The Pleasure Principle


The Pleasure Principle Essay, Research Paper

The Pleasure Principle

The Oxford Dictionary defines pleasure. It is a feeling of satisfaction or joy. It

is enjoyment. It is a source of pleasure or gratification. It is formally a persons will or

desire. Finally they define it as sensual gratification. Now if we put these all together

in one sentence, pleasure is something that brings an overall feeling of satisfaction and

gratification while fulfilling desires. If that doesn?t sound good, what does? We have

already determined that people naturally are drawn to altered states of consciousness.

Its a fact that we are drawn to that which feels altered. It starts at a young age and

hypothetically we realize the world of drugs and their ability to enhance normality by

young adulthood. When we add in the pleasure principle to that already sought out

feeling, you get something that feels so amazing, and is also potentially addictive.

It is important to acknowledge the overpowering seductiveness and appeal of

drugs. Because some drugs directly affect the way that the brain works and operates,

the ecstasy that results can be overwhelming. This is exactly where society comes into

play. If someone can only feel that sort of pleasure from the high of heroin or that

calmness from a cigarette, why would they want to stop? What would their alternative

be? It would be the pain of withdrawal and the numbness that they felt before they

discovered the high. I can only liken my drug theory to a circle, because in reality

there is no one who is really sober. There are things that make us all feel better. It can

range from chocolate to caffeine to crack, but whether it be hard or soft, legal or illicit,

a drug is something that makes us feel something other than ?normal?. (Not that there

is even a set normality.) The circle theory is that even if you are a heroin addict and

get sober, the likeliness of you finding something else that makes you feel better than

normal is high. It might not be heroin again, but chances are it will be something. It

all comes back to the inherent human nature to find a plane of reality other than this


We remember what feels good to us. It is something that our brain does for us.

Because sex feels good, there is a natural desire to participate. We remember which

foods we like best and how they make us feel when we eat them. It is a system in

which we selectively remember what we like, how it made us feel, and causes the

desire to do it again. Drugs go hand in hand with this theory. Things that are

pleasurable to people are held on to dearly. No one wants to miss something that feels

good, or makes them feel better than just normal. If I could drink a glass of water and

feel pleasurably numb and introspective, I would, instead of smoking pot. The only

thing about that is, I can?t. So when I want to really relax, I do what I remember

relaxes me, and that is marijuana. Its the same anywhere you go. Introspective people

who want to be outgoing in social settings drink alcohol and call it ?liquid courage?.

They enjoy the feeling of being a little looser and able to talk to people that they might

not have otherwise. I could go on for days about this, but it all would come back to

the same thing. People naturally seek out that which makes them happy, and

happiness is often confused with pleasure.

There are those who still feel that drugs are causing the demise of our society

and that if we could just get everyone off drugs then the world would be peaceful and

happy. What they don?t understand is that the drug problem is social. It is easy to

scapegoat drugs instead of looking at the internal workings of the actual problem. I

found some interesting things on the Internet. In this quote a Reverend talks about


?For some, drugs are simply easier to get than alcohol. (I (Rachel) and going to interject

with this, when did alcohol stop being a drug?) Some attempt to justify their actions by claiming

that marijuana, for example, is a non-addictive, natural herb. Sadly, the current college generation

is ignorant of the tragic lessons learned by their counterparts in the 60’s and 70’s. Sadly, a new

generation of addicted students are finding they can no longer think, study, stay in school.?

I guess this Reverend has never visited UC Santa Cruz?s campus. I think that I

can honestly say that over half of the people I know smoke pot everyday and they are

not what we will call the social description of ?addicts?. They also do very well in

school and have no problem thinking. I don?t know if it is because of religious

reasons or because he is older, or just ignorant, but the Reverend that is quoted above

makes a gross overstatement about drug use among college students. I would say that

most of the college students use drugs to relax from the pressures of school, and

because they work so hard. Smoking a bowl at the end of the day sounds awfully good

after an arduous afternoon of back to back lectures.

Professor Reinarman talks about how most people don?t progress in drug use.

Marijuana users usually don?t move past marijuana. It is safe to say that it may

because of the other stigmas that surround harder drugs. Marijuana can be considered

a soft drug as compared to Heroin and Cocaine, for various reasons: One is that it is

smoked and not injected or snorted. The study that we talked about in class showed

that there were only three physical effects that marijuana had on the body; the heart

rate when up, the eyes got red, and the mouth got dry. Those were the only effects that

were measured. Yet marijuana still carries a deviant status. It can be considered softer

than many prescription drugs. Personally when I take Vikadin I feel dizzy and

removed. When I smoke pot I feel removed, but I hardly ever feel like I can?t do

something. The way we feel about certain drugs are feelings that are socially

constructed from birth. We learn all these things about hard drugs, but then we are

given numerous prescriptions throughout our lives, and hardly ever told about what

they are, and their internal effects on the body. It seems awfully strange that people

have no qualms about popping a half a dozen pills a day but are against a plant that is

completely natural and contains incredible amounts of medicinal qualities. This is

incredibly connected to the race and class issues that surround drugs in Society as well.

The thing about the Pleasure Principle is that there are problems that go along

with it. Pleasure is certainly addictive, and why not? If something feels good, then we

usually associate it with being good as well. If life isn?t all you thought it was going to

be, and you are poor, or have family problems or are even just bored, a drug that can

take away those feelings is easy to fall deeply into. We live in a society where mass

consumption is the norm. People buy things that they don?t really need. We are

encouraged to do things which make us feel happy. Like the ads say on television,

?Because I?m worth it.? The truth is we don?t need all the things we are told to buy.

But we buy them anyway because there is pleasure in the feeling of having something

that isn?t a necessity. We indulge ourselves and in that indulgence we lose self

control. That loss of self control has nothing to do with the individual. It has more to

do with how our society dictates we should live. Everyone needs to be rich and own a

BMW and marry a model and be happy all the time. For those who cannot live out

that American Dream, there is an easy and more affordable dream: Drugs.

We have to remember that they key to a healthy drug relationship is to use

drugs in moderation, and not for the wrong reasons. It is important to keep in mind

that drugs effect the body and the mind as well. Addiction is prevalent when the user

can?t simple walk away from the drug and not miss it in some way or feel some type of

withdrawal. We have to also understand that it is ok to feel the pleasure that drugs

give to us. I will never condemn the use of drugs for recreational purposes, however

we must each individually take responsibility for our own health and know when it is

time to step away from a drug. Drug use does not always lead to addiction, but

because pleasure is such a powerful drug within itself, it is easy to become dependent

on something synthetic. Rather than relying on drugs for that pleasure high it is

important to seek out other things besides drugs that induce the same types of pleasure.

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