On “attention-seeking.”

“You’re just doing this for attention.”

The term”attention-seeking” seems fairly common. In mental health contexts, I’ve heard it used specifically in regards to self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve heard people mention that they’ve heard it about their own sensory processing issues, chemical sensitivities, etc. When kids have tantrums, it often is labeled as attention-seeking.

In my opinion, people tend to throw around these words loosely and without much awareness. In truth, it can be dismissive of the person who is supposedly seeking attention. It’s shaming. It’s invalidating. It communicates that what is happening with that person is not significant, or that they should just stop the behavior in question. And the effect can be silencing. For someone who is in pain, it can be both invalidating and harmful.

Also, someone may need attention and help for a very valid reason. Why is that reason for shame? I’ve been perusing articles and posts about this and sometimes they change the lingo to “attention needing.” If that person is communicating – whether directly or indirectly – that they need help, why not listen to what they’re experiencing? Why not say,
“I’m not in your body. I can’t know what you’re experiencing. But if you tell me, I’ll see what I can do to help you, or I’ll find someone who can.”


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kneelynn on May 15, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Very insightful!


  2. Hmmm. I guess it really depends on the situation. This is a nice way to bring awareness to the issue.


  3. Great, and I totally agree.


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