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jascey
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23 Nov 2010, 7:07 pm

I have joined this site to gain some information and advice about obsessing over people. My diagnosed 7 year old first started obsessing over a teacher at his school at age 6. At first we thought it was cute but it quickly developed into a major problem. When asked to do written work at school all he would write was her name. He constantly talked of her, made up songs about her and even googled earthed her address to see where she lived.

Fortunately/unfortunately when she left the school he soon developed an obsession with another female in his class. This was far more intense and resulted in him imitating her in every way, thinking and talking about her constantly. Needless to say, it freaked her out.

He has now moved to a new school and after 4 weeks he is starting to show signs of developing another obsession with another female student. When he started at this school we told him that one of the school rules was that you can't "get into people" (his terminology) However, even though he strongly feels he must adhere to the school rules, he says that he can't stop thinking about her and that he finds her interesting and not so the other students.

Can anyone explain to me why they obsess about other people and how they manage their feelings?



MollyTroubletail
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23 Nov 2010, 7:24 pm

WHY the obsessions? Because that's a part of this syndrome. You can't help what you become obsessed about. Being told not to do it doesn't work, either. It's very much like a crush, only much stronger. Even if having crushes were against the rules, you could never stop people from having them.

How do we manage the feelings? For myself, I simply learned to hide my interest from others. I became secretly obsessed, while outwardly maintaining a (semi-) normal appearance. Some of the people I got obsessed with became friends or lovers, as I got older. They seemed to enjoy my singular interest and loyalty.



happymusic
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23 Nov 2010, 7:52 pm

Oh I feel for your son. People obsessions can be nearly debilitating. And embarrassing. I don't know how to deal with them except for social withdrawal. I don't think that's the best way to solve the problem, though. All I can think of is things that I know don't work which include:

1. Like Molly said, prohibiting it
2. Trying to reason the obsession away
3. Considering the social implications. Often the obsession is so strong, you don't care what the social impact might be - be it your reputation, relationship with others, etc.

The only thing I've found that's helped is distance from the person. I can't see them or talk to them. That can help.

It can be miserable to be this obsessed, too, btw. It's exhausting.



Aimless
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23 Nov 2010, 8:09 pm

I have a history of obsessions with people that I've learned to hide. The last one was off and on for a period spanning 15 years. During it's most intense phases I would think about him literally hundreds of times a day. Maybe these obsessions act as sort of an anchor, something to focus on because otherwise we're all adrift. Just a thought.



Smike
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23 Nov 2010, 8:21 pm

The only thing I can think of is trying to teach him he needs to keep it to himself. I don't think you can get rid of people obsessions, but I'm sure you can teach him how to not come across as stalkery etc, which he'll need to do as he grows up or he'll end up in trouble if he gets older and still openly obsesses.



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23 Nov 2010, 8:56 pm

Teach him appropriate behavior around females (if he only obsesses over females that is) or else try to teach him to not approach females at all, or at least those outside your family. I've become semi-obsessed w/ people but its only ever strengthened my friendships.


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23 Nov 2010, 9:04 pm

Teach him to keep it to himself and get him a special book to write about his people obsessions in, after he gets his chores and his homework, as a reward and nothing should escape that book.


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jascey
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23 Nov 2010, 9:18 pm

Thank you to everyone who has replied to my post.
I have gained more insight into his obsession and ways of managing it from 2 hours on this site than I have from endless (and expensive) appointments at the psychologist.
Will definitely be encouraging him to keep his feelings to himself when at school and writing them in a journal.



happymusic
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23 Nov 2010, 9:39 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
Teach him to keep it to himself and get him a special book to write about his people obsessions in, after he gets his chores and his homework, as a reward and nothing should escape that book.


That's brilliant! :)



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24 Nov 2010, 12:21 am

Honestly I have no idea why some people obsess about people. I imagine there are a variety of reasons, ranging from the benign to the deranged.

While "special interests" can most certainly be people, they are most often about celebrities or historical figures. It's curious that his obsessions switch so quickly.

If it were a normal special interest, I would say leave it alone, but because this may not actually be a special interest, and because of it's potential social ramifications, I would have a psychologist work with him on this.



sgrannel
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24 Nov 2010, 12:32 am

Obsessions can involve people of the opposite sex, or at least all mine were. These of course, never went anywhere. Time and distance and a clear indication that these will not go anywhere, have a way of damping these obsessions out. Nowadays I don't have any more of these. I miss the infatuation.


