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Is it strange or categorically bad to say things that shock others knowingly, and enjoy their reaction?

I have a close friend who partakes in such behavior, and I want to understand his motivation a bit better.

Some context

I am not speaking about an attention aspect, per se, since this satisfaction from saying "shocking things" would be usually in a personal relationship context, whether that be friendship, intimate, or familial.

Perhaps the idea stems from hurting others as a coping mechanism?

Further, the satisfaction is not sexual at all, but merely a satisfaction from the reaction to whatever was said.


I am currently investigating this idea, as I have seen my friend partake in such behavior, and often at that. This behavior is private, so I am doubtful that it is for attention.

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closed as off-topic by steveLangsford, Seanny123, Steven Jeuris Aug 8 '18 at 7:55

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "This question is not framed in psychology or neuroscience. It is based on assumptions which are not made explicit, are not well-motivated (e.g., referenced), or are not held to be true within any of the research fields on-topic here. For more information, see Why was my question closed as “not framed in psychology or neuroscience”?." – Steven Jeuris
  • "Questions about the behavior of an individual person are off-topic. If you are concerned about a potential medical issue, please seek the advice of a medical professional. For more information, see Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic?." – steveLangsford, Seanny123
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Asking if something is "strange or categorically bad" is not within the mandate of this site, unless you want to clarify what you mean by "strange" so it fits here: a psychiatric disorder (alone it's not, I can tell you that already) or maybe just a symptom that would qualify for some such (there might be too many). "Categorically bad" is a moral judgement, so maybe go to philosophy SE if you really want that angle. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Aug 1 '18 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ IMHO, I think he thinks he can manipulate others' reactions through his words. That thought is somewhat a part of his ego. $\endgroup$ – Ax H Aug 8 '18 at 7:23
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If I understand the question correctly, this article might interest you.

To break it down, it suggests that actions taken out to seek attention are a coping mechanism that have their roots in early neglect by the family. Since attention is an important social need, if it is not readily available as a child, the brain wires itself to go to extreme lengths to receive it.

In the case you mentioned, saying inflammatory things to enjoy a reaction fulfills that need for attention. According to the article, this releases endorphins that reduce the anxiety that accompanies not receiving adequate attention.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer gives a possibility, but to my mind, there can be all sorts of reasons for attention seeking. Not just because of childhood neglect etc. Look at the media for one example. Shock sells newspapers and gains attention in TV news reports. Maybe they have been hurt within friendships and therefore they are distancing themselves from others to avoid being hurt again? $\endgroup$ – Chalmondley Aug 1 '18 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ hoestly that PT page sounds like bollocks. The ref it cites for "Excessive attention seeking is not a character flaw. It is a brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect." is ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10831470 which I have no idea how someone can interpret like that; it's a study of trauma in adulthood etc. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Aug 1 '18 at 18:11

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