Oh, and an important piece of evidence I forgot to include:
I have a close friend who has a strong “romantic fanfic” habit, and based on observation and conversation it’s extremely clear to me that this is a pica/coping mechanism for them, to imperfectly replace real emotional intimacy/social safety/etc.
The similarity between their behaviors around fanfic and my behaviors around scifi are too strong for me to ignore, so that updates me in the direction of thinking it’s important to uncover what’s going on here.
This was me for quite a few years. I’ve noticed that in times when I’m really depressed I’ll read fanfic until I pass out from exhaustion at 4am, but when I feel happy and emotionally fulfilled (e.g. the past few months) my fanfic habit completely disappears and I feel no desire to read it even when I get notifications for it. Strangely, this wasn’t something I easily identified as pica at our CFAR workshop.
Yeah, I have a friend like that too.