Asperger Syndrome's symptom of special interests

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Noamx
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18 Jul 2022, 10:20 am

To this day, I have many special interests. I thought to talk to you about that, if thats okay.

Well basically, this symptom is very common among people with this syndrome, so I guess most of you know a thing or two about it. But my question is, what do you actually think about having this symptom? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing, or a mix of both? For me, it has always been a mix of both kind of thing, as some people have no interest in my special interests, and others do, but almost no one ever was so deeply interested in some things as I do. The bigger problem is, when they dont show interest in things that interest me, they might refuse to be my friend or hang out altogether, because they dont enjoy what I enjoy, and vice versa. But The question is if should I really try to show interest in other people's interests, even if I dont actually enjoy it? Or if I enjoy it, but very little. Only to make them happy, only so I wont lose them as my friend. Sometimes, I had to do that, otherwise the friendship would end between us. So I did it. But I'm not sure if I did the right thing, if I should have just told them I dont like it and if they have a problem with that, they dont have to be my friend. Other than that, I was wondering if the symptom itself is considered a positive or a negative symptom generally, or a mix of both. I never really cared to find out, but I was always confused about the current stance of it.


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18 Jul 2022, 10:35 am

I thank you for starting new interesting threads and keeping the site active (outside of PPR and number/word games). :) :)

I used to get obsessions with people, which isn't healthy, because it gave me mental urges to follow the people I was obsessed with and make myself be known to them, which was embarrassing. But it was like an itch I had to scratch. I had to do it, otherwise my life would have felt meaningless. Lucky that I'm a female because if I was a guy with these obsessions I probably would have been reported for being creepy. But because I'm a female, me flirting and hanging around (older) men was just seen as annoying but not a threat.

This was during ages 13-24. Before then I didn't have any obsessions, and I don't now either. But during the time when obsessions took over my mind, my mum would often yell at me saying "so these people you're obsessed with are more important than your grades/driving/getting a job?" But the truth was, yes, the obsessions were more important than any of that. People were foolish if they expected me to put anything first before my precious obsessions. That's how bad it was. I'm glad I have my own mind now. I don't need obsessions.


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18 Jul 2022, 10:43 am

If the friendship is important to you, then showing that you care about their interest is a good idea. Even if you are not interested in the topic yourself, it's ok. You don't have to care about the topic yourself but you should honor the fact that your friend does. For example, my brother, who is one of my best friends, does not care about horses. But I love horses. He cares about me and he knows how much I love horses. So he always wants to know how my riding lessons are and he gives me horse coloring books and things like that that he knows I will love and he encourages me in my love for horses. You don't have to care about the subject yourself, but if you care about your friend, you should allow your friend to share his or her interest with you and encourage them in their love for it. And hopefully the friend will do that for you and your interests as well.

You don't ever have to lie. You can tell your friend that you are not interested in the subject but that you honor the fact that he or she is. And you can tell your friend that you want to encourage him even if you are not interested in the subject yourself. My brother even told me the same thing about horses.

Sometimes people will not like what we like and that is ok. Our friendships don't have to only be based on special interests. You can learn to get to know people and be friends because they are good people. Sometimes it's hard to learn to do that but with time and patience, you can learn how.


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18 Jul 2022, 11:05 pm

Arts and Crafts
The Kinks
The Olympics
The Internet

These are the things that I live for. Without them, I'm a zombie.


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18 Jul 2022, 11:24 pm

Perhaps you need to see the bigger picture and which one (between focusing on your own interests and showing greater interest in other's interests even though you don't enjoy it) serves your greater purpose. People pretend to be interested in all kinds of things about others just to keep them as a friend, because they are more scared of loneliness than of boredom. E.g., if your special interest is mycology and you're fine with socializing less, you don't need to feel bad for wandering around in the forests indulging yourself at the sight of a green amanita.

For me, special interests tend to get in the way.

Many times I ought to work harder at work, but I end up listening to my special interest on YouTube while working (yes, we're allowed to do that). The greatest clash is between the reality of an "average life" (wife, kid, job, etc.) and the desire to just shut myself off from the world and do what I want. But I know very well that would leave me in a situation I wouldn't enjoy in the long run, so I just bite the bullet, suppress my interests and carry on with the life I have chosen.



