Re: Fake/Real

1

Tia!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:35 PM
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Not to get all meta, but starting a public movement to end faking orgasms would be a great cover for somebody who wanted to fake orgasms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:39 PM
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3

Also, what 1 said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:39 PM
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Not feeling any need or desire to fake it is kind of luxurious. It's nice to be with a guy who doesn't have a fragile little ego that's gonna be shattered if, god forbid, he doesn't hear that this time was even better than the last. Anyway, the impulse to fake it in the past has generally stemmed from worrying about hurting someone's feelings, or from feeling like I needed to give a "performer" permission to wrap it up.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:41 PM
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It's "When Women Were Dinosaurs"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:46 PM
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from feeling like I needed to give a "performer" permission to wrap it up

Only putting $2.00 in the parking meter also works for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:51 PM
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I got the idea from being at meetings that seemed to never end. If you get up and say, "You people are killing me with pointlessness," everyone looks at you funny. If you say, "I've got to go feed the meter," you're good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:54 PM
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I love how peaced out you get

That sounds creepy as hell, like he's a dude who'd really like to roofie a chick.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 5:13 PM
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9

I agree with 8.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 5:36 PM
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Huh, I'm a guy, and I get into conversations that are really monologues with me on the receiving end all the time. I think many people really are not that sensitive to a listener's lack of interest, or if they do notice it, they don't know how to respond to it other than to say more words.

But, my sample might be biased by too many technical people whose jobs don't involve much personal interaction, and too many senior people who are used to giving lectures. Also, I suspect that I might turn out to be just as bad as they are, if I ever talked to anybody.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:12 PM
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I talk way too much. I'd like to think I'm aware of social cues, but if I weren't, would I know it? Probably not!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:18 PM
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rampant orgasm faking is creating a population of men who have gone through life with inflated sexual GPA's

I really hate it when people use apostrophes to pluralize acronyms. I know it's probably a lost cause, but I can't let it go. It makes it hard to root for the Oakland Athletics, too.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:22 PM
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11: Nah, you're fine, trapnel!


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:25 PM
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I liked the rest of the article, though. Especially the parenthetical in this line:

For example, IF you are in a long-term relationship with someone (or if you are in a long-term sex situation you refuse to refer to as a "relationship" with someone even though that's what a "relationship" is GOD GET IT TOGETHER YOU HORNY COMMITMENT PHOBIC MILLENNIALS) who already knows how to ring your bell

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:30 PM
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You know what I hate? When people say "He/she/I made a concerted effort", when the subject is an individual. Drives me nuts, it does, and it's rampant these days.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:30 PM
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12.last: Perhaps if you thought of it as a contraction?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:31 PM
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16: I've tried, but it's really not, and I can't convince myself otherwise.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:36 PM
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It never occurred to me that 'concerted' is a form of 'concert'. I had it as somewhere near 'concentrating', and opposite of disconcerted, which just seemed like a word unto itself. UNTIL NOW.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:42 PM
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15: IT WAS A CONCERTED EFFORT.


Posted by: OPINIONATED MITOCHONDRIA | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:43 PM
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15: We don't count?


Posted by: Opinionated Tapeworm | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:48 PM
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We can't update the threat very well, being intestinal.


Posted by: Opinionated Tapeworm | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:51 PM
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Hey, trapnel, I finished that book and I'm super conflicted about it, but it's very pertinent. Why was she acting so cutting-edge about interviews she did 10 years ago? Why was she so quick to elide any details of same-sex relationships while still claiming that queer women have their shit together more because it's some kind of hierarchy of maturity? Obviously I'm open to the idea that women trade the potential of fulfilling sex for the security of a relationship and so forth because hello, but the book itself was more of a letdown the further I went. I don't regret reading it, though, so thanks for the recommendation!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:57 PM
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I'm not sure I've ever heard "concerted" to refer to the groupiness of group effort rather than the effortness of effort. Acting "in concert", yet, concerted, no.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:01 PM
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yet s/b yes


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:02 PM
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...open to the idea that women trade the potential of fulfilling sex for the security of a relationship

You've paraphrased my personal ad from back in the day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:08 PM
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I really hate it when people use apostrophes to pluralize acronyms. I know it's probably a lost cause, but I can't let it go

I was told this was the grammatical way to do things. You never, ever use an apostrophe to pluralize things, except abbreviations consisting of capital letters. There may have been only one class that taught us this, but there weren't any that disagreed with it.

So what you're saying is, this is wrong.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:10 PM
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I'm not sure I've ever heard "concerted" to refer to the groupiness of group effort rather than the effortness of effort.

Because the misuse is so rampant! And misuse it is. Even the descriptivist Merriam-Webster's defines it as describing a collective effort, without so much as an acknowledgement of the erroneous definition.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:18 PM
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A concerted effort by an individual refers to the marshaling of all the disparate, idling threads of cogitation, memory, and indifferent action into a grand symphony of intra-individual collective achievement. Nothing could be righter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:21 PM
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28: Oh yeah? Maybe in that fancy-pants university you call home. But out here in the Real America...

Wait, this isn't working rhetorically, is it?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:25 PM
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Nobody wants to root for the As.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:30 PM
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27: Nice try, but even more descriptivist Google has "strenuously carried out; done with great effort" as the second definition and the example sentence refers to "a burglar", not a baggle of burglars.

*I just coineded "baggle of burglars".

**I don't think I coined "coineded".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:41 PM
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I seem to remember sex ed class in either junior high or high school saying that it's normal for partners to not have concerted orgasms, so people shouldn't worry about making the effort lest they feel like they've failed to achieve harmony.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:45 PM
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33

31: So the barbarians have won, have they?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:48 PM
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33 to 32.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:56 PM
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Why was she acting so cutting-edge about interviews she did 10 years ago?

Because she's been editing her dissertation/book for ten years, and revising the entire thing once more purely to acknowledge that her fieldwork is now thoroughly out-of-date would be psychologically unbearable?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:11 PM
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35: I know you think it's peer-reviewed and dissertationy, but she said she was swithching to ding therapy rather than being a sociologist(?) before she undertook the project and seems to be a full-time therapist and not an academic now, though I'm just going by the blurb on the back cover. I do think there was some slef-hatng honesty in saying, "She was born in 1975 and is 28 years old" or whatever that is obviously totally not true now, but being so far removed from that part of their lives temporally seems to invalidate some of her generalizations too. Maybe this is just my problem? At any rate, going to bed now is my solution, and my feelings won't be hurt if you excoriate me for 40 consecutive comments or whatever the cool kids are doing these days.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:21 PM
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Obviously I'm open to the idea that women trade the potential of fulfilling sex for the security of a relationship and so forth because hello, but the book itself was more of a letdown the further I went.

Partly because I just got back from a workout and so am tired, I read this line at first as, "because, hello, the book itself was more of a letdown the further I went": which is to say, you experienced your relationship with the book (unfulfilling, but comforting because increasingly secure) as embodying the very sort of dysfunction she describes, which would make the book intriguingly persuasive in a performative fashion ... but alas, no, I just misread your sentence. That would have been cool, though.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:21 PM
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Oh, I actually thought it was the other way around: she'd been a therapist before she got her sociology PhD. I guess I could check this! But first I will post this comment.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:22 PM
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We can't update the threat very well, being intestinal.

Chronic fatigue, diarrhea, fever, same old same old.

For the non-typoed version:

Inside of a dog, it's too dark to hit refresh.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:25 PM
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40

Hmmm. It appears we were both sort of right: BA '92, was in a PhD program from '94-'05, and got her MSW in the middle of that, '98-'00.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:27 PM
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41

She was born in 1975 and got a BA in 92?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:28 PM
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41: no, the 1975 person was one of her interviewees.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:53 PM
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43

Tia!!


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:51 PM
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44

Is the point about orgasm faking that men really think that women are having orgasms? I think I am way too afraid of being called out on faking it to try it. It would be totally humiliating to put on a big show of making loud orgasm sounds and then have to admit, when asked, that actually, no, it just seemed like a nice thing to do. Do you have to fake it and then also lie? I'm an OK actor but a terrible liar, is the point, I guess. "Boy, that sure was a really great orgasm that I just actually had for real."


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:06 PM
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45

Sometimes when I like things on Facebook I don't really mean it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:22 PM
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46

But seriously, I faked an orgasm in college once.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:24 PM
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47

Did you fake ejaculation, too?

I've never totally faked it, but I've probably exaggerated small/interrupted real orgasms.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:27 PM
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It was in the shower, so that solved that problem.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:32 PM
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Then he said, 'I get the impression you have a very active mind and like to turn it off.' "

I bet he trots out this line a lot -- it would work for a wide cross section of the population. Like one of those horoscope-type things with the flavor of being insightful.

I often find Jezebel's tone a little weird. They're really in that space of we're selling young n' sexy / we're so feminist. I miss Mo Tkacik tho.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:35 PM
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Tkacik is the bomb. She had a great piece in the Baffler reboot and she did that amazing Steve Jobs bio evisceration.

I eventually got to wishing the ex would fake one every so often, just to mix it up some.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 10:57 PM
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I have totally faked orgasms. No foolin'. I am, however, not entirely sure if it went unchallenged because I should like to thank the Academy, or on account of I was so embarrassingly bad at it that it wasn't worth mentioning.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 11:19 PM
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Yeah, I faked one once. I can't remember why, exactly. Best guess, I knew she wasn't getting anywhere, I wasn't close, and I figured I'd stop wasting everyone's time.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 11:32 PM
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Is the point about orgasm faking that men really think that women are having orgasms?

Um, yeah. What else would it be?

I have never faked an orgasm (and didn't even know this was something guys ever did). I have no idea if anyone's ever faked one with me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:11 AM
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my feelings won't be hurt if you excoriate me for 40 consecutive comments or whatever the cool kids are doing these days

These days stretches of 40 consecutive comments are reserved for descriptions of orgasms. Which, hey, topical.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:17 AM
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54: Indeed! So what are you waiting for?

40: Ok, so this was her dissertation research, probably. I did find the interviews interesting and I think she's right about the splitting being a big topic, but I didn't like that she seemed to be solution-focused, calling some people's hookup strategies bad or immature, essentially, and implying they needed to grow up in a certain way. (I was trying to make a joke when I confused you, because if the mature thing is to be in a well-rounded, satisfying, mutually enjoyable relationship balanced with a job, just about the least "mature" thing you can do is bring small children into the picture because it throws everything about that off balance.) And I'm sure there are a lot of ways you can generalize from women in their late 20s in 2003 to women in their late 20s now, but I would have appreciated some note somewhere that she's aware that this is not about women whose whole romantic lives have included the possibility of sexting, drama on facebook, the background of the financial crisis, whatever, rather than just talk about the young women of this millennium, which rubbed me the wrong way because I'm younger than all her interviewees and I'm not young. (And I did see them saying things I'd said and did connect with the stories, just think the book as a larger thing was muddled, at least for me.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:46 AM
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I've been debating whether to say this because I don't think I've talked about it here before and I'm afraid people will mock me, but I'm one of those people who can think myself to orgasm under the right circumsgances. So while I've never faked an orgasm, I have at times pushed myself into one and that may amount to the same thing morally.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:20 AM
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I often find Jezebel's tone a little weird. They're really in that space of we're selling young n' sexy / we're so feminist. I miss Mo Tkacik tho.

