La Casa De Papel! You sat down casually one evening to start the first episode. But once the first episode ended, you were hooked beyond measure. You spent the whole night watching and woke up so late that you had to call in sick.
This happens every day to people from all walks of life—perhaps to some more than others. It happens with video games, loved ones, hobbies, and even physical fitness. You get into the zone, and you sink deeper. You get lost in time and space—or rather you become oblivious of them until the object of your fixation comes to an end.
This is known as hyper-fixation. It happens at home, at work, in laboratories, and everywhere else you might think of. Consequences can be bad—if it wastes your time and productivity—or good—if it leads you to discover a cure for cancer or employee attrition.
Hyper-fixation may be a symptom of any other mental disorder– Click the button below to get the root cause treated.
It is not addiction. It is not the flow-state either. You would be wrong to call it an obsession, as well.
However, hyper-fixation has many features in common with these things. You are enthralled, captivated, and fixed on something so much that you don’t even notice the passing of time. It is like Einstein’s time dilation, only that here it happens on earth.
Here Is How It Happens
Hyper-fixation occurs when your brain allows you to focus entirely on one point of comparative pleasure. You feel relaxed and pleased when you reach this point. You shut out all other pressures and fears.
Once you start the activity, you can’t let your brain stop—you can do it all day and night.
It is quite common to experience hyper-fixation. Each of us has been there at some point.
However, for some people, it is normally hard to snap out of it. These are the times when you forget to eat or when you sit down to play Resident Evil or your favorite video game.
This post takes you on an informational excursion to unearth hyper-fixation, the risks, and the benefits, and ways it is different from addiction, obsession, hyperfocus. This reading session is an example where hyper-fixation may help you in many ways.
1. What Is Hyper-fixation?
Hyper-fixation refers to a state of prolonged focus on a particular activity. It can last from a few minutes to several hours or days to months, depending on its severity.
Hyper-fixation can be challenging to cope with, but it has advantages as well.
In a hyper-fixated state, anything can be the subject, such as:
- Television show
- Pastime like playing games
Hyper-fixation may be a symptom of underlying anxiety or stress. It is typically the brain’s self-protection mechanism to feel less stressed and more relaxed.
People can focus their attention away from negative thoughts and begin to channel their emotions and creativity.
Why Does the Brain Resort to Hyper-fixation?
Something that profoundly moves our emotions or thoughts makes us appreciate it more and thus consumes more of our time. The reason you become hyperfocused on something is that you find it interesting, enjoyable, or rewarding.
Furthermore, hyper-fixation may play a significant role in dealing with daily life stress or anxiety. As a result, many people have found hyper-fixation a valuable psychological tool for distracting themselves from burdensome thoughts.
Hyper-fixation, a Sign of Neurodivergent
First off, neurodiverse people are those with brains that work differently from society—the neurotypicals. Compared to neurotypicals, neurodiverse people with anxiety, depression, or ADHD report more hyper-fixation.
However, anyone can experience hyper-fixation at any point in life.
It is important to remember that hyper-fixation is usually only temporary. The initial excitement wears off when that period passes, and the individual is thrown back to normalcy.
However, hyper-fixation can turn into obsession when a person starts to love a thing too much.
Anxiety and Depression: Can Hyper-fixation Help?
Usually, hyper-fixation plays a key role in managing anxiety and getting the patients back to their daily lives. Hyper-fixation plays a vital role in helping people cope with anxiety or depression. As a result of hyper-fixation, your attention is typically diverted from thoughts that cause stress or depression.
A person experiencing a bad mental health day (depression and anxiety) is likely to seek outside distraction—to be hyper-fixated on something. It is a way of coping with stress.
There is nothing magical about it, but it works. You prevent yourself from spiraling into a melancholy vortex by sinking into an exciting world of heroes and heroines, for example.
Are There Neurological Blueprints for Hyper-fixation?
Presently, there is no reason to believe that hyper-fixation stems from brain structure. Hyper-fixation can, however, have links to specific changes in the frontal lobe activity.
Experts have suggested that hyper-fixation results from behavioral problems, but there is no sufficient evidence for this. Nevertheless, people with mental disabilities typically report increased difficulty controlling their behaviors and managing their attention.
Five Stages of Hyper-fixation: How It Happens?
Here is how it happens:
1. You Identify an Object of Happiness
This could be something that catches your eye, something you hear about, or something you read that captures your attention.
The result is, you are compelled to take action. Looking at or doing that thing makes you like it more. Slowly, you are into a rabbit hole and you keep going deeper and deeper.
