When we listen to friends or family members talk about being “obsessed” with something, usually they mean that they’re intensely focused on a particular topic or interest. But in English, the term “obsessed” can carry both positive and negative connotations, and its full meaning goes a little deeper.
At its most basic level, being obsessed means being preoccupied or excessively occupied with something. This could be something benign such as a hobby, a television series, a sports team, or even a person. For instance, you might be ‘obsessed’ with a certain style of dance, meaning you spend a lot of time practicing, watching, and learning about it.
Often, obsession carries a positive connotation in the context of passion and dedication. For instance, if an artist is ‘obsessed’ with perfecting their craft, they are strongly dedicated to achieving excellence in their field. In this context, being obsessed signals seriousness, determination, and commitment.
However, obsession can also have a negative connotation. It can signify an unhealthy fixation or compulsion towards someone or something. When the obsession interferes with a person’s everyday life, causing stress, anxiety, and even impossible standards of perfection, it can be problematic.
Imagine someone who is obsessed with a particular celebrity. In a harmless form, this obsession might mean they cover their walls with posters of this person, follow their every move on social media, and buy every product they endorse. But in an extreme and harmful form, obsession might lead the person to engage in stalking, or other intrusive or harmful behaviors.
From a psychological viewpoint, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by recurring unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) which make someone feel the need to perform certain repetitive actions (compulsions). The key difference between healthy obsession and disorder lies in the consequence of the obsession on an individual’s life.
In conclusion, the term “obsessed” is complex and multifaceted. Its meaning can range from a strong dedication or interest in something to a harmful and unhealthy compulsion. It is important to observe our obsessions, question and moderate them if necessary. Being extremely passionate about something is exciting and beneficial, but if it starts to interfere with our daily life or general well-being, it is important to seek help.