Escape from everyday life: When escaping reality becomes questionable

Issues such as war, inflation and the corona pandemic have a firm grip on everyday life.

Escape from everyday life: When escaping reality becomes questionable

Issues such as war, inflation and the corona pandemic have a firm grip on everyday life. Because of the negative headlines, many tend to flee from reality - also known as escapism. But it's only healthy up to a point, says Dr. Andreas Hagemann, psychiatrist and medical director of the Merbeck Private Clinic and the Röher Park Clinic.

What is escapism?

dr Andreas Hagemann: Corona crisis, Ukraine war, risk of inflation - the flood of catastrophes and bad news makes many of us downright despair. Who doesn't dream of a better "perfect" world? Escapism means escaping from reality. Instead of facing up to the real facts, people seek their happiness in an imaginary illusionary reality. There are many causes: psychological problems are often the trigger, such as trauma, conflicts, burnout or depression.

How is escapist behavior expressed?

Those affected are increasingly hiding the everyday negative reports and problems. In order to find distraction and distraction, they mentally enter a fictitious "ideal" world in which they feel strong and powerful. Associated with this are symptoms such as isolation and loss of reality. Feelings of inferiority also make some people permanently and excessively seek distraction and distraction.

When does escapism become dangerous and should it be treated with psychotherapy?

Whether fantasy games, TV soaps or tearjerker novels - escaping reality with your problems is basically anything but harmful. Even if the hours fly by and we forget the present, there is no need to worry. On the contrary: It can help to reduce fears and tension and to balance out negative feelings. It becomes alarming when the flight to another "better" present increasingly determines thinking and acting. Especially when reality is denied and suppressed and/or tasks of daily life, goals and plans are neglected. Those affected should seek help at the latest when serious impairments of "real life" take place, when real and fictitious self-experience repeatedly collide. There is an acute need for treatment when alcohol or drugs are used to escape from reality.

How to protect yourself from escapism?

It is important to keep your distance from negative events and developments. After all, even in catastrophic permanent crises, no one can constantly mourn and suffer. It is therefore advisable to strictly limit the daily media consumption of negative news and reports in TV, newspapers and the Internet.

Question your surfing behavior, especially on social networks. What interests do social networks have? They want you to stay on their site for as long as possible, so that they can use the data and advertising revenue they generate for themselves. To do this, a bubble is created around you, which repeatedly presents the content you have seen, often in a slightly different form. As a result, once generated opinions and views are repeated and reinforced in a self-contained system, so that negative content is no longer questioned and suddenly becomes a certainty. Breaking free from these self-reinforcing negative spirals becomes more and more difficult the longer you stay.

You should also get a chronological overview of other leisure activities. It is best to write down in detail for a week how often and for how long you do certain activities. If necessary, reduce these times considerably and take fixed "time out" for it.

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