Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Turkish delight

She knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves...
C.S.Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

I've been thinking about visceral desires. They make perfect sense a lot of the time, but then you have desires gone awry, like pica where a pregnant woman has an irrational desire to eat dirt. I'm not kidding. Dirt in this case may even be good for her since the desire is based on a mineral deficiency. More likely though, the dirt is just going to get stuck in her teeth.

Near as I can tell, the process by which your body associates a certain behavior or food with meeting a particular need is an imperfect one. Pickles and ice cream good for babies? How does that work? It actually does sometimes. Of course, sometimes it doesn't.

When a properly diagnosed vitamin deficiency is treated appropriately, the cravings are then irrelevant--it doesn't matter whether the desired object is weird or not in terms of health, the needs are being met. But there's still that craving. And that's kind of where I see my current status with another flavor of Turkish Delight. My reproductive needs have been met despite a misdirected craving that seems never to relent. Porn, then, seems to stop the craving itself for a while, but then I want more and more of it. And that Turkish Delight is threatening to kill me. Too bad I agreed to have some from the White Witch in the first place.

I'll have to keep trying to remember how Edmund's problem was solved.

24 comments:

Foxx said...

"My reproductive needs have been met despite a misdirected craving that seems never to relent. Porn, then, seems to stop the craving itself for a while, but then I want more and more of it."

Perhaps you're dealing with more than a reproductive need.

Scot said...

What’s odd is that, while I’ve tasted it and it’s okay, I don’t care for Turkish delight. I guess the witch just figures she has me and needs not tempt me any further by improving the recipe ;-).

-L- said...

Foxx, have you been talking to a reparative therapist? ;-) That's what they've been telling me all along.

Scot, I don't care for actual Turkish Delight. And you seem about as free of vice as anyone I know. The Witch has her work cut out for her.

John Galt said...

But Scot, is it possible that you don't need Turkish Delight because you're already eating a handsome chocolate cake? Whereas L is on Atkins and can have no sugar at all, thus the craving is stronger. No?

Kengo Biddles said...

The witch was killed by Aslan and Edmund himself nearly died. So if you're up for a near-death experience, -L-....

Hopefully you'll just gain a distaste for too much sweetness and move away on your own.

Scot said...

Lol, John. I love code; it gives us license to color everything :-).

Anyway, if you’re saying my eating habits are unhealthy, sir, we can have it out :-). But I’m blessed that my genes come from a lineage where most just don’t innately feel the need to eat much of anything (we’re all quite thin too ;-)). We’re a different sort of vole, to be sure. Through in over a decade and parenthood and chocolate cake is far from an end to itself; it’s a tool for other aims.

But I think I get your drift, and I don’t know. I would suspect there may be a comfort in knowing you can eat at any time, that could cause you not to think about it as much. But there are so many aspects to and variety in human apatite; to guess on what it’s like in another kitchen ain’t easy. I know I get misunderstood all the time, and this surely isn’t helping :-).

What I can say for sure is that I am absolutely obsessed with keeping my kitchen and it’s inhabitants healthy, up, and running. Sometimes that does involve baking a cake or two ;-).

Anonymous said...

Part of it might be that a habit forms while a need is being met and remains after the need is met. As a parallel thought, there may be both a healthy and unhealthy way to get a need met.

My Sweetheart, a drug and alcohol addiction expert, can explain it scientifically and I can explain it personally so we make a good team. We know that it can be beaten.
My very best to you and yours,
G'pa Bob (in case I have to do this anonymously again - yup)

Chris said...

So being gay is just a bad habit?

-L- said...

I think he was talking about the porn specifically...

Chris said...

OK.

Maybe this is an inappropriate question, but doesn't sexuality requires some kind of natural outlet? When there isn't a healthy outlet, we seek unhealthy outlets. If you're gay and you deny yourself all expression of your homosexuality, what's left? It's no surprise to me that gay men living in straight relationships struggle with compulsive porn consumption.

-L- said...

I don't think it's quite that simple. I struggled with porn long before being married. The compulsion was well in place before ever having sex. Meanwhile, I know gay guys who are married who have no trouble at all with it. And PLENTY of straight guys with a "healthy outlet" are crippled with porn addiction.

