Do people ever really change

Can People Change? When, How, and Why (or Why Not)

People can change but only if a few requirements are met, including self-awareness and willpower. There are some exceptions, though.

Your personality is shaped by a dynamic relationship between your interactions, temperament, and environments. Change is possible.

What does it mean for a person to change? Change is a sustained reinforcement of new behaviors and thinking patterns.

Changing who you are or how you behave may be possible through a collective understanding of attitudes, habits, behaviors, and personality traits.

Yes, changing your attitude is possible. But it may be difficult in some cases if you don’t explore the root cause of your current attitudes.

Attitude is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “a relatively enduring and general evaluation of an object, person, group, issue, or concept on a dimension.” It comes from your beliefs, emotions, and past experiences and behaviors.

It’s possible to change your attitude when you understand how it is formed and how it impacts your life.

Sometimes, though, attitude is linked to emotional pain or hurtful past experiences. You may not be aware of this or, even if you are, your attitude in a certain situation may be a reaction to a trigger or an event that activates the pain.

Living with trauma, for example, may lead to a defensive attitude and affect how you respond to specific challenges.

“People who experience this may want to change,” says Jeffrey McQueen, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Nassau County and a licensed chemical dependency counselor. “But it’s not uncommon for someone who experienced trauma to prefer the lifesaving responses — because it’s what has saved their lives and allowed them to feel safe.”

Therapy may help resolve emotional and mental health challenges, and this could facilitate attitude change as well.

Yes, you can change your habits, both negative and positive. In fact, as you age, face new challenges, or engage in new routines, your habits may tend to change so you can adapt to the new circumstances.

But, there’s a distinction between habits and behaviors. In general, behavior is an action that can be observed and that comes as a response to internal or external influences.

Habits are behaviors you’ve repeated so often that they become automatic for you and no longer require your intention or conscious thought to be executed. For example, leaving your keys at the console table next to the door or getting that cigarette out whenever you feel anxious.

People can change habits by becoming aware of them and purposefully modifying that behavior enough times until the new habit becomes automatic.

Some habits may require you to explore their root cause, though. For example, if a habit is associated with anxiety, you may want to work at reducing anxiety first.

Before attempting to change what you think it’s a bad habit, it’s important to understand why you do it. This will help you sustain the change.

“For example, most people would identify smoking as a bad habit,” McQueen explains. “A person living with anxiety or bipolar disorder who utilizes smoking to calm and ground them may find this to be more of a coping tool versus a bad habit.”

Gaining this understanding may help you change a habit that may be harming you, like smoking, and replace it with effective coping skills.

“Yes, people can change, but it’s not that simple,” says Misty Smith, a licensed professional clinical counselor in Michigan.

Personality traits aren’t static and they may change with age and time. However, core personality traits tend to be longstanding, stable, and persistent.

Personality traits are your characteristic patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. For example, persistence, generosity, and honesty are personality traits.

These traits exist on a spectrum so you may be more or less persistent than your sibling even if both have that same characteristic trait.

“People evolve and change over time,” Smith says. “Our interests and approach to the world changes. Our experiences change who we are, and how we internalize and interpret the world around us.”

Because of this, you may be a generous person, but may in time become less generous with certain people or in specific scenarios, for example.

Core personality traits may be less likely to change, even at will.

Known as the Big Five, these core traits are:

  • extraversion
  • agreeableness
  • openness
  • conscientiousness
  • neuroticism

They also exist on a spectrum. For example, in the extraversion spectrum, you can be an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between.

“It’s not as easy to change those core aspects,” Smith explained. So, it’s not likely to go from being an introvert to an extrovert, for example.

Yes, people can change behaviors, but they need to first become accountable for those, and then be convinced they should (or want to) change them.

Hurtful behaviors — such as lying, cheating, dismissing, or controlling — are often habits that turn into harmful behavior patterns. They may also be associated with mental health challenges, which makes change more difficult.

Research from 2020 explains personality may be shaped by an interaction between multiple sources, from genes to events and social relationships, rather than only one source.

Personality development isn’t linear, and change isn’t either. Though harmful behaviors may have begun as survival or coping mechanisms in childhood, the 2020 study showed positive influences and relationships, like friendships and family, can increase the chance for someone to change those behaviors.

