‘Escapism: It can’t be that bad…’ 

Seungyeon Lee, Staff Writer

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming or getting lost in a story? Well there might be a reason behind this. Escapism is the tendency/coping mechanism to search for distractions such as reading or daydreaming to distract themselves from their brutally honest reality. This may or may not be caused by trauma or loneliness, but it isn’t always a bad thing as everyone has done it at least once in their lives. Escapism only becomes a problem as soon as it starts to be overused; causing people to forget about their daily necessities like eating, washing, or being active.                     

The better part of escapism is stress relief. Specifically focusing on escapism through reading, it is proven to reduce the most stress. According to studies, reading can relieve stress by almost 70% and faster than listening to music and any other relaxation methods. This is because reading stories like fantasy or other “unrealistic” genres can create a fictional world free of worries and stressors, helping a person to forget about or to distract themselves from something that may have been stressing them out. Research has also shown that people who read as a form of escapism has a better ability to feel empathy,  most of the time only temporarily. There is also something called bibliotherapy which as the name suggests, is a reading therapy. A Research institute examined a two week reading group that had been diagnosed with depression for 12 months and found that their mental health had improved greatly. 

The less ideal part of escapism is the denying of reality. Although ignoring your problems and looking towards the fictional world may feel nice, this can only cause these problems to grow.  It has been found that escapism can make people less wanting to interact with others, making them lonelier and more antisocial. Escapism isn’t a cure to depression. Most people who use escapism as a coping mechanism are diagnosed with depression, and because escapism is only a temporary distraction, a person’s unwillingness to solve this problem grows therefore making it worse.

 Studies have also shown that not only does the person’s problems start to grow, but so does their depressive symptoms such as, loss of interests and disturbance of sleep. Another source shows that because escapism is something someone can always turn to in tough times, it was found to be somewhat addictive. This means that if their use of escapism gets excessive, it would be hard to get out of, especially on people who use maladaptive daydreaming which doesn’t require anything but their imagination. 

The causes of the use of escapism vary from ptsd, anxiety, to depression, but sometimes, escapism can be the cause of these things. Most of the time, the main reason for these things are an abusive or separated family, as the child finds out about the world of their imagination and fiction as they start to use their imagination or the internet to imagine a better world/life where they wouldn’t be in such situations. The main forms of escapism are daydreaming, reading, drawing, or just being on the internet. Although these are the main form of escapism where it is easier to see where excessive use can go wrong, but other forms of escapism like working out, it is hard to see, because working out is normally seen as a healthy thing to strengthen oneself, it can affect your physical as well as your mental wellbeing (muscle strain, burnout, and body dysmorphia.)

Escapism is not an uncommon thing, and it doesn’t make anyone weird, in fact, escapism is way better than and more effective than a lot of other unhealthy coping mechanisms. But as mentioned before, these things only become a problem when it becomes excessive. After reading this article, if you also frequently turn to escapism, think about and check if your use of escapism is becoming or already is excessive or unhealthy. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are using escapism excessively please find professional help instead of just searching for answers on the internet.