"If it's provable we can kill it."
Or, a philosophical approach to eating disorders
Published on March 22, 2007 By EmperorofIceCream In Philosophy
Some time ago I watched a show on TV. It dealt with eating disorders among a group of teenage girls confined in a treatment center 'for their own good', which actually meant for the good of the sanity of their parents. These were girls who not only had eating disorders but exhibited uncontrolled anti-social behaviouirs; who 'self-harmed' on a regular basis; who could not manage their own lives and refused to be managed by others - except when incarcerated, when choice had been removed from them, when responsibility was no longer required of them and, in consequence, they were free to indulge and express the chronic resentment they all felt.

Towards the end of the show the group of girls had a supervised meeting in which recent events were discussed and re-commitment to more controlled behaviours was to be made. The youngest girl, perhaps thirteen or fourteen, was seized by a moment of acute distress when it came to her turn to make this committment. And it was clear from the reactions of the other girls and the professional supervising the meeting that not one of them had any clue as to why the girl should be so distressed.

The child was reed-thin, so thin she virtually vanished when viewed in profile. Yet she railed and sobbed and screamed about how loathsomely fat she was, how disgusting her flesh was, how it suffocated and strangled her, how it held her prisoner. In this touchy-feely age we are meant to be friends with our flesh, to love it and be happy with it because we can love and be happy with ourselves; this despite the fact that such an attitude is utterly antithetical to the philosophical and spiritual history of the West.

In the thinking of Aristotle the dualism of spirit and flesh is absolute. Flesh is nothing but matter, and matter has no life until it receives substantial form. Through the synthesis of greek philosophy and Christian theology/eschatology carried out by Thomas Aquinas substantial form became the soul. And through the subsequent teaching of Augustine of Hippo, the soul became the seat of righteousness and virtue while the flesh became the seat of every evil lust or passion. As his Confessions illustrate, Augustine's animus against the flesh was motivated by his pre-conversion history of sexual promiscuity and moral debauch. In other words, what became the standard Christian teaching on sex, the nature of women, on lust, salvation, and 'original sin' was no more than the chronic over-reaction of a man ashamed of himself and his history, a shame he never overcame and which has been handed on to all of us who are inheritors of the Christian tradition in the West.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the birth of movements that were actually the manifestations of an outright rejection of this tradition. Feminists fought against the Patriarchal domination of men over women; hippies rejected Western society and its mores; Freudian and Jungian psychologists pointed to the hidden life of the subconscious as a way to reconcile our internal antagonisms and bring peace to ourselves, and so to the world. And the subtext of all these thoughts and movements was essentially the same: love yourself-love others-love the world. Except we didn't. And we don't. And we never will.

The young girl in the show reminded me of my wife in some ways, of her hatred of her flesh, which she consciously thinks of as a prison. She speaks of it as a burden; a burden that constantly demands the most careful attention and is never satisfied; as something that is a form of curse. Sabrina is able to express these thoughts, to understand the loathing she feels, and to contain it (to the extent that she does) because she's extremely intelligent, self-aware and self-reflexive and, even as a child, highly articulate.

The young girl in the TV show appeared to be none of these things. Instead, she was caught in the grip of (for her) an inexpressible horror at the nature of her condition; the condition of being held captive by something she loathes, her flesh and its endless appetites; a condition she feels she can control only through the process of slimming herself to the point where the flesh as nearly as possible vanishes. What she wants is release from the prison-house of her nature as a physically embodied human being, and no therapy that does not take that realization as its starting point can ever be of help to her.

Such an idea may seem bizarre, but it's actually a very ancient way of relating to human existence. It's found in the dualism of Aristotle; in the heresies of the Manichees; in ancient adages such as mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body); but most particularly and meticulously in the doctrines of the Gnostics. The true reality of human existence, said the Gnostics, was found in the spiritual and not the earthly realm. The world and everything in it that belonged to it, they believed, was a defective creation, a thing made in falsity and ignorance by Saklas (the 'blind' God, blind as in ignorant of its origins); by the rebellious Aeon Sophia ('wisdom') without either the permission or the assistance of the Nameless and Bornless Thing in which all of creation had its origin.

In consequence of this evil act, some portion of the Divine essence (the Pleroma) becomes imprisoned within a defective physical reality that can serve only to torture the divine spark that exists in all physical life but exists in its fullest and most sensitive form in human beings. The purpose of Gnostic teachings is to awaken that spark of divinity in all life, but especially in humans, so that either through the union of all the wills of all these 'sparks' (in some teachings) or through a salvific act on the part of the Aeons (an act sometimes equated with the life and death of the man, Jesus) the divine can escape from the world and return to its true place among the Aeons.

