The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (2023)

The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (1)

You suddenly become obsessed with a single medium for days, weeks, or maybe evenFun?You can't talk about itanything elsesave your shiny new fandom and suddenly it's yoursAllWorld. That's what I call fandom hyper fixation.

The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (2)

This kind of hyper fixation has been a feature of my fandom life for as long as I can remember. The current fix is ​​the anime showDice, but just a month ago I drowned in itgood omens🇧🇷 Before?Boku no Hero Academia🇧🇷 Before?Legion🇧🇷 And everyone who knows me a little bit knows thatSwear on Gelohas me under control for over a year. And it's still there, waiting for theThe movie Yuri on Ice is coming outbefore he returns with a vengeance.

Back and forth it goes back to the beginnings of my fandom life. I just don't know how to casually consume things I love. I never have and I'm not sure I ever will.

My fandom hyper fixation usually starts with me looking at or reading something in a way that at first seems casual.Maybe I'll just watch an episode of this show over dinnerI tell myselfOr maybe I'll just read a chapter of this manga and go to bed.

To give you an idea of ​​how this starts, I took a look at thisGiven's first episodeon Friday 6th September and I was about to go to bed. Little did I know a fix was on the horizon when I hit play on the first episode. However, as soon as the episode ended, I pressed play for the next one. Then the next. It's next. It became my new shiny thing and it flooded me.Stand.

When a fixation grips me, it manifests itself as an inexplicable compulsion to consume this new thing until I've absorbed it all. Sometimes this even goes further to my own detriment. My sleep schedule routinely gets thrown upside down when this happens. I use up each bite as quickly as possible until I'm done and I don't want to stop or slow down.

I started the first episode ofDiceon Friday evening and finished the ninth episode on Saturday noon -The next day🇧🇷 There were nine episodes in less than 24 hours. Even if some might not see it that wayin additionimpressive, it's important to note that i was on vacation at the time but i was still cramming these episodes as i had a spa around me to while my time (i watched an episode at the pool bar ok? It was onlythis strong hold!🇧🇷 Without this vacation I probably would have done everything in one fell swoopNotinterruptions and stayed awake until the early hours of the morning.

The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (3)

Once the primary source is fully depleted, I need to find existing supplemental material. Is there a book for this series? Does this book have a sequel? Does this anime have manga? I started theseDiceManga on Sunday - the day after the completion of the last available episode for the series available at that time. 25 chapters of the manga were consumed in about three days. And the anime has one more episode left in the season. You can expect me to check it out as soon as it drops. because once againI don't know how to be casual about these things.

At some point (usually when the canon source material has dried up) I enter the world of fanworks and it gets worse from there. If there isn't enough work out there or if there isn't any content I'm looking for, Imakethat, and I spend every moment thinking about new scenarios that I could write. is only 36DiceFanfics on AO3 and I need to fix this. I already have plot rabbits in my head and need to throw them into a Word doc, brush them up and publish them to AO3.I need to🇧🇷 This phase usually lasts longer - weeks or sometimes months.

This is fandom hyper fixation. It is aDing🇧🇷 And I'm not alone. But what is that? why are we doing this What motivates these seemingly odd media consumption habits? And ultimately, is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Hyperfixation: Why are we doing this?

Hyperfixation, sometimes referred to as "hyperfocus" by some mental health professionals, is linked to a number of mental conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and probablemajorityoften ADHD. It's a way of relieving many of the symptoms associated with these disorders, and gives us a satisfaction often lacking because of our diagnoses. We continue because it's just good.

"We consume entertainment because it satisfies us," says Licensed Professional Counselor Mei Hua-Burns. “They can be funny or exciting, or convey complex emotions like empathy or sadness. Sometimes they make us gain insight or feel intellectually challenged. When entertainment deeply inspires thoughts or feelings, we enjoy them more and therefore consume more.

"Hyperfixation can occur when such a worthwhile piece of entertainment comes our way," Hua-Burns continued. "Just as a book fan can stay up all night to finish reading the latest novel, an anime fan can watch a series in a day or two."

as i watchedDicein two days i felt aimmenselyamount of the reward. My everyday fears, which otherwise plagued me every day, were overcome. My continued attempts to create content for fans, after consuming as much source material as possible, often feels like I'm trying to expand on those feelings in hopes that I'll continue to be content and shatter the fear for as long as I can possible to keep in check . It usually works for a while, but then it goes away. ANDthenI latch on to a new fixation. The cycle begins again.

"There's a concept called 'flow' that most people experience,"says LaRae LaBouff of Psych Central🇧🇷 "Flow is a groove. When a person is in flux, focus is heightened, creativity high, ideas flow together seamlessly, and one focus point after another just falls into place.”

Flow for me can occur both during the initial slip in fixation and in ongoing creative output after the canonical material has been thoroughly explored. The two streams look different to me, but they are equally valid and rewarding. As I consume, my mind absorbs all of the information that is presented to me as I mentally explore all of its various aspects. After that, I'll take whatever information I've picked up and put it back into the world as fanfiction. While the former flow is limited by the amount of material I can start with, the latter I can control and continue as long as I like.

