October 13, 2017

We check our phones all the time, but the compulsion isn’t necessarily bad. Credit: TechCampGlobal / Flickr Creative Commons

Our obsessions and compulsions can be annoying and self-defeating. But they can also encourage us to feel passionately about a subject. And they might even help us be more successful. This week on Innovation Hub, we look at what happens when we feel like we have to do something — and what happens when we love something to the point of obsession.

So why do we do it? It’s not because it’s pleasurable; it’s because it relieves anxiety. More and more people report that they feel anxious, and compulsive behaviors of all types are on the rise, according to Sharon Begley, a senior science writer at STAT News. But compulsive behavior doesn’t necessarily mean your brain is broken. It may actually prove that our brains are being adaptive and responsive to our anxieties, which can help us avoid bigger problems.

Next, we take a look at a different kind of obsession: fandom. When people really love something, it might be because they see some part of themselves in it. And thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to access what you love. Zoe Fraade-Blanar explains the benefits of fandom, and the “dark side” that comes along with it.

You may not have heard of Edwin Land, but you’re probably familiar with the product he invented: the Polaroid camera. We talk with author Ron Fierstein about how the man behind instant photography was inspired by an offhand request from his young daughter.

innovation hub, Compulsion, Sharon Begley, Zoe Fraade-Blanar, Polaroid, Ron Fierstein, Edwin Land, Obsession, fandom, pri, WGBH, Kara Miller

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