The theology and the symbolism are alike unimportant. As an explanation of the existence of evil, and of the dissatisfaction and unease (dis-ease) with life that we all feel occasionally and some feel constantly, it's no more bizarre than the standard Christian view of the 'fall of Satan' and its consequences. It's not the nature of the explanation as an explanation that counts, but the fact that there is an awareness that something needs explaining in the first place - and that every such explanation (at least in the West) has at its core an either/or, black/white, dualism that leaves no space for debate or interpretation.

Watching that young girl in her distress, distress made all the greater by the utter failure of those around her to understand it, I felt that if she could be brought to believe that someone comprehended the cognitive nature of her situation and, more importantly, could show her that the feelings that torment her are not in themselves crazy, that she is not crazy for feeling as she does but is in fact taking part in a long and honorable tradition of thinking about the human condition, then she would have a place in which to stand and begin the long process of accommodation with reality that's necessary before any 'cure' can be found.

Whether or not this particular child ever succeeds in overcoming her condition to the point where she can lead a 'normal' life, I think it would ease her distress considerably to understand that her attempts to claw the flesh from her arms and thighs and belly with her fingernails are in fact completely intelligible as a physical attempt to free her 'real' self from the decaying flesh in which it is trapped, rather than being a symptom of some otherwise unidentifiable 'craziness'.

A philosophical approach to the 'cure' of eating disorders would not concentrate on 'food', or 'eating' or 'disorder'. Instead it would take the line that what needs to be addressed is the Weltanschaaung of the bulimic or anorexic, that addresses the false division of physical attributes into fat = bad, thin = good, which itself is no more than a symptom of a much deeper malaise. It's perfectly possible that some instances of bulimia/anorexia have their origins in physical disease or dysfunction, and for those individuals no amount of philosophizing will help them attain control over their disorder. But for those whose behaviours are motivated by the cultural dichotomy, the Manichean dualism imposed by Western philosophy and history, the deconstruction of this dualism and the demonstration of how it feeds into and affects the lives of individuals today, maybe the first step towards reconciliation with themselves and with the societies in which they must live.

Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 22, 2007
very Good stuff Emp.
My question is this; is there any branch of psychiatric medicine that takes into account the dual nature of good and bad as described in your article?
There should be since i really believe that the so called treatments that are given now are of limited use.
on Mar 22, 2007
A philosophical approach to the 'cure' of eating disorders would not concentrate on 'food', or 'eating' or 'disorder'. Instead it would take the line that what needs to be addressed is the Weltanschaaung of the bulimic or anorexic, that addresses the false division of physical attributes into fat = bad, thin = good, which itself is no more than a symptom of a much deeper malaise.


I think that's actually quite a common approach. I know a girl who's a bulimic (no longer a regular but like any addiction you can never end it for good) and her counsellor basically approached it from that angle.

She didn't speak about philosophy per se - that's probably a little dry for a girl in her late teens - but she did address the problems of uncertainty, lack of self-confidence and the body/mind divide. She did this through getting my friend to focus on achievements rather than failures and to take pride in her mind and not merely her physical appearance. There was also some standard displacement techniques - it's hard to be self-obsessed enough to have an eating disorder when you're working in a soup kitchen - but in the main the approach was to treat it as a thoroughly mental problem with a combined mental/physical solution.

There was hardly any focus on food, largely because that's merely the thing the bulimic seeks to control; the problem is much deeper.

Of course bulimics are a lot different to anorexics. Bulimics often recognise what they are doing is bad for them but feel afraid to stop it, and that was my friend's problem.

Of course if you're suggesting that anorexia and bulimia are acceptable expressions of the self then that's entirely different, and counsellors do not agree with that line of argument, not least because anorexia and bulimia have the capacity to be totally consuming and therefore end up destroying the self rather than expressing it.
on Mar 23, 2007
To: cactoblasta

Of course if you're suggesting that anorexia and bulimia are acceptable expressions of the self then that's entirely different,


Any expression of the self is acceptable to the self doing the expressing, whether you, I, or anyone else likes it or not. And whatever form the expression takes it will continue to be expressed until one of two things happens: a) the person doing the expressing has had enough; or he or she doesn't like what he or she is expressing anymore. This has nothing to do with consequences, either for the person doing the expressing or his/her family and friends. Evidently, if bad circumstances/outcomes could stop the behaviour then the first bad circumstance or outcome would have stopped it. Since they haven't stopped it, they can't stop it.

