Friday, February 23, 2007

shocking, shocking!

Alleged "internet addicts" in China are being strapped down and given electric shocks to cure the addiction. One youth reported using the internet five hours per week. Uh-oh.

Why doesn't someone do this with food addiction? Why can't we get electric shock treatment for that. Oh wait! You can do that and, oops! I did do that back in 1979. $500 for a "treatment" program of a number of weeks, with the intent of curing addictions to certain foods.

My trigger foods were, of course, sugar (my heroin) and various combinations of fat and sugar (my speedball). My first treatment appointment arrived and I trudged off to Schick Center with my substances-of-abuse in a brown paper bag.

Upon arrival, I was taken to a room with a small table facing a mirror. I was asked to name five things that make me feel sick. Not a problem: moths, roly-polies, grub worms, maggots and the dreadful guinea worm, forever in my head, courtesy of First Lutheran Elementary and those mandatory missionary recruiting films.

Electrodes were attached to my wrists and activated. I reported when it was uncomfortable and the technician was supposed to leave it at that. I am confident that she actually jacked it up a few notches because by the time we were done with my half hour session, my hands were numb and my arms so tingly as to be useless. But by God, I didn't want to eat anything.

The theory is that the seductive substance creates some sort of pleasurable sensation in the brain. This must be disrupted by the insertion of pain and unpleasantness over the top of any good feelings associated with the substance of abuse, kind of like a nasty cork-o-pain in your bottle of good stuff.

The actual treatment consisted of arranging the brown-bagged substances on a plate before me while I faced the mirror. When given the go, I put a spoonful of sugar in my mouth. Don't swallow!! Just roll it around in there. As I was rolling and not swallowing, the technician was shouting out "grub worms!" "guinea worms!" "moths and roly polies!" and she was shocking me vigorously on the wrists. I then spit the sugar out on a plate.

We proceeded with a bit of chocolate. "Chew it up, do not swallow!!" Vigorous shocks coupled with intermittent exhortations to think of "maggots!" "fat slimy worms" (not one of mine, must have been one of hers). On this second go, I was running my fingers through the slimy sugary stuff I just spit out. Shock! Slime! Unpleasant and unhappy face in the mirror! Revolting creatures! Shock! Shock! Shock!

I paid for this. Actually, my dad paid for this because I paid for my sister to go through the same torture for smoking. The funny (or not so, but ironic) thing is that I would be perfectly happy to weigh what I weighed when I started at Schick Center. I was round, but far from obese. I'm within sighting distance of that weight again, and I will be thrilled, delighted, pleased, happy as a little clam to get there.

Though I lost a little weight with Schick, the aversion therapy lasted until the moment my father returned from New York toting a box of Godivas, my first experience with those nuggets from heaven. One chocolate, two, and I was off and running, as only a food addict can be. I think Schick had it right as far as the fact of addiction, it's just that the high speed treatment was less than effective for the long run.

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Blogger Natalie C. said...

First time on your blog. What a great sense of humor you have. I thought you were kidding about the shock therapy until the end. Are you serious?? I've often wanted to by hypnotized. It doesn't sound like any of these things work. Not even gastric bypass works for some people (talk about unpleasant- barfing all the time...). What finally worked for you? How did you lose those 100 lbs?

February 23, 2007 10:26 AM  
Anonymous tater said...

oh dear. "Willing to go to any lengths" has just taken on a new meaning! I just recently did the reverse, in that I fasted until I got the positives from my detox, which left me feeling like I wanted to stay off the toxic food like sugar and animal fat etc. Put the torture first and was rewarded with positive feelings afterwards. Haven't strayed off the straight and narrow yet...

February 23, 2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger Lotuslander said...

I didn't know they used shock for anything else but depression, and though I've never had it, it has worked for some friends of mine. I guess I have the opposite problem of you were my weight is always a battle, but it's in gaining weight, as I have a tendency to stop eating when I get really depressed.

February 23, 2007 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Big Fella said...

Hey, I went through the same program about that time at the Schick Beverly Hills branch. Totally useless program (except for Shick's bottom line), no stupid shocks and no amount of masticating big hunks of cake with handfuls of Crisco, or big hunks of sourdough bread with half a pound of butter and half a pound of salt on it, could ever overcome the power of my mind.

There is an interesting article in the New Yorker this week about the producer of the "24" TV show, and about how the show seems to justify illegal torture as a means to an end. Well I am here to tell you, after going through the Schick experience, that when our intelligence professionals say that torture is futile in getting the truth out of someone, they are correct. No amount of torture is any match for the human mind.

I keep coming back to the same conclusion, over and over, in terms of losing weight and maintaining my health, I can know the scienece or mechanics of it inside out, but until I can get better control of what goes on in my mind, I will not be able to get this monkey off my back.

February 23, 2007 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belle, no!!!

Now I see. Your writing style, so blunt and warm, has an old story to tell in a new, compelling way. Book time, hon'!

I'm reminded of "The Blacker The Berry." Not a great book but occasionally a very good one by Wallace Thurman, a Harlem Renaissance Author. His heroine, a very young, very light-skinned black woman who is at once proud and self-loathing, poisons herself by snacking on arsenic wafers in an attempt to lighten her skin.

No one in her right mind would have done that in 1979. But someone in her right mind might, even now, do what you did then. If I'm wrong about that detail, are fingers downthroat, Ex-Lax, or amphetamines less shocking or insane? Share your sad lessons and bright talent!

--Freddy in P'town

February 23, 2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger lisalgreer said...

It's so bad that you went through that, but it's good that you write about food addiction. I've come to realize it's very real. I have been fat, depressed, mean, and irritable for the last few years. I finally realized I'm biochemically out of balance due to sugar and my sensitivity to it. I've been doing a program, very gentle, and will eventually totally detox from sugar and probably caffeine as well. I feel like a whole new person already, and now I know why all those diets and nondiets never worked!


February 25, 2007 11:15 AM  

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