I am always reading at least two books; one fiction and one non-fiction. This usually translates to one about a serious topic and one somewhat trashy mystery. On the serious side, I just picked up, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, by Melanie Joy, Ph.D. I had heard her interviewed recently and thought her book sounded interesting. I too am a student of psychology (certainly not a Ph.D.). I am fascinated by why people do what they do.
Here is a piece I found intriguing;
“We don’t see meat eating as we do vegetarianism–as a choice, based on a set of assumptions about animals, our world and ourselves. Rather, we see it as a given, the “natural” thing to do. We eat animals without thinking about what we are doing and why because the belief system that underlies this behavior is invisible. This invisible belief system is what I call carnism.”
This strikes home for me because I am treated like some emotional naive person for choosing to not eat animals. It is not seen as a reasonable nor intelligent argument, yet eating animals is. I am interested in learning more about the psychology behind this because I believe that this doesn’t just give insight into meat eating but into many other societal behaviors. Even more interesting is the parallels with yogic philosophy.
Ms. Joy talks about something called “psychic numbing”.(Ironically, I just ran to the kitchen for a shot of tequila. Apparently, I am in need of a bit of psychic numbing myself). Okay, where was I? Oh yes, She says, “psychic numbing is made up of a complex array of defenses”. She then goes on to list them and they are strikingly similar to what is called avidya in yoga. Avidya clouds the mind. Yoga practice is helpful in clearing avidya.
Tequila, Psychic Numbing, and Avidya
So that is where I am at, pondering these three things. I think it might be time for me to turn to my trashy mystery in case I am getting too deep.