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Escapism is the avoidance of unpleasant, boring, arduous, scary, or banal aspects of daily life. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to help relieve persisting feelings of depression or general sadness.
Entire industries have sprung up to foster a growing tendency of people to remove themselves from the rigors of daily life – especially into the digital world. Many activities that are normal parts of a healthy existence (e.g., eating, sleeping, exercise, sexual activity) can also become avenues of escapism when taken to extremes or out of proper context; and as a result the word "escapism" often carries a negative connotation, suggesting that escapists are unhappy, with an inability or unwillingness to connect meaningfully with the world and to take necessary action. Indeed, the OED defined escapism as “The tendency to seek, or the practice of seeking, distraction from what normally has to be endured”.
However, many challenge the idea that escapism is fundamentally and exclusively negative. C. S. Lewis was fond of humorously remarking that the usual enemies of escape were jailers; and considered that used in moderation escapism could serve both to refresh and to expand the imaginative powers. Similarly J. R. R. Tolkien argued for escapism in fantasy literature as the creative expression of reality within a Secondary (imaginative) world, (but also emphasised that they required an element of horror in them, if they were not to be 'mere escapism').Terry Pratchett considered that the twentieth-century had seen the development over time of a more positive view of escapist literature.
Freud considered a quota of escapist fantasy a necessary element in the life of humans: "[T]hey cannot subsist on the scanty satisfaction they can extort from reality. 'We simply cannot do without auxiliary constructions', Theodor Fontane once said". His followers saw rest and wish fulfilment (in small measures) as useful tools in adjusting to traumatic upset; while later psychologists have highlighted the role of vicarious distractions in shifting unwanted moods, especially anger and sadness.
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