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What Is Compulsive Behavior?

Compulsion vs. Addiction

A compulsion is an overwhelming desire to do something. An addiction is a physical or chemical dependence on a substance or behaviour.

Two key differences between compulsion and addiction:

  • Pleasure. Compulsive behaviours rarely result in feelings of pleasure. People with addictions desire the substance or behaviour because they expect to enjoy it.
  • Awareness: People with compulsive disorders are typically aware of their behaviours and bothered by the lack of logical reason for doing them. People with addictions are unaware of or unconcerned about the negative consequences of their actions.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Different types of "shopaholics"
  • Compulsive shoppers: Buying when they are feeling emotional distress.
  • Trophy shoppers: They are always looking for the next great item.
  • ...
Socially acceptable

Shopping can be socially acceptable because consumerism is continually pushed on us in the forms of posters, adverts, and signs.

Shopping is also a way of life: You need food and clothing from stores. Even if you try to stop compulsive buying by avoiding the stores in person, there is still a world of online shopping.

Addiction vs compulsion
Addiction describes trying something, becoming emotionally and physically dependent on it, and then becoming psychologically and physically addicted to it. People who struggle with addiction have explained feeling euphoric, elevated, happy, complete, and whole when they partake in their addiction. Compulsion refers to a specific, intense urge to do something. People who struggle with a compulsion explain feeling immense relief and relaxation from completing behaviors that they feel compelled to do.
Rewards and dopamine
Rewards and dopamine

Our brains compute 3 things about reward: how much will we get, how soon will we get it, and how certain are we that we will in fact get it. 

And it’s when the probability of a re...

Why video games are so addictive

Games are enticing because you might win but you might not. And video games do it so efficiently, because they ride the tide of computer technology. The balance between winning and losing is continuously adjusted, according to how well you’re doing, as measured in hits and misses, gains and losses, moment by moment. The sweet spot knows you, it finds you. It adjusts to you.

Being a productivity junkie
Being a productivity junkie

The brain can become addicted to productivity just as it can to other addiction sources, such as drugs, gambling, or shopping.

As with all addictions, the desire for the st...

Society encourages workaholics

What makes addiction to productivity complicated is that society tends to reward it - the more you work, the better. A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, but in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh the short-term benefits.

Addiction affects the brain's reward system. It results in compulsive behavior while disregarding harmful consequences.

Obsession with productivity

At the root of obsession with productivity is a fear of wasting time. Everything is seen as either productive or unproductive.

Buying groceries is seen as productive because you have to eat, while a hobby is viewed as unproductive. Productivity junkies are overly focused on a single aspect of their life. Potential sources of pleasure, such as spending time with loved ones, are very low on the list.