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pensieve
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24 Nov 2010, 1:36 am

I used to be so obsessed with one person that i didn't know how to act in front of him so I threw things at him.
The next couple of people that I obsessed over people just thought I fancied them. I would just always talk about them.
I still have attachments to people but it's not as strong as before.

Is there any other interest your son has? Maybe if he developed a few more his interest in people will be less intense.
You could say thinking about them is ok, but do not talk about them too much or want to hang around them all the time (for when he is older - obsessing about people in teenagers can be kind of creepy).
He may grow out of it like I did. I was about 8 when when I had an obsession about that guy I used to throw things at were really intense.
People with autism we like to focus on one thing and if a person is likable or nice to us we really start liking them and want to know more. We become attached to them.
This thread is a good reminder for me to take my interest in people down a level.

I'm not being very coherent today. I apologise.


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24 Nov 2010, 1:14 pm

Obsessions with people is one of the things I hate most :(. I used to get obsessed with teachers at school, and one in particular lasted through most of secondary school. I never know why and I hated it so much, especially when she complained about me when I didn't realize I'd done anything wrong. Now I just try to hide it but I still hate it. Is there an age where it stops? I'm 23 now and it's nowhere near as strong as it was when I was at school but it still happens.



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24 Nov 2010, 11:44 pm

People obsessions are the worst, because you can't control them. I had an incredibly intense person obsession for over three years, and I was so glad when it ended and I moved on to a "typical" fact-based special interest. The worst thing about a person obsession is that you aren't able to decide when you can engage in them. With a fact-based special interest like a TV show or a branch of science, anytime you want to partake in the interest, you're able to do so. But with a person, you don't get to dictate how much time you get to spend with them or when you'll get to see them. And after spending a good bit of time with the person, you often can get witdrawal. It can be tortuous. As others have said, it may look like a neurotypical crush to an outsider, but special interest people obsessions can most certainly be platonic in nature. Mine was.
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jascey
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25 Nov 2010, 3:23 am

Again I wish to thank all who have taken the time to respond to my post.

We are very proud of our son and the person he is. If I could I would not change a thing about him, he is such a sweet little boy with an amazing mind. If I could change anything it would be the judgemental views of other people who he meets.

However it saddens me to see him so distressed about his person of affection. It also saddens me to hear from those who have responded that for some this has caused them many years of suffering.

I know it is not possible to change his interests (he has had many in the past) but I also feel that to obsess about something material would be so much better for his well being as he cannot control the actions and feelings of others (no matter how much he wishes he could). We try to explain to him that it makes him so sad to be "into people" as he cannot control the situation and remind him how happy he was when he was into previous special interests. To be honest we love it when he develops an interest other than people because we can indulge in it, share it with him and really make a connection.

It breaks my heart to see the anguish is causes him when he has an interest is another person and he feels rejection because I guess that is a feeling that he will experience often during his life-but not from us and his extended family.



ksuther09
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23 Dec 2010, 10:23 pm

Hi!! ! I am so glad that you are trying to support your son the best way possible with his obsessions/fixations. Growing up, I was ridiculed for them, so your support will be much appreciated from him later on. For me, I have never obsessed about people in my social-circle to an extreme. I have obsessed about guys, but I thought it was just part of being an ordinary teenager/college student. However, it was never maladaptive and I was able to stay friends with the guys and blab about them to my girl friends.

People I have had an obsession about include: Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Chris Tomlin, and Temple Grandin. Since these are famous people, I engaged in the special interests around them by collecting facts about their lives from reading and other media.

One thing I realized was that I wanted the images that I created in my head of these people to serve an emotional function. For example, Helen Keller and Temple Grandin serve as my role-models of people who walked through life with disabilities I have (I am pretty visually-impaired and on the autism spectrum), John F. Kennedy was sort of like a father-figure who would understand my co-special interest in politics at the time, and a lot of Chris Tomlin's songs have touched my life.

So, with that said, maybe your son has an emotional need he is trying to have met by these people such as support at school or a strong connection with a peer. Whoever helps him with his IEP might have some ideas on how this could be addressed in a more socially appropriate way. Hope that helps and Merry Christmas Eve & Christmas!