Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Plugged Back In

Happy Easter Everybody! Some thoughts as I plug back in after Lent:

I once made a New Year's resolution/bet with myself the loss of which caused me to go vegetarian for one whole year. Worldwide, humans have holidays and traditions which call for self sacrifice. Fasting on Yom Kippur or Ramadan, Lenten Sacrifices, to name a few. Why do we periodically deny ourselves some pleasure? There are some overt answers: to make healthier choices, to save money, to focus on a particular religious component, such as the need for focus in prayer, to make a social/political point, or to commemorate some person or event.

At a deeper level, though, is the desire to control our passions. As a kid, I was taught, from a religious point, that this shows our dominion over our bodies, and separates us from animals. But how much of it is more of a psychological need to master the body? I wonder if there is not also at times a sense of a need to do penance, as absolution of guilt. This may be taken to a more pathological extreme in the self-deprivation or even self-abuse of those with, say, anorexia nervosa. Curiously, some seem to paradoxically find pleasure in the pain of self-deprivation, usually in the form of fasting. Social psychologists trained in the pleasure-pain theory often tangle their logic in a loop on self-deprivation.

I have no answers on this one, just many questions. Do share any thoughts, experiences.

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