It does seem like they have one employee who scans all the world's news articles, press releases, TV interviews, scientific studies, etc. for signs of "slut-shaming" that they can then get outraged about.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:54 AM
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56: That's kind of like the difference between Superman and Batman. Batman can do some amazing things, but he needs devices.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:21 AM
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59

So while I've never faked an orgasm, I have at times pushed myself into one and that may amount to the same thing morally.

This set off simultaneous "Why on earth would that be wrong? And why are you being so hard on yourself?" and a sense that I could understand why you felt that way.

Trying to pick the reaction apart (and, honestly, no, how could making yourself come during sex be wrong), would it be fair to say that you're feeling that (a) you have a responsibility to a sex partner for all your reactions in bed to be a completely, absolutely honest evaluation of their performance (rather than either anything consciously mediated for effect, like a faked orgasm or any other sort of reaction that wasn't completely involuntary, or any sort of expression of enjoyment that resulted from your own actions rather than your partner's), but (b) while your reactions have to be completely authentic and completely driven by your partner's actions (or you're a contemptible phony), if they're anything other than unbridled enthusiasm and enjoyment, you're a lousy fuck and kind of cruel.

Is that line of thinking familiar to anyone else, or is this one of those individual, handcrafted neuroses I have so many of?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:21 AM
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young women of this millennium, which rubbed me the wrong way

Leading to the fake orgasm.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:23 AM
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you have a responsibility to a sex partner for all your reactions in bed to be a completely, absolutely honest evaluation of their performance

My reaction to almost anything is mostly determined by how much sleep, food, and alcohol I've had lately.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:27 AM
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My reaction to almost anything performance is mostly determined by how much sleep, food, and alcohol I've had lately.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:31 AM
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63

Related: I want a nap and a doughnut.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:35 AM
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64

After that, you'll be up for anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:35 AM
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Or if not, you can plausibly fake it.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:37 AM
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59: No, not that bad, just that it would be coming from the same place of wanting things to be over in a way that would make a partner happier. It's not anything I've done regularly, but it's happened and usually it's been to make someone else happy, though I suppose obviously it has the same effect on me, so win!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:44 AM
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I'm afraid people will mock me, but I'm one of those people who can think myself to orgasm under the right circumsgances

Mock you??? Are you kidding???

Tell us the secret, O Chosen One!!! Show us the way!!!

(And "circumgances" has to be the most mot juste typo evar.)


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:49 AM
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59.last: I think it's probably common enough, but I don't share it myself. I'm selfish enough to insist that my partner adjust to my preferences as I adjust to hers, and there's no way to do that without implied criticism if things are initially going in a boring direction. I'm happy to take constructive criticism myself, as my numero uno turn-on is an enthusiastic partner, and I prefer not to have to guess what pushes her buttons.

My totes fave lay (or at least a leading contender for the title) is a woman who simply could not orgasm from regular old PIV sex and needed some additional stimulation or other forms of sex in order to get off. She was also (probably not coincidentally) one of the most directly communicative people I've ever been with and taught me to be gently blunt about what I want in the bedroom, which I think has made me a better lay - certainly my post-her partners have appreciated the fact that I like to open and maintain clear channels of communication in the bedroom.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:53 AM
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69

Let me be the first to say, "what 3 said."


Posted by: M/tch M/Los | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:55 AM
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70

What 69 said. Unless it was faking.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:57 AM
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I think you're responsible for explaining to your sex partner exactly what you were thinking at the moment you came, including a detailed description of any third parties involved in your fantasy. Anything else would be dishonest.

Tkacik is the bomb. She had a great piece in the Baffler reboot and she did that amazing Steve Jobs bio evisceration.

Her famous tampon piece was just a savage and brilliant deconstruction of the 'young woman oversharing about her sex life' genre. Her economics stuff is fantastic as well. She is now working as a waitress. In the future writing is pretty much going to be a personal hobby, no matter how good you are. (Unless you are willing to be a useful propagandist).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:05 AM
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72

Well, I've been trying to warn you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:09 AM
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73

But don't worry because personal blogs and some Star Trek fans made a Star Trek movie on YouTube.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:10 AM
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74

What 69 said.

69 said "MRMMRFFMRMM", because its mouths were full.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:11 AM
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68.2: Well, for anybody into erotic asphyxiation, good communication is a life or death matter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:14 AM
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you have a responsibility to a sex partner for all your reactions in bed to be a completely, absolutely honest evaluation of their performance

I have such a deep aversion to conceptualizing sex as a performance and corollary resentment for any expectation that I evaluate (or validate) a performance.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:46 AM
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Further, the idea that I should not fake an orgasm because my partner needs accurate feedback on the quality of his performance (the Jezebel thesis, as I skimmed it) is just silly. Whether or not I cum on any given occasion is unlikely in most cases to be all about the guy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:54 AM
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44: Is the point about orgasm faking that men really think that women are having orgasms?

I first read this as AWB coming clean that the whole female orgasm thing is a put-on...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:05 AM
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If mice fake their orgasms, can they be charged with counterfeiting?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:14 AM
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80

Wow, that article in 71 is pretty goddamn disgusting. Well-written, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:32 AM
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I think my favorite part is:

While cursing the gentleness of our anti-antibacterial Whole Foods soap, I devised a way around my lack of latex gloves. Condoms! Finally, a use for them.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:44 AM
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A woman gets 15 minutes. If she doesn't get off, time's up. No hard feelings, no need to fake anything. Better luck next time.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:47 AM
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83

You do set a timer, don't you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:49 AM
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84

No, I just count in my head.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:51 AM
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Jammies and I estimate 90 seconds to sing the Star Spangled Banner, so after 10 repetitions we know to call it quits.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:53 AM
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I would have thought that having your partner hollering "Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution!" is a bit of a passion killer anyway.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:57 AM
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87

Unless you're into that sort of thing, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:58 AM
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A woman gets 15 minutes. If she doesn't get off, time's up.

In the future, every woman will sex Mutumbo for fifteen minutes.


Posted by: ajay warhol | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:59 AM
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89

Are at least pretend that she did.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 9:47 AM
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90

The neurosis in 59 is clearly reasoned, but I'm having trouble seeing that it would apply to thinking one's way to orgasm during a reasonably pleasant sex-event. I don't see a bright line between being interested in sex, thinking about my partner sexually, thinking about the good parts of the sex we're actually having, and thinking about oh ooh ooh yes ahhhhhhhhh.

Unless we mean a techno-thriller-style deterministic thought control, e.g. "AXLETREE ... SOCKPAIR ... LEOPARD" and we're off. In which case, Tell us the secret, O Chosen One!!! Show us the way!!!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:06 AM
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90: I was thinking that Thorn drew the connection between thinking one's way to orgasm (self-help book title) and faking orgasm as though they were similarly wrongful, and trying to articulate the way in which that sort of, insanely and neurotically, made some kind of sense to me.

90.2: Porn version of the Manchurian Candidate?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:15 AM
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I've never seen The Manchurian Candidate. It's a Charles Stross novel to me, which is squicking my squee.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:21 AM
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Doesn't achieving orgasm always involve at least a little dose of "thinking one's way to orgasm", in that you're focusing your mind on how hott and exciting it is to be doing what you're doing, and choosing not to focus your mind on non-erotic things such as Richard Nixon in a bathtub full of hippopotamus excrement?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:28 AM
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90/91: It makes total sense to me. If one can think oneself to orgasm by self-effort, or be brought to orgasm largely through the efforts of a partner, or just outright fake an orgasm, thinking oneself to orgasm in a way so as to leave one's partner with the impression that your orgasm was largely the result of his or her effort seems misleading to one's partner--specifically in terms of the feedback they are receiving--in the same way as outright faking. They thought they were doing what needed to be done, but... nope, not really.

Whether this is somehow wrong in any imaginable way is a different question. But it's similar to outright faking orgasm in terms of being a false directional beacon for one's partner.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:29 AM
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93: Is Nixon clothed or naked?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:31 AM
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93.last: Unless you're into that sort of thing, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:31 AM
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94, though I'm really speaking from a very small sample size as I've maybe only done it once for a partner's sake and it's not as if it was wholly separate from the other activity going on or anything. But being able to essentially masturbate without your partner knowing seemed potentially problematic or weird, maybe because it is. And by having a moral code, I meant things like I certainly did not have any orgasms in the kitchen in DC because I just wouldn't, though I understand that opinions may differ significantly.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:34 AM
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If it's an ongoing relationship, FFS, just say "Nah, this isn't working for me tonight. Want to try [x,y,z] instead?" where x is a different position, y is the quickest way to get your partner off, and z is your favorite board game.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 11:21 AM
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Her economics stuff is fantastic as well. She is now working as a waitress. In the future writing is pretty much going to be a personal hobby, no matter how good you are. (Unless you are willing to be a useful propagandist).

That's very depressing. And I think it even downplays the badness, because it makes "being a useful propagandist" seem like a marginal phenomenon, when instead it's the other way around: there are more than 3 times as many publicists as journalists right now, and even that vastly understates things, because most journalists are effectively publicists for the oligarchy.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 11:21 AM
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The only way I could see thinking yourself to orgasm as being wrong is if you kept secret what it was you were thinking about. There is an expectation that during sex, you're thinking about whoever you're having sex with; thinking yourself to orgasm by thinking about a third party seems wrong for the same reason as faking orgasm: dishonesty. Thinking yourself to orgasm by thinking about your partner is, as clew says in 90, not only not wrong but [for me and I assume most people] an integral part of the typical orgasm.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 11:49 AM
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and z is your favorite board game

I never played a board game to completion.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 11:54 AM
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Kobe, I don't think secretly thinking of someone else is wrong. I don't think there's some kind of binding contract in sex that you get unmediated access to your partner's internal state or that they think thoughts that are pleasing to you. If it's really habitual, or you're totally disengaged by your actual partner, it might come across and be hurtful, but that's a different kettle of fish.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 11:58 AM
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it might come across and be hurtful, but that's a different kettle of fish
Unless you're into that sort of thing, of course.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:01 PM
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What about thinking about the person you're having sex with, but picturing them wearing a Princess Leia bikini?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:06 PM
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I feel like the Leia bikini is, at this point, the Burger King of straight male sexual fantasies.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:07 PM
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Putting aside the issue of training incorrect behavior, the other problem here is that some people get off on a thing about which they have imperfect information. You could get off on the appearance or your partner's orgasm, or the orgasm itself, or causing your partner's orgasm.

If you get off on the appearance of orgasm, then you are not thus harmed if your partner fakes it, provided the faking is well executed.

