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The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Pleasure Cue

Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure. --Byron (Don Juan I)
He said the idea, in fact, had come to him over bourbon and water in a roadhouse in Illinois in 1937. --Claudia Levy (1995), on John V. Atanasoff, inventer of the world's first electronic computer

After a near-fatal car crash and an incident just like A[s] T[he] W[orld] T[urn]'s Andy (he passed out in the garage with the motor running), A..J. [Quartermaine] was sent to rehab in 1992. --General Hospital (Soap Opera Digest, May 2, 2000, p. 44)


Afferent signal. 1. An incoming auditory, chemical, tactile, vestibular, visual, or other sign that produces enjoyment or delight. 2. A message addressed to pleasure pathways in the brain.

Usage: Many nonverbal cues (see, e.g., BIG MACLOVE SIGNALS V, and NICOTINE) target pleasure areas of the brain.

Cognitive pleasure. Human beings experience pleasure in discovery, ideation, and knowledge. According to Cambridge University cosmologist Stephen Hawking, "There's nothing like the Eureka moment, of discovering something that no one knew before. I won't compare it to sex, but it lasts longer" (quoted in Glauber 2002). 

Consumer products. 1. According to trivia expert David Feldman, "'There is a certain sensual thrill to throwing shoes out of moving cars'" (Oldenberg 1989:C5; see BALANCE CUEConsumer products I; and FEETNeuro-notes). 2. "Police say a man stole a snowplow from a Hastings [Nebraska] city storage shed and drove it 20 miles after a major snowstorm to buy a case of beer" (Anonymous 2001B:A8).

Media. The secretive, pleasure-seeking habits of media icons are media worthy throughout the world. 1. "In addition to the photos that have conferred such enduring icon status upon Jackie [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis], [James] Spada includes more surprising shots--of her being thrown from a horse and smoking cigarettes [in his May 2000 book, Jackie: Her Life in Pictures]. (Her three-pack-a-day habit was a well-kept secret.)" (Craig 2000:42). 2. As reported in People Weekly, "'He was knocking back tequilas, and the last thing I remember was [Indiana Jones leading man] Harrison [Ford] did one shot and he was on the floor of the bar,' she [Melanie Griffith] recalls" (O'Neill and Cunneff 2000:96).

RESEARCH REPORTS1. "The results of animal behavior studies suggest some interchangeability between eating food, engaging in sexual behavior and self-administering drugs . . ." ("Food, Sex and Drugs Vie for Brain's Attention," Reuters Health, Jan. 28, 2000). 2. "'Common neurochemicals mediate food and drug response,' Dr. Marilyn Carroll of the University of Minnesota pointed out. 'In animal studies, sweet and fat preferences predict alcohol self-administration. Giving preferred foods blocks drug self-administration. In humans, cigarette abstinence results in weight gain, and ethanol abstinence is associated with eating more sweets'" (Reuters Health, Jan. 28, 2000). 3. Functional MRI studies by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have found that the prefrontal cortex and the anterior thalamus are activated in alcoholics, but not in moderate drinkers, when viewing pictures of alcoholic beverages (Flapan 2001).

Neuro-notes. The pleasure pathway ". . . begins at the ventral tegmental area in the midbrain, which sits on top of the brainstem. In evolutionary terms, this region is very old; it began with the vertebrates, which appeared 500 million years or so ago. The pathway extends to the nucleus accumbens, toward the front of the brain. This area is a traffic hub for signals to and from the addiction pathway and other parts of the brain. The nucleus accumbens is centrally located at the intersection of the striatum (where motion is begun and controlled) and the limbic system" (Powledge 1999:513).



Photo of "Margarita Glass Half Empty" (Fiesta Mexicana, Spokane, Washington, USA) by Doreen K. Givens (copyright 2007)