From the Daily Mail, an interesting piece about one woman’s strange addiction, with some wonderfully insightful glimpses of the understandable roots of such a state, which have a lot to say not just about the human desire for control in times where control has been lost, or that the pursuit of control leads to finding oneself controlled yet again, but also the utterly physical form in which coping with pain takes place and contorts us. Telling how the ‘visible effects of the invisible manifest themselves..’ (ht DM):


Adele Edwards, of Bradenton, Florida, has been eating the foam inside couch cushions for 21 years. She sought help when the cravings started getting out of control.

Miss Edwards, 31, said: ‘In the last year I’ve eaten seven sofas. I unzip the cushions and snack on the foam inside. And once I start I just can’t stop. But now doctors have told me that if I carry on, my addiction will kill me.’

Pica is a disorder found most commonly in toddlers and pregnant women who lack certain nutrients, causing them to crave non-nutritive substances like chalk, coins, batteries and even dirt. Sometimes it’s caused by stress, and Adele admits her first time happened during a very emotional period in her life, when her parents were on the brink of divorce.

She said: ‘My life was out of control at the time. I didn’t understand my parents breaking up. This was something I could control.’ When her cousin decided to chew a piece of sofa for fun, something in Adele’s head made her want to try too. She said: ‘I was 10 years old. I liked the flavour, I liked the way it felt in my mouth. Twenty-one years later, I’ve eaten couch cushions every day since.’ Today, Miss Edwards is trying therapy and hypnosis to rid herself of the compulsion.

She has recently been eating pieces of couch cushion 15 times per day and consumes the equivalent of a throw pillow each week. If this continues, doctors say Adele could die.

Miss Edwards said: ‘It bothers me how much control it has over me now. It’s hard to try to get people to understand how bad this addiction is. I’m aware of the life risks. Doctors have told me I could get a stomach blockage so bad I’d go septic and my intestines could explode. That scares me.’

Like many addicts, Miss Edwards didn’t get hooked overnight. She started by chewing the cushion foam before spitting it out. But it wasn’t long until she began to swallow each small piece of cushion she put in her mouth. Today, Adele’s habit includes added levels of disgust. ‘I unzipper the cushion cover and tear off a piece about the size of half a pencil,’ she said. ‘Then I take it outside and rub it in dirt. The dirt makes it crunchier. Then I chew on it and swallow it.’

She and her family have recently moved into her sister’s home, where she faces a crossroads ahead. Having left her couches behind, Adele has stockpiled enough cushion to tide her over for a matter of weeks. But when her supply runs out, will she begin to eat her sister’s couch?

Miss Edwards, who is in discussions to enter a therapy center in California for people with similar strange addictions, believes this is the time for her to be serious about quitting. ‘I’ve been doing this almost my whole life, 21 years. It’s consumed me. It’s putting my life and family at risk. I’m trying to stop this.’