Life Lessons

Mimetic Desire: Do you really want what you want?

Image by storyset on Freepik

The French philosopher Rene Girard coined the term ‘Mimetic Desire’. He said, “Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.”

Many of our desires are not our own but fake, illogical desires borrowed from others. Hence, we are not focussed on obtaining either worthwhile objects or experiences. For instance, Vinod buys a bigger house, even though he will have to work to the bone paying EMIs, only because his friend has a large house. Tina became a teacher not because she likes to teach but because her mother is a teacher.

A simple example would be two siblings playing happily with toys; when one shouts out to his brother, “Hey, Amit! See what I have. My toy is better than yours.” This results in Amit punching his brother in order to get what he now thinks is a better toy. I remember a neighbour dressing his three small daughters in identical clothes. When I asked why, he said that otherwise each child thinks her siblings have prettier outfits. 

Cover of the April 2023 issue of The Teenager Today featuring Prabhat Koli, the world's youngest oceans seven swimmer

Subscribe to The Teenager Today print / digital editions to read the full article.

More articles

Monica Fernandes is a freelance writer from Mumbai for whom writing is a satisfying hobby. She writes for several magazines including The Teenager Today. She has authored a book for teenagers entitled Towards A Fuller Life published by Better Yourself Books.

Monica Fernandes

Monica Fernandes is a freelance writer from Mumbai for whom writing is a satisfying hobby. She writes for several magazines including The Teenager Today. She has authored a book for teenagers entitled Towards A Fuller Life published by Better Yourself Books.