Alas, poor Eamonn. Every time this jolly TV presenter lets his humanity have the better of his official role, he causes a Twitter storm. Enraged viewers accuse him of crassness and demand punishments of varying severity, usually just short of evisceration.
In the past, he has suggested to a rape victim that perhaps taking a taxi would have been wiser than walking through desolate streets in the middle of the night. He has also called a stupid guest a ‘retard’, thus offending every sufferer from learning difficulties, if that’s the proper term this week. This time around he failed to recognise the seriousness of sex addiction, that pandemic and seemingly incurable disease afflicting millions.
Holmes was talking to a Miss Crystal Warren, who at age 40 realised she had been struck down by this degenerative disorder. That self-diagnosis is based on unimpeachable clinical evidence: Miss Warren has had sex with over 1,000 men, mostly strangers she picks up in pubs and coffee houses, sometimes seven in one day.
Assuming that her 1,000-odd conquests have been evenly spread over a lifetime, one wonders why it took Miss Warren so long to identify the problem. If, say, sleeping with 999 men by age 40 didn’t set off any alarm bells, then what caused the epiphany at Number 1,000? That’s the question I would have asked first, but old Eamonn is much better than me.
‘If you need this five or six times a day, have you ever thought of charging for it?’ he asked. How insensitive can one get? Sex will never, ever become Miss Warren’s profession, even though she claims that sex is the reason she can’t hold down a regular job. ‘What, becoming a prostitute?’ she demanded in a fit of moral indignation. ‘This way I’m enjoying it… I get to choose who I sleep with.’
Now, logic is clearly not one of Miss Warren’s addictions, and neither, by the sound of it, is moral philosophy. For prostitutes, unless they are sex slaves, also get to choose whom they sleep with. Their selection criteria are usually less than stringent, but, on purely arithmetical evidence, neither are Miss Warren’s. After all, it’s hard to explore the depths of emotional attachment with seven strangers a day. Also, from what one hears, some prostitutes actually enjoy their work too.
The morality of it never came up, as it hardly ever does these days, but applying such hopelessly obsolete standards, one struggles to see a clear watershed between doing it on this scale for money or for free. A distinction without a difference.
The subsequent outburst in interactive media was deafening, with doctors providing authoritative backup. Sex, they explained, is like drugs (and presumably rock’n’roll); it causes powerful chemicals to be released in the brain, making it enjoyable and therefore addictive. People can become addicted to pleasure, can’t they? Therefore, Holmes is ‘disgusting’! ‘irresponsible’! ‘crass!’. Anyway, prostitution is ‘illegal’! Actually, prostitution, as distinct from solicitation, isn’t illegal in Britain, but this hardly matters when a popular piety is offended.
What does matter is the staggeringly ignorant and morally corrupt tendency to ascribe all behavioural pathologies to medical problems. In the not-so-distant past someone like Miss Warren would have been described by a spiffy term implying opprobrium (‘value judgment’). Nowadays, she is a ‘patient’. The assumption is that her licentiousness is beyond her control — it’s explicable medically and neutral morally.
There are indeed some, exceedingly rare, physiological conditions that can lead to an increased need for sexual activity. As no evidence of such a disorder has been produced, or even mentioned, in Miss Warren’s case, one has to assume that her problem falls into the domain of counselling, rather than medical treatment. And in that realm people aren’t responsible for their actions — they are driven by some subterranean powers beyond their control.
The same arguments are applied to drug addiction. Those poor people can’t help it; they are ill, not irresponsible. In fact, even those who do believe that affection for, say, opiates is actually an addiction, rather than reckless hedonism, never claim that this ‘disease’ is contracted instantly. Typically, it takes regular and prolonged use before any hint of physiological addiction appears. And then — contrary to the horror stories one hears — withdrawal is as easy as getting over a cold.
I speak from experience, for some six years ago I became a drug addict. My ordeal was iatrogenic, caused by medical treatment. Due to a painful problem I won’t bore you with, I spent a month on an intravenous diamorphine (heroine) drip, and then a couple of months on oxycontin, an opiate that, incidentally, has acquired street cred in areas around King’s Cross.
When I decided my pain was no longer bad enough to warrant such mind-addling remedies, I went cold turkey — only to discover that I had become addicted. Since I had once researched an article on the subject, I recognised the symptoms, similar to the common cold. I then went back on oxycontin and gradually reduced the dose (titrated, in the medical parlance) over the next week. That’s it, no more addiction, no craving for those stupefying chemicals in my brain.
If I were Eamonn Holmes, I would have suggested a similar course of action to Miss Warren. Titrate, Miss Warren. Gradually reduce your daily intake to four men a day, then three, then two. Before long you could be on one a week and so forth. Why, you never know, in due course you might even discover the attendant joys of sex: human warmth, mutual affection, companionship — all those things that go beyond the friction of organs, even though they often start with it. Give it a go, love, you never know your luck.
But I’m not Eamonn Holmes. Unlike him, I don’t have to fear losing a well-paid job for yet another show of gross insensitivity. Had he suggested something like that, he’d be sending his CVs out even as we speak. If I ran a TV station, I’d hire him. Wouldn’t you?