Chris said...

I realize all of that, and I don't want to oversimplify. But I think the problem of porn compulsion is linked to an excessively prudish/Victorian/respressed view of sexuality and a rather narrow understanding of the proper expression of it.

You are right that plenty of straight guys have problems with porn--I know that from my days as an LDS bishop listening to confession after confession of porn and masturbation problems. But I think this is an especially tricky problem for gay men who have no approved outlet for expression of their homosexual impulses.

-L- said...

Chris: I think the problem of porn compulsion is linked to an excessively prudish/Victorian/repressed view of sexuality and a rather narrow understanding of the proper expression of it.

Yes, I can imagine how you see that. And I think your take is linked to an excessively lascivious/self-indulgent/hedonistic view of sexuality and a rather permissive and incorrect understanding of the proper expression of it. But, see that's the beauty of having different opinions, and I don't usually use such language out of respect. Oh, rats, we were getting along so well... ;-)

I don't have any reference to gauge whether it's harder for a gay guy than for a straight guy because there's "no approved outlet" but you well may be right.

Chris said...

L:

It's too bad that we can't discuss this without barbed comments. I was not trying to incite at all, but that how you seem to have responded to my comments.

I was speaking about much more than Mormon culture and doctrine. We live in a country and culture that abhors and indulges sexuality all at once. We are bombarded with conflicting messages about sex and how to use it and how to embrace it and how to shun it all at the same time. I think pornography is a prime example of our conflicted feelings. We hear strong condemnations of it even while it is a mutli-billion dollar industry.

My ardent belief is that a more open approach (please note I did not say more permissive) to sex and sexuality would remove some of the stigma and shame of something like pornography, but it would also considerably lessen its appeal, particularly as something many are drawn to compulsively.

Is that really lacivious, self indulgent and hedonistic?

-L- said...

The idea of open exchange of ideas about sexuality is one I agree with (this is hopefully apparent from my blog!). But I think many conservatives believe being more "open" to pornography in an attempt to de-stigmatize it could result not in lessened appeal, but in greater exposure and subsequently greater addiction, heartache, and the compulsion you were trying to lessen.

The view I thought you were advocating (and responded defensively to) is one that has been aired before in the comments of this blog and is that pornography is an acceptable form of entertainment and is only discouraged by prudes. I was illustrating that to the extent a conservative approach is to be labled with charged terms, a liberal one can be as well. I consider my response to me no more barbed than the comment that prompted it. I can discuss things with or without barbed comments, but prefer the latter.

Chris said...

L:

But I think many conservatives believe being more "open" to pornography in an attempt to de-stigmatize it could result not in lessened appeal, but in greater exposure and subsequently greater addiction, heartache, and the compulsion you were trying to lessen.

So what's the conservative approach? It seems to me that talking only about the dangers of pornography and stressing how important it is to avoid it mostly serves to push its consumption deeper into the closet and wrap it in thicker layers of shame for the user.

The view I thought you were advocating (and responded defensively to) is one that has been aired before in the comments of this blog and is that pornography is an acceptable form of entertainment and is only discouraged by prudes.

That's not the position I was advocating, though I do think that our collective prudery does little to help.

I was illustrating that to the extent a conservative approach is to be labled with charged terms, a liberal one can be as well.

I don't think of this issue in conservative/liberal terms.

I consider my response to me no more barbed than the comment that prompted it. I can discuss things with or without barbed comments, but prefer the latter.

You and I seem to have fallen into a pattern of reading each other's comments in the most uncharitable light possible. That's unfortunate, and I regret the responsibility I bear for perpetuating it.

(FWIW, even when I was an active Latter-day Saint bishop, I thought our church culture was excessively Victorian and prudish. If you disagree with that assessment, I'd be happy to discuss it with all barbs removed.)

-L- said...

You and I seem to have fallen into a pattern of reading each other's comments in the most uncharitable light possible. That's unfortunate, and I regret the responsibility I bear for perpetuating it.

I agree, and I apologize. Moving past that, I agree that the culture of some members of the church is excessively prudish. In fact, I think that may well have contributed to my sexual orientation. Sexuality with girls was "bad", and I was above all a very good boy, so I had an unquenchable curiosity for sexuality that was most safely explored with boys. Seemed, perhaps subconscously, the best way to stay under the radar and keep my sexual interests a secret.

