Rebirth of Reason

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Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 3:14amSanction this postReply

I stumbled across this article at a fortuitous time.  It corroborates my own complaints about The Ethical Slut, a difficult book I am currently reading.  Much like The Game by Neil Strauss, The Ethical Slut seems written by certifiable sex addicts who deny their addiction.  I will finish the book but so far, it has made me appreciate and value the simplicity and depth of monogamous marriage.

Post 1

Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 9:23amSanction this postReply

I disagree. Some years ago, I wrote online about numismatics ("coin collecting") as an addiction. On the heels of that, a real psychologist published his own findings.  For me, the impetus was an open question by a collector in an online forum: "I missed a mortgage payment to buy a coin. Am I addicted?"  Yes, indeed, I said.  However, that does not justify a frontal assault on numismatics as catering to addiction, feeding greed, destroying our appreciation for real art, or real savings, as submerging spirituality to materialism, and all that accompanied by quotations from St. Paul. The Greeks had a word for it: philargyrion, the love of silver.  And so, too, here, do we meet a fundamentalist Christian who defends family (and state) against the sin of lust.


D.C. McAllister wrote: "By removing this protective shield around children, the state exposes children to being intentionally and completely deprived of a parent or to government itself taking the parents’ place."


That is a false dichotomy.  In the first place, historically, children have been out-sourced as far back as we have records. The roots of modern capitalism are in the medieval guild system. Children were apprenticed to craftsmen, a step up from life on the farm. It broke up the family, or created new "family" structures that had to be recognized by law. (Market stalls in Champagne became heritable property, and property owned by women, at that.)  Read Horatio Alger stories. In Ragged Dick, our hero is 12 years old, living on the streets, sleeping in a favored cart in an alley, before he is able to pull himself up by his bootstraps. At one point, he and a 10-year old are successful enough to take a room together. The landlady only cares for her silver, not where their parents are or why they are not in school.  How does D.C. McAllister instantiate their rights to parents?  


President Gerald Ford was one of millions of adopted children. I fear that McAllister's agenda would prevent that. The children have a right to their parents. Therefore, the parents have no right to abandon them to strangers.


In fact, children historically and in the present have always had alternatives apart from their biological parents and ownership by the state.


McAllister has no new facts to offer, no statistical samples, not even real-life horror stories, only quotes from someone who said the same things she does: "What they find is more jealousy, possessiveness, manipulation, control, self-centeredness, lies, melodrama, chaos, power struggles, and pain.”  -- Deborah Taj Anapol, quoted in the article.


I have another story. My first wife (Dagny 2.0 on my blog here) has been in a committed relationship for ten or fifteen years, and is polyamorous, and has no children.  Where does she fit into McAllister's narrative?


Most people cannot image what kind of relationship Dagny, Francisco, Hank, and John could have had after the end of the book.  We can.  It is easy when people are rational and realistic, and adhere to values that enhance their lives. 


We all know the cliches about divorce. Frankly, I am just sorry for all the divorced people who hate each other. Why did they get married in the first place?  Usually - especially in modern Western cultures - they will claim that they were "in love."  My grandparents had an arranged marriage. I once heard my grandmother say to my mother, "Fifty-two years I was married to your father. No one asked me if I loved him." It was a stable household, for sure, but not one overflowing with love - mostly a lot of duty, routine, and diligence. 


McAllister writes poetically, but all she is saying is that sex is permissible only when sanctified by marriage.

This doesn’t mean husbands and wives consign themselves to a boring marriage without sex. We are sexual beings, and, if we’re healthy, we long to be physically close to the person we love. It’s important, and necessary, to have a meaningful sex life. But that doesn’t mean we need butterfly-inducing sex found with strangers. There is a beauty to familiar sex between a husband and wife that is a thrill all its own. The love is deep, and sex is an expression of real intimacy—a love built on promises that there is only one. No jealousy. No fear. No pain. And, I should add, no sexually transmitted disease

She just kind of runs it all together, wherease the thoughtful scholastics who wrote the Baltimore Catechism were more structured.

254. What is the sixth commandment of God?

The sixth commandment of God is: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)

255. What are we commanded by the sixth commandment?

By the sixth commandment we are commanded to be pure and modest in our behavior.

I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God. (Romans 12:1)

256. What does the sixth commandment forbid?

The sixth commandment forbids all impurity and immodesty in words, looks, and actions, whether alone or with others.

But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becomes saints. (Ephesians 5:3)

257. What are the chief dangers to the virtue of chastity?

The chief dangers to the virtue of chastity are: idleness, sinful curiosity, bad companions, drinking, immodest dress, and indecent books, plays, and motion pictures.

