Recently I watched an HBO documentary on the late Chris Farley, this documentary clearly intended to focus more on the celebration that was his life rather than the downward spiral that lead to his death. I sat there and watched Farley’s family and friends speak fondly about him, how he always was a funny, crazy kind of guy, who wanted to make everyone laugh- and always did. However with each fond memory there always came that inevitable moment when they spoke about how he was larger than life, how everything about him was BIG. Chris Farley was a big guy with big appetites, for food, for drugs, for alcohol for sex, and these appetites are what led to his demise. In the last two years prior to his death, Farley had entered and exited no less than 17 rehab facilities, and before his death he had made arrangements to admit himself into yet another rehab facility. On Dec 18th 1997 after a four day epic binge on strippers, drugs and alcohol, Farley’s brother John found the comedian dead on the floor of his Chicago apartment. Farley’s friends, family and fellow comedians were devastated. Years later in the HBO documentary about Farley’s life, SNL alumnus and friend Mike Myers was asked how he responded to the news and he admitted “I wasn’t shocked but I was very sad”. This was the long and short of it, while everyone was mourning the loss of a great comedian, actor, friend brother and son, no one was surprised.
Farley was an extreme example of someone who suffered from an addictive personality disorder. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, an addictive personality refers to a particular set of personality traits that make someone become predisposed to developing an addiction.
1.) Inability to Control Compulsive Behaviour
2.) Weak commitment to personal goals and values
3.) Constant feeling of anxiety and stress
4.) Constant feeling of alienation
5.) Constant Mood Swing and Negative Social Worth
It is more than evident throughout the documentary and for those of us who remember him Farley displayed most if not all of the five markers, the last three in particular. Farley never really new if people were laughing at him or with him, did everyone like him for him or for his clownish behaviour? Would people continue liking him if he just toned it down a bit? After the documentary I went back to read the articles eulogizing Farley, I read something that I found best described Farley’s condition,
“… anxiety and self-loathing were his death sentence, drugs and alcohol were just the bullet that killed him”
While it can be argued that many of us possess the markers of an addictive personality, we still find a way to create a functioning and fulling life, one which is not overrun by our predisposition towards destructive behaviour; why or how did Farley fail? The answer is simple Hollywood. Farley worked and lived in a world without boundaries, his every whim, every appetite was catered to, all under the guise of stimulating his creativity. Chris Farley desperately needed structure, he needed constant, and genuine reassurance of not only his worth as an actor and comedian, but as a human being; instead he was surrounded by a team of enablers paid to indulge his destructive behaviours. Farley desperately need NO men and what he got instead was a crew of YES men.