It's not porn (not really a strange addiction), and it's not my strange addiction. What is it? The series My Strange Addiction on the The Learning Channel. Everyone seems to be baring privates, or in this case, mostly eating publicly what they are doing privately, on TV these days, but what I find most fascinating is the eating. Yes, people addicted to eating objects one would not consider to be food. And we aren't talking about the sexual fetishes of eating/drinking piss/cum and the like that often appear in porn movies, though, recently, the show featured a woman addicted to drinking her own urine, which sometimes tasted "lemony" (she claimed it was a type of holistic therapy for cancer).
Here's the rundown on the eating strange objects episodes, and of course you can obtain more information about these episodes on-line (http://.howstuffworks.com/tv/my-strange-addiction) : eating toilet paper; eating chalk; eating the insides of couch cushions; eating laundry detergent; eating household cleanser; eating glass; and eating cigarette ashes. Sounds gross, revolting, and other adjectives that mean approximately the same? Perhaps so, but perhaps not that unusual, in many cases.
What's disturbing, in my view, is that many of these addicts are socially, psychologically, and economically marginalized, such as minority women or gay men, many of whom have suffered serious traumas. For example, Crystal has been eating household cleanser everyday since she was twelve; her shame, embarrassment and concern for her health have caused her to keep this a secret. She said in a later interview that she thought she was "cleaning herself out" after suffering physical and sexual abuse as a child. Adele, an African-American woman, suffers from Pica, a disorder found most commonly in toddlers and pregnant women who lack certain nutrients, causing them to crave non-nutritive substances like chalk, coins, batteries and even dirt. Sometimes this addiction is caused by stress, and Adele admits her first time happened during a very emotional period in her life, when her parents were on the brink of divorce.
Not that these addictions are solely, or ultimately, class-based cause or effect, but where are the wealthy white upper middle-class men in this scenario (the ones who still hold the power)? Perhaps they can't come out with these types of issues because of their position in the society, or they have recourse to private (and expensive) psychological assistance, or they haven't experienced the level of trauma these women have suffered (including never having experienced hunger, forgive my self-righteousness). There's also perhaps the stigma, at least in certain social strata, of divulging such private matters in any public media, much less the specific "trashy" association of appearing on reality TV.
Or, more significantly, perhaps the powerful suffer from an addiction based on power (harming others), rather than powerlessness (harming one's self). I'm thinking of Larry Craig and his bathroom escapades, or, more overtly, Bernie Madoff and his colossal ponzi scheme. Note that Craig and Madoff were involuntarily outed; Adele and the others like her voluntarily submitted their addictive behaviors to the scrutiny of the public.
The key to a possible cure in many cases of addiction that are ultimately psychological (rather than organic) is moderation, founded on a respect for the self, integrated with a respect for others, a concept that proves elusive in a culture of narcissism. Everyone wants to be a celebrity; everyone wants, and attempts to imitate, the power and fame associated with such celebrity. And it's so easy to do so.
I'm concerned that someone on youtube is already eating poisonous couch cushions for their celebrity moment. I'm even more concerned that Madoff-like schemes, like the recent "Diamond Bar PTA mom" ponzi scheme in California, continue to devastate the livelihoods, and hopes, of many Americans.