To Eat or Not to Eat... the Couch

Yum. Look at that plump, juicy... sofa?

You might be familiar with pica -- the disorder that leads people to eat stuff like soap, chalk, batteries, coins, hair, and dirt -- from watching the show My Strange Addiction on TLC. According to some experts, the disorder is caused by a lack of certain nutrients, leading sufferers to eat nonnutritive substances. This unproven theory is the closest that researchers have come to understanding the cause of pica.

Eating nonfood items might be understandable in children, who make up the majority of those with the disorder. They don't know better than to swallow a Lego block. However, if you really think about it, wouldn't an adult who finds herself with the uncontrollable desire to eat batteries think that maybe, just maybe, she shouldn't?

Adele Edwards of Bradenton was recently in the news for eating sofa cushions. She has been ingesting the foam for 21 years. It appears that even though she has been gnawing on the stuff for more than two decades, she was diagnosed not long ago.

Her fiancé even helps her "control" her addiction by limiting how much foam she eats. Her present cushion consumption equals about one throw pillow a week. Wow. He's doing a magnificent job.

I don't mean to make light of the disorder (OK, I do), but the thing is that there is acceptable crazy and unacceptable crazy, and eating sofa cushions falls under the latter category. For instance, acceptable crazy would be to dislike making eye contact in elevators. Unacceptable crazy is whipping out your dong on an escalator and making it rain.

So, in actuality, the doctors and patients are the ones who are truly making light of the disorder. This isn't a run-of-the-mill, socially acceptable neurosis; this is serious. If you are a grown person who cannot keep yourself from eating cloth, dirt, or laundry detergent (even though you know it will kill you), you need more than a fiancé who will watch your back. You need serious help.

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