If you get off on your partner's orgasm itself, then to some extent the strength of the effect depends on the conditional probability of orgasm given the appearance of one, or P(O|A). Your maximum enjoyment is in cases that you are certain are orgasms. Now, if your enjoyment scales linearly with the probability, then you will get half as much pleasure if you believe that half the time your partner is faking, but if this belief is correct, then A happens twice as much as it otherwise would, so it's a wash in terms of total utility. However, it's not unlikely that at some points your enjoyment drops faster than P(O|A), for a net loss from faking.

In that case, you are not thus harmed by your partner's auto├Ârgasm. But if you care about causing their orgasm, then the relevant probability is the conditional probability of having caused their orgasm, given the appearance of orgasm, P(C|A)=P(C|O)*P(O|A), and a similar tradeoff occurs.

Of course, not everyone has a correct estimate of how often their partner fakes it or auto├Ârgasms. We estimate a base rate based on our own behavior, how often we observe failed attempts at subterfuge, and others' reports of their own sex practices.

So by admitting this, Thorn has ruined* sex for people who care about causing their partners' orgasm, but not for people who only care that their partner has one, and not for people who don't care about anything except the appearance

*Only very slightly


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:10 PM
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"Autoörgasm" should totally be the name of a Motörhead album.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:16 PM
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And any orgasm, real or faked, should involve one making the ö face.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:18 PM
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106: Something to think about for those of us who don't follow baseball close enough to have enough to think about for long.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:20 PM
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Come to think of it, the word orgasm should always be spelled örgasm.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:21 PM
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105: making the Burger King the Slave Leia of gay male fantasies?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:26 PM
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There is an expectation that during sex, you're thinking about whoever you're having sex with; thinking yourself to orgasm by thinking about a third party seems wrong for the same reason as faking orgasm

Now you tell me!


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:28 PM
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109: The basic principle is quite simple. If someone's enjoyment of something is based on a belief in its authenticity, and their belief is a function of the true relative frequency, then adding fake ones can actually decrease their total enjoyment, even if they can't tell which are the fakes.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:30 PM
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In one relationship, I found that often early on my partner was in "go on, impress me" mode, in which it was nearly impossible for her to orgasm. Later in the same relationship, it was much more common for her to be in either "let's get to the big O, now" or "I like you so I'mma let myself enjoy this" mode, in which case orgasm was pretty easy. Isn't this the same kind of mental control that's giving Thorn guilt and is there really anything wrong with it?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:32 PM
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112: What befuddles me is why one would even bother to ask.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:33 PM
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113: The principle is simple, but I was just thinking the math could be a useful distraction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:33 PM
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So I wouldn't mind a partner faking orgasm on occasion, if that's what they wanted to do, as long as they told me in advance first, each time.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:33 PM
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115: because lying is wrong?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:34 PM
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What if they imagined they were faking an orgasm with somebody else?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:34 PM
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119: Do you mean faked an orgasm, and imagined it was with someone else, or do you mean had sex while imagining that they were faking an orgasm with someone else?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:37 PM
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Or do you mean just the imagining part?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:38 PM
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Because it's hard to understand how it could be wrong merely to imagine faking an orgasm.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:39 PM
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If we're going to go for total honesty about who people are thinking of when they have an orgasm, Facebook is going to get really weird.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:40 PM
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116: I made a lot of simplifying assumptions you could remove if you wanted to make it really complicated.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:43 PM
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No thanks. Having to use a notepad would ruin it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:43 PM
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||

People who edit files in Dropbox offer a really amazing window into their work habits. Every hour, a new change to the file, usually to take a word that was previously spelled correctly and make it incorrect! But sometimes to add a request that I come back later and rewrite something. I should make a drinking game out of this.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:43 PM
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123: Wait, now we're talking about disclosing the fantasy to the person being fantasized about? I don't think there's any duty to do that.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:50 PM
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because lying is wrong?

But standing orgasms are difficult, what with the shaky legs and all.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:51 PM
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But standing orgasms are difficult, what with the shaky legs and all.

Dude, that's why we have the sex grotto. Buoyancy, man, buoyancy.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 12:54 PM
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Tia!


Posted by: EDguy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:01 PM
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I don't understand the connection between "grotto" and "buoyancy".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:09 PM
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Finally figured out what book Thorn and trapnel were talking about above, thanks to the link in 40. "Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom" by Leslie C. Bell. Was it discussed in a previous thread? Google didn't find the discussion for me.


Posted by: EDguy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:09 PM
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I don't understand the connection between "grotto" and "buoyancy".

It's an underwater grotto.

Wait, you mean the rest of you have been using the above-ground grotto??? Shit, that explains why there's never anyone else down here . . .


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:14 PM
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"I don't think secretly thinking of someone else is wrong. I don't think there's some kind of binding contract in sex that you get unmediated access to your partner's internal state"

Yeah, I agree with that in the short term. But in a long-term relationship, I really do want and expect unmediated access to my partner's internal state.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:34 PM
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There is an expectation that during sex, you're thinking about whoever you're having sex with; thinking yourself to orgasm by thinking about a third party seems wrong for the same reason as faking orgasm.

Relatedly, sort of. From time to time when I am with Nancy and things will be going really, really great, my mind will drift to Jane ("Jane never did anything so awesome when we were married!"). And then I start thinking about everything that went wrong with Jane which is less than conducive to thinking oneself to orgasm and then Nancy asks if she did something to turn me off and then I really, really don't think honesty is the answer.


Posted by: Ronald Reagan | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:36 PM
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But in a long-term relationship, I really do want and expect unmediated access to my partner's internal state.

Have you been in a long-term relationship? I'd be curious to find out how that works.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:39 PM
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I really do want and expect unmediated access to my partner's internal state

I think this is one of those "be careful what you wish for" things. I for one do not mind being on the receiving end of the occasional well-intentioned white lie.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:41 PM
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134.2 is so deeply wrong that I don't have words.

This whole thread is marinated in a sense of trust and hopefulness that I do not know to respond to. If your partner is all of (basically stable, not abusive, interested in you, and occasionally enthusiastic), then you have won. Pushing into the niceties of who thinks what under these happy circumstances is idiotic.

On the other hand, if you're regularly with people who are not interested in you or not enthusiastic, then that's the problem, not thoughtcrime or what amounts to an etiquette violation.

That is all, and you are welcome.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:41 PM
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I'm in one right now, and I'd say it's working out great. I do think my girlfriend and I are unusually compatible/won the soul mate lottery/etc, so maybe my expectations are unrealistic. I like to think they aren't.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:45 PM
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138 confuses me. First of all, 134.2 is about *my* wants/expectations so it definitely isn't wrong. Second of all, what's wrong with being marinated in trust and hopefulness?

As for 137, I can totally understand that. Personally, if I know that some percentage of statements are white lies, I get too caught up in the Benquo math of trying to figure out exactly which ones they are, which is too exhausting to do with someone I spend as much time with as I do with my girlfriend. Way easier for me to just bite whatever bullets need to be bitten.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:55 PM
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I'll just say this -- there is no way either my partner, or anyone else, should ever, ever want unmediated access to my internal state.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:55 PM
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What Halford says. Most days I'd rather not have unmediated access to my own internal state. It gets ugly in there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 1:57 PM
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142: I'm actually curious about attaining unmediated access to my own internal state, but I have yet to succeed.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:00 PM
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132: REverySingleCommentInTFA! (I actually had some trouble finding it, because I, helpfully enough, didn't give either the title or the author in the comment.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:05 PM
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141 and 142 get it exactly right.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:07 PM
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141, 2: Yes.
143: Alcohol.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:07 PM
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Potentially, someone else might have better access to your internal state than you do.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:08 PM
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147: My wife does sometimes tell me what I'm feeling.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:12 PM
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"That's not my knee your hand is on."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:30 PM
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The first person I want to have unmediated access to my internal state will be the coroner.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:32 PM
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Mrs. E does indeed sometimes seem to know me better than I know myself, and overall I try to be as honest as possible with her. But I sincerely doubt that she would want or welcome the sort of radical honesty that is advocated in my reading of 134.2.

For example: "Hey, honey, you'll never guess who I was fantasizing about while masturbating just now!" is not something she wants to hear me me say. Yes, she knows I masturbate, and she probably suspects that sometimes the concurrent fantasies involve people other than her, but I think she prefers to be spared the details.

Other people's relationships may work differently. It takes all kinds, and to each their own, etc.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:32 PM
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"That's not my knee your hand is on."

"That's not my hand."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:36 PM
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"Gettier orgasm"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:47 PM
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101: "And that was how we discovered that both Bill and I have a fetish for Reverse Cowgirl Parcheesi."


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 2:53 PM
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Things you might not want your wife to know.

An unidentified police officer is facing possible discipline for having his picture taken -- while wearing a unicorn mask next to a porn star who had just been thrown out of a Pittsburgh Pirates game for dancing in the aisle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:25 PM
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How are we to be certain that the picture is of policeman disguised as a unicorn, rather than a unicorn disguised as a policeman? (Come to think, I suppose posing next to a porn star weighs against it being a real unicorn.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:34 PM
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That doesn't seem particularly bad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:38 PM
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Huh. That picture looks a lot like my unmediated inner state.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:40 PM
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That doesn't seem particularly bad, then, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:41 PM
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Given that the police union is in a lawsuit against the city for the right to guard strip clubs in their off hours, it's probably not something their lawyer likes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:41 PM
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157: I was thinking the bad part came when you had to explain to your wife why you were on leave without pay.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:44 PM
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Also, kicking this innocent, awesome woman out of a game is what will inevitably curse the Pirates' current miracle season.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:45 PM
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Didn't that picture happen months ago? Or did I dream it, and it came true?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 3:53 PM
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Anybody with unmediated access to my inner state would never, ever stop slapping me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:07 PM
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Anybody with unmediated access to my inner state would get bored pretty quick.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:08 PM
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Anyone with unmediated access to my inner state would achieve a state of satori, or being "peaced out" as some would say.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:10 PM
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I guess somewhere in Frisco there is a place that has unisex restrooms, and one has a unicorn and the other has a unicycle painted on the door. Too lazy to find an image other than my friend's FB post though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:28 PM
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I'm pretty sure my inner state is the video tape in The Ring.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:39 PM
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I guess somewhere in Frisco there is a place that has unisex restrooms, and one has a unicorn and the other has a unicycle painted on the door.

That's a funny coincidence. That describes the restrooms in my brother's shop.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:40 PM
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(which is not in Frisco).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:42 PM
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||

I have just been copied on an email on which another recipient's email shows up as 'Smith, John G NFG NG NYARNG'. Given the subject matter, it is possible that the letters after Mr Smith's name set forth his membership and position in a series of organizations, but my immediate reaction was that they reflected the noises being made as he was attacked by some kind of large predator.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:45 PM
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"Frisco" is deprecated.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:46 PM
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167: That's not unisex. Everybody knows the saying, "A woman needs the can to which affixed is a unicorn."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 4:54 PM
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Shit. Unicycle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:02 PM
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My mother was a NFG NG NYARNG. A NFG NG NYARNG of Virginia, as a matter of fact. I bid you good day!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOHN G NFG NG NYARNG SMITH | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:07 PM
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An unidentified police officer is facing possible discipline for having his picture taken -- while wearing a unicorn mask next to a porn star who had just been thrown out of a Pittsburgh Pirates game for dancing in the aisle.

