The Rise of Dopamine Culture

Ted Gioia at The Honest Broker writes:

How can pursuing pleasure lead to less pleasure? But that’s how our brains are wired (perhaps as a protective mechanism). At a certain point, addicts still pursue the stimulus, but more to avoid the pain of dopamine deprivation. People addicted to painkillers have the same experience. Beyond a certain level, opioid dependence actually makes the pain worse. What happens when this same experience is delivered to everybody, via their phones? The results are devastating, as expert Dr. Len Lantz explains. Even people who thought they were immune to addictive behavior, get destroyed by the cycle: There is a specific, abnormal brain activation pattern that is present in people who have anhedonia, which is a key feature of major depression, and absent in those who do not. It is often the case that when patients come to me with major depression, they say, “I shouldn’t be depressed. I have a good life. If my friends or coworkers knew I was depressed, they wouldn’t understand or they would be mad at me. They think I have it made. So, why don’t I feel that way?” We’re now seeing the first effects on a grand social scale of this deadening effect.

Read more: The State of the Culture, 2024

dopamine culture infographic