This is another post salvaged from being eaten by WordPress by copying and pasting into a Word document and then back into WP. This sometimes ruins the formatting; I’m sorry if it does that, but I don’t have the time/energy to sort it. I got up early for volunteering. I really wanted to stay in bed, but I needed to go to health and safety training for volunteering. I struggled to work out if I was feeling well enough after yesterday, but decided I did. When I got to the bus stop, I received a text from the person who coordinates volunteering (I’ll call her N) saying that we should bring photo ID to get into the building for the health and safety talk (usually we’re in the garage and don’t need to go past security). In addition, it quickly became apparent that there were bus delays. Other people at volunteering who get the same bus think that they quietly run fewer buses during half-term week; I don’t know if that’s true, but we had the same trouble last time it was half-term too. I phoned my Mum to ask what she thought I should do and she suggested I walk back home and she would give me a lift (I was already going to be late at this stage). As I walked back, I felt lightheaded again. It did seem to be linked strongly to the ID/bus stress. In the end, I got to the training half an hour late, but once I was there, the lightheadedness stopped. Training and volunteering itself were fine (although I did wonder a bit if we really needed a whole hour to tell us how to pick boxes up from the floor safely), but I left before coffee. I thought there would be no coffee this week because people had had it during the health and safety training and decided I would just go home after finishing my usual tasks. The coordinator said there was going to be coffee, but autistic rigidity took over and I “couldn’t compute” the change of plan and went home without really understanding why. This behaviour is frustrating. Even when I do it, I can see myself doing it and know why I’m doing it, and still can’t change it. I felt lightheaded again on the way home, but on this occasion it may have been travel sickness from reading on the bus. *** I sorted the business with the fine for the late submission of my tax return. It turns out that my tax return was late. I feel stupid about this, although I know it’s not exactly my fault; people I thought I could trust told me the deadline was different to what it was. I do still feel like I’m The Autistic Person Who Can’t Cope With Life though. I guess the lesson is: don’t trust people, look everything up yourself. To be fair to myself, there was a whole complicated question about whether I even needed to submit a tax return for that tax year, owing to a complicated work situation, so I should forgive myself a bit. *** Afterwards, I worked on my novel for an hour or so for the first time in a couple of months. I didn’t write anything, just worked on my plan, as since I last worked on it, I’ve decided I need to make some big changes to parts of it (the plan). This took longer than expected and I haven’t finished it yet. This was partly due to procrastination, but also due to lightheadedness, possibly triggered by the stress of feeling that changing the plan is a bigger task than I anticipated. *** Lately I’ve been catching myself with a lot of negative self-talk and inner criticism. I can’t work out if I’m criticising myself more or if I am just more aware of it. Is it good or bad? Bad that I’m doing it more or good that I’m catching it and trying to stop the thoughts. I think I’ve been avoiding getting stuck in those thoughts, even with things like the tax return today. *** I’ve said that I feel I have disadvantages and problems from being autistic, but that I don’t have the positive traits that other autistics say they have. I still think this is mostly true, but I’m not sure if it’s completely true. I certainly do blame autism for some of my shortcomings. But I wonder if I’m reluctant to attribute my positive traits to autism for fear that that would mean they are no longer my achievements, but just flukes. My character trait that I value most strongly is my integrity. During years of burnout/depression where I didn’t have a job or a relationship or many friends, I did at least value my integrity and think that God would value it too. Some would say that that kind of integrity comes from an autistic rigidity and unwillingness to break rules. That may be true. Does that mean that my integrity is not my own achievement, or that God will not value it? There is a Jewish idea that God determines everything about a person except whether they will be good or bad. That would seem to indicate that my integrity is my own achievement, yet it does seem influenced (at least) by my autism. Is this just another element of the problem of free will? After all, everyone’s morality is influenced by their environment to some extent. How guilty is a kleptomaniac? Conversely, it’s much easier not to steal if you are not homeless and hungry. Does being autistic mean I’m a less good person because integrity comes more naturally to me or not? It’s tricky. *** One thing I’m dealing with, in the context of my novel about a pornography addict, is wondering whether, or how much, I need to engage with the academic discussion around whether pornography addiction is real, or if behavioural addictions in general are really addictions in the sense that substance addictions like alcoholism are. I feel like if I don’t do some research and put something into the novel that shows I’m aware of the controversy for and against, I will get called out, but I’m not sure how relevant it really is to the narrative. From my point of view, the fact that I’m writing about a pornography addict pretty much shows that I’m at least open to the idea that it’s an addiction. I also don’t know how much research is “enough.” I don’t want to do a psychology PhD just to write my story! But I also don’t want to be accused of pushing particular views or treatment modalities when that isn’t really my intention. This has come to my attention again since seeing a post on Facebook a while back shared by someone I respect, a couples therapist. The post she shared was written by different couples therapist and argued that pornography addiction isn’t a true addiction. Unfortunately, the author seemed to have his own axe to grind, essentially blaming wives of addicts for not being sexy enough for their husbands or nagging too much and so on. That’s not quite what they said, but they did basically say that sex addiction is rooted in relationship problems, which are usually two-way. This does not really fit with the blogs I’ve read from addicts and their partners, where root causes in childhood trauma and other negative experiences of the addict are taken for granted by both addicts and partners. It did seem a bit like the author is a couples therapist, so argued for a couples therapy intervention, whereas an addiction therapist would argue for an addiction intervention. I’m just scared that if I send my protagonist down the route of treatment modality X (probably an addiction/Sexaholics Anonymous modality, as from my research so far that seems to be where the recovering addicts I’ve encountered have come from), then I’ll be told that this is wrong and I should have opted for modality Y (e.g. couples therapy). But if I combine them (e.g. the protagonist wants one modality, his wife another), that could just seem incoherent. In a world where everything is politicised and books are judged for the negative emotions they “trigger” as much as their artistic content (“By writing about treatment X, I felt erased for following treatment Y”), it is hard to know what to do. Possibly I’m over-thinking this.