“No one is born acting or behaving a particular way,” McQueen said. “Behavior is learned, and so it can also be unlearned. This implies that change is more than possible — it’s actually likely.”

When a hurtful behavior is associated with a mental health condition, though, professional support may be needed for people to change. Even then, depending on the condition, sometimes change isn’t likely.

For example, someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may lack the insight to identify problematic behaviors or the need to change. They may also be less likely to seek support and resources when those behaviors impact their lives.

“People engage in behaviors that serve their purpose,” says Smith. “We engage in the behaviors that provide something for us.”

Ileana Arganda-Stevens, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, says the capacity for change grows in the presence of six vital aspects:

  • motivation
  • support
  • determination
  • consistency
  • self-awareness
  • self-compassion

If you have a few or all of the above, you’re more likely to change behaviors, attitudes, or traits.

“When we start to show ourselves more self-compassion,” she says, “rigidity begins to relax, and we become more flexible and open to trying new things and making meaningful changes in our lives.

Motivation is also key, according to Smith.

You may want to change your attitude because it’s affecting your ability to maintain relationships; someone else may want to change their habits because they’re impacting their ability to contribute at work. Another person may want to change hurtful behaviors because they’re impacting their bond with their children.

Not everyone is willing or able to change, though.

This may be because it’s not the right time, or the individual may not realize there’s a need for change. Maybe they lack the insight to understand how the behavior or attitude is affecting their lives. Maybe these behaviors are linked to emotional pain or trauma, and until that is resolved, change is more challenging.

Why people don’t want to change depends on the situation. “The pattern or habit is a tool that allows the person to cope with a deeper struggle,” explains Smith.

People can change when they’re self-aware, receive support, and become intentional about behaving differently.

But, change takes time and it may be challenging in some cases. For example, if you live with a mental health condition that involves lifelong symptoms that may impact your attitude, habits, and behaviors.

Do People Really Change? | Psychology Today

Source: Travis Seera/Pexels

"Personality" is a word used to describe traits that are consistent across time and place. For example, we expect a highly extraverted person to be outgoing at home, at work, and at school. While personality is not a perfect predictor of behavior, it does give us a general idea of how someone is likely to think and act.

The authors of a new review article note that personality can change over long periods of time—for example, we tend to become more responsible and emotionally stable as we age. These changes generally unfold over many years, and seem to reflect a natural developmental process.

The researchers set out to answer an important related question: Can treatment change personality over a short period of time? They focused on the "Big Five" personality traits of extraversion, emotional stability, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

Roberts and colleagues reviewed over 200 studies that measured personality traits both before and after some type of intervention and included a control group. Interventions included primarily medications and various forms of psychotherapy for a psychological condition, and lasted 24 weeks on average. Their analyses revealed some intriguing results:

  1. Treatment can indeed change personality. Average changes were in the small-to-medium range, suggesting they would be noticeable to the individual and people in his or her life. For example, a person who's easily upset may have an easier time handling stressors. The effects on personality were the same regardless of age or sex.
  2. Personality changes endured over time. Many of the studies the authors reviewed included a follow-up period after the treatment ended, lasting on average about 6 months. Treatment-related changes held steady or even increased during the follow-up interval, even a year or more later.
  3. Some personality traits were more responsive to treatment. The largest effect was on emotional stability (the reverse of neuroticism), the smallest on openness to experience. Extraversion showed the second greatest change. The authors note that these differences could reflect traits that are more likely to change, but could also reflect what the treatments were targeting. For example, treatment of anxiety or depression would focus on increasing emotional stability.
  4. A wide range of interventions led to personality change. Although cognitive behavioral and supportive therapies has slightly larger effects, other types of treatment were also effective, with medication showing the smallest effect.
  5. Amount of change depended on what the treatment was for. People being treated for anxiety and personality disorders (not surprisingly) changed the most, while those receiving treatment for eating and substance use disorders showed the least personality change.

What are the implications of these findings? First, as the authors note, they suggest that personality change can happen relatively quickly. Additional analyses showed that treatment needed to last for at least 4 weeks to significantly affect personality. However, after 8 weeks, additional treatment did not lead to greater change.

