Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ringxiety: The Next New Disorder

Do you have the sensation that your cell phone is ringing or vibrating when it's not?

If so, you may have RINGXIETY.

Dr. David Laramie, from California's School of Professional Psychology, is the originator of the term and experiences "Ringxiety" as well. According to Dr. Laramie, people have grown emotionally dependent on cell phones for feelings of self-worth or for needing to be connected. Some more snarky experts think that "Ringxiety" is a need to feel popular, while sound experts believe hearing sounds that seem like a telephone's ring send an expectant brain into action, a checking-the-phone-reflex, so to speak. Whatever the origin, it appears that these needs cause people to be so desperate not to miss a call that they hear phones ringing or feel phones vibrating even when they are not.

I have the opposite of "Ringxiety". My phone is never on. I rarely use it. I spend money just to have it. I think the name of that disorder is "Sqaunderitis".

New York Times


Anonymous said...

I'm like you, never have my cell on or I leave it in the car for weeks. When I worked on the ambulance and wore a pager, I used to think that was going off all the time.

Anonymous said...

I have a cell phone because of my children. Otherwise, I'd get a pre-paid one and leave it in the glove box for emergencies. My husband, on the other hand, always has is cell plugged into his ear and is always talking to someone. He can't be without it. Grrrrr... He talks more than any person I've ever known!

Dawn said...

my cell is prepaid, and my phone company is always trying to get me to go to the monthly plan. I never used my phone, in fact, half the time my battery is dead or I cant even find my phone-lol.

i could tell you many stories about customers at work with ringxiety; I see it on a daily basis-it's really rather rude, but quite amusing to watch-lol

Ian Lidster said...

I too suffer from 'squanderitis', my dear Deb. I have one. My wife has one. Neither of us keeps them turned on or uses them except on the rarest occasions. We carry them in our cars in case of highway emergencies. Personally (and I am not in any way antisocial) I suffer little bits of anxiety whenever the phone rings, and that's a residual from being a rehab director, because the call was too often from the centre telling me something bad had happened.

dragonflyfilly said...


Fallen Angels said...

We have a cell phone so that people can reach us when we are online (intentionally keep the phone busy for "avoiding the parents reasons") only key people have our cell number. We also have it with us when out of the house for emergencies only...emergencies are usually minor, but fairly frequent due to our dx.

We have a pre-paid phone/plan. It works very well for us. We pay very little. Virgin mobile has 3 different plans and are very reasonable.

Id it is said...

Squaderitis it is for me too! Never really felt the need to have one, but for some reason I do!

The Mass Defective said...

I don't have ringxiety for the same reason you mentioned, mine's rarely on. But then again I don't have squanderitis because I added my phone onto someone else's account so they pay the bill. Think that's called moocheritis.

I do think it's funny tho, when a cellphone rings and you see a whole group of people reaching for theirs to see if they're the lucky "winner of a call". Do all these people really all have the exact same ringtone? Maybe it isn't ringxiety, maybe it's hearing loss.


jane said...

LOL No, I don't have Ringxiety. I don't even have a cellphone. There was an interesting story on TV yesterday, a new cellphone ringtone that only young people can hear. The older we get we become unable to hear the higher tones. So these rings are in very high tones. Sneaky, eh?

Clare said...

LOL I'm definitely one of those people that think I've felt my phone vibrating when it hasn't :).

Us Brits are obsessed with our cell phones, well in London anyway. My train was delayed this afternoon and everyone got their phones out to relieve boredom I guess. How did we cope before cell phones?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Hey Tiesha,
My annual contract expires soon, so I will go the prepaid route. Seems the cost effective thing to do. When I had a pager, I used to think it went off when I was on call too. Pageritis, I suppose.

Dear Traci,
I need to get the prepaid plan, because I rarely use it. Sounds like your hubby is a talker!

Dear Dawn,
LOL! I bet it is fun to watch.

Dear Ian,
Being in a job like that would make you prone to ringxiety!

Dear Dragonfly,
Lukcy you :)

Dear Fallen,
I am going to look into that those plans. My contract expires in two months.

Dear Id It Is,
A long time ago, I had a cell phone and paid 13.99/month. That was great. But now, the plans are so high. I am going the prepaid route....maybe you too?

Dear Sid,
Your moocheritis made me blol!!!!!

