As one of the seven deadly sins, gluttony is an issue that usually manifests itself in the form of overeating. This particular indulgence is usually tied in with an effort to mask pain of some kind, since the pleasure that’s derived from the gorging of food helps the individual temporarily set aside thinking about that pain.
Legendary psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud didn’t go so far as to label this issue an actual facet of mental illness. Instead, he focused on using it as an example of his “Pleasure Principle” philosophy, according to psychoanalyst Patrick Mahony, who’s written multiple books on Freud’s work.
As with many components of his work, Freud attributed what can be an insatiable desire for food with sex. Within that same framework was the perceived connection between a person’s sex drive and their appetite. Thus, individuals that suffer from pernicious disorders like anorexia or bulimia were relegated to simply being repressed in their expressions of love.
However, modern psychoanalysis is much more open to a broader take on the issue. In one sense, the term “comfort food” is used to describe food that’s not necessarily healthy to eat, especially to excess. Yet that comfort is derived from the pleasant feeling that’s evoked by the taste, which may date back to happy childhood memories.
In modern society, Patrick Mahony has watched gluttony become an entertainment spectacle through the concept of competitive eating competitions. This is something that prominently takes center stage every Independence Day in the United States. Here, competing individuals see exactly how many hot dogs they can eat during a set period of time, with large crowds there to cheer them on. This is in spite of the likely health ramifications that may develop from years of such eating practices.