Saturday, July 5, 2014

You Are So Obsessed!

Jack has become very involved with a Disney World Minecraft server.  It's been a wonderful experience for him. I'm incredibly proud of him, and I'm very impressed with what I've seen from this Disney Minecraft server.

The thing is, this new hobby, and the friends he's made, have quite overshadowed his old interests and relationships. So there's been a question. Should we worry? Should we be upset? Should we intervene?

This weekend my dad helped me realize that I'm like Jack. I become very obsessed. For the past seven years or so, Australia has been my thing. At this point, my life is pretty balanced. Australia is big in my life, but the obsession is not as intense as it was in the beginning.

For example, in the beginning of my obsession, I wanted to read only Australia-related books. Now I read some Australian books and a lot of books that are not Australian.  I'm more open to other things.

Well, anyway. I've decided to write a post about this to kind of help organize my thoughts and feelings. And I'm thinking maybe it might be helpful to other people who get obsessed or who are dealing with a friend/family member who is obsessed.

Here's some things I've been thinking.

1. For me, it didn't help when people tried to help broaden my horizons—push me into being interested in other things. It just made me feel more resistant.

2. I naturally returned to my old and/or non-Australian interests because eventually I started missing stuff that wasn't Australian.

3. It is okay to insist an obsessed person do something not related to their obsession if it's for YOU or other people.  Let's say Tim wanted to see a movie and it was not Australian. Pushing me to see it because he wants to see it is fair and reasonable. I think that's very different from pushing me to see it because he thinks it will cure me of my obsession.

4. I think it's okay to be speak up critically if all conversation is centered around the person's obsession. If there's a conversation between two or more people, one person's passion shouldn't dominate things. However, I think it's fine if when it's one person's turn to talk about their life and interest, they always talk about their obsession.  If all I want to talk about is Australia when it's my turn to talk about myself, I think this is completely fair...as long as I let the other person talk about what interests them.

That's not to say an obsessed person might bore people. And they might lose friends. But with those in which we have unconditional love relationships, I think you put up with it.

5. It's really nice if you can go beyond simply tolerating an obsession and actually be supportive and encouraging. For me, that would be things like reading this blog, emailing me articles about Australia, giving me Australia-related birthday gifts, helping me travel to Australia, etc.

6. Know that not all obsessions are okay and some shouldn't be encouraged. For example, you might want to NOT tolerate your loved one joining a cult. You might not want to tolerate a loved one's obsession with heroin or gambling. And it's probably not a good idea to encourage someone's obsession with becoming super thin.

Edited to Add: 7. Family members have the right to be very frustrated if obsessed person's obsession prevents them from fulfilling responsibilities. For example, if one is obsessed with a video game, they should stop playing around dinner time. And it's really awful if they're playing through dinner time and their spouse can't even get their attention to remind them it's dinnertime, because though she stands there waiting for his attention, he's too much into his game to notice.


12 comments:

BryceOceallaigh said...

It's hard to assess your own situation, claiming that you're "pretty balanced" isn't a very objective assessment.

1- Were people 'trying' to broaden your horizons? Or were they trying to connect with you and naturally they weren't
talking about Australia and you perceived it as some sort of intervention?

2- You inevitably opened back up to things that were't Australian because you had to. You're not Australian. You don't
live in Australia. What were you going to do? Live in a cave? That wasn't a development, it was a necessity.

3- It sounds like you've self identified your preoccupation with Australia as an obsession. As a result it sounds like
you're seeing everything people around you are doing as some kind of 'plot'. It's pretty paranoid and egocentric.

4- You are right when you say that everyone has the right to express their own opinions and interests. But it sounds
like everyone around you is functioning somewhat normally and you've identified the fact they are not sure what to
do with your obsession with Australia. Say for instance someone, your husband, is complaining about his job.
And you interject with "...oh well i know in Australia when that happens, what they do is..."
He shouldn't really be expected to put up with that. Have you noticed that when your obsession began people
distanced themselves from you or avoided conversing with you? How would you deal with it if you were saying to
your husband that you have a pain in your leg and he was overly obsessed with Ancient Rome, and he just responded
with how they would have dealt with it in Ancient Rome? It's not healthy. How are people around you supposed to
interact with you?

5- You actually expect people around you to finance you travelling to Australia?

6- You have taken the most extreme obsessions as examples to make your own seem less unhealthy.
Joining a cult, doing drugs, gambling... Yes they're all bad. It doesn't make your obsession any more normal.
Encouraging your obsession would lead you to become more detatched from your own reality and more socially isolated.
Perhaps that could lead to joining a cult, doing drugs or gambling...

Perhaps your husband feels lack of healthy interaction with you hence his reluctance to join you at dinner?

I live in Australia.
Have you ever been tested for autism?

Dina said...

