Blaming the Iguana

Let’s say you’re on an island inhabited by iguanas, and one buddies up to you. Let’s say you’re a little wary, for though it’s exoticism appeals to you, you don’t quite trust it to behave. Let’s say you decide to share a picnic – iceberg lettuce for it (you can’t tell what gender), and blackberries for you. Let’s say you need to wander away for a moment, and you ask the iguana just to keep an eye on your blackberries. The iguana nods agreeably (as iguanas do), but while you’re away, it eats your blackberries (iguanas love blackberries).

Do you blame the iguana?


I gave Elisif $50.

“This is to pay the doctor—don’t forget to bring me the receipt.”

“I won’t forget the receipt.” Then: “I forgot the receipt.”

But what really happened is she had not seen the doctor at all.

“I’ll do what I’m asked to do. I want to get well. I won’t take any more drugs I’m not supposed to take.”

But she did. And she died.


From Addiction Treatment Magazine:

“When my youngest son was eight years old he went out on Halloween night for trick-or-treat. The next day he had a bag filled with candy. He was overindulging in the candy and I took the bag away from him, at which point he threatened to hold his breath until he died unless I gave him the candy. Of course, I said go ahead and try. By sheer force of will he attempted to hold his breath until he would die—needless to say, this didn’t work. It didn’t work because his lower brain, i.e. the reptilian brain, overrode his desire to hold his breath.”

And it continues:

“In the case of the alcoholic or drug addict, their attempts at controlling their disease through willpower are doomed to failure because they are trying to override a lower brain function by depending upon a higher brain function.”


Russell Brand from My Life without Drugs:

“It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing?”

David Scheff from Clean:

“Addiction is the only disease whose patients are refused treatment for showing their symptoms.”


I long for the day we no longer blame the iguana.