Deprivation. It's not a new idea that when we deprive ourselves of something, it tends to make us desire it even more so. To the point where you normally reach breaking point and end up bingeing on an entire tub of Ben and Jerry's.
But we're not just talking food... we deprive ourselves of many things in life. And it almost seems that the moment we deny ourselves is the exact moment our craving peaks. Is there a correlation here? Are deprivation and desire inextricably linked?
When we think of deprivation, we tend to think of it in relation to food, particularly with the 21st Century's focus on body image, it's certainly come to the forefront of our culture with constant fad diets featured in magazines every other week. But deprivation doesn't just end with denying ourselves that slice of double chocolate fudge mud cake with more frosting than the North Pole. In today's society, we deprive ourselves of all kinds of things, yet the moment we do so, the moment we want it more...
You swear yourself off caffeine and suddenly the smell of those French beans is as intoxicating as a night out with Lindsay Lohan. You make a promise to stop watching The Bachelor and Chris Harrison's voice stating "It's the most dramatic rose ceremony EVER!" is alluring as the Gos with his shirt off. You commit yourself to foregoing buying another trashy magazine from the cluttered mag shelf at the supermarket, only to be drawn to the image of Kim K's behind in a bikini like you're drawn to that sparkly sequin dress in the window of River Island.
One would have to think that there is some sort of correlation between deprivation and desire. So why do we do it? If depriving ourselves makes us want something more, then maybe the age old saying 'everything in moderation' still holds true today.
The Banana Story
After heading out for a drink the other Friday night, a good friend of mine enlightened me by sharing a little anecdote; it's called The Banana Story and it goes a little something like this...
A guy undertaking research at university, let's call him Ben, developed a simple test and asked his friend, let's call him Jerry, to be his test subject, explaining it was quite simple, all Jerry had to do was not eat a banana. Jerry, though thinking Ben and his whole experiment was a bit ridiculous, explained he didn't even really like bananas, but agreed to participate and so it began.
The test was six weeks in length and at the end of each week, Ben and Jerry would meet, and Jerry would provide feedback as to how the test was going for him.
After the first week, Ben and Jerry met and Jerry told Ben that he hadn't eaten a banana, and given he didn't even really like bananas anyway, this hadn't bothered him at all.
The second week Ben and Jerry met, Jerry said that he still hadn't eaten a banana, he'd seen a guy at working eating a banana and noticed that he was eating a banana, but given he didn't really like bananas, this hadn't bothered him.
The third week Ben and Jerry met, Jerry said that he still hadn't eaten a banana, but he'd gone to the supermarket and walked past the bananas and felt like eating a banana, not that he even liked bananas.
The fourth week Ben and Jerry met, Jerry said that he still hadn't eaten a banana but he'd seen three different people eating bananas and each time he had felt like he really wanted to eat a banana, which was odd considering he didn't even like bananas.
The fifth week Ben and Jerry met, Jerry told Ben that he had in fact eaten a banana.
Where does this leave us? Well besides being a funny story, it's an interesting concept deprivation. I for one am in the mindset of, and relish any chance I can to utilise a quote from The Matrix, the words of Mouse: "To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human."
Eat the cookie.