Does your teenager struggle with going from point A to point B without wearing headphones? Does he seem easily bored, lethargic, self absorbed, and lack critical constructive and creative thinking abilities? Does it seem that his level of entertainment and excitement constantly needs to be amped up to keep peace in your home? Do things that used to interest him interest him no longer?
Finding a solution to these problems may be easier to obtain than you think. To start, you must make yourself familiar with a condition known as Anhedonia; because, it is affecting virtually our entire nation.
When I talk on the subject of anhedonia, and its implications for family, church, and our culture, I am often met with people staring at me as if I were a wood carving. But, understanding it, and applying boundaries in your home to help manage it, will help you and your family in a number of different ways–especially your relationship with the Lord.
In his book, Thrilled to Death, Dr. Archibald Hart unpacks the subject of Anhedonia. He speaks to the dangers of multitasking and our nation’s preoccupation with pleasure—and what it’s doing to us as a people—our teens and families in particular. For a more in depth understanding of anhedonia check out his book. Also, for further insights, you can listen to my interview with Dr. Hart.
Most in the medical and mental health field understand anhedonia as a symptom of depression, schizophrenia, or drug addiction. Anhedonia is a destruction of the pleasure center in the brain that doesn’t allow a person to experience pleasure from the things of life that should bring pleasure.
However, there is what I call a 21st century anhedonia that, according to Dr. Archibald Hart, is now affecting 80% of the American public. It’s just a matter of degree.
Anhedonia in Today’s Culture
I call it 21st century anhedonia because it is not brought on by the things that doctors understand about the subject. It is brought on largely because of the constant multitasking that today’s fast-paced and “pleasure me into imbecility” society has produced by way of screens, keyboards, and a multitude of other digital devices.
Identifying What is Contributing to Anhedonia
Digital devices dominate the daily lives of today’s society to the point that we’ve become insatiable for the information, amusement, and excitement they bring our way. What we don’t realize is that it’s slowly destroying our critical, constructive, and creative thinking capacities to the point of making our entire nation ripe for a dumbing down never before seen in the history of the world! Unfortunately, it is affecting our kids the most. Their brains are being wired up like computers for computers.
The human brain was never designed to be constantly stimulated to the degree it is today. Philip Telfer with mediatalk101.org provides a better understanding of this point in his documentary Captivated.
Today, we are certainly more informed as a people–more than any time in history. However, we are losing our ability to do anything productive with the information we have acquired, because of our propensity for pleasure-seeking activities–opportunities proliferated by growing numbers of digital devices. It’s really like any other addiction.
Can you identify areas in your family where anhedonic symptoms are present?