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  • Writer's pictureSam

Winnie the Pooh: Psychologist

“Well, said Pooh, what I like best, and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” - Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

Old Joke: What do Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist have in common? Same middle name.

There is, of course, a ton a good psychology in any children's literature that has endured as long as Winnie the Pooh has endured (he came to life in 1926, so he's coming up on being centenarian). We can learn a lot from Peter Pan, Narnia, Babar, Curious George, etc. But today, we learn something about addictive behavior from Pooh.


It's safe to say, Pooh was addicted to honey. Not bad as addictions go. Honey, after all, is amazing stuff. Did you know, for example, that honey never spoils? Look it up. But, it's Pooh's insight about his own addictive behavior that got my attention.

Did you note in the quote above that Pooh put his paw on one of the most salient aspects of addictive behavior--even though he didn't have a name for it? It is that quality the thing desired that makes the actual desiring of it more powerful--and pleasurable--than the actual consuming of it. Like so many things, you know it's true.

The longing, the anticipation, the Pavlovian response when the object of desire is close, but not quite there (here?) yet . . . That is what addictive behavior so hard to reign in. The anticipation of it is the greater joy. The actual act is so often a let-down. "Is that all there is?"

Disappointment, even recrimination, so often follow acting out our fantasies. The brain starts to pump out happy chemicals as soon as we start the fantasy but those happy hormones stop when we actually give in to, or grasp, or own, the object of our desire.

So, just remember Pooh's wisdom the next time you are having a craving. The craving itself may be as good as it gets, and it will pass if you simply watch it float by, like a leaf on a stream, and not indulge in something illicit that is guaranteed to leave you unsatisfied, empty, and--perhaps--a little ashamed at having been more gullible than a stuffed, 95 year-old bear.

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