Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy as pie

I have no idea where the expression "easy as pie" comes from. I could google it, but I'd rather speculate. Pie making is not easy, though it isn't as hard as, say, making bread. So, back in the days when everyone made stuff from scratch, saying something was as easy as pie made some sense. Nowadays, it doesn't. It's just become one of those expressions nobody bothers to think about. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure anyone except a few old rural folks even use the expression. I can't recall hearing it any time recently.

But, of course, that is not what I meant to write about, and any of you who know my writing style surely must have suspected that by now. By the way, if you know more about the expression "easy as pie", leave a comment. I am curious and comments are far better than google. I still like the personal touch. I'm kinda old fashioned that way.

So what is it that's "easy as pie"? Believe it or not, it's curing a lifelong aversion or phobia. Yep. That's right! In four to five days, one can desensitize oneself. This is no joke, though it certainly sounds like one. My therapist told me today that in four to five days I can cure myself of something that has bothered me for a lifetime. I said,"so why didn't I read this in Oprah?" He said, "because it's too simple."

Here's the deal: Expose yourself to the thing you have an aversion to. When you begin, write down how much anxiety you have. Don't get into it - just give it a number from 1 to 10. Keep exposing yourself to the anxiety source until the number drops by half. Then stop. Do this every day. Supposedly, in four to five days you'll feel very little anxiety. It may not be gone, but it'll be low. In his words, it'll have become "a little bit boring." I thought that was a humorous way of putting it. He's a funny guy.

What's the catch? There's no catch, except that most people won't do it. I sure can't envision myself starting this regimen. Even if it's only four to five days, just thinking about starting gives me the creeps. Therein lays the rub (and where did that expression come from?)

Sure, it's a grand idea, curing myself of something that's been bothering me for years. He said he's looking forward to finding out how it goes. That's when I made a face. "How it goes? You really think I'm even thinking about actually doing it?" No way! I'm attached to my aversion! That's the other reason this easy-as-pie stuff doesn't get done. Most of us (and that includes me) would rather talk about our aversions for years on end instead of getting rid of them. It's what we're made of. It's part of our personalities. Not so easy to give up, even if it is easy.

Notice I'm not telling you what my aversion is. At this moment, I'm not ready to lay my soul bare even to the small readership I have. No, I'm not that open. I'm tempted, to be sure, for I do know that my little problem is one that is fairly common. Perhaps another time. Maybe I'll tell all after I've actually tried the aversion desensitization and see if it really works so fast.

It really isn't easy. One has to be able to tolerate some discomfort. And that's another thing that no one really wants to do.

I promise a full report. Some day.

Painting note: Grant Wood "Dinner for Threshers" 1934
I googled the words "apple pie" and on the first page of image hits was Grant Wood's "American Gothic." I wondered if any of his paintings actually did have an apple pie in them, noticed how different his works depicting people are from his scenic work, and found this delightful painting (but no pie). Click on his name and check out the extensive online gallery of his work.

Addendum: I was looking at my list of links, which I need to amend, and noticed the "Markov Text Synthesizer." I used to have a lot of fun with this. Go check it out. It's a great way to vent one's feelings, then virtually chop 'em into bits and produce odd bits of prose that make odd sense. Here's what I came up with just now:

"I don't mind yours, but I hate taking off my body."


jmcleod76 said...

I get really grossed out by the thought of eyeball injury. Twice in my life, I have passed out at the thought. Once during health class in college, and once when an acquaintence was talking about an eye surgery her mother had.

Last week, I asked my mother about her cataract sugery, and was actually able to listen to her entire play by play. I did feel a bit queasy, but it wasn't unbearable.

I think what helped me was being a fan of Neil Gaiman. Though I wouldn't swear to it, I think everything he's ever written has some disgusting eyeball scene in it. In Coraline, people sew buttons into their eyes. In Sandman, there is a character with teeth in his eyes, and another who digs at her eyeball with a hooked ring. In American Gods, Odin's eye gets shot out. In Dream Hunters, a fox bites out a man's eye, and so on ...

I bet Neil Gaiman has the same phobia I do. I think that's why he includes something like that in every book, because he probably finds it horrifying, himself.

Anyway, reading all of those books has desensitized me a bit.

Good luck with your experiment, if you try it.

BitterGrace said...

"There's the rub" is from Hamlet's soliloquy. I can't help you with "easy as pie." My great aunt loved that expression. I bet it is American in origin.

I'm sure your therapist's technique will work if you do it, but of course his advice misses the point--the "doing" is the problem. Your post makes me wonder if phobias serve the same purpose as the behavioral compulsions and addictions that cause us so much pain. We get attached to the familiar pain of addictions in part because they help us avoid some scarier, deeper pain. We resist giving them up because then we'll have to deal with the pain of withdrawal, and the original pain is still waiting for us on the other side. Quite a dilemma. I don't know if phobias work the same way, but it's something to think about.

I think I've written about most of my phobias on the blog--chiefly, fear of dense crowds and a bizarre fear of icy bodies of water. I have other obsessions and compulsions that are not so benign, but they aren't exactly phobias.

Julie H. Rose said...

1. Is there someone who LIKES eye injuries?!

2. I am surprised I didn't catch where "there's the rub" comes from since I helped someone memorize Hamlet. . .ah, the memory is going. . .

3. And, I'm also fairly sure that few people would like to fall into icy bodies of water.

I was going to launch into a long comment, but I'll save it for a post.

jmcleod76 said...

No, I don't suspect anyone likes them, or thinking about them. But I don't know of many other people who pass out cold at the very thought, either.

My point about Neil Gaiman wasn't that it's odd to be afraid of eye injury. Just that I suspect it may be a deep-seated fixation for him to write about it so often.

I think that's where something crosses the line from aversion to phobia. Very few people would enjoy being locked in a tiny, dark, closet. But only someone with severe claustrophobia freaks out from just thinking about it.

For instance, M. is deathly afraid of spiders. I've never particularly liked them, myself, but I'm able to scoop them up and put them outside. Before that, I was able to kill them. M. can't do either of those things. The very sight of a spider paralyzes her with fear.

I wouldn't enjoy falling into an icy body of water, but I'm not terrified by the thought, either. In fact, my lack of fear is probably irrational, considering that's one of the most deadly situations to get into.

Likewise, I wouldn't like to meet a vicious dog. Given the level poverty in my area, and the fact that there are hundreds (seriously, hundreds) of desperate looking people with pit bull dogs living in my neighborhood, the probability that I could be attacked is likely much higher than most people's. Yet, I'm not particularly afraid of that possibility. I like dogs, including large, potentially dangerous ones.

There are a lot of things that could happen to me that I would dislike, or worse, but I'm just not terribly afraid of most of them. Phobias are more than just things we don't want to have happen to us. They're like loose threads in our psyche that, if someone pulls on them, snags everything up.

John Williams said...
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John Williams said...
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