Dear Jane,
The high pitched tone was originally used in a london store to keep young people from loitering in the vicinity. Guess the kids turned those tables on the adults! Very clever indeed.

Dear Clare,
I've read that about in the UK. People are feverish here about the cells too. It is a great tech device, but I rather like being unreachable at times, so that's why I don't use one.


SkyeBlue2U said...

Hi Dr.Deb. just came by to say Hi and I'm back will post by this weekend. love ya skye

Heidi said...

I only use my phone for Emerg and to check messages. That's why I buy a 10$ prepaid a card. 30 cents a min is alot but it's hardly used.

It's so funny, when I hear a cell phone go off I actually see and search if it's mine, even though I have it turned

mysti said...

People get mad at me becaue my phone is always on silent... They ask me why do I have a phone? If it is not on silent It is placed somewhere that I can never remember where I put it last....LOL Oh well I figure if it is important, then people will call my home phone or email me. There is always a way to contact me......

Godwhacker said...

I see the (sometimes) usefulness of cell phones, but I hate the ($*&)@_! things. I have a distinctive ring, so I can always tell if it's my phone or not. I use it as little as possible. I feel sad for people who can't put them down. I cringe when I see people out jogging with them, and restrain myself from chastising those who bring them into theaters without turning them off. There are those (Doctors) who have good need for such constant connectivity, but I don't and neither do most people.

People, enjoy the here and now... the world can get by without you for a few hours.

Is there a name for the feeling you get after venting on a blog? Whatever it is, I like it!

starry nights said...

I think I have ringxiety..always thinking that I hear the phone ring.

I n g e r said...

I don't even own a cell phone--and I should get one, I know, given how much time I spend on the highway. But I'm so sick and tired of phones: what I wouldn't give for a month in seclusion. With the kids, of course. :)

Dreaming again said...

Fallen Angel ...too funny! You have no idea how many times I will sign onto the computer and walk away just so my home phone can't ring!

My cell phone has ringers assigned I know who's calling most of the time, so I can screen by the ringtone.

I get really annoyed when the phone rings when it shouldn't be or the general ringtone rings.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we have a cell phone called "onbutneverhearit" actua;lly we have the same problem with the home phone to. I think we just have a anti ring anxiety ;)

Sunnie Dee said...

I have a cell phone, but during the day it's on silent. At night mostly I don't hear it and if I am on the internet the landline is engaged (thus I am on the internet even when I am not on the computer!). I am on the phone all day at work so I quite enjoy the silence at home

Nancy said...

I'm with you, i rarely use my phone but I like to watch people grab for their phones when they hear a ring. It makes me smile, knowing that mine is off. I only have mine so i can get in touch with my kids or if there is an emergency.
take care

ming said...

there is another closely related sickness.

which is knowing your phone will ring, before it actually does!

anyone ever get that?

Godwhacker said...

Also... I have a brother, 24 years my junior. I told him "when I was your age and you saw someone walking down the street talking to them selves with no one else around, you could be sure there was a... problem. Now, you have to check for the wire!"

The times they are a changing!

I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

Hubby said a woman left her phone at his office yesterday and when she returned for it, she asked if he had her "baby."

Future Daughter-in-Love said that my Manboy #1 left his wallet home last night when they went out and he felt naked...for her it's her phone that makes her feel that way if she goes without it.

I am that way--since I am on call and must be reached. It's not my "baby" (!)'s a noose around my neck sometimes...or at least around my hand.

puhpaul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
puhpaul said...

I'm pretty sure that this is one anxiety I will never suffer from. I like the idea of having a prepaid cellphone in the car for accidents, but the highway I most travel isn't within range of any cell stations.

I think you should do some research on Blogxiety. I'm sure there are many bloggers out there who become anxious that people aren't visiting or commenting on their blogs enough. Give it a thought, if you decide to publish I will be more than happy to sign over the rights to the Blogxiety name.


Raine said...

It is possible the next new disorder should be "overanalysis"? the process of creating disorders of out nothing?? Sorry just had to throw that out there. It just seems to me that it is rather a normal reaction to reach for a phone when you hear one ringing

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Skye,
Great that you're home again.

Dear Heidi,
I am SO getting the prepaid phone once my contract is up with the other company.

Dear Mysti,
I agree. I can be reached, but please - not everywhere I go!

