Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I just can't look

I've never been a prude, unlike the rest of my family. I'm not squeamish about weird sexual fetishes, colourful cursing, scantily-clad females or TV dramas full of gory surgical scenes and violent stabbings. I object to a surfeit of such stuff but not the things themselves.

My attitude is, it's all part of life's rich tapestry and I want to know everything there is to know. I don't want to miss anything, no matter how strange or gruesome, and I'm not going to behave like some delicate flower that's about to wilt.

I'm not a prude about my body either. I'm happy to display myself in the nude if the occasion requires. Why be coy about it? At boarding school, I swam naked with other boys every day and thought nothing of it. I was never embarrassed stripping off for a new girlfriend either.

There's nothing offensive or unsightly about my body, so why hide it? I couldn't care less how it shapes up compared to other bodies. It is what it is, and if people are sniffy about it, that's their problem.

I don't believe people are really as sensitive and finicky as they make out. Are they truly so fragile that a splash of blood or a juicy expletive gives them an attack of the vapours and has to be instantly banished?

I can understand it if someone who's been personally involved in some especially grisly and horrific event can't bear seeing something that triggers off memories and painful emotions. That's rather different from twitchy squeamishness.

But I'm surprised how many people flinch at the sight (or even thought) of blood. It's just a red liquid, right? I suppose for some it's the association with accidents and tragedies. Or it's the idea of yourself bleeding. Or it's just a defensive reaction.

Show me everything, warts and all. I can handle it.


  1. You have a healthy attitude to your body, Nick. I think some people are too easily offended over minor transgressions regarding swearing and nudity, maybe they enjoy making a fuss? I will though hold my hand up to being squeamish. I once had an accident and my arm, at a glance it looked like it had been sliced to the bone. I only glanced at it once and then held it away from me and left it to the ambulance crew to deal with.
    Are you going to upload a naked selfie to your blog?

  2. You old hippy you! No ones seeing my body! Never

  3. Swimming naked with other boys? And thinking nothing about it ? I just do not believe you. Concerning your list about sexual fetishes ????? and blood and stripping off your pants for a girl make me laugh . You seem to have big experience and I thought you were quite shy and private ( I supposed it while reading your posts). We are all different and if you have no problem with blood maybe you never assisted to something where much blood was involved. If you love to show your naked body that's ok there are beaches especially for these people or you go to the 'sauna'. May be you have no problem to show your body (I have no problem too, I grew up naked in Namibia), but may be other people can feel offended..As always it's a personal point of view.
    Mia More

  4. That's quite a list of unrelated items. I've never been ashamed of my body, but I don't feel an inclination to go streaking, either. And I had no issue giving birth three times au natural, but I'm not a fan of needles or blood and the idea of watching a surgeon cut through skin makes me feel like vomiting. I guess we're all special? Lol

  5. Scarlet: I can understand you being squeamish after that alarming experience with your arm. And yes, I think some people just enjoy making a fuss and they'll latch on to anything suitable.

    A naked selfie? Now there's a thought. I think you'd be disappointed though. I couldn't compete with that old photo of your jeans-clad bottom.

  6. John: Oh, come on, it can't be that bad. It's obviously good enough for Chris.

    Mia: I did think nothing of it. It was totally normal for us to swim naked so we just took it for granted. I had some pretty wild experiences when I was young, but now I have a steady relationship I have to be a bit more restrained.

    No, I've never been involved with something seriously bloody. I'm sure that could have a profound effect on you.

    I'm not saying I love to show off my body, I'm just saying I don't mind other people seeing it. Of course if everyone went around naked it would cause a riot, so I'm not advocating that!

  7. Bijoux: Oh, I don't have any urge to go streaking either, I'm not an exhibitionist. I'm just saying that showing my body to someone else doesn't bother me.

    I've given blood 33 times, so I'm not fussed about needles - except for that momentary pain when it goes in.

  8. I'm not particularly squeamish, and it doesn't bother me to have blood drawn or to see all sorts of operations and autopsies on TV. But I don't think I'm missing anything in not seeing strange and gruesome things. I'd rather focus my attention elsewhere.

