A New Way to Be Mad

Kramer describes a middle-aged architect named Sam who came to him with a prolonged depression set off by business troubles and the deaths of his parents. Sam was charming, unconventional, and a sexual nonconformist. He was having marital trouble. One of the conflicts in his marriage was his insistence that his wife watch hard-core pornographic videos with him, although she had little taste for them. Kramer prescribed Prozac for Sam’s depression, and it worked. But one of the unexpected side-effects was that Sam lost his desire for hard-core porn. Not the desire for sex: his libido was undiminished. Only the desire for pornography went away.

Antidepressants like Prozac are good treatments for compulsive desires, and clinicians also use them for patients with paraphilias and sexual compulsions. What is interesting about Kramer’s story, though, is the way in which Sam came to view his desire. Before treatment he had thought of it simply as part of who he was—an independent, sexually liberated guy. Once it was gone, however, it seemed as if it had been a biologically driven obsession. “The style he had nurtured and defended for years now seemed not a part of him but an illness,” Kramer writes. “What he had touted as independence of spirit was a biological tic.” Does this suggest that sexual desire is simply a matter of biology? No. What it suggests is that an identity can be built around a desire. The person you have become may be a consequence of the things you desire.

via A New Way to Be Mad – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Now that’s interesting … I can hardly wait to see the next page and see if the author goes the obvious direction with that … being The Atlantic, I guessing not.


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