Nor does it have anything to do with the behaviour, the expression as I've called it. The expression itself is a symptom, not a disease. If curing the symptom were a solution then once the expression stopped the anorexic or bulimic would be cured and there would be no reappearance of the behaviour. The show I watched followed a couple of girls after their release. Within days they were either forcing themselves to vomit (actually they forced nothing; the behaviour of the bulimic the cameras followed reminded me of nothing so much as a person getting high after a long period of abstinence - a look of happy relief) or eating barely at all.

Treating the symptom is a futile effort. Once the anorexic or bulimic is free of supervision the disease will reassert itself, because the disease is in the soul (or if you prefer, the psyche). Or, dispensing with the idea of 'disease' as a concrete thing in its own right, the orientation of the will of the anorexic or bulimic is such that the final outcome can only be death. Change the will, and the 'disease' will vanish.

on Mar 23, 2007
Some time ago I watched a show on TV. It dealt with eating disorders among a group of teenage girls confined in a treatment center 'for their own good', which actually meant for the good of the sanity of their parents. These were girls who not only had eating disorders but exhibited uncontrolled anti-social behaviouirs; who 'self-harmed' on a regular basis; who could not manage their own lives and refused to be managed by others



Two thoughts:

It's a TV show - i.e. entertainment. They're looking for viewers so letting the girls get out of hand is to their advantage.

In my opinion most kids don't get enough disciple growing up so they in turn don't learn self-discipline. They're not learning the skills they need to survive in the world and then their parents expect them to be 'adults.'


on Mar 23, 2007
To: Cordelia

I have now unblacklisted Brad, which means you can post here. I have an unspoken agreement with myself - to make no comments on his threads, nor to interact with him in any way, which I will continue to honor now that he' unblacklisted, provided only that he extends me the same courtesy. I don't like him. He doesn't like me. But I can hardly continue to bear a grudge against a man who has featured three of my articles. So you may now post on my site, should you wish to.
on Mar 23, 2007
I agree that the philosophical dualism of Aristotle, Aquinas and Augustine has poisoned our society and the persons in it. Thank you for a very thoughtful and impressive article.

This poisonous paradigm seems to be central to those afflictions in which we are at war with ourselves. From a Freudian perspective the Ego of the addict is alternately shipwrecked either onto the shores of the Id or onto those of the Superego. Neither Dr. Jekyll nor Mr. Hyde seems to have a life worth living. Textbooks of psychodynamic psychopathology describe the prototypical opiate addict as not simply using drugs to "feel good" but more in order to achieve a temporary solace from a punishingly judgemental Superego. That solace is followed by shame, and so on, in an endless shame-use cycle.

The psychiatrist Carl Jung's point of view about Alcoholism is quoted in the Big Book of AA. To paraphrase, the outlook for the true alcoholic is dismal unless he experiences a "vital spiritual experience", akin to a paradigm shift at the "gut" level. This reframing, in my opinion, must include a backing away from the Good vs. Evil point of point of view, toward a concept of all-encompassing Health (the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical). The benefits of these concepts are not limited to addicts.

I remember a drug addict who was 4 years into recovery from drug addiction, when he accidentally missed a random urine test. Frantically, he called his doctor. It was obvious to the doctor that the man was beating himself up over his mistake. His treating physician confirmed that this man was otherwise doing what he needed to do for his recovery and asked him to submit a urine sample at the next available opportunity. The doctor then told the man "It's a beautiful day. Take the rest of the day off. Consider going for a walk in the park. It will do you good! Recovery is about being good to yourself." I can tell you first hand that this walk was spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally healing. So was the loving point of view.

Alcoholics and addicts are often seen by others as lacking in will power. One of my favourite stories about this is from a biography of Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA. When he was young, Bill saw a news-reel that showed an Australian aboriginal using a boomerang. Young Bill was so enchanted and beguiled by this hunting tool that he constructed well over 100 boomerangs. He stopped only because he finally succeeded in producing one that worked. The challenge for society has always been to see the person afflicted as being separate from their illness. People afflicted don't need to go to hell, they've already been there.

Thanks again.
on Mar 23, 2007
This is my response to Cordelia's response. Since no one has ever before paid me the courtesy of writing an article in response to something I've written, I will pay her the courtesy of addressing her first here before going on to deal with other responses.