It's astonishing how few people seem to have heard of the Streisand Effect.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:08 PM
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I would love having unmediated access to other people's internal state, just out of pure curiosity. What are other people like? So curious. Lord knows I wouldn't be judgmental about it... well, maybe a little bit, but I'm enough of a mess inside that I know not to point fingers at other people.

That being said, I agree with everyone else that for people you have to interact with in real life, less sharing of internal state is usually safer.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:19 PM
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Didn't that picture happen months ago?

Game was about a week ago so you may have seen it then. The police officials just seem to be on to it now.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:26 PM
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She is super cute.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:27 PM
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There is an expectation that during sex, you're thinking about whoever you're having sex with; thinking yourself to orgasm by thinking about a third party seems wrong for the same reason as faking orgasm: dishonesty.

If you're going to spend a lifetime fucking the same person--hell, even a year--you will find that a little sweet imagination gets you through an occasional soft patch and over the hump.

No need to feel bad, less need to tell. The idea that intercourse is an instance of mystical union isn't just wrong, it's pernicious.


Posted by: Lyndon Baines Johnson | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:39 PM
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"Gettier orgasm"

Great.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:51 PM
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That pic is awesome and I would totally do something like that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:52 PM
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NFG NG NYARNG

God help me, since part of that made sense I had to start thinking about the rest of it.

Way too much effort for such a tiny pay-off. I should have stuck with the nearly as accurate view that they reflected the noises being made as he was attacked by some kind of large predator.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 5:59 PM
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What's NFG?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:04 PM
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No fucking good. No good! No, you are really no fucking good!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:05 PM
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185: When the sharing of internal state goes wrong.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:07 PM
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"And that's why I have to fake orgasms. Not that I necessarily view every act of sex in performative terms."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:09 PM
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183: Oops, nix the second fucking.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:11 PM
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Can


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:11 PM
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I


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:11 PM
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be


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:12 PM
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neb?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:12 PM
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Do


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:13 PM
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I


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:13 PM
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want


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:13 PM
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185: Pronounced N-yar-NFG!


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:13 PM
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to


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:13 PM
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be?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:14 PM
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You need me in that kitchen


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:14 PM
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||

Nate Silver is leaving the Times for ESPN.

|>


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:18 PM
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200: Aw. Sports forecasting is so boring. Oh, but doesn't he have a team who works with him on political forecasting? Maybe they'll pick up the ball. As it were.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:25 PM
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Indeed! So what are you waiting for?

My next memorable orgasm, obvs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:28 PM
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Non Federal Government. So that was someone the NY-state side of the NY A/rmy Natio/nal Gu/ard.

I had not seen that in DoD-world email addresses. The style is to have in the user name info such as .civ for a civilian fed, .mil for a Service member, .ctr for mercenaries like me. The .nfg was a puzzle.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:30 PM
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||
Via Michael McKean tweet, pictures emerge of urple vs. the egg.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:30 PM
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185 is great. Now with extra fucking!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:31 PM
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That's a clean stove.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:32 PM
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201: Apparently will work with ABC for political stuff. (Both owned by Disney.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:32 PM
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Oops, nix the second fucking.

Yeah, nixing a repeat performance kind of seemed like a given after your review.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:32 PM
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I have an off-topic Ask the Mineshaft question:

Should I turn in my aunt for animal hoarding? It is illegal in her home state to own more than two cats in a house her size and she has 15. It's not one of those hundred-cats situations, but it's clearly abusive to the animals and to her health and that of her family. The reason no one has done anything about it is that she is deeply depressed and the only thing that doesn't make her want to kill herself is her cats. In turn, keeping that many cats makes her unable to get or keep a job, pay her bills, or take care of various serious health ailments (some exacerbated unsanitary home conditions). If we call animal welfare and ask them to check on her home situation, the concern is that she'll commit suicide, but, at this point, she sort of is committing suicide in other, slower ways. Also, getting rid of the cats only gets rid of the *excuses* for not working, having relationships with her children and grandchildren, etc., and doesn't do anything about the root cause. Yes, during various periods she has been on anti-depressants and they helped somewhat with her mood, but not with the cats. Right now we are in the process of trying to get her into some counseling/therapy, but short of having her committed (which might be soon, frankly, according to some family members), it seems unlikely. I have been designated as the person in the family least likely to ever be directly asked if I was the one who called animal welfare, and so the least likely to have to lie or take the brunt of her wrath. Thoughts?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:36 PM
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Will a smaller number of cats still be effective in preventing suicide? Is there some reason why it has to be all-or-none?


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:39 PM
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Yikes. That is a doozy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:42 PM
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Rational cat-hoarders make decisions at the margin.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:43 PM
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My vote, based only on my gut, is that yes, you should call. I don't know enough about involuntary commitments, but is it possible you (by which I mean somebody) could have her committed until she is sufficiently stable that you don't have to worry about suicide, etc.?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:43 PM
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Presumably, they wouldn't just take all of them unless the conditions in the house are much worse than we imagine. No one has been allowed inside in years, and 15 cats is as many as she'll admit to having. We hope it's 15, and that she cares for them as well as she says, but having seen those animal hoarder shows, it seems every animal hoarder coos over her 100 babies and claims to be just wild about cats they're totally neglecting.

I am also very hesitant about calling animal welfare in her town as it's basically a branch of the police office. I keep reading horror stories about cops answering calls about animal situations and, uh, not being very sensitive to the psychological conditions that result in animal collecting.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:44 PM
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214 to 210.

The commitment thing is long, long overdue. I think everyone in that part of the family is totally opposed to mental health care and have spent the past few decades telling her to buck up and get her shit together. She showed up at my mom's house yesterday having chewed all of the teeth out of her mouth and not going to the dentist. She just has little blackened jagged nubs now and makes jokes about it. Ha ha!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:46 PM
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Agh. The situation seems super overwhelming, even from this distance. Like in some alternate sinkhole life, could I go down that path?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:46 PM
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With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard.


Posted by: Graham Nash | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:47 PM
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There's more than 15 cats and I agree with 213.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:47 PM
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I keep recalling a few episodes of Animal Hoarders in which, after claiming they have a few beloved kitties (my babies!) they go into the house and find dead dried-up cat corpses under all the couches. "That's where Mr. Whiskers got to! Silly Mr. Whiskers!"


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:51 PM
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Yea. I was trying not to go there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:54 PM
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OK, I'm going to a movie, but I'll come back and hopefully you have solved this crisis for me. On balance, right now, we're saying yes, I should call?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:55 PM
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I'd like to say yes but I'm hesitant to involve the police in anything that involves a mental health situation. She clearly needs some kind of intervention.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:57 PM
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If you can call whoever the people are that you call to get her committed and then let them deal with the cats, maybe you can avoid the animal welfare cops worrries? Sorry you are having to deal with this.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:58 PM
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Yeah, especially based on the further details in 214.1, it sounds like you really should call.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 6:59 PM
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Commitment first, cats (and other housecleaning) second would be my suggestion. 215 sounds like a pretty clear emergency in terms of her wellbeing. I don't think animal control paying her a visit is a good first step towards helping her unless there is no other way. Fifteen cats is certainly too many to take good care of, but the cats are probably not going to all go to nice and loving homes anyway if they're removed. (Sorry, I love cats! I have two. I don't want to think about it. But I don't think it's a good starting point to worry about their wellbeing, even as a pretext to gain entry to her home.) The situation sucks, though. (Also, having someone involuntarily committed can be frighteningly easy depending on relevant state laws. Unpleasant, but easy.)


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:06 PM
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I don't have personal experience, but I've heard from a MH professional that psych hospital stays often don't do much long-term (besides rack up bills). If I were issuing instructions for my own future treatment, I wouldn't want to go in that direction unless the danger of suicide seemed imminent, which is hard to tell from the above. It seems like the cats are an animal welfare issue and getting rid of them would be a positive step forward. I don't know if in her situation she could get imminently suicidal without anyone noticing signs, but if not, my vote is for starting with the cats.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:11 PM
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225 makes sense to me. The only reason I might hesitate is that, if you really don't want to see the aunt get committed, calling animal control first gives her one last chance to pull herself together, before you resort to calling a mental health agency.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:11 PM
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Ah, I didn't see 215.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:11 PM
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225: Yes.

I don't really think the cats qua cats are issue. The mental health people is who it sounds like you should call. That will probably also send the police and they may mess-up, but they tend to do much better if they are informed as to the bigger issue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:12 PM
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I agree with 225. I don't see how all the cats are going to make it no matter what order things happen, so it seems best if she's not in the house when the cats are taken away. I guess that means being committed, unless there's somewhere else she could stay (and it doesn't sound like there is).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:20 PM
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226: Don't hospital stays start some machinery in terms of getting a team in place, e.g. social worker, psychiatrist, therapist, etc. that might be helpful? This seems like someone who might need several professionals to make sure she's stable enough to access available help. I get that you didn't see 215, but I think the main advantage of inpatient treatment is not in terms of finding the best treatment or treatment outcome, but I think it helps to get a team in place.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:21 PM
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Eek, teamwork. In place. Stupid me.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:22 PM
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231: Bumping up against the limits of my knowledge here. It should kick all that into place, but I don't know if it really does - it could just be a prescription and a referral.

I think there exist forms of commitment that don't involve hospitalization.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:27 PM
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233.2: Ten years ago when I did this kind of stuff (or researched it), those were rare except for those being discharged from the hospital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:31 PM
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OK, the form I'm familiar with is the involuntary 72 h inpatient commitment for someone who threatens self-harm. It seemed like there was lots and lots of follow-up even after release (tharapist, psychiatrist, etc). I mean, it wasn't mandatory, but it seemed pretty involved.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:31 PM
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I put out a bat-signal. Don't know if I'll hear back before AWB makes a decision though.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:38 PM
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Getting her committed will likely involve going in front of a judge. You can't just get someone committed with a phone call unless it's to the cops and even then there has to be an imminent danger to herself or others. Imminent danger such as she's going to intentionally OD, blow her brains out, murder her housemates, etc. Having a grody house and neglecting her dental care isn't going to be enough. And commitment of that type is usually just a short term hold to get them past the crisis. It's not going to be an enforceable long term plan.

Animal control and/or the health department will be able to take the animals and make her have the house in a livable condition. But if she's coherent and not obviously starving to death or actively inflicting harm on herself it's going to be difficult to make her do much more unless you can convince a judge to assign a family member the power to make decisions for her.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:39 PM
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She showed up at my mom's house yesterday having chewed all of the teeth out of her mouth and not going to the dentist. She just has little blackened jagged nubs now and makes jokes about it. Ha ha!

