Interest vs obsession - whats the difference?

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Technic1
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19 Feb 2022, 7:19 am

Im being told that im obsessed and that its not 'interest'?



Last edited by Technic1 on 19 Feb 2022, 9:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

jimmy m
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19 Feb 2022, 7:44 am

Most people have a short attention span. They talk about something but only for a minute or two and then they go onto another subject, and then another subject and then another subject.

So by the time I decide to put my opinions into a discussion, they have already moved onto other areas.

Part of the problem is that I am slow. Part of the problem is that I think deeper thoughts and they are more complex.


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naturalplastic
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19 Feb 2022, 8:12 am

Technic1 wrote:
Im being told that im obsessed and that its not 'interested'?


An obsession is an extreme "interest". So I dont know what folks in your life mean.

An obsession takes over and sort of controls you, rather than you control it. Thats a possible difference.


As Dr. Hans Aspergers said "between love and madness lies obsession".



Or ... was that a Calvin Klien TV ad for for perfume?

I forget which.



Last edited by naturalplastic on 19 Feb 2022, 12:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Technic1
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19 Feb 2022, 9:13 am

there was a spelling error "Im being told that im obsessed and that its not 'interest'?"

"



Joe90
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19 Feb 2022, 11:23 am

Obsessions can be unhealthy. Interests are not.

Obsessions can be like something controlling your life. I've been there. I got so obsessed with someone that nothing else in life mattered. All that mattered was when I was next going to see the person/people I was obsessed with - even if it was just 2 seconds walking by or driving by in a car. It still meant a lot to me, more than my friends, more than my schoolwork, more than everything.

That was obsession.


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ToughDiamond
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19 Feb 2022, 12:05 pm

I would think an interest becomes an obsession when it starts to seriously interfere with your life, or maybe when it causes other people undue trouble, though that's harder to know because sometimes a person's selfish interests can cause undue trouble to others without those interests being particularly obsessional.

It gets rather fuzzy at the edges. In some professions it's an advantage to be obsessional - music for example, where if you don't give it an abnormally high priority you'll probably only ever be mediocre.

I suppose I'm kind of obsessional about whatever I turn my mind to, though I seem to be quite good at keeping it from getting harmful. If I take on a task, then to me that task is the most important thing in the world, except that I also have another idea going on in my mind that keeps asking me whether I'm spending my time in the best way, and I'm usually aware of a wish to surface from it.

I first noticed my obsessional tendencies when I got my first VCR. I spent the best part of 2 days reading through the manual and trying out every feature. But I saw what I'd been doing, and I got an uncomfortable feeling about it, that I had some kind of obsessional thing going on in me.

Since then I've always questioned my tendency to get extremely immersed in things, and tried to keep some sense of proportion, to keep stepping back to look at myself and to see whether I'm overdoing it. Usually I allow myself to plough on for a while, and then I get increasingly aware that I might be getting lost down a rabbit hole. It can be a big source of tension for me, between being afraid of getting too carried away but still feeling a strong need to get a good result, not wanting to just abandon the task or spoil the result through lack of attention to detail. Sometimes - particularly with music - I won't dare to start a project because I know I'll either get sucked in for weeks or I'll have to tear myself away from it and suffer the problems of picking up all the loose threads later when I resume.

I suspect that for Aspies, some of the tendency towards obsessional behaviour like that comes from an awareness of memory problems and the difficulty we have in resuming a task if it's interrupted. It's much more efficient, and the results are more reliably achieved, if we can just start and continue to the end while it's all fresh in the mind. We can have a lot of trouble with starting and stopping. So I wonder whether our "obsessions" are quite the same thing as they are for NTs. Maybe their obsessions are more of a psychiatric thing, while ours are just us being practical about the brain wiring we were born with? The choice of suitable interventions - and deciding whether or not intervention was necessary - would depend on that.

I just wish I lived in an ideal world where I would live forever and there was plenty of time to get everything right, without having to worry about what wasn't getting done.



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19 Feb 2022, 1:54 pm

Special Interests we call them, right? Unless a person is a workaholic then that's an "acceptable" obsession. My husband accepts mine as long as I do the minimal care of other areas of my life. Typically my (ASD) mom and I have work or lots of activities, but we are currently in between those things. So, who else but an "obsessed" person can do 8+ hours in a row and talk at length about their "interest". We can! I know I should be doing other things, but (shrug). My mom is currently "interested" in K-dramas --- so much so that when the internet was done during her vacation she went in the car where there was better reception, and she slept there. "Interest" or "obsession"? Her husband (my dad) accepted this also, although I wonder when an intervention would be useful... for her... for me. Well, as long as the house doesn't have cockroaches and I am paying my bills, my "interest" is all good, right? (I do wish my mom were more engaged in the world.) How is it for you?