Bryce,

First of all, you're right that I can't make a purely objective assessment of my mental state. But can anyone? I'm guessing your answer would be yes, since you made an assessment of my mental state by just reading my blog. I'm wondering how many posts you read before making your judgements. Many? Just this one? Do you often assess people's mental states, or try to make guesses?

Well, it IS kind of fun, so I'm going to make some guesses about you. Please tell me if any of them are close to the truth.

1. You are a uni student, studying psychology. This has led to you a new hobby—diagnosing your friends, family, celebrities, strangers, etc. with various mental afflictions.

2. You are actually a psychologist or psychiatrist, and the type that I can't stand. You take deviations from what you see as normal human behavior and label it as being problematic. Disordered.

Question related to that: What is your viewpoint of autism? Is it a variation of human behavior, or is it a disorder that needs to be cured no matter what the degree of severity?

What is your viewpoint of the term "neurotypical". Have you ever heard of it?

3. You had a partner or family member that was obsessed with something, and because of the obsession they left you out in the cold. You feel angry and abandoned. To help you deal with these feeling of anger, you search for "obsession" on the Internet so you can analyze and criticize people who remind you of the person who wounded you.

4. You yourself used to be very obsessed with something. You were led to believe this was a problem, and you were treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. You might even be on medication for your problem. Now you feel it is your duty to search for people who have your affliction and try to rescue them. Yes, you might have to be a bit harsh, but it's a "tough-love" kind of thing. Also, when you criticize other obsessed people you are actually criticizing your past self.

5. You were a victim of a stalker. If this is the case, I'm VERY sorry. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Anyway...your very scary and negative experiences led you to researching the topic of obsession. You are unable to draw a line between harmless passion/interest and pathological dangerous obsession. To you, it's ALL pathological.

Now I will briefly answer your questions....(to be continued)

Dina said...

1. Yes, people were actually telling me to broaden my horizons. They wrote emails telling me I need to visit other places. They made negative remarks about me having a blog about Australia. I've had many obsessions through out my life and these rarely (never) bothered my family. I think the Australia obsession was different because I talked about wanting to move there.

2. No I didn't need to live in a cave. It's actually not hard at all to read only-Australian books and listen to Australian music.

Now maybe I miscommunicated or you are misunderstanding. It's not as if I held my ears anytime music came on that wasn't Australian. We watched TV as a family that wasn't Australian. I had many things in my life that were not Australian. It's just when I made a conscious choice to listen to music or read a book, I'd usually choose Australian things.

3. No. I never noticed that my obsession caused people to distance myself from them. When I'm with other people, I usually let them talk about themselves. People tend to love to talk about themselves, so I think they were quite happy to have conversations with me.

There might have been a few times that I brought Australia into the conversation, but I am pretty sure I didn't make a regular habit of it.

I do understand what you're referring to. It's the people who keep talking about the same thing, and the conversation always centers on their favorite topic. Did you have someone in your life like that?

But no. I didn't hog the conversations to talk about Australia. The exception might have been when we first returned from our trip to Australia. Like most excited travelers, I probably blabbed on and on to some people. The person I most likely did this too, though? She herself has some pretty strong obsessions and tends to talk about them a lot.

4. No I don't expect people to finance my trip to Australia. But if I do receive any help, I appreciate it.

5. My husband got obsessed with his video game way after I went through the strongest stages of my Australia obsession. I don't think there is any correlation or connection.

6. No, I've never been tested for autism, and I don't plan on it. I might have some autistic traits and I'm fine with it.

I actually like that I have obsessions. It's probably one of my favorite things about myself. I also love seeing the trait in others. I might not share their love, but I love that they have the love. That's not to say I don't sometimes get annoyed by them, but it's more of an amused-annoyed than an angry-annoyed. The exception would be if they ignore responsibilities to indulge in the obsession, or if I felt the obsession was harmful to them or others. For example, if a person was obsessed with another person and was angry at that person for not returning their affections. I wouldn't feel okay with that.

Dina said...

Bryce,

Now I have some more questions for you.

1. Have you ever been obsessed with anything? Do you have anything that you're passionate about?

2. What do you think of fandoms? For example, people who love the The Walking Dead or Doctor Who. If they watch the show, talk about the show, have blogs about the show, attend conventions, etc. Do you think they're mentally disturbed? Do you think they are on a slippery slope between that and a gambling or drug addiction.

3. Are you married?

4. Have you ever been tested for a psychological problem?

5. Do you have children? Stepchildren? Nieces or nephews? Grandchildren? Are any of them autistic?

7. Do you read books often? Nonfiction mostly? Any fiction? Do you read novels?

8. How do you feel about fiction in general? Do you like it, or do you prefer to stick to sports, the news, documentaries, etc?

