This post went live when it was merely notes, and was not scheduled to do so. Sometimes I’ll copy/paste something, an idea, a paragraph, etc. from somewhere else, from a document I once drafted or an IM conversation, reminding me to blog about it at some point. Well, this post happened to go live before it’s time. So please pardon the mess of it.
Freud believed artists became artists to satiate their anal fixations. An artist was unable to be released from the anal stage of sexual development, and has hence become fixated with it. He argued an artist’s true desire was to smear fecal matter (literally a creation from within), and this desire did not dissipate as they matured from their infancy. It was, however, sublimated, their impulses modified into a socially acceptable format. Sublimation is a subliminal defense mechanism. Those anally fixated became sculptors, painters, or chefs because these vocations were more readily accepted by society than say, shit flinging.
Now play along. Our society is prejudiced against fat. So those of us who are orally fixated have received some not so subtle clues that our overeating could stand to be curbed, for our health. For our jobs. For fair treatment. For our social and sex lives. So we diet. We exercise. We change eating habits and purchase the magazines promising reduction secrets of the stars. And we then obsess over that. It’s the same obsession, just a new flavor. Sublime with a hint of sublimation. Only that if it were truly sublimation, it wouldn’t be something we chose or decided to do. We wouldn’t be aware we were even doing it.
When I was my thinnest, people assumed I’d lost the weight because I stopped obsessing over food. That, they argued, or some internal conflict had been settled. Whatever else in me was broken had been fixed, allowing me to lead a healthier, balanced life. Well, that’s not how it went. I hadn’t stopped obsessing. I simply pulled a lever and sent the runaway train down a different track.
I’ve heard it argued that obsession is a symptom that something else is wrong. "Well, you overeat because you’re secretly afraid of sex, and that extra layer of fat keeps the opposite sex away and allows you to remain a child." Almost always, I’ve heard people theorize with any addiction, that it’s a sign that something else is broken. Addiction, they say, is a manifestation, a coping mechanism for something else. What if that’s not quite right?
What if it goes back to the antiquated, and faulty, theories of Freud? That really we develop a fixation (anal, oral, phallic, or shoes) early in life? And instead of spending our lives trying to excise our impulses, we simply work on either driving them to a socially acceptable place or work on learning to stop giving a shit (pun intended) what society thinks of them.
I, for one, much prefer to spend my time with those obsessed with meals and menus and morsels to those who’ve taken that same need and refocused it toward dieting. I read cookbooks for fun, keep them on my bedside table, and when I’m not eating, I’m thinking of my next meal, how it can be improved, planning where it will be. Not all the time, but generally, in the course (and courses) of my life. There are others who choose to use their powers for "good," who instead of planning feasts, plan and count and research how little food they can eat while still feeling satiated. They funnel the obsession, alter it so it’s acceptable, but it doesn’t go away. They scour the internet looking at calorie counters and tips for eating guilty snacks sans guilt. It’s their version of sublimation. The habit might be licked, but the driving force is still the same. And maybe that’s all any of us do in life. Maybe our needs don’t really change, just our methods for having the needs met.
And FYI, although I’m an artist, I’m hardly anally fixated. I’m quite clearly an orally receptive person (despite actually deriving little to no pleasure when receiving oral sex!). According, again, to Freud (I found this at changeminds dot org):
Those who are orally fixated have two possible outcomes:
- The Oral receptive personality is preoccupied with eating/drinking and reduces tension through oral activity such as eating, drinking, smoking, biting nails. They are generally passive, needy and sensitive to rejection. They will easily ‘swallow’ other people’s ideas.
- The Oral aggressive personality is hostile and verbally abusive to others, using mouth-based aggression.
Anal fixation, which may be caused by too much punishment during toilet training, has two possible outcomes:
- The Anal retentive personality is stingy, with a compulsive seeking of order and tidiness. The person is generally stubborn and perfectionist.
- The Anal expulsive personality is an opposite of the Anal retentive personality, and has a lack of self control, being generally messy and careless.