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  #1   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 07:36
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Default The "debate:" is sugar addictive?

https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-l...s-not-addictive

Quote:
The Truth About Neural Reward Pathways
People say that eating sugar lights up neural reward pathways, just like it does with drugs. Sure, but these same pathways also light up from sex, working out, and playing video games.

However, it's the act of doing those things that lights up your brain circuitry like the Vegas strip not the substance. Therefore, you can't go nutritional Sherlock Holmes on us and say that sugar, since it lights up the same pathways as drugs, is addictive.

If something has addictive qualities, it implies that it has some intrinsic property that makes susceptible people fall in psychological but mostly chemical love with it. Sugar has no such intrinsic properties.



People argue against sugar being addictive because it isn't heroin. By that metric--is tobacco addictive? Also, sex, exercise, video games--giving examples of things that are not, strictly speaking, bio-active chemicals is silly. Video games could be slot machines, if you don't think those deserve to be called "addictive," well, I don't know where you got that idea. This is an argument by classification. It's true that the DSMV calls gambling a compulsive disorder rather than an addiction.

Making something "psychological" rather than chemical, maybe that's fine. The problem arises with the idea that this distinction is supposed to have anything to do with the degree of difficulty in fighting the compulsion. Compare heroin to sugar, okay. Compare tobacco to a more serious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or tourette's--not so easy say that chemical dependency is harder to control than "psychological."

One of the article's headings;

Quote:
You Don't See Spiders When You Stop Using Sugar


is trying to be funny, but would you expect to see spiders when you stop smoking? Quitting smoking is hard, but it doesn't have to look like heroin withdrawal.


Quote:
Yes, sugar is a big problem. It's a leading contributor to obesity. It can lead to diabetes, and heart and liver disease, but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.


Taubes has a quote he uses a lot, paraphrased, "whether sugar is addictive or not, we act as if it were addictive." A relatively mild set of withdrawal symptoms when people quit sugar isn't really something I take as proof that sugar is non-addictive. Even if it was--what does that say about what our response should be?

I guess his point could be that if you think it's addictive, maybe you'll give it too much power over you. That's a question for science, do people who assume sugar is addictive have more trouble quitting, or less? How do you parse that out--it's possible that people who think sugar is addictive think it's addictive because they're genuinely addicted to it, so does their opinion cause the result, or did their experience inform their opinion? I would have an easier time quitting my two shots of rum a week than an alcoholic would. If I had only my own experience to go by, I'd have to say that alcohol is non-addictive. Some threads have come up here about carb-ups or cheats, battle lines get drawn between abstainers and moderators, I think abstainers are largely people who found they couldn't moderate.
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 07:45
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cotonpal cotonpal is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by teaser
https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-l...s-not-addictive
I think abstainers are largely people who found they couldn't moderate.


That's me and that's all I have to know. I think people like to have exclusive labels that make them special as if you take away from the seriousness of heroin addiction if you include other substances under the heading addictive that might not be quite as dangerous or only dangerous in a different way. It's strange how people can argue about who's the best but can also argue about who's the worst as if having the worst problem confers a kind of desirable status. We are always and ever both physical and psychological beings, both matter and are related.

Jean
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 08:09
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khrussva khrussva is online now
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Plan: My own - < 30 net carbs
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Default

Quote:
but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.

Why do those who can moderate have to be so damned condescending to those who cannot? For me sugar has a one/two punch that is not really covered in the discussion. Yes, I've always loved the 'wow' factor of sweets. Who doesn't? But I also think that I have always had a weak, slow, or otherwise muted sense of satiety, which makes it more difficult to stop once I start eating (sugar or anything else). So sugar + a broken "off switch" is a bad combination. For me it was a recipe for weight gain and increasing metabolic problems.

My #2 punch was for carbs in general (including but not limited to the sweet stuff) and what those foods did to my blood sugar once insulin resistance entered the picture. Eating carb loaded food from breakfast until bedtime kept my insulin levels high, so my own body fat was not available for use as fuel. My energy lived an died by what I put in my mouth. Blood sugar and energy swings amplified. I was increasingly drawn to the foods that would get my BG and my energy back up... more carbs. One problem built upon another and the whole thing snowballed out of control. I don't think all of this can be construed as psychological. There are a lot of physical/chemical/biological process going on that build upon the thing that started it all... Yum, that sugary treat tastes good. Ultimately I wound up extremely sensitive to carbs. After eating even a small amount of any food high on the glycemic index I'd get immediate BG spike. More insulin to the rescue! That would result in a rapid BG crash within 30 minutes of eating. Spiking BG feels good (an even bigger WOW factor). Crashing BG feels horrible (chain me to the floor or I'll eat that 2nd or 3rd donut) and low blood sugar left me with a nagging pull to go back to the pantry for more food. Over time the brain learns how to fix crashing and low blood sugar issues... MORE SUGAR. If that is not addiction, I don't know what is.

So this is the thing that a skinny 'moderator' who has never had a problem with sugar will never understand. They have never experienced what I experience from eating the same foods. Rather than see things from another POV, many take the holier than thou approach and spew condemnation. I see it like alcoholism. We all start off at the same place. Over time, some can moderate and others develop problems that lead to a true addiction. But unlike crack cocaine, the full fledged addiction does not happen with the first puff. It is a process over time.

So the problem with me, Jean, and a multitude of others, isn't that we are weak and undisciplined. The problem is the SAD food environment coupled with bad dietary advice. We were told that the key to success is 'everything in moderation'. That is bad advice for me. I wanted to believe it but I could never make that advice work. I had to find another key to success. For me that is absence. Now that I know what I must do it is on me to abide. But it is more than a little unfair to arm people with bad food and bad advice, then blame them for their failings.

Last edited by khrussva : Mon, Dec-04-17 at 10:28.
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  #4   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 08:38
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Calianna Calianna is offline
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Default

Quote:
Yes, sugar is a big problem. It's a leading contributor to obesity. It can lead to diabetes, and heart and liver disease, but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.


Spoken like someone who doesn't have a single addictive tendency in their body - aside from the psychological need to feel superior to those who can't control the intensity of sugar cravings.

Sugar is everywhere in the food supply, especially in food that's touted as being "heart healthy" and "good for you". Sometimes it masks itself as whole grains, which despite the can-do-no-wrong image of fiber, whole grains are still mostly starch, and since eating starch raises blood sugar faster than table sugar, people who are eating such healthy food are blindly feeding their body's desire for sugar. (not to mention that in most cases, whole grain breads and cereals have more sugars added to them than refined flour breads - they need it to cover up the bitter, rancid flavor of the whole grains)
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 08:41
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JEY100 JEY100 is offline
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Default

When TC Luoma isn't selling Testosterone or writing books on testosterone (Manhood and Other Stuff ), is he treating obese children like Dr. Robert Lustig? Or maybe doing endocrinology research like Dr. David Ludwig? Or maybe he's an RD like Andy Bellatti? No, he's a bodybuilder. He may be a fine editor of T-Nation, but what research has he done to state "If something has addictive qualities, it implies that it has some intrinsic property that makes susceptible people fall in psychological but mostly chemical love with it. Sugar has no such intrinsic properties." Or claim to even know "The Truth About Neural Reward Pathways"?
Taubes wrote a whole book on sugar and never claimed to "know the Truth".
This is as close to a true statement he would go: "whether sugar is addictive or not, we act as if it were addictive."
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  #6   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 10:35
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Meme#1 Meme#1 is online now
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Default

Yes sugar is very addictive and don't forget that it shoots our BS up when we get it, which then must fall and that's the cycle of addiction. Up and Down...
The whole point is to stabilize BS on an even keel with No Sugar....
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 11:18
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teaser teaser is offline
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Default

I guess the problem might be that some sensational headlines tend to follow reporting on "sugar is addictive." "Sugar is as addictive as cocaine" headlines do happen. Once that's out there, somebody finding this excessive might associate any suggestion that sugar is addictive with that sort of sensationalism.

This is a lot like the a calorie is a calorie debate. Sometimes there's no disagreement in underlying concepts, as far as I can tell. One person will be saying CICO is false, and meaning that you can't predict what's going to happen simply by changing calorie intake or increasing exercise (within reasonable limits), since low calories or increased intentional exercise might decrease either basal metabolic rate or spontaneous activity. But the listener only hears their own interpretation of "CICO is false", and accuses the speaker of thinking that the conservation of energy and mass doesn't apply to human bodies. This is so common, there must be something about the way we're wired that makes us so susceptible to misunderstanding each other.
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  #8   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 11:28
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calianna
Spoken like someone who doesn't have a single addictive tendency in their body - aside from the psychological need to feel superior to those who can't control the intensity of sugar cravings.
Once I committed to LCHF and found hunger & cravings disappeared if I completely avoided sugar and all but a few carbs, I found that my cravings were indeed medical, not due to lack of willpower or a personal choice. Yes, having a bite and then more bites is a personal choice, but without cravings or hunger I rarely feel tempted and realize that this is how "normal" people feel most of the time - their BG, insulin resistance & hormones are not driving them to stuff themselves so they cannot imaging anyone "wanting" to do it.
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  #9   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 11:33
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cotonpal cotonpal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deirdra
Once I committed to LCHF and found hunger & cravings disappeared if I completely avoided sugar and all but a few carbs, I found that my cravings were indeed medical, not due to lack of willpower or a personal choice. Yes, having a bite and then more bites is a personal choice, but without cravings or hunger I rarely feel tempted and realize that this is how "normal" people feel most of the time - their BG, insulin resistance & hormones are not driving them to stuff themselves so they cannot imaging anyone "wanting" to do it.


Exactly. I used to think that I had some kind of severe emotional problem linked to food. Why was I so hungry all the time? Why couldn't I just say "no"? Come to find out, once I went low carb I no longer had this awful so called emotional problem. I had a physiological problem that was solved by eating a low carb diet. I now I make the choice every day to continue eating this way but it's not a hard choice to make since I am not driven by hunger.

Jean
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  #10   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 12:39
dcc0455 dcc0455 is offline
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I guess I am going to be the contrarian, but the post is titled the debate, so I hope it doesn't make me persona non grata here. I think sugar could be addictive for some people, but couldn't you say that about anything. Maybe we are just arguing semantics, but I think addictive doesn't have to mean everyone will have withdrawal symptoms, but it should mean that most will. I smoked about a pack a day from the age of 15 to 25 and had no problem quitting, but I do recognize that most people do have trouble quitting so I would call it addictive. I think sugar and carbs have the inverse results, causing some people a lot of trouble, but even though most people like it, and will consume it if available, they would not suffer any withdrawal symptoms if it was removed from their diet. That's why I would not call it addictive.

Last edited by dcc0455 : Mon, Dec-04-17 at 12:40. Reason: spelling error
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  #11   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 13:48
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khrussva khrussva is online now
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Default

I believe that I did - in fact - have with drawl symptoms. I didn't really see it that way until I was past them. I had low carb "dieted" dozens of times in my life and never broke free from the addiction. That finally happened sometime in 2014 after I had stuck religiously to my low carb program for several months. After it happened staying low carb got easy for the first time in my life. Every other time it was a struggle. Something happened. Some would call it a psychological addiction. But if it is just 'psychological' it is not the same for everybody - much like you and your ability to give up smokes fairly easily.

From what I've read the toughest part of giving up smoking is the first few days. The stressful emptiness felt as the nicotine leaves the body is a physical withdrawal. Within a few days, though, the nicotine is gone. But is that the end of it for most people? Certainly not. The pull to give in and light up lasts for weeks, if not months. Rituals, habits, interpersonal relationships, emotions, stress relieve, etc. were all intertwined with the daily pleasures of smoking. Getting that out of your system and making a new life as a non-smoker is as hard, if not harder than those first 3 days. I'm sure that varies from one person to another. If you've smoked for decades, I'm sure that quitting is tougher than if you'd tried quitting not long after starting smoking. If you live in a family of smokers and are constantly exposed to others still enjoying the habit, I'm sure that makes life tougher, too. For ex-smokers who slip up, how many are pulled right back into the habit as if they'd never stopped? Most ex-smokers cannot become "recreational" smokers after they've had the habit. That first cigarette after not having one in a while gives you an incredible buzz that is extremely hard to resist repeating.

I think carb addiction works much the same way for some of us. But I don't think it is the "sweetness of sugar" that is the main issue here. I think that some of us are terribly addicted to the glucose metabolism. Our bodies only knew how to deal with glucose as fuel for such a long time. Getting used to running on ketones takes time. Our brain tries hard to try to get us to eat the fuel that it is used to running on. Withdraw symptoms include:

Keto/Atkins flu. Stop eating carbs and you will feel like crap.

After that I went through a terrible "food boredom" period. I'd almost gag at the thought of another bite of meat, eggs or green beans. It wasn't that way during the first few weeks. It isn't that way now. I eat meat, eggs, and LC veggies daily and I love them. The intense boredom with LC food was a temporary phase, but it lasted several months.

During those first few months eating low carb the pull to dive into some old junky favorite was amped up on steroids. Carbs were screaming my name. Walking into the break room at work and resisting the candy, cookies, bagels, or donuts required loads of willpower. The smell of pizza or baking bread could drive me crazy. I could be doing fine for days and some trigger would fire off some intense craving out of the blue. These were real experience that thankfully I don't have to endure anymore.