The authors had an important caveat: It's possible that a person's personality may have changed as a result of the condition that brought the person to treatment. For example, an episode of depression may have significantly decreased a person's level of emotional stability.

Source: Katii Bishop/Pexels

Thus what looks like an increase in emotional stability due to treatment could actually be an effect of treatment on depression, which subsequently restores the person's pre-depression emotional stability. This explanation cannot be ruled out based on existing data.

I do suspect, based on my own experience as a therapist, that a lot of the personality change in treatment is actually a return to a person's level of functioning before their anxiety, depression, or other condition. People often come to treatment because they feel like they're not their best selves—no longer as patient, agreeable, relaxed, or outgoing. As treatment takes hold people often describe feeling "more like themselves" again. Family members will say they feel like they have their loved one back.

If you've thought about starting therapy because you feel disconnected from the person you used to be, consider this additional benefit of treatment: You'll probably feel not just better but more like the best version of you.

Find me on the Think Act Be website, Facebook, and Twitter.

When do we really become adults?

Can a person be considered an adult just because he is a parent? And if a child appeared in a 15-year-old teenager? Maybe we become adults when we come of age? Or is it still when we graduate from university, get a job, get married? And if a person decides to live life alone and not take on obligations and responsibility for others? Does he really remain like that all his life, if not a child, but not quite an adult either? Who then? We publish an abridged translation of an article by journalist Julie Beck for

The Atlantic , in which she talks about what makes people adults in an age where the line between childhood and adulthood is blurred like never before.

It would probably be fair to call Henry a man who had no purpose: after graduating from Harvard, he returned to his parents. At first he managed to get a job as a teacher, but after two weeks Henry decided that this was not for him and left. It took him a while to find his calling: he worked in his father's pencil factory, sold magazines door-to-door, took temporary teaching and tutoring jobs, and even briefly shoveled manure before he had some success in what he considered his own. true passion, writing. nine0007

Henry published his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, when he was 31, after 12 years of job changes and transitions from living in his parents' home to living on his own and living with a friend who believed in Henry's potential. He may have gone a little astray in his younger years, but it seems that in the end, the life of Henry David Thoreau❓Famous American writer, philosopher, publicist, naturalist and poet, - approx. ed. turned around quite normally. (Recall that Thoreau's friend was Ralph Waldo Emerson.❓American essayist, poet, philosopher, pastor, lecturer, public figure, one of the most prominent thinkers and writers in the United States, - ed. )

His path was not atypical for the 19th century, at least not for a white man in the United States. Young people often experienced periods of independence punctuated by periods of dependency. And if that sounds surprising to you, it's probably because of the "myth that the transition to adulthood was smoother in the past," , writes Steven Mintz, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, if you think of the transition to "adulthood" as a set of formal indicators - getting a job, moving away from parents, getting married and having children - for most of history, with the exception of 19In the 50s and 60s, people didn't grow up in such a predictable way. And yet today, all of the above are still revered indicators of adulthood. […]

“I think there is a really difficult transition [between childhood and adulthood] ,” says Kelly Williams Brown, author of Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. It's not just hard for Millennials, I think it was hard for Gen X and Baby Boomers too. All of a sudden you find yourself in a world with an insane array of options, but you don't know what to choose." nine0004

Age alone does not make you an adult. And then what does he do? In the US, people marry and have children at a later age, but these are just optional attributes of adulthood, and not "adulthood" itself. Psychologists talk about a period of protracted adolescence that does not end when a person turns 20 or even 25 years old, and yet when does a person come out of it? What finally makes us truly adults?

I decided to try to answer this question to the best of my ability, but I will warn you in advance: there is either no answer, or there are many complex and multifaceted answers. […] nine0007

Adult life is a social construct (like childhood, if you will). And, like all social constructs, it has real consequences. Constructs determine who is legally responsible for their actions and who is not, what roles people can play in society, how people treat each other and how they treat themselves. But even in areas where the difference is easiest to tell—laws or physical development—growing up challenges simplicity.

For example, in the US you can't drink alcohol until you're 21, but the legal age of majority, along with the right to vote and the opportunity to join the army, comes at 18. Or not? You are allowed to watch films for adults as early as 17, and to do some kind of feasible work from 14.

