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Enjoyment , lithograph by Theodor Hosemann

Enjoyment is a positive sensory experience that is associated with physical and / or mental wellbeing. At least one sense organ is excited when enjoying . Culinary pleasures, for example as part of the eating and drinking culture , spiritual pleasures such as listening to music or reading interesting books, and physical pleasures, for example as part of sexuality or during a massage , can be differentiated. Most often the term is used in connection with food and drink, but also with the consumption of tobacco . In general, coffee , tea , chocolate , cocoa , tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are considered to be luxury goods in which psychotropic substances are more or less involved in creating the pleasure experience. The culinary connoisseur is often referred to as a connoisseur or gourmet .

What is perceived as enjoyment is subjective and therefore individually different. The prerequisites are the ability to enjoy and devotion . The affirmation of enjoyment by the connoisseur is countered by the asceticism , which is about renunciation and enjoyment is specifically avoided. Although the enjoyment is experienced individually, one can still notice cultural and social differences. Epicurus is considered to be the founder of a philosophy of pleasure, Epicureanism , whose goal in life was a "pleasurable life".

An opposite term to "enjoyment" in connection with food is disgust . What is not enjoyable without repelling applies e.g. B. as bland or neutral . As unpalatable one is food called that contradicts so much enjoyment that you avoid it.

Word meaning

The term enjoy originally had a different and much more extensive meaning in the sense of "use something" or "use something", the Middle High German "geniesz" denoted the "common usufruct". This meaning has been preserved to this day in terms such as usufruct. Usufruct or enjoyment of a thing . The word comrade is derived from this as a designation for the member of a community that uses something together. In modern times, the term has increasingly narrowed to the processes of eating and drinking, but initially with a neutral connotation . The phrase “I haven't enjoyed anything today” was synonymous with “I haven't eaten anything today”. In addition, there were associations of lust and pleasure , also in connection with sexuality. Immanuel Kant was quoted in Grimm with the definition: "to enjoy is the word with which one describes the intimate of pleasure". The opposite is mentioned in the proverb: One has the pleasure, the other the annoyance of Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander .


Physiologically, feelings of pleasure are triggered in the brain, whereby two mechanisms are known:

Pleasure ability

There are only a few scientific publications in German-speaking countries that deal with the topic of pleasure, although there is even an institute for pleasure research in Nuremberg . Tanja Hoff, Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology, dealt with the ability to enjoy in the book Enjoyment and Health . So far there has not been enough research into whether the ability to enjoy is innate or acquired. In psychology there is the theory of the pleasure principle , which goes back to Sigmund Freud , according to which the infant strives for pleasure and tries to avoid feelings of discomfort . According to Hoff, the differentiated pleasure behavior is learned socially and influenced by the family and the entire environment, even in adulthood.

The ability to enjoy can also be lost. It is known from psychiatry that severe depression in patients is accompanied by a pronounced inability to enjoy, i.e. also the loss of the ability to enjoy something or to feel pleasure ( anhedonia ). According to Tanja Hoff, study results suggest that around 25 percent of adults in Germany are not or only partially able to enjoy. On the other hand, popular scientific publications also talk about addiction to indulgence , especially among young people, which de facto means a constant desire for new stimuli or increased stimuli . This does not correspond to the actual meaning of the term enjoyment.

According to Hoff's study, the ability to enjoy food tends to vary from region to region in Germany. The residents of the Rhineland , Baden-Württemberg , Bavaria , Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate are therefore most enjoyable . This suggests a connection with regional mentality . A total of 1000 people were interviewed. Hoff distinguishes between three different types: enjoyable, uncomfortable and so-called pleasure-doubters . The inability to enjoy is more represented in northern Germany , most of those who doubt enjoyment are in the eastern German states.

In general, enjoyment is linked to the ability to have leisure and relaxation . Rush, hectic pace and stress are considered to be negative factors.


According to a study by the Institute for Enjoyment Research from 2000, there are also gender-specific differences when it comes to enjoyment. According to a result, women’s sense of pleasure is more differentiated and demanding. 300 people nationwide were interviewed. 88 percent described enjoyment as a change in everyday life. Only 54 percent described themselves as connoisseurs. At least a quarter of the respondents were classified as unfit for human consumption.

