OBSESSION: Pleasure, Infatuation, and Addiction

February is about many things. We have the relatively major holiday of Valentine’s Day which many people are unsure of why exists. We also have black history month, which many people are also unsure why exists, and we have President’s Day, which we are sure of why exists, but unsure of how to celebrate it.

This month is also the shortest month on the Gregorian Calendar so we are trying to tackle a lot in this short period. Because of this, there are millions of people who don’t technically have a birthday this year but a six hour window in which to claim as their 0.25 birthday. Unless of course it is a leap year, which this isn’t.

Shortness of time, is never a reason we don’t try to get all we need to done but I am particularly interested in what those things are. We pine over things and people all the time and we are often unsure of why exactly we are doing it.

In matters of the heart we are so often caught between love and lust, trying to decide if we should be with person that we have the most chemistry with or the person that will give us the most lasting love. Lao Tzu said “The flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.” But this does not keep us from chasing it nor trying to hold on to it.

Some would argue that we can not control our desires, but there are those that say we can control our reactions to them. But to know which approach is best we must understand our cravings and ambitions at the root level.  As you can imagine this may be a big month for Freud as well. He delved deep into the mind and challenged what was known about desire and much of psychology today is based on his work. But are there other motives at play?

Each religion has it’s own position on it as well. Some say we must avoid it, and others say we should move towards it. At the primal level these things can guide us or harm us. We all have dispositions that lead us in a direction but once we get a taste of satisfaction it can be impossible to let go.

It is in that moment that we cross over from being in control of our desires to being enslaved by them. Addiction is one area where we find this, a dependency on a chemical state, and this can be drug induced but it can also come from sex, physical contact, or dangerous activities. Just as person can be addicted to narcotics, nicotine, or alcohol, so to can they be addicted to sex, or high risk behavior.

We should investigate addiction as it pertains to the adrenaline junkie as well as the food addict. Speaking of food, we find pleasure from food because of the taste of savory things or sweet ones but many find a greater pleasure from combining food with other things like sex. People combine sex with all kinds of things and this is where the relativity of pleasure truly shines.

As one person may like to be touched a certain way, another person might despise it. Moving further from the mainstream may allow you more freedom from judgement but it also leads you in to countercultures that manage communication, pain, and affection in unorthodox ways. For everyone of us that might want to be monogamous there are those that might want to be polygamous.

If we posit that our sexual orientation of being gay or straight is genetic, then are our sexual behaviors also wired into our DNA?  Insights here might light beyond Freud’s work in the field of sex and we should seek to find parallels in other areas of our life. Do we find that there are correlations between high risk behavior and certain other life choices? What patterns can we find that help us not only better understand ourselves but others.

For those of us with “one track minds” we might find that our fixation has little to do with sex and more to do with how we organize information and actually have a desire to see things through or a burning desire when there is not closure provided to an issue. This can be a useful trait but it can also lead us to obsess over smaller ideas that we could move past if we took a second to review the bigger picture.

All in all this should be an interesting month filled with enticing information about all that entices us. I welcome you to open your minds as we travel along in this month’s journey.

Be well,


Maceo Paisley



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