The Pleasure Principle
Freud said we live on something he called the pleasure principle. That is, we naturally gravitate toward what pleases or satisfies us. (Freud defined pleasure as anything that relieves biological “tension.”) Similarly, we tend to avoid what we find painful or aversive. Now, this is not inherently problematic. In fact, it’s generally quite adaptive. But we can become slaves to our appetites and aversions. This dynamic lies at the very heart of all addiction. And to avoid such enslavement we must learn how to be master over our appetites and aversions.
I’ve counseled many folks who came to me in chains. As hedonistic thinkers, they’d spent a lifetime “chasing highs,” pursuing one excitement after the other. (See, also: Hedonistic Thinking.) True, they felt great for a time. In fact, they felt pretty good every time they indulged themselves. But it always took more and more for them to feel satisfied. And inwardly, they felt increasingly empty. By the time they came to me, they were depressed to the point of near despair. That’s what living purely on the pleasure principle will do to you. The pleasure principle was designed to serve us – to serve life itself. When we allow our lives to serve it instead, we invite spiritual death. (Read more about this in The Judas Syndrome.)
There is a way of living that supersedes the pleasure principle. But it’s not a way of living that comes naturally. Living life on a higher principle requires much mindfulness. Still, the benefits of living beyond the pleasure principle are countless.
So how do we move beyond ruthlessly governed by the pleasure principle? As I mentioned before, it takes mindfulness. And that’s the topic of the next “commandment” we’ll be discussing. But it also takes discipline. And that involves properly shaping and exercising our will. That will be the topic of the subsequent discussion.
As you can see, the current and following two commandments go very much together. They are not only interdependent but also build on one another. And along with all the other commandments, they grow a person in character. That means growing emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
I’ve been helping people grow and change for many years now. And I can unequivocally assert that spiritual and psychological health go hand-in-hand. That’s why I’ve been spending so much time modifying my upcoming book on character development. Moving beyond the pleasure principle (i.e. living life on a much higher plane) is an inherently spiritual task. But it’s also the ticket to psychological health.
The ultimate challenge for human beings is to put the pleasure principle in its place. It’s in its proper place when it advances the cause of life. When we’re growing, prospering, and facilitating the growth of others we know we have it right. But when we’re living for our next “high,” or too intensely avoiding the uncomfortable we breed only stagnation.
I’ll have more to say about living on a higher plane in next week’s concluding article.
20 thoughts on “Life Beyond the Pleasure Principle”
I struggle for years. Your work helped me to eventually leave an abusive set-up after 32 years. I worked it out on my own sort of but could not really get it a few years into the set-up(introvert and neurotic) but with all the things I’ve read on Lovefraud and your contributions eventually the light bulb moment kicked in. Everything is so upside down when in such a set-up that you need validation from outside of your situation. And then all of a sudden…..everything is there, out in the open….in the Bible. I just didn’t see what I was reading all the years. As if I was living in different worlds. When I realized I was married to a person who only married me to have someone to hate…..it was it. So by the way…..he was a pastor. I really could not get it in the beginning and I bought into the idea everything was just because I could not reach his standard of what he expected of me. I also thought in my stupidity that I could change him by bending the knee. This is also not biblical…..to bend the knee before evil.
I am a professional and worked like a slave and he, obviously he never met his responsibilities towards his family and did not contribute to the household. Never had a decent job and could also not keep a job. Typical….I had, as an empath neurotic, to provide for everything and pay his debt all the time making his happiness my responsibility.
All these stories of different people are the same….
Sooo happy in my own space now….
Thank you very very very much.
Leonora de Haas (my maiden surname. ….yeah!)
I am sorry you had to go through all that to find out who you really married. The important part is you found yourself.
Good for you to take back your maiden name, I did too, as many on this blog have. I think we regain ourselves when we make the statement we are our own person.
Be well and Gods blessings.
Thanks BTOV. Yes we are not alone……
I agree, all these stories of different people are the same.
It does take awhile to become enlightened, after reading and sorting through the years we’ve dealt with the CDN.
