Disappearance Of Identity In Jonathan Hock's Beautiful Boy

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Disappearance of Identity A person’s identity is made up of their portrayal to others, but also looks into who the person truly is. A true identity is one’s outside skin in addition to their ideals and personality that make them who they are underneath. Drugs can alter one’s identity, and this alteration is almost always for worse. While many people assume the identity of the addict is the one that is most affected, people often disregard the addict’s effect on others. In the documentary, Unguarded, directed by Jonathan Hock, and the memoir, Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff, drug addiction causes a negative alteration of identity. Unguarded follows the life of Chris Herren, a high school basketball star who eventually goes pro. But while he lives …show more content…
Prior to his son’s addiction, Sheff describes his life as a typical family, with adventures on the weekends and his day to day job as a writer. But Nic descended into his own struggle with drugs, Sheff experienced a similar decline. His nerves increased greatly as he was always unsure of the future, and his life revolved around his son, with almost what seemed to be total disregard of the other important aspects of his life. During one of Sheff’s meeting at Nic’s rehab center, the speaker stated that, “‘People lose their identity because nothing matters except their addicted spouse or child or parent or whoever it is’” (Sheff 153). The speaker highlighted much of Sheff’s feelings, as every moment of his life during Nic’s addiction, Sheff seemed to be anxiously worrying about his son; whether Nic was be arrested, dead, or finally coming home to get sober. Sheff’s life became disconnected from those around him, to the point where all of his actions were in response to those of his son. He describes the relationship as one of “codependence” (228). Sheff’s thoughts and actions relied heavily on Nic, and rarely during his addiction did he act autonomously. He was no longer himself, but instead acted as an extension of Nic’s disease, constantly responding to Nic’s actions and never his own ideals to define his identity. This connection …show more content…
Though their experiences focus on different connections to addiction, both men similarly lose who they truly are to the drugs that take over their lives. For Herren, he no longer knew who he was as he found himself alone, mentally far away from the person he truly was. At his worst, he could barely function without drugs, yet he knew this was not the person he wished to be. Herren’s personal struggle with the rediscovery of his identity gave him no choice but to end his drug use. For Sheff, his attachment to his son’s addiction changed him, instilling a sense of constant worry and cautiousness that he could not escape unless Nic was in rehab. He drew farther into his own personal addiction with his son’s issues, closing himself off from the rest of the world around him, instead solely reacting to Nic. It was not until he reached the point of understanding he could do nothing more to help his son in which he finally began to emerge from the isolation of codependence he had built around himself. Both stories follow experiences of unintended isolation, as both Herren and Sheff lost who they truly were due their relations to drugs. Only with recognition and separation from their issues could the men reshape who they were to again grasp their

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