I like the phrase 'pre-emptive death'. If I understand you and your husband correctly, what you are talking about is 'death to the self'. That might be taken by some to mean suicide - it actually means the opposite, living a fuller life. And you're right: a life that consists of mortgage payments, the job, and all the rest of the dull gray round of life, is not much of a life at all. Death to the self means being able to free yourself of the tyrrany of desire. Too often it's been misunderstand as the death of desire - and so far as I'm aware the only thing that is completely without desire of any kind is a corpse.

Imagine there's something you want. Something you want so bad it hurts when you think about it - and because you want it as badly as you do you think of it all the time. Now imagine this something you want is bad for you, possibly even very bad for you. Knowing how bad this something is makes no difference. You still want it and you still want it all the time. This is the tyrrany of desire, and all too often it prompts people to actions that ultimately destroy them. Think of the Evangelical Minister who recently was caught with his pants down in the company of a male prostitute. Up until that moment his wife and family, his congregation, would not have remotely suspected him of frequenting seedy motels in order to have homosexual sex and get stoned. Had you asked them, I'm certain they would have said he was the least likely man in the world to do such things.

Yet in his confession to his congregation he was reported as saying that there was a 'black, foul' part of his life with which he had struggled unsuccessfully for years. He was made subject to the tyrrany of his desire, and not all his faith could free him from it. And in that he confirms my own experience. Of all the useless deities there ever were, who yet managed through good PR to convince fools on earth to believe in them, the worst and most useless of all is that paltry figment of the imagination of a sunstruck, desert-dwelling tentmaker and apostate, Paul - known to the world as Jesus Christ the Son of God.

In all the years that I was a born-again hell-fire-and-brimstone street-preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I never once witnessed or received a single here-and-now-real-world consequence for all my ardor and faith. Not once. And just like that hapless Evangelical, no matter how I prayed, and beseeched, and grovelled, my homosexuality was never taken from me. I was as much a subject to the tyrrany of that desire as he was. Unlike him, I freed myself, not from the desire itself, but from its control over me.

I died to it, by which I mean that I first realised it to be mine (not an attack of Satan, or witches, or any other of the bloody nonsense that was presented to me as a 'spiritual diagnosis' of my condition). There was no one involved in my wanting sex with another man but me. Having realised that it was indeed my desire, I accepted it as a part of myself. Acceptance, recognition and acceptance, are the keys that return liberty to a person. No one says you have to like what you are, but what you must do is accept what you are.

Next, to borrow an expression of the Christians, I repented. Having realised the desire to be mine, accepted it as mine, I refused to act on it; and I refused to let the flood of homosexual images that inundated me from the moment I recognised this desire as mine to deter me. There were days I repented 10, 50, or 100 times in a day. Until in the end I controlled my desire, rather than it controlling me. I used the same technique to 'cure' myself of panic attacks. Every time one of them occurred I told myself "this is a panic attack. Not a heart attack, not a seizure; a panic attack. And I'm the one who's panicking. So now I'm gong to stop."

To die to a thing you separate yourself from it. You recognise it as a part of you, accept it as a part of you, and refuse to be made its subject. I cannot emphasise this enough: You are Prince over your life: no one else and nothing else - you. Nothing rules you in this sense unless you want it to. And if you have to die a hundred times a day, then you die a hundred times a day until the desire that has you enslaved serves you instead of you serving it.

I suppose you might ask me why I refused to act on my desire, even though my commitment to Christianity was a rapid ebb tide by then. I could come up with any manner of spiritual justifications, but the truth of it is this. In large part I despise my own sex. I'd only consider sex with another man if his head was cut off first, because it's in the head that the person resides. It's been my experience that men in general never pass beyond the stage of narcissistic adolesence and I'd sooner be celibate for the rest of my life than consort with such ridiculous brats.

However, in the unlikely event of my meeting a man who is actually a man I'd be willing to reconsider that statement.

You other point has to do with meaning in life, and I'm afraid I can't do much to help you there. That's something that, like death, every one does alone. There has only ever been one meaning to my life and I take no credit for its discovery, since I have had faith in God since I drew my first breath, almost. My question has always been 'Who is God?' not 'Does God exist?' As I say, I take no credit for that. It seems as natural to me to have faith as it does to have air fill my lungs when I breathe in. Why should I question the existence of air?

But, just because air is unquestionably there doesn't mean I understand its chemistry or physics and it's that type of question I've spent my life asking. Only recently have I received any kind of answer that made sense in terms of my experience of God, man, and life.

However, if you go back through my other articles, I think you'll find that my God is not the God of many others, nor are Its ways their ways.