Noamx
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19 Jul 2022, 12:05 am

Its a good social skill yeah. Actually, this social skill of being able to appear "interested" although you arent really, improves friendships and encourages a more serious friendship too, as the other person notices you are interested in their interests, so they know they have probably found a person with similar interests, or a person who likes what they like, which gives them the urge to stay in touch further.
Sometimes however, I try to kindly state "this is kinda boring, if we can please move on to something else?", and most of the time the other person wasnt offended by this statement, but sometimes they took it kinda personally. At situations where they took it personally, I tried to politely state why I dont like what I dont like and why I want to move on to something else, and so on. If its a random person I just met, I wouldnt care what they think because they're not going to be my friend anyways, but if its someone who's going to be a regular person I see almost daily, I'll probably want to work harder to make sure they're satisfied, or feeling comfortable with me, and so on.
What pisses me off personally is my special interests are so special, I might probably be the only person in the whole town / area I live in who is interested in it. This made me consider changing my interests, or showing interest in more common interests among people around my age in my area.
Specifically, in my country, not only almost no one is interested in what I am interested in, but very few people actually work at it, or have a profession related to it. Which means if I would have decided to get the education required for it, I'd be one of the few who have this type of profession.
Other than all this, can you guys please explain if you had to hide your special interests by not talking about them with others or sharign them with others, because you know they wouldnt be interested? Or after showing it to them and they werent interested, did you have to stop talking about it or you continued just because thats what you like, and you dont care about the fact it doesnt interest the other person?
It rarely happened to me when I didnt care about what other people think, especially not if its someone who can be a close friend. But with strangers / random people I dont know, it happened from time to time, but I rarely have deeper conversations with strangers / random people I dont know, so its a rare situation to be in.


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19 Jul 2022, 10:13 am

I've never believed in pretending to be interested in stuff I wasn't at least somewhat interested in. And, ever since I was old enough to be fully aware of this as an issue, I never wanted other people to pretend to be interested in my interests, either.

Ever since my mid-teens or so, I've always regarded genuine shared interests as a key part of friendship. I've always figured that, if either I or the other person had to fake it, then we wouldn't be able to have genuine fun together, hence any possible friendship between us wouldn't last.

For me, companionship (enjoying each other's company; having fun together) has always been based, to a large degree, on having one or more genuine shared interests.

Apparently there do exist quite a few people who somehow manage to have companionship without any shared interests. Apparently they rely on entertaining each other in other ways, e.g. by cracking jokes. But I've never been much of a jokester myself, nor do I require this of my friends (although I do enjoy my boyfriend's sense of humor). I've always sought companionship primarily via genuine shared interests.

As for special interests, I've had quite a few of them throughout my life. I've also had various other topics of less-intense but longer-term interest.

For me, the one drawback of special interests is that I struggle to keep from spending too much time on them, so that I can have enough time to get necessary work done.

But my special interests have also been the source of my deepest joys in life. So, on the whole, I regard them as more a positive thing than a negative thing. I've always felt sorry for people who didn't have intense interests of one kind or another.

I'm also glad that I've never had a person as my special interest. That, to me, seems like it would inevitably lead to lots of heartbreak.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 19 Jul 2022, 12:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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19 Jul 2022, 10:48 am

Have had to change special interests several times over my life ..Some we’re not like by people around me .
And did very destructive things to any interest I developed growing up . So as things changed would devise ways to
Have my special interests and be satisfied with research about them as often as I could .These interests required lots of money to proceed with them. So would change interests often times due to frustration . But none of these interests have ever gained me lots of money . So now I try to just have interest in things that need not involve people …ever. Rarely get acknowledged but special interests never , Needed acknowledgement to me .
Oddly enough these circumstances caused me to gather a large amount of info, on many different things .
The creative fun starts when I can successfully cross reference info. I have acquired.To do unusually creative things.


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19 Jul 2022, 12:22 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
Arts and Crafts
The Kinks
The Olympics
The Internet

These are the things that I live for. Without them, I'm a zombie.
Love your new avatar!


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King Kat 1
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05 Oct 2022, 10:03 am

I tend to guard my special interests in most life situations, because I figure people either aren't interested or I will be mocked over them. Also, talking too much about them has gotten me in trouble before, so it's best I keep it to myself.


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05 Oct 2022, 12:16 pm

King Kat 1 wrote:
I tend to guard my special interests in most life situations, because I figure people either aren't interested or I will be mocked over them. Also, talking too much about them has gotten me in trouble before, so it's best I keep it to myself.


I am that way too. I have a number of interests that are fascinating to me, but I do not discuss them with anyone, even my wife and kids, because I fear they are too obscure (actually I know they are obscure) and people would think it is super silly to invest significant psychic energy in such things. They can't relate to my interests. I feel I have to keep them to myself.

I also hate the term "special interests". They are interests, period. Every person, NT or ND, has interests. Mine can be intense and I certainly do devour as much knowledge as is available to me, but I priortize my real life obligations.



