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This is a bit of a long post, so please bear with me.

I'm posting here something that I wrote for the 2012hoax.org forum at http://www.2012hoax.org/forum/t-402216#post-1284686

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Co-dependency, enabling, and anxiety addiction


First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist. I didn't study psychology in school. I am a complete layperson when it comes to psychology, so please read the rest of this post with that in mind.

I have been sitting here contemplating a trend that I have seen on 2012hoax.org for quite some time. Many different kinds of people visit the site, and for various reasons and goals. We get everything from our 'target audience' (which I initially defined as kids to young adults scared by the 2012 doomsday rumors), to the inevitable trolls (defined loosely as people making provocative statements with the goal of obtaining an emotional response), as well as the advocates who would like to argue with us.

However, a good portion of the people who post to our forums fall under a different category, which I will loosely define as 'addicted to anxiety' (I have no idea whether this is a concept that has any validity within the psychology community, but it appears to be a real phenomenon to me). These are the people who will continually bring up new topics, frequently with just a link and a plea (e.g., "Please debunk this site, it is scaring me").

Some of the characteristics I see in these kinds of posts:

1) Repeatedly bringing up the same topic referenced by different sites: If we are asked to debunk "Nibiru" on site A, then frequently these posters will bring up sites B, C, D, … (n) until someone gets fed up. If our evidence that Nibiru can't possibly exist as described by the proponents is good enough for site A, then it is also good enough for every other site that makes the same claim.

2) Emotional Blackmail: Frequently these posters will state how scared they are, that they are shaking, or vomiting, or can't sleep, and can we please, Please, PLEASE help them right away oh god I'm so frightened I can't think what should I do oh please help me now!

Granted, the entire reason for the site is to provide information to people who ARE frightened. But using tactics like the over-the-top emotional appeal above is an attempt to manipulate the people who have dedicated their time and effort to answering questions.

3) Asking questions that have been thoroughly addressed in the pages: Frequently the forum is the apparent first-port-of-call for these posters, and they will ask questions that are clearly addressed by pages linked in the sidebar (e.g., "Can the poles shift? Will it cause earthquakes?"). Sometimes it seems like they refuse to believe something unless a live person types it into a response to their specific question.

As I said above, I have no idea of whether or not an "addiction to anxiety" is a recognized disorder, or whether the concept has any validity within the psychology community. I did happen across an article by a UCLA professor of Psychiatry which appears to support the idea that it is a common occurrence.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201104/are-you-addicted-anxiety-learn-how-not-be

This leads me to ask another question about my own behavior; Am I the 'enabler' in a co-dependent relationship with these people?

I frequently get frustrated when 'regulars' go off on new posters. I don't like it when that happens, it makes the forums seem callous and mean. However, the opposite could quite easily be said about me (and a few other posters), in that we are too patient, especially with the "anxiety addicted" posters. I will frequently go too far in answering their questions patiently, over and over again. I've even wound up being engaged with some of them in email discussions off of the forum. So it seems that so-called 'Tough Love' is appropriate for some of these cases.

Being 'codependent' is something that comes out of various forms of physical addition. In that context, the codependent is someone who is in a relationship with someone who has an addiction (primarily substance abuse) who acts in a care-taking role. This in turn "enables" (hence the term 'enabler') the addicted person to keep pursuing their addiction. The role of the enabler harms the addicted person by allowing them to stay addicted, rather than letting them hit bottom and begin the process of recovery.

I recently recognized that I had allowed several people to ask questions via email, and that I was allowing that to continue. This had a cumulative effect on me, where I felt obligated to reply, but also forced me to bear the brunt of their emotional needs (or emotional blackmail, if you will). I have a day job, I have a family life, and I have my own hobbies. All of these are obligations that I have (my work, my family, my own emotional well-being) and that should take priority over anything that happens with people I don't know, and have never met. However, I was allowing myself to be emotionally manipulated by these requests, to the point where I was allowing it to intrude on my other obligations. In addition, I was answering the same questions, from the same people, over and over again. So it appears that the answer to my question is "Yes", I was in fact acting as an 'enabler'.

I hesitate to describe these people in derogatory terms (after all, I consider them to be victims of the 2012 doomsday hoax), but I was allowing them to act as parasites, feeding off of the support I was giving them. This is not true for all of the people that I have communicated with offline, by the way, but rather only for the ones who behaved in the ways I describe above.

So, perhaps the best way to describe this post is that I have had an epiphany regarding my own co-dependent behavior, and that I need to recognize early on when someone is heading down the road to using me as their enabler in an anxiety addiction. As a result, I am no longer engaging anyone in offline conversations about 2012. If they need a question answered, they can do it on the forum.

What do you think? What other kinds of behavior have you seen, and does it fall under either the 'enabler' or 'anxiety addiction' label?
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