Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

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  1. What is escapism in simple terms?
  2. How does escapism manifest?
  3. Types of escapism
  4. Causes
  5. Examples of escapism
  6. Studies
  7. Gaming
  8. Role playing and cosplay
  9. Movies and TV series
  10. Travel to exotic countries
  11. Closing gestalts
  12. Downshifting
  13. Why is the condition dangerous?
  14. How to get rid of escapism?
  15. Escapism videos

In psychology, the concept of escapism as a scientific term appeared at the end of the 30s of the XX century. Translated from English, the word means "flight". This designation is used to describe the actions of a person who is trying by any means to protect himself from stress, to get away from serious problems.

What is escapism in simple terms?

Escapism is a term in psychology that refers to any form escape from reality, stressful situations, reality. This state is inherent to varying degrees in almost all people, especially in our time of rapid development of technology. Escapism is not a mental illness or abnormality. Immersion in the world of dreams, rest from everyday life is rather useful for maintaining psychological balance.

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A fictional reality allows one to feel more significant in the world, to embrace those facets of being that are unattainable in real life. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, believed that life without dreams was too hard for the human psyche. Escapism becomes an integral part of a prosperous existence surrounded by an imperfect world. However, some extreme forms of escapist behavior can negatively affect a person's quality of life and health.

How does escapism manifest?

According to the researchers, a departure from reality in today's society is observed much more often. The reason for this is the advanced technology that allows you to devote more time to pursuing your interests. At the same time, the intensity, the impetuosity of the pace of life is growing, leading to stress and requiring the release of negativity.

Some psychologists note both positive and negative effects of escapism on the psychological state of the individual as a whole. The state of being immersed in a special world can be productive and unproductive.

In the first case, a person creates his own world, his own reality, which allows him to solve problems. Productive escapism is often the impetus for the creation of creative masterpieces in various genres of art. A striking example of productive escapism is the fabulous worlds of the epic "The Lord of the Rings" by John Tolkien.Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

Unproductive escapism manifests itself in self-isolation, a kind of autism, when a person closes himself off from others, leaves reality. This position can be viewed as a negative phenomenon, but there are times when a temporary immersion in own world of memories or dreams allows you to maintain peace of mind in very difficult stressful situations. For example, memories of happy days in a circle of loved ones allowed some to survive imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps.

There is an opinion that in modern society, escapism, as a mass subculture, can cover entire social strata. It is deliberately spread as a means of easy control of peoples in a society of a totalitarian regime. But, on the other hand, creating your own inner world in such conditions can be considered as gaining personal freedom.

Escapism, as the rejection of material goods, was preached by many ancient philosophers. In the Christian religion, the highest manifestation of spirituality is monastic hermitage.

In more relaxed forms, shallow immersion in the world of a literary work or film helps to relieve everyday stress and restore strength for further successful activities.

Forms of escapism:

  • The most harmless and common form of escapism is discomfort avoidance, which is common for most sane people. A person with a strong will can close down or avoid unpleasant people, direct their thoughts in the direction of positive thinking, forcing themselves to temporarily not think about troubles.
  • Temporary escape from problems can also be considered a massive form of escapism. In order not to let the accumulated stress lead to a nervous breakdown, a person changes his lifestyle and activities, flies off on a trip, or simply goes to the theater. After resting with renewed vigor, he returns to his old way of life.
  • Avoiding reality becomes a difficult and dangerous form of escapism, from the category of pathology. Insurmountable difficulties lead a person to gambling or alcohol addiction, further and further away from loved ones.

Types of escapism

Escapism is in psychology the definition of a person's ability, consciously or subconsciously, to find ways to escape from stressful situations. Severe, negative forms, pathological condition - the area of ​​study of psychiatry.

In negative forms, the following types of psychological disorders are distinguished:

  • Redistribution of reality (rationalization).
  • Avoiding everyday life (regression).
  • Flight from the real world (denial).
  • Application of inner feelings in the external world (projection).

In order to escape from reality, various forms of passive or active action can be used.Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

Examples of escapist behavior:

Passive form Active or physical
Positive manifestations (hobbies) Negative manifestations Positive manifestations Negative manifestations
Fantastic Alcohol Active sports. Excessive physical activity to the detriment of health
Music Drugs Full dedication to professional activity. Careerism
Movies, TV series Antidepressant abuse Trips Refusal of all material goods
Meditation Immersion in the virtual world of computer games. Creativity, hobby. Refusal of work, career
Religion Sect membership Communication with nature. Hermitage, hermitage


In psychology, it is noted that escapism is a way to compensate for the deficit of positive emotions. However, each personality has hidden reasons (sometimes several) that give rise to the need to escape from reality. In each case, they are deeply individual, but still lend themselves to classification into major groups.Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

  • Self-doubt or discrepancies in the assessment of the ideal and the present. If an individual has an ideal personality complex since childhood, he will always strive for perfection, sometimes impossible due to the peculiarities of physiology and psyche. In such cases, a person tries to increase his importance by any means: the cowardly begins to engage extreme sports, invisible in the team asserts the primacy in virtual games, and so Further.
  • Family troubles arise for many reasons. Misunderstandings between spouses, parents and children often lead to severe nervous breakdowns with the most serious forms of escapism, such as alcohol dependence or reclusion.
  • Career problems cause a depressive state when the real situation does not correspond to ambitions and a far-fetched plan. Unable to realize himself in the professional field, a person immerses himself in the world of computer games or spends time watching a reality show.
  • A culture shock is often experienced by a person who, by his own will, finds himself in a different social and cultural environment, sharply opposite to his usual environment. Such a state is experienced by immigrants, people whose social status changes dramatically. The instability of the psyche in this case leads to isolation, ignorance of new life realities.
  • Fear of socio-political realities is experienced by almost all people in times of economic cataclysms. Dissatisfaction with life, uncertainty in the future force a person to increasingly turn to social networks in search of like-minded people, a virtual circle of friends.
  • Escapist behavior is sometimes characteristic of people who have reached the heights of their dreams. Boredom takes possession of them. If there is no need to overcome anything, to reach the heights, a person plunges into online games. He comes up with dubious and dangerous entertainment, sometimes resorts to psychotropic drugs.