Ridiculous and stupid.

My son is well on his way to being very conversant about sexual anatomy. ;-) Perhaps I've overcompensated.

Chris said...

Moving past that, I agree that the culture of some members of the church is excessively prudish.

The culture of "some members" is a part of the broader culture of the Church. There are certainly some members who are counter-cultural on either end of the spectrum, but I think it is fair--and I hope not inflammatory--to say that church culture in general is more prudish than not. I don't think this is a surprise and need not require one to reject the guidance of church leaders on matters of principle. But the Church and its leadership do not live in a cultural vacuum.

In fact, I think that may well have contributed to my sexual orientation. Sexuality with girls was "bad", and I was above all a very good boy, so I had an unquenchable curiosity for sexuality that was most safely explored with boys. Seemed, perhaps subconscously, the best way to stay under the radar and keep my sexual interests a secret.

Interesting, but I want to make sure I understand you. Are you suggesting that had there been a healthier or more open attitude about sexuality in the environment in which you were you might have not become gay?

-L- said...

Maybe and maybe not. I do believe that sexual orientation is a result of a complex combination of biological, social, and environmental factors during development (that extends into the early 20s). So, it's entirely possible and makes sense to me that that influence (of repressed sexuality) could have been highly formative.

Chris said...

L, just curious -- when did you become aware of your attraction to other males?

-L- said...

I have no idea. It wasn't a fully conscious recognition until college.

John Galt said...

Well, you two have been having all of the fun. My thoughts:

Chris, I agree that America is obsessed with sex partly because it is so abhorrent here. At the same time I believe porn is absolutely harmful to any monogamous relationship (sorry if that sounds prudish).

Isaac was neither a Mormon nor American. And yet from the very beginning of our relationship we both felt something was wrong with watching porn, either on our own when we were separated or together. I don't believe it was merely our "preference" either... it was linked to the special trust we had between us... that sex was ONLY between us, in both body and mind. Was that prudish? Perhaps. But the thought of me watching two other men have sex while I masterbate made him sick, and vice-versa. Like we were sharing something that only belonged between us (I realize this sounds absurd considering the fact that I was married at the same time... but my wife and i did not have sex during this time precisely because of this point... I couldn't break the bond I had with Isaac). And that bond we had together, those emotions and physical desires we shared exclusively between us...that was an absolute key link to our relationship. I think that special amazing bond that only monogomous sex (in MIND and body) can bring may be viewed as prudish, but in reality, isn't it that view that's partly driving the rampant promiscuity and multiple-partner gay phenomenon around the world? The view that we need to be "more sexually open"? It's a fallacy. Between two people, yes, be as OPEN as you want. Sex is AMAZING and fun and explorative and definitely should never feel prudish. But I honestly believe that is where it stops... between us. For Isaac and I, we preferred to er on the side of being prudish.

In my view and experience, porn is a wedge that divides and conquers any healthy sexual relationship, gay or straight.

And that is why the church speaks out against it. Not because of the sin itself, but because of its effects on relationships, on families, and on human emotions and our psyche. And let's be honest here, porn is only a starting point. We've all been there. It only gets worse. It becomes our master and leads us down roads that we would never have gone down otherwise.

That's not Mormonism, that is human nature. And I don't think it's a prudish view to abstain or advocate abstention from it.

Just my two cents.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Porn for for me was (and sometimes is) a counterfit for the need to feel loved. Once I could love myself unconditionally, that burning need, that need for a fix that porn would satisfy just kind of disapeared...

-Cas

Chris said...

John Galt: I think that special amazing bond that only monogomous sex (in MIND and body) can bring may be viewed as prudish, but in reality, isn't it that view that's partly driving the rampant promiscuity and multiple-partner gay phenomenon around the world?

You mean, as opposed to all of the heterosexual monogamy and fidelity we see all around us? Please.

I do not think "promiscuous" is the opposite of "prudish." Advocating a shedding of prudish attitudes about sex does not mean that I'd toss monogamy and commitment aside.

Cas,

That has been my experience as well.