Is Thrill Seeking Ethical?

addictive thrill seekingThrill seeking is a behavior we observe in a great many people. Most of us know someone who gets their jollies from cliff jumping, sky diving, mountain climbing or some other high adrenaline activity. Most people cannot understand it, but these activities are highly enjoyable to them. The question of ethics often arises in these situations because commonly, a thrill seeker will be married or have children. People naturally wonder how they are all right with jeopardizing their safety for fun when they have dependents or loved ones. There is no clear answer to this controversy.

On one hand, every person is free to spend their time how they see fit. Thrill seeking involves taking calculated risks, often times to experience things that will broaden perspective and allow a person to practice a skill. Firemen and policemen also take calculated risks going into their line of work, so why would thrill seeking be called unethical?

On the other hand, thrill seeking can be considered addictive and worthy of rehabilitation. After all, the thrilling activities that adrenaline junkies perform give them a rush of dopamine, the same brain chemical that is responsible for all troubling addictive behavior, including the kind that involve substance abuse. Can it then be deduced that thrill seeking behavior is a sign of maladaptive tendencies and require therapy and treatment?

The reason this is controversial is because thrill-seeking has observable therapeutic benefits to thrill seekers, not just detriments. When we examine an addiction like substance abuse, we can be certain that the addiction will have harmful effects on the addict. But in the case of thrill seeking, it is entirely possible that the thrill seeker will never experience harm for as long as they engage in the activity of thrill seeking. The bottom line is that anything can be addictive. Some addictions put a person in immediate danger and some do not. But any addiction throws a person’s life out of balance and makes them lose perspective, so any addiction should be brought under control.