I have wondered about my tendency to compulsively read, binge watch TV shows, or even think about a crush. You know, when it feels like you just can’t stop doing something, and you go for just one more minute? Which turns into an hour and a half. Or two. And you have no idea where time went.
I joke that I tend towards an addictive personality. I won’t watch certain TV shows that my friends enjoy because I know I would get hooked, and then I’d have one more show to catch up on online. I’ve already been sucked into Scandal (thanks a lot, Amanda) and Once Upon A Time (ahem, Wendy!) and I am back watching Grey’s Anatomy after stopping three years ago (Joe, I blame you entirely for that one).
I actually had an excitedly passionate conversation last night about the ins and outs of Olivia and Fitz’s relationship in Scandal, and the merits of Jake as a partner for Olivia. All while training clients in the studio. Low point.
My sister finally convinced me to read The Hunger Games and I read the second half of the first book (187 pages out of 374) in an afternoon. Apparently this is typical for these books, but I was still a little disturbed. And glad that the second book was not with me at the time. (It sits next to me and is beckoning me right now…)
I’ve wondered for years, but I finally decided to do some research. Do I have an addictive Personality? My conclusion is no, I am guilty of compulsive behavior but it is not quite addictive.
According to an article in the New York Times, there have been recent studies on this very topic. The more that science uncovers how the brain processes pleasure, the more we learn about addiction and why some people fall prey to it more than others. They refer to drug and alcohol addictions as hard addictions, but they recognize that there can be other addictions such as binge-watching television.
According to one report, the main attributes of a person with an addictive personality are listed here in the article. What really struck me as different from what I do compared to an addicted person is that the behavior is a way to escape something stressful and to avoid it all together. The behavior shows signs that the person is a willing deviant and nonconformist.
While I could somewhat agree with the fact that I don’t always agree with societal values, I don’t think that it is in the way that would label me as deviant. I do use some of my binging behavior to help me through tough times (I did start watching. Scandal and Once Upon A Time because of a breakup, but they have excellent stories and I love good characters and compelling stories) but I would hardly say that I use it to escape and not deal with my problems.
i am the queen of over-analyzing my problems. I definitely do not escape them!
Apparently I do receive pleasure that registers in my brain from these activities. I love caffeine, I can crave great sex with a partner that I’m crazy about, and I can watch one too many episode of Greys Anatomy on Netflix (it’s not fair, the next episode starts right away without me touching a button!). But thankfully, I can say this does not make me an addict. Just compulsive, so I must make sure to monitor it.
Whew. I’d be lying if I had I wasn’t a bit relieved!