Examples of escapism

When the need to distract from pressing problems comes, everyone chooses his own, the most acceptable way.


In childhood, everyone dreams of becoming an adult, but when the time comes for this very adulthood, fear of it comes. The school class is being replaced by the student audience, where everything is familiar: lectures, seminars, student parties.

Outside the window is another adult life, which not everyone wants to enter. Very many do not want to close this chapter of their book of life, continue to receive a second or even a third education. There is nothing wrong with this if, as a result, the student is still able to put his knowledge into practice. It’s bad when the walls of universities turn into a refuge from the realities of life. Prolonged student life leads to difficulties in finding a job.


Modern innovative technologies have made available the embodiment of the wildest fantasies in virtual reality. A small retreat from reality into the world of cyberspace helps to fight the monotony of everyday life.Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

But escapism in an illusory world often leads not only immature young minds, but also adult self-sufficient people into such a jungle, from where there is no return to reality. No wonder the excessive passion for computer games in today's society is compared with alcohol or drug addiction.

Role playing and cosplay

Cosplay is a costume game, reconstruction of historical events. Role-playing games, as close as possible to reality, allow you to immerse yourself in another reality for a while if it is not possible to get out of the routine in other ways. Fans of historical reenactments gather in groups, hold festivals, establish their own rituals and rules.

Classes in such costumed transformations allow you to feel free in the circle of like-minded people, openly express your emotions without fear of being inappropriate. And although cosplay is not the creation of a new reality, but a reproduction of the past, being in a different image threatens to blur the boundaries of a new and invented world.

Movies and TV series

Long-term serials and reality shows are favorite characters, the experience of which can relieve tension and distract from their own problems at least for a while. Among the characters, you can find someone whose problems seem similar to their own. Literary fantasy and fairy tales, which are to the liking of adults, became the basis of many on-screen works.

Far from everyday life, plots of fantastic works and films are carried away to incredible worlds. The adventures of the heroes are always dangerous, but in most cases they end well, good wins. Despite the stress of watching movies or TV shows, they are great at relieving the stress of your workday.

Travel to exotic countries

Several centuries ago classic travels were made with the aim of new discoveries, exploring new lands and peoples. Today, there are almost no unexplored corners on the map, and you can read about the mentality of a particular people without leaving your home.

Modern travel to countries with a culture that is very distant from the surrounding culture is a kind of expulsion of oneself, an escape from the routine and boring familiar world. This type of escapism can be called the most useful and safe for the psyche, if we are not talking about hermitism and distance from the whole world.

Closing gestalts

Gestalt - the need for the completeness of a cycle. The simplest type of gestalt is everyday worries that can be solved by simple actions: cooking dinner, cleaning, talking with relatives. More complex gestalts are uncovered grievances and psychological traumas of the past, which can significantly spoil the present life. This serious issue can rarely be resolved without the help of specialists.


Escapism is in psychology a phenomenon of escape from everyday life, which manifests itself in the most direct way in downifting. In this case, a person runs away from the familiar world in the most direct way, he refuses the benefits he himself created, moves to other countries, completely changes his way of life and lifestyle.Escapism is in psychology. Definition of what is, examples

The need for downifting often arises among very successful people who have reached the maximum in their place and do not see the way to go further. For solitude in distant and not very regions, certain means are needed that will help to survive the period of the crisis. Often a person who has done this returns to his place of residence, but reads a completely different activity. Escapism - downshifting acts as a kind of reboot of the inner world.

Why is the condition dangerous?

Escapism is viewed by psychologists as a very controversial phenomenon. It is easy to distract from everyday life in any of the acceptable ways and is necessary for moral satisfaction and health, but the line separating healthy rest from complete detachment from reality is very fragile.

Excessive escapist behavior can take you away from the real world forever, lose the approval of society, which leads to even greater remoteness. The danger of escapism is that a person who is too carried away by other worlds ceases to develop, loses the desire to struggle with difficulties, to improve.

The development of cyberspace has presented humanity with ample opportunities for immersion in the world of dreams and fantasies. Virtual adventures lure not only teenagers into their networks, but also mature wealthy people. Attempts to get out of a comfortable fantasy life into reality are very difficult and sometimes lead to prolonged depression, health problems, or even suicide.

How to get rid of escapism?

Since escapism is not equated with pathological mental disorders, there is no official treatment for it, as for a disease. But very often one can observe conditions among close people, from which only a specialist can help.

For those who feel like ghostly worlds are dragging on, there are some psychological tips:

  • Try to accept yourself as you are. Failure should not be attributed to personal imperfection. All people are different, everyone is different from each other and everyone deserves attention.
  • Perhaps an individual has chosen a path that does not correspond to his psychotype and orientation. A change in occupation often becomes the beginning of a new real life.
  • Perhaps dreams and fantasies should be translated into reality. Then the illusory world will become alive, and the work of fulfilling the dream will push away the depression.
  • The main thing in the fight against being pulled into the cobweb of parallel reality should be to identify the reasons that cause such a state.

Escapism in small doses saves from the routine and despair of life. There are no universal tips on how to get rid of an obsession in psychology. The main thing is the ability to enjoy the little things around you, to create a pleasant environment. The plot of your real life can be much more interesting than a serial or game plot.

Author: Nadya Boyko

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