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JoeRose
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30 Jul 2012, 9:45 pm

Well I don't mean to sound stupid, as I know what special interests are, but I'm just wondering about how they would be defined. Like what would be the point where you would realise that you've just discovered a new special interest?

I've realised I can't really tell any more when I have new ones. and I don't know why but I'm starting to debate the ones I am having. For the past few years I've been extensively interested in psychiatry and aviation. For example, it is quarter to four in the morning where I am and for the past 4 hours I've been sat in front of my computer researching various different neurotransmitters and brain chemistry. Would this be considered a special interest?

What is the point where an interest in something is considering "special"?



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30 Jul 2012, 9:58 pm

A hobby on steroids. :)


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btbnnyr
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30 Jul 2012, 10:16 pm

Complete and total brrrainzzz overtaker obsession, I think.



outofplace
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30 Jul 2012, 11:05 pm

It's something you spend a lot of time thinking about and doing, sometimes to the detriment of other things in your life. For example, right now I am obsessing over Asperger's. I probably spend 10 hours a day reading up on it or answering posts on WP. I have done this for about 2 months now and so it would fall into the category of a special interest. Something you spend a single day on and then move on probably couldn't be considered one, but something you learn about in depth and obsess over for a period of time would be. There is a sense of pleasure and release that usually goes along with it too as it gives your mind a place to go so that it doesn't descend into the chaos of over-thinking your daily life. It's almost like a drug for the autistic brain.


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Last edited by outofplace on 30 Jul 2012, 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tjr1243
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30 Jul 2012, 11:07 pm

An obsession......something you think about quite a bit, it may be narrow in scope. A special interest may not be a 'knowledge acquisition' interest or even a hobby......it could just be something you think about constantly. For example, eyebrows. Or it could be subject matter, like psychology and a very narrow aspect of it. It could even be autism, or Asperger's. In the latter, it may be a small sliver of the subject of autism or Asperger Syndrome.

Based on personal experience, special interests don't necessarily have to be a desire to accumulate knowledge or skill in a certain area. Sometimes it isn't even a hobby. It can be healthy, or unhealthy. It could be a fixation on something.

For example, i don't have anorexia nervosa but can see how someone can be obsessed with 'being thin'. The thought of being thin is pleasurable. An anorexic will starve just to feel thin. It is much more complex than that, but obsessions (like that with anorexia) can be all-consuming - a tiny aspect of life is magnified.



redrobin62
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31 Jul 2012, 12:41 am

If you've forgotten to buy your beloved a birthday present, you've been taken over by a special interest.
If you've forgotten to feed the fish, the dog, and yourself, you've been taken over by a special interest.
If you've forgotten to pay the rent or take out the garbage, you've been taken over by a special interest.
If you've forgotten to look at your favorite TV show, you've been taken over by a special interest.
If you've forgotten to take the roast out of the oven or washed clothes out of the washer, you've been taken over by a special interest.



Jasmine90
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31 Jul 2012, 12:53 am

I often feel lost, and without purpose when I am not obsessing about something. My mind wanders, and I find it difficult turning off all the negative thoughts that my special interests seem to make dormant.

It's not really a definition, but it's the only way I can describe them, and how important they are to me.



Dillogic
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31 Jul 2012, 1:00 am

Something you spend a "pathological" amount of time on during the day, often coming into conflict with the things you "should" be doing, which lowers your overall functioning and impairs you in day to day life.

That's pretty much what the DSM-IV-TR calls it.



nominalist
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31 Jul 2012, 1:11 am

I don't think that a special interest is exactly an obsession.

Obsessions (like with OCD) are negative and unpleasurable. However, special interests are enjoyable - even meditative.

Some Autists also have OCD, but the two experiences are not the same.


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rebbieh
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31 Jul 2012, 1:26 am

tjr1243 wrote:
Based on personal experience, special interests don't necessarily have to be a desire to accumulate knowledge or skill in a certain area. Sometimes it isn't even a hobby. It can be healthy, or unhealthy. It could be a fixation on something.


Right now (and for the past 5 months) I've been obsessed with finding out what's "wrong" with me. I've spent probably at least 10 hours every day researching AS and different anxiety/personality disorders. It's all I can think about even though I don't even want to think about it all the time. It's not good for me because it makes me anxious and sometimes even gives me anxiety attacks.

I've also, for years, been very interested in science. I can sit in my room for days reading books and watching documentaries about astronomy and astrophysics or about the human brain and intelligence for example. Science isn't like my obsession about finding out what's "wrong" with me. Science is enjoyable and I love it. It makes me so excited I sometimes bounce up and down in my chair.

I've often prioritised these special interests (or whatever you want to call them) over attending social events, over eating proper food and talking to people. So, out of curiosity, would you consider these two, the obsession and science (which I'm also obsessed about), special interests?



nominalist
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31 Jul 2012, 1:31 am

rebbieh wrote:
I've often prioritised these special interests (or whatever you want to call them) over attending social events, over eating proper food and talking to people. So, out of curiosity, would you consider these two, the obsession and science (which I'm also obsessed about), special interests?


Those sound like what I have experienced, in my own life, as special interests.


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IdahoRose
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31 Jul 2012, 1:41 am

For me, special interests are hobbies that I'm so emotionally invested in, that it feels like I'm "married" to them.



vanhalenkurtz
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31 Jul 2012, 4:04 am

A special interest is a lover. A high-maintenance lover.


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Joe90
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31 Jul 2012, 5:05 am

I think a special interest is where you let this one interest take over your responsibilites and life, even over important stuff like employment. Also it is literally on your mind nearly all the time and talking about it non-stop to a close person really feels good, and you can just talk about it for hours (which is why I get a kick out of talking about my obsessions to an elderly relative with Alzheimer's, she forgets I have been talking about it for the last half hour so I can talk about it all over again, only in different words and she happily listens).

Everybody has interests, it's naive to think ''oh Aspies have special interests so that means nothing interests NTs at all'', because if you think like that then you obviously haven't met an NT, and it's not all about sports and celebrities either. I know NTs who are interested in things like computers, books, films, drawing, science, you name it. But they are more able to push their interests aside (maybe more naturally) and not let their interest take over their life (well, some do plan to follow up a career based on their interest but I will explain about that in a minute), and they don't talk about it non-stop to someone for hours and it's not on their mind continuously.

With the career thing, I know some NTs who enjoy something so much that they want to get a career out of it, like my NT cousin is into computers (knows everything about them, knows how to build them, et cetera), and now he's got a job where he's building computers because that is what he wanted. But with me, I'm obsessed with a certain bus that I get and the drivers that operate it, and it does take over my life; I write loads of stories about them, draw pictures of them, download loads of pictures of the buses in that company, talk non-stop to my mum about the drivers, look forward to getting on the bus more than anything else, getting all upset when one driver I like isn't on it and act like a relative has just died or something, and I want to get a job where I can use this bus to get to it. Now, that is an obsession or special interest, which is a little more extreme than a general interest what NTs have.


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