258. What are the chief means of preserving the virtue of chastity?

The chief means of preserving the virtue of chastity are to avoid carefully all unnecessary dangers, to seek God's help through prayer, frequent confession, Holy Communion, and assistance at Holy Mass, and to have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 1:43pmSanction this postReply

From what I know of psychology, I can say that the greatest potential experience of romantic love occurs in a monogamous relationship.  BUT, there there are requirements to be met.  That very high end of the spectrum of love requires the following (as a minimum):

  1. A high level of self-esteem in both of the individuals

  2. A fairly good understanding of the practical steps needed to keep such a

       relationship working

  3. Personalities that don't exclude the degree of give and take needed to let

        each person be independent while still committed to the relationship.


Love comes in a wide spectrum of experiences.  A person can love their dog, their car, their child, a good friend and so forth.


Very few of us have the requirements needed to experience that very highest level of romantic love, but few of us go without being able to experience loving romatic relationships.


I see no logical psychological reasons why people shouldn't form polyamoris relationships, and if they find that converting to an exclusive monogomous relationship will generate a more intense love, then they should do that.  The intensity and depth of the experience is the purpose - not some god's law, or social conventions.  Clearly, we shouldn't fit ourselves into a relationship that others claim is "right" while denying a relationship that might make us happier.


If we were connected more clearly to sound principles, those grounded in rational egoism and intelligent psychology, and possessed higher average levels of self-esteem, we, as a society, would have more forms of romantic relationships that people engaged in - not fewer (at least that's my guess).


As to what is good for kids... that isn't going to be found in the format of the relationship, but in the psychology of whoever is doing the parenting.  Kids need good role models as people, loving and caring parenting, emotional intimacy, a few people with an established chain of command in terms of who are the people that keep them safe and direct them in what they can do without permission and who to get permission from when it is needed - knowing and feeling that someone is responsible for them and see them as competent and lovable.  These things don't arise out of some strange idea of parenting from scriptures, or from a utopian theory of society, but from what is the nature of a child and what kind of parenting will best allow them to flourish and become a happy, successful adult.

Post 3

Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply

Nicely said, Steve. You got my vote.  Considering again the objective as different from the absolute, I believe that no single mode of romantic relationship is best for everyone.  I also believe no single construct of "family" must be best for everyone.  

Post 4

Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 6:27pmSanction this postReply

Considering again the objective as different from the absolute, I believe that no single mode of romantic relationship is best for everyone.


I think we agree completely on the romantic mode issues here, but I don't think we agree on the use of the term "absolute."


When you use the term "objective" I suspect we both mean the same thing: "...determined by the nature of reality, but to be discovered by man’s mind" (Ayn Rand)

And, "Subjectivism is the belief that reality is not a firm absolute..." (Ayn Rand)   That would be in metaphysics. In epistemology, subjectivism would be the belief that reality can't be accurately known and that truth varies from one consciousness to another.


Unless you have very different epistemological or metaphysical principles than I do, you would agree that within the proper context, everything is absolute.


Or coming at that from a different direction, it is impossible to have identity without accepting that it is both objective and absolute.  A is A in reality regardless of whether it is grasped or accepted in someone's mind.


Context is the only way we can organize knowledge.  All knowledge is contextual.  Without a context, nothing can be knowledge.  Nothing can be knowledge without being absolute in its context.  Context is about the relationship between the elements that make up the knowledge - most often the boundaries or scope or inclusion.


When you say, "...no single mode of romantic relationship is best for everyone" you have set the context for that statement.  If you were to say that for a particular couple there is but one mode of romantic relationship is best, that would be a different context.  Both statements are absolute.  They assert that there is an invioable principle relating these modes to couples that will be true within the specified context.  There are times when a statement isn't absolute - such as when a statement asserts a relationship or property but requires some variable that isn't part of the context.  We often catch an error in an such an argument and recognize that a person "dropped context."

Post 5

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 12:45amSanction this postReply

Back in the '70's when I was living in San Francisco, a group of hippies with names like "Geo Logical" and "Fir Tree" formed a commune called "Kerista Village" in which they practiced something called "polyfidelity."  The name referred to a kind of polyamory to which the participants were faithfully committed, hence "fidelitous."  A polyfidelitous partnership was called a "Best Friend Identity Cluster (or "BFIC") and could be any number of people, but had to be an equal number of men and women.  No involvement with anyone of the opposite sex outside the group was permitted -- not even a casual friendship. 