"Chronological age isn't a good indicator [of maturity], but it's something we need to rely on for practical purposes, ," says Lawrence Steinberg, professor of psychology at Temple University. - We all know people aged 21 or 22 who are very wise and mature, but we also know very immature and reckless people of the same age. And we can't do maturity tests to decide if they can buy alcohol or not."

Source: Alessandro Biasciolit /

One way to measure maturity can be the maturity of the body. Surely, there must be a moment when you stop developing physically and officially become an “adult” organism? However, it depends on which measure you choose. So, people become sexually mature after puberty, but it begins at the age of 8 to 13 years in girls and from 9 to 14 years in boys. This is a wide age range, and even more than that, just because you have reached puberty does not mean that you have stopped growing. nine0007

Skeletal development was considered a criterion for maturity for many centuries❓Under the Factories Act 1833, in Great Britain the appearance of a second molar (usually appearing between the ages of 11 and 13) was considered proof that a child was old enough to work in a factory. ... but it depends on which part of the skeleton you are examining. For example, wisdom teeth usually appear between the ages of 17 and 21, while the bones of the hand and wrist, which are often used to determine age, do mature at different rates. Thus, the carpal bones of the hands are fully developed already at the age of 13-14 years, while other bones - the radius, ulna, metacarpals and phalanges - "ripen" at the age of 15 to 18 years. The last bone to form in the body, the collarbone, does so between 25 and 35 years of age. At the same time, environmental and socio-economic factors can influence the development of bones. […] nine0007

Thus, bodily changes do little to help define the boundaries of adulthood. What about cultural change? People go through coming-of-age ceremonies like quinceañera, bar mitzvah, or Catholic confirmation and come out as adults. In theory. In practice, in modern society, a 13-year-old girl after Bat Mitzvah is still dependent on her parents. Yes, she may have more responsibility in the synagogue, but this is only one step on a long road to adulthood, and this road is not a quick one. The very idea of ​​the coming-of-age ceremony suggests that there is a switch that can be flipped at the right important occasion, and it will work. nine0007

For example, graduation from high school or college are ceremonies meant to "flip a switch" for sometimes hundreds of people at once. But not only is it rare for people to jump straight into fully formed adulthood at the time of graduation, graduation itself is far from a universal experience. Moreover, secondary and higher education played a big role in increasing the transition period between childhood and adulthood. […]

Establishing a kind of institutionalized transitional period where people stay in school until they are 21 or 22 is consistent with what scientists know about brain maturation. nine0007

According to Steinberg, who studies adolescence and brain development, by the age of 22-23 the brain is largely complete. This does not mean that you cannot continue to learn - you can, the brain remains "plastic", malleable and changeable throughout life. However, the plasticity of the adult brain differs from the plasticity of the developing brain, when it still forms new connections and cuts off unnecessary ones.

The plasticity of the adult brain still allows for the possibility of its modification, however, at this stage, the neural structures will no longer change […]

The executive functions of the brain—logical thinking, planning, and other high-level thinking—reach “adult levels of maturity by age 16 or so” , says Steinberg. Thus, on average, a 16-year-old should do just as well on a logic test as an older person. A little more time is needed to develop connections between areas such as the prefrontal cortex, which regulates thinking, and the limbic system, which is more responsible for emotions, as well as biological drives for survival and procreation. nine0007

Until these connections are fully established, people are less able to control their impulses—one of the reasons the U.S. Supreme Court decided to limit juvenile life imprisonment. […] However, says Steinberg, the question of maturity depends on the task at hand. For example, given a fully developed ability to reason logically, Steinberg sees no reason why 16-year-olds should not be able to vote, even if other aspects of their brains are still maturing. […] nine0007

In college, I had a writing professor who, I think, considered himself a provocateur—at any rate, he always tried to dump the bitter truth on us. Most of his provocations bypassed me, but there was one that offended me. I don't remember why, but during one of the classes he just paused and said: “At the age of 22 to 25 you will be miserable. Regret. If you are like most people, you will be introspective” . nine0007

And that very word, “self-digging,” has stuck with me ever since—an apt description of what happens to many people at that age. to the question "Are you an adult?", in the late 90s led Jeffrey Jensen Arnett to combine this age into a new life stage, which he called "nascent adulthood." Becoming an adult is an uncertain, transitional time between adolescence and true adulthood. And the notion is so vague that Arnett, now a professor of psychology at Clark University, says he sometimes uses 25 as an upper limit, and sometimes 29.. Although he believes that adolescence clearly ends at 18, when people usually graduate from high school and leave their parents' homes, legally recognized as adults, a person leaves the stage of "nascent adulthood" only when he is ready for this.