Dear Godwhacker,
The distinctive ring is a great invention. But, I often wonder if illness and stress are increased by never having a buffer quiet zone. I am so glad you enjoy visiting. That's what it's all about :)

Dear Starry,
There are many who do :)

Dear Inger,
What a great idea. One time, we took a vacation where there were no tv's or radios in the hotel rooms. The phones only went to the hotel phone system. It was FABULOUS!

Dear Dreaming,
I know many who do that too:)

Dear JIP,
I dislike the phone. My family and friends know that I do. I'm a talker, but not on the phone. Gotta be in person, or email or letter writing for me.

Dear Sonnie,
I like the silence too.

Dear NAncy,
Having a mobile phone is a great invention and it is so important to have one, especially in emergencies and if you have kids. But, I have to go the prepaid route. Some of my friends are always on the phone, and the only have a cell - no land line phone. Amazing how there are different strokes for different folks!

Dear Ming,
Oh, yes. That's true. I think it has to do with psychic attunement.

Dear Godwhacker,
LOL, that is true!

Dear Milliner,
What a funny story. For many, the phone is a family member, another appendage, a part of who they are.

Dear Puhpaul,
What a brilliant idea. I will do a post on Blogxiety and credit you with its name (If it hasn't been coined already). I know there are many who feel that.

Dear Raine,
Disorder implies that it is a pervasive experience. I agree with you, that it is natural to react to a phone ringing. But for those who check and recheck over and over, it could be more than just a normal thing. But, I do get your thoughtful point.


Todd and in Charge said...

Great piece and comments. The bioethicist Jeremy Rifkin has a book addressing what he views as systemic problems with our increasing dependence on nanosecond technology -- the cell phone, computers, ipods, gameboys, XBox, GPSs etc., and our bodily systems' inability to process information that quickly, due to our physical roots in circadian and other natural rythmic cycles. The result: nervousness and stress.

Turn it off!

Raine said...

You know I just talked to someone that has a relative that cant put the cellphone down- like ever. How very sad. I guess the more complicated life gets the more disorders come to be. Seems to me that life is just way to fast and way to busy and its making people sick.

healthpsych said...

Interesting post.

My husband takes his mobile everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE!
Granted, some weeks he is on 24 hour call but not all the time! I'd try to take it off him but I think he'd get separation anxiety!

I have one. I always forget to turn it on!!!

Cathy said...

I have this!
Not with a cell phone, but when I am at home...I thought it was only me.

astrorat said...

wow.. thank god to people with ringxiety, cause they remind me when ever mine rings :D there really is a god! the irony of yinyang!

Moof said...

There are phobias that are absolutely a joy to have - telephonophobia is one of them!

I not only do not have, and have never had, a cell phone, I also do not use my regular phone more than once or twice a month.

I'm always the first one to snicker when someone's cell phone goes off during an awkward moment.

Now if I can just get over my computer addiction ... 0.o

Wanda's Wings said...

I think I was the last person in BA to get a cell phone. I don't see how people can use them 24/7.

Miranda said...

It's sad, Im afraid to admit it, but I cant live without mine. Though I dont have Ringxiety, cuz my ring is very diff from everyone elses.

Sun Warrior said...

Let's face it. Cell phones are the new cigarettes.

Jon said...

Dr. Deb, cell phones are clearly the devil. I struggled and fought against getting one, but sadly it became a financial liability about a year ago, and I broke down. I'm a little sad that I did. I wrote about the issue of cell phones and stress a little ways back. If you're interested, you can click through on my name.

Life Happen said...

I have been cell free three years ,and I managed to survive. I no longer race to reach into my pocket. I am cured of RINGXIETY.

I get stressed about other things.

I you need to blow off some stress, you should check out this cool link that offer stress buster games.


SkyeBlue2U said...

My cell phone rarely rings, however, my work phone never stops... this is a good thing right?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Raine,
Different strokes for different folks. Makes the world go 'round, right?

Dear Healthpsych,
So funny.

Dear Cathy,
Yup, I know many who have that too when they are home. "Was that the phone?"

Dear Astro,
I think it's amazing too.

Dear Moof,
I am addicted to the computer too. I have wrist tendonitis, and NOW I have elbow tendonitis. I just purcahsed a dictating software. Maybe that'll help. Or maybe I should just curb my addiction.

