Front Page
| Contact | Philosophy | The Contributors | For Writers


Nancy Ahern

is the Executive Editor of the Tocquevillian magazine, and a freelance writer and columnist in Arizona.


    My Name is Nancy, and I'm an Addict

    by Nancy Ahern

    July 14, 2003

    ad-dic-tion n.

    1a Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
    1b An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.

    2a The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something.
    2b An instance of this: had an addiction for fast cars.

    The first definition, from the American Heritage dictionary, concerns a clinical, medical condition. The second concerns a societal condition.

    The first has physiological ramifications. The brain is physically altered following the ingestion of the addicting substance and a physical need for that substance is created. The second is a psychological conditioning, or a quirk of personality, and is a convenient label applied to what is actually compulsion.
    The first requires medical treatment.

    The second has become a handy societal label that enables "progressive" social engineers to establish the "badness" of some behavior, and then establish nanny laws to attempt to control it. It is a reliance on pseudo-science. It is fakery. It is the modern-day equivalent of a be-feathered, woad-daubed shaman sprinkling ash on a member of the tribe and pronouncing him "outcast." The rest of the tribe, ingrained with the primitive superstitious beliefs that enable the shaman to control them, thenceforth truly cannot see or hear the unfortunate former tribe member. He is officially dead, even though he continues to breathe and move and speak and live.

    The term "addiction" is popping up everywhere. Like to gamble? Ooh, watch out. You may be addicted! Like chocolate? Call yourself a chocoholic and find the nearest 12-step program. Spend time online? There are myriad groups, such as the one profiled in this news story that seek to "treat" your on-line "addiction".

    Of course you like to eat. You may even enjoy foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates. I do, and you do, because the human body has been toned and developed to seek out foods that would ensure survival in harsh conditions. The body stores fat and converts carbohydrates to fat. The body is programmed to think in terms of "starvation" and "hoarding" when it does not receive sufficient calories of the correct type.

    It may surprise you, then, to learn that eating has become an addiction, and, in an astonishing trick of mystical shamanry, eating food from fast food restaurants has become a specialized version of addiction.

    As has been reported here in The Tocquevillian on countless occasions, pseudo-medical organizations are now providing faux studies and trumped-up research depicting certain sorts of food as "physically addicting," then encouraging the Nannies to sue fast food chains for "knowingly causing obesity". They are lobbying legislators in attempts to establish laws controlling these addicting substances. The "addicting substances" invariably involve animal fat. A picture is forming, of course. Gee, if "animal fat" is addicting, then maybe we shouldn't eat it. Of course, animal meat is rife with animal fat, so ...

    Irrespective of the P.E.T.A. organization's frothy and unethical campaigns in their attempts to coerce the rest of humanity into denying their position as animal-eating animals in the, um, animal kingdom, it is a fact that there are people who do, indeed, suffer from eating disorders. They are obsessive-compulsives, and they require treatment in a fashion similar to someone who is genuinely physically addicted to a drug or to alcohol. While the mechanism for the over-eating compulsion is completely different from the mechanism for drug addiction, it is still worthwhile to recognize its existence and to seek appropriate treatment.

    That treatment is psychological in nature. It is not a true "addiction" in the clinical sense.

    The condition affects only a portion of society. A good many people do not require the treatment and can, in truth, maintain their health merely by watching what they eat and getting sufficient exercise.

    The problem with obesity in America is not that fast food chains exist. It is not that foods on the shelves in the grocery stores are laden with the sorts of elements our bodies are set up naturally to desire and hoard. The problem is that we do not keep ourselves fit. We condition ourselves to grab the quick, high-fat, high-salt, high-carb meal and eschew the stuff our bodies truly need. We insist on living in a high-paced fashion, working in high-paying office jobs that put us in seats all day long, rather than sweating out in the fields. We put in too many hours working and vegging in front of various luminous screens. We put in too few hours doing activities that burn off the calories our bodies are hoarding.

    Fast food, or food high in fat and carbs would not be prevalent if we, as a society, learned to moderate ourselves.

    We don't, however, need nannies. We merely need to be smarter.

    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine