It is really curious to observe the existence of a certain struggle for power between mind and body, since the latter strives in many different ways to maintain its right to an autonomous existence, free from the influence of reason – which tries to have a say in everything. The part of our inner life that thinks, hears, fantasizes and makes plans would also appreciate immensely to interfere with the functioning of the body. When it tries, it almost always comes out the loser.
At bedtime, for instance, if we wish to make the process unfold according to our rational desires, we will experience a disaster. He who tells himself “it is already midnight and tomorrow I have to get up early, therefore I must sleep immediately” will probably spend the greater part of the night wide awake.
Regarding the male sexual function, the process assumes dramatic proportions. When a man for some irrelevant reason experiences failure – incapacity of erection – during sexual intercourse, that which always occurred naturally becomes the central theme of his worries. During the next attempt, he no longer is in a condition to pay attention to the woman, or to experience physical pleasure. He is completely focused on his penis, looking at it with the intent of verifying if it is hardening. What happens then? The penis shrinks instead of growing hard. Thus, concern for his performance becomes the biggest cause of his crises of sexual impotence. The individual will be able to normalize his sexual relations only if he is capable to eliminate this worry. But who is able to do that? It is not an easy task. The truth is that most techniques aim at creating conditions to render a man free of worry about his performance.
I have a long term conviction that the same occurs with the subject of obesity. If someone gains some pounds for any banal reason – for example, pregnancy or the beginning of married life -, that person may develop great concern about the fact and immediately try to employ reason to impose upon the body certain nourishment restrictions which supposedly will reduce weight to previous levels. So far so good; nothing more logical than to apply reason to something that depends on concrete procedures which can help us to attain our goals.
But many people develop an obsession. They are terrified of growing fat again. They begin to check their weight daily and to count every olive that they ingest beyond their quota. They impose rigorous restrictions and prohibitions upon themselves. What up to then was natural and spontaneous – eating for pleasure and out of necessity – is subjected to a rigorous and permanent surveillance. What happens then? These people run an enormous risk of becoming obese. Besides, it is always appropriate to recall that, when we establish a rigid and restrictive system, we will simply increase the desire for what is forbidden. That is true about sex as well as for chocolate and hamburgers.
Translated by: Norma Blum