“Main udna chahta hoon. Daudna chahta hoon. Girna bhi chahta hoon. Bas, Rukna nahi chahta.”
Most of us will resonate with this dialogue by Kabir aka Bunny played by Ranbir Kapoor in the movie, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. The character is always on the go, in a rush to do everything. A term called ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ was popularly used in the movie, ‘Point Break’ in 1991 and ever since then, it has been used for those seeking high sensation experiences. Can we call Bunny an adrenaline junkie? Let’s find out!
This concept of being an ‘adrenaline junkie’ can be understood from both biological and psychological lenses:
When our body senses danger, excitement, emotional charge-up or fear, the adrenal medulla releases a hormone called epinephrine (which impacts the heart) and norepinephrine (which impacts blood vessels) which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response that we may experience. The air passages in our body dilate so as to increase the supply of oxygen to the muscles and the blood vessels contract to redirect the supply of enough blood to the heart and lungs. This is what results in your increasing heartbeat and rush of physical sensations in your body. An adrenaline Junkie is a person who enjoys experiencing a rush of these hormones by taking part in intense activities to trigger its release. There is no medical definition for the same and they might be referred to as thrill seekers as well.
A lot of people enjoy indulging in thrilling activities but are they all addicted to this adrenaline rush? There is limited research on the said discussion but a Study published in 2016 on rock climbers concluded that “Rock climbing athletes appear to experience withdrawal symptoms when abstinent from their sport comparable to individuals with substance and behavioural addictions.” While there might be limited research available, one thing that is clear is that these junkies, as they are referred to, ought to feel ‘bored’ more easily if the environment is not stimulating their adrenaline hormone sensors.
Although everyone produces adrenaline (fight or flight response) during times of stress, these thrill-seeking people would enjoy and crave the process while others might find it difficult to manoeuvre through and it can be a personality trait for them. Another Study published in 2009 went on to say that personality types with a configuration of low conscientiousness combined with high extraversion and/or high neuroticism (impulsive, hedonistic, insecure) were greater risk-takers. The psychological reasons for an individual to be called an adrenaline junkie so to speak might be different.
Sharing an insight from my professional experience: some people might have had a lonely childhood, felt bored and despised the time they were alone. They would not have many things to do and to add to it, a variety of thoughts would take over their mind leaving them upset. So, to avoid that loneliness, the individual may start seeking such adrenaline rush moments in their life as one of their coping mechanisms to deal with the difficult emotions that they must be feeling. It might as well be safe to say that an adrenaline junkie or a thrill-seeking individual would compulsively look forward to these dangerous expeditions which could have different significance and meaning attached to them for everyone who indulges in it.
There is a tendency to get dependent on such activities that increase the level of adrenaline in them. Norepinephrine could be a key factor in making people dependent, according to a Study in 2009. In fact, the “Adrenaline Instead of Amphetamine” program was launched by Gdańsk's MONAR association which is a centre for drug treatment. They wanted to explore if there was an alternative to using psychoactive substances. They proposed to replace these behaviours with parachuting and the results were surprising, to say the least. The treatment effectiveness there is about 30% and the program’s effectiveness was 80%, yes, you read it right!
The feeling that an adrenaline rush gives might last for less than a minute, but the immediate aftermath is another flood of mood-boosting chemicals which can be addictive for some people. Coming back to the question, can Kabir be considered an Adrenaline Junkie? Probably yes, the character might as well be considered to be an adrenaline junkie ‘ jo bas rukna nahi chahta.” He has a goal, he achieves it and then moves on to the other one leaving behind everything and everyone chasing that adrenaline rush. Being ambitious is not at all wrong, but that is not the discussion here, the adrenaline chasing is. For all those who relate to Bunny, give it a thought, are you chasing dreams or are you getting addicted to the idea of chasing your dreams therefore once you achieve the desired dream, you are no longer cherishing it, rather, you are onto planning for your next adventure.