Who are you gonna call? You should call someone, yeah, but not animal control. They would come in later.

I don't know where the aunt lives, but (having worked for several years at a community mental health center) I can say that there are information lines: you can call, explain the situation, and get advice about what the approach should be. They know the system and can provide advocacy.

In Massachusetts the help line it was First Call for Help.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:43 PM
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Around here it'd be the MCOT through the U of U's system. If she's living somewhere near a large public hospital or such they will likely know who would be the agency or organization to call.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 7:46 PM
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Yeah. AWB, I suggest that you not make guesses on this: there are professionals who know the best way to move forward. They're trained in hearing about these things. Talk to them. If you let the hivemind know where your aunt is, maybe we can figure out who you should talk to.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:00 PM
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there are professionals who know the best way to move forward

And for budgetary reasons, won't be allowed to do it. But they'll probably come up with something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:09 PM
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AWB, I'm so sorry to hear about this. If you want the advice of a case worker/social worker type, check to see if her area has Catholic, Jewish, or Lutheran Family Services. Each of those orgs have, at various times, given me help with my mom.

It sucks that you've been delegated the official family member to deal with this. As a cat lover who also recognizes that your aunt may just refuse to get help, I do think you are perfectly justified in calling the health dept. or animal control.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:12 PM
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241: It sucks that their budgets are suffering, but they actually do still help.

I really wouldn't want to think that people wouldn't go to state or regional agencies because they've been eviscerated: then the bad guys win.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:17 PM
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I have been designated as the person in the family least likely to ever be directly asked if I was the one who called animal welfare, and so the least likely to have to lie or take the brunt of her wrath.

That, BTW, is bullshit. If they're local they need to suck it up and decide they're going to deal with her or let her continue until she's found dead half eaten by a bunch of cats.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:20 PM
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200, 201: It turns out Nate Silver's ESPN gig involves Keith Olbermann and ABC News, because these entities are all owned by Disney.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 8:27 PM
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Thanks for all your thinking on this, you guys!

1) Commitment or other help is not in my court. I am not close enough, emotionally or physically, and there are a lot of people who are. The cat thing is being thrust on me precisely because I'm not close with her.

2) Yes, it is bullshit. And I'm also hyperaware that her siblings just throw up their hands and say "it's those damn cats!" instead of considering the very obvious underlying issues.

3) She has been on good anti-depression meds in the past, but seems to have gone off them. Meds would be a start, but definitely she needs a lot more care at this point.

4) She is a master of defensiveness, and has sort of convinced her siblings that their relatively stable lives are what cause them to be so condescending about her love of animals. It should also be noted that the "relatively stable" people she's referring to include a violent incarcerated drug addict, an OCD white-collar criminal under investigation, an unemployed news addict who wears underwear outside his sweatpants as a uniform, and my mother, about whom, well. She's made these people feel like the unfairly privileged ones.

5) I have suggested, since all measures are too little too late and you might as well start with something, that someone should offer to help her with weekly sessions with a therapist who helps people with, er, organizational difficulties. There are quite a few in her area. Since no one really knows the extent of the problem, and she hates advice from any of them, maybe she would at least be able to be made aware of larger issues by someone with the authority to do so.

6) While the cats are totally a red herring, or at least a symptom rather than a cause, there is a clear and present health crisis, both for the cats and for my aunt and her husband (who is TOTALLY one of those partners like on Hoarders who is all "what do you think I could do about it, huh? game's on").

Thinking about all you've said here.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:16 PM
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Good luck with whatever you decide to do, AWB. That sounds like a really awful and depressing situation to deal with.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:31 PM
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That is, people say "it's those damn cats!" the way you would if you had a friend who didn't come to a party mid-week because she'd rather stay in and knit with a kitty on her lap. Really, it should be more like "holy fucking shit our sister is in an incredible constant crisis that we have been ignoring for 20 years as her cries for help get louder and louder." But her siblings are all so fucked up that they can't recognize crisis when they see it. Even the heroin addict--he crashed into his mother's house with a car (at age 55) and crawled inside bleeding and was arrested, and everyone was like, that guy really needs to get his shit together, maybe think more about the value of family.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-19-13 10:33 PM
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Nixon: The Second Fucking


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:01 AM
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It seems kind of late for Bave to still be up. Unless he's already moved to California, I guess.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:06 AM
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Still up! And yes it is late.

A couple things that aren't helpful, probably. First, I have some limited professional experience with hoarding, and it's a particularly difficult expression of mental illness. There are "hoarding specialists" who do the best job possible; it's a condition that generally defies most of the mental health treatment system and creates problems that the legal system is not good at handling. It would be best to find someone with experience, expertise, and patience to help your aunt. Involving the legal system is not likely to lead to anything good.

Second, there's this thing of your extended family doing everything they can, basically, to avoid admitting the existence of mental illness, despite everything. Obviously you're thinking about that aspect, and anything you can do to lead other family members to the point of recognition sounds good. Many family systems (definitely the one I grew up in) are incredibly resistant to the suggestion that someone needs therapy -- that might call other family members into question as well.

Rough waters. Good luck.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:24 AM
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Wait. She's got a husband and all this is on siblings and nieces?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 5:41 AM
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246:

an unemployed news addict who wears underwear outside his sweatpants as a uniform

Yeesh, the new Superman movies really have him going downhill.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 6:26 AM
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Also, that is a fucked up situation, it's fucked up that you're expected to be responsible for it, and you definitely should call in some kind of outside help if you can.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 6:27 AM
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Not having caught all the way up, I would tend to agree that commitment might not really solve anything. At best maybe they find meds she's responsive to, but in any case when she leaves, she returns to a live with lots of very big problems, and starts getting more cats. There are always more cats.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:17 AM
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Also, NMM to Helen Thomas, if the Twitters are to be believed.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:19 AM
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256 is sad.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:22 AM
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Don't hospital stays start some machinery in terms of getting a team in place, e.g. social worker, psychiatrist, therapist, etc. that might be helpful?

Oh, maybe, maybe not. You'll have to meet with a discharge planner when you leave, and if that person 1) cares and 2) thinks there's a big enough problem, they'll look into something more comprehensive than "ok, see you next month for your five minute SSRI refill med management session."

Getting someone something like Assisted Outpatient Treatment, which sounds like you're describing, involves a great deal of effort and a serious diagnosis, in my experience. If memory serves, you have to have had a bunch of hospitalizations for AOT.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:23 AM
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Who are you gonna call?

The traditional answer to this question is, I believe, not of use in this situation.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:28 AM
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251 gets it exactly right. I'm glad to hear there are effective specialists for hoarders, actually, because my fear reading about this was that the one-size-fits-all "get her a therapist" answer would lead to some recent grad in a clinic asking her open ended questions for her allotted twelve sessions, and then more cats.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:34 AM
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That's a big cat-twinkie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:38 AM
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A joint solution for cat hoarders and the orgasmically challenged: discharge planners (also related: fear of commitment).


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:48 AM
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My reaction all along has been more in the direction of 252. I'd think very seriously of passing on the whole thing, rather than getting entangled, as a pawn, in something that might trigger something out of control, and indeed for which advice or further involvement will not be welcome.

If I may offer an analogy, you're being asked to shoot an Archduke. Oh there's no chance of war -- and even if there is one it'll be short, and anyway that's not your problem. Stop telling us how big a mistake might turn out to be.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:48 AM
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And since I often feel my comments can be read as tasteless or non empathic: I don't have any advice, AWB, but I hope things turn out well.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:52 AM
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mistake s/b deal


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:52 AM
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The mental health professional I mentioned above, after reading AWB's comments, described commitment as "a joke" and is generally pessimistic on the prospects of this situation, saying animal-hoarders can be more resistant and nonresponsive to treatment even than people with paranoid disorder. (And his career has been with at-risk people in many settings.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:40 AM
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The fact that the husband is barely a sentient life form has been a great source of frustration over the past 30 years. His opinions and interests are pretty much encompassed by a situation in which everyone shuts up and lets him watch TV. It took me until about 10 years ago before I realized that it might be his way of avoiding playing boardgames or discussing news because he doesn't know how to read. My mother confirmed that this is true.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 10:34 AM
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266 is sad. And maybe weighs in favor of Charley's advice in 263.

I am personally far more sympathetic to the desire for a situation in which everyone shuts up and lets him watch TV than I should probably admit....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 10:48 AM
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267: That's tough. My aunt's father is also illiterate, and their entire family makes adjustments to account for it; I similarly couldn't quite figure out what was going on until my mom explained.

Still, the presence of a husband mitigates against involuntary commitment anyway, doesn't it?

Rereading 209, I vaguely wonder how they support themselves. I .. was about to say that you might should let this one go, but she has children, and grandchildren? I'm with others who've suggested that the family at large needs to be more proactive in speaking to her about the problem, the need for her to maintain her anti-depressants, and so on. I know what avoidance families can be like, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 10:55 AM
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I didn't mean to imply in 151 that hoarding specialists are particularly effective; they do what they can, but 266 sounds right. In the cases I've seen (maybe a dozen or so), usually the hoarder resisted the very idea that there was a problem, even when faced with imminent homelessness due to the hoarding behavior.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 10:59 AM
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It just keeps sounding more and more awful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:02 AM
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It's weird, because in general I have my doubts about therapies meant to address exactly one thing (anger management, ugh) but just the same, there are areas where you'd like to hope that the therapist has some specific insight, borne of experience with the problem. Otherwise progress is going to be slow if it happens at all. The thing about therapy is that it works at certain times for certain people. I've probably said that here before. I have an idea that every young therapist has a moment where they want to say to a client "maybe what you should do is see a therapist" because sometimes you're just talking about the problem, and the problem doesn't seem embarrassed or interested or moved to respond.

Something like hoarding is where I would have greater confidence in a behaviorist modality because it leaves less room for "let's sit with the problem for a while" when that's not really a viable approach. With a problem that's been steadily ruining someone's life for twenty years, a more direct intervention seems pretty clearly indicated, even if it amounts to harm reduction.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:11 AM
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Sometimes the problem is using the word "problem" too much.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:12 AM
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273: Let's problematize that!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:23 AM
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At the very least, having a spouse in the house makes it much less likely she'll fall and be eaten by her cats. They'd both have to be incapacitated at once or the cats would need a common plan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:33 AM
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As I kept saying to my mother on the phone yesterday, there are so many huge, crisis-level problems going on in this person's life that it's impossible--and probably stupid--to try to figure out what the "cause" is, or to think that if you forcibly pull out this one piece, the rest of the problems will follow. It's like the whole extended family has been screaming for emergency help right now for 30 years, and had kids who are constantly in a state of emergency, and they've had kids who are constantly in a state of emergency. And everyone loathes the others for not having the tiniest clue how impossible it is to be themselves.

I grew up thinking my mom was a violent, mercurial, insane, screamy disaster, but she's BY FAR the closest thing her family has to a self-soothing, stable, pragmatic person.

