November 2006

In excess

SOME MAY be more benign than others, but as Carl Jung once observed, “every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” Someone else noted as well that too much of even a good thing could have dire results, so chocoholics should stop kidding themselves. Those delicious, lovely morsels may put you in heaven now, but lord only knows what they can cost you in the end. Hippo hips and a very emaciated wallet (if you take a liking for the imported variety) at the very least. All that sugar in your system certainly wouldn’t put you in the pink of health either.

For sure, addiction — our focus for this month — should not be confused with passion, which stimulates and invigorates. By definition, an addiction is something debilitating, a form of obsession that so consumes an individual that he or she loses touch with reality, and the object of desire ultimately becomes the end all and be all of his or her life. For some of us, the tendency to be addicted to a substance can be traced to our genes. But experts also tell us that addictions are often forms of escape or manifestations of some lack that we feel inside us.

Behind every addiction, therefore, is an issue that the addict cannot or will not face. Indeed, at some level, many substance abusers are likely to know exactly what they are trying to distract themselves from. But only a few of the so-called addicts to processes — gambling, shopping, sexual activity, etc. — seem to be aware that something other than boredom is setting off their insatiable desire to indulge in their favorite past time.

Because this is the Philippines, any discussion on addiction would not be complete without talking about the Pinoys’ unusual fondness for footwear (shoes and now slippers, too). It’s still debatable if that qualifies as a national addiction or not, or if it really has harmful effects, but for all we know we may all be in a state of denial. For the rest of November, though, we will also be tackling addictions to porn, alcohol, and drugs. No debate there about the damage these can do.

Get ready for some rather heady discussions ahead.