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Turning obsessions into occupations

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Povilas S
Povilas S Jun 20, 2022
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A system to let people identify their obsessive behavioral patterns and harness them to make a living.
  • Turn a "bad" thing into something productive.
  • This might be the best approach to finding an occupation in which you'd be the most efficient/successful (I'll argue why below).
How it works:
The theory:
The logic behind the idea is that obsessive behavior is the least effort requiring behavior. You could say it requires "negative" effort since you simply can't stop doing it, there's a psychological force making you do it apart from your own effort.
With activities based on likes/inclinations, it's a bit different - you still have to invest effort, while with obsessions you can't go without it. So performance-wise the latter is the most efficient case. In other words - in order to be good at something it's not enough to simply like that activity, you have to be obsessed with it.
One could say there's an effort spectrum from activities you don't like doing to activities you're obsessed with:
Obsessions are similar to addictions, nevertheless, there's a difference. Obsession could be viewed as an addition to your own effort. While addictive things and activities give a person pleasure, which one then goes repeatedly craving for, obsessive behavior usually involves repeating actions that are not in themselves pleasant to most people, on the contrary - they require effort to be performed.
In practice:
This is not only for the mentally ill or the weirdest of us, I believe this approach for finding the right occupation might be useful for many people.
You might not have a solid and apparent obsession like overly cleaning or bringing excessive amounts of second-hand stuff home from the streets, but every psychological trait has a spectrum and you are likely to have subtle obsessions in different life areas you are not even aware of.
A psychological test could be developed to find those subtle (or clear) traits and then according to their nature suggest suitable occupation options. This identification process could be aided or led by a psychologist, an AI-powered app, etc.
There could even be a government-funded program for young people to try different occupation options suggested by the proposed system and see how they are doing at those activities and how good they feel. This would be the practical testing part of the system. The person would then decide afterwards if they want to stay in one of those occupational fields or not.
  • Bringing stuff at home from the streets - sell second-hand stuff online, open an antique store, etc.
  • Obsessed with cleaning/tidying - work as a cleaner, hotel staff, hospital technician, etc.
  • Obsessed with thinking (overthinking) - turn it into ideation.
  • Melomania - start selling records, become a Dj, etc.
  • Can't stop partying - start working in a club/bar.
Those are very crude examples of how obsessive behavior can be turned into an occupation, but as I mentioned above, the idea is not so much about crude cases, but rather a development of a generalized system many people could benefit from.
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General comments

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 years ago
I like the idea. It is intuitive and convincing. I am not entirely sure how obsessions work and I believe very few are. One point that came to mind that I experience is that performing obsessive activities is rarely a group thing. It is very personal and any control or influence of a second person is unwanted and irritating. This can be a hindrance in the workplace. At the workplace, someone else monitors your work and instructs you to do it in a way that that person approves. You may have a different way of doing it and that way could be the obsessive way. This is especially true with the cleaning obsession. It includes parameters like the choice of detergents and cleaning equipment (the brand, the concentrations, amounts, etc.). If there is a hindrance in performing the obsessive activities, they do not give you the peace that they are intended to. This may help them overcome their obsession and then cleaning might seem like a "job" and not an obsession, defeating the purpose behind the idea. This is at least true with things you like. Doing things you like for yourself and doing them for someone else are two very different things.
This is hard to prove without realizing the idea, so I would hold the thought off until then. But something to keep in mind.
Secondly, obsessions are unskilled activities. Whatever skill you develop, is through experience and not through proper training. I am not saying it is useless, I am saying it might need tweaking, and the person, sometimes, might not be suitable for the job.
Here is a list of common obsessions to think of jobs that such people will be good at.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni We would benefit from a mental health specialist joining this discussion. I have to confess I'm not an expert on this either, I tried to check for systemic information about obsessions, but it seems the term itself is rather domestic, there is a widely accepted and well-studied condition - OCD, and it seems that's about it when it comes to studies and understanding of obsessive behavior. So I based the idea on my own logical reasoning and insight.
You make some valid points here, however, it's likely that not all obsessive behaviors depend so much on personal preferences, the same example with cleaning - I think pedanticism is an obsessive trait, people who like overly tidiness and cleanliness don't give so much damn with which detergent or what brush to do it as long as it seems perfectly clean/tidy for them.
If such a person came to a friend's house and they let them tidy their place according to their understanding of tidiness, but with the means available there, I'll bet the pedantic person would do it (also, judging from experience) and likely even get satisfaction from it. Similarly, many employers would definitely not care how exactly the obsessive person would clean/tidy the place as long as it seems generally clean/tidy afterwards. And this the person obsessed with cleanliness can surely do.
The job done is what matters, the conditions for the obsessive person to work alone or in a way they prefer can be fulfilled, this can be negotiated. Cleaners often work alone on night shifts in offices and similar establishments, they have time and freedom to take their own way of doing it. Actually, if you hire a cleaning company you don't want to tell them how to clean - they should know, all you want is a satisfactory result.
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