The binge watching
At the end of last year, alongside terms like binge eating or binge drinking, the definition of binge watching also appeared. For the most curious readers, or for those who recognize themselves in this category, let’s see how the profile of the binge watcher appear.
But what are we talking about?
The first of the two mentioned above, while not appearing in the official diagnostic manual for mental disorders, is well known to the psychologists in the context of behaviors associated with eating disorders.
Binge drinking is an increasingly widespread risk behaviour among young drinkers.
Binge watching belongs to the behavioral addictions and consists of an addiction to tv series. The word binge,indicates that the person have an excessive consumption of an object/substance/behavior. This class of disorders has not yet been classified in the official textbooks of psychopathology. This is due to the lack of studies that describe prevalence and incidence data, indications to treatment and rates of effectiveness of the interventions.
Nonetheless they represent a tangible reality in clinical activity and with worthy of attention consequences . In binge watching, the individual spends more and more time in front of the screen, making actual binge of tv series. Thus taking away time from other activities and undergoing psycho-physiological effects such as attention and concentration deficits, insomnia, weight gain. Also the amount of time consumed to watch series hinders productivity in other important areas of working and relational life.
The interesting aspect in behavioral addictions is that they present a symptomatology similar to that of drug addictions. We may find abstinence effects and craving , which manifest through anxious-depressive symptoms and irritability. The consequences on a functional, social and working level can have worrying proportions. In a nutshell, there are many of the symptoms of a substance abuse disorder. There is no real tolerance. This is probably because the dependence is established by an indirect way, and not by infusion of agents in the bloodstream.
What does trigger a behavioural addiction?
Substances and behavioural addictions are related to the same nervous circuits. These are located, generally, in the prefrontal lobes and carry out the function of regulating the reward mechanism. This is responsible for the release of cerebral dopamine, which causes the sensation of pleasure associated with the intake.
Even activities less extreme than drug use activate this process. Sexual activity and orgasm, shopping, food. Watching a TV show. When we sit in front of the TV (or in front of the computer) we perceive a feeling of relaxation. The tensions of the day disappear. We feel a distance from the worries that have plagued us just until before.
This lead to a classic conditioning effect. Through a negative reinforcement, linked to the lowering of the tension and the reduction of anxiety or agitation, it is possible in some cases to result in an addiction.
In short terms, like all the disadaptive processes, this behavior is functional to the management of negative emotional states, we may also think of loneliness, sadness, sense of abandonment.
Who can say that at least once in our life have turned on the TV because was feeling lonely in the house, even without looking at it, or has not reviewed several times the same movie for a kind of affection? In the long run this behavior could evolve into a habit difficult to interrupt.
Binge watching therapy
As in the case of other behavioral dependencies, initially the focus of therapy is on the craving, or on the search for occasions where you can binge of episodes.
At the same time the work focuses on the dfunction of the addiction.
“TV consoles me, makes me company, helps me reflect on myself”
Why is so important to me not to ever feel lonely? Where did I learned that I cannot be alone? ecc ecc…These are possible target for an EMDR intervention, leading to reprocessing the negative emotions, beliefs, and sesnsations associated with these kind of memory along the story of the patient.
Leaving these memories in the past, once their are reprocessed, lead to a new positive perspective in the patient, allowing to feel a pleasent sensation in loneliness, with no need to fill it with the addiction.