The only reason she knows what state her sister is in is that she came to visit (for very weird reasons involving trying to extort money from her son), and immediately started asking my mother how much I make. She wants me to give her money to help her with her cats, but also she wants to know how much she can expect her other son to make now that he's getting an online BA so he can become a school teacher like me. (Apparently she thinks I am a school teacher?) She won't use the money to get her teeth fixed or pay bills. She wants to be very clear to everyone that, as lovers of animals, it's our duty to help these babies directly through direct donation.

Totally insane-making.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:38 AM
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I guess it seems to me that, unfair as it is to you, you probably should call about the cats, AWB. It's not right to just let that situation continue unaddressed. Obviously the general hoarding and underlying depression is much more difficult to address, as has been noted above. Is there no one who is close and competent to try to seriously work on the situation? If that is the case, I dunno what to do. Good luck.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:38 AM
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Is there no one who is close and competent to try to seriously work on the situation?

My mother is the most competent, but she has no experience at all of mental health treatment. The family's mental health plan is 30% prayer, 70% hectoring about prayer.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:41 AM
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Let me change my answer. Run.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:42 AM
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278: A much better plan than giving her money to care to cats.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:44 AM
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It seems from all the comments that there's no good outcome, so maybe the analysis is more what can you, AWB, live with? Calling animal control would mean the rest of the family is happy-ish that you've done as requested, assuming you wouldn't get blamed for unintended consequences above and beyond cat removal, which you probably would (I'm thinking of possible fines, animal cruelty charges, home might be deemed unlivable due to fire or health hazard, although I'm way out of my depth guessing at these). The aunt would probably just acquire more cats (so no net gain on the poor kitties' welfare), plus be very angry, maybe cutting everyone out of her life. Not calling will tick the extended family off temporarily, plus you have to live with knowing that there are some animals in a bad situation, plus people who are in a house that is compromising their health, but no additional harm is occurring than if you didn't call. Either way, it's not as if the family is waiting for you to start a process in motion, after which they'll all jump in and help. Hard call. I think I'd back away slowly making no sudden moves.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:46 AM
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even if it amounts to harm reduction

I'm beginning to have my doubts about whether this woman -- or this couple -- should be interfered with at all, except at the margins. It seems a little unlikely that they're going to rehabilitate their lifestyle.

If the cats are all indoor cats, well .. I believe I'm coming around 180 degrees, to think now that calling animal control might be a good idea.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:51 AM
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281 sounds about right. It seems like it would be really easy to end up hurting yourself much more than you help anyone else.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:51 AM
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Yeah, I'm not sure what I can report anyway. I've never been to her house, so anything I say is based on what she self-reports, which I've heard second-hand. I think they have to respond to anonymous tips and show up, but unless the situation is much worse than she self-reports (which it might not be!), they might just fine her and leave it at that.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:51 AM
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According to the Humane Society website, "Removing animals from the hoarding situation can temporarily help solve the problem, but without long-term psychological intervention, animal hoarding has a nearly 100 percent recidivism rate."


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:52 AM
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She wants me to give her money to help her with her cats

Tell her to call it a performance piece and set up a kickstarter like everyone else.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:53 AM
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276: These realizations about your mom seem like a good development, AWB, so that's good.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 11:56 AM
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I am, by the way, becoming angry with this woman by proxy. I have relatives much like those described in 276, always (or frequently) in a state of emergency*, and often 'crying poverty', as my mom used to say. It is insane making.

* e.g. Someone lost his driving license after his third DUI. Someone put out a restraining order on her ex-husband. Someone was arrested for beating up a guy he thought was gay-coming on to him. Everybody gets pregnant at quite a young age. One doesn't want to judge, but what the hell is going on here?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:04 PM
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Oh, by "getting pregnant at quite a young age" I don't mean 15 (thank god), but 18, say, and always unintended. I guess they don't believe in abortion. I sometimes discussed this with my mom: like, do they not use birth control, or do they secretly want to get pregnant since the rest of the family totally celebrates the new baby, or what is it? She just shook her head and shrugged. What can you do?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:09 PM
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I suspect that what is going on here, at least partially, is a microculture of emergency that gets replicated by each generation. There is no reward for being stable, self-supporting, healthy, etc. in the microculture of emergency; those people are the ones who give money, time, and attention to the sufferers. So everyone is competing to create disasters that demand attention.

That is the cynical reading of it. Could just be a bad case of genetic crazies.

I remember when we were kids, I overheard this aunt yelling at my mother for having said something positive about my proficiency in math. She said, "Sure, your kids are doing well in school and are going to have jobs. I know mine aren't, so they have to be superstars instead." That's kind of the family motto. Since we can't be happy or comfortable, we cultivate attention instead.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:15 PM
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290: I just wanted to chime in again that I'm sorry you've been put into this position. In the kind of setting that you describe, refusing to devote attention to the issue may be the only thing to do. You can always tell the family that only someone with direct knowledge of the hoarding can report her, so you're out.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:26 PM
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If she wants to cultivate attention, she should teach herself to spay and neuter the cats on her own. Then put lessons in YouTube.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:40 PM
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290 has merit. Part of the problem is that people keep bailing them out of situations.

those [stable] people are the ones who give money, time, and attention to the sufferers.

My mom used to be a helper to that side of the family, and it seems to me that they came to assume it: they looked to her as the family moneybags. I hadn't realized this. (She was not rich, not at all, but she was a generous soul.) When she died, it appears that I was supposed to fill the role in her stead, and I actually tried for a year or two, but I got burned, and man, am I still pissed off about it. One of these days I do need to have an in-depth discussion with them about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:43 PM
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Yeah, it's really exhausting when people come to think of you as an ATM when everything you give is actually an unacknowledged sacrifice.

The gem was when I was literally eating out of the garbage during grad school and dumpster diving for new clothes, and this aunt cornered me to give me her pitch about how obviously I give money to PETA and the ASPCA, but by giving a check to her I can be sure that every penny will go directly to help an animal in need. I was like, uh, I give money to what? What money?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:50 PM
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J, Robot has a point: I guess it comes down to how invested you are in that part of the family, and/or how much the aunt is impacting those you love. If this is just supposed to be a family favor rather than an action in the interests of the cats, will any of it have a cost to you?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:52 PM
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Part of the problem is that people keep bailing them out of situations.

I go back and forth about this kind of thought on a regular basis. On the one hand, I definitely know families that seem caught in cycles of failure (individual cycles, but intersecting, maybe Venn diagrams of failure) where, as an outsider, I feel like people might possibly get their shit together if they didn't feel quite so secure that they'd be bailed out every. single. time. they make stupid, short-sighted choices. On the other hand, I know my folks would bail me out -- of course! -- if I needed to be bailed out and I'd think they kind of sucked were it otherwise. I suppose where I get stuck is in figuring out where you draw the boundary so that you are being supportive, but not enabling.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:55 PM
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294: The aunt is demented. My country cousins aren't that bad. They asked for loans, which my mother often gave.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:56 PM
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A lot of these issues can be neatly avoided through the simple device of estrangement from any and all relatives. Granted, one finds oneself in the occasional spiral of shame upon getting the "She died four years ago" news, but that is manageable.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:56 PM
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Another thing to think about is that these family dynamics can turn on a dime. Family systems tend toward equilibrium, and so while all your relatives right now are saying that they want you to intervene, my guess is that if you do decide to do something at least some of them will then accuse you of intruding/ overreacting/ doing the wrong thing. Particularly since, as you say, they're so resistant to therapy. So, you'd want to prepare for that on top of everything else. I'm sorry: it sounds like a really awful situation.

(I am curious, though. What makes everyone feel that this chronic situation has suddenly become urgent? Just the missing teeth, or is there something else going on in the family?)


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 12:59 PM
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298: Flip, I'm approaching estrangement from that branch of the family (due to having been burned, and being still angry), but it's not sitting well with me. I haven't talked to them for nearly two years, and this isn't really what I want to happen. I should ask my brother what he wants to do. It's not as though the entire family is responsible for the asshole cousin.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:24 PM
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299 -- It sounds like they want Bear to call so she, and not they, will be responsible for anything that goes wrong (ranging from the failure of cat removal making the aunt well on the upside to things getting much much worse on the downside).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:29 PM
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Also, feeling in confessional mode as I am: when I say "that branch of the family", I mean the only branch of the family I actually have had an ongoing relationship with. The other branch, my father's family, we've been truly estranged from for many, many years, but that was my parents' estrangement, not mine or my brother's. A cousin from that side asked to Facebook friend me a while ago, and I didn't know what to do.

Huh. Maybe I should do something about that. She lives in Las Vegas, though. They all moved to Las Vegas like 15 years ago. I am not sure I can relate to that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:30 PM
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It just keeps sounding more and more awful.

This. But I also agree with 287.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:34 PM
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302: Everybody's got to be somewhere.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:40 PM
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But Las Vegas, though! Why would anyone voluntarily move there? It bodes ill.

But I'm kind of a dirty fucking hippie, and I get that there are other types of people in the world. Should I be in a relationship with them?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:45 PM
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A cousin from that side asked to Facebook friend me a while ago, and I didn't know what to do.

I am Facebook friends now with two cousins on the side of the family from whom my family had, in assorted permutations, been estranged for ages. It makes me happy to reconnect to their lives, discover we have lots in common despite different paths, see pictures of the kids, and so on. YMMV, of course. You can always unfriend later if the cousin turns out to be a huge asshole after all.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:50 PM
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you could conceivably have an orgasm and also have mild anxiety.

I'm pretty sure (I hope) I've experienced both women-having-orgasms and women-not-having-orgasms.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:51 PM
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306: Yeah, it was kind of shithead move of me not to respond. She's my cousin, even though I never felt anything in common with her. Except our shared family history, so .. buh.

Despite all this navel-gazing, I appreciate AWB broaching these kinds of family affairs. I should get my family affairs in better order.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:54 PM
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you could conceivably have mild anxiety.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 1:57 PM
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I'm pretty sure (I hope) I've experienced both women-having-orgasms and women-not-having-orgasms.

You never really know. Sometime women fake not having orgasms just to make you try harder.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:03 PM
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the beautiful thing is that the exemplar of gallantry is to be nonchalant about whether women are having orgasms, in that it both (a) makes them more likely to have orgasms and (b) more likely to nonetheless have a pleasurable experience if they don't have orgasms. in either case they are more likely to have sex with you again and/or recommend you to others.

and it's much easier to not worry about something you can never be positive occurred anyway.

