Desire to imitate: Do you want it because others have it?

to desire to be human. But we have Actually want what we want… or do we want something because other people want it too? The second season of the HBO series White Lotus explores this idea through the simulation theory of desire, a concept that originated with the French thinker René Girard (and gained new relevance after being mentioned on the gripping television series) .

In the series’ sixth episode, Ethan (Will Sharpe) briefly mentions his desire to imitate to explain why his friend Cameron (Theo James) goes after every girl Ethan has ever liked. “You have a bad case of something called the desire to imitate,” says Ethan. “If someone higher than you wants something, that means you are more likely to want it too.” This shows that Cameron wants something not because he thinks it has value but because others see it as such.

As the plot progresses and tensions escalate between Ethan and Cameron, it becomes evident how influential the desire to imitate can be and how it takes shape.

What is the desire to imitate?

In Girard’s simulation theory of desire, he posits that desire is fundamentally social. We want what others want, and moreover, our aspiration is model-oriented, that is, we want objects to be not an end in itself but a means to an end. , i.e. imitating people we admire or respect.

How does mimicry affect your mind?

Girard believes that the desire to imitate can be a catalyst for social learning, in the same way that children look to their caregivers to model behavior. However, he says it can also lead to “mimicking competition,” which often occurs when there is competition for the desired audience or if the audience is limited in number — that’s what happens. in White Lotusneuropsychologist Karen Sullivan, PhD, ABBP, calls it the “Cameron Effect”.

“Cameron doesn’t just want Harper, he wants her because it gives him a social advantage, and since she’s already been appropriated, this is where the desire to imitate backfires and leads to competition. imitate.” —Karen Sullivan, PhD, ABBP, neuropsychologist

“Cameron doesn’t just want Harper, he wants her because it gives him a social advantage, and because she’s already been appropriated, this is where the desire to imitate backfires and leads to competition. imitate,” she said. She also refers to that imitation rivalry, dividing individuals into two groups—those who have (those who have things) and those who do not (those who cannot have things)—and “this is nature of social violence. “

Although we like to think of ourselves as rational individuals, we can’t help wanting what others have. For example, it’s common among teenagers or people trying to figure out who they are, who they want to be, and what they want to be in this world, according to psychologist Barbara Burt , PsyD. Often, these individuals look to others for guidance as they develop their identities.

“If you’re acting on a desire to imitate, then you’re looking at what I call an external control point,” says Dr. Burt, as opposed to an internal control point. “What the inner control point says is, ‘Okay, that’s up to me and what I do versus what other people have or what they do.’” That’s when desires are fulfilled. only motivated by what other people have when things can go awry—and, according to Dr. Burt, “There is enough evidence that if we just do something for an external reason, eventually Together we will not be satisfied.”

Subjects also seem to hold tangible promise of bridging the gap between a person and the individual they wish to imitate. The desire to imitate is often used as a way to sell a product, which is not only valid in terms of what it does, but is often a “symbol” of who you are.

In an article by Bradley Hoos in Forbes, he argues that the desire to imitate is often the key to effective influencer marketing. “Marketing is about cultivating desire on a grand scale,” he writes. “If the audience pattern starts to support a product, that audience will be more inclined to buy that product.”

Dr. Burt suggests that this is not limited to influencer marketing but marketing in general: “In many ways, advertising To be the application of the desire to imitate. Dr. Sullivan echoed this view, adding that it is often difficult for people to resist its attraction and may even be “unsatisfied” because our biology is fixed to sensations. affinity. “Our biology is telling us, ‘Belong to the group you need’ or, ‘You’re safer in the group’—that’s the message it sends to our brains,” she says, and in this way, Cameron’s shameless pursuit of Harper was almost “a tough, beastly thing.”

Furthermore, the desire to imitate can also take place in ways that are beyond the physical. It can extend to the ideas, beliefs, and practices we associate with ourselves. And when you think about it in terms of desire imitation, you might wonder why we do the things we do. Again, the question arises: Is it because we like it ourselves or because of what our jobs say about us?

How do you avoid the desire to imitate?

It seems that the desire to imitate is inherent in human behavior and whether we know it or not, it can affect us in many ways that seem beyond our control. Although Dr. Sullivan believes that we have free will as human beings, it is “heavily censored” by our desire to imitate, as if it were an inevitable aspect of ourselves. ta.

However, Dr. Sullivan says knowledge is powerful and it can be helpful to acknowledge that the desire to imitate, however pervasive, is constantly going on within and around us. “When you are aware of that, you can override the unconscious urge to do something that is not in your best interest,” she says.

Dr. Burt says it can also be helpful to look inward and reconsider what you personally really want. She asks some questions you might want to ask yourself, such as “Would you still want what you want if no one else wants it?” and on a deeper level, “Does this make you the person you want to be?”

While it certainly takes practice to separate our desires from the desires of others, especially since humans exist in a community and not in a vacuum, you should use your senses. your own internal perspective when making decisions and consider what external forces may be influencing you. any time.


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