Absorption means a state of being completely engrossed in something.

An obsession means being continually preoccupied with something.

In context to someone's working habit do they both mean same?


  • Can you please put some examples in the question, your research and opinion?
    – user140086
    Oct 13, 2015 at 11:34
  • 1
    I am currently absorbed in EL&U, but (unless you ask my wife) I am not obsessed with it -- I will put it completely out of my mind and go do other things in a few minutes.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 13, 2015 at 12:27

3 Answers 3


The words "obsess" and "absorb" generally have different instigators for the direction of action

The television absorbed my attention.
I was obsessed over the television.

However, both words are perfectly capable of similar intransitive constructions.

I was absorbed by the television.

In that case, the two are generally defined by the level of conscious decision and severity. Someone chooses to be "obsessed", but often has less control over being "absorbed". "Obsession" is normally all-encompassing.

Karen was absorbed with her work and didn't notice Mark until he cleared his throat.
Karen was obsessed with her work, neglecting her friends and family.


No. They do not mean the same thing. An absorption as you have rightly stated, indicates that the person is engrossed in something. However, this is transient and usually lasts a relatively short time (compared to an obsession) while an obsession is continuous and may be positive or negative.

For example, absorption may be used thus: John has a presentation to deliver by 8 a.m tomorrow and he is running late on his preparations. This explains his absorption over the past three hours.

Whereas, obsession may be used thus: Right from his childhood, John has had an obsession for presentations and he is very passionate about them.


There is a fine line between obsession and absorption.

Someone who is obsessed is excessively absorbed. Being obsessed is often looked at with a negative connotation. Whereas, being absorbed is considered as a positive trait when it comes to work.

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