Special Interests vs. Narrow Interests

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davethenat
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04 Aug 2010, 1:35 am

DonDud wrote:

Perhaps "limited" interests defines me more, but video games do consume most of my thought, in a way that I believe must be unusual.
The thing someone above said about disinterest in normal activities... very much so.


"Limited" is an interesting term. For me, "narrow" matches with TPE2's third point. If, when exploring life, you routinely reject certain "normal" activities largely because they are NOT and can never be as interesting as video games, then your singular focus may be limiting/narrow. If one particular interest becomes the measuring stick by which all other activities are compared, and we deny ourselves the pleasure of exploring other activities, then we can close ourselves off from much potential.

Nobody MUST like "normal" activities, but exploring them can bring much appreciation for the lives and interests of others


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27 Nov 2010, 11:22 am

When I was 14 I tried to get a special interest in cars, but I gave up because I didn't know the first thing about cars, and I found them boring. I was just trying to keep up with my 2 closest cousins, who were obsessed with cars (they are NTs, in case you like to know). Once their mum's friend drew up in her fancy Ferarri, which was a convertable and was done up. My cousins were so impressed that they had to go and sit in it, and were over excited. I had to pretend to be, but I got bored. Since that day I found out that cars wasn't ever going to be my special interests.

My special interests now is the weather and men. Are those narrow interests, or normal interests?


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Kon
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27 Nov 2010, 11:56 am

My narrow interest when I was young and continue to this date are:

1. Calf size and penis size. I read many books/articles/studies on both.
2. In philosophy of physics, I was just interested in the relationship between Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics and possibility for resolving the mind-body (mental-physical) problem. I read at least 1000 papers on it.
3. My current interests is the difference between Asperger's and social anxiety disorder.

My special interests (my whole life)

1. Exercise (strength training)
2. Philosophy of physics/Metaphysics
3. Mental illness/Psychopharmacology

I also dedicated my self to all 3 although I wasn't very successful:

1. I have been lifting weights since I was a teenager and read over 1000 articles on the topic, wrote stuff myself (publications) and even got 2 certifications (personel trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant).
2. Took advanced philosophy of physics and science courses and wrote a numbers of papers on the topic (some of which I never handed in).
3. Finished a degree in pharmacy (even though I hate most of it except psychopharmacology) and practised for 3 years (unsuccessfully) and tried every psychotropic drug on the market: benzodiazepines, narcotics, anti-psychotics, stimulants, etc.

I don't have many interests outside of these except I kinda like travelling because I'm really interested in visiting certain geological features. I was interested in geophysics and climatology for a very short-time.



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27 Nov 2010, 1:05 pm

I didn't have any particular special interests when I was little, but when I got to 11, I got very obsessed over the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. But that might have been because I was almost reaching puberty and was more curious about it. Then I got obsessed with colourblindness when I was 12. I class that as a narrow interest. Then it was Spanish. I think that was a special interest. Then finally, when I reached 13, I got obsessions with people, from then onwards. I've gone onto obsessing over different people now - but I don't know if having a person or people as an obsession classes as a special interest or a narrow interest.

Let me ask - is ie true that Aspie males get obsessed over objects, and Aspie females get obsessed over people? It this is true for most Aspies, why?


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menintights
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27 Nov 2010, 1:41 pm

Kiseki wrote:
I'm also curious what makes a special interest "special." I don't really know how the degree of my intensity towards things varies from other peoples'...


Unless all the people I know secretly have AS, our special interests probably aren't that special.

What probably makes it "special," I'm guessing, is the narrowness of the interest and how it compares to other basic skills in life. The normal person can be intensely interested in something while still being fairly well-rounded (therefore coming across as "normal"), whereas the AS person can't be intensely interested in something while still being fairly well-rounded.



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27 Nov 2010, 1:51 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Let me ask - is ie true that Aspie males get obsessed over objects, and Aspie females get obsessed over people? It this is true for most Aspies, why?

No. Or at least, not for me.
marshall wrote:
Sometimes it has more to do with lack of interest in "normal" popular things that NT's seem to be drawn to for social reasons. NT's seem to be drawn to take interest in things that allow them to have something in common.

Good point.

I see special & narrow interests as synonyms. I dislike the notion that we're missing out on things due to them (not in reply to anyone here, just annoyed at society) - the world is fractal, no matter how much you zoom in on one part there's still just as much detail.



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27 Nov 2010, 3:46 pm

Kiseki wrote:
I'm also curious what makes a special interest "special." I don't really know how the degree of my intensity towards things varies from other peoples'...

I often wonder the same thing. However, I think the "special" in "special interests" means "specialized", not "special" as in "better/more unusual than other people's".

That being said, my interests have always been fairly "normal" in subject matter, but unusual in intensity.



KissOfMarmaladeSky
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27 Nov 2010, 3:56 pm

I guess narrow interests are those that are non-varied, withstanding, and long-duration interests that can be something seemingly innocuous (such as video games, puppies, pop culture, or anime), or something arcane (such as frying pans, post-feminist literature, and stuff like that). I'm unsure what a special interest is, though. If it lasts in intensity, I'm pretty sure (this is from my experiences) it is something that you almost always research, attempt to find books on, and other things like that. (I was in a really large book fair yesterday, and I was trying to find a medical textbook. I also research rare diseases.)