I've hung out on this forum for nearly 4 years. I've read many journals. I read journals of people that were successful. I also tended to follow journals of those with a lot of weight to lose. I see many people start this WOE and have some success. Those who were really large like I was rarely get past the first 6 months. Once they start cheating they get suck back into their old WOE just like an ex-smoker does when they start lighting up again.

Those who have not had a life-long weight problem or people with little weight to lose don't seem to have all of the same problems or at least not at the same intensity as I did. I will read posts by some people who were like me and I will totally identify with what they are saying. I will post similar things and others will reply "OMG - I totally understand". Others will comment and I know that they don't have a clue what I am talking about. It is often said that "we are all different", but what drives our beliefs, judgments, and opinions most is what we personally see and experience. For some of us getting off of carbs is just as tough as giving up a life-long habit of smoking. For others it is not. I don't really care about the technical arguments of what is an addiction and what is not. But I do think it is helpful for everybody to understand that changing to a low carb lifestyle is no easy task for some people. Unfortunately, the ones who need to eat low carb the most are the ones who have the toughest time making it happen. And just because doing it is easier for some, that doesn't make them superior nor is the one struggling with the transition inferior. But I get that vibe a lot - even on this forum and some of the low carb FB forums that I frequent.

Last edited by khrussva : Mon, Dec-04-17 at 15:16.
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  #12   ^
Old Mon, Dec-04-17, 14:14
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Quote:
Yes, sugar is a big problem. It's a leading contributor to obesity. It can lead to diabetes, and heart and liver disease, but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.

This appears to be the very philosophy that underlies those who are into fat shaming, the inspirational message for "The Biggest Loser," and the general naivete of those who think that everyone (or even "most") are in control of their diets. Who can argue without a shadow of a doubt that consuming carbs/sugar is not chemical? I can remember as a kid eating way too much cake frosting, and I'd get what felt like chills or rushes once the sugar started into my digestive system. Isn't that chemical? And is the low carb flu not withdrawal?

Headlines are written to attract attention, and today, many media sources follow conflict-based marketing. Controversy attracts readers and viewers. Looking at this publication, TNation, it's clear that this is their M.O.

The other implied definition here is that if one is addicted to what is identified here as a "truly addictive" substance (heroin as an example in this case), then one has an excuse for not being able to kick the addiction and that it is a disease. I could argue that one, but I won't take the space here. Provocative headlines designed as click bait seem to be the case here.
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  #13   ^
Old Tue, Dec-05-17, 00:12
Grav Grav is offline
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I don't think I personally had an addiction to sugar in the literal sense, but I was always hungry.

My bads were more the grain-based foods, the bread, pasta, rice, noodles, etc. None of these things were sweet tasting, but still full of carbs. And since they were in the "eat most" section of the healthy food pyramid that defined my childhood, that's what I was encouraged to eat in order to lose weight. Like David Bowie once sang, I was putting out the fire with gasoline.

I absolutely recognise that sugar can be addictive though. Everyone - myself included - knows someone with a self-confessed "sweet tooth".
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Old Tue, Dec-05-17, 04:57
M Levac M Levac is offline
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From the article:
Quote:
People who are denied a Pop Tart don't experience those things. Instead, at worst, they get a bit peevish.

Kids are people too. Deny them a pop tart. I dare you to describe the reaction that follows as "peevish".
Quote:
People say that eating sugar lights up neural reward pathways, just like it does with drugs. Sure, but these same pathways also light up from sex, working out, and playing video games.

However, it's the act of doing those things that lights up your brain circuitry like the Vegas strip not the substance. Therefore, you can't go nutritional Sherlock Holmes on us and say that sugar, since it lights up the same pathways as drugs, is addictive.

Logical fallacy. The acts cited do not involve consuming a substance. Therefore, the effect of consuming sugar comes from the consumption of it, not from the nature of the substance once consumed.

The correct logic is that these acts, while they do not involve the consumption of a substance, cause the body itself to secrete and release substances which do act on the neural systems. Indeed, these same endogenous substances are stimulated by sugar, hence the same effect on neural systems. The alternative is that we would claim that sugar mimics these endogenous substances, which is patently false. For example, sugar is not similar in any way to dopamine (as far as I'm aware).

Incidentally, eating also acts on the same neural systems, especially in the context of hunger and satiety. Same goes for drinking, thirst, quench; sleeping, tired, rested; learning, curious, satisfied; fighting, running away, scared, safe; and so forth for everything that keeps us alive. For each instance of being driven to act or to consume, there is normally a counterpart inhibition of same derived directly from the act or substance itself. If an act or substance did not inhibit the drive for its consumption, it would end up being consumed continuously, for the drive would persist.
Quote:
Hard-Wired For Donuts

Further, don't mistake ordinary cravings for true addiction. If you jones for something sweet or fatty, you're merely responding to your genetic blueprint.

