bad rap. obsession, goats

I wrote recently about being neurotic, and I think it’s a little but the same with obsessions. We can all be obsessive about things, with some of us it’s constant and lifelong, with others it can be transitory.

Questions abound as to whether an obsession can be useful or not, whether it is healthy or unhealthy, normal or abnormal. I can only speak about my own (minor) obsessions, and for me they are in the ‘healthy but harmless’ category. Actually, I am really talking about ONE obsession here, because this post was prompted by a perceived slight aimed at me.

Referring of course to my occasional references to goats, somebody (a so-called friend, not a reader), recently asked me “What is this ridiculous thing you have about goats, an obsession or what?”

I looked up ‘obsession’. Definitions I found didn’t say “unhealthy”, nor “worthy of criticism”, nor “a person with an obsession is a bad person”. The one I like the best is: “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind”.

Bounding, not intruding

With me it’s not actually continual; goats do occasionally bound across by thoughts, and if they intrude, then they are generally welcome. I guess it’s more of a theme than an obsession (so there! goat-theme critic, you know who you are).

While I’m in confessional mode I might as well own up to a few other obsessions. I’m over most of them because I’ve had therapy.

  • Seagulls (now replaced by goats which are cuddlier and cleaner)
  • Young women (I was a young man at the time, it’s passed now)
  • Cigarettes (over that too)
  • Going fast (often illegally so, in or on anything on wheels, cured)
  • Beer (more of a lifestyle choice than an obsession, still working on it)
  • The education system (wasting my time, they’ll never get it right because no system ever does for long)
  • A belief that “Life doesn’t have to be like that” (current).

This last obsession is alive and well in me, and the driver for this blog and much of the work I do. On that note, when clients have consulted me because of something they consider an obsession, I’ve generally found that their problem was less severe than than my own!

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.



  1. Philip Carr-Gomm May 11, 2015 at 8:29 am

    great post Barry! It suggests an idea to me that it would be useful to write down my own obsessions or themes I return to often….Maybe there’s a theme in the themes….Keep writing about goats – I like them!

  2. Phil-S May 21, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Sorry to hear about the negative comments on confessions of an obsessive.
    I have, hardly let a day go since I was about fourteen, without putting one note (sound) in front of another until piece of music, which didn’t before exist, was finished.
    Is all creativity basically obsessive?
    Another ego point: putting a piece of music together is one of the most obsessive activities I know involving many, many changes of mind which is the opposite of obsession; the obsession is about some notion of perfection.
    Someone sure knows which buttons to press.


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