I've encountered this expression in commentary on current world events and I've added as little politics as possible to the question, referencing the video for additional context. I find the expression interesting and would like to understand it and its origin better.

In a response after 08:14 in this DW News' April 28, 2022 video commentator Jessica Berlin (link is cued a minute earlier for context) says:

We literally do not have time for this kind of (German expression) we say in German, being obsessed with one's own issues.

Unfortunately Google's auto-generated closed captions don't shift language gears and recognize it.

Question: What is the expression for "being obsessed with one's own issues" used in this video, and what is its origin?

Was it coined in some specific context or is it in widespread use?

1 Answer 1


I'm pretty sure it's Selbstbeschäftigung, see DWDS usage examples from Die Zeit. The literal translation is "self-occupation" or "self-employment", but I suppose the commentator on DW would know the actual meaning better than I would.

One trick I've learned for this kind of thing to set YouTube's playback speed to 0.75x. It makes everyone sound slightly drunk but it makes it easier to pick out the syllables. You might think that setting the speed to 0.5x would help even more but unfortunately it just makes people sound more drunk.

  • 5
    It definitely is Selbstbeschäftigung. I think, the word navel-gazing used a bit earlier is pretty similar in meaning.
    – guidot
    Apr 29, 2022 at 7:02
  • Nobody actually uses the noun "Selbstbeschäftigung" in German, by the way. We do use "mit sich selbst beschäftigt sein" (to be preoccupied with oneself).
    – HalvarF
    Apr 29, 2022 at 21:32
  • 1
    Selbstbeschäftigung is not used for individuals. But it is being used for organizations. Most prevalently you will encounter it when members of a political party try to calm down a vivid discussion inside their own party. @HalvarF
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Apr 30, 2022 at 0:29

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