The Negative Effects of Escapism

Written by anne kemp
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The Negative Effects of Escapism
Watching television is just one example of escapism. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

In today's world with smartphones, television shows and movies abound, escaping from reality is common. While these activities are both enjoyable and fun, there are negative effects from shutting reality out. Not dealing with real-life issues in a healthy manner has the potential for causing long-term damage in many areas of one's life. Understanding these effects and knowing when to seek help are important factors when seeking a solution.

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Escapism is defined by Merriam-Webster as a "habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine." Whether escaping from a current situation for a few moments or a few hours, reality is always there, but escapism for some is a tool used for regrouping after a turbulent or traumatic life event. Escapism can be negative if the person escaping from reality refuses to deal with the seriousness of a situation, thus choosing denial instead.

Examples of Escapism

There are many forms of escape. The Internet, online games, reading, watching television, going to the movies, drug use, overeating, and shopping have all been cited as tools of escapism. Some people chose escaping instead of dealing with the reality of a relationship, job, home-life circumstance, health of a loved one, or even death of someone close. Daydreaming has also been linked with escapism in adults and children alike.


Instead of believing she is powerful, the escapist can feel like a victim. Burnout and stress are known factors in escaping. Becoming more mindful of day-to-day activities and not letting them build up is one way for nipping escapism in the bud. Others rely on the help of a therapist for combating the negative effects of escapism in daily life. Taking it one step at a time helps relieve the burden. For example, if television is the vice, consider stopping cable service for a period of time while getting life back under control.


Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can also play roles leading up to escapism, so it's best if a professional takes charge for the mental health of anyone involved. Negative escapism can be daunting and once in the depression of this, the person involved may not be able to see how bad his or her life is. In extreme cases, suggest therapy if this is affecting a close friend or family member.

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