So long as he is willing to perform cunnilingus, the gallant man has expressed through action the shared objective and can simply not say anything about it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:06 PM
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308: Nothing to beat yourself up over. If the families have been estranged for a long time, your cousin likely understands/expected some hesitation. If my cousin had rejected my friend request, I wouldn't have thought the least bit ill of her for it. But since you seem to be giving some thought to family connections right now, what the hell, maybe take a chance!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:09 PM
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309 made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:11 PM
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300: I was being flippant, but in my extensive experience there is nothing to be gained from trying to engage or re-engage the crazy/no-future/kleptomaniac/addict/paranoid/racist/sponging side of one's family. They won't appreciate it or respond in anything like the mode that one hopes. Allocate that human kindness to a deserving charity.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:15 PM
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312: Yeah, we (my brother and I) have been putting this off for far too long. We each also received one of those Christmas form letter-style missives from the uncle and aunt on that side, from Las Vegas, after my mom died. It was weird; why were they contacting us now? After 17 years. There was no acknowledgment of my mom's death, so was this just a coincidence? The form letter thing blathered on about their lives, with references that were completely unfamiliar, and that was it.

Anyway, my brother asked if I'd received one, I said Yeah, he asked if I'd responded, I said No, and he said he hadn't either.

But I think we're being rude at this point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:18 PM
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314: Thanks for the frank response. I think the country cousin branch of my family isn't actually quite that bad. They just have some bad actors. The responsible adults, the uncle and aunt there, are good people: they even make vegetarian food for me when I visit. When I do. And they're upset that I don't visit or call.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:22 PM
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AWB, I've been away all day and thinking about this but still don't have an answer. It's recently come to light that a relative of mine has been hoarding objects for 10-15 years and it took a whole bunch of emergencies happening at once to make her face the problem. Specifically, she was bedridden for a while and so the county nurse is showing up and saying WTF and she has caseworkers in and out and Meals on Wheels. My mom took a week of vacation time and went to help her clean things up at least an initial bit and they made a marginal dent physically but the bigger part was my relative realizing what she needs to do and how big the problem is but that it's achievable to overcome it. She's getting specific therapy and is involved in several overcoming-hoarding internet groups, but the only reason any of it was possible was her willingness to consider that maybe she needs a change, and everyone knows that if that goes probably so will the rest of it.

Also, my mom is a judgmental control freak/worrier who had to keep all her thoughts to herself and be quietly supportive while pushing the relative to make decisions, etc., so it probably was a Very Special Episode for both of them. My mom was the one with the time off available soonest (originally meant to be spent with my grandmother) and not necessarily the best fit temperamentally, but that might have been a good thing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:34 PM
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317: wow, that sounds totally crazy.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:43 PM
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I think I'd be inclined to go the animal welfare route. At least in MA, it is way easier to get someone sectioned (short-term commitment where true commitment is a process which involves going in front of a judge) than it is if you go through the crisis teams that go to someone's house. And in some places (okay, well really only Cambridge) the police have training in how to deal with mental health issues.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:48 PM
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her willingness to consider that maybe she needs a change

It's really really hard to get my aunt to this step. Animal hoarders like my aunt are convinced that they are heroes bravely protecting helpless creatures from torture and death, and that they're on this earth to be Schindler for soft furry things. She doesn't think of them as pets, but as a kind of religious calling.

I'm so glad your relative is starting to get help, Thorn! That is the biggest hardest step, it seems.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:52 PM
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the animal welfare route

Or maybe the health dept. They can threaten to close the house to occupancy if, say, there's a bunch of dead animals and feces around the house.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:56 PM
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there's a bunch of dead animals and feces around the house

It's impossible to say what it's like over there. According to her own accounts, through herculean efforts and constant, relentless diligence, the house is as clean as a whistle and all the animals love each other and are significantly loved in turn. No one is allowed in the house, though, because they all are comparatively rich and have much nicer houses and she's embarrassed to be so poor--why not visit at their house? No one except her, her husband, and her kids have been inside in decades.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 2:58 PM
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319 should say way easier "if you go through the police"

321: Yeah, all I meant was that if your goal is to get her help against her will, the mental health professionals are probably not the first people to start with. Counterintuitive, I know.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:07 PM
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323 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:07 PM
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322: No teeth? I'm guessing your 219 is a likely possibility.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:09 PM
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It's probably a bad sign that I find these threads comforting in that at least I know that I'm not alone in having a crazy (and crazy-making) family.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:09 PM
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Downside to the police: They're more likely than the mental health people to work a "swing a dead cat" joke into the mix.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:10 PM
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Anecdotally, when I tried to have my mother committed, the cop who came to her apartment was very sweet, and convinced her to voluntarily admit herself. The discharge planning, however, was worthless.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 3:20 PM
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Abstractly, I've been looking a little for historical or cross-cultural accounts of animal hoarding and not finding any.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 6:15 PM
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Yeah, I was wondering about that. Hoarding in general is pretty clearly a pathology of late capitalism, but animal hoarding is really difficult to understand.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 6:27 PM
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Maybe she's not hoarding the dead cats, but aging them for tenderness like beef.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 6:35 PM
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Animal hoarding seems like a pretty clear example of a culture-bound syndrome to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:18 PM
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As long as I'm not part of the culture where penis-disappearing is a viable delusion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:39 PM
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Step me through the argument about it being a culture-bound syndrome? The animal hoarders don't think they have a disease at all, right?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 7:59 PM
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I used to be quietly smug about the good relations my large extended family had - aided by our tendency to flee the nest and live distantly from each other. But then in one of the nuclei, addictive behavior from one parent (my blood relation) ruined things for that family, the remaining parent was left in a bad situation that exacerbated their existing problems, including building a grudge against the rest of us for not doing more, and all the fallout went on their one kid. Hearing about it always gives me a huge pit in my stomach because I wish I'd been able to do something rather than learning of it secondhand, even though in the considered judgment of my family it was the kind of situation where change could really only come from within (no magical interventions). Physical and personal distance also keeps me from even giving much emotional support to the kid.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:02 PM
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Is orgasms to cat hoarding a new thread trajectory for unfogged?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:05 PM
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336: Usually the causation runs the other direction, right?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:06 PM
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Causation I dunno but maybe cat hoarding threads'll be the new food threads.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:08 PM
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More masturbating to cat hoarding?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:09 PM
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Might be a more realistic life trajectory than sex-obsessed to food-obsessed, too: you go along for decades faking orgasms and then, whomp, one day, forty cats.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:09 PM
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332: I don't see it recognized as a disease in our culture - more a debilitating quirk. Nor are there folk remedies that I know of.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:09 PM
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I don't see it recognized as a disease in our culture - more a debilitating quirk. Nor are there folk remedies that I know of.

What about all the people in this very thread suggesting therapy and stuff for AWB's aunt?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:15 PM
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Step me through the argument about it being a culture-bound syndrome? The animal hoarders don't think they have a disease at all, right?

No, but we do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:16 PM
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Pretty sure that's regular mental health treatment being recommended, not "folk medicine." Plus the possibility of hoarding specialists, but if I imagine those would be a pretty new thing. Of course I see the criteria are from DSM-IV, and thus not to be treated as gospel.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:19 PM
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Right, that's the part where you're confusing me. Are you implying that while our culture does think of this as a disease, you don't? If you don't, then how would you define it?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:23 PM
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I think of it as a disease, sure. But then I'm part of our culture too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:30 PM
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Pretty sure that's regular mental health treatment being recommended, not "folk medicine." Plus the possibility of hoarding specialists, but if I imagine those would be a pretty new thing.

Well, the people in the thread who know the most about these treatments seem to think they don't really work. I'm not really sure what "folk medicine" would mean in the context of the modern US, anyway. Maybe prayer, which as noted is AWB's family's own proposed remedy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:33 PM
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Again, I feel the dominant cultural characterization is "debilitating quirk" rather than disease; it's seen as part of someone's character. For example, its close association with loneliness.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:36 PM
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348: So why are people recommending medical treatment for it?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:37 PM
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In the US, culturally-bound diseases and folk remedies are largely medical-industry-driven.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:39 PM
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Hmm, I've been thinking of culture-bound syndromes as a subset of culturally-specific pathologies. It seems to me that culture-bound syndromes are not only specific to a particular culture, but also entirely incomprehensible, even unrecognizable to outsiders. Someone visiting here from Korea, for instance, would recognize animal hoarders as disturbed, while we would be entirely baffled by--even disbelieving of--fan death. But I don't want to belabor this--I'm just always so pleased, Teo, when you show up late in a thread with the social scientific goods.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:39 PM
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330 Hoarding in general is pretty clearly a pathology of late capitalism

I don't know. Maybe it existed earlier, just with relatively few people having the means to do it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:39 PM
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349: Because we're not typical.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:39 PM
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I've been thinking of culture-bound syndromes as a subset of culturally-specific pathologies. It seems to me that culture-bound syndromes are not only specific to a particular culture, but also entirely incomprehensible, even unrecognizable to outsiders.

Ah, okay, in that case I would classify animal hoarding as a culturally specific pathology but not necessarily as a culture-bound syndrome, I guess. I wasn't aware of that distinction.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:42 PM
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353: Of course, but why does our atypicality manifest in this particular way in this instance?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:44 PM
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Anyway, obviously this wasn't as clear to everyone else as it was to me, but I do still think cultural-bound sydrome (or culturally specific pathology, or whatever) is the best framework in which to view something like animal hoarding.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:46 PM
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352: Maybe, but it seems to register specifically a disordered relation to commodities, an intransigent refusal to discard, and so it's hard to imagine it existing before consumer culture. Put another way, in earlier eras some people may have wanted to accumulate excessively and few may have even had the means to do so, but accumulation itself would have meant something different. The hoarder vs. the miser, perhaps.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:47 PM
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For example, note that the link in 332 lists anorexia and bulimia as CBSs. I think that's right, and that animal hoarding falls into a similar category.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:50 PM
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I totally agree. Which makes me wonder, why animal hoarding in our culture? AWB's descriptions are really resonant: the hoarder thinks of herself as being merciful, when she's actually being cruel; both overvalues and undervalues the animals. It's such a troubling complex of feelings.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:53 PM
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359: I think it must have something to do with our general attitude toward animals, especially pets, which is also very culturally specific.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 8:55 PM
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353: Probably because we tend to be more positive on mental health treatment in general, extending to liminal cases like this. Related to our preferences against judging and for professional help.

Hitting rewind on all my nitpicking, how exactly does categorizing it as culturally-bound aid in understanding / responding?

This is an interesting chapter on animal hoarding. (New to me: the hypothesis that some zoonotic agent is involved. Maybe it's all the work of parasites trying to give themselves a habitat!)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:02 PM
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Hitting rewind on all my nitpicking, how exactly does categorizing it as culturally-bound aid in understanding / responding?

It doesn't, really. Of course, neither does anything else apparently.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:13 PM
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It does explain why clew was unable to find any historical or cross-cultural examples, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:14 PM
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That's a fascinating article, Minivet. Even as it argues for hoarding as a form of animal cruelty, it also captures the really painful situation of the hoarder, thinking of him or herself as uniquely compassionate and intensely defended against recognizing the real damage he or she is doing. This is making me feel for AWB's aunt as well as AWB.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:20 PM
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Because we're not typical.

Like me.


Posted by: Opinionated Olanzapine | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:38 PM
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My cat is like twelve different cats in one, so perhaps I am an efficient sort of hoarder.

