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Addiction: Not The Same As Habit, Impulse, or Obsession

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  • 0:01 Overlapping Meanings
  • 0:30 Addictions: Definition…
  • 1:18 Impulse: Definition & Examples
  • 2:46 Obsession: Definition…
  • 4:18 Habit: Definition & Examples
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will discuss the definitions of addiction, habit, obsession, compulsion, and impulse, giving several examples of each category and how they may overlap with one another.

Overlapping Meanings

When looking at something like the color spectrum, you can see how the colors overlap with one another. They're not exactly the same, but at certain points they blend in with one another. The way these colors interact in the spectrum is analogous to how certain words are used. Yes, there is many times a similarity between them, but they're not necessarily exactly the same. Thus, we'll define and give examples of an addiction, impulse, habit, and obsession.

Addiction: Definition and Examples

A state of physical or psychological dependence on a behavior or substance, especially compulsive dependence, to the extent that such dependence leads to societal or personal harm is known as an addiction. There are tons of addictions we can name. The obvious ones include an addiction to alcohol, leading to alcoholism, which can damage a person's liver.

Addiction to nicotine by way of tobacco products, like cigarettes, is another very common one. This can lead to lung cancer. Addiction to prescription medication or illegal drugs like heroin can easily occur in many cases. Depending on the drug, it can lead to everything from lethargy to dangerous excitation of the person's body.

Impulse: Definition and Examples

Another topic of discussion for this lesson is an impulse, as in an impulse control disorder. In this case, the word impulse implies an excessive urge to commit repetitive actions that result in societal or self harm. Now, an impulse may not be necessarily negative, but in the context of our lesson, impulse control disorders do have a connotation that the impulse results in harm, be it societal, legal, financial, or otherwise.

Again, impulse control disorders (ICDs) are characterized by urges and behaviors that are excessive and/or harmful to oneself or others and cause significant impairment in social and occupational functioning as well as legal and financial difficulties. Examples of impulse control disorders include pyromania.

Pyromania is an urge to deliberately start fires, but not for monetary gain, to conceal criminal activity, or otherwise. Instead, the pyromaniac does this because they are fascinated with fire and experience a sense of relief or pleasure after setting something on fire. This can cause far more dangerous consequences than kleptomania, an urge to steal something, but not for financial gain or even for personal use.

Obsession: Definition and Examples

Obsessions, recurrent or constant urges, images, or thoughts that are unwanted and intrusive, are a further kind of issue that's not exactly the same as an addiction. A person with an obsession may have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, where compulsions are repetitive mental acts or physical behaviors that a person feels the need to engage in with rigid rules or in response to an obsession.

There are different things with which people may become obsessed with to the point of being totally stressed out about it. A famous one is germs or dirt. People obsessed with these things may have a compulsion where they constantly wash their hands. The compulsion in an obsessive-compulsive disorder is performed in order to neutralize an obsessive thought and its resulting mental distress. Obsessions and compulsions take more than an hour per day out of a person's time and may limit a person's ability to function normally at home, work, or elsewhere.

An obsession should not be confused with something that may actually be a good thing. If prior to going to bed, you check to make sure the stove is off so the house doesn't burn down after you make Thanksgiving dinner, that's fine. But when your thought process and actions interfere with your life and they cause you distress, then this is an obsession and compulsion.

Habit: Definition and Examples

Finally, for our lesson we'll define a habit. A habit is an acquired, regularly repeated behavior or practice, one that is often difficult to give up and may be involuntary. Checking both sides of the street automatically before crossing the street is a good habit to have. But as you've guessed from the content of this lesson, every kind of definition I've given so far, be it addiction, impulse, or obsession, has a dark side to it.

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