Friday, 17 August 2012

'ABC' Substitute Pop Psychology and Ridicule for Quality Articles

So, Looners substitute balloons for love, sex and intimacy? What a total misunderstanding of a fetish if I ever seen one.

Anyway, lets discuss this article in greater detail. Quotes from the article in grey italics.

For children, balloons can make the heart soar, but when an adult tucks his balloons into bed at night, he could be considered a "looner."

Excellent, children are brought into the picture. Anyway, I'm going to assume this line is just an interesting hook for the reader, and nothing sinister implied about looners here. Balloons are a party decoration.

Loving balloons seems harmless enough, but Dr. Rebecca Beaton, director and founder of the Stress Management Institute, said attachment to objects can be considered a mental illness if it interferes with daily life or causes great stress.

Firstly, Dr. Rebecca Beaton. Looking her up, she specialises in anxiety disorders. I wonder why this journalist did not consult an expert in sexual fetishes or paraphillia? It probably has something to do with her links with TV, such as Fox News. No matter, a clinician will have extensive experience with those with mental illness of some kind or another, not your every day kinky couple. One who specialises in anxiety disorders will see those whose anxiety is ruining their lives and their fetish may be causing some of this anxiety. This is like comparing people who are in rehab for drug addiction to those who take stimulants every now and again when they go clubbing. Sure, there is overlap, but the reasons for drug taking are completely different. Some people have a great deal of pain in their lives, and some people just want to feel good.

This [people seeing a psychologist for therapy] is a specific subset of the population – which David Collins or Chris Burney may or may not be part of. Also, those two people's experience does not apply to every other looner out there, such as myself either. Stop. Generalizing!

Next. Yes, a fetish can be considered a mental illness. The key words here from the DSM are cause clinically significant distress. Usually the problem is if the fetish object is required for sexual arousal. Sex partners usually don't like this, so it causes relationship problems. However I believe the majority of looners are also equally, if not more, attracted to regular sex, be it straight, gay or bi. But some of us, including myself do require balloons. For many people balloons, and other fetish objects and activities, like BDSM, are a kink and is considered a healthy sex life. I don't see Dr. Beaton commenting on the sadomasochism found in 50 Shades of Grey (mind you, I have not read the book, so I don't know much about it). But lets hear about people substituting pain for love and intimacy? 

I haven't got time to sit around to research and report on fetishes as a psychiatric disorder. Wikipedia has a discussion on it: Interesting to note is the bit on optional, preferred and exclusive paraphillia.

"I presume he has some difficulty with relationships with other people if he has a balloon under his shirt," said Beaton, who has never treated Dave. 

Emphasis mine. Well yeah, people who put balloons under their shirts because it feels nice are freaks... that's what the NetGeo segment and this article insinuates! I don't know if he has problems... should ask him. Not only has Dr. Beaton not treated Dave, she has not spoken to him, let alone conducted any sort of clinical interview. She just watched a 1 minute video.

"It feels like intimacy but it's not a real human and humans can hurt you," she said. "It's safer with an inanimate object … They don't feel so alone." 

I don't know how stereotypical this comment is, it's like it came straight from a pop psychology book. Well balloons can hurt Dave... when they pop. So that's not true. But this is not the reason people have fetishes. Or in Dave's case, a non sexual fetish. I can only speak for myself, but it has nothing to do with intimacy, love and loneliness. In my case, for some reason, I feel sexually attracted to balloons. I do not feel attached to them. I watch videos of people sitting on balloons, and I get aroused. I sit and bounce on balloons until they pop and hump them to orgasm. Specific types of balloons are more 'sexy' than others.  I started feeling sexually attracted either before or during puberty. It is unknown how fetishes form, but there are several theories on sexual development. Again, wikipedia it: for some of them. But this has nothing do with turning to balloons (or any other fetish object) from the lack of intimacy from humans. In my case, am simply not sexually attracted to humans. And it feels like sexual pleasure, not like intimacy. However I do not know what it's like to have a non sexual fetish so perhaps it applies to that as there seems to be attachment involved. Again, simply asking would answer our questions and put an end to this pop psych speculation.

Honestly this is like saying “Gay men are attracted to other men because they can't get it with women and don't feel alone”.

"A fetish is when a person prefers an object to a live person, and it becomes a requirement for a sexual response" 

You fail the exam. Read the DSM. Even the psychiatric classification of fetish does not state that it is a requirement for a sexual response, as discussed above. I know for a fact this does not apply to Chris and his partner. And 'prefer' means 'prefer for sexual activity'. Intimacy =/= sexual activity (unless talking about sexual intimacy specifically).

What Christopher really wants is to share his love of balloons with a woman.
And that, says psychologist Beaton, is exactly the point. Attractions to objects like balloons are often just "coping mechanisms."
Okay, wtf? A coping mechanism? For what? And get with the news... Chris has a girlfriend which he shares his love of balloons... and love of her with. This would be known if the author simply attempted to contact him.

"They are using the balloons to fill the need for intimacy," she said. "We try to help them find other ways of getting those intimacy needs met and helping them to realize that they can self-soothe and gradually start to change." 

Oh right, this lack of intimacy again. Message:

If there is an issue with a lack of intimacy, the fetish may be a cause rather than the lack of intimacy causing a fetish.  That's what I am reading from this article “sexual fetishes is caused by a lack of intimacy with humans' and 'fetishes are for loners'. [Although I have to lol at how similar the words looner and loner are!!] This is just stupid and a gross generalization of a diverse range of people.

When I am feeling lonely or anxious, I don't jump on those balloons for some soothing. Perhaps she thinks people masturbate when they are feeling lonely in order to feel better. Hey, maybe some people do, who knows? But I thought people fapped when they are horny. Perhaps I am wrong here. Ahem. I certainly 'pleasure myself with balloons' when I'm in the mood. When I'm stressed, anxious, and feeling depressed, I'm rarely in the room.  I don't get any feeling of intimacy with balloons, I just get sexual pleasure and a lot of it. People get sexual pleasure from all sorts of other things, it's a normal variation on human behaviour.

I am attracted to balloons and I don't know why and you don't either. Don't pretend you do.


  1. You are so cool grim! Couldnt agree more with this article!

  2. Well Written Grim. I am concerned that this "documentary" and the resulting media attention it is generating is going to bring quite a bit of unwanted attention to the looner community. Things could be a bit uncomfortable for those of us with the fetish for awhile.

  3. Oh Grim, you and your outsized brain just wouldn't understand. You're not part of ABC's target audience... Slack-jawed simpletons who lack the mental capacity for independent thought, and busy urban hipsters whose 60-hour work and 60-hour clubbing schedule leave no time for independent thought. Doing the news is so much easier when you can just tell people what to think!

    And popular psychology is popular for the same reason: because people like to be reductive, even about a subject as infinitely complex as human beings. It's also popular because it invites a feeling of superiority in the reader: "Wow, look how messed up those 'loonies' are. Suddenly my alcoholism doesn't seem so deviant anymore!" It really reads more like something I'd expect from the Daily Mail, not ABC.

    Bottom line, I like how you think and how you write, especially here. Good show.

  4. me too I certainly 'pleasure myself with balloons' when I'm in the mood.