I’m happy for you that you’ve done what needed to be done for you to live free of this person and can now live in peace.
And you took your maiden name back! So did I. I no longer “belong” to him in any way.
It’s so good to hear of a successful end to the abuse of the CDN.
Thanks for sharing my joy. Took a very long time though. Still get relapses and you? Life to me is a pretty serious matter….I’ve seen it over and over. If you do not take responsibity for yourself and your own actions, you can and will never grow to become a better human. These kind if people dump their responsibilities on someone else so that they can indulge in their own pleasures. Must be pretty empty life and they indeed have no chance to grow. But they don’t care because in their own eyes they are perfect. I had to listen to the nonsense: “I never make a mistake”. So happy to hear you also saw the light. Life is short.
Peace and blessings for you
Relapses – I still think a lot about the past. I wish I could stop those thoughts. My divorce was traumatic, emotionally.
The process has changed me, opened my eyes to the reality that so many people we encounter have their own agendas and May try to play us. I feel now I may be overly critical of people. I just can’t ever let myself be a victim again. I know better now. I no longer believe marriage, for me, will ever be a good thing. I will never again legally bind myself to another person. It doesn’t mean I won’t be open to meaningful relationships, but I’ll never say “forever” again. Next time I’m thru with a relationship I’ll just walk away.
So yes there is certainly an aftermath of being married to and divorcing a malignant overt CDN.
I’m still healing and feeling I have a future again
I see you posted again. Just know you are welcomed and look forward to your posts. We learn from each other.
This is off topic. But to all of you who have been used and abused by the CDN and now educated on the many aspects of the personality and tactics, do you find now to be intolerable of people who display some of these traits and who use some of these tactics?
I’m finding myself going cold-hearted and so totally turned off and away from people who display ugliness and twisted tactics. I’m talking about people who I’ve been friends with for a long time and no longer wish to be around them.
I used to have more acceptance to faults but now I don’t accept them. And I know I’m no walk in the park myself, but I’m honest and don’t have ulterior motives.
I feel like my tolerance in the past is what led me to being sort of blind to the depth of the CD’s character issues, just always turning my head the other way or not thinking too much of things or just letting things pass.
Just wondering if anyone else feels the same. I just cannot tolerate it any longer.
I sure can relate to so many of the things you shared in this post. I find I no longer can overlook many who have personality disorders and are on so many levels selfish.
I also find it refreshing to be along, walking along, hearing the birds or just the rustling of the trees in the wind rather than listening to the idle chatter of dysfunctional and senseless blabbering.
Your sure not alone in this, I think more of us feel like you do.
Hugs and know we all care about you.
I don’t think your cold hearted at all. Some may say that because we are refusing to be used anymore or allowing ourselves to be the purging receptacle for others who want to off load their toxic waste onto someone we have changed, who cares, it is growth not stagnation.
I think your kind hearted nature opened you up to being used for so many years with compromised boundaries you never realized it. You were always so busy taking care of your family being the best mom, wife and friend you could be and never thought of yourself.
When we go through something like you have and our eyes are truly opened, we begin to Grow and Heal, we Know we need to say No More. From the time you first posted on this blog to where you are today in helping others who come to this blog for comfort, information, understanding, etc., you are doing a superb job. You have helped me to too, so don’t short change yourself.
Keep going forward and you will find you will make many new and meaningful friends that will truly appreciate the wonderful person and true friend you really are.
For me, I can’t tolerate it any longer either. When we think this way we are well. Keep looking forward and you will find a whole new life beyond.
Lucy, going through all this I found a lovely friend, she is kind and caring. When I need help with things that are difficult for me and easy for her, she offers her kind wisdom. I may have lost people who I thought cared for me but in return I met this wonderful lady whom I call the Fly Captain as she is just like the Fly Lady. This Lovely Lady has helped me to make decisions on how to declutter, say goodbye to things of the past and go forward.
As our friendship grew this Lovely Lady became a mentor in many areas of my life I needed help in, she is a true friend, a sharing loving person who has moved my heart. This Lovely Lady has shared her joy and happiness with me, her sorrows and goals and in doing so she, this Lovely Lady helped me to move ahead on this journey called life.
