“On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my ‘back pain’, Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, pot to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine… Well, because it’s awesome.
(Rolling up a $100 dollar bill to snort a line of cocaine) But of all the drugs under God’s blue heaven, there’s one that’s my absolute favorite. Enough of this shit’ll make you invincible, able to conquer the world and eviscerate your enemies. (Gesturing at the cocaine) I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about this (Unfurling the $100 with a SNAP) Money is the oxygen of capitalism and I wanna breathe more than any other human being alive.” — Jordan Belfort
The Wolf of Wall Street is a film about out-of-control drug addicts lying, cheating, bribing, wasting, stealing, spreading STDs, and wreaking a whole lotta havoc TO SCORE DOPAMINE SQUIRTS IN THEIR BRAINS.
For some it’s an ode to success. For others it’s an abomination that glorifies degenerate behavior. For me it’s the perfect first Dopamine Project review because it’s a film about dopamine. Better still, it features the king of addicts.
Jordan Belfort was a power, attention, esteem, sex, and drug addict with insatiable dopamine cravings that kept him snorting, smoking, whoring, acquiring, flaunting, and boasting (to trigger dopamine by attracting attention and inflating esteem).
From start to finish the short, driven, insecure egomaniac exhibits multiple symptoms of a debilitating brain affliction affecting most of the powerful elite controlling our lives. The affliction is addiction.
Addictions keep seemingly rational people taking irrational, unhealthy, and illegal risks to feed insatiable dopamine-induced cravings. As the thief of Long Island demonstrates, addictions provide addicts with serious benefits, including compulsions to lie, cheat, steal, bribe, and corrupt, bolstered by an uncanny ability to deny responsibility and ignore the damage they cause.
It doesn’t matter if the dopamine is triggered by morphine or money. Same neurotransmitters, same symptoms, same self-deceptions, same denials, same intransigent commitment to score more morphine or money to trigger more dopamine.
Money is especially addictive because it can easily be converted into dopamine-triggering foods, sex, safety, power, acceptance, approval, attention, esteem, status symbols, bets, drugs, and/or more money.
That’s why, when he needed help, the braggart of Bayside enlisted experienced money addicts from his old neighborhood. Just his luck, Jordan’s friends included full and part-time drug dealers who were already feeding serious money addictions by hustling dopamine-triggering drugs to customers. (Driven addicts, who trigger dopamine with money and power, make better drug dealers than sedated addicts who trigger dopamine with drugs.)
To his discredit the miserable manipulator figured out how to rehearse small-time dope dealers into big time brokers pushing dopamine-triggering, greed-inducing, money-making expectations.
There’s a perverse brilliance to Jordan’s twisted tale. The king of addicts fed monstrous dopamine cravings by feeding the massive cravings of trained money addicts who helped him titillate the cravings of naive money addicts who eagerly remitted hard-earned savings.
The corporate world is filled with Belforts who use money to make themselves invincible, to conquer the world and eviscerate enemies. In other words, one reason our planet is all screwed up is because there are so many insecure money, power, and esteem addicts driven to score dopamine squirts in their brains.
If that sounds insane it’s because it is insane. Not because it might sound ridiculous to suggest that neurotransmitters control behavior. Because we live in a society that considers money addiction normal, acceptable, and even admirable despite the fact that money addiction is about as commendable as morphine addiction.
On a more upbeat note, I’d like to thank Mr. Scorsese for bringing The Wolf of Wall Street to the big screen. In addition to being an entertaining, educational, controversial, thought-provoking, sometimes hysterical, often depressing comedy/mockumentary, The Wolf offers valuable insights into how dopamine manipulates behavior and why there are so many dopamine addicts destroying environments, economies, and lives.
Watch for the next dopamine review of House of Cards.