My narrow interest (since I was five) was always some form of medical phenomenon. It used to be infectious and viral diseases, then it was mental illness, and now it is metabolic illnesses, rare diseases, and medical ethics (I usually take the side of keeping the mentally ill/comatose person alive....it just feels cruel if you kill someone, even if they can't articulate if they want to die or not). I also like poetry, literature, video games, anime, Japanese street fashion, education, ASD's, writing, reading, feminism, religion, pop culture of the 40's-80's, and other random things. I have a lot of interests, but I focus on them intensely.



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27 Nov 2010, 4:26 pm

My impression is that "special interest" is, in this context, simply a "PC" way of saying "narrow interest".



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08 Jan 2015, 10:16 am

'Special Interests' is just a term that explains that we have intense interests, far more intense than an NT would get into. We tend to learn JUST EVERYTHING there is to know about our interest and then we build on it. A mainstream interest I've had since childhood is Astronomy. Normal interest enough but most kids don't walk around all day with a hard cover copy of a book by Patrick Moore about Astronomy reading it as they go and then take it home and reread it all night, making notes and drawing pictures and star maps until I had to go to bed and it would be the first thing I would reach for in the morning. That's not normal but I couldn't see that at the time! I just thought I was super keen on Astronomy!

Narrow interests refers to the topic of interest (with no reference to the ferocity in which you pursue your interest/s).
I now have a narrow interest. Myna birds. NO ONE is interested in Myna birds. Only me. It's akin to being interested in elevator model numbers or train timetables. Worse actually because people don't hate elevators or timetables but everyone in my community hates Myna birds. They think of them as flying rats. My interest in Myna birds is a good example of a narrow interest! I don't even know why I'm interested in them but I just am! It's like a love spell!

We don't get to pick our Special Interests. They pick us!


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08 Jan 2015, 10:30 am

I knew one Aspie who memorized area codes, bus routes and luggage arrangements at airports. So special interest are not necessarily that interesting.


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08 Jan 2015, 1:21 pm

r2d2 wrote:
I knew one Aspie who memorized area codes, bus routes and luggage arrangements at airports. So special interest are not necessarily that interesting.


To them, they are. If they're anything like me, their Special Interests are their life.

Honestly, at times in my life, my Special Interests are the only thing that have got me through.
I've had periods in my life where I've been worried about a pending terrible event that I can't avoid and my mind goes racing around at 100 miles an hour but if I can quiet it enough to concentrate on my interest, I can usually get so caught up in it, I forget about anything else and just like now, I was worried all afternoon about my car being run into by someone but now, I've been indulging in my SI all evening and it's now 5:13 in the morning and I've been tending to my Special Interests. I haven't slept for 5 days now (not because of my Special Interests - Insomnia) but I'll have to sleep soon.

Normally by now, I'd be in my 2-3 hour sleep cycle period.
But still no sleep. Not a sausage! (me trying to go to sleep: 8O )


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08 Jan 2015, 5:38 pm

An example of my interest might be anime - in general. I watch anime or read manga every evening as a daily ritual and I lack sleep because of it but I still do it because it is so fun and brings stabilization in my life.

However sometimes I get into a specific anime/manga. It happens episodically and last no more than 1-3 weeks but when I get lured in one... I am totally out of reality for a while. I stay awake till the morning, watching/reading it. I will constantly get distracted during the day, thinking "I want to watch/read more!". Once I allow myself to do it I will read/watch till bedtime without a break. And then I will just eat something, take a shower and... go back to reading/watching till I collapse. First a few days(till I finish whole series for the 1st time) is crazy, its like being blindly in love. I am literally unable to think about anything else. It doesn't really matter if the anime/manga is really that good, its the feelings it causes. It's abnormal.
After I finish I either instantly go back to episode 1 to watch the whole series again if I decide it was really good one (it takes 2-3 repeats till the obsession calms down then) or I decide it's not worth it and... start intensely looking for everything that might be similar to it which means watching/reading all its recommendations and browsing anime bases and forums for more ideas. Untill I find a decent replacement(or till enough time passes for obsession to calm down) - I feel empty, defective. I compare it to being lovesick.

I would call the first type "a special interest" while the second is definitely a "narrow" one.



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08 Jan 2015, 6:31 pm

Special interest is distinguished by intensity, basically the one topic or activity that a person pursues during most of their free time. If special interest = school or work, then it is even more intense, since one could pursue it most of waking hours.

Sometimes, special interests are super narrow, like myna birds eggsample, but other times, they are not so narrow, like dinosaurs or brains, but the person's interest still seems quite narrow in bigger picture of most of their free time activities devoted to one thing instead of multiple varied things that are dissimilar to each other.


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12 Jan 2016, 8:24 pm

I've read that among other reasons, females are more likely to go diagnosed/remain hidden because in youth, our special interests are often more socially accpetable - like animals or the environment. But the same as guys, whatever the interest, we take it to a ...well beyond typical nt level.


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