Compulsion is the topic for The Session #76 hosted at beer is your friend. The topic of “compulsion” led to the wife and I discussing language. That may be a whole other topic but if we really want to talk compulsions then there’s that.
We sat at the Deschutes Bend Pub having dinner, waiting for their new Gose release to start so we could taste it, meet the brewer Veronica Vega and the Oregon artisanal salt maker, Ben Jacobsen, whose salt was used to make the Gose, and buy some salt. We discussed the relationships and differences between “urge,” “need,” “want,” compulsion,” “desire,” “addiction” and so on. We checked definitions of “compulsion” in apps and online via our iPhones. Sara asked the Twitters to rank “urge,” “need,” and “compulsion” and she learned that, for some unknown reason, “compulsion” carries less force for her than for many others, including me. We find these discussions of ours fascinating and they may well be a compulsion for us both.
This all started for me as I wanted to participate in this month’s round of The Session but I was not really feeling it. Do I truly have a compulsion around beer? That is, not an urge or a desire or an impulse, but a compulsion, one (or more) with the full freight of that word? I am not sure but I don’t think so.
Do I have more beer than I can reasonably drink in a week or two (disregarding The Cellar)? Sure I do. Do I keep buying more when there is no real room for it in the fridge? Yes. Is it starting to spill over into boxes and dark corners that aren’t perhaps the best for storage? Uh huh.
Do we go to lots of beer events (tastings, sensory classes, releases, pairings)? Of course. Have we planned a vacation around beer or breweries? It wasn’t truly a vacation, but we raced up to Astoria (7 hours each way) in February for the Festival of the Dark Arts at Fort George Brewery and raced back the next day. It was so awesome we plan to make it an annual event, and a true vacation next time. So, yeah.
Are we constantly trying new beers, new styles, new breweries? Indeed. But we are recent immigrants to the heaven of beer that is Bend, Oregon and the larger Pacific Northwest. And the place we lived before was a true wasteland of beer. We have definitely identified some few favorites but every one of them is in some way hard to get regularly as they are special releases, seasonals, or annuals. So tasting new things makes sense.
Am I a beer ticker? I had to look that up, although I had a good idea what it meant. This was the most helpful site that I found. At least based on this site, I think what makes beer ticking a potential obsession is the obsession many have with their hobby, compulsion or whatever else you want to label it, itself.
I do use Untappd and I greatly enjoy marking off new-to-me beers but I will not try something simply because I have never had it and I will definitely drink something I know I love instead of having something new if none of the other things are appealing enough. During (and after) Central Oregon Beer Week I had Deschutes The Stoic (2011) four different times when I could easily have had something I had never had because they simply did not appeal to me in the presence of what is simply (one of) the nectar(s) of the gods.
Before I started this post I looked up “compulsion” in the OED. This is what I found:
1. a. The action, or an act, of compelling, or the condition of being compelled; constraint, obligation, coercion.
1869 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (1876) III. xii. 247 Such an oath could have been taken only under compulsion.
1875 B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues (ed. 2) I. 141 If he likes he pays my price, but there is no compulsion.
2. Psychol. An insistent impulse to behave in a certain way, contrary to one’s conscious intentions or standards.
1965 A. D. Weisman Existential Core of Psychoanal. vii. 205 In contrast to compulsion, choice is essential to responsible acts.
1 a : an act of compelling : the state of being compelled
b : a force that compels
2 : an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act (as excessive hand washing); also : the act itself
And check out those synonyms and related words. Those synonyms [arm-twisting, coercion, force, constraint, duress, pressure] can certainly be a part of any act of coercion but none of that is going on in my beer drinking, buying, research, or any other activity relating to beer in my life.
Do I have a compulsion, then, in regards to beer?
I don’t think so.