Attention Addiction

I recently heard about this possibility – that it’s possible to become addicted to attention in much the same way someone can become addicted to smoking or drinking.

All people need attention – some more than others. It’s possible to not get enough attention and that comes with some issues. Do you know anyone like this? Someone that needs attention? Someone that is addicted to attention?

But as I took a deeper look into possibility, and it was interesting what I found.

As far as I understand it – every individual has a different level of attention that they need in order to maintain the quality and sustainability of life. We all need attention. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t need it – but we don’t all need the same levels of attention.

Some require very little

Others require a tremendous amount, but what I’m talking about here is that person who is addicted to it. There are those that need more attention than most – like quite a bit more.

But it’s not a flaw or even necessarily a bad thing. Those that need an excessive amount of attention or are addicted to it – probably have it as a brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect. So the more needs that are neglected as a child – the more the child sees getting attention as survival and safety. Their brains wire for them to seek attention no matter what. So attention is survival to someone that is seemingly addicted to it.

So when you started reading this post and started thinking badly about the person that came to mind when I asked if you knew someone like this – keep in mind that they probably experienced some early developmental trauma and their seeking attention is survival.

Let me know if you want to know how to help them.

4 thoughts on “Attention Addiction

  1. Hey brother, what a good word! It made me think of what I heard about Stephen King, and the way he writes. Apparently, no matter how small a character or insignificant a part that the character plays in any of his books, he writes them in from their perspective, with the understanding that for this person, the entire world revolves around them. This helps and become that character and build the character based on what he thinks their perspective might be of themselves. Genius!

    I was thinking about my own life when I was reading this post. I have found myself needing less and less attention over the years. I’m not sure if that is just because I’m getting older or what. But, when you and I knew each other years ago I put a great deal of stock in people knowing how “important” I was. I think I’m starting to get over that now, LOL.


  2. Here are a few thoughts…..
    – You still need attention, but what that looks like has changed.
    – Your audience has changed.
    – You are not impacting hundreds – you now impact those that impact hundreds.
    – Your attention seeking has matured, and I don’t think you’re addicted to attention.

  3. This is really interesting! How would you determine if someone is addicted to attention or just in need of a little more than others? I work with 6th-12th graders. Would you say that by 6th grade this tendency for attention addiction is already set or is it possible that it is still developing, and therefore, could be prevented? Also, unlike other forms of addiction, such as alcoholism, one can’t completely avoid attention, nor would it be healthy or appropriate to withhold attention from someone addicted to it. Growing up my dad would tell me, “Ignore them. They are just trying to get attention”, which I learned from the boys on the playground, only made them try harder! I have heard that refocusing the attention helps. For instance, if someone is trying to get attention by being funny, you can compliment them for something kind they have done. If someone is trying to get attention for their looks, you can praise them for something smart or interesting they have said or done. Curious about your thoughts on this!

    1. Hi Amber, Thank you for reading and writing a comment. I want to start by saying that I am not a psychologist. I read a few articles and just use my research and my study to write something so I wanted to start with that. I did use a bunch of developmental psych when working on my research. I absolutely get what you’re asking as far as knowing the difference between it being an addiction and it just being developmental. According to the research that I read – the Attention Addiction is born out of childhood trauma. The research also indicated that if someone truly had this addiction – that they couldn’t necessarily get rid of it but that it was manageable. But ultimately, to answer your question – a psychologist with the right tools and expertise can truly determine. What you describe with the 6th grader makes sense – and it can be developmental or an addiction. I’m sure it looks the same. It could also be cognitive development and how they’re moving into more abstract thinking and trying stuff out. I like what you said about complimenting and affirming accordingly. I guess it’s different for every kid. I’m not currently working with 6th-12th graders – but I guess my follow up question would be – is it consistent attention seeking or just every now and then? Are there any signs of that childhood trauma where not getting attention might seem ‘unsafe’ for them? It’s so complex isn’t it? I guess you’d need to know that history in order to fully determine whether it was an addiction or just developmental or just fun. I would also ask about the safety issue as well – but once again, I’m not a psychologist. Thank you so much for this. If you do get better answers, please let me know. I’ll have to ask some of my psychologist friends to see what they would say about it.

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