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19 Feb 2022, 2:16 pm

SharonB wrote:
Special Interests we call them, right? Unless a person is a workaholic then that's an "acceptable" obsession. My husband accepts mine as long as I do the minimal care of other areas of my life. Typically my (ASD) mom and I have work or lots of activities, but we are currently in between those things. So, who else but an "obsessed" person can do 8+ hours in a row and talk at length about their "interest". We can! I know I should be doing other things, but (shrug). My mom is currently "interested" in K-dramas --- so much so that when the internet was done during her vacation she went in the car where there was better reception, and she slept there. "Interest" or "obsession"? Her husband (my dad) accepted this also, although I wonder when an intervention would be useful... for her... for me. Well, as long as the house doesn't have cockroaches and I am paying my bills, my "interest" is all good, right? (I do wish my mom were more engaged in the world.) How is it for you?


Korean "dramas" (like soap operas?) are that available to Americans? AND they are THAT addicting?

Interesting phenomenon.



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19 Feb 2022, 4:22 pm

The term "obsession" has negative connatations. But it's possible to have a little obsession going on without it taking over your life or being negative in any way. I was "obsessed" with the movie "Jaws" and sharks when it came out. But no harm was done, even though a few family members were sick of hearing me talk about sharks.

My sister told me I was "obsessed" simply because I was pasting newspaper clippings of a missing boys' case on a big poster board.

Depends on one's definition of "obsessed." However, my interests have gone FAR BEYOND the realm of "normal" or neurotypical.

This is why I prefer the term "special interest" or "hyperfixation." These terms mean more than a normal level of interest, but not so abnormal that it causes a disruption.

A tipoff that you have a special interest or hyperfixation is that you frequently THINK ABOUT IT and in your mind, you OFTEN CREATE hypothetical scenarios involving the topic. You then play these scenarios over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over in your mind and just can't get enough of these playouts. You do this even while driving or watching TV.

A hyperfixation doesn't always manifest in info dumps, though we can cleverly often find ways to work our current special interests into conversation. A woman in the gym locker room yesterday complimented my ponytail. This was an opening to talk a little about my special interest: ponytails, though I spent only maybe 90 or so seconds on it, but I enjoyed it.

When it's a true fixation or special interest, vs. a normal-level interest, you just "know" it. You intuitively know it. For the most part, I can easily distinguish between my normal-level interests and my special interests or hyperfixations.



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22 Feb 2022, 4:08 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Korean "dramas" (like soap operas?) are that available to Americans? AND they are THAT addicting?

Interesting phenomenon.

Yes, I gather from her sharing that K-dramas are Korean soap operas (series). There's an app, which includes English subtitles. A friend's father is currently "obsessed" with Norwegian detective shows.

To me these are time killers, avoidance techniques and/or lack of executive function. I am hoping my mom can apply her 1,000s of hours of K-drama viewing IRL. We'll see what I "do" with my investment. Special Interest as an investment... :wink:



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26 Feb 2022, 3:19 pm

Obsession is an interest that excludes the interest and attention placed on other things



Technic1
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25 Mar 2022, 3:44 am

Obsession is unhealthy;thy,

but an interest is suppose to be a big thing (taking over) in your life.?



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25 Mar 2022, 7:46 am

Obsession when it comes to the clinical terminology tends to have an overwhelming negative aspect to it for the individual in question. They often don't want it, but they can't stop thinking about it.

The interests in those with Autism tend to come at the expense of neglecting other things so it's not all fine and dandy as it's made out to be, but they want to think about them.



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26 Mar 2022, 9:22 am

jimmy m wrote:
Most people have a short attention span. They talk about something but only for a minute or two and then they go onto another subject, and then another subject and then another subject.

So by the time I decide to put my opinions into a discussion, they have already moved onto other areas.

Part of the problem is that I am slow. Part of the problem is that I think deeper thoughts and they are more complex.


Thanks "jimmy m". I thought I was the only one anywhere like that. It's weird seeing myself so clearly described in print!.

Part of my problem is that everyone else is way too fast :!:



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27 Mar 2022, 9:59 am

Obsession is a term that NTs like to use, because they're living in the 50s and they think we're crazy.


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28 Mar 2022, 10:56 am

As I'm starting to explain ASD to people in my life, when I get to the obsession/hyperfixation part, they are quick to point out that obsession traits from ASD must be why me and 20 other people log into a game video together 2-3 nights a week for 3 hours. My counter is that no one is really doing anything anyways on a weeknight between 8 and 11. My parents really liked the wield the obsession word to shame us for certain interests. I think the line is if you can point to where pursuit of your interest is causing you to consistently miss out on opportunities that you would otherwise pursue.