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Soy shakes, golden retrievers, squat thrusts. These aren't the makings of a week-long bender in Vegas, unless you happen to be Marquis de Sade. However, the human brain is a mysterious lump of meat, and under rare circumstances the mind can become hooked on all sorts of things that are usually completely innocent or even commendable.

Such as ...

6
Books

Doesn't sound so bad ...
Many of us own collections that we're too ashamed to discuss in public, whether it's vintage porn, yarn or commemorative Burger King glasses. So when you hear there's such a thing as book addiction, you figure, hell, it'd be rad to be addicted to the Western literary canon. You'd be so quick with quips and quotes at dinner parties you could wear a damned monocle and nobody would dare call you on it.

The horrifying reality:
The most prominent modern bibiliomaniac was Stephen Carrie Blumberg. From 1974 to 1990, this bookish chap raided the archives of about 185 North American universities. When the FBI finally raided his Ottumwa, Iowa home, the feds discovered 28,000 stolen books and manuscripts he had been compulsively hoarding.

Bibliomaniacs like him don't necessarily read their books or even collect valuable ones. They just collect them out of a compulsive need to have a fuckload of books. So you could be a bibliomaniac while remaining completely illiterate, though you could build a kick-ass fort.

By the way, after Blumberg spent 4.5 years in prison for stealing all those books, he was rearrested in July 2003 for stealing, um, doorknobs. Figure that one out.

Warning Signs:
Technology has obviously made books unnecessary, so the sight of even one book in a friend's home should be cause for concern. If the person has gone as far as to purchase an entire special shelf to hold all of his books, it's probably time for an intervention.

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5
Pets

Doesn't sound so bad ...
We know what you're thinking: If one puppy is adorable, think how much more adorable a dozen of them would be! Furthermore, chicks dig animal lovers and dudes love the movie Beastmaster, so where's the problem? Every day we come home will be like that scene in Ace Ventura!

The horrifying reality:
In one infamous 2005 case, animal control officers retrieved more than 300 sewage-scented pups from Barbara and Robert Woodley's Sanford, North Carolina home. The house's stench was so damn doggy that it brought the rescuing veterinarians to tears ... literally. Animal hoarding is often the result of crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder. The hoarder believes that he alone understands his pets, who apparently wish to live cramped and knee-deep in their own shit.

On a similar note, The New York Times recently posited that "crazy cat lady" syndrome stems from an infection by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. According to this model, feline stool transmits the bug, which gives the infected owner an unhealthy case of cat-scratch fever. Before you laugh, know that 60 million Americans may be infected with toxoplasma and that some experts think it will turn all of us into zombies.

Warning Signs:
We're going to go out on a limb here, but we're thinking the presence of lots and lots of animals in a guy's living room may be an indication. Further, if you catch someone extolling the virtues of Eddie Murphy's 1998 opus Doctor Dolittle, that individual is either a potential animal hoarder or eight-years-old. On the other hand, if you catch someone extolling the virtues of Marc Singer's 1982 opus The Beastmaster, buy that man a drink!


He has a Master's degree ... in beasts

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4
Eating Right

Doesn't sound so bad ...
Hey reader, what'd you eat today? What's that? A sausage stromboli, some Skittles and a teacup full of Maker's Mark? And it's not even noon? For shame, you're not getting enough fiber to absorb that bourbon.

Wait, what did we eat? The internet writer's special, natch: a tub of Crisco and a tin of Skoal. So if they say there's such a thing as getting addicted to healthy food (or orthorexia) then we should all be so lucky. Right?

The horrifying reality:
You can die from it.

See, the orthorexia nervosa sufferer's fanatical desire to consume the correct foods comes with the problem that their idea of what "correct" means is entirely subjective and often nutritionally unsound. Eating 10 cans of pinto beans a day sounds healthier than eating ten Big Macs, but both diets leave out important nutrients and will reward you with DEFCON 5 flatulence. And at the end of the day, your body just needs fat. A diet with zero fat can kill you just as effectively as too much, though most of us are a very long way away from experiencing that for ourselves.

Warning Signs:
The doctor who discovered this disorder says "social isolation" resulting from the diet is one warning sign. So take Mr. Pinto Bean from our above example. Chances are he's disgusted with other people's "impure," non-bean diets, so he posts a personal on Craigslist entitled "LOOKING 4 GOYA-MINDED WOMAN."