Dear Wanda,
What can be so important that you have to be on the phone all the time? I'm with you on that.

Dear Miranda,
So good to see you here. Hope you are feeling well.

Dear Sun Warrior,
You know, that's true!

Dear Jon,
I did a post on that Journal article too when it was released. Fascinating study. I think having a phone is a good idea for emergencies etc, and some need it for work. Guess you've joined the ranks!

Dear Life Happen,
Great site. And wow for being cell free. That's so cool.

Dear SKye,
It could be a very good thing at work. :)


Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb!!

I don't think I have ringxiety, but I do sometimes think it rang when it didn't.. now I have it set on "remind me" if I miss a call. Since most of my calls come from some work we do around the apt complexes, and not personal, I don't like to miss calls... lol -- Jim and I are used to the cell phones now, but my Dad just can not leave his on.. he is always worried "he will run the battery down leaving it on" --- well.. see.. now.. it's hard to call him on it, if its OFF :) LOL :):):)
Have a great weekend!!!!!!!

Angel Chasse (again)

wolfbaby said...

hmm i have a cell for long distance and emergencies.. i lose it alot though lol

ellesu said...

When I was first getting used to the cell I drove my family crazy because I kept thinking I heard the silly phone ringing.

Sometimes, to try and save face, I'd pretend I was talking to someone -- but I don't think I fooled anyone.

United We Lay said...

My mom gets annoyed when I don't answer my cell phone. I've tried to explain to her tha a phone, any phone, is there for the owner's convenience, not the caller's, but she doesn't agree. She likes that she can get on touch with me whenever she needs to, and that's great, but sometimes it's juts not a good time or I'm in the middle of doing something that I don't want to stop. I think cell phones have largely contributed to our Me culture. When people want to get ahold of you, they seems to feel it's your obligation to be there. Americans are becoming more demanding, just not for the right things. Instead of demanding that someone be at the end of the line every time we call, we should be demanding better schools, health care, and an end to this war. Instead, we focus on the things we are more likely to get - instant access to friends, the web, and any video we could possibly think of.

Anonymous said...

mine always in salient mode.. i always try to live without all those Tech. stress.

Modern crazy world.. the new medical Intelligent Stethoschope comming soon

with Chat support , Podcasting , Mp3player , and FM enabled...
with Skype support too :D

lol sometimes i believe the Tech. will destroy Us


lady in satin said...

Hey there, Dr. Deb!!
I have to say, I don't have that disorder! I'm like you, I hardly use the phone...sometimes I hate to hear it ring!! lol. But I feel its a necessity.

P.S. my blog is back!! =)

A Flowered Purse said...

LOL I do this, I have my phone set to the song, you had a bad day. If it's on the radio the first thing I do is make sure it isn't my phone!!
have a great weekend

Francesca Gray said...

I have a mobile phone, ostensibly so I can find out where the kids are. Oh and so that they can call me to ask where their father is (How should I know? Although still friends, we have been divorced for years, lol). It does have its uses. When I am very down I find it impossible to answer the house phone. I don't even check messages. But for some reason (probably because I can see who is calling), I don't have the same problem with my mobile.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Angel,
I think it is charming that your Dad worries his battery will run out if he leaves it on.

Dear Wolfbaby,
Sounds like you use it for alot of calls. Funny :)

Dear Ellsue,
That is TOTALLY hilarious and adorable that you do that!!!

Dear United,
I think it does contribute to the "ME" aspects, and it also contributes to stress levels being so high in many people. It is important to have buffer time, quiet time, refueling time. Always being connected can be hazardous to your mental and physical health (For many).

Dear Dr. Hamza,
I went over to your site to check it out and couldn't believe it was true.

Dear Lady,
SO happy you are back!

Dear Dianna,
Great song!!! Hope you and yours have a great Father's Day.

Dear Francesca,
I hear you on that!



Deb S. said...

Family members tell me that my brother has more than one cell phone. I only know about one of them. My brother also carries a pager. I never want to be that wired!

Because of the ever-changing nature of my work and the fact that I'm a mom, I carry a cell phone. However, I don't think I suffer from ringxiety - mostly because when I'm not working, I shun the phone like the plague!

I'm emailing your post to my teenage daughter. I finally let her have a cell phone for security reasons, but sometimes I think the phone grows out of her ear!

