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Do You Have an Attention Junkie in Your Midst?

Updated on January 26, 2021

So what is an attention junkie?

Throughout all of our lives we come in contact with many types of individuals. People differ in a variety of ways, like: family, color, size, opinions, health, education, financial circumstances, desires, etc. Attention seeking is a learned behavior and a normal part of our survival skills. The infant cries when he or she is hungry or wet. Some attention seeking forms because of "needing" and "getting" the necessary attention. Infants become very adapt at this skill and without parental intervention to stop non need driven crying an attention junkie can be molded. Most of us have witnessed that whining toddler ordering their parent about only to have the obedient parent doing what they say. Thus, the manipulative Attention Junkie isn't normal, they stand apart, intentionally.

So what is an attention junkie? An "attention junkie" is someone who pushes past normal "need driven survival attention" into an "unhealthy attention seeking drive." The main three types of unhealthy attention junkies are:

1. The "Narcissist" with an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

2. The "Suffering Fool "with Munchausen Syndrome

3. The "Super Hero" with Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

Remember, the typical attention junkie is always on stage and loves attention be it positive or negative. An attention junkie isn't satisfied unless they get your attention 24/7 and the bigger the audience; the better. We laugh at the abusive comedian who picks on the audience to get a laugh but, that comedian isn't funny if that is all they do IRL [In Real Life]; they don't get off the stage. These attention junkies are easiest to take in small doses because they are "all consuming" and "ignore what's beneficial for everyone else", and "don't care if their actions harm others" as long as they are in the spotlight.

The Narcissistic Attention Junkie

Narcissistic Attention Junkie's love of self definition comes from Greek mythology. Where the Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, and drown. The typical Narcissistic Attention Junkie dismisses, negates, ignores, minimizes, denigrates or otherwise renders irrelevant other people’s concerns and comments. They command a controlled tone of contempt when the conversation goes elsewhere. Initially, these folks seem like fun, they are good at things, often look like they would be as desirable friends are funny; the class clown or adult comedian who picks on the audience for the amusement of others.. Narcissistic individuals can't stand for anyone else to have everyone's focus. They interrupt, change the topic to something about themselves, insult people before even knowing them, and generally act like everyone should pay attention to them. Like a "Key Stone Cop" on continuous play without a pause button or, the villains at the school, airport or bank seeking negative attention. They never have a thought of anyone else, they are too involved with themselves.

One of my cousins married a Narcissistic Attention Junkie woman unknowingly. She was the loudest person in the room, the person who him every 20 minutes at work; luckily we didn't have cell phones back. She'd go and sit on top of people if they were getting everyone's attentions telling a story or opening presents, in order to take attention away from them. Like all attention junkies, she fed on the spotlight and glean attention whether disgust or amusement as long as someone is paying attention to her; the more the merrier..

As A Social Worker I had the opportunity to help victims of Narcissist Attention Junkies. There are many helpless women and children trapped in homes unable to get out to get help. One woman had only one dress, the home was gated and there was massive broken glass pieces in the yard. There wasn't a phone. Fortunately, a concerned neighbor called in a report so we could save them. There are most likely many more who need a new lease on life and get away from the dangerous Narcissist. I was told by a prisoner of the Narcissist Attention Junkie, that her self desires and needs are ignored, as if she wasn't really there, but she couldn't leave. Such is the plight of the verbally and sometimes physically abused spouse, child, or friend of this, Narcissistic Attention Junkie who sucks all attention away from everyone but themselves.

What a Narcissistic Attention Junkie Is

Munchausen's Syndrome Attention Junkies

Munchausen's Syndrome, is defined as a "Poor Suffering Fool." This type of Attention Junkie invents factitious disorders, feigns disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves. Many of these attention seekers are very well versed in health, disease and manipulation techniques in order to get their needs met. This type of Attention Junkie is known as a "suffering fool" because they intentionally hurt themselves to "get attention" and then complain about pain to get more attention.

