Jan 25, 2013


We all have been obsessed with something, some objects or ideas, aim or purpose or some person or persons at some point of our lives. Obsession is a part of our emotional faculty in the brain which creates an unfettering bond and unflinching attraction towards something we like or care about. It is the height of our emotional feelings which we express more from our heart than our mind. It is an infatuation of the highest degree. There may be no logical reasoning for the outburst of these pituitary feelings which shadows our mind and in turn we lose the capacity of seeing right or wrong. It is also the height of making our feelings indulgent and sometimes oppressive. If the obsession is let loose then chances of being emotionally, or mentally hurt is very high. It may also push us in a deep depression and frustration. Uncontrolled obsession may also result in loss of prestige and mental turpitude. 

Passion and obsession are synonym words but its implied meaning is different. In passion, heart and mind gets involved to certain extent whereas in obsession, it may reach to the point of limitlessness.  The desire to do or get something reaches to the point of fanaticism.  The vision gets blurred in seeing pros and cons of other aspects of life than the things one is obsessed with. Therefore to my mind, obsession is an extreme end of passion. Passion makes a person humane, pulls forward in the life, becomes a driving factor in achieving targets, it has the positive connotations whereas obsession may have the adverse effects and may make a person mentally unstable.

In contrary, obsession with some aim or purpose drives us to become creative, thoughtful, resourceful, and successful. We cannot have the positive synergy to achieve something in our lives unless we are obsessed. It is the driving force which gives us the strength to overcome hurdles. Obsession with positivity may take us to the pinnacle of the aim or purpose. It may help us in fructifying our efforts.

Therefore, I am forced to analyze what this noun means to us. What factors contribute to obsession? Is it necessary to be obsessed with something? How many types of obsession do we see in our daily lives? What are their pitfalls? How does a balanced obsession help us in our lives?

The feeling of obsession may be caused by several factors depending upon the demography, culture, family and social backgrounds that may be classified as under:

1. National Factors:This factor represents a common behaviour amongst majority of natives. For example, in Japan people are obsessed with hygiene as a result they spend a lot of time taking a bath or keeping themselves clean. Russians are obsessed with their national drink “Vodka” as a result they consume more vodka than any other country in the world. Canadians are obsessed with their national sport “Ice Hockey,” whereas Indians are obsessed with their sport “Cricket” or their “filmy idols”. Americans are obsessed with “Football” etc. Because of these obsessions, people are crazy in their habits or interests on national level.

2.    Social Factors: The influence of family, friends and society may also trigger the feeling of obsession, such as smoking, drinking, gambling, etc. We remain obsessed with certain habits till we are able to overcome it. We also get obsessed with certain social traditions such as wearing robes, applying vermillion on our foreheads, or wearing certain dresses or head gears, etc. Hence, people become obsessed with certain social or cultural traditions or practices.

3.  Biological Factors: Obsession towards certain habits or responses may be genetic. For example if parents or grandparents have been obsessed with certain foods, life styles, or sports like hunting, shooting etc then the offspring may also pick up those habits. Extreme craving for biologically induced desire is the best example of this factor.

4.   Religious Factors: In my previous articles, I have quoted the famous Russian economist, Carl Marx who has said that “religion is the opium of man.” Religion is a major cause in moulding our behaviour and thought process. Without any supposed logical reasoning we become obsessed with certain rituals, religious beliefs and practices. Religious obsession changes our perception and the way we think or behave in a society.

5.   Psychological Factors: If people have been deprived of certain things in their childhood then those things may become reasons of obsession in their lives. Some people are also obsessed with materialistic things such as house, car, jewellery or other assets whereas some are obsessed with showing off their new found wealth, power, position or popularity etc.

As discussed above, obsession towards anything to certain extent becomes a driving factor in achieving for things we are obsessed with but beyond that may result in becoming a mental disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder caused by the intrusive thoughts, but the anxiety to succeed or be creative or to gain something extraordinary is not considered as OCD. Therefore obsession can be of the following types:

1. Situational: Obsession towards business makes a businessman successful. Likewise obsession towards a profession makes a successful surgeon, lawyer or engineer. In a tough competition for selection of professional studies, students become obsessed with their study. In an Olympic level sports or other competitive sports, sports persons cannot succeed unless they become obsessed with their game or practice to perform exceptionally. Some people are called ‘workaholic’ which is nothing but an obsession towards work.

2.  Mental: Some people get obsessed with certain people or things that their activities or responses become abnormal. In the process they forget social norms or practices as a result they lose honour and respect in society. Their obsession is based on illogical emotional distress to hold on to something which may cause embarrassment or humiliation to their self.

3.   Emotional: The love story of Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Antony, Siri and Farhad, Layla and Majnun, are the best examples of emotional obsession which became the examples of love stories. Truthfulness of intense feeling, longing for each other’s company gives rise to this type of obsession. However, these emotional outbursts may be taken unkindly by society as very few people have the capacity to understand and analyze the real cause behind these natural phenomena.

4.    Spiritual: Spiritual obsession lifts a person’s soul to higher levels and takes him or her near to God. This obsession is the purest of its kind and necessary for the seekers of divine power. Extreme devotion of Mira for lord Krishna is the best example of this obsession.

4. Technological:  These days we see several technologically obsessed people around us. They are obsessed with new gadgets like I-Phone or I-Pad or Blackberry or other mobile phones or computing system. They are obsessed so much that they cannot think of their lives without these gadgets. They do not care even if obsession towards these gadgets may endanger their lives in situations like talking and driving a car or talking while crossing a busy street.

Therefore the word obsession in itself is not bad. The quality of obsession depends upon its nature which can be divided into positive obsession or negative obsession. Positive obsession may make a person whereas negative obsession may break a person mentally and emotionally.

In a professional world, obsession towards a particular profession may take professionals to the heights of success, which I think is a type of positive obsession. But chances are also there that such an obsession may blind professionals to look at other aspects of their lives.

I look forward to your comments to further enlighten our mind on the topic

Suman Saran Sinha
A seeker of logical quest


Debashish Naik, Bengaluru, India. said...

I view it in a slightly different way....It is the purpose of one's life..to me many of the people do not know what is the purpose of their life and what exactly they want....they get trapped into a world where they never can think of that they can have a beautiful life other than the rat race...

Will Rogers, Baltimore, MD, USA. said...

I must agree, partially, with Mr. Suman and Mr. Naik. Being a success at anything requires sacrifice and to the innocent observer that sacrifice could appear to be obsession. Personally, I was so focused on business ventures, in my youth, that I sacrificed my family and many lost years with my children - I am since divorced and I sorely miss those lost days; however, I have not changed in my work ethic and business pursuits. I am just as passionate and "obsessive" - to borrow your term - as I always was. The loss and pain of sacrifice did not curb my appetite for negotiation, business deals and the desire to make something productive from a mere vision. There are times I wish I had a more rounded and varied life, but my heart will not allow it. I love business - does this make me an obsessive person? If I am obsessed than I quantify my ex-wife's definition of me as "not normal".

Personally, I advise all clients to seek a balanced life and yet I have not been able to find that balance myself. Thanks for the question it caused me to reminisce.

Rajkumar Kothari, New Delhi, India said...

I liked the topic.

Denis Adweya, Kenya said...

I liked the discussion.

GALA ov HUDU said...

I said the other day, "well she's obsessed with it because she doesn't understand it" (referring to alice in wonderland due to the fact that she is a straight edge girl.)
Now i am in search for the philosophies ov obsession and some discussions.

this was a good read.
thank you for posting.


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