Need for Attention

Most people enjoy it when they are the center of attention. It is nice for the individual to have other people who are interested in them. For some people this desire for attention can drive them to actively seek it using maladaptive behaviors. Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs may resort to attention seeking behavior as a type of coping mechanism. They can also use this type of behavior as a means to manipulate other people. It is important that once people become sober they find more appropriate coping mechanisms.

Attention Seeking Behavior Defined

Attention seeking behavior refers to situations where people use excessive or inappropriate behaviors in order to gain attention. It will also usually be the case that such individuals will regularly engage in such undesirable behavior. This type of attention seeking is viewed negatively because it can lead to problems for the individual and other people.

Examples of Attention Seeking Behavior

Examples of attention seeking behavior can include:

* Bragging about achievements and personal skills.
* Bullying other people either physically or emotionally.
* The individual can abuse their authority and power in order to show people how important they are.
* This need to sort out other people’s problems. When the individual takes on the role of a rescuer it means that the spotlight is on them.
* Becoming a drama queen. This means that the individual turns everything into a deal where they at the center of things.
* It can involve manipulating loved ones to deliberately create problems. This could involve things like spreading lies about one of their friends to get them into trouble with other friends.
* The individual may complain about nonexistent health problems in order to get attention. This is usually referred to as Munchausen Syndrome
* Munchausen by Proxy is where the individual creates health problems for their dependents in order to gain attention. In extreme cases a parent my even poison their child or cause other damage.
* Munchausen by Internet is where people go to online forums or chat rooms and pretend to have serious illnesses. This type of attention seeking behavior is becoming increasingly common because it is so easy to deceive people this way.
* Another type of attention seeking behavior is false confessions. This can include people who go to the police to admit to crimes they have not committed.
* Some people try to gain attention by being the busy bee. In work they will always want other people to view them as the hardest worker – they can act like a martyr because of this.
* Some people will resort to poisoning the minds of other people in order to cause drama that they can be involved in.
* The individual may falsely claim to be a victim of sexual or physical abuse in order to gain attention.
* They may manipulate other people into attacking them so that they can claim victimhood.
* Dominating conversations.
* Wearing clothes that are highly unusual or noticeable in an attempt to seek attention. This may include sexy clothing or even clothes that are highly unflattering.
* Streaking refers to the activity of taking clothes off in a public place. This can sometimes involve running naked in front of a large crowd of people.

Dangers of Attention Seeking Behavior

Attention seeking behavior can be dangerous because:

* The individual may become willing to put their own health in danger in an attempt to seek attention.
* Those who engage in this type of behavior can find it difficult to develop lasting and meaningful relationships. Other people will find them to be too demanding and hard to be around.
* This behavior is usually the symptom of some underlying problem that needs to be dealt with so that the individual can live a more fulfilling life.
* Attention seeking behavior such as bullying and Munchausen by proxy can be very damaging to other people.
* The person engaged in this type of behavior can deliberately stir up conflict among other people.
* Attention seeking behavior is usually an infective coping mechanism. So long as the individual continues to use this as a means to deal with their problems they will be missing out on more effective tools.

Reasons for Attention Seeking Behavior

There can be a number of reasons for why the individual is engaging in attention seeking behavior such as:

* The individual is dealing with low self esteem. They inwardly feel that if they do not demand attention that people may ignore them altogether.
* Some people feel incredibly lonely and they use this behavior as a means to feel more connected to other people. Even if the individual spends a great deal of time around other individuals they can still experience loneliness.
* The individual needs attention in order to feel like a valuable person. This is because their self worth depends on the evaluations of other people and this is a type of emotional immaturity.
* People can pick up ineffective coping mechanisms in childhood. They can continue to use these strategies in adulthood because they believe they work.
* Some individuals have issues with jealously. They do not like it when the attention is on other people so they attempt to steal the limelight.
* There are some people who do manage to use attention seeking effectively to get what they want. They are working on the principle that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
* Many people who are prone to attention seeking behavior suffer from a mental health condition known as narcissistic personality disorder. This involves an inflated sense of self importance and feelings of superiority.

Attention Seeking Behavior and the Addictive Personality

The addictive personality refers to a set of character traits that are frequently associated to addiction. Not every addict will have all of these characteristics but it is still a useful description of the individual. One of the most common traits of the addictive personality is attention seeking behavior and other characteristics include:

* Low self esteem
* The addict usually feels like they are alienated from other people.
* High tolerance for deviant behavior
* A tendency to act impulsively without any thought to the consequences of their behavior.
* Tendencies which can be described as antisocial.
* Symptoms of depression
* Symptoms of anxiety
* A great deal of insecurity in relationships
* Difficulty with delaying gratification
* They will tend to value nonconformity and rebelliousness.
* The individual will subjectively believe that they are dealing with a high degree of stress in their life.

Attention Seeking Behavior in Recovery

Even after the individual has escaped their addiction they can still be influenced by their addictive personality. This is why one of the goals when people become sober is to begin overcoming these character flaws. If the individual fails to do this they will find that maladaptive actions such as attention seeking behavior will continue to get them into trouble. People are not going to be able to overcome their negative personality traits overnight, but slowly over time they will be able to chip away at them. The important first step is to recognize that these behaviors are ineffective and counterproductive.

How to Overcome Attention Seeking Behavior in Recovery

Attention seeking behavior is an ineffective coping strategy and it can lead to all sorts of undesirable consequences. The individual can overcome this extreme need for attention by:

* The individual needs to stop associating their self worth with the evaluations of other people. This can be achieved by increasing self esteem.
* Self esteem may be increased by achieving success in life. Small successes in the beginning lead to bigger successes later on – the fact that the individual has escaped their addiction is a fine success to begin with.
* As the individual begins to face the challenges that come their way in recovery, they will begin to develop emotional sobriety. This means that they will be happy in their own skin and no longer feel a need to be the center of attention.
* Addicts tend to be self absorbed and this can increase the need for attention. One way to overcome such self absorption is to spend more time thinking about other people.
* If the individual finds it difficult to overcome this need to always be the center of attention they might benefit from some therapy. The therapist will be help the client find the cause of this heightened desire for attention and guide the individual towards more effective coping mechanisms.