Vice Squad
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Newish Habits in the New York Times

Today's Sunday Style section contains two front page articles on forming bad relationships. One is about forming a bad relationship with both food and alcohol; the second is about forming a bad relationship with the wired and wireless world.

The bad relationship with food and alcohol is too little of one and too much of the other: an eating disorder co-existing with large alcohol consumption. These two disorders can be complementary: "Many bulimics who drink use alcohol to vomit, experts on eating disorders say, because liquid is easier to purge. They also tend to vomit because they often drink on empty stomachs." And while abstinence can be an effective strategy for overcoming substance abuse, it is of no avail in combating an eating disorder.

A weekly day (more or less) of abstinence is the approach taken by the author of the second article, in dealing with his fixation on connectivity. It took a while, but he came to embrace his "secular Sabbath": "It’s been more than six months, and while I’m hardly a new man — no one has yet called me mellow — this achievement is unlike any other in my life. And nothing bad has happened while I’ve been offline; the e-mail and phone messages, RSS feeds, are all there waiting for me when I return to them."

For addictions as "bad relationships," see Peter McWilliams's Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do.

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