Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Psychology of BBQ Addiction.

So many of you may or may not know that I am a licensed mental health counselor, and I have a pretty good understanding of the treatment of addictions and obsessions.  What does this have to do with a BBQ blog you ask?  Everything.  For those who deal with the constant thoughts of all things BBQ, from sauces, to rubs, to woods, to smokers, to preparation, and all things knowledge, you know about the monkey of which I speak and have on my back.  More like a gorilla wearing an apron and smelling of oak smoke.  Freud, who used to have WAYYYYYY too much time on his hands, would probably say that BBQ folks have an oral fixation with just a hint of anal retentiveness.  Without going into too much detail pertaining to poo, let's just say Freud would say most BBQ folks enjoy eating good BBQ and have a crazed sense of need to control, and by control I mean refuse to share a lot of secrets and a maniacal sense of how 'Q' should be done each and every time.  Sound familiar?  Ok, check.  "Honestly, I can quit BBQing anytime I want to...I just don't want to right now.   Right....Mr. Stone would you like to introduce yourself to the group?"  Next, we would have to ascertain what stage of change in which I currently exist.  The stages are precontemplation, contemplation,  preparation, action, and maintenance.  In short, precontemplation is when you don't see you have a problem or a need to make any changes.  Contemplation means you pretty much are aware there is a problem but don't really care enough to do much about it.  Preparation is when someone gets ready to make some changes.  You get the drift.  I honestly believe most people involved, and I mean REALLY involved with BBQ, will probably fall in the precontemplation stage of change.  In the old days it was called denial and I don't mean the river in Egypt.  Who else would spend upwards of $750.00-$1,000.00 per weekend for a competition, go 24-36 hours without sleep, in the heat of summer or freeze of winter for the chance to win the occasional trophy or a ribbon?   See where the precontemplation bit fits in?  Check.  How many of us have sat in the bleachers or in lawn chairs just before an awards ceremony and said, "This is it...this is when I win it all.  My 'Q' was perfection on a plate.  It's MY time!!!!"  Right.  "Mr. Stone, the coffee for everyone and please quit flicking your fellow group member's ear."  Next we have the most devious psychology component of BBQ:  The intermittent reinforcement.  The nickle tour on that $5.00 word is you don't win all the time, but you win some of the time.  This is the greatest reinforcement to human behavior modification.  Just ask any casino employee.  You don't win every hand or on every pull of the lever, but you do win sometimes, and it is usually just enough to keep you playing.  I've never done illegal or illicit drugs, not that many of my friends didn't hope that there was at least some reason for my behavior at times, but I can say hearing "Grandpa's Pride" called out during an awards ceremony is one of the greatest rushes I have ever experienced.  Maybe I need to get out more?  I just know it leaves me wanting to hear our name more and more.  Check.  "Mr. Stone put your clothes back on."  Now we come to the term many are familiar with:  Enabling.  Our families love us, allegedly.  They want us to be happy and successful, and in their attempts to be helpful they buy you things related to BBQ.  It ranges anywhere from lawn chairs, to helping build your smoker, to fancy probe thermometers, meat injectors, telling you about competitions that are coming up, eating and enjoying the BBQ you prepare.  Oh the humanity.  They really do mean well, except for the fact their behaviors just keep fueling the need to do better 'Q', win more, or some, competitions, become world famous, and....wait that got a bit overboard.  You know where I'm coming from.  Check.  "Mr. Stone...please stop singing, 'If Lovin' You is Wrong I don't Wanna Be Right'.  You aren't helping the group or yourself with these behaviors."  Finally, there is recovery and support.  All anyone has to do is go to a BBQ cook-off to see a lot of genuine support.  Most of the teams know each other and have been competing against each other for years.  They clap just as loud when their friends win as when they win themselves.  At the Foggy Bottom BBQ Bash, Mr. Forrest Dilmore of Forrest's Fine Foods gave my team a good luck charm.  It was a blue, fuzzy something he had won in one of those claw machine games.  He didn't have to do that, but he did just because I honestly think he is a kind person.  In this crazy, mixed up world in which we live in, it is nice to see people just as hooked on each other's success as they are on their own.  As we say in treatment, once you are an addict, you are always and addict.  It's just a matter of deciding whether you are in recovery or relapse.  I'm certainly not minimizing the struggles of those who suffer from debilitating mental illness or who live in the bondage of addictions.  I'm just making a point.  When it comes to BBQ, I'll take an order or recovery with just a side of relapse (covered in sauce of course) because I'm not ready to quit.  Y'all have a great New Year and Riley says hello.  By the way, if you get a chance, click on the link for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  It's a great link to get information on mental illness, treatment options, and help on destigmatizing mental illness.