Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn't 'Choose' Drugs Over His Kids

philip seymour hoffman"His death was incredibly selfish." "How could he do that to his kids?" One thing I -- and a lot of other parents -- keep mulling over when we think about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's drug-related death is that he was a father. And for many parents, that makes his death almost unforgivable. How could he do this to his children? At 6, 8, and 11, Hoffman's children were old enough to understand what drugs are, and what it truly means that their father is dead. It almost seems like the height of self-absorption for Hoffman to have "allowed" himself to fall back into addiction when he had these tender, vulnerable dependents who would need him for at least another decade of their lives.

We owe it to our children to give them our very best selves. Once we make the choice to bring new human beings into this world, and to be responsible for them, we have to give up self-destructive behaviors. It's time to stop your bullshit and get it together. But those are abstract ideas, and we are human.

I don't know what was going through Hoffman's head in the months leading up to his death. We don't know much about his family life, except that we've seen pictures of him walking his kids home from school, riding the subway with them, leaving for vacation. If he's like most ordinary parents, he probably knew how high the stakes are. And he probably knew how devastating his death would be for his kids -- not just his death, but any diminishing of his life due to substance abuse. (By the way, Hoffman's autopsy came out "inconclusive.")

Hoffman's kids may never get over his death. Hopefully they're surrounded by support and love, and they will get the help they need to continue thriving. But there's no doubt that the death of their father will leave painful scars. No one could ever wish such a thing on their children.

But I can't join the cries that Hoffman was being selfish in his relapse. For one thing, I don't think it's that simple. Addiction is not a choice, though there are many choices large and small that impact its power. That's not how addiction works. It's a terrifyingly powerful disease, and those of us who don't suffer its thrall can't really imagine what it's like. True, there are addicts who happen to also be selfish. There are addicts whose actions may appear selfish. But not all addicts are selfish.

This pact each of makes as parents to give our children what we owe them, our best selves, is tenuous. It's not always 100 percent under our control. That's one of the many terrifying things about parenting. Most of us survive day-to-day by pretending there's no risk of failure. But that's a delusion. Of course we could fail. Any one of us could fail, at any time, despite our best efforts. But we try anyway, because that's all we can do.

Do you feel like Hoffman's death was selfish? What about avoidable?


Image via Pacific Coast News

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Yes I find it very selfish and stupid. And if you truly feel that way about addiction then this site should stop writing shit about Lindsey and Brooke Muller everytime they fall off the wagon. I just have no patiance for drugs.

lburgler lburgler

I think addicts are selfish. But they are not selfish in an enviable way, they are selfish in a pitiful way. It's not that somebody like PSH abandoned his kids for a fun and exciting mid-life crisis. He abandoned his kids as part of shutting off the world. In a sense, if he had been more selfish, more interested in being a self in the world, he would at least be alive today. But he was selfish in that pitiful way--the one where you can't even stand to bear the burden of self any longer. This is the genteel version, right? His kids will still have everything they need in life; if they are lucky they will even find father figures. Wealth and notoriety tend to attract potential friends. 

What if a father has a miserable existence, just scraping by, and his death would mean certain privation. Is that death more selfish? Or is it more understandable? And if the latter, is it PSH abandoning his kids? Or is it the fact that he had everything--he had enough to make you and me and most people we know seem like milquetoast losers--and yet that wasn't enough? Isn't that what makes us angriest? 

IKnow... IKnow0101

He made a choice the first time he stuck a needle in his arm.

Stephanie Isaac

There are many things in life that we do not have control over but before that fateful needle he did have a choice

Maybe I'm cold hearted or just can't grasp the full scope of addiction, but the fact he chose the needle over the chance of a thousand tomorrow's was his alone

I feel for his kids and family but he had so many other choices...

Taisie Taisie

Even as parents, we are all still human, all just going through life doing the best that we each are capable of, and that is different for every one of us. It is easy to sit on this side of the computer monitor pointing fingers at him, as well as others who have made what we feel is the wrong choice. However, I personally feel that we do this sometimes out of a necessity to assure ourselves that we would be strong, we would never make the wrong choices, or the same bad decisions that they did. I think sometimes it is less about judging others, but more in fear of ourselves.

EmilyH87 EmilyH87

It wasn't selfish? BULLSHIT. He bought how many bags of heroin? He knew what would happen, and he chose to do it. He chose it over his family. Addiction is a horrible thing, but it is also horribly selfish.

lindy... lindylouwho

He had said that he knew if he didn't quit he was going to die.  Sounds pretty selfish to me.  

Katha... Katharine205

I call bullshit on this one - he might of had an addiction but he did have a choice in the matter and he chose the drugs.  I've seen first hand what addiction does to families, and I have no sympathy whatsoever for the addict.  Nobody is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to use the drugs or have that next drink, they do it on their own.  They choose their drugs/alcohol over their families then it makes them selfish assholes.  If they want help then all help should be available to them, however if they choose to feel sorry for themselves and continue down their destructive path then it's on their own heads.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

I've also seen what addiction can do to families, and still think you're a pack of harpies. Nobody wakes up and chooses to be an addict. 

LeeshaE LeeshaE

At those saying he chose the drugs over his kids when he chose to take heroin the first time, do some research PSH had a long history of addiction far predating the birth of his children. If you still feel his choice to procreate was irresponsible you should hold his SO to the same accountability as I am sure she was aware of his history with drugs. Substance dependence is defined as mental illness in The DSM.

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