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Conspiracy Theory Addiction

In a time of stress and uncertainty, conspiracy theories and predictions of doom circulate among people at all educational levels from all walks of life – wreaking havoc, threatening safety, and causing the death of innocent people. These unfounded theories spread among communities, terrorist groups, and violent extremists as seen in 2018 and 2019 when political figures received pipe bombs, worshippers were killed in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, and patrons and employees of a local eatery suffered at the hands of a theorist. History tells us “when countries are gripped in plagues, plunged into financial crisis, or immersed in catastrophic or climatic events, trust in traditional media and government agencies declines”.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new. Historically communicated through gossip and print, today’s misinformation and shared beliefs can be found in newspapers and magazines, on TV, on the radio, and over the internet. Today there are media organizations, false news organizations, and free and pay radio stations dedicated to the proliferation of false beliefs. “Research has shown misinformation tends to spread faster and more widely than factual information, making the internet a fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories.”

Conspiracy theories start with disbelief in conventional wisdom. When these beliefs are tied to racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, religious, or political identity, they can be addictive and highly resistant to change, because theorists find it impossible to control their compulsion to indulge in conspirative activities. “Researchers have found some people bolster their social identity with the conspiracy theories they ascribe to,” making them popular, famous, and well known. The licensed counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services can diagnose and treat addictive behavior in children, teens, adolescents, adults, and seniors.

What is Conspiracy Theory Addiction?

Conspiracy Theory Addiction is a non-substance behavioral addiction. Behavioral addictions are defined as behaviors a patient craves or becomes dependent on. Conspiracy theorists find propagating misinformation and belonging to groups who spread conspiracies calming and often euphoric. “Since we can’t just dismiss conspiracy theories as insignificant, we need to understand the psychological factors that make them so appealing to so many people.” Researchers within the psychiatric community found specific emotions, coupled with a need for ‘cognitive closure’ makes people prone to baseless theories, such as the idea that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax or the 9/11 attack was orchestrated by the U.S. government. Cognitive Closure, a psychological term, is the desire to find an explanation, or obtain a straight answer, be it true or false.

Who Is At Risk of Conspiracy Theory Addiction?

People with certain personality traits are more likely to suffer cognitive bias, a reduction in one’s capacity to think analytically. Often attributed to symptoms of melancholia, extreme loneliness, an inability to accept what is real, and failure to control one’s environment, cognitive biases influence the ways in which people process information. Early research shows the tendency to purposely make an error in thinking or reasoning is associated with neglect, poverty, the lack of socialization, pre-existing beliefs, lower levels of education, disenfranchisement, and/or mental illness. Seeking safety and longing for control, this deviation from rational thinking, or purposely making an error in reasoning, motivates a theorist to spread the word, seek like-minded people, and assist others in finding meaning. Conspiracy theorists feel good about themselves, their non-substance addictive behavior, the people they reach, and the groups they belong to. Researchers report non-substance addictive behavior can cause chronic stress, volatile emotions, anxiety, trauma, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, promiscuity, substance abuse, and criminal activities. The Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of professionals can meet the specific needs of patients displaying non-substance behavioral addictions, behavior disorders, and mental illnesses.

Highly debated, many identify symptoms of non-substance addiction as signs of a chemical behavior disorder, or mental illness. And although feeling anxious or fearful, an inability to exert control, low self-esteem, a sense of not belonging, alienation, and the need to make sense of life events, can be signs of trauma, stress, or a mental illness, these symptoms have been identified in patients addicted to conspiracy theories. Can conspiracy theories be true? Yes, some theories through research have been found to be true, however, 99% of conspiracy theories have proven to be false.

Meet with A Conspiracy Theory Addiction Counselor Today

Coronavirus, unemployment, insecurity, health concerns, loss of income, loss of savings, record breaking hurricane and fire seasons, working from home, wearing masks, social distancing, kids in school, kids out of school – it can all be too much. Let us help. Searching the internet for answers is not the answer to living the lives you were meant to live. Call Improving Lives Counseling Services today or book an appointment online. We offer individual, couples, family, and group counseling sessions in virtual (online) and in-person social distancing sessions. You are not alone. Call us.