Meow said...

I have a cell phone, which is always on, but it rarely rings. It's mainly for emergencies.
Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and the upcoming week is a good one for you. Take care, Meow

Rose said...

I might have a disorder similiar to that but maybe on the opposite side. It is called phone talkxiety. This is when people talk loudly on their phones anywhere and anytime. I don't want to hear their conversations. You are definitely right though about the ringxiety.

Bar said...

Hi Dr. D, found you through Meow. I feel my phone ringing in my pocket when its not there but I heard it is a side effect of taking Effexor...I only use my phone twice a day but it "rings" in my pocket a few times a week.

Great blog, I'll be back. (do you know anything about psychopaths? I've been researching that topic)

REMY said...

Hey Doc, its me E aka Remy still hanging around in two spots on blogger.

I can't live without my cell phone. I feel like its attached to my ear or pocket. I talk too much for a prepaid phone, my cousin tried to jack me up with one without telling me it was prepaid while going overseas. I would have been out of commission with those back home if that was the case.

I confess, I'm addicted to my cell phone, a necessity I can't live without.

Adam said...

It's certainly pellucid to see that phones have become an emotional attachment for many people. You often see people walking through town with their phones out, but more so if they are merely standing doing nothing in particular -- a phone in your hand is perceived as being far less suspicious, increases your fallacious popularity and draws much less attention than the inverse.

Nevertheless, finally a name for the psychological condition! We have a name for every other inconsequential and out-right bizarre issues. Why should the mobile generation feel left out?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear DCS,
I don't like to be that wired too.

Dear Meow,
Had a great week and hope you did too.

Dear Rose,
I just like when people talk loudly on their phones too!

Dear Bar,
Ringing is a side effect in medication sometimes!

Dear Remy,
So nice to hear from you.

Dear Adam,
I think if we tried we could find a psychological name for all things!

-- Debbie

Belizegial said...

Dr. Deb, even in the tropics this funny phenomena can be found. a bunch of phones ringing and everyone reaching for theirs. When standing in a line at the bank, this comical sight does help to relieve the boredom somewhat, lol.
As for me and my cell, we are not joined at the hips (ears) or anywhere else for that matter. If you need me, try the landline instead.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Enid,
It's land lines for me too :P


onemoretina said...

Hello Deb .... Sometimes I wish that the cell phone had never been invented. It seems to have contributed to so much rudeness in our society these days. People walking around with the phone glued to their ears, oblivious to everything and everyone around them. Although my major gripe is with people who have to gab while driving. My son was home on disability for more than a year because of somebody who was so busy talking that they failed to see the red light. And he was one of the lucky ones.
Thanks for an interesting entry. Tina

rajAT said...

It happens to me a lot of times. At times in a day I feel that my phone is vibrating when I never put my cell on vibration mode.

It really sux and I feel so stupid about it.

for_the_lonely said...

This post really made me chuckle..we have been without a cell phone for almost 4 years, and finally bought a tracphone ( pay as you go, or prepaid ) phone for our move down here ( in case of an emergency). It comes in great handy, but people have been calling it like it is a home phone, so we have dished out a lot of money for minutes, which is where they get you. We finally have a landline telephone, thank goodness! But a prepaid phone is a great way to go, nonetheless, especially if you are trying to avoid telephone company contracts! :)

Enjoy your vacation!


molly said...

oh, i have total ringziety! i hear my phone from a mile away! the different bells for voice mails or texts. it's like i'm on red alert ... and i don't really care!

cheesemeister said...

Yes, I have it! Mostly because I know it's always bill collectors, I never answer my home phone. On my cell phone it's generally my father and sometimes he can drive people up a wall! But I need to have mine on in case it's work or if my son needs something, such as he has gotten out of school early.

Happy0303 said...

I usually have my phone on but I rarely answer it, especially if I don't recognize the caller ID. My sister on the other hand will answer her phone no matter what she's doing or where she is.

Thanks for submitting this to the Carnival of Family Life.

Tracie said...

My husband is always on call....and he always thinks that it is his cell phone ringing. I think that he has complicated matters by giving everyone different ring tones, so it isn't like he just listens for one specific one.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Tracie,
Being on-call is the worst for Ringxiety. Because of the pressure of work, many people think they hear the phone.

thanks for sharing