A typical BFIC might involve four men paired with four women.  Each of the opposite-sex partners would be intimate on a regular but non-partisan basis.  No sexual partner was to be favored over any other.  The sexual relations were to be perfectly egalitarian.  For example, Jason could have sex with Nicole on Monday, but must then entertain Sabrina on Tuesday, Chanelle on Wednesday and Rachel on Thursday.  (Those were not their names, of course, which were much more exotic.)  If an individual wanted to become part of a BFIC, he or she had to have a sexual partner.  If not, the person was to remain celibate until a suitable partner was found.  The group also frowned on privacy.  All of one's activities had to be public and observable by other members.  They shared all of their earnings and personal property as well.  The rationale for polyfidelity was that it included fidelity as well as variety, which they claimed was missing in a typical two-person marriage.  Monogamy, while supposedly faithful, was always vulnerable to the temptation of an extra-marital affair -- to the variety that was missing in monogamist relationship.


The group, which initially numbered about 12 people, lived in a large, multi-story Victorian house of the kind often seen in certain San Francisco neighborhoods and published a comic book series depicting their lifestyle and activities.  The comic books were nicely illustrated, as some of the group's members were artists.  They did have children, but of course the children didn't know who their fathers were. :-/  The founders saw their polyfaithful lifestyle as revolutionizing marriage, but their ideal never really caught on, because the new people who were initially attracted to it didn't like the restrictions on outside friendships.  So the group and its lifestyle never gained much of a following.

Post 6

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 1:08amSanction this postReply



I lived in San Francisco for a couple of years... starting about 1967 or 1968.  In another thread you talked about meeting John Howard at an Objectivist meeting?  I remember attending an NBI course - Basic Principles of Objectivism, I believe - that would have been about 1968 or 1969.  Nathaniel gave the introductory lecture and the rest of the lectures were delivered on tape.  That was so very, very long ago.  I arrived as a bit of a hippie.  Lived in a milk truck I'd converted into sort of an RV and parked on the street about a block or two from the infamous corner of Haight and Ashbury.  Sometimes I'd come back to my truck and find that there were half a dozen bodies of people I'd never met sprawled out sleeping and grumbling at me to keep quiet :-)


I remember all the different discussions of free love, love-ins, group marriages, corporate marriages, communes and so forth.  It was all very exciting and heady in a fuzzy mindless sort of way.  A new generation had just barely reached the age of consent and had decided that all bets were off when came to any traditional practices or established set of rules.  Everyone, even the least intelligent or most stoned felt they were a cultural pathbreaker.  When I first arrived the peace movement was held in the heart (there wasn't anything logical to hold in the head) and someone could fall asleep on the sidewalk with a hundred dollar bill visible in their shirt pocket and it would still be there the next morning.  Within about two years, you couldn't safely walk down that same street without an addict jumping out at you with a knife trying to hold you up.  The people that stayed with the more or less nihilist political ideology of that time are some of the most fierce progressives today.  It was an interesting time and place.

Post 7

Monday, September 14, 2015 - 7:05amSanction this postReply

In the world of non-monogamy, there are two general approaches, swinging and polyamory. Lines can blur between these at times, but generally speaking, swinging is the idea that you have one long term partner with whom you build a life, but then you have occasional encounters outside the relationship with other couples that are of a purely sexual nature. Polyamory is more about having multiple, long term serious relationships with a significant emotional component. 


I have never practiced either, but have met people who are involved in each lifestyle. I even dated a woman 20 years my senior who tried to get me into swinging. Swingers are often non-religious conservative and vote Republican, and they are likely to live in middle class white suburbs. They look like typical middle age suburbanites who have a 3 bedroom house, with a nice lawn and such. They more likely to own some guns.  They are usually intolerant of men being gay or bi within their swinging circle, but are OK with the ladies doing so. 


Poly people are usually extremely liberal/Left, and they can have an artsy or academic leaning to them. They look like the people you might see at an urban coffee store in the bohemian neighborhood, or at poetry slams. They probably skew younger than swingers, and are more likely to be mortified by the fact that anyone would own a gun. 


I honestly think swinging seems more practical than polyamory, though I would never try to delcare my own views as best for everyone. With swinging, you are being realistic that the thrill is simply a short term release, and you are not entangling yourselves emotionally and financially with multiple people. This seems less likely to come crashing down spectacularly once jealousies and other inevitable conflicts come to the fore. That said, I would be leery of trying swinging just because once you cross that bridge in a relationship, you can't really take it back and undo it. If you had a strong monogamous relationship, that would seem like a big risk to take. 


