Obsession: A History

Paperback | October 15, 2009

byLennard J. Davis

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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 Lennard J. Davis tells in Obsession. Beginning with the roots of the disease in demonic possession and its secular successors, Davis 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 Davis’s graceful analysis.

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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 ...

Lennard J. Davis is professor in the Departments of English, Disability and Human Development, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of The Disability Studies Reader, among other books.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 15, 2009Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226137848

ISBN - 13:9780226137841

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction: Obsession in Our Time

1    Origins of Obsession          
2    The Emergence of Obsession         
3    Specialization as Monomania         
4    Never Done: Compulsive Writing, Graphomania, Bibliomania         
5    Freud and Obsession as the Gateway to Psychoanalysis     
6    Obsessive Sex and Love    
7    Obsession and Visual Art   
8    OCD: Now and Forever    

Conclusion: So What? So What? So What? So What? and Other Obsessive Thoughts       
Acknowledgments 
Notes        
Index         

Editorial Reviews

"Davis astutely, and accurately, depicts obsession as being far more than simply an excessive interest, preoccupation, fixation, or hobby. He also clearly derfines it as a pathological phenomenon and a highly significant medical category."