I am forever grateful and am blessed to have her as my friend. Lucy, I think we have grown past these superficial people to reach out and find true caring people and are at peace with our inner selves, so much so, Silence is Golden.
Hugs Kindred Spirit
Thanks for the encouragement..
We all need good friends, even one — they can be lifesavers.
Sounds like you are seeing more clearly. When I escaped the ex I ended up having a friendship with a lady who was also a narcissist, and I still wasn’t identifying it. I think when we realize what narcissism is, it is life-changing. At least it was for me. It took me a while to identify one in my church and when I did her behavior finally made sense and I was proud of myself that I was able to identify her as being a narcissist and I no longer choose to be around her. I believe my daughter has many signs but not full blown. Its good to see clearly.
Yes! I went through a stage where I was seriously pissed off! Once I recognized what folks were up to, I was not having it. I still occasionally get seriously pissed when I’m dealing with one of them (my daughter, at work, the doctors office, etc..), but mostly I see their BS as their issue and get away from them.
I’m with Leonora, never again on marrying and I’m too busy trying get my life in order, don’t want to deal with their shenanigans.
I think it’s a normal reaction to coming to terms with the behaviors.
I responded to your reply, but I think you may not have seen it before it dropped out of the recent posts lists. I’ve pasted it here:
I’ve thought a lot about what you wrote. It all rings true. Would you mind sharing what age your son was when he started displaying these types of behaviors and what age you finally decided to end contact? Did he acknowledge any of his behaviors?
I must had missed your post. I have problems with the younger son, he is very manipulative and CD. I have never been around him long enough to give specifics. I didn’t end up contact, he did, as I refused to accept his vitriol and imagined and distorted perceptions, I refused to interact or even respond to his distorted perceptions. Therefore, he would stay away from any interactions with me.
I am anticipating more interaction in the future with him and am unafraid to call him out on his childish and distorted perceptions of life.
If I haven’t answered please feel free to ask more. We as a team are a wealth of information, strength and fortitude in battling this Disordered World.
I see. Thanks. How old is he? What age was he when you first noticed his manipulative behavior?
Yes, this sharing of information strength, hope, resiliency, and fortitude makes this journey easier to bear.
(this message may come twice – the first one didn’t show up for some reason)
Yes….never again for me. The same irritation when people try to manipulate. I just close the door and walk away. I am so busy cleaning up my own life that I don’t need this nonsense anymore. It’s hard work to work on your own flaws…..no time for someone else’s. Freedom! Simple live is a full live. Those who can’t realise it lose out big time….
Fcuk’em. The CD is a fcuking parasite. I do not in any way tolerate parasites. Other peoples character is their choice. The only thing I have control over is MY THINKING AND MY BEHAVIOR. As does anyone. Why make someone else’s thinking my problem.
One of the traits Narcissism is Entitlement. From this Exploitation comes. Why involve yourself with an Exploitive person
Sort of off topic.
A woman on social media of who has set off my alarm system in the past has just posted a sad story about needing a refrigerator and can only pay a small amount due to her breast cancer coming back again. She said she was a high stage and needed six months of aggressive chemo and her doctor told her she couldn’t work. An oh, by the way she, has a small child.
Those statements also set off my BS meter based on my knowledge and experience with breast cancer and treatments. I trust my gut, but don’t want to be heartless, so I asked a couple of casual questions about her cancer(which is very common in the cancer community). Based on her answers, I am 99% sure she’s completely lying about having cancer.
It just sickens and angers me. It’s a horrible disease and she’s using it as a weapon to manipulate people.
I am really gun shy of people these days and based on my experience, it’s justified. Being a hermit is looking better and better.
I understand wanting to be a hermit. I have felt the same way at time.
I think we then give away more of our power when we withdraw. What is important and it takes effort, the effort is to find like minded individuals.
Please, never give up your power, fight back and search out those who truly care about others.
Hugs and glad you have found Dr. Simons blog as there are others here who do care and feel like you do…..