This uncertainty has led to some controversy as to whether incipient adulthood can truly be considered a separate life stage. Steinberg, for example, does not think so, stating that it would be more correct to talk about the lengthening of adolescence, which he defines as the period from puberty to the stage when a person takes on most "adult" roles. […] Other critics of the concept of emerging adulthood write that the fact that years between 18 and 25 (or 29?) are a transitional time does not yet mean that they represent a separate stage of development. "Conditions of life may change, but human development is not synonymous with simple change" , says one study. […]

“What's really important is that the transition to adult roles is taking longer and longer,” says Steinberg. Now many people have several years when they are not dependent on their parents, have already finished their studies, but have not yet got spouses or children. nine0007

Part of this may be due to the fact that the need to be a spouse or parent seems to be less and less valued as an important attribute of adulthood , that is, what people consider necessary to become adults is the ability to take responsibility, make independent decisions and gain financial independence. […] Two of the three criteria are internal, subjective markers. You can measure financial independence, but how do you know how independent and responsible you are? This is something you need to determine for yourself. When psychologist Eric Erickson outlined the important stages of psychosocial development, for each of them he identified the central question that a person seeks an answer to during this period of time. In adolescence, the question is one of identity, of discovering one's true self and one's place in the world. In adolescence, says Erickson, attention shifts to intimacy and the development of friendships and romantic relationships. […] In general, existence and commitment to a purpose, the search for a mission in life, is a step towards the formation of an identity, and people committed to this identity are more likely to consider themselves adults. […] nine0007

According to last century education researcher Robert Havighurst, each life stage has its own set of “developmental tasks” to complete. In contrast to the individualistic criteria that are spoken of today, his goals for development in adulthood were very specific: find a partner, learn to live with a partner, start a family, raise children, get a job, keep a house. These are the traditional adult roles that Millennials are too often criticized for because they either don't rush or don't appreciate them. […] nine0007

Havighurst developed his theory in the 1940s and 50s, and the choice of these problems was only a reflection of his time. The economic boom that followed World War II made all of this more achievable than ever. Even for very young people, for whom there were enough jobs: sometimes they didn't even need a high school diploma to find a job that could help support their family. Plus, the social customs of that time, which gave preference to marriage, and not cohabitation without marriage, here we get: work, spouse, home, children. nine0007

But that was a historical anomaly. “Except for a brief period after World War II, it was generally uncommon to reach markers of full adult status before you were 25–30 years old” , writes Mintz. In the past, there were also no super-responsible adults who wandered around in three-piece suits and solemnly looked over their glasses at tax returns, until today's youth killed them with their laziness. Young people also sought happiness, failed and returned home, and young women in the 19th century migrated to cities in search of work even faster than men. Which, by the way, in order to get married, often had to first wait for the death of their fathers in order to receive an inheritance. At least today's late marriages happen for less painful reasons. nine0007

Source: DisobeyArt /

The golden age of easy adulthood did not last long. Beginning in the 1960s, the age of marriage began to rise again, and secondary education became increasingly necessary for middle-class income. […]

Jensen Arnett says that today's young people still want to make a career, get married, have children; they simply no longer see these factors as defining features of adulthood. Unfortunately, not all of society is ready to share their views, and older generations may not recognize the young as adults until they reach these markers. […] nine0007

Of the many responsibilities of adulthood, the one I hear most often called transformative is parenthood. When I asked people about what was associated with the moment of their transition into adulthood, the appearance of children was the most common answer.

And it's not that you can't be an adult if you don't have children. It's just that for those who have them, it often seems that this was the moment of switching. […] Having children is what seems to make us feel like adults and makes others believe it. […] Caring for sick parents is another abrupt role reversal that can come with a sense of adulthood. However, becoming an adult doesn't have to be at a single tipping point—most changes happen gradually. […] nine0007

With all the ambiguity and subjectivity about when a person really becomes an adult, there is another way to look at the problem - the search for an answer to the question "When are you really a child?" .