2. You Forget the World
As you grow to like a thing more and more, it becomes a massive part of your life. Eventually, it sort of takes over your brain’s most important functions. The pursuit of this thing may cause you to neglect other aspects of your life.
As a result, you frequently talk about it to your friends and family to the point that they become offended. It seems that you can’t stop yourself from doing it, no matter how embarrassing or annoying it is.
3. You Forget Yourself
At this point, the fixation process begins. It becomes hard to put that activity down or tell your brain to pause or cease indulgence. The subject you’re obsessed with has completely absorbed your attention, and you don’t even know what else to think about.
4. You Dive Deeper
To keep on feeling good, you do indulge more and more. Hyper-fixation reaches its peak at this stage. For instance, you may begin to search or imagine the hobbies or personalities of one of your favorite movie characters.
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5. Back to Reality
There is no big bang here. It happens gradually. During the final stage, you will experience a loss of interest. Perhaps your interest in that thing will continue, but the intensity of your hyper-fixation will weaken.
Another possibility is that you completely forget. It is liberating to be free, but you still might get sucked into a fad.
2. Is Hyper-fixation Bad?
A hyperfocused person obsesses over a single thing. If you were hyperfocused on what you were doing, you wouldn’t regret overlooking other vital tasks. Is it beneficial or detrimental to specialize in one area of study?
It is possible to use hyperfocus for good. You can work hard until the job is done if the project requires your full attention. This may lead to award-winning genius results. However, hyper-fixation can also interfere with your daily life in every way, from healthcare to personal hygiene.
Advantages of Hyper-fixation
Here are the advantages of hyper-fixation:
- Enhanced Creativity
Hyper-fixated or ADHD individuals can become creative if they spend considerable time on their favorite subjects. Hyper-fixation can also benefit people who wish to enhance their imagination, enhance their skills, and discover more.
Hyper-fixation prompts you to spend more time working on the skills you want to improve.
- Channel Good Vibes
People can cope with stress by becoming hyper-fixated. By diverting attention from symptoms, hyper-fixation works to obscure symptoms of severe mental illness.
Individuals can channel positive energy through the characteristics of the subject they are hyper-fixated on. This can help to reduce anxiety, depression, and other symptoms associated with these conditions.
The Disadvantages of Hyper-fixation
When it sinks into hyper-fixation, the brain doesn’t know where to draw the line between good and bad. Your depression might cause you to hyperfocus on thoughts of suicide or self-harm, for example.
The other alarming aspect of hyper-fixation is that you can’t tell if you have a genuine interest in something or if it’s just a psychological reaction. When you discover it, you tend to focus all your time, energy, and money on a new obsession.
It is possible to spend a lot of money on materials and resources only to not care about them within a week.
Sleep problems are prevalent in hyper-fixated people.
Hyper-fixation, for instance, may lead to:
- Trouble staying asleep
If one’s personality is dominated by hyper-fixation, social skills can be harmed. The individuals will be more likely to experience psychological problems, including loneliness and difficulties maintaining relationships.
The reason why hyper-fixated people have socialization difficulties is easy to understand. Hyper-fixation can drain your energy and time. You will end up becoming obsessed with the thing you are hyper-fixated on to the point that it becomes uncomfortable for everyone around you.
- The Risk of Dependency
A person may become dependent on something solely because it interests them—a person who is hyper-fixated experiences this. Hyper-fixation becomes a necessity for survival in cases like this.
There is no limit to hyper-fixation. A subject you hyperfocus on becomes integral to your everyday life, and you cannot live without it. It becomes vital for you to have it in your life.
A person who is obsessed with something is always on the lookout for it. If you are fixated on a particular show, you might watch more and more episodes. You may become isolated and bored if you don’t get the chance to watch more shows.
Stop! These signs mean it’s time to control your hyper-fixation:
- You become agitated, distressed, or anxious when you are not able to pursue your favorite interest
- When you are deprived of your activity, you feel listless or tired
- Despite over-involvement in that activity, you want to continue
- You can’t feel positive, energetic, or satisfied unless you’re indulging in your activity
- The activity you enjoy most interferes with your family life, relationships, and other important pursuits
3. Types of Hyper-fixation
Many things can make you hyper-focused. These issues usually are handled differently by different people. Depending on what one is hyperfocused on, the phenomenon varies from person to person.
The following examples illustrate hyper-fixation:
Hyper-fixation tends to make a person believe yes! when viewing a fictional character, I am that person. As the person becomes fixated on that fictional character, they start talking from their perspective, attempting to become like them.