Munchausen's Syndrome Attention Junkies are often seen in medical facilities due to their self inflicted injuries. Increasing their efforts and seeking more attention they call family, doctors, pharmacists and anyone who will listen to their factitious disorder tale. "Oh dear I got a cut" I need a bandage go get it and put it on me.". "Oh dear I fell can you help me up?" "Can you see my bruise?" "I'm certain I damaged my head in my fall!" "Maybe I have a tumor, I need to get an x-ray " "Can I have an ice pack? My arm hurts?" "Help my head hurts awful, take me to the doctor?" "Oh dear I have a bug bite! It might be a wood spider and deadly, take me to the Emergency Room." "I'm hot, I have a temperature get the ice pack, or, I'm freezing." The chronic manipulation of this Attention Junkie is not only mentally and physically devastating to friends, family, and the medical interventionists but costly. The attention junky runs up high medical bills. The smart medical professional will notice a pattern in the ever changing self induced illnesses.,

Occasionally this attention junkies with Munchausen's Syndrome's wish will come true. They intentionally drink or eat items that have expired, spoiled; they are allergic to; or are actually poisonous they physically hurt themselves and need help. One of my clients is a good example. She intentionally went outside into a shed and pulled a heavy chest down from a high shelf hoping it would cause some damage and abort her growing infant. She almost killed herself because she got caught under the weight of the heavy trunk and lay unable to move for many hours. Lucky for her, her husband came home in time to save her life. He lift the trunk off her and noted the severe bleeding. He called for the ambulance. She ended up loosing the unwanted infant and remain in the hospital for three months in recuperation. When it came time to leave the hospital, she vigorously fought to stay. Understandable because Attention Junkie was receiving 24/7 at the touch of a button. They informed me that after 24 hours they had to remove the button because she kept hitting it. They provided a walk by every 30 minutes to stop the incessant yelling. Hospitalization is a real draw for the Poor Suffering Fools

Back when I was young, Mental Health wasn't as acceptable as it is today so many Munchausen Attention Junkies didn't receive the mental health assistance they needed. Today smart medical professionals suggest their caregiver help find mental health assistance for them, Attention junkies aren't hard to find because the poor suffering fools go to great lengths to glean the full attention of everyone even strangers; they make themselves sick and make scenes in public to get everyone to look

Fool I came across a Munchausen Syndrome, Poor Suffering Fool while working as an undergraduate on the suicide hotline. There was one Attention Junkie who made massive amounts of suicide hotline phone calls daily toping the list for abusive use of our time. He always swore, "I'm going to kill myself. Please come and stop me." This attention junkie was "clinically diagnosed" with "depression." Our supervisor contacted his doctor to get information on what to do and document his medication. When he called the suicide hotline, we were instructed to ask him if he had taken his medication, and when was the last time. We asked if anyone was in the home. "No there is no one here. I can't get in the bottle to take the medicine." As is happened,. one day he changed his approach and actually carried out his final, "Big Show." This Attention Seeker drove his vehicle over to the mental health office early in the morning one Monday. As Attention Junkies do, they don't think about holidays. He got up on the chair he brought and tossed a rope around the rafter. He watch his watch and approximately five minutes before the staff begin arriving to the office, He climbed up on the chair and put his head in the hole. Then, he kicked the chair away so he would dangle in front of the mental health offices.. The only record of his action was the camera at the front of the building. Unfortunately for him, his plan failed to provide assistance! It was determined that he suffered from, Munchausen Syndrome, and must not have known it was a National holiday. Since this type of attention junkie is so obsessed with themselves it is not unlikely. Thus, no one came to save him. Likely this attention junkie incorrectly figured someone would be in time to save him, but in reality this, "poor suffering fool" accidentally hung himself. and the attention junkie only received posthumous attention when the first person arrived to work the next day and found his dead body hanging at the front door and contacted the police, etc.

