My google search has unearthed "La Douleur Exquise" but that seems to carry mainly erotic or romantic connotations. I wonder if there is a term from psychology that is more general, or that refers to the phenomenon of a child who does something only because he has been told not to do it.

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    I can't (yet?) think of a word for the thrill itself. But the body of your question doesn't mention that but rather phenomenon of deliberate disobedience. So perhaps that or one of the following: rebel, defiant, nonconformist, insolence. If you specifically want a word for the thrill itself, please update your question, perhaps also include a sample sentence using X or ___ in the place of the word/phrase you are seeking. – Steve Lovell Jun 17 '17 at 8:26

Seems the child enjoys the sweet taste of forbidden fruit or stolen waters.

forbidden fruit.
Fig. someone or something that one finds attractive or desirable partly because having the person or thing is immoral or illegal. (Biblical; from the apple in the Garden of Eden that was forbidden to Adam by God.)

Jim flirts with his sister-in-law only because she's forbidden fruit.

The boy watches that program only when his parents are out. It's forbidden fruit.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms

On a similar biblical vein, based on Steve Lovell's comment : stolen waters as in Proverbs 9:17 :

Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

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    A similar phrase is stolen waters. – Steve Lovell Jun 17 '17 at 10:23
  • @SteveLovell I've incorporated your idea into the answer. Many thanks! – k1eran Jun 17 '17 at 10:39

If you're specifically looking for a noun to call a child that seems to take pleasure in doing the opposite of what they're told, I'd recommend contrarian:

a. a contrary or obstinate person
b. (as modifier)

  • a contrarian investor
  • contrarian instincts

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers


You can take a guilty pleasure in doing something, if you know that doing it was wrong, but you liked doing it anyway. So perhaps the guilty pleasure can be said to be the thrill of doing it.

  • Guilty pleasure is certainly a possibility. Something to note is that it generally refers to very minor transgressions, such as eating fatty food or listening to music other people disapprove of. Rather than e.g. taking pleasure in committing serious crimes. – Stuart F Nov 22 '19 at 11:48

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