An article on Healthcaretip.comhighlighted my specific mental health disorders and why hyperfixation has helped me deal with them:

Typically, hyperfixation can play a key role in treating anxiety and helping patients return to their normal lives. Because of this, hyperfixation anxiety/depression has become an effective and extremely useful psychological tool.

How is it expressed?

You've heard my story before. But what about other common hyper fixers? I'm definitely not alone with this particular habit. The number of people who came up to me as I was putting this piece together to say they were dying to find out why they did it was also impressive.

To get a second experience to compare, I reached out to a friend who is also hyper-fixated on things.

"Typically my fixation starts with validation from other people," Kim said. "[My partner] Rose and I often hyperfix at the same time and it gets even more obsessive. It usually starts with binge reading or watching what I'm addicted to and then I start searching for content like fanart or fanfiction online. Then it goes to merch and saves tons of pics on my phone or computer.

The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (4)„EraserMight [eraser/all power] started binge-watchingBoku no Hero Academiawith Rose one weekend and then the next day she sent me a picture of the EraserMight and said 'I like this ship' and so we started sending pictures back and forth and then we decided to start roleplaying together.

Ironically, Kim and I met because we were hyper-fixated on EraserMight at the same time. I've often noticed that friendships are formed when you're deeply fixated. As Kim said, there's a kind of validation you get from others. Like me, however, Kim's hyper fixation habit goes way back. It's been a feature of her fandom life for an incredibly long time.

"Before Rose, I was really interested in things likeSailor Moon,Harry Potter, zLord of the rings🇧🇷 When I was still living with my parents, I watched endless movies and decorated my room with posters and plastered with pictures. I used the soundtracks on my CD player, I played video games. It went on and on. My parents were always cool, so I never questioned it. I always had this thing to escape to.

My high school obsession with all things Anne Rice was pretty much the same. In fact, that's why I pretty much went full goth for a couple of years.

Is hyperfixation a bad thing?

As I mentioned before, I often lose sleep over these fan hyper fixes. So yes, sometimesI canbe evil Keeping track of our hyper fixations while balancing our daily lives is challenging. But if we can minimize the negative effects, we can use hyper fixation as a tool to deal with our mental symptoms without disrupting our daily lives.

"Like most aspects of life, too much of a good thing can become dysfunctional."continued LaRae LaBouff in her Psych Today article🇧🇷 "Hyperfocus is a problem when the affected person begins to ignore the world around them. Time goes by without realizing it. Others are ignored and responsibilities fall by the wayside. At that point, and especially when it occurs repeatedly, it is no longer a positive state like flow, but becomes debilitating.”

I've definitely let this happen before and I'm constantly checking myself. I found myself watching late night shows and then going to work with only three hours of sleep with a killing migraine of exhaustion. I was so engrossed in fan fiction that I missed my bus stop and had to walk miles home in the rain. i forgot to eat Or I'd start a meal and forget about it, only to find a cup of soggy pasta in the microwave hours later. It's taken me years to understand just how pervasive this hyper fixation can be, and I continue to work to keep the bad aspects at bay.

Kim had similar effects on sleep due to her recent hyperfixation.

"When I was in the middle of it, I couldn't even sleep," she said. "I got so excited thinking about it like I was drunk on caffeine. I tried every opportunity to talk about it and discuss it and I looked at the pictures online and showed them to Rose and we screamed and went mad. It felt like a caffeinated dream fueled by those excited emotions in my chest.”

It feels good immediately, even if we lose sleep over it. It could be midnight on a work day and I've just opened a 40,000 word fic and I'm like, "Hey, maybe I should save this for tomorrow and get some sleep." But the inner happiness is so strong that I need this rational thinking completely ignore and just move on.

This is the disadvantage of hyperfixation. It's very real and a bit scary at times. weI canovercome, but it requires some effort.

"Any type of activity can have a negative impact on your life if done in excess," Hua-Burns warns. “When the hyper fixation on something starts to affect other aspects of life, it becomes a problem for the person. Binge-watching a show can be very enjoyable, but binge-watching to the point of missing a job and being fired is a cause for concern.”


Hyperfixation can help people with a variety of mental health diagnoses deal with negative symptoms and experience gratification. But we must develop the skills to pursue those happy feelings while holding our lives together.

Basically go to sleep guys. You have to work tomorrow. Keep that in mind and you can hold onto and happily pursue these rewarding sensations to your heart's content.

And now that this article is finished, I will write someDiceFanfic.

The Psychology of Fandom Hyperfixation - The Geekiary (5)

Author:Engel Wilson

Angel is the administrator of The Geekiary and a commentator on geek culture. You studied film and digital media at UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to numerous podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio and Genre TV for All. They have also written for Friends of Comic Con and are winners of the 2019 Hugo Award for their contribution to AO3 fanfiction. They identify as queer.


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