Every person is unique, with his or her own little quirks and fancies. But, a few of us exceed all limits and pursue our obsession, sometimes for the strangest things. Here is a list of ten weird and puzzling addictions.
One of the most controversial shows, My Strange Addiction produced by (The Learning Channel) TLC , featured individuals ‘addicted’ to weird and strange things, such as hair dryers, inflatable dolls and even laundry detergent.
The Merriam-Webster definition of addiction is the persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful. In other words, addiction, can be termed as a more extreme form of a habit – wherein a person absolutely cannot function without it. He/She can go to the extent of harming himself/herself or others to obtain or use it; even though he/she knows it can be harmful.
There are also gray areas – even if the addiction causes little harm and is not physiologically addictive, it can cause emotional distress. For example, watching TV. Many people make television shows a part of their life, often tailoring their routine around it, even missing out on other activities – a big sign of an addict.
There are many everyday things that are surprisingly addictive, and the addictiveness varies, it can simply be a mundane part of life. Yet for some, that same substance might become an obsession, ruining their health, alienating them from friends and family, or even put them in jail.
We at PsycholoGenie have come up with a list of ten such substances and behavior that you never thought could be addictive –
Quick!! What comes to your mind when you first think of carrots? Crunchy, juicy orange veggies? Beta-carotene? Rabbits? But, here is a fun fact – eating carrots has a psychological effect on some people, many experts equating its ‘addictiveness’ to that of nicotine.
Reportedly, people who get addicted to carrots often find themselves thinking obsessively about crunching carrots. They also suffer from withdrawal symptoms, which as per the The National Center for Biotechnology Information, include nervousness, craving, insomnia, water brash and irritability.
Carrots are rich in nutrients and fiber, but excess consumption can harm a person, because of the body missing out on nutrient’s not present in carrots, like Vitamin B, iron, calcium, etc., leading to anemia and/ or malnutrition.
Fun Fact –
Henry Ford, the world-famous automobile maker, was crazy about carrots and held a banquet to celebrate his favorite vegetable. Occasionally, his employees would find him perched on their desk, offering a carrot and advocating its benefits.
Pagophagia or Addiction to Ice Cubes
Pagophagia is a form of pica – an eating disorder causing people to eat things other than food, dirt, chalk, wood and other non-food stuff, to get the nutrients they lack. It is speculated to be due to iron-deficiency anemia, but the strange thing is that people who have pagophagia have an intense craving for chewing ice – frozen water, with zero nutritional value.
Chomping on the cold, hard ice can and does damage the teeth, besides annoying friends and family members by the loud crushing sound and constant, insatiable demand for ice. The excess ice-chewing may also lead to anemia and some people get caught in a cycle – the anemia fueling the pagophagia and the constant ice-chewing causing decreased consumption of iron-rich food.
People with pagophagia are known to consume more than two trays of ice daily, with a woman in France reportedly consuming 80 cubes of ice in a day for over 5 years. She was hospitalized for severe anemia due to iron deficiency.
Although manufacturer’s and dermatologist refute the use of any addiction-causing substances in lip-balm, many people claim to be completely addicted to it. The often reported withdrawal symptoms of a lip balm addict are dry, chapped lips. They also assert that the use of lip balm gives them pleasure and is psychologically addictive.
Addiction to lip balm is conflicting, with no physiological cause, but is still considered addictive, simply because of the overwhelming number of users and frequent, obsessive use of the little salve. Many addicts have to apply the balm every two hours and say that they always keep a couple of tube/tub of the stuff handy, just in case one gets lost.
Lip Balm Anonymous, a website formed by lip balm addicts is dedicated to giving this disputed addiction recognition among experts. According to the website, manufacturers add enticing flavors to lip balms which encourages a person to lick his/her lips. The licking causes the lips to dry and makes the person use more and more of the product.
The desire to have a perfect set of pearly whites is fairly common, however some people develop an obsession for teeth whitening. Termed bleachorexia, people with this addiction use whiteners much more frequently than the recommended period, and talk and/or think continuously about whether their teeth are looking ‘discolored’. The availability of at-home treatments has just made it more common and difficult to track.
