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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Lust

It is not easy writing about this topic. My 1st draft even omitted mentioning the intensity of Lust. Apparently, people still consider Lust as an innocent feature while making love. This topic is not about being horny or randy. This blog is about obsessive behaviour. It is about the Ramsay Bolton (GoTWiki) type of Lust. The Lust for killing, torture and whatever else. This type of Lust scares me as I often wonder whether this behaviour is hidden in all humans, including myself.

I am afraid that the answer is affirmative - a "yes". Let's use a James Anthony Froude quote: “Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow-creatures is amusing in itself.” However, this might not be entirely true as apparently ants, bottle-nose dolphins and chimps are also in the human league (source).

Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher defines "three different brain systems: lust, romantic love and deep attachment to a partner" (2006 TED video). About lust she states (> 6.38 min.): "One is the sex drive: the craving for sexual gratification. W.H. Auden called it an "intolerable neural itch" and indeed, that's what it is. It keeps bothering you a little bit, like being hungry".

2014 Psychology Today article, called "The Philosophy of Lust", states that "Lust can be defined as the strong, passionate longing or desire for certain things: not only sex, but also food, drink, money, fame, power, and knowledge, among others". And: "MRI scanners have revealed that the same area of the brain lights up in people experiencing lust as in addicts receiving their cocaine fix. Lust is so powerful a force that it is often beyond the power of reason to contain".

I think, feel and believe that Lust is indeed more than just lust for sex. I do think that the Psychology Today article confuses appetite with lust. The difference in intensity between both is huge. Genuine Lust is - by definition - obsessive in nature. Authoritarian leaders usually have a Lust for Power. The Lust for money, better known as Greed, is another clear example outside the sex domain. The Lust for killing, murder and torture is perhaps one of the darkest corners of our mind.

I suppose that all human beings are able to display animalistic and/or barbaric behaviour and become monsters, especially in certain circumstances (eg, Abu Ghraib, ISIL, or the war crimes by Cambodia, Japan, Nazi Germany or Turkey). Obviously, I did explore the corners of my mind and frankly I did not like what I then saw. This awareness causes genuine shame rather than false shame (also see my blogs of 16 May and 17 May). Hence, my initial reluctance to write on this topic.
Lust must be located in the deeper and darker corners of our minds. It is a strong emotion which - at times - can feel like an overwhelming addiction. Most of the times, however, this feeling of lust does not even seem to be around at all. And I have no clue what triggers its awakening. Guess I still need to learn a lot about myself. At least in this area.

Clearly, obsessive and romantic lust are both part of human evolution. There is little to no doubt that romantic lust is still a useful and probably even a necessary human emotion. Its awakening is usually quite obvious. The awakening of obsessive lust is a very different story. Psychology Today: "the problems begin when [lust] turns from servant into master. It is important to be ready to recognize uncontrolled lust for the blind and destructive force that it is". Obsessive lust might well be an unfortunate evolutionary leftover in our human firmware.

The Human League - Human (1986) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I'm only human
Of flesh and blood I'm made
Human
Born to make mistakes

The tears I cry aren't tears of pain
They're only to hide my guilt and shame


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