In Defense of Pleasure

by | Jun 18, 2006 | Psychology & Living

I read an interesting quote the other day, on a church front, which went something like this: “Those who actually seek out ‘pleasure’ rarely find it.” This is a very appropriate slogan for an organization with a religious point of view. Religion, by its nature, teaches that pleasure cannot be this-worldly. It has to be […]

I read an interesting quote the other day, on a church front, which went something like this: “Those who actually seek out ‘pleasure’ rarely find it.”

This is a very appropriate slogan for an organization with a religious point of view. Religion, by its nature, teaches that pleasure cannot be this-worldly. It has to be found in selfless, supernatural pursuits only. What about pleasure on this earth? No matter. Such a thing is by its nature unhealthy, immoral and — according to the implication of this quote — impossible.

The slogan is relying on a notion held by many nonreligious types as well: the premise that pleasure, by definition, must be irrational. That snorting cocaine or gambling your entire life savings away is bundled into the same category of “pleasure” as all the many wonderful things that aren’t self-destructive and that make life worth living. A fine wine? A wonderful meal or evening with someone you love? Pleasure in work? Pleasure in the moment? Why, these things are no better than addiction or self-destruction.

The other faulty premise in this quote is that you cannot rationally and objectively define or seek out pleasure. As the Freudians taught, pleasure is a product of the mindless, reckless, out of control “id.” It cannot be approached in a rational way.

To which I say: nonsense! I never bought into supernaturalism and I never bought into Freudianism. I’m pro-pleasure, knowing full well that a life well-lived, which includes fun and delight, is full of pleasures at every turn. Don’t ever let anyone else convince you otherwise.

True pleasure belongs to the rational and self-responsible. Those who deny that pleasure is possible are neither rational nor self-responsible.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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