According to Wikipedia,

Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug-related behavior despite any negative consequences to the person's physical, mental, social or financial well-being.

Now, this friend I have (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) finds thinking long and hard about difficult problems intrinsically rewarding and he sometimes finds it hard to resist it despite certain negative consequences:

  • At work, he tends to prefer tasks that require him to think over tasks that don't, but create actual value.
  • When he has a particuarly interesting problem to think about, he may be distracted in social situations by the urge to sit and brood over it.
  • Most seriously, maybe, he wastes opportunities to relax and unwind thinking about theoretical problems.

Not that he would change a thing if he could—the negative consequences aren't really serious and they're outweighed by the reward, both material and immaterial. But he's been thinking if anyone ever seriously studied the possibility of a sort of benign addiction to thinking long and hard.

Is such an addiction documented? Does it make sense at all?

  • 1
    Does it make sense at all? -- No, not really.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 27 '16 at 23:06
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    benign addiction - addiction usually connotes significant negative consequences, therefore it would not be benign. Jul 15 '17 at 20:33
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    An alternative way to ask the question: "Have social scientists found that some people become over-focused on intense, analytical thought, such that they neglect life-enhancing activities, e.g., sleep, relationships, good nutrition, hygiene, etc., and suffer significant adverse consequences?" (Btw, the answer would be 'yes', but it would take a long time to find representative research and distill it into a succinct answer.) Jul 15 '17 at 20:37