The Nature of Obsession

When tragedies occur, as with the recent disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370, the cable news networks take advantage of our obsession with the event.  Providing 24/7 coverage, they keep us glued to our televisions or mobile devices as we seek every possible fact, whether or not we've heard them a dozen times before.

Obsessions stem from fear or anxiety such as the fear of random death or anxiety stemming from our own sense of vulnerability or inadequacy.  By focusing intently on an event or on a facet of our life, we strive to reassure ourself that there is a logical explanation for what has happened or that we have the capacity to deal with whatever is causing our stress.  In the latter case, we may or may not be consciously aware of the source of our obsession and psychotherapy may be necessary to uncover the cause and effectively address the problem.

While temporary obsession with a tragic event is common among humans, persistent obsessions that disrupt our life (and the lives of those close to us) warrant professional intervention.  Clinical obsession is usually coupled with compulsive behavior, hence the term obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is thought to affect up to 2% of the population.  Perfectionism, hoarding and stalking are examples of OCD.