Don't worry, readers: it turns out that misremembering and illogically justifying drunk behavior isn't just for people who have actual drinking problems. (In case you were nervous.) Because the reason people return to boozing — even after, say, passing out on the subway or waking up with a hangover so painful you start to wonder if trepanning might be a reasonable solution — is that their brains simply rationalize it all away:
And… all those nasty things they felt, screamed, wrote, broke, soiled and later paid for? Well, those consequences weren’t truly all that nasty — they rationalize — and besides, lots of others have suffered similar embarrassing fates after tipping too many.
This is called "cognitive dissonance," and it guarantees that if your bad behavior doesn't fit with your view of yourself as a good person, you'll decide that behavior couldn't really be that bad. (Or you'll decide that you're actually a bad person, which seems less likely.) But that's not the only trick your brain pulls! It also makes you think your good times were just, like, epic, man. When actually they were probably sloppy and mundane:
The previous wild night’s fun snippets… in retrospect seem, at least to them, way cooler than they really were… Scientifically speaking, the ability to later overrate happy drinking times is called “positive memory bias.”
Good to know! So the next time you're contemplating another whiskey shot even though some rational part of your mind thinks it might not be the best idea, remember: you'll end up thinking it was totally fine anyway. Sláinte!