Don’t hide it! Everyone’s obsessed with something.

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.—Buzz. Buzz. The front screen of a ­­­red LG cell phone lights up, waking up its owner, Divya Kurian. She reaches for the noisy gadget. Her roommate across the room in her fourth-floor Devereux Hall dorm at St. Bonaventure University stays asleep.

She presses “View Now.” A text from a friend.

Kurian dreads waking up at 3 a.m. and adjusting to the bright background light of the phone. Halfhearted but determined, she says she reads the text message, throws her phone back on her dresser and goes back to sleep.

The sophomore biology major says she cannot leave an unopened text message on her phone. She needs to know who sent her a message and about what.

Kurian says she denies to herself that she needs to check every text, but she cannot avoid looking at an incoming text, unless she is on an emergency response call as an emergency medical technician.

Her best friend agrees that Kurian obsesses over texts.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an obsession is an uncontrolled repetitive thought that can cause stress, perhaps not having to do with reality, and is a product of one’s own mind.

While people might not need therapy to deal with their respective obsessions, reasons for the fixations always exist.

Charles Walker in his office . photo taken by me

To find the source, social psychologist Charles Walker asks, how does an obsession serve a person?

The answer: motives and dynamics to manage anxiety, says Walker.

Walker, a Bonaventure professor, says that for a person, nothing could be worse than isolation. Keeping in touch with people via phone or the Internet gives a person a sense of acceptance.

Francisco Nieves, a biology major, says that without his cell phone or his laptop, he feels naked. “Something is happening that I do not know about,” says the sophomore.

He receives and sends about 75 texts a day and continually e-mails his parents because they do not text, says Nieves.

Francisco Nieves . photo taken by me

Janet Gunderson says she checks her e-mail and other websites such as Facebook about 20 times a day. Every time the senior education major sees her laptop, she must check her mail, adding up to about four hours a day.

Gunderson, 22, feels that she cannot get any work done if she does not check her three e-mail accounts as often as she does. She sees no guilt in her obsession; she gets many e-mails, she says, and people expect quick responses.

Walker says a claim of courtesy for quick responses could cover up the need for acceptance.

A journalism professor, Dennis Wilkins says he has seen the generational obsessions with electronics such as cell phones and laptops evolve during his 14 years of teaching at Bonaventure.

Wilkins says that those whom he sees constantly texting and using technology have missed out on other parts of life.

Wilkins says in order to answer quiz questions, students immediately go to Google instead of looking around the room for quicker, easier and possibly more reliable sources.

A second reason to obsess over an action or idea could involve wanting to take control of a seeming uncontrollable life, says Walker.

Daily life tasks, such as studying, taking exams and dealing with arguments, prevent a person from having control over oneself, Walker says. Doing fruitless activities provides an opportunity for a person to control what he does.

Bonaventure sophomore Scott Wozer, 19, admits to his obsession with online games. He finds them by surfing the Internet or friends telling him. His current website of choice is, a site that houses quizzes on topics from songs to television shows to state capitals to body parts.

The finance major says some of his past enjoyments include, Homerun Derby on Facebook, Word Twist on Facebook and Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

Reasons for moving on to a new online game include free trials expiring, beating the game or boredom, says Wozer. On average, he plays on every day for at least an hour.

He says he logs onto his computer to do schoolwork, and soon decides he would rather procrastinate and play games.

Wozer says he does not think that any of these games actually help him and considers them a waste of his time, but he cannot help but type in their URLs anyway.

Another reason to explain obsessions, Walker suggests, could involve a more existential way of thinking having to do with the meaning and purpose of life.

More primitive species, Walker says, do not have to deal with this metacognitive question of “me and purpose.” Walker has observed college students burdened by their consciousnesses. Students lost in activities such as video games might do this to avoid living up to one’s potential.

Wilkins questions whether these obsessions give people more insight as to the meaning of life or even better grades.

His small class sizes makes it difficult for his students to text, Wilkins says. He does not know if those who do not text do better than those who do.

Walker has seen Bonaventure students that had the potential to excel in schoolwork but did not because of side activities turning into obsessions. The students take part in these repetitive and compulsive distractions so they do not have to examine the question of existence and purpose, says Walker.

Wozer thinks that if he added up the time spent on the games and applied it to his schoolwork, he would see results in higher grades. However, if he did not find these games to play, Wozer would probably just spend his time doing something else—something other than schoolwork.

A junior marketing major, Grace Pierce, cannot leave a store without walking through every single aisle.

“I find amazing deals that I would not normally find unless I went through every aisle in a store,” says the Bonaventure student.

Pierce says she spends about 25 percent of her money on random things at a great price without remorse. She loves her decorated glasses, the best item she has found with her method of shopping.

Walker says he has found that people love wasting time, which can relate back to the existential question. Maximizers, those who ruminate on a spontaneous action that later reveals to have not been optimal, tend to have a more obsessive personality.

Going through every aisle in a store, says Walker, bypasses the possibility of regretting spending more money than needed on a particular item by finding other less expensive or more meaningful purchases.

Eric Danielson, an assistant admissions director for Bonaventure, says he chews on anything he sees. He has had numerous pens explode in his mouth from excessive biting.

Danielson says he worries about what constantly chewing on something like bottle caps does to his teeth, but he cannot help the act. He used to bite his fingernails and eat paper, but he learned to appropriately control how he expresses his obsession.

Walker says fidgeting could hide a person’s anxiety or frustration.

Can relate to any of these? No worries, do not feel lonely. However, for treatment, the American Psychiatric Association says a patient can decrease taking action in his obsession by exposure to the stimulus without being able to respond.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. wonderful submit, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not realize this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

  2. Major thankies for the blog article.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

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