Because people are more strongly motivated to move away from pain than to move toward pleasure, they’ll pay more for distraction than for pleasure. But when we distract ourselves, guilt feelings and regret still gnaw at us from underneath, so we pay the most for diversions that masquerade most convincingly as pleasure.
Maybe the guilt at living comfortably numb is actually just the brain’s way of trying to remind us that this is not primarily a moral failing, but more importantly a danger to one’s long-term survival.
Aside: According to Kirk in a Star Trek movie, “You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”