I was thinking about the book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. I found the book to be an entertaining read. James got into a lot of trouble for embellishing some of the book and not admitting it up front. I wonder what he was afraid of that he didn’t just put in some disclaimer saying as much when he wrote it. I doubt anyone would have cared. Unfortunately, the fallout was huge, and he’s still brought up as some sort of failure of a journalistic standard or whatever. It all was way too overboard though. I mean seriously people. Get a grip. What I find ironic is that people managed to get so up in arms about it considering he called himself a liar several times in the book, and also he seemed the sort who liked to make a story big. And the stuff he embellished was the stuff that made the story big. Plus if he manages to offer some other solution to addicts besides various anonymous, then more power to him. And he was honest about calling himself an addict and a criminal, which he was, at least the addict part.
I don’t know that I like the word criminal. Yeah, someone did a crime and maybe at that point they were a criminal, but if they repent does that make them a criminal forever? Kind of like an adulterer or murderer. But if we’re going to label someone something like that forever, then if they had been honest and hardworking then committed a crime then were honest and hardworking again, aren’t they still honest and hardworking? And are all crimes necessarily dishonest? I have known more than one person who had an affair while married or in another sort of long term relationship who did not repeat their behavior in other relationships. Does that still make them an adulterer? I guess you couldn’t get over murderer though. Once a murderer, always one I suppose. Funny how we choose certain labels that can be added or subtracted depending on the circumstances, but the bad ones certainly seem to stick around longer. Okay. I can’t say anything anymore. It all becomes some damn theoretical debate in my head, all this trying to get at the truth of something that may just be limited by language
As I may have mentioned before, my brother is staying with me at the moment. I have been paying close attention to him, and I have noticed one consistent aspect to his behavior, and that is his absolute inability to delay gratification. I know studies show that inability to delay gratification in early life can be a predictor for addictive behavior later in life. And Derek just can’t. It’s nuts. He wants something, he wants it now, and he is basically obsessed about it until he gets it. On occasion I have been able to explain him out of his desire for the thing, but often it will come up again several times with me reminding him again of the reason out of the desire until it finally sinks in or another thing rises to take its place. For instance, I am minimally employed at the moment, so money is tight. This means I do my best to keep from squandering it on things I don’t need. Derek, however, has no job at the moment and has about $700 left. He wanted a new external dvd drive, so he ordered it. I asked him why and he said he wanted it. I told him he might need the money for food or something later, and he just kind of shrugged. I think on some level he must recognize his inability to keep from spending money if he has it because he gave me $500 to hold onto for him. It also serves as a kind of monetary deposit should he fail to get another job and pay me for the space he sleeps in my basement.
I wonder if this inability to delay gratification is the key behavioral component that makes an addict an addict. I’m sure all humans at some point or another have moments of unwillingness to wait for something. I know I have paced and waited and stared at the phone hoping that new guy will call, biting my thumbnail to the quick, jumping like a startled rabbit when it finally does. Or not even waiting, but picking up and calling him, then kicking myself in the ass afterwards wondering why didn’t I wait, damn it! And credit cards are evidence alone that many, many people want stuff before they can afford it. But I wonder if addicts choose to act more often than not. A food addict wants food and eats. A sex addict wants sex and goes to find it, regardless of the consequences. An alcoholic wants alcohol and drinks, again regardless of the consequences. Curious. There is probably a body of theory and study out there in addiction medicine all about this, I’m just not in the know about such things.
Well, I can no longer delay my desire to eat. I’m hungry. So I’m going to go and make food. The desire to write has been overridden by my body’s need for something in its empty stomach.