Obsession Confession

Courtney Colligan (‘14) admits to being obsessed, not only with Woolf, but Plath as well. Stephanie Alexander/The Captain's Log

Courtney Colligan (‘14) admits to being obsessed, not only with Woolf, but Plath as well. Stephanie Alexander/The Captain’s Log

What do Miley Cyrus and Virginia Woolf have in common? Both have their obsessive fans at CNU.

Dr. Matthew Campolattaro, assistant Psychology professor, defines obsession as an extreme interest in a particular topic or behavior. According to Dr. Michelle Clark, a lecturer in the Psychology department, an obsession is established by a positive association with the behavior or topic, such as hearing a song while in a good mood. The obsession is reinforced as the enjoyable behavior is repeated.

I wander into Einstein’s one day armed with a vague idea of what obsession is to find people to pester. In Einstein’s, I find senior Courtney Colligan who is obsessed with author Virginia Woolf. Being the daughter of a veteran English teacher of 33 years, it only seems natural that Colligan claims an author as her fixation.  Her obsession with Virginia Woolf began in Colligan’s junior year of high school, when her English teacher assigned what Colligan still considers her hardest academic paper, a 50-page research paper on Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway.” After being immersed in the work, Colligan came out of the assignment with a great appreciation for Woolf, saying, “[Woolf] captures a lot of aspects of the human condition.” Naturally, Colligan owns a substantive amount of writing Woolf produced, but has yet to read through it all.

Also in Einstein’s sits Laney Parrott. The senior confesses that she took shelter from winter break boredom engrossed in “Grey’s Anatomy” and is now, certifiably, hooked. Parrott became addicted just days before classes resumed and now is breezing through episodes before class work starts to pile up. Not only does Parrott’s “Grey’s Anatomy” obsession dominate her Netflix usage, but it has also infected the next tab on her internet browser, where she plugs into anything “Grey’s Anatomy” related on Tumblr.

After talking to Parrott, I venture farther into the Trible Library where I meet junior Sean Mehrmann. When Mehrmann tells me he is addicted to Rugby, I’m not surprised. He’s a big guy and towers over the desktop computer he is working on. In a hushed tone, he explained his attraction to Rugby. “Out of all sports, Rugby is the most demanding,” Mehrmann said. His interest in the sport stems from the diverse skills Rugby requires.First exposed to the sport on television in his native country, the United Kingdom, Mehrmann started playing at nine years old and today participates in CNU’s rugby club.

I fix my sights on curly-haired junior Joe McCauley sitting at another nearby computer. Once McCauley warms up to me, he reveals his love of biking. Why biking? According to him, there wasn’t much else to do in his home state of Michigan. He particularly likes the chance to get fresh air and excitedly tells me about a good trail back home that leads to the waters of Lake Michigan. “When I go on bike rides, I lose myself,” McCauley says.

Leaving McCauley to his work, I then sit down with freshman Rachel Barranel studying at a nearby table. I managed to pry her away from her textbook long enough to discover her fixation on the serpent-tongued star,Miley Cyrus. Barranel first took a liking to Cyrus in the movie “The Last Song.” Barranel takes full advantage of social media to keep up with Miley Cyrus as well, though she admitted it can disrupt her studies because “[Miley Cyrus] tweets a lot.” She finds Cyrus compelling because of her uniqueness. Barranel appreciates Cyrus’s singing ability, though the freshman points out that some songs are less than stellar.

Michael Kvenvik is obsessed with his job. The senior is a pet groomer at PetSmart. At first, Kvenvik’s job was just a way to earn some cash, but he fell in love with working in the salon, calling the work a “stressful stress relief.” Kvenvik considers poodles to be his specialty but is quick to mention that he doesn’t like the breed so much as he appreciates the technique required to achieve the perfect poodle haircut.

While conditions such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder display some similarities to an extreme interest in, say, “Grey’s Anatomy,” Clark assured me that “fun” obsessions don’t develop into legitimate issues. Usually. In fact, Clark sees some benefits in having a harmless obsession with something, such as for anxiety relief and the satisfaction of being knowledgeable.

So when your roommate starts to protest when you add another item to your shrine, carry on undeterred.