Book

Obsession

Lennard J. Davis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226137827
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226137797 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226137797.001.0001
Obsession

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We live in an age of obsession. Not only are we hopelessly devoted to our work, strangely addicted to our favorite television shows, and desperately impassioned about our cars, we admire obsession in others: we demand that lovers be infatuated with one another in films, we respond to the passion of single-minded musicians, we cheer on driven athletes. To be obsessive is to be American; to be obsessive is to be modern. But obsession is not only a phenomenon of modern existence: it is a medical category—both a pathology and a goal. Behind this paradox lies a fascinating history, which is described in this book. Beginning with the roots of the disease in demonic possession and its secular successors, the book traces the evolution of obsessive behavior from a social and religious fact of life into a medical and psychiatric problem. From obsessive aspects of professional specialization to obsessive compulsive disorder and nymphomania, no variety of obsession eludes the book's analysis.

Keywords: obsession; American; pathology; demonic possession; obsessive behavior; psychiatric problem; obsessive compulsive disorder; nymphomania; professional specialization

Book.  296 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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