  9. Jean: I think I'd be missing an awful lot if I refused to know what was happening in the Middle East on the grounds that it was too strange and gruesome.

  10. I'm constantly fascinated by documentaries about surgery and people's odd behaviour, sexual or otherwise.
    I used to have a thing about needles but since spending time in hospital being used as a human pin-cushion, they don't bother me now, but even a fairly trivial amount of my own blood from a decent size cut means having to sit down while I go white and shaky. It seems an irrational reaction, but I suppose it could just be the crash after a spike of adrenaline.
    I use profanity fairly frequently (even the 'c' word if the situation requires), but I do get annoyed when someone punctuates every sentence with a liberal sprinkling of fucks.
    I don't feel self-conscious about my body. I'm within the 'healthy' BMI range and apart from a few scars around my left knee everything's perfectly normal.
    Those who get 'offended' by any of the things you describe should perhaps take a step back and seriously think about their reactions, and maybe get some professional help.

  11. Dave: Exactly, what's all the fuss about? But a lot of people react badly to blood. One explanation is a sudden drop in blood pressure, though it's not clear why it suddenly drops. Yes, "fuck" every three words is just tedious, but used now and again, what's the problem?

  12. Actually I think it is one of those personal taste things. I retch when I smell a certain type of Chinese cooking oil. Millions of Chinese must like it, and I am sure there is nothing wrong with it, but nevertheless, my stomach seems to literally turn when I smell it, I can almost feel it turning around inside me! AndI don't seeing injuries and would hate a job as a nurse, clearing up peoples' mess, but most nurses and doctors I know don't mind or actually enjoy being involved with peoples bodies, the blood, guts, skin, etc.

  13. Jenny: I wonder what it is about the cooking oil that you react to? I wouldn't want to be a nurse or doctor either. I don't mind clearing up the odd mess but clearing up messes full-time isn't my idea of fun.

  14. A friend left this post on her facebook page - "Thinking aloud, what does one see in a selfie or a picture that s/he likes it. Please share your thoughts too..." I responded - "I have never taken a selfie. I know how I appear to others. I see myself in the mirror a few times a day." Having said that to show how comfortable I am in my own skin, I can extrapolate to say that I can be quite comfortable in strange situations and be totally detached from unpleasant situations where immediate relationships are not involved. When it comes to close friends and family however such detachment is difficult. But, for all that, I do get involved in finding out what is going on even when I can get hurt in the bargain.

  15. Ramana: That's very much my own attitude. I've never taken a selfie, though Jenny and others have taken photos of me. I don't see the point of them either. Like you, I know what I look like, so why bother?

    I can't escape what's going on in own family, though there's little to be squeamish about anyway. They're a very conventional bunch.

  16. I had several battles in French hospitals over the totally inadequate 'gowns' they offered: their point was that I was a prudish Anglo Saxon, mine that if I were to be kept hanging about waiting for nurses and quacks to get their act together then I required more than a serviette to preserve me from hypothermia.
    After letting the battle rage for a while I would then produce my knee length silk cardigan which never failed to enrage all concerned.

    Blood doesn't bother me or injections - but I do not like to see photographs of atrocious injuries inflicted on animals.

  17. Helen: I don't think that's anything to do with prudery, it's just wanting to be properly covered up and not exposing everything to all and sundry. Perhaps you should have called their bluff by wandering around naked?

    I think if you've seen half a dozen photos of injured animals, you know very well how horrific they are. There's no need to see more and more of them.

  18. Nick, Nick, Nick. You know I love you. But you might want to given some serious thought about the wisdom of posting with authority on psychological issues. At least with me in your audience. People with blood.injury/needle phobias aren't exhibiting "twitchy squeamishness." It's a serious aversion to seeing injury.And no, blood is not just a red liquid. That's absurd. It's a sign of something going wrong in the body, often catastrophically. Besides, people who have been desensitized to gore and view it as entertainment are far more worrisome to me.

