Marc Hekster, a Clinical Psychologist at The Summit Clinic, has said that tv shows like Friends have been proven as beneficial for our mental well-being. Based on personal experience treating patients as well as several studies, he explains that it’s been shown to soothe anxiety.
Having worked for over a period of 20 years with those experiencing anxiety, I can conclude that among other factors, it is the repetitive and relational nature of programs such as Friends and Big Bang Theory that will be doing the trick.
Anxiety is in fact the human minds’ alarm system, indicating that something is wrong, and usually the result of pent up and unprocessed feelings.
The feelings build-up, is not dissimilar to a pressure-cooker and will always need to find a way out. If they can’t find a way of being expressed, the alarm system triggers, and it is usually not very pleasant for the person suffering with the anxiety. Few people who suffer from anxiety will have much good to say about it, and will want to escape it.
So because anxiety is the escalation of nerves, fears, and panic it is the comfort of recurrence and knowing what happens at the end of these shows that counteract that build-up. Hekster expounds:
This is about the healing nature of repetition. We see this in children, resolving child-like feelings and emotions by doing the same thing over and again – often to the incredulity of their parents.
Yes, it is soothing to see the same outcome every time and know you can depend on it. This is at the heart of human development. So, when grown-ups are anxious, they can have child-like feelings of fear and worry, and these can be soothed by repetition. Bring on Friends repeats for the 10th time.
Hekster does warn people of mistaking the temporary relief it can give us with a long-term solution. While it can distract people from letting anxiety attacks get the better of them or as a way to deal with it in the interim, people still ought to seek out professional help should they deem it necessary.
Do you think using shows like this as an escape is more helpful or harmful? Let us know in the comments!