Fictional characters, in this case, are actors in movies, books, or TV shows. Continually watching the character can cause the individual to develop strong feelings for the character, which leads to personality changes.
Today, many people suffer from the effects of hyper-fixation over media characters. This has had many negative impacts on their lives.
Obsession with food is a common aspect of ADHD and hyper-fixation. Foods that you find interesting become the focus of your attention. A person with this tendency will often switch between different foods.
The tendency to hyper-fixate on food is one of the more visible signs of ADHD. However, there is no guarantee that hyper-fixated people are hyperactive. Their inattentiveness may be likely to be obvious, however.
Your mind starts to race when you hyperfocus on food, such as pizza or burgers. Sooner or later, you will decide to eat your favorite foods. These behaviors can drastically affect the health and well-being of a person.
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Hyper-fixation can lead to any thought, even completely unreal ones. You can become hypersensitive to particular feelings and thoughts, both normal or wild. The nature of these thoughts can cause people to spend more time thinking than performing essential tasks.
A TV series can become your obsession for weeks or even months if you are suffering from hyper-fixation. You may experience it with more than one show, and not just one.
Re-watching shows and getting fixated on performances is common for people with hyper-fixation. As well as anticipation for new releases, they look forward to behind-the-scenes footage.
This often begins when a person starts watching a show casually and then becomes addicted. They then attempt to watch every episode in a single sitting.
Shopping is a great way to relax for some people. But perhaps the phrase shop till you drop was coined for hyper-fixated shoppers. These people can’t help but love shopping.
The more time they spend shopping or exploring online shopping pages, the more likely they are to use shopping as a way of distracting themselves from negative thoughts.
Today it’s pretty common to become obsessed with social media. Social networking may lead to a costly emotional investment if you rely heavily on it. This type of hyper-fixation is most prevalent among young people.
As you scroll through social media, you become restless and even anxious. If this happens every day, you may neglect your work, studies, or wellness.
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People that are hyperfocused on cleaning might feel compelled to clean their home, even if it’s clean. When you’re depressed or angry, do you clean to cheer yourself up? That’s a sign that you have a hyper-fixation on cleaning and it is your way of releasing your stress.
Creative or interesting people tend to brainstorm and create unique crafts. Art can, however, become a source of hyper-fixation for some people. Artists might overlook important activities like eating and grooming because they are focused on the skills.
If you think about a person obsessively, you’re hyper-fixated on them. You are compelled to either get back to someone who has left you or get closer to someone you want.
You may experience insomnia and eating problems if you have an obsession with someone. When it happens, it might seem as if your life would be incomplete without the person.
4. How to Control Hyper-fixation?
In some ways, hyper-fixation mirrors tunnel vision. As a result of continuously interacting with something, you become more engrossed in it—and fix your world in it. If hyper-fixation is not addressed, it can turn into an addiction.
Don’t feed hyper-fixation, instead focus on other things. Once you master this technique, your freedom will return to you.
But it takes a lot of willpower to stop hyper-fixation. As you progress past the beginning phase of hyper-fixation, your willpower weakens. Gaining control over your hyper-fixation at its initial stages is important if you want to regain control of your mind.
Here are a few tips to help you start:
Become aware of your hyper-fixation. Understand how it impacts your time and how it affects you. You will implement a better strategy if you know how the problem is structured.
It may be possible to make progress by selecting to either completely eliminate or manage hyper-fixation. The subject of hyper-fixation should not occupy so much of your time.
Reduce Contact With the Object of Your Fixation
If you think you have an unhealthy obsession with something and you can’t control it, avoid it. For example, if you check your phone frequently to see what is going on socially, set a limit of two hours a day for social media, then reduce it gradually to one hour, then a few minutes.
Sleep Without Distractions
Before going to bed, avoid activities that make you hyperfocused. Performing these activities before bed gives them the chance to become a habit.
Moreover, sleeping with the activity can condition your sleep, making it hard to sleep when you don’t perform it—streaming Netflix before turning in for the night, for example.
Set Reminders and Alarms
Be sure to set reminders and alarms. You can use reminders to keep track of chores and other tasks. You can set alarms to track how much time you spend on your hyper-fixations.
Before starting to read that new murder mystery, you may set the alarm for an hour later. If the alarm goes off, move on to another task immediately. Using this strategy, you can better handle hyper-fixation.
Mindfulness is a key remedy against hyper-fixation. Individuals have been able to improve concentration and reduce stress through mindfulness techniques. While mindfulness techniques vary, they generally involve awareness of body and mind and deep breathing.