I was going to stay up until the temperature went below 80 degrees but I think I'm not.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:41 PM
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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaugh this thread really gives me, well, the heebie-jeebies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:41 PM
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If you only save the soft outside part, you get the most efficient cats ever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:44 PM
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heebie is a cat hoarder?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:49 PM
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If she lived in a cave, she could be a bat boarder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:55 PM
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If she worked in a millinery shop she could be a hat sorter.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 9:59 PM
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The article in 361 really is quite interesting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-13 10:55 PM
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If I peddled exotic drugs, I could be a khat mortarer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:14 AM
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I think animal hoarding in particular is clearly not just about material accumulation, but about the isolation of living in a highly individualistic society where extended family bonds are very weak. That might extend to hoarding pathologies in general, but it's particularly obvious for animal hoarding. Beyond the emotional response to isolation, it's simply much harder to sustain these kinds of disorders when people genuinely live communally as they do in extended family societies -- there will probably be a majority of sane people in the communal grouping who will just prevent it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:16 AM
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375

373 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:18 AM
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376

If she got coprophilia, she have a scat disorder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:31 AM
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377

I think 374 is on to something.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:46 AM
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378

If she fudged her property line in her favor she'd be a plat torter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:53 AM
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379

Off to swim.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 8:48 AM
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374: That's a great point. It helps makes sense of the fact that the animal hoarder a) believes that she loves her animals while b) treating them like objects or possessions. This is a disorder, then, that is not only made possible by the absence of close relationships, but also reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what a close relationship is.

But I hope it's not alienating for AWB that we're all elaborating on how fascinating her aunt's situation is?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 9:07 AM
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The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium website has advice on intervention (plus other resources).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 9:19 AM
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One potentially useful bit from that chapter was the insight that in-home visits from mental health professionals are more likely to be useful than office visits. Unfortunately, the main point that I took away from all of this was that intervention is unlikely to accomplish anything good.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 9:30 AM
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If she hated her daddy in Brooklyn, she'd be a Plath Daughter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 10:30 AM
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384

but also reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what a close relationship is.

They need to establish a non-quite fundamental misunderstanding so they can be like everybody else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 10:39 AM
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If I painted like Jackson Pollock, I could be a splat dotter.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 10:40 AM
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a disordered relation to commodities, an intransigent refusal to discard, and so it's hard to imagine it existing before consumer culture.

A gift of Our Mutual Friend, in fact.

Now, I have cloth yardage and nails that are several generations old and (this is the nutty, or maybe just New World part) have moved cross-country a couple times. But they're all still useful; oiled or dry or cedared and shaken out and sorted regularly. I can recognize the short-circuit that would let me pride myself on `keeping' but then didn't do any of the preservation or use, because they're contrary impulses.

But the only thing the WIERD directly use animals for, now, is emotional support. Particularly, I think, for people who believe that the innocent mind is the only deserving one? The article Minivet cites talks about the animal-human bond without describing it very closely that I remember. (The Diogenes syndrome was new to me and *much* more how I expect to go.) The volume intro said this:


"With respect to both quantitative and qualitative studies, we are, it seems, increasingly comfortable in making the point that our nineteenth-century forebears intuitively understood, that cruelty to animals can be a reliable sign not only of those who might pose the risk of harm to others, but also of those who are at risk of becoming victims of violence themselves. As in the nineteenth century, animals are again integrated into our understanding of family and our conceptualization of domestic violence."

but I didn't get the snippets of that nineteenth-c. understanding, except that the humane societies often started as child and animal protection societies, and professional social work took over child protection.


One can track the rise of WEIRD eating disorders after socio-technologial changes, IIRC? So maybe we'll find international correlates of animal hoarding. Perhaps we have to have either pig-bird-human flus or animal hoarders.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 11:11 AM
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If I helped carry goods along a river in Nebraska, I could be a Platte porter.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 11:11 AM
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before he could be welcomed back, he had to be a split cotter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 11:11 AM
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anybody got a peanut?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 11:12 AM
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390

And seconding Mme. Merle's comment; AWB, I started looking this up because I wondered what was likely to happen if you did get involved. Sense du blog, not much useful, looks like, unless your aunt's region has an agency that's used to dealing with this (and even then the odds aren't great). Personally, I can't imagine doing more than phoning around looking for such an agency, and if there isn't one, despairingly figuring that if these cats get taken away she'll do the same to the next set. I wouldn't know what to do about her kids, or her. Much, much milder kerfuffles in my family only got straightened out when *several* retired women spent years being full-time live-in help. That isn't you.

And it seems unfair that your family is trying to draw you in and shut you out at the same time ('the only person no-one would think had called'). Er, hugs. Or virtual drunken snarkery.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 11:21 AM
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387: That job doesn't exist anymore.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 12:04 PM
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From the pix my wife puts on FB, folks think I'm a fat boarder.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 12:48 PM
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Oh, I'm equally fascinated by animal hoarding! Speculate away!

Yes, I suspect 374 is a lot of how she herself experiences it. She sees herself as this really compassionate person who has zero intimacy with any human being, and it's clearly because everyone else is so selfish, so she will give all her love to cats, and talk about cats, and surround herself with cats, and go to Target at 2am and show the clerks pictures of her cats and ask them for donations for her cats. And then she'll come back to family and yell at us because even Target clerks are more understanding of cats' needs than we are. But really she's abusing cats, and if she were to actually come to a full recognition of the horror of being a cat in an overcrowded, neglectful situation, she'd probably kill herself. But she says she'd kill herself if anything happened to those cats. It's very intense.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 3:05 PM
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I thought I'd read somewhere that the "crazy cat lady" variant of animal hoarding was thought to be caused by (or maybe exacerbated by) cat-driven toxoplasmosis. Certainly cats seem like the most popular animal of choice of the animal hoarder.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 3:45 PM
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394: See 361, page 229. The idea is out there, but there's no actual evidence for it - it's mentioned "for completeness".


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 3:51 PM
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I thought people hoarded cats because they shit inside. You can't really hide thirty dogs. Also, dogs can eat you if they get hungry enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 3:54 PM
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Still hyperventilating over here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 3:56 PM
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By my theory, you would also expect to see hoarding of rabbits. I can not recall hearing about that, but maybe it does happen and we never hear about it because humane society people eat them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:00 PM
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I don't want to contemplate someone who is hoarding snakes because I still have moments when I can't get the snake pit scene from Indiana Jones out of my head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:03 PM
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Hey, Moby, have you heard about this awesome island off the coast of Brazil?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:08 PM
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I occasionally have swamp-full-of-snakes dreams. If you mention that in any dream-sharing conversation, people will fall all over themselves telling you how phallic that is. But I just don't see it - they're all slithery and drapy and don't resemble penises at all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:10 PM
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I should say nightmares, not just plain dreams.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:10 PM
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I guess that depends on how you feel about draped penises.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:14 PM
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Beyond cats and dogs:

(Subsequent research has found that people do occasionally hoard farm animals, rabbits, horses, and birds, but not as often as cats and dogs.)

via


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:24 PM
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Hoarding horses is also traditionally known as "being a rich man's wife or daughter."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:26 PM
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Actually, I've seen what looked to me like a mild version of horse hoarding that had nothing to do with being wealthy. If you've got land and a barn, you can keep a surprisingly large number of untrained, ungroomed, sickly horses alive for cheap; the family I knew had about a dozen. Eventually the responsible family member's health deteriorated the point where he couldn't even manage the minimal care the horses were getting, and they went away somewhere -- I'm not sure what the process was, whether they were sold or given away.


Posted by: Indira Gandhi | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:33 PM
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Your grandson was not as good at pool as he thought he was, Indira!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:35 PM
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Slash had over 100 snakes at one point, plus additional lizards, but his wife made him give them away. Apparently they were kept very well and conscientiously.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:36 PM
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In potentially related news, Slash was also described by Izzy Stradlin, in a charming turn of phrase, as "not your thinking man's drug user."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:40 PM
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For those who don't want to wade through the whole chapter linked in 391, the Slate link in 404 is a pretty good summary of what it says. It also mentions instances from outside the US, which may cast doubt on my culture-bound syndrome theory.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:57 PM
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411

I just rode a bus past the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile without even trying or anything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 4:59 PM
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Mixed company, Moby. Really.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 5:01 PM
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My one cat is getting so elderly that just now I gave him his canned cat food (containing his meds) in a different dish, and he kept meowing as though he hadn't been given anything. Like he can't smell canned cat food anymore.

(The reason I changed containers is that he seemed to lose track of the food halfway through and forget about it, and since it's got his medicine, that's a problem. So I thought a white plate might help, with the higher contrast and less walls to lick against. Daft kitty.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 6:52 PM
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I thought it was normal for cats to eat their food slowly and meow needily even when it's just dispensed.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 6:54 PM
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I have a real aversion to doing this (because it just seems icky to me), but sometimes microwaving the cat food to warmish temperature makes it smell more strongly, so the cat finds it more appealing.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:07 PM
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they went away somewhere

A farm. They always go to a farm.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:11 PM
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415: Oh, great idea. It's been in the fridge because he only gets a spoonful or so at a time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:14 PM
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I nuked it for five seconds. It got warm and I could certainly smell it. Took it over to him, he perked up and followed me back to the kitchen, meowing. I set it down. He kept looking at me. I kept trying to get him to notice it. Now he's followed me back to the computer, looking at me like any minute now I'll give him that treat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:19 PM
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Now he's just laid down in his regular spot. Old cat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:20 PM
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420

I know everyone is super stoked to hear the play-by-play.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:20 PM
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Ha! Sorry it didn't work. Stupid cats.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:23 PM
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420: I've been having this issue with my older cat for the past seven months or so. Microwaving never seemed to make a difference, but I've noticed that she is very finicky about whether the dish smells of older food. Sometimes it helps to place the dish directly under nose, too.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 7:52 PM
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Diogenes syndrome _in cats_.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 8:25 PM
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Huh. In Japan it's folk knowledge that cats hate hot food, such that "cat's tongue" means a person with the same aversion. (That's hot in the temperature sense.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-21-13 9:36 PM
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We mix a little bit of water with our cats' wet food so that they stay well hydrated and don't develop kidney problems. In the winter I mix in hot water because the cans are stored in a cabinet on an outside wall that gets pretty cold and this helps bring it up to room temperature or so. I did once hear the theory that cats would prefer food at the temperature of just-killed-meat, but I haven't seen it myself.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-22-13 4:50 AM
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I didn't get very far* with haraway's book on animals and humans, but mean to get back to it. I grew up with pets, and later had a few working or food animals, and now live with someone so allergic that I expect to never have pets again. I am now evenly balanced between feeling that living with animals is wierd, and that it's essential.

* It overlaps subjects I am *very strugglingly* re-developing a writing style for, and is completely stylistically inappropriate for my field. I also couldn't read a very good book on Darwinian theory and Victorian novel plots.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-23-13 11:02 AM
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