Count how many times a person mentions a particular topic. Find the topic with the highest count and you’ve found their obsession.

For some, an obsession will be a sport. They might be a bit zealous over hockey or hang gliding, baseball or bocce ball.

For others, they might obsess over politics or public figures, civil rights or civil unrest.

Still others will have an undivided focus on religion. Whether it is one religion, or a variety, will depend on the individual.

An interesting aspect of obsession is that it’s not exclusive to those who love the sport, or the debate, or the religion. People who have a dishonest disregard for a topic can also be obsessed. These are they who will deny their obsession even when confronted with the count of how often they bring up the topic. They pretend outwardly to consider the subject unworthy of their precious time, all the while injecting every possible conversation with their pet talking point.

To be fair, not every obsession is unwanted. Not every obsessed person is annoying. There are the rare flints who light fires inside conversations with their cheerful focus. The few who can inspire others to enjoy the same topic they do are masters of the art of conversation.

How do these rare gems do it? Usually by humor. At times, with clever analogies. Even others, by brilliant story-telling.

The flip side are the annoying ones. How do they annoy with their obsession? By forcing it, whatever the obsession is, where it’s unwanted, presenting it through gripes and complaints, iterating and reiterating, and ignoring any outside opinions, facts, or figures to contradict their set opinion of the obsession.

When it gets to the point where a person denies being obsessed and yet still drives the topic into every possible conversation, it can get really weird. Others will start to wonder how the person can be blind to the sea they’re swimming in. How does the mind get so enveloped and so oblivious at the same time? Is there a part of the brain that hides the annoying habits from the rest?

Do old men who tell the same joke every time you see them have this part of the brain engaged full time? Science wants to know.

“Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.”

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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