HealthScott Lyons, psychologist: “There is an epidemic of dramatics. The whole...

    Scott Lyons, psychologist: “There is an epidemic of dramatics. The whole world is our stage to represent this great drama and be rewarded with ‘likes’ | Health & Wellness

    After a tortuous divorce, Scott Lyons (Minnesota, United States, 40 years old) called his ex-husband again and again. He did it when he was bored. He did it when he was starting to feel better. He did it when he managed to get out of the wheel of despair in which he had been involved for a long time. At first he thought that maybe he was addicted to his ex. But analyzing the situation he realized that he was even worse: he was addicted to drama. Lyons is a psychologist, educator, and podcast host The Gently Used Human. She had the knowledge and the tools to try to stand back and analyze the situation. He did so by searching for information in philosophical treatises, scientific studies, and books on the subject, and ended up finding more prejudice than useful bibliography. For six years he was informed and writing to shape Addicted to Drama: Healing Dependency on Crisis and Chaos in Yourself and Othersa book at the moment with no publication date in Spain.

    While denying the term drama queen [reina del drama, en ingles], due to the biases it introduces, instead ensures that social networks are creating an epidemic of drama addicts, and that they affect both users and the media, in an escalation to get the user’s attention. And warn us: we all know someone who fits this profile, but practically no one would place themselves there. The numbers don’t come out. He grants an interview to EL PAIS via video call, in a conversation in which he intersperses studies, quotes from the book and his personal experiences.

    Ask. Have you outlined a profile of the drama addict to define what is popularly known as drama queenWhy have you decided to exclude this name from your book?

    Answer. It’s derogatory, that’s why I don’t use it. But at the same time it is a very interesting term to analyze. It has been around for many years. Everyone knows someone addicted to drama and they are usually referred to with terms like narcissistic, attention seeking, histrionic or whatever you mention, drama queen. And there is something in those labels that eliminates empathy to understand what is really happening there.

    Q. Normally, it has been used to define women and homosexuals. I don’t know if that has had anything to do with his bad press.

    R. Yes. It is a term that has many biases associated with it. The dramatic refers to a kind of histrionic behaviors, which historically have been more associated with women, especially since [el psicoanalista Sigmund] Freud. It is like hysteria, a nervous disease associated with women. I do not recall any case of a man who has been hospitalized for hysteria. It’s easy to reduce drama junkies to a stereotype, but their reality is more complex. They are not trying to get noticed just to get noticed. They don’t exaggerate for fun. For them drama is a survival mechanism.

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    Q. You faked a suicide attempt as a teenager.

    R. It was an attempt to force some empathy around me. suffered bullying, by students and teachers, and I just wanted it to stop. The tools I had then to manage it, I was a 13-year-old boy, were few. I thought no one was going to listen to me. So I fabricated a scenario where I believed they would feel the pain that I felt. It is what I later came to call armed empathy, a way of forcing someone to put themselves in your situation. And now I see this all the time, with patients having difficulty communicating their needs or having difficulty accepting an apology. So the only thing they know how to make people empathize with their pain is to replicate it in another person.

    Q. Being addicted to drama is a bit like being a hipster: we are surrounded by them, but nobody admits to being a hipster, why?

    R. When we look for drama, we often do so unconsciously, and we will never see ourselves as the culprits. In the perceptual reality of the person addicted to drama, all actions and behaviors are justified. There is no sense of regulation. Blowing out a birthday candle with a fire hose might sound crazy to everyone, but it’s reasonable to someone who doesn’t know how much energy, attention, and emotion it takes to do it.

    Q. And this addiction is contagious…

    R. Yes. It’s called stress contagion. It is a response from our mirror neurons, which make us empathize with the feelings of someone close. Stress, like the one that generates drama, is the most contagious or resonant state we have, the one that these neurons best reflect, even more so than love. We are evolutionarily designed to look for signs of stress in other people, in case we need to react to the same stressor. It is for a matter of survival. If a bear is chasing you and we meet in the field; your wide eyes, your fast breathing… I’m going to be alert before you have time to tell me anything about the bear. Stress is an emotion designed to be contagious, so we don’t need to have a verbal conversation to respond to it. That’s why it’s important to know if you’re around someone who’s addicted to that kind of stress, addicted to conflict, because chances are they’ll drag you into that whirlwind too.

    On television, the drama, the tension, serve as narrative engines. And there they can be fun, but in real life they carry a physiological cost.

    Q. In his book, he claims that the attention economy and social media have fueled an epidemic of drama. How is that?

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    R. 20 or 30 years ago we lived the addiction to drama in a more intimate way, now we do it with a massive exposure. Capitalism has spawned an attention economy. This is the most important commodity. Capturing and keeping the user’s attention makes it possible to sell, through ads, anything. And that has a cost. In order to capture and hold the attention of the maximum number of people, some stress has to be induced. In this way, a more emotional, more intensified language is forced. Stories that generate sadness, anger or fear are the most shared. And they creep into our lives, so we start recreating them, replicating those scenarios and imitating that language in our social media posts, even though we’re not living that experience on a personal level. And so, we end up being part of the stress economy.

    Q. In recent years, Instagram has been filled with photos of influencers crying

    R. It is the porn of vulnerability or authenticity. And it’s ridiculous. Yes, very authentic, how many takes did you need to take that photo crying? How much preparation? How many photos did you discard? It is a difficult balance because, on the one hand, you are sending the message that it is healthy to express your feelings and not only show the good on the networks. But on the other, they are manufacturing this content. They are living through their social avatar instead of in real life. And what all the studies on the subject suggest is that the more we live as our social avatar, the more disconnected we are from ourselves and that dissonance ends up leading to depression. We see the highest rates of depression in adolescent girls, who turn to their social networks, abuse filters and persecute likes.

    Politics becomes performative. Our culture is increasingly performative to get and keep attention.

    Q. But the addiction to drama in social networks does not only affect individual users. Some media also fall into it to get clicks…

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    R. Clear. The news also replicates these mechanisms. There is an epidemic of drama. The whole world is now our stage to represent this great drama and to be rewarded with likes. The problem, as with any addiction, is that our tolerance level grows. And so we need more drama for something to grab our attention. Twenty years ago the news needed less stimulation to grab someone’s attention. Now they need more violence, more intense language, more sex. We need dramatic tools to capture or hold people’s attention.

    Q. And how does that affect the public debate?

    R.. A lot, because then politics becomes performative. Our culture is increasingly performative to get and keep attention. And you have to induce more drama, more tension. And this just escalates. Ten years from now, we’re going to need a lot more stress-inducing stimuli to get someone’s attention. We know that, in the absence of that stimulus, people go into withdrawal. And his way of combating it is to seek or create more drama. Because stress and trauma work like social glue. It makes us feel closer to each other, which is why we do what is called drama bonding..

    Q. Drama bond?

    R. Exactly, it means that we connect with other people through holding onto each other’s drama. It makes us feel part of something. That’s why we gossip.

    Q. Connecting with friends through gossip doesn’t seem like such a terrible thing. How much drama is too much drama?

    R. It’s funny because when you watch TV shows like drag race they’re all the time talking about the need for drama. They ask for more dramatic performances, more dramatic make-up… On television, drama and tension serve as narrative engines. And there they can be fun, but in real life they carry a physiological cost. You have to analyze if you know how to process and metabolize that drama, understand what to do with all the stress that it generates. Any drama is too much drama if you don’t know how to process it and it leads you to be wrong.

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    Source: EL PAIS

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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