That television you watch every day, your secret best friend, is an addictive opiate. It’s one of the most potent mind control devices ever produced. Don’t be too surprised if TV addicts discover they need help of addiction recovery counselors one day.
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CCLE Vol.2 Issue 2, pp.59-66 | The Journal Of Cognitive Liberties
Alright junkies, I know you don’t like staring at long strands of motionless text, and I know it’s a struggle for you to analyze and comprehend the meaning of complex sequences of words. But if you give me just a few minutes, I will let you in on a little secret that marketers and governments have been relying on for decades. That television you watch every day, your secret best friend, is an addictive opiate, and not only that, it’s one of the most potent mind control devices ever produced. And I’m not just basing this on intuition. I have the neurological evidence to prove it.
Although the definitions are vague and somewhat misleading, the word ‘addiction’ usually refers to a psychological or physical dependence on a particular experience that must be repeated in order for a person to be comfortable. Usually, we think about this in terms of chemical addiction, which occurs when the addict’s chemical of choice reorganizes the nervous system so that it requires the presence of that chemical to operate smoothly.
Of course, not all addictions are chemical. Any behavior that leads to a pleasurable experience will be repeated, especially if that behavior requires little work. Psychologists call this pattern ‘positive reinforcement.’ This is what we mean, technically speaking, by addiction. In this sense, television certainly fits into the category of an addictive agent.
When you watch TV, brain activity switches from the left to the right hemisphere. In fact, experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers are watching television, the right hemisphere is twice as active as the left, a neurological anomaly.(1) The crossover from left to right releases a surge of the body’s natural opiates: endorphins, which include beta-endorphins and enkephalins. Endorphins are structurally identical to opium and its derivatives (morphine, codeine, heroin, etc.). Activities that release endorphins (also called opioid peptides) are usually habit-forming (we rarely call them addictive). These include cracking knuckles, strenuous exercise, and orgasm. External opiates act on the same receptor sites (opioid receptors) as endorphins, so there is little difference between the two.
In fact, strenuous exercise, which produces the nominal ‘runner’s high”a release of endorphins that flood the system, can be highly addictive, to the point where ‘addicts’ who abruptly stop exercising experience opiate-withdrawal symptoms, namely migraine headaches. These migraines are caused by a dysfunction in opioid receptors, which are accustomed to the steady influx of endorphins.
Indeed, even casual television viewers experience such opiate-withdrawal symptoms if they stop watching TV for a prolonged period of time. An article from South Africa’s Eastern Province Herald (October 1975) described two experiments in which people from various socio-economic milieus were asked to stop watching television. In one experiment, several families volunteered to turn off their TV’s for just one month. The poorest family gave in after one week, and the others suffered from depression, saying they felt as though they had ‘lost a friend.’ In the other experiment, 182 West Germans agreed to kick their television viewing habit for a year, with the added bonus of payment. None could resist the urge longer than six months, and over time all of the participants showed the symptoms of opiate withdrawal: increased anxiety, frustration, and depression.
The signs of addiction are all around us. The average American watches over four hours of television every day, and 49% of those continue to watch despite admitting to doing it excessively. These are the classic indicators of an addict in denial: addicts know they’re doing harm to themselves, but continue to use the drug regardless.