Humans are hard-wired to crave Dunkin' Donuts and its ilk. Food in general was hard to come by in pre-agricultural societies, so we were programmed to scarf up stuff that was high in calories and easily absorbable, i.e., fat and sugars. But our genetic programming doesn't match the current landscape. We don't need that stuff, even though the cravings still remain.

So if you love a particular food, or love it because of its sugary sweetness, it's not because you're addicted to it; it's because it lights up the reward center in your brain that's leftover from your cave-dwelling days.

Yes, sugar is a big problem. It's a leading contributor to obesity. It can lead to diabetes, and heart and liver disease, but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.

Fallacies abound.

Yes, we used to pluck donuts and candy from donut trees and candy bushes. We are genetically programmed to recreate - through the development of mechanized agriculture and industrial food processing - that which was once available naturally - donuts and its ilk.

Yes, food was scarce, so we did not develop ways to conserve extra food in anticipation of times of scarcity, we just scarfed down everything that wasn't tied down, grew as much excess fat mass as humanly possible, then trundled along to the next patch of donut trees and candy bushes.

We were not truly addicted, it was just an ordinary craving, which we were genetically programmed with. That's why we ate every single donut and candy in sight.

We're still programmed to eat every single donut and candy in sight, there's just too much of that now!

Sugar is bad bad bad. We're programmed to eat as much sugar as possible. We're programmed to kill ourselves through diabetes, heart and liver disease, and it's entirely our own damn fault.


But seriously. An addiction is defined in several ways. Generally, first, we're driven to act or consume. Also generally, second, the act or consumption satisfies the drive. Thirdly, the drive, or the act or consumption can be disproportionate so that the act or consumption is excessive. For example, smoking tobacco is addictive because of nicotine. However, smoking gradually blocks the ability to absorb nicotine - the lungs get clogged with tar and other stuff - we end up smoking more tobacco for the same satisfaction. In a similar fashion, sugar also demands that we gradually consume more for the same satisfaction, as we become less sensitive to its effects, i.e. insulin resistance. In the extreme, we can die from it - inability to use oxygen (a problem with red blood cells and glycation, I believe), ketoacidosis, infection, gangrene, limb loss, etc.
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  #15   ^
Old Tue, Dec-05-17, 05:36
M Levac M Levac is offline
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Thought to elaborate on "disproportionate".

Two monkeys in a cage.

One pushes the button to get cocaine. Every time he pushes the button, he gets cocaine, the same dose. He pushes the button only when and if he wants it. Self-regulates, consumes a consistent dose, when he wants, if he wants.

The other also pushes the button to get cocaine. Sometimes he gets some, sometimes he doesn't, the dose doesn't really matter but let's say it's also the same. He pushes the button continously because he cannot know when or if he gets his dose. Cannot self-regulate, consumes an excessive dose, all the time, eventually overdoses and dies.

Assuming cocaine satisfies the drive to consume it, and assuming the dose is measured to be safe, and assuming it does not lead to a gradual increase in consumption through some mechanism like smoking for example, we can describe this dose as proportionate. For the second monkey, the drive to consume and the consumption are disproportionate, by virtue of sometimes being unsatisfied, demanding another try at the button, leading to continuous consumption, which still does not satisfy.


The Minnesota Semi-Starvation experiment.

Several humans, semi-starved. They are driven to eat, they are fed, but the meals are restricted in the amount and quality. By way of this restriction, the meals do not satisfy the drive - the drive and the meals are disproportionate. The subjects' hunger grows to a point where they think about food all the time, results in neurosis.

Once the experiment ends, the restriction is lifted, they begin to scarf down everything, especially the things they were obsessed with during the experiment, especially because they can. Here too, the drive and the meals are disproportionate, in spite of the meals being unrestricted, in spite of having the certainty that every time they are hungry, they can and will eat a satisfactory amount and quality.


The experiment where prisoners were overfed.

Several humans, overfed either mostly carbs or mostly meat and fat. They are driven to eat, they are fed to excess. When overfed carbs, they go to sleep still hungry. When overfed meat and fat, they simply cannot overeat anywhere near what they can do with carbs. In either case, the drive to eat and the meals are disproportionate. In the case of carbs, the drive to eat seems to always be greater than the meals, or the meals seem to cause the drive to eat to grow. In the case of meat and fat, the drive to eat seems to be smaller than the meals, or the meals seem to inhibit the drive to eat quickly and to a point where it no longer exists.
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