Posted by: Jennifer | July 10, 2011

glutton for punishment

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up, lie in bed for about five seconds, and then make a mad dash to the bathroom and proceed to purge your body of the several bottles of alcohol that you somehow consumed the night before? Ever wake up in the morning and feel that all of the moisture has been sucked right out of your body, and as a result you can barely open your eyes and moving your face results in disturbing the little jackhammers inside of your head?

Welcome to your hangover. Isn’t it fun?! [/sarcasm]

What makes life really crazy is that you can subject yourself to the horrors of a hangover and then next week there you are, on top of a table, a bottle in one hand and your bra in the other, the life of the party*. Don’t you remember what it was like before? Do you really think that this time will be any different from every other time that you’ve gone through this?

According to MSNBC, there’s actually a reason why the worst part of your binge always seems to slip your mind.

According to a new paper authored by Logan and psychologists at the University of Washington, people are enticed to overindulge — yet again — for two reasons. First, the previous wild night’s fun snippets (epic dancing, hysterical one-liners and, for some, sexual conquests) in retrospect seem, at least to them, way cooler than they really were. And, second, all those nasty things they felt, screamed, wrote, broke, soiled and later paid for? Well, those consequences weren’t truly all that nasty — they rationalize — and besides, lots of others have suffered similar embarrassing fates after tipping too many. (The paper was published online May 30 in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.)

Scientifically speaking, the ability to later overrate happy drinking times is called “positive memory bias.” Meanwhile, the mind’s capacity to convince itself that boozy blunders were simply out of character — and will not become a pattern — is known as “cognitive dissonance.”

In other words, the mind is so focused on experiencing the happy part of your drunken antics that it forgets the vomiting/sweats/migraine/memory loss/shakes/broken bones that accompany the negative side of the binge. When you think about it, it makes sense. Who doesn’t want to remember the happy times? Why would we want to focus on the bad? I think that the reason why we stop partying so much as we get older is because the happy, fun times become shorter and the spewing, rough mornings last longer. At some point, the negative begins to scream the positive out and we remember that our bodies can only take so much before we eventually fall apart.

Of course, the main trick would be to not suffer from a hangover in the first place. I follow the 2×2 Rule: 2 glasses of water and 2 aspirin before you pass out. I haven’t had a hangover in over ten years — swear to God!

*Only a partially true story. It was a bar, not a table. And it was someone else’s bra, not mine.

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