People with bleachorexia use the treatments so often that they end up with a bluish coloration, bright fluorescent or even translucent teeth. Other effects of excessive teeth whitening include brittleness, sensitivity, bleeding or receding gums. Some people even had to have their teeth replaced due to weakening of the enamel, stripped by excessive use of teeth-whitening and bleaching products.
Jessica Simpson, to preserve the ‘whiteness’ of her teeth, brushes only three times a week – that’s once every two days. Her other strange addiction is Nicorette gum, a chewing gum designed to reduce nicotine addiction, which Jessica was never addicted to.
You may know many people who love books and simply can’t sleep without a good hour or so of reading. This love of reading books is called bibliophilia. But this is not the addiction here, it is Bibliomania – a compulsion to obtain books, by buying and sometimes even stealing them.
Unlike collectors, these people are often indiscriminate, and the books they possess might have little commercial value. They collect books simply for the rush they experience when they obtain it, regardless of its content. They might never ever open the books, and are known to possess multiple copies of the same book.
Stephen Carrie Blumberg, a man in Iowa, was convicted for stealing over 200,000 books and his stash of books is thought to be valued over $5 million. He is believed to be the biggest and most prolific bibliomane till date.
Here is another good thing, carrying the ‘recommended by experts’ tag that can be addictive. The person getting addicted here is not just the child, but the mother. Well, it is not that big a leap of logic, as breastfeeding is known release oxytocin, the love hormone which produces a feeling of security, trust and empathy.
Stopping breastfeeding is a bit uncomfortable for the mother and sometimes painful. But the addiction is thought to be due to the emotional and hormonal factors, and the withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety and a feeling a of detachment from the child.
Salma Hayek claims to be addicted to breastfeeding. Comparing it to alcohol addiction, she says she just can’t stop doing it and in 2009, she even breastfed a starving baby from Sierra Leone.
While many of us long for the sun-kissed glow, tanorexics or people who are addicted to tanning are obsessed about it. They are known to rush to the beach or the tanning booth the moment they can. They also keep a close watch on the schedule, never missing an appointment.
Many people tan to get a good skin tone and some panic the moment they turn a shade pale, but for tanorexics, the process of tanning is more important than the results itself, often resulting in an unappealing shade of brown. Tanning is also reported to be a mood-enhancer, with many tanners claiming to feel relaxed and happy after a session. The dangers of excessive tanning are many, including dehydration, skin aging and worst still, skin cancer.
Tanorexia gained notoriety, thanks to Patricia Krentcil, a lady who brought along her preschooler to a tanning salon. She was banned from several tanning booths and charged with child endangerment due to the misconception that she wanted her daughter to get a tan.
Believe it on not, people can and do get addicted to pulling out their own hair. Called, trichotillomania, people afflicted with this condition have an insatiable need to pull out hair for hours at a time, causing bald spots. It is also surprisingly common, about 5% of Americans are estimated to be compulsive hair pullers; including children as young as 12 months old. The statistics are thought to be grossly underestimated though, as most people tend to hide and cover up the bald patches with caps, wigs or make-up.
While the most obvious drawback of this addiction is social embarrassment it can also be painful. But sufferers are unable to stop themselves, even going in a trance-like state whilst pulling out their hair.
Trichotillomania is recognized as a impulse-control disorder by experts. Other such disorders include onychophagia – compulsive nail biting and the much more serious, dermatillomania. This disorder entails compulsively picking, scratching or rubbing the skin, resulting in injury and scarring.
Adopting a pet is recommended for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. But, did you know that animals themselves can be addictive? Animal or pet addicts have a compulsive need to obtain animals and unlike people who excessively love their pampered pooches, these people tend to hoard hundreds of animals at a time.
The harm comes from the addicts inability to care for so many animals; both the pets and their owner, end up in filthy, bug-infested abodes and subsiding on scraps. Infections and diseases are also rife due to the crowded conditions. What is even more shocking though, is that sometimes these people even refuse to believe their pet has died and continue to ‘care’ for their carcass. The body often lies there with other pets roaming around, sometimes even taking a bite.