What about people who have children at 15? And those who have to care for sick parents in childhood, or those who lose them at an early age? Sometimes circumstances push people into adult roles before they are ready for them. And almost always, the early sense of adulthood is associated with taking responsibility much sooner than most people do. […] You can definitely be given the responsibilities of an adult, and if the world treats someone like an adult before they feel like one, that can be a problem. […] nine0007

Being an adult is not always desirable. Independence can turn into loneliness. Responsibility can become stressful

Mintz writes that adulthood has been culturally devalued to some extent. "Adults, we are repeatedly told, lead troubled lives of quiet desperation ," he writes. — Classic post-World War II adulthood novels are tales of broken dreams, unfulfilled ambitions, broken marriages, work and family estrangement. nine0004 He compares them to 19th-century coming-of-age novels in which people wanted to become adults. Perhaps the ambivalence about whether a person feels like an adult is partly due to the ambivalence about whether he even wants to be. […]

“We live in a youth culture that thinks life goes downhill after 26 or so,” says Mintz. […]

Growing up is an ocean into which too many rivers flow to be able to count them. It can be enshrined in law, but not completely. Science can push the boundaries of understanding maturity, but not all the way. Social norms are changing, people are abandoning traditional roles or being forced to take them too soon. You can track trends, but trends have little effect on what a particular person wants and values. nine0007

Adult life in general is the work of the Impressionists: if you stand far enough away, you will see a blurry picture, but if you press your nose against it, you will see millions of tiny strokes. Imperfect, wrong, but certainly part of a larger whole.

Scientists measured how much the personality of a drunk person changes

Scientists measured how much the personality of a drunk person changes

Scientists measured how much the personality of a drunk person changes - RIA News, 05/15/2017

Scientists have measured how much the personality of a drunk person changes

. The personal qualities and behavior of tipsy people do not change as much as is commonly believed, say psychologists who have followed the behavior of several dozen ... RIA Novosti, 05/15/2017



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9000 7 495 645 601 Russia Today May - RIA Novosti . The personal qualities and behavior of drunk people do not change as much as is commonly believed, say psychologists who have followed the behavior of several dozen drinkers and published their findings in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. nine0007

"We were surprised that tipsy people's perceptions of how their behavior had changed differed so much from those around them. Participants in our experiments thought that all five key parameters of their personality had changed, but observers only said that only the degree of their extraversion,” says Rachel Winograd from the University of Missouri in St. Louis (USA).

Drunk people often do not remember what happened to them during the feast and after it, and believe that their behavior changes greatly after they get drunk. In general, no one disputes this point of view, also because many road accidents, domestic accidents and crimes occur as a result of alcohol abuse. nine0007

November 17, 2015, 18:03

Scientists have found a mutation that makes a person aggressive when intoxicatedFinnish geneticists have discovered a mutation in the 5-HT2B gene, the owners of which become aggressive after they consume a large amount of alcohol, and which turned out to be quite common among residents Finland.

Winograd and her colleagues decided to test whether alcohol really changes a person's personality so much that he actually becomes a completely different individual, radically different from the sober "version". To do this, scientists gathered a group of 156 volunteers who agreed to get drunk for the sake of science in the company of friends and like-minded people, and invited all of them to the "bar" - a laboratory specially converted for these purposes. nine0007

Once in the "drinking room", half of the participants in the experiment got the opportunity to get very drunk, and the other volunteers had to observe them and carefully monitor how the behavior of the drinking "colleagues" changed. At the same time, the drinkers themselves had to do the same and write down all their feelings and ideas about how their own personality and behavior was changing.

August 31, 2016, 12:07

Scientists have discovered what turns a person into an alcoholicSevere forms of alcoholism can occur as a result of the “turn off” of the PRDM2 gene, which is responsible for the assembly of protein molecules, which is critical for the functioning of the self-control system in our brain. nine0007

By comparing the observations of drinking and sober friends who knew each other well, scientists tried to understand whether the behavior of tipsy people changes in a way that is noticeable to others, or whether all these changes remain inside the heads of the drinkers themselves.

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