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Enjoys Negative Attention

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I don’t really know how to describe it, but I sort of crave negative attention. Not as in “prefers negative over no attention”, but that I receive some strange gratification over receiving negative attention, even over positive. To clarify it’s nothing sexual, I don’t engage in that sort of behavior, and I still feel unhappy over negative attention- but I enjoy that feeling of unhappiness. I sort of indulge in the feeling that comes during an emotional fallout with someone. In short, I “enjoy unhappiness”. I know that’s unhealthy, but I don’t seem to be fufilled from positive attention only. Why? (From the USA)

Enjoys Negative Attention

Answered by on -


I am very glad you sense that this is unhealthy. While I don’t think this description is strong enough to be a general type of masochism (not SMD Sexual Masochism Disorder as you clarified) it does sound like you have a habit of finding or creating situations that generate negativity. You’ve written to us here because it doesn’t feel okay with you. There is a part of yourself watching this behavior and wants to change it. Wanting to change a counterproductive habit is a good thing and this desire is what you’ll want to work with. Tolerating good things in the service of breaking an old habit will require intentional activities. My first recommendation is to pick one day a week and engage in five acts of kindness throughout the day. Keep a journal and write down what you’ve done and how it felt.

On the other days of the week notice acts of kindness around you. Jot these down and your reaction to them. Noticing the good around us is the first step in transforming our inner emotional landscape. At the end of sixty days write us back and let us know your progress!

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Enjoys Negative Attention

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Enjoys Negative Attention. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 May 2019 (Originally: 31 May 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 May 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.