Escapism is psychological self-protection gone rogue

Escapism is psychological self-protection gone rogue


In the world of biology, the immune system
is a system that is there to protect an organism by attacking outside invaders, pathogens,
diseases, to protect the organism. But when there’s an autoimmune disease, that
is when the immune system overreacts and applies its power too much, so that it actually harms
the body that it is intended to protect. So I’m going to use that as a very crude metaphor
for something that can happen in the psyche, and if there are any biology people, maybe
they can correct this analogy and adjust it. But I see self-protection mechanisms like
escapism as being part of a kind of psychological immune system, where we are protecting ourselves. A part of our minds is attempting to protect
itself. We feel threatened, we feel uncomfortable,
we feel something is off, and so we look for something that can be comforting, soothing,
and supporting, and make us feel better. And that’s not in itself a bad thing at all. We do need some kind of system like that. And, of course, the most basic system that
does that is sleep. Sleep, a fundamental part of every organism
like us. We need to sleep, and just see what happens
when we delay sleep. The kind of stress effects that happen, the
kind of mental overload and the bodily breakdown that happens very quickly without sleep shows
us that sleep has an essential function to give us a break, to protect us from this overload,
to allow us to refresh. All the behaviours that can be considered
part of escapism can also be considered to be part of that function, the function of
protecting ourselves, of giving us some relief. But when these behaviors are taken too far,
or become overly depended upon, that’s where I make this analogy to the autoimmune disorder,
where the immune system that’s there to help us ends up attacking us, so that the very
behaviours that we first started in order to protect our psyches and support ourselves
become the sources of new threat and new damage to ourselves, so that we’re actually hurting
ourselves using the tools that we used to help ourselves. That’s how I see what happened with me with
escapism. All the activities of escapism are fun, and
provide great relief, but when they become too strong and too much a central part of
life, they really attack everything. They’re meant to attack the intruder and attack
the pathogen, but they end up attacking healthy tissue. They attack healthy time, so that not only
when I’m in need of a break and can use the support, they’ll be there, but also when I
am healthy and during time that could be put to useful work, in either living my life or
building towards future life, these times, the escapist behaviours are there too. And escapism attacks our time, just in the
way that you could say an immune system would attack a bodily tissue. So it may be a bit of a stretch of a metaphor,
but the essence of it is that these these things, these these habits of escapism, are
not in themselves bad. They are helpful tools that can support us. But when they are out of proportion, when
they lose the original, specific, limited proportion and start to become general habits
in our lives, they then attack the most important thing we have, which is our time and energy
to do real life.

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