Film & Fiction, the Benefits of Escapism

Film & Fiction, the Benefits of Escapism

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Our theme this month is Film and Fiction. We are considering the benefits of the escapism that comes hand in hand with watching a film or reading some fiction and thinking about times that we may seek comfort in this.

The definition of escapism is “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy”. Essentially, escapism involves seeking mental diversion from the demands, pressures, or unpleasant aspects of daily life.

Escapism can be sought in a number of ways but many of us use films and fiction as a way of finding that distraction. Think about the times you have dived into a book or binge watched an entire series in one night. How did you feel during those moments? What sort of relief did it bring you? These days it can be so difficult to enjoy our means of escapism fully, due to the temptation to start scrolling through our phones. How often do you manage to avoid picking up your phone when watching a film?

Although the concept of escapism can have negative undertones a number of psychological theories cite the benefits of it. For example “Flow theory”, developed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity. Csikszentmihalyi’s says that, flow is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (1990).

The benefits of engaging in activities that promote escapism include stress relief, an increase in levels of creativity and innovation and opportunities for social connection.

Watching a film or series or reading a book not only provides an opportunity for escape from the stresses of daily life but it also gives us something that we can share with others. We are opened up to new ideas and concepts we might not have experienced before, our emotional intelligence is enhanced and there are even benefits to our memory function.

So we encourage you to enjoy those little pockets of escapism and reap the benefits!


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