Do we need obsessive people?  Or is being caught up in any sort of obsession a bad thing?

Do we want obsessive workers, friends, presidents and lovers?

Or is the better path one of moderation, coolness, nonchalance and distance?


  1. It seems that for the most part, moderation in all things is the best route. When it comes to getting our country out of its current mess, I don’t mind a little obsessiveness 🙂

  2. Gordon —
    I’m not sure if a president is able to ever be non-obsessive if he/she ever hopes to be effective in the world. If the president won’t care to obsess, others will step in an drink in that power.
    I agree moderation is important — but where is the line drawn between appropriate and obsessive?

  3. It’s a thin line that can vary from case to case – but it’s one of those things that you can usually identify when you see it – like seeing someone in a trench coat with binoculars sitting in a tent across the street from someone’s house.

  4. Hi Gordon —
    What about something less obvious and less dangerous — like, say, an obsession with teddy bears, or being on the internet, or creating bunches of blogs to form a network… where is the danger line in those obsessive examples?

  5. Hmmm. Would you say this man is obsessed with teddy bears?
    I think in your examples you can pinpoint something : if the obsession takes over and precludes doing everyday necessities like eating and doing whatever it takes to put food on the table, then it is over the line, I would say. 🙂

  6. Gordon!
    I think we need to change the terms when we’re talking about the man in the Teddy Bears photo: Let’s ditch “obsessed” and use “criminally insane” instead! How soon can we put him away?
    You’re right about the time issue. That makes sense. If it takes over your whole world… time to re-evaluate.

  7. I have a friend who used to play a card game online pretty much all day every day with a few breaks to do other things and, well, go to play the game in person. He realized he had gone too far and has since cut back significantly.

  8. Yeah, that’s a significant obsession, Gordon. Was your friend gambling with real money in the card games?
    I think many obsessions are born out of boredom.

  9. It wasn’t even a gambling thing, believe it or not! I will definitely agree with you about that and it makes me sad because to me, boredom means you don’t realize how valuable every moment is. 🙂

  10. Oh! That is strange then, Gordon. A game without a wager on the line is certainly obsessive.
    You’re right we’re quick to forget how valuable every moment of every day is for each of us.

  11. I believe that there are very few personality traits that are not useful in some context, somewhere. There quite a few careers and situations where I would want an obsessive person; I want my bridges to be inspected by someone obsessed with safety, and I don’t want to my surgeon to pronounce his hands “clean enough”. I wonder whether unhealthy obsessions like the teddy bears arise in part when people do not have healthy channels for their obsessive tendencies.

  12. Those are fine points, Lily. I wonder where the line is drawn between professionalism and obsession? Shouldn’t every surgeon be expected to have clean hands? Isn’t the job description of a bridge inspector one that commands safety in every respect?

  13. Hi David,
    I think being obsessed to the point of harming someone or self is unacceptable but being perfectionist helps; at times it is the duty of the person as you have rightly talked about the doctors etc.

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