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The Reality Behind Strange Addictions

A couple days ago I was over at my boyfriend’s house.

He has cable television – I do not.

This is probably a good thing, since every time we turn on the tube at his place, I am instantly sucked in.

This last time we ended up watching a show called “My Strange Addiction.”

It was actually a marathon, so we watched several shows on this topic all in a row.

I couldn’t say if the addictions got more or less strange as the hours unfolded. But what I can say for sure is I probably qualify to be a guest on the show, and so does my pet parrot.

Here are some of the addictions the people on the show had: drinking paint, eating dirt, chewing tire rubber, dressing up as a horse for something called “pony play,” using Vicks’ VapoRub (for practically everything), cross-dressing using silicone costumes complete with breasts and face masks, hugging inflatable pool toys, getting butt injections….and these are just the ones I can remember. 

Here are some of my addictions: collecting stuffed animals, taking photos of my pet parrot and my pet tortoise, buying thrift store clothes and trying to customize them, cleaning my house, flat-ironing my hair, keeping my fingernail/toenail paint perfect, watching “Burn Notice” (a TV show about an out-of-work CIA spy).

Here are some of my pet parrot’s addictions: eating waffles (yup, you read that right), shrieking, nesting in his felt Easter basket, shredding anything wicker, ripping up paper towels, whistling at himself in the mirror.

As far as the show “My Strange Addiction” goes, I guess one of my principle concerns is the use of the word “strange.” My other principle concern is the use of the word “addiction.”

This goes back to the chicken-or-egg question of whether any of us are really NOT strange. If there is anyone who is “normal,” that person or group of persons would be the barometer against which the rest of us would then be measured.

But since, over my nearly 45 years to date, I have yet to meet anyone who self-identifies as “normal,” I have to assume we all think we’re a little strange….secretly or (as in the case of the show guests) not so secretly.

As well, what precisely turns a “habit” into an “addiction?” I do practically everything on my list every day. My parrot also does everything on his list practically every day. The people on the show didn’t always do their addictions every day (for instance, the paint lady only did hers about once per week).

So is it frequency? Level of danger or risk? How few or many other people also do that same habit or addiction? The opinion of the show producers? The opinion of the viewers? The opinion of the show guests?

I mean, some of the addictions made my jaw drop. But I suspect the next time I see that same addiction or something similar, I won’t be as shocked. In time, if I see it enough, I might not be shocked at all.

More relevant, perhaps – what I saw on the show is two groups of people – one group engaged in higher risk addictions or habits, and one group engaged in lower risk addictions or habits.

As well, I saw two groups (not always comprised of the same people as the former two groups) – one group who wanted to stop doing what they were doing, and one group who didn’t want to stop.

Finally, I saw one group of people who had an easy time stopping what they were doing when they tried, and one group who struggled to stop when they tried.

And underneath it all, I saw an oh-so-common laundry list of reasons why the addictions first started – from loss of a loved one to attempts to manage anxiety, a desire for self-expression not met in other ways or an experience of pure joy not replicated elsewhere.

If these people are strange, well then I’m strange too. Oh so strange.

And perhaps even weirder is this – I feel totally okay with that.

Today’s Takeaway: Obvious risk factors aside (in no way shape or form am I advocating for eating dirt or drinking paint!), how “strange” would you say you are on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being basically “normal” and 10 being “really strange”)? Can you identify in any way with any of the “addictions” the show guests had? Would you ever agree to be a guest on a show like “My Strange Addiction?”

Dirt in a spoon photo available from Shutterstock

The Reality Behind Strange Addictions

Shannon Cutts


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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2018). The Reality Behind Strange Addictions. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2015/11/the-reality-behind-strange-addictions/

 

Last updated: 3 Dec 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Dec 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.