By: Chris Anderson Psy.D

Thrill seekers are people who hunger and seek out experiences that offer intense sensations, complex challenges, and, of course, a thrill. They earn and crave excitement and novelty or adventures. Most would tell you that they do not have a death wish or seek dangerous situations. They would also say they will not allow some risk or calculated danger to dissuade or stop them from trying something new.

What Drives Thrill Seeking?

What underlies and drives thrill-seeking can be a bit different for each person. Some enjoy pushing themselves, growing, and achieving accomplishments, which, for many, bolsters confidence and self-efficacy. Others relish the adrenaline and dopamine rush along with many thrill-seeking activities. This euphoria, or high, can be quite reinforcing and drive subsequent ventures and risks.

Are There Benefits to Thrill Seeking and Risk Taking?

Some thrill seekers would argue that thrill-seeking activities are inherently rewarding and beneficial. Conquering a mountain climbing venture or successfully skydiving is reward enough for some thrill seekers. As noted above, the benefits are from positive sensations and the feeling of success and accomplishment, which are rewarding. At a broader and more societal level, individuals often push themselves to explore new avenues and territories that have helped advance humanity to the level we have achieved. The Wright Brothers no doubt had many crashes before their successful flight, which was done at great risk and with great reward for all mankind. This can be said for countless inventors, explorers, and scientists. As a species, we have countless benefits that we have all reaped from those who came before and had a thirst to conquer, tried despite failures, and eventually succeeded.

The Fine Line that is Walked with Risk-Taking

For all the successes and accomplishments stemming from risk-taking (also known as sensation seeking), there are just as many stories of tragedy and ruin. Countless people end up with any number of physical injuries, resulting in disabilities or even death. Many entrepreneurs lost their jobs and credibility in their fields or lost their homes and life savings in the pursuit of risk and its rewards. Some venture in with great calculation, attempting to hedge their bets, and others dive in and try to figure it out in the moment. Some are more prone to risk-taking and have variables at work that they may be unable to control. Some mental health issues set the stage for risk-taking behaviors, and people find themselves in situations before they even realize it or how they got there. Many people with ADHD, especially those with hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, often think before they act. Those with substance abuse and various addictions are genuinely after the rush and high, whether it is chemically facilitated or action-driven, such as promiscuous sexual encounters, high-stakes gambling, or spending sprees. There is also a subset of those with PTSD who are at risk of seeking thrills and risks. Many combat vets talk about how bland civilian life is compared to the excitement of combat and find themselves signing up for another tour. Others unconsciously end up re-creating scenarios similar to some of their trauma in an attempt to figure it out. Thrill-seeking can be a great source of joy, growth, and achievement, but it ideally needs to be balanced to avoid wreckage, ruin, pain, suffering, or worse.

If you want to meet with a therapist to explore what makes you tick, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a more thorough assessment. Please call us now at 763-416-4167 or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you, complete a thorough assessment, and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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