And I like that just fine.

I'm glad you found the article interesting.
on Mar 23, 2007
To: little-whip

in all matters Magickal you will always be my inspiration, if not my mentor. This is something you know, I think. What you may not know is how often, in conversation together, you've said something that's given me new insight into philosophical phenomena. You were the one who first made the Gnostic concept of the relationship of flesh and spirit intelligible to me in real life (as opposed to the bloviating of philosophers), and I never read anywhere a summation of their thought that equalled your account of your attitude for simplicity, clarlity, and comprehensibility.

I've never agreed with the Gnostics on that point, nor do I share your attitude. When God looked at the world after Its work of creation It said, not only that the creation was good, but that the whole of it was very good. I'm in agreement with that. All that sustains the universe in existence is the will of God, and a will divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, since the universe exists, it must be very good. And the flesh you describe as a prison is as much a part of the creation as are ostriches and super-novas. Therefore it, too, is very good.

on Mar 23, 2007
Any expression of the self is acceptable to the self doing the expressing, whether you, I, or anyone else likes it or not.


Really? Then why did she cry with self-revulsion every time she did it? It was a compulsion and a negative one. It was controlling her. The expression of the self that was my friend's bulimia was unacceptable to her. But, like an obsessive-compulsive, there were times when she didn't have the strength to resist.

Evidently, if bad circumstances/outcomes could stop the behaviour then the first bad circumstance or outcome would have stopped it. Since they haven't stopped it, they can't stop it.


I think you're oversimplifying psychology here. We can make it impossible for a person to resist the urge to do something through the use of chemicals. The brain is entirely capable of doing the same all by itself. A desire to not do something can come from the sentient core of a person's being but be overpowered by louder and, for that moment, more powerful urges.

Many cases of bulimia are just situations where those base urges are overpowering the higher faculties which know that something is wrong.

The show I watched followed a couple of girls after their release. Within days they were either forcing themselves to vomit (actually they forced nothing; the behaviour of the bulimic the cameras followed reminded me of nothing so much as a person getting high after a long period of abstinence - a look of happy relief) or eating barely at all.


Yes, that's true enough. But that kind of treatment is the exception, not the rule. Most counsellors use more effective psychological treatments incorporating more than just an attempt to halt the behaviour. They're not stupid you know; the adequately trained know it's a psychological disease and can only be ended or limited through finding the cause and treating that.
on Mar 24, 2007
Addiction and mental/spiritual illness is not caused by a lack of self discipline. Some of these folks are the most disciplined I know. It's hard to be a junkie, the routine is grinding, the craving unrelenting, and the expense (and what they have to go through to meet it) is considerable. They never get to 'take the day off' if you catch my drift.As it is with anorexics/bulimics. They can't just wake up one morning and say..."gee, i'm tired of starving myself/puking, and I'm famished! I think I'lll eat properly today." They have a compulsion that absolutely prevents them from breaking with their routine, and this compulsion has nothing to do with self-discipline


LW,

I realized last night, as I was lying in a state of insomnia driven by a terrible nightmare, that my second point was miserably worded. It wasn't my intent to come across with that meaning but obviously I did. I really wasn't referring to their state of mental illness or addiction. I was thinking of how out of control their general behaviour was - as described by Simon. I know that it's a mixed bag but I still think that more discipline would go a long way to helping kids and young adults grow toward maturity.

edited: Maybe what I'm describing is more base than discipline. I'm not talking about punishment. I'm talking about teaching kids how to take care of themselves. Be responsible for their actions and be held accountable. Yes, they can act however they want but there are consequences.
on Mar 24, 2007
To: cactoblasta

Really? Then why did she cry with self-revulsion every time she did it?


The very fact that she continued to act as she did, notwithstanding her revulsion, demonstrates in the clearest possible way that it was acceptable to her. The key to understanding any compulsive behaviour is the realisation that it meets a need in the life of the compulsive person, and, to the degree that it meets this need, is acceptable to the compulsive - whether he or she likes the behaviour and/or its results is irrelevant.

I think you're oversimplifying psychology here. We can make it impossible for a person to resist the urge to do something through the use of chemicals. The brain is entirely capable of doing the same all by itself. A desire to not do something can come from the sentient core of a person's being but be overpowered by louder and, for that moment, more powerful urges


These 'more powerful urges' constituting the very acceptability that I pointed out and you denied, or attempted to deny, by conflating 'acceptable' and 'like'.