Clinical View of Munchausen's Syndrome

Super Hero Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy

The Attention Junkie with Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy has a desire to be a, Super Hero" and fabricates, exaggerates, or induces mental and/or physical health problems to someone in their care so they can, "save them." So, the attention junkie gains attention at the expense of someone else. The candidate they choose can be family they care for like a child or elderly fragile adult, or a complete stranger they take into their home. This attention seeker desires, "Super Hero" attention. They play a dangerous game intentionally harming individuals in their care in order to gain the " attention junkie sympathy attention." These individuals are often found in family homes "caring" for young or old ill family members, in elderly or disabled homes "providing home health care," or in a hospital as "a caregiver." They seek the attention that good work and care for another generally receives from others.. So, these attention junkies with Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy appear compassionate and generous. But they can be deadly as they provide "fictitious care" for the alleged unhealthy person who is their victim.

Seeing first hand the results of this type of "Attention Junkie" caregiver is saddening for certain. Munchausen attention junkie tells lies about the person they are caring, change test results to make their ward appear ill. The Attention Seeker may also personally cause physical harm to their charge in order to produce the symptoms they desire in order to get the "hero attention" they desire when the person is made better. Unfortunately the captive patient doesn't stay well for long and some will eventually die from the medical mismanagement or physical abuse they endure..

As a Mental Health Professional, I came across a grandmother who was also a mother with severe, Munchausen Syndrome, By Proxy. This, true story attention junkie, had been given temporary custody of her granddaughter because[the woman's daughter"] was allegedly determined to be unable to care for her child and the poor dear was given to her grandmother. Living with her grandmother having Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy was hazardous to the child's health. Case Worker had given the child to her grandmother thinking they were saving her from a mother who was a chronic depressive. I was assigned the case because the grandmother was requesting full custody of the child from the court.

My report to the court showed that prior to living with the grandmother, the child had good reports in school and appeared to be coping with her mother's condition and was essentially healthy and happy. It didn't take too much time after moving in with her grandmother, that she began having a myriad of mental symptoms and chronic illnesses. In fact the child was hospitalized for evaluation when I met with her for the first time. I am thorough and went to speak to the mother. She informed that her mother had poisoned her, beat her, etc. She had proof of beatings with years of hospital records. I had grandmothers house reviewed and saw that their were wood shavings on the base boards and after telling the medical professionals it was discovered that the little girl had wood shavings in her stomach. To rid the dangerous shavings required surgical intervention. Unfortunately the home was built before 1980 contain asbestos in the floor tiles, sheeting, fireplaces, and joint compound used on seams between pieces sheet rock she had been fed. Of course grandmother told everyone that the child was mentally ill because of her mother and ate the siding on her own. Fortunately the evidence was at hand and the police were able to separate the child from the grandmother who had Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy and she was given to someone else. There Attention Junkies are very dangerous to deal with and hard to prosecute.

Dr. Phil Checks in Regarding Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy

What you can do

Attention junkies generally are amusing, needy or, quirky In fact, most attention junkies are so needy for your attention that they are toxic for the average healthy happy individual to be around all the time. Thus, whether your Attention Junkie is a Narcissist whose love of self is supreme, or an Attention Junkie person with Munchausen Syndrome and a Suffering Fool , or Attention Junkie with Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy wanting to be viewed as Super Hero, your attention needs to be withdrawn. If you are an abusive personality or under the thumb of such a personality; seek help!

What should someone do if they are around a person who is a dangerous, Attention Junkie? If you are the focus of an attention junkie, remember your compliance is at your expense. Pull yourself away from the danger of the extreme personality types and surround yourself with calm, positive and compassionate individuals. Seek help, get an "Order of Protection" from Officials. Move away from and report abuser. Remain alert to the dangers submission brings and prevent the development of further unhealthy relationships. Strengthening your body's innate intuitive awareness, practicing self reliance, and learning protection and healing techniques will assist you in promoting good mental and physical health. Get strength and counseling to deal with the offender.

Another Take on Munchausen by Proxy

Let's see if you know an Attention Junkie

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