Going boldly can be a good thing

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The Independent Online
Fans of the sci-fi series Star Trek can become addicted to the programme, showing similar symptoms to users of illegal drugs, according to psychological research published today.

But Dr Sandy Wolfson, who has spent four years investigating "Trekkies", says that addiction to the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew is psychologically beneficial, because of the enrichment the show brings to fans' lives.

She believes her findings should kill forever the stereotype of the nerdish Star Trek "anorak" who tries to make up for an empty life with obsessive interest in the TV series and movies.

She said: "My research found that about 5-10 per cent of the 1,000 fans questioned met the psychological criteria of addiction, showing withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and frustration if they miss an episode and developing higher tolerance levels, so they need increasing `doses'."

But Dr Wolfson, principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Northumbria, whose research is published in the Times Higher Education Supplement, said: "I found that they are normally very lively, happy, well-adjusted, family-type people, not the deranged and lonely nerds of the stereotype."