(Edited by Pete on 9/14, 7:24am)


(Edited by Pete on 9/14, 7:24am)

Post 8

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 6:22amSanction this postReply

Any sort of compulsive behavior that causes problems in other areas of life can qualify as an addiction.  Gambling, video games, sex, etc. all qualify.  For an examination of one celebrity's tragic end by sexual addiction, watch Auto Focus.  It documents the descent of actor Bob Crane of "Hogan's Heroes" fame into the dark world of swinger clubs, one night stands, and other adulteries at the expense of two marriages and any kind of meaningful relationship with his children.  His swinging pal John Carpenter (not the movie director) was the chief suspect in Crane's murder in a hotel room after Crane vowed to quit his addiction, but he was never convicted.  Ironically, Crane was found with his head smashed by the very tripod he used so often to mount the video recorder he used to tape his many sexual escapades.  Carpenter relied on Crane to attract women as his "wingman" using Crane's celebrity status.  So he was quite upset to lose this valuable resource.

Post 9

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 12:03pmSanction this postReply

Any sort of compulsive behavior that causes problems in other areas of life can qualify as an addiction.  Gambling, video games, sex, etc. all qualify.

In psychology, there are different uses for the common terms like compulsion or addiction.  This post isn't an argument about anything Luke posted above.  This is only for anyone interested in the more technical side of the classification of psychological disorders as they relate to compulsions and addictions.




In the DSM IV (I don't have a copy of the DSM V which is the latest version), gambling, at the level that it disrupts a persons life, is in the general category of an Impulse Control Disorder.  To be specific it is "312.31 Pathological Gambling."  I'd see it as engaging in magical thinking about winning, fueled with fantasies which attach themselves as ways to block or avoid feelings of depression, despair, anxiety and/or shame.  It is a mind that holds views, and engages in behaviors that are very negative regarding the person and his future.  We are talking about a sense that they are failures and that they always will be.  But it feels to terrible to accept those views so they engage in denial and engage in the fantasies where they do what down deep they think is impossible - they fantash great wins.  In the fantasy all the negative feelings will be eliminated and all things will be good - just as soon as they make their really big win.  This view makes it a way to avoid appropriate conciousness of reality and a non-functional way to relieve negative emotions.  Life of course generates losses.  And it is a momentary relief to lose.  It brings them back to home - it feels like home to lose.  That is familiar territory.  But then the negative feelings start to grow strong again and they start new fantasies.  It is a cycle that progresses.  It is a self-esteem issue since the negative feelings and the defenses arise out of volitional violations of the proper way to exercise the consciousness.



Addictions are treated differently from compulsions or impulse control disorders (pathological gambling, video games, sex, etc.)  With addiction there is a substance that is involved.  The addiction would be discussed as the abuse of a substance.  This is a disorder that will have many of the same traits as the impulse control disorder of pathological gambling, but there is also the physiological effect of the substance - a possible physical addiction that is in addition to any pyschological 'addiction.'  And there are the physiological effects of excessive intake of a substance if it has a toxic effect.



Compulsions are sorted out separately in the DSM and under the headings "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" or as one of the Personality Disorders: "Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder."  Both tend to be about a deep rooted belief held by the person that they are only kept safe from some impending disaster by some behavior or way of being that has no rational place in their life and is harmful in some way.  Like feeling a need to never step on a crack in the sidewalk, or living a life that is excessively miserly.

=="Sex Addiction"


"Sex Addiction" is not classified in the current DSM, even though it has been proposed.  Too much dispute about it - many people believe it does not exist, others say it exists but not as an addiction.  It does have a classification in ICD-10 and a few other classification systems.  Behaviorists tend to see it as a valid addiction since they can categorize it as reward-reinforcement behaviors that can lead to the induction of a compulsive state.  Neurophysiologists want to look at it as a naturally reinforcing dopamine dysregulation syndrome.  I see both of those approaches as leaving out our conceptual/emotional nature (i.e., we are more than rats and more than neurons).  The earlier DSM - version III - refered to sexual addiction saying this: "distress about a pattern of repeated sexual conquests or other forms of nonparaphilic sexual addiction, involving a succession of people who exist only as things to be used."  DSM IV dropped that.  The DSM IV Revised edition had a brief mention under "Sexual Identity Disorders, Not Otherwise Specified" where the disorder was about the feeling of disgust left over after using sexual partners as objects.

Post 10

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 3:49pmSanction this postReply

"The whole idea of sex addiction is a controversial one: many people feel that the word 'addiction' is not well suited to discussing behavioral issues like sex. However, everybody seems to agree that substituting sex for fulfillment of other needs— to allay anxiety, for instance, or bolster sagging self-esteem— represents a problem."


--The Ethical Slut

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