The Quick 10: 10 Crazes, Obsessions and Pathological Afflictions


We're all familiar with kleptomania, egomania, and maybe even a little nymphomania. Personally, I've run into quite a few pseudomaniacs (pathological liars) and at least three people afflicted with theomania (belief that one is a god). I'm a self-admitted bibliomaniac (book fanatic) and phaneromaniac (obsessive nail biter). But there are countless manic predilections that most people haven't encountered. Here are 10 to sate your infomaniacal (flossy) tendencies.

1. Aboulomania: Of all the maniacs I meet, I definitely hope none of them are pathologically indecisive. There's nothing worse than that. Then again, maybe there is. I'm just not sure. At any rate, aboulomania is a known symptom of bipolar disorder, major depressive episodes, brain damage or tumors, and mercury toxicity"¦ I think. Yes, that's right. Well, probably.

2. Clinomania: In the 19th century, women were being diagnosed with the catchall condition hysteria like nobody's business; more often than not, the cure involved extended periods of bed rest in addition to any number of ridiculous treatments. This practice created a society rife with women obsessed with staying in bed, most of whom remained bedridden for months without any physical symptoms of illness. While it may sound appealing to some, long-term bed rest can cause blood clots, bedsores, kidney stones, muscular atrophy and pretty intense boredom.

3. Doramania: I used to tell everyone about my little girl's insatiable Dora-mania. Thank goodness PETA didn't hear me; she is not obsessed with owning furs, she just loves that super-cool exploradora. To their credit, PETA has outed many a suspected celebrity doramaniac in their annual Worst Dressed List, including 2008's winners losers Aretha Franklin, Lindsay Lohan, and Kate Moss.

4. Empleomania: This year the empleomaniacs are running loose in the streets, campaigning night and day to ease the fixation on holding a public office.

Ralph Nader is a familiar candidate for an empleomania diagnosis; his first shot at the White House was in 1972 and he has campaigned every four years since 1990, bringing his total number of attempts for the presidency to a whopping seven failures.

5. Macromania: This sounds like some kind of techno-geek babble involving things I don't understand. Apparently, it's the delusion that objects are larger than actual size, which I understand perfectly every time I have to try on jeans. Also known as subjective macropsia, macromania can be caused by damage to the retinas, epilepsy, and migraine headaches or by using certain hallucinogenic drugs, Alice in Wonderland-style.

6. Metromania: You may know a friend with an addiction to writing poetry that you're hoping will either be cured soon or get a sweet publishing deal. Rumor has it that Edgar Allen Poe suffered periods of metromania, and look how he turned out. In 1849, Poe was found in Baltimore on the street, incoherent and wearing clothes that didn't belong to him. He died in a hospital four days later (October 7, 1849) of undetermined causes, without ever regaining full lucidity. I hope your friend gets better.

7. Opsomania: The desire to eat only one kind of food is a common dietary problem for parents with small children. Medical professionals say that most children grow out of food jags within a few weeks. Not so for Andrew Foster, who ate only cookies (or biscuits, as he calls them) from 18 months through adulthood. At 27, Foster sought help for his inability to eat real food, which was affecting his health and certainly the quality of any dinner dates he endeavored. Remarkably, he is a chef. These days Foster is "trying other foods." I'm sure his restaurant patrons appreciate that.

8. Parousiamania: What do you get when you mix parousiamania with theomania? Why, a cult of course! No doubt there were plenty of people obsessed with the Second Coming of Christ living in Mount Carmel when it was raided in 1993. Accusations of child abuse and statutory rape against the Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, resulted in a 51-day siege of the compound and the death of 67 members.

9. Toxicomania: This can be interpreted two ways; one is that toxicomania is an extreme form of pica in which the afflicted person has a morbid craving for lethal substances, like insecticide, or my mom's meatloaf for instance. The other definition is good old-fashioned drug addiction.

10. Verbomania: Any writer worth their salt has a little bit of a craze for words, but true verbomania sufferers speak unintelligibly, in tangential, fast-paced speech, and use overly complex and archaic language. Or they could just be obsessed with learning new words, which is arguably the more common manifestation.

List courtesy The Phrontistery