Sit comfortably with your spine straight but not stiff as you practice mindfulness. As you breathe in and out, notice your thoughts and your breathing pattern. If your thoughts, urges, and feelings begin to wander, bring them back—by focusing on your breathing.
Be More Social
Those who share the same experiences or problems tend to get along well. People with mental disorders are frequently involved in group activities.
In rehab, it has been observed that hyper-fixated individuals seem to have good relationships with other hyper-fixated people.
The people who suffer from hyper-fixation tend to form close friendships with their fellow sufferers. When people with hyper-fixation interact with others, there is a good chance that they can overcome isolation.
Don’t hesitate to seek the help of professionals. Managing hyper-fixation can sometimes be challenging. A professional can help you overcome it. An expert will be able to devise a treatment plan that will address the underlying causes of hyper-fixation. You can receive counseling or psychotherapies from them.
5. Hyper-fixation Vs. Hyperfocus
Hyperfocus is when you focus so hard on something that everything else seems to fade away. The causes of hyperfocus are often linked to ADHD, but ADHD isn’t the only factor influencing it.
Even neurotypicals can lose themselves in things they are highly interested in.
In some cases, hyperfocus and hyper-fixation can be confused. The two terms, however, are different. Hyper-fixation includes hyperfocus. Fixating on something causes you to hyperfocus on it.
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For a better understanding of the difference between both terms, let’s first understand what hyperfocus is:
Hyperfocus: What Is It?
Hyperfocus occurs when a person concentrates highly for a long time, often to the point that they become blind to time and lose touch with their surroundings. As you are consumed with what you are doing, you fail to recognize the passing hours.
When you lose yourself in something, you ignore the rest of the world. Due to your intense focus, you are not paying attention to your family’s phone calls or texts.
Factors Contributing to Hyperfocus
The things we enjoy doing are more likely to catch our attention than what we do just to fulfill our obligations. We tend to focus on tasks that intrigue us because our frontal lobe gets activated. The frontal lobe controls a human being’s reward system.
The frontal lobe is the primary site of activation of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The brain rewards system is significantly influenced by dopamine. You release more dopamine when you are participating in an enjoyable or friendly activity.
This creates a feeling of pleasure and reward. You can’t easily move on from something rewarding when you discover it.
Difference Between Hyperfocus and Hyper-fixation
Hyperfocus describes when you are focused for a long period. Hyper-fixation is a general term that blankets things like hyperfocus and special interests.
The benefits of hyper-focusing go beyond relaxation. As we read, solve problems, or engage in activities such as gardening, our subconscious or unconscious works on solving problems and developing creative ideas.
It’s possible to be hyperfocused and productive at the same time.
To summarize, let’s look at the whole picture: The state of hyperfocus can come and go. That is, an individual can remain hyperfocused for hours but hyper-fixated for months and years.
When you become hyper-fixated, you keep going back to the same thing over and over again.
6. ADHD and Hyper-fixation
ADHD is generally characterized as a disorder that impairs the ability to focus. However, many experts believe that ADHD is a poorly named condition. As many like to put it, persons with ADHD have attention dysregulation, not attention deficit.
This can give attention to something, but they mainly find it difficult to control what they give their attention to.
As a result, people with ADHD will sometimes have trouble paying attention. However, on the other hand, they can sometimes over-focus on something. In other words, they become unable to focus on other things apart from the object of their interest.
No matter how important food, sleep, or other tasks are, it is nearly impossible for a person with ADHD to break out of hyper-fixation when it starts.
There is a close relationship between hyper-fixation and ADHD, and you can take advantage of it.
In this section of the guide, we discuss how we can utilize this feature:
ADHD and Hyper-fixation: How Are They Connected?
The difficulty in concentrating on boring tasks is worse for people with ADHD. In contrast to this, they can easily get immersed in their interests and concentrate for hours on them. In retrospect, this explains why they become obsessive about one thing for hours at a time – a book, a home project, a video game.
What Causes Hyper-fixation in ADHD?
The ADHD brain is hyperactive because it lacks dopamine, which causes distractibility. You can’t switch gears easily.
The problem with hyper-fixation is that it can cause someone to overlook everything that needs to get done or everything they need to accomplish. Conversely, hyper-fixation can also cause you to complete tasks in record time, as you are fully immersed in the task at hand.
The ability to focus on their goals and passion for so long, even when they had ADHD, helped people like Albert Einstein, Will Smith, and many others achieve success throughout their lives.