A study from 2004 also found gender-specific differences in terms of which activities are associated with the term enjoyment , whereby it was mainly seen as a synonym for relaxation. Afterwards, women mainly relax with a coffee party , wellness offers and shopping, while men relax in the football stadium, doing sports or in the pub . Women described drinking coffee and “doing nothing” as the most important everyday pleasures; Men prefer to listen to music or go out to eat.

The authors of this study assume that there are four different types of enjoyment: the so-called couch connoisseurs (36%), the taste connoisseurs (27%), the adventure connoisseurs (17%) and the everyday connoisseurs (17%).


In a survey in 2000 in which the respondents were asked about the connoisseur image of politicians, with grades between +5 (real connoisseur) and −5 (no connoisseur at all), the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder scored 3.3 best off. The then Federal President Johannes Rau (2.1) followed in second place, followed by Joschka Fischer (1.7), Guido Westerwelle (1.4) and Franz Müntefering (1.2). Angela Merkel was rated −0.4, Hans Eichel with −0.5.

Public figures are honored annually as “connoisseurs of the year” by the Schlemmer Atlas .

See also


  • Reinhold Bergler, Tanja Hoff: Enjoyment and health. Psychological meanings of enjoyment and culture . Kölner Universitas-Verlag, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-87427-087-4 .
  • Andreas Dorschel : About enjoyment. Reflections on Richard Strauss. In: Andreas Dorschel (Ed.): Murmur below the noise. Theodor W. Adorno and Richard Strauss . (= Studies on Valuation Research. Volume 45). Universal Edition, Vienna / London / New York 2004, ISBN 3-7024-2710-4 , pp. 23–37 (about musical enjoyment)
  • Gisèle Harrus-Révidi: The Art of Enjoyment. Eating culture and lust for life (Psychoanalysis de la gourmandise, 1994). Artemis & Winkler publishing house, 1996, ISBN 3-538-06643-4 .
  • Kathrin Kiss-Elder: Leisure. A little school of enjoyment. Verlag Patmos, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-491-45010-1 .
  • Rainer Lutz : Health and Enjoyment: Euthyme Basics of Behavior Therapy. In: J. Margraf: Textbook of behavior therapy. Volume 1, Springer, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-540-60378-6 .
  • R. Lutz, E. Koppenhöfer: Small school of enjoyment. In: R. Lutz (Ed.): Enjoyment and enjoyment. Beltz, Weinheim / Basel 1983, pp. 112–125.
  • E. Koppenhöfer, R. Lutz: Depression and enjoyment. In: R. Lutz (Ed.): Enjoyment and enjoyment. On the psychology of enjoyable experience and action. Beltz, Weinheim 1983, pp. 126-136.
  • R. Lutz (Ed.): Enjoyment and enjoyment. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim / Basel 1983.
  • Annerose Menninger: Enjoyment in the face of cultural change. Tobacco, Coffee, Tea and Chocolate in Europe (16th – 19th Centuries). Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2004; 2nd edition, 2008, ISBN 978-3515091794 .
  • Annerose Menninger: tobacco, cinnamon and chocolate. Europe and foreign pleasures (16th – 19th centuries). In: Urs Faes, Béatrice Ziegler (ed.): The own and the foreign. Festschrift for Urs Bitterli. Zurich 2000, pp. 232-262.
  • Gero von Randow : Enjoy. A debauchery. Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-455-11278-1 .
  • Christian Stegbauer : A matter of taste? A little sociology of enjoyment. Merus Verlag, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-939519-16-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: enjoy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Martin Schenk, Michela Moser: Enough! For all! Deutike, Vienna 2010, p. 185.
  2. a b c German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm , keyword genieszen
  3. Wanders German Sprichwort Lexikon ; Volume 1, p. 1555, the edition: Augsburg 1987.
  4. a b c d Interview with Tanja Hoff at inforadio.de
  5. RP online: Women are the better connoisseurs (2001)
  6. Medical information: Men enjoy differently than women ( Memento from March 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Gourmet Barometer Germany (2004)
  8. RP online: Gourmet Schröder depends on everyone (2000)
  9. Schlemmer Altas: Awards for connoisseur of the year since 2000