10 thoughts on “Overthinking Character Traits and Novel Research

  1. It seems like an addiction to me, given my experience with one person anyway, who began to neglect everything and lie just to spend more time on the porn sites. That’s what they say marks an addict from a hobbyist ~ when it negatively impacts your relationships and your work/finances …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you had personal experience with someone with this.

      Without having read a huge amount about it, I think the argument against is that, although the actions are like that of an substance addict, when they do brain scans, the type of damage or change to the brain associated with substance addictions isn’t there.

      That said, my personal inclination is that it is an addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely feel like it’s an addiction. Many people are in good to decent relationships and still have issues with it. And implying that it’s caused from a partner not being “sexy” enough makes my blood boil. The lightheadness seems to occur when you’re stressed. Do you have a B/P machine? Perhaps your pressure goes high?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I said to Paula above, without having read a huge amount about whether pornography addiction is a “real” addiction, I think the argument against is that, although the actions are like that of an substance addict, when they do brain scans, the type of damage or change to the brain associated with substance addictions isn’t there.

      That said, my personal inclination is that it is an addiction. The idea that it was the partner’s fault annoyed me too.

      I keep meaning to use my parents’ blood pressure machine, but not getting round to it. I should probably try it out later.

      Like

  3. Ugh, that’s really dated thinking to blame husbands’ extramarital escapades to their supposedly frigid wives. It angers me. And nowadays that we have instantly available porn via the Internet, the wives would need to compete with women who are largely acting and not a reflection of a true sexual relationship. So the wives have to act like pornstars. It sickens me.

    I can’t recall whether you’ve mentioned having your blood glucose tested or not. When you mention feeling faint or lightheaded, I wonder if it would benefit you to eat a small snack like some nuts or trail mix. The things I tend to think of when it comes to causes of lightheadedness are dehydration (are you also having headaches?), hypotension, and hypoglycemia. As far as blood glucose, there’s the immediate fingerstick test, of course, but there’s a longer test that can sometimes show issues that the fingerstick one doesn’t. I believe it takes 4 or 5 hours. I once had it. It involved drinking a sickly sweet drink periodically and getting tested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please excuse the errors. It really annoys me when I see I’ve used poor grammar or made an error and can’t edit my comment. It’s “escapades on their wives.” I admit I get fixated on editing, often repeatedly.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I haven’t had it tested. I used to snack on the way home from work, but post-COVID, I’ve become cautious about eating on the Tube. However, eating and drinking when I get home doesn’t seem to have much effect.

      My sister had a similar blood glucose test recently that took one hour.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not to give you another character development angle to complicate things, but I think also relevant to your novel in the context of the frum community is the question of whether the characters *think* it’s an addiction, which may be different from whether porn actually is an addiction in the professional mental health sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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