It was a question raised on another board that made me think about this. Pasted below is the main body of my response. Since MERB has more members, I am curious about what others think, especially those that have been hobbying for 5, 10 or 15 years and longer. This is not intended to dampen the enthusiasm of those who are having a great time. Only to get some input from others like me who have experienced massage over many years.
One has to be brutally honest and look at oneself. There is no need for public dialogue or assessment questionnaires etc. Over several months and years, if your life evolves in a satisfying multi-faceted direction then it is a positive force, If on the other hand your most satisfying moments are related to "going for the next session", then it is no longer a positive thing.
Very few people have the ability to enjoy something for a while and then move on to other challenges and experiences. That is the fundamental problem. If it continues to remains on the level of "I've just got to try one more masseuse that I just heard about", then sooner or later it is a problem. On purpose, I'm staying away from issues such as financial, family, friends, self-esteem etc. (any book on addiction will walk you through all of those).
A bigger problem arises when you KEEP GOING BACK FOR MORE OF WHAT YOU WERE NOT LOOKING FOR. Example - shitty massages, lists of options that you don't care for, getting shorted on time, greedy people, dirty surroundings etc. etc.. Very often we have a few memorable experiences in the early phases and then we keep going back, again and again, trying to get the same feeling one more time. In the meantime, you don't find pleasure in other simple activities anymore, because your mind is a prisoner of your habits. Your mind is now a thief that steals your peace and joy from the rest of your day. That is the real downfall of an addiction. You are seeking goodness that already resides in you. But you seek it externally - there is no end to that search (resulting in a mixed bag of experiences - always hoping for a better one - next time, maybe - one last time, that's it - etc.). There are lots of people who are ready to engage your ego and your fantasies and will gladly take your money - until you begin to feel disgusted. But you still keep going back, until, one day you realize that one could have an unending series of bodily experiences but still not be getting any closer to real satisfaction. Pleasure(s) does not equal happiness. What gave you joy when you were a child? It bubbled out from within you ... the realization is a turning point. Now you are ready for a real change.
What have your experiences been like when you look back over several years?