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05 Oct 2022, 12:50 pm

Have over the years used special interest tendency to focus on issues and problems that perplexed me,or challenged me . Only wish I had been better at it . It some cases or not up against hard nosed NT s whom wanted avoid obvious situations. But the ongoing situations gave me a very wide view of interests , Seems people always seem to want to
Physically attack things I had accomplished or had done. So time to ge.T another interest . Only a few have lasted all the way through childhood . Lots of them would fringe on physic stuff , but was geared more towards practical stuff.


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05 Oct 2022, 2:11 pm

Noamx wrote:
To this day, I have many special interests. I thought to talk to you about that, if thats okay.

Well basically, this symptom is very common among people with this syndrome, so I guess most of you know a thing or two about it. But my question is, what do you actually think about having this symptom? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing, or a mix of both? For me, it has always been a mix of both kind of thing, as some people have no interest in my special interests, and others do, but almost no one ever was so deeply interested in some things as I do. The bigger problem is, when they dont show interest in things that interest me, they might refuse to be my friend or hang out altogether, because they dont enjoy what I enjoy, and vice versa. But The question is if should I really try to show interest in other people's interests, even if I dont actually enjoy it? Or if I enjoy it, but very little. Only to make them happy, only so I wont lose them as my friend. Sometimes, I had to do that, otherwise the friendship would end between us. So I did it. But I'm not sure if I did the right thing, if I should have just told them I dont like it and if they have a problem with that, they dont have to be my friend. Other than that, I was wondering if the symptom itself is considered a positive or a negative symptom generally, or a mix of both. I never really cared to find out, but I was always confused about the current stance of it.

I think your post shows you've got a good handle on the downside of special interests - i.e. they tend to be so far removed from what other people usually like that we can become very isolated from the rest of society. And it's hard for us to take an interest in what other people are interested in. I'm sure NTs fake their interest in other people, but when we try to do that, it goes against the grain because we find other people's lives so boring compared with the strange subjects we're fascinated about, and because we have this "pathological honesty" thing that makes it feel wrong to fake it.

But it's not the end of the world. We can look for compromises. For one thing, good friendship is about a MUTUAL interest, so for half the time I can talk about myself, if it's a fair relationship and not just a one-sided thing. For the other half, I can at least try to take an interest in them, even if it's not easy. Knowing there's a lot at stake can motivate me into putting a bit of thought and energy into this. I can look for areas of overlap between what they like and what I like, and try to steer the conversation onto those areas so that I don't get so bored with what they're telling me. I can try to be selective about who I try to make friends with, to choose people who share more of my interests than the average person does. And I can try to apply a bit of compassion and respect for others, and say to myself "look, this subject is important to this guy, so let's not dismiss it out of hand, let's at least try to find something in there that I can relate to."

Luckily for me, I'm usually interested in practically anything once I notice that the thing has a big effect on the other person's happiness or misery - for some reason I like easing other people's pain and helping them to be happy. I also find that a lot of the subjects that bore me to death become more interesting once I've focussed on them for a while. It's often just the fact that I've never thought about a subject before that puts me off taking an interest in it - new ideas often seem overwhelming to me at first. So I don't think that I simply dislike other people's interests and don't give a damn about my fellow human beings, I think it's more that it initially hurts my head to explore new ideas.

The downside of special interests isn't just the social problems though. Even when I'm alone, I can get sucked into pursuing a special interest to the detriment of everything else that I need to do in order to survive. I'm so aware of that danger that when I have something boring and important to do, I daren't start working on my special interests in case that boring but vital task gets put off until it's too late.

I suppose the upside of special interests almost goes without saying - they're great fun, they're fascinating, they make life seem worth living. I was recently in great mental pain because I was alone and had to plan a very long, complicated and difficult journey to a better place. The work of planning it all was extremely tedious but I didn't dare take out the time to pursue a special interest once the date of my departure was fixed, so I was very miserable for the weeks before I embarked on my voyage, and the morbid thoughts that pervaded my mind were almost completely overwhelming.



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05 Oct 2022, 8:46 pm

That is how we learn. We develop a special interest and become subject matter experts and then we move onto something else that interest us. Before long we become educated far beyond NTs.

We can become very educated and experts in many fields. WE DEVELOP SKILLS OVER A WIDE RANGE OF SUBJECTS.


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05 Oct 2022, 11:20 pm

jimmy m wrote:
That is how we learn. We develop a special interest and become subject matter experts and then we move onto something else that interest us. Before long we become educated far beyond NTs.

We can become very educated and experts in many fields. WE DEVELOP SKILLS OVER A WIDE RANGE OF SUBJECTS.



Can feel to agree with this observation !


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