Whatever you choose to focus on, make sure that it relates to your core values. In addition to being healthier in the long run, you will also have access to your neutral capability of phasing out all the noise around you.
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7. Hyper-fixation Vs. Obsession
Many people tend to confuse obsessions with hyper-fixations. It is interesting to note that being immersed in something is much different from being obsessed with it.
Here is all you need to know to understand both terms:
An obsession is merely a thought. It is repetitive, involuntary, irrational, intrusive, and anxiety-inducing. Those who are obsessed constantly think about the same thing or person. Hyper-fixation can be continuous but not repetitive. Instead of triggering anxiety, most incidences of hyper-fixation activate pleasure.
An obsession, however, is not the same as a worry. In the case of an obsession, the person suffering from it may not even realize that they are driving over a cat or that the stove is turned off.
Obsession originates from an irrational and thus not real-life problem. Obsessed individuals tend to focus on past events. On the other hand, worrying refers to thinking about the problems of the future.
Obsessions are the hallmark of obsessive-compulsive disorder. An estimated 80 percent of people occasionally have obsessive thoughts. Even so, it is important to realize that obsession does not equate to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts that cause discomfort and are accompanied by compulsive behaviors to dismiss them.
Obsession and hyper-fixation differ primarily in their motivations. A person feels extremely anxious if they don’t indulge in their obsession, which is a reaction to anxiety. According to the pleasure principle, hyper-fixation is comparable to compulsive behaviors.
Hyper-fixations make you feel good, so you indulge in them. Hyper-fixation is not driven by fear or anxiety. You can calm anxiety with hyper-fixation.
A hyper-fixation can control your thoughts for hours or months, which can eventually change to a new obsession. As opposed to hyper-fixation, obsessions last longer.
Habits require actions to become obsessions. If you perform specific activities that calm your obsessive thoughts, you get relief or relaxation. A person who fears disease and germs might wash their hands whenever they touch even a clean item.
Their obsession is satisfied by washing hands. While hyper-fixation can often be accompanied by action, it is not always the case.
8. Hyper-fixation Vs. Addiction
An addiction is a highly developed dependence on a particular focus, whether it be chemical, experimental, or personal, that results in incredible distress, anxiety, aggression, and physical manifestations, when the focus is removed.
Hyper-fixation, by contrast, is often characterized by periods of drop-off where the person has become disinterested in an experience entirely or the desire to repeat it has subsided. When that happens, the desire may later be reignited in a few days.
On days when they feel the worst, some even notice that their need for outside distraction is much greater.
It is considered an addiction if a person cannot stop using substances or engaging in behaviors that harm their body. As in the case of drugs and alcohol, addiction occurs when you lose control, overindulge, and use something in a way that harms you.
Breaking Down Addiction Into Its Key Components
Addiction can refer to both an activity (such as gambling) and a substance (such as drugs).
An addition has the following characteristics that set it apart from hyper-fixation:
- It causes substantial damage.
- Despite significant harm, you continue to be involved in it
- A person stays addicted to something because it is pleasurable or attractive
Causes of Addiction
The endorphins released by the body’s reward circuit (basal ganglia) are responsible for addiction.
When certain drugs are taken, they can lead to extremely high levels of these neurotransmitters, which differ significantly from the small bursts generally associated with healthy rewards, such as:
- Creative activities
It was believed that dopamine produced euphoria directly as surges of the chemical were released by drugs. Today scientists believe that dopamine produces pleasure through behavior reinforcement as opposed to directly causing pleasure.
Experiential or chemical addictions involve a strong dependence on a particular subject.
If left untreated, addiction often causes:
Addicts also use drugs to escape from the reality of their lives.
Hyper-fixation, however, occurs not just during drop-off phases but also during periods when interest in the experience is lost, followed by a renewed interest. Hyper-fixation can temporarily obscure your surroundings, but it cannot obscure your reality.
We have learned that hyper-fixation can be a negative trait when it involves something that would otherwise be considered a waste of time, like playing video games for hours or reading a book all night while being unable to get out of bed in the morning.
When it is focused on important things and well managed, it can be a very positive trait. Entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, musicians, and athletes often focus intensely on their fields of expertise.
If hyper-fixation is left untreated, it may lead to mental disorders like ADHD or anxiety– Click below to get your mental disorder diagnosed and treated.
You can turn hyper-fixation into your superpower. You simply need to understand it and master how to control it. Please know that you are not alone in this. Working with professionals and people around you can help you keep it together even as you leverage hyper-fixation for enjoyment and productivity.