Yes, that's true enough. But that kind of treatment is the exception, not the rule. Most counsellors use more effective psychological treatments incorporating more than just an attempt to halt the behaviour. They're not stupid you know; the adequately trained know it's a psychological disease and can only be ended or limited through finding the cause and treating that.


You missed the point. The girls were no longer in treatment. And beside that, you also missed my reference to the quality of the girl's behaviour, which in essence was that of an addict taking a first hit on a preferred drug after long abstinence. Can you be addicted to the taste and smell of your own vomit; to the painful contractions and acidic burning? She certainly appeared to be.
on Mar 24, 2007
To: DrDonald

Hello. Welcome to the blog.

Textbooks of psychodynamic psychopathology describe the prototypical opiate addict as not simply using drugs to "feel good" but more in order to achieve a temporary solace from a punishingly judgemental Superego. That solace is followed by shame, and so on, in an endless shame-use cycle


My wife recently told me a story of a young addict who described his condition as dieing for something to live for. He had nothing in his life (so far as he could see) except the drug. Being forced to get up in search of his next hit (he was addicted to injecting ground up Vicodin pills) was better than the apathy and despair which would have paralyzed and consumed him if he was not an addict, It was not the 'buzz' he wanted, but a reason to live. And even a really, really poor reason, like scrabbling for your next shot, is better than no reason at all.

As to shame: if you believe that the range of your emotional response is stunted, or even non-existent, then circumstances that even in such an affective condition can elicit a powerful response such as shame can be addictive, I don't believe that any of us ever do anything without a reason that in some way seems good to us - even if to everyone else what we do seems like lunacy.

The psychiatrist Carl Jung's point of view about Alcoholism is quoted in the Big Book of AA. To paraphrase, the outlook for the true alcoholic is dismal unless he experiences a "vital spiritual experience", akin to a paradigm shift at the "gut" level.


I've always had more sympathy for Jung's approach than for Freud's relentless emphasis upon sex and the phallus. I'm particularly in sympathy with Jung's notion of the 'shadow-self' and the necessity for confronting it. Combined with Hegel's 'theis-antithesis-synthesis; formulation of psychological/spiritual development (whether of the 'world-soul' acting in objective history or of the soul of the individual) these concepts allow for a creative destruction and recreation of the personality. The emphasis upon 'wholeness' you refer to is one more expression of the 'poisonous dualism' of Aristotle, Aquinas and Augustine. The more space we allow within our understanding of ourselves for the recognition of contradiction and antagonism, and the more we are willing to recognise that there is no but ourselves responsible for our plight, the more likely we are to be able to exist in the world with some semblance of joy, perhaps even peace.

Thank you for your complimentary words. As I've said often, I write for myself and not those who read. Comments are welcome however, especially thoughtful responses such as yours.
on Mar 25, 2007
To: Question of the Day

I'm talking about teaching kids how to take care of themselves. Be responsible for their actions and be held accountable. Yes, they can act however they want but there are consequences.
(Emphasis in italics is mine).

No one can be responsible, and no one is willing to be held to account for, actions which either in themselves or their motivation, are too terrible to be contemplated - at least, too terrible to be contemplated by the mind of the person carrying them out. Perhaps you've seen Hitchcock's movie 'Marnie'? The girl Marnie, the central character, is a compulsive kleptomaniac. Additionally, she enters fugue states (such states being the periods in which she steals). She has no idea what motivates her to do these things, despises herself for doing them, is terrified by the fugues - but can't stop either the stealing or the lapses into a different state of consciousness. It's years since I last saw the movie and the details are hazy, but everything revolves around abuse suffered in childhood - abuse she came to associate with the sound of thunder; thunder being a principal trigger of behaviour.

She would not accept responsibility for her kleptomania, because it was generally carried out in a state of fugue. She could not accept responsibility for the fugue states themselves because to her they came from 'outside' herself. Nevertheless, there was no organic cause for them and, that being so, no one and nothing else to be held to account for them but Marnie herself. No one changes unless they want to, and want to badly enough to will the change. And no one will want to change until either they have had enough of their situation, or until the importance of the function of their behaviour in their own psychological 'economy' is outweighed by the costs it imposes - and sometimes, not even then. These are not things that can be taught, or imposed from without. They come from within, through the development of what used to be called character, or they don't come at all.
on Mar 25, 2007
To: little-whip

And in the end, that's all I ever wanted anyway.


And, in the end, it was all the Machine ever promised you - though its coming about seems to be following a pattern neither of us anticipated.

Piss on the Poodle.

V^^^^^^^V bites you.

on Mar 25, 2007
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