], psychological reactance theory [Brehm, 1966] etc.). Second are mediating variables indexed by another saturating set of theoretical constructs (i.e., halo effect, mere exposure effect [Zajonc, 1968], etc.) whereby the underlying phenomena is at work in marketing and public relations (see Edward Burnays’ [1923] Crystallizing Public Opinion and Burnays’ [1928] Propaganda).

Strain Adaptation Communities. The aforementioned seems prohibitively reductionist, however, if one considers recent advances in many fields of science, there is reason to believe that this model extends toward a factorial model of n-adaptive strategies as supported by evidence of communities of practice of language use () and life domains (Rojas, 2006; Cummins, 2003; Heady & Wearing, 1992; Veenhoven, 1996). It is helpful to consider n-adaptations as Merton’s (1938) initial five adaptation plus a suggested sixth (VI) as Scientism (cultural emphasis on study of presently attended phenomena). Considering DeGrandpre’s (2006) exposé of a medicopharmaceutical industrial complex fully representative of an innovative strain adaptation in the taking advantage of and facilitating advantage within retreating adaptation. 

Strain Adaptation Community In-Group Stereotypes, Prejudices, and Discriminations. It’s one thing to examine across groups behaviors of strain adaptations, but another to examine within-group behaviors. It is further proposed within this model that there are preferred in-group biases within these adaptations. Enter differential prohibition (DeGrandpre, 2006). Within the context of a singular non-localizable strain adaptive community, differential prohibition of drugs is at play (e.g., racial bias and segregation in the development and response to drug scares [Lopez, 2017]). Within an innovative strain adaptive group (i.e., privileged politicians, and their “meaningful” in-group relating constituents), the Harrison Act’s use targeted at Irish immigrant drinking in taverns while preserving alcohol use is exhibit A (DeGrandpre, 2006, p. 143), and the identification of crack-cocaine with black people in general, white people in poverty, and criminals are exhibit B (Mosher & Akins, 2021, p. 105).

Anywhere But Here, Inc.

Where does this seem to be leading? It is worth mentioning that differential prohibition, just like differential association does not seem to reach homeostasis (echoes of economic criticality)—incarcerations continue to accelerate with greater attempts to control adaptations. What is the strain adapting innovation of a medicopharmaceutical industrial complex in this situation? It probably already happened and is in progress. It would progress to drug facilitation of social movements between adaptations, and actively moderate and mediate accelerating social movements, essentially serving as the gateway drug of a new market of accelerating differentially associated identity exchange. The more frequently members of social groups move between adaptations, the more transactions, and the more transactions, the more opportunity for revenue growth (there’s a curious variant of the Tower of Hanoi game in here). How does this get sold to conformists? Conform to rules and regulations in a market model of identity exchange. How to sell this to ritualists? Ritualize the behavior of market models of identity exchange, with innovative drugs and treatments that both induce (i.e., stimulants), support (i.e., depressants), and maintain halos of identity (i.e., euphorics). How to sell this to the rebel? Aligning actions (Stokes & Hewitt, 1976). Of drugs, “… tolerance to the desired effects does not yield tolerance to the toxic effects…” (DeGrandpre, 2006, p. 158), perhaps it can be turned on its head, where the effects are not of drugs, but of strain, strain that has been billions of years in the making. This is rebellion—the average Joe, regardless of strain adaptation, wants—more.


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