By Trace Embry
What is Anhedonia? That question can be answered with a question. Have you noticed how many teens can barely walk from point A to point B without wearing headphones today?
Or, how about a family of five sitting in a restaurant together and all are engaging with someone else, or something else, other than their family via their tablet or smart phone?
These situations are not uncommon in today’s culture. The implications for relationships are obvious; but, few know what to call this phenomenon or what to do about it. And even fewer have pondered the devastating implications of it for individuals, families, the church, or for the culture at large.
So, What is Anhedonia?
I have written extensively on this subject. You can find more articles on anhedonia below.
According to Dr. Archibald Hart, in his book Thrilled to Death anhedonia is a destruction of the pleasure center in the brain.
Many mental health care professionals understand it only as a manifestation of depression. Sadly; as a result, they are mistakenly prescribing medications that too often only complicate the problem.
Dr. Hart writes that anhedonia is also a condition independent of depression. It comes largely from the over stimulation of pleasurable and exciting activities along with multitasking.
The brain was never designed to handle the degree of stimuli that so many Americans today indulge in for so often and for so long. Media and entertainment consumption is so engrained into our culture that only a few even question its devastating implications. Those who do question the implications are made to look like Neanderthals or worse for even bringing it up—even though science is on our side.
Results of Anhedonia
The problem is that a teen’s excitement and adrenaline level must be regularly amped up until the very thing that used to bring him pleasure now bores him to tears.
As a result:
- Self destruction
These symptoms appear to be the natural progression in this climb to the pinnacle of anhedonia.
A teen’s insatiable pursuit of pleasure and excitement often leads to habits and addictions—too often sinful or harmful addictions. But, an anhedonic teen can also be addicted to things that are otherwise healthy, such as food, exercise, music, technology, etc.
What seems to be capturing this generation is an addiction to technology and the excitement and pleasure it brings – virtually around the clock–i.e., smartphones, video games, movies, and social media.
As Junior engages in endless pursuits of technology at home, parents falsely assume that because Junior isn’t pursuing sinful vices on the streets that they can breathe easy. Unfortunately, these gadgets are too often being used for warping the minds, emotions, and spirits of those captivated by them.
Unhealthy attitudes, behaviors, and relationships result–rivaling that of other vices. We aren’t used to the idea that too much of even a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing.
Further Reading on Anhedonia
- I highly recommend picking up Dr. Hart’s book Thrilled to Death
- We were recently privileged to interview Dr. Hart. You can listen to the broadcast Digital Invasion here
- Also, Shepherds Hill Academy was a part of the 2012 documentary Captivated the Movie
- I have also written a 3 part series of articles entitled Understanding Anhedonia Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
What are some signs and symptoms your family may be experiencing from Anhedonia?