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Define or Be Defined: Dimmocks Photodocumentary

After looking at Jessica Dimmocks photographs, I got the sinking feeling I intruded on experiences that can only be explained as private. Furthermore, I felt sick. I felt sick looking at the “dead folks walking behind the doors of 4 W. 22nd St’, the rabbit hole. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did they have enough money, space, or veins left to afford the drugs? What choices did the people in the rabbit hole have to make in order to live, or at least get their next hit?

The photos of the madhouse were described as a disturbing insight into the lives of heroin addicts through a chance encounter. I noticed that Heroin rarely functions in a sentence with out being juxtaposed with the word ‘addiction’. People are viewed not as people, but as addicts subservient to the drug. As Dioon (a character Dimmock photographed) said, the typical junkie seems to only have one thing on the mind.

“All I was thinking about was, I wanna get high. I wanna get high. You know, I wanna get high. I guess the junkie life was what I wanted. I had really no other aspirations. I just never tried to do anything. The only thing I really wanted to do was, you know, get loaded, and sit around and do nothing. So that's what I did.”

Now, if I claimed, “ I want a cookie, I really want a cookie.” I would have to make a conscious choice to go and get the cookie. The phrase “I am a cookie addict” would only function to describe my choices. Thomas Szasz hypothesized that the statement 'I am addicted to drugs' is functional, rather than veridical. The idea that addiction is only a psychological illness is totally ridiculous. Rather, It's a matter of choice and available resources. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. Perhaps if I had fruit available to me, I would make the better choice, but sometimes, fruit just does not taste as good or do the trick.

Perhaps the pictures made me sick, but rarely do images of blood soaked needles and flesh make me feel happy. It is hard to understand why an individual would choose that path of life. Hunter S. Thompson, a notorious journalist famous for his drug-ridden novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, perhaps explained the gap in perspective best, “I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me”. The lifestyle is attractive to some, while the pictures are clearly repulsive to others. Perhaps the insanity really can’t be understood unless you are on the inside looking out. Dioon later explained, “I'm not stupid. I don't think anyone owes me anything. I know that everything I did I made my own choice about it. And that's what sucks real bad”. People must be held accountable for their actions, true. Yet, it seems that we prefer to stare at the fantastical pictures to create a collective sense of guilt or blame rather than holding responsibility to the individual user. People make the choices, not the drug. Jessica through her naivety seemed to realize that the people “couldn’t be saved”. Perhaps they do not want to, and if they do, they will choose to be.




Szasz, Thomas. The Myth of Addiction. 1960.


I found the report done by Jessica Dimmock absolutely fascinating, and horrifying all at the same time. I like how you said that you felt as if you were looking in on something private, because most of us have never seen any world like this. I found it interesting how you talk about getting high as being a choice. Heroin is a terrible addition, but it for these people it only started off as a choice. I think that these people are so far into the mess that they have created, that they no longer chose to do anything. The only way these people can stop is if they were physically restrained and forced to. You questioned how they had the money to sustain this type of lifestyle. The article talks about how after a while the landlord of the apartment just gave up on trying to get rent payments, but rather settled for drugs as a payment. I think as far as how did they have enough money to buy the drugs, when you are that badly addicted, you will do anything. Sell anything you have, or do favors for anyone in order to get the drugs. The documentary by Jessica Dimmock reveals the dangerous effects of drug addiction. And how it turns into a terrible cycle that cannot be stopped.

I also agree with the two of you that this is quite a story and a very scary one at that. I think that the idea of getting high is definitely a person’s choice and there is no denying that. However I do feel that an addiction depends on the person. Some people react to drugs differently than others. That's not to say that Heroine isn't addicting because it is. I feel that someone could possibly try the drug, not like the experiences that it gives them, and then choose to never do it again. I feel that if someone does try the drug and they decide that they want to do it again, whether it is the addiction or not acting upon them, then it is very hard to stop using the drug. I also feel that the people in this documentary, if you will call it that, lost everything and it demonstrates that effectively. It shows us how they lost everything and would give anything just to get high. I feel that it does turn into a cycle that cannot be stopped without intervention from an outside source and that is what is very difficult with drugs. It also shows how close we really are to this type of abuse and how easy it is to get involved. I know of many people who would or have tried a drug just to say that they have done it or possibly do not know that they are trying it. This documentary shows that any one can be affected by drugs and just how easy it is.

I agree with what you said in this position and this story is very interesting to me. I believe that if someone wants to get high, it is their choice. Addiction all depends on the person – some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. Although it is a choice to become addicted, once addicted, people often don’t have much of a choice other than to continue doing the drug. Addiction has both psychological and physical elements. Some addiction is strictly psychological – even though the drug does not make you feel any better, your mind says it does. Some addiction is physical and stopping can be an extremely painful experience. The documentary by Dimmock discusses the dangerous effects of drug addicts. It takes a terrible cycle of turn that cannot be stopped as one becomes an addict. But in the end it is all a matter of what you decide to do. Ultimately, your decision to start doing a drug leads to your addiction. Therefore, addiction is a choice.