And since no one shares the rectitude required to eat beans 24/7, Mr. Bean spends the rest of his life alone, weeping as he farts, farting as he weeps.

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3
Exercise

Doesn't sound so bad ...
Imagine a world where every push-up tasted like a 1996 Dom Perignon, where every sweat droplet tickles your cheek like [Scarlett Johansson's denuded gazonga]*, where every bench press smells like a crisp $100 bill. If this is the world of the exercise addict, we want in.

* NOTE: Female readers, replace this phrase with [Antonio Banderas' Latin love lance].

The horrifying reality:
The compulsive exerciser gets no extraordinary high from working out. Rather, the addict is joylessly consumed by the minutiae of his or her routine and will often overtrain and eschew leisure time to feel the burn. These people work out until they create hormone imbalances, destroy their bones and, ironically, waste muscle.

We can blame the three P's for exercise addiction: Perfectionism, Poor body image and Phear of athletic Phailure.

Muscular dysmorphia (aka "bigorexia") is a similar problem. The bigorexic will be unsatisfied with his musculature until he is able to arm wrestle a mastodon, and will not stop until he is a veiny mass of trapezius. We can attribute bigorexia to the three G's: G.I. Joe body ideal, Gigantism and Gsteroids.

Warning Signs:
If anyone you know uses the word "orgasmic" to describe his workout, either he's an exercise addict or hitting on you. Contact a mental professional or prepare for some serious emotional searching.

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2
Water

Doesn't sound so bad ...
Seriously, water? Your body is mostly water. Water has leaked out of every orifice of your body at one time or another. There's no way a water addiction could actually be bad for you, is there?

The horrifying reality:
Water addicts have been known to flush their body with upwards of seven liters of typically high-grade H2O per day, which can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially fatal sodium deficiency.

Wait, didn't they always say salt was bad for you? Well, what we've learned here today is that you need a minimum of everything, even things like salt and fat. Like there's probably some measured amount of tequila that is just right for the body.

Warning Signs:
Water dependency is fairly uncommon, but probably impossible to spot these days when everybody has a damned bottle of Dasani or Evian in their hand. Maybe it's the dude whose house is piled with discarded plastic bottles.

Then again, that guy could just be addicted to ...

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1
Garbage

Doesn't sound so bad ...
Save money and reduce your carbon footprint by not throwing anything away! For instance, wash out those tuna tins and you've got some natty street hockey pucks! Look at all those empty beer cans under your bed--those are serviceable maracas for Cinco de Mayo! And the cellophane from that Otter Pop wrapper? That's a prophylactic if we ever saw one.

The horrifying reality:
No one embodied disposophobia (the compulsive refusal to throw anything away) like the Collyer Brothers of Harlem. Until their deaths in 1947, Homer and Langley Collyer lived with approximately 103 tons of garbage in their Fifth Avenue brownstone. The brothers were notoriously hermetic. Langley would only lurk the streets at night, preying on junk like some sort of hobo vampire. When urban myths sprang up that the Collyer brownstone was full of treasure, the brothers built booby traps to defend their worthless trash heap.

The Collyers met their maker when their crap collection turned on them. Langley died when tunneling through a stack of newspaper, activating one of their hidden booby traps, thus crushing Langley instead of any would-be moldy newspaper thief. Homer, who was blind and paralyzed, died of starvation. This newspaper tunnel was so damn big that it took police 18 days to find Langley, who died a mere 10 feet away from Homer.

In the end, the Collyers' demise resembled the climactic battle scene in Home Alone 2, if the Wet/Sticky Bandits were mentally ill and died in squalor.

Warning Signs:
We're going to continue with the "everything in moderation" theme we've got going here and say that in fact a human needs a certain amount of filth to survive. So if your friend continually refuses to throw away that pot roast from last Christmas, he's probably just lazy. But if you find him surrounding the fridge with tripwire, it's probably time to have a talk.

If you enjoyed that, you might enjoy our rundown of The 5 Most Ridiculously Over-Hyped Health Scares of All Time. Or find out why traveling to Africa is a worse idea for your penis than ever before. Or watch a video about a horrific addiction that destroys lives and relationships (at least with people you might be seen with in public).

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