Lory Yazurlo, a woman from Florida, is the owner of Pig Tales Sanctuary and rescues abandoned pigs. Unfortunately, after rescuing the pigs, she would leave them to roam free on her estate, resulting in their number once reaching to a grand total of 500 pigs, many of them diseased and malnourished. She was featured on the Discovery Channel’s show Taboo, when the county intervened and gassed all of her pigs.
I guess everyone has met at least one person who just can’t seem to stop talking, whether it is due to nervousness or megalomania. Talkaholics are a lot like them, except, the desire to talk is a need, a compulsion for them. They may realize that a person is getting annoyed, but they just can’t stop talking, ‘driven’ by their need to talk.
Compulsive talking, is a part of Communication Addiction Disorder in which a person feels the need to be constantly in touch with others, feeling restless and experiencing anxiety, when unable to do. The person also tends to look for approval from others instead of giving his/her own feelings due importance.
Dr. James C. McCroskey, an expert in the field of communication and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University; has devised a ‘Talkaholic Scale’ – a means to distinguish a talkative person from a talkaholic.
The Weirdest Addictions in the World
While the aforementioned addictions are pretty surprising, there are a few people who are addicted to the most eerie and yucky things. My Strange Addiction a reality show by TLC is based on such people and their unique addictions. Here are ten addictions from the show which I found to be the strangest.
One of the most creepy and appalling episodes, albeit carrying the distinction of being the ‘most watched episode’ of the show, featured Michelle who is addicted to drinking blood. While she gulps down approximately 5 liters of pig blood every day, her real fix is human blood and needs it at least once a week.
Pulling Hair out of Shower Drains
Evan is addicted to pulling hair out of shower drains – from any and all bathrooms he can get access to. Even though he is extremely embarrassed by it, he can’t stop himself, even sneaking in to his acquaintances’ bathrooms.
This is another addiction featured in the show that made sure I skipped my dinner. This time of a couple who compulsively cleanse their colons with coffee enemas at least 4 times in a day – though the count may go up to 10 enemas within 24 hours.
Margaret got addicted to bee stings thanks to ‘Bee Venom Therapy’ or Apitherapy to relieve pain from arthritis. However, this therapy has become her addiction and she even keeps bees in her own house for easy access to the bees.
Licking and Eating Cat Hair
Many people have pets and some tolerate a hair or two of their beloved in their soup. But, Lisa simply can’t live without licking her cat or eating its hair every two hours.
Nicole, a girl in New York, is addicted to eating stick deodorant and eats about half a stick of deodorant each day. While a dry mouth and stomach aches are common occurrence for her, doctors caution on more serious health problems like dementia, cancer and even death.
Drinking Nail Polish
Another apparently addictive item from the cosmetic aisle – nail polish. While there are a few people who claim to be addicted to sniffing it, Bertha, featured on MY Strange Addiction loves drinking the stuff, downing around 5 bottles of nail polish in a day.
Eating Couch Stuffing
Adele, a woman from Florida is believed to be suffering from Pica, a disorder in which a person craves non-food items. Adele has an insatiable appetite for foam stuffing and was even rushed to the ER for a blockage due to the foam.
A man in Brazil, Luis Squarisi, has to attend every funeral in town, and has even resigned from his job to attend them. The other residents of his town fortunately, don’t mind his addiction, even finding a bit of comfort in his familiar presence.
Gloria was featured on the show due to her obsession with bleach. She claims to clean everything in her house with bleach from furniture to clothes and even add it to her bath water, soaking in the stuff till her skin starts tingling. Even worse, she has consumed toiled paper soaked in bleach when she was pregnant with her third child.
Addictions can and do drive people to do crazy things and are capable of alienating them from their loved ones – sometimes for the silliest things. While it can creep you out, one must remember that the people suffering from these weird addictions often have psychological or physiological reasons behind them and need compassion and understanding.