    As for nudity, I see a difference between nudity of one sex (women, of course) for men's entertainment, and nudity in situations where it makes sense. I'm not a prude, but I'm really not interested in seeing sex that doesn't involve me. I have never worried, though, about a partner or a friend seeing me naked.

  19. Agent: I know, I'm always sticking my neck out when I write about anything psychological because your professional knowledge makes you my harshest critic. Which is good, because you wise me up and stop me being a totally insensitive ignoramus. I would make a distinction though between blood as a feature of a very nasty life-threatening situation, which obviously is something to be "squeamish" about, and blood in a very routine situation like a cut finger or a blood donation, where squeamishness seems a bit excessive (to me, at any rate).

    I do agree it's worrying that a lot of people have become desensitised to gruesome scenes because they're such a standard ingredient of TV, films etc. I also agree that female nudity paraded solely for men's entertainment is abhorrent and demeaning.

    But I like exploring psychological issues, not least because of my own peculiar neuroses, so I'm not stopping any time soon. I certainly don't mean to come across as a would-be authority. Hopefully you'll continue to be patient with me and correct my glaring misunderstandings!

  20. I don't like needles or scenes of surgery, I think it is natural to be averse to seeing a body broken or penetrated by a foreign object.

    Just last week, I accidentally got caught half naked by by daughters boyfriend. neither of us is prudish but it was uncomfortable. We both pretended it never happened. My daughter thinks it is hilarious and her boyfriend will never again enter the house without knocking

  21. Kylie: I wouldn't like to see a broken or penetrated body either, but at the same time I wouldn't deliberately not look because it was "too horrible".

    Being unexpectedly caught half naked is embarrassing. It's happened to me a few times. As you say, the usual reaction is to pretend it never happened. But it's not so easy to erase a vivid memory!

  22. "I'm not squeamish about weird sexual fetishes, colourful cursing, scantily-clad females or TV dramas full of gory surgical scenes and violent stabbings. I object to a surfeit of such stuff but not the things themselves."
    "Jean: I think I'd be missing an awful lot if I refused to know what was happening in the Middle East on the grounds that it was too strange and gruesome."

    How did we get from sexual fetishes, etc. to what's going on in the Middle East and the rest of the world? I've always been interested in history and spend a lot of time reading about what's happening in the world.

  23. Jean: You said "I don't think I'm missing anything in not seeing strange and gruesome things." I took that to mean strange and gruesome things in general, but it seems you were being more specific.

    However, "what's happening in the world" must surely include plenty of blood and guts?

  24. I can do blood in reality but somehow on telly it's not so easy! I watched the Christmas Special of Call The Midwife - not very Christmassy and particularly stomach turning at points!

  25. Yeah, but phobias aren't rational. And did you know blood/injury phobias are one of the more common phobias? It makes sense because it's one of the things that we had to be wary about early in our evolution. Like snakes and heights and enclosed spaces, other common phobias.

    And yeah, I will probably keep calling you on psychological issues. :-)

  26. Suburbia: I'm not bothered by the telly at all - even the surgeon yanking out someone's brain tumour on Hospital. I must lack a few phobia genes.

    Agent: Well, maybe evolution has something to do with it, though you'd think that over the centuries those phobias might have subsided a bit.

  27. late to the party here AS ALWAYS!
    but at least I get to read all the fascinating thoughts in one fell swoop.

    I have never been a prude nor coy or whatever little games people play.
    and I used to want to be a nudist. the feel of fresh air ALL over one's body is lovely.
    but... as to the other things...
    I find that I can't watch torture scenes at all... or extreme violence. human or animal.
    and I can easier see human blood spilled than I can animals.
    perhaps something to do with loving them too much. I don't know.
    but it stays with me for days on end if I happen onto it. so I avoid it.
    not for the blood itself. that's no bother. but for the emotional pain it brings.

  28. Tammy: I can watch a short torture scene, but when such scenes are deliberately prolonged, I don't want to know. I don't see the point of films that have scene after scene of violence, shooting up, and general degradation. I don't find them entertaining or edifying in any way.

    I also find injured animals more upsetting. Something to do with their extreme vulnerability and innocence.