Overheating is a common problem for laptops and desktops. The CPU (sometimes chip on video card) overheating can cause the laptop (or desktop) to freeze or shutdown; severe overheating can burn the CPU and motherboard, destroy the computer completely.
Most overheating is caused by dust in the cooling fans and heat sinks. The basic idea of cooling is using fans direct airflow to remove the heat generated by CPU (or chip on video card) out of the heat sinks. When dust accumulates in the fans and the heat sinks, their cooling abilities are significantly reduced. The situation gets deteriate when more dust stay in the fans and heat sinks. The early signs of the overheating are the computer self shutdown (or freeze) every several hours (4-5 hours), then over the time the shutdown (or freeze) get more and more often (in some cases, every few minutes). The CPU generates large amount of heat that cannot be diverted out of computer. The parts close to the CPU get very hot. Eventually, the CPU will be burned.