Addiction is defined as "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma." But sometimes a person will find something which they do not suffer any withdrawal from when the y stop doing it for a while, and they do not feel any great need to seek out on your own. Yet when they are actively engaged with it, they just do not want to stop and can find it very difficult to pull themselves away from.

As an example, "My son is addicted to MineCraft. Once he sits down at it he will play for hours, not even wanting to stop to eat or sleep even when all his friends have gone home. Yet unless one of his friends wants to play it with him to begin with he never touches it."

I feel like "addicted" is the wrong word, because while the "psychological enslavement" part is correct, it does not seem to form a habit or exhibit withdrawal symptoms. It's almost like a temporary addiction that goes away whenever the stimuli is removed. Is there a word for this?

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    I think you've answered your own question. I would say "habit" fills your need nicely. "Habitual (whatever)" If that fits better. "Compulsive Behavior" is a behavior that you don't necessarily receive a reward or pleasure from. That might fit the mine craft scenario better. – Misneac Nov 16 '15 at 5:33
  • @Misneac I don't see where I suggested "habit" but that word seems to have the same issue as "addiction" ... how can something be a habit if it's not something that you regularly do? I do like compulsion though... – Michael Nov 16 '15 at 5:36
  • I'd suggest "Facebook". – Hot Licks Nov 16 '15 at 13:45

Consider, fixation or fixated

Fixate: To attend to something to the exclusion of all others

Taken literally it describes only the actions a person is performing, not their mental state whilst doing so. It is possible for a person to be fixated by choice, or to be mesmerized.

Unlike addicted it does not imply a serious mental or physical dependence on an activity or substance, but rather a temporary state of mind.

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Per a comment by @Misneac, I think that compulsion might work.

"A strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one's will."

That seems to describe quite well a difficulty stopping something without habit forming or withdrawal symptoms, as it almost seems to imply the difficult stopping is due to a conflict between feeling an impulse to act, and simultaneously that impulse being contrary to one's own will.

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    I was wrong. The word you're looking for is "enthralled". It has all the elements you're looking for, even an archaic association with slavery. I think it improves on compulsion because it implies that the game (or whatever) exerts a continuing influence over the person, instead of the momentary influence suggested by "compelled". – Misneac Nov 16 '15 at 5:43
  • Compulsive behavior is one of mental illnesses. It is definitely habit-forming and sometimes it is worse than addiction. – user140086 Nov 16 '15 at 5:47
  • @Rathony you're absolutely right. That's one of the reasons I looked for another word. – Misneac Nov 16 '15 at 5:48

It's not easy to find a word to fit in your context because there is a fine line between addiction and "non-addiction" whose distinction is subjective.

You could consider "immersion" which means:

Deep mental involvement in something:

Despite his deep immersion in politics up until this moment, he felt relieved to be an ordinary twenty-year-old for once.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

complete involvement in some activity or interest


Note: Immersion is not as much suitable for your game context as for politics or study.

"Mild addiction" could also be considered.

Not severe, serious, or harsh:

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

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Consider, rapt and engrossed.


: showing complete interest in something

: wholly absorbed : engrossed M-W


: to occupy completely, as the mind or attention; absorb Random House

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