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Why Do I Engage in Attention-Seeking Behavior?

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Hello. So here’s the thing: I noticed I’m an attention seeker a long time ago and I cannot understand why. My childhood has not been perfect, but it has been pretty good. My parent and my friends love me. I certainly can’t complain.

I think even as I kid I’ve always wanted to be noticed but positively. As I grew older I started to want sympathy, perhaps even more than praise. I would often misrepresent situation in order to get sympathy for it. I would play the victim etc. I hurt myself ( superficially ) to get sympathy and I still feel very embarrassed about this although it was a couple of years ago. I’ve realized how it affects people’s view of me (I don’t want to be seen as a helpless and weak person) and I try to be less attention-seeking. But in my mind I don’t really think anythings is changed. I still very often think of scenarios that would end up in me getting sympathy and I still tend to play the victim (subtly enough that no one would notice). I don’t want to be like that, but I just can’t help it. Do you think there is anything I could do to stop being like that?

Sidenote: I would be willing to go to therapy although I don’t like talking about this, but if there is something along the lines of ‘self-help’ I’d prefer it.

Thank you very much for sparing your time to read this. Have a great day!

Why Do I Engage in Attention-Seeking Behavior?

Answered by on -

A.

Your desire for attention and your creating situations in which you will gain attention may fall under the broad category of fictitious disorders. These disorders involve individuals pretending as though he or she has a physical or mental illness. As you can probably attest to, this causes distress in one’s life. If those around you were to learn about your feigning illnesses, they would no longer trust you and some would cut ties with you altogether.

These types of disorders often stem from underlying emotional problems. Individuals with fictitious disorders wish to stop, but they often find that they can’t. It is almost like an addiction. Professional help is often required.

There is nothing wrong with self-help if it works, but as you stated “I just can’t help it.” Your own self-help efforts have led to a reduction in intensity, but it remains an unresolved problem. This would suggest professional help is necessary.

The fear of shame or embarrassment can hinder individuals from beginning therapy just as the fear of the boogey man can stop people from opening their closet door. But there is no boogey man in the closet just as there is no shame or embarrassment in therapy.

The fear of therapy stems from the false belief that you are supposed to know how to fix your own problems and that there is something wrong with you if you need therapy. Unfortunately, those sorts of stubborn and false ideas prevent many people with resolvable mental health problems from seeking help.

There’s no reason to fear therapy. I hope you will consider it. It would help you to feel better. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Why Do I Engage in Attention-Seeking Behavior?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Why Do I Engage in Attention-Seeking Behavior?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/03/25/why-do-i-engage-in-attention-seeking-behavior/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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