9. How do you feel about living in Australia? Do you like it?

10.. Have you ever had a problem with drug addiction or gambling?

11. Are you religious?

12. Have you ever used Spotify or Netflix?

Dina said...

Sorry. Now I AM starting to feel/seem a bit mental. But I had to comment again. I have two other theories.

A) You are someone I know in real life or someone I've interacted with on the Internet. You hold a grudge for some reason, and your comment is your attempt to get under my skin. It worked, by the way. I've wasted over an hour this morning responding to you.

This may sound paranoid, but it wouldn't be the first time that someone I know has created a Blogger account so they can say what they want to say without saying it as themselves.

B) I have dissociative identity disorder and I myself wrote your comment. Maybe you are me, and I'm having a debate with myself.

BryceOceallaigh said...

Dina,

As a matter of fact I have had several partners over the years that have obsessed over different things, whether it be a celebrity, a band or musician, a television programme, those sorts of things. Initially I don't care, i'm sure I have more then enough of my own tweeks that could be commented on by those people, but a natural and healthy degree of interest on my behalf only ever went so far. It always came to a point where the finer details of whichever obsession would be being talked about and it would reach a point where I think it's safe to say it was unhealthy. But whatever. I didn't leave any of them as a direct result of these things, but it didn't help either.

For instance, I very much enjoy a very niche style of music from a certain part of the world. It's fairly abrasive and culturally different to the norm here in Australia and goes back to my own cultural background. I am aware that the people around me likely don't or wouldn't share the same passion for my particular interest. I don't hide it, but I don't inflict it on them either. If they want to ask questions about the artists or the content, I'm more than happy to share with them. If not, it doesn't matter. I have like minded friends and even a cousin that shares my taste so I can readily share my 'obsession' with them in a mutual environment.

(Props for "When I'm with other people, I usually let them talk about themselves. People tend to love to talk about themselves", no truer statement :)

So to answer your questions;

1- As I mentioned yes, I am mildly obsessed with the style of music I listen to. I have a vinyl, cassette and cd collection not to mention books, dvds and vhs pertaining to the genre. As the style is almost exclusively centred in Europe, importing them is most often the easiest way to obtain them, which needless to say is expensive. I have always been aware of the expense and view it as a luxury, one that is put on hold for more important things. It has never taken precedent over real life, but it is there for when it's quiet or i'm tired, sad, or angry. It's an outlet that I use for self reflection, and I find it works.

2- Hahaha. I happen to watch The Walking Dead. We own the dvds and talk about the show. Usually its limited to when we have watched an episode... The difference I feel is that the people who attend the conventions and stuff, which is obviously completely fine, may be putting more time and effort into these interests than say more important ones and suffer as a result. For example, We spend 90% of our time talking about work, friends, family, our ambitions and plans, our health, bills, groceries, current events where we live etc. People I know that do go to conventions and cosplay and all that jazz from my experience are quite disconnected from many of these things and as a result are in unhealthy relationships, struggle to hold jobs, have poor family ties, and less than stable living situations because in my opinion theyre funneling too much time effort and money into their interests and not into their futures. Thats a personal observation, just as everything else has been so far.

3- I am not married. I am engaged to be married.

4- Yes. I have been tested for depression. At various points in my life I have been depressed. I had a tumultuous upbringing, in a violent and poor area, had a hard time at school, blah blah blah all that usual stuff. But I overcame it. I focused on what was important and got on with it. I'm very content with where I am in life, and I think I only have myself to thank. No ammount of counselling or medication would have done that for me. I do the best I can with what I have and look at things practically. I don't hide behind distractions to drown out how unhappy I am with my situation. It breeds complacency.

BryceOceallaigh said...

5- As I said, I have many relatives with various health and psychological issues. So i'm no stranger to them. I have seen highs and lows, madicated and unmedicated, diagnosed and undiagnosed. Why do you ask?

6- missing?

7- I used to read heavily. I don't have time to now because of work commitments. But I hope to start again. I read mostly classic novels, James Joyce, George Orwell, Doestoyevsky, those kinds of things.

8- Fiction is fine. It appeals to me less, because I think the world is an interesting place enough without needing to make things up... That being said though, it's important for people to have a creative outlet. It's what drives art, music and culture forward, and I think society benefits greatly. I just personally think that reading an autobiography or something based on actual events is quite compelling, and that most of the impactful novels i've read have been factual recounts. Real life teaches much sharper lessons and are less open for interpretation, wheras a fictional novel is less direct often, for me personally.

9- I have a love hate relationship with Australia. All four of my grandparents were migrants from different countries, fleeing war and persecution and so on. So I have four distinct ethnic quarters to myself, and I struggle to identify with any one of them. I was born here and schooled, and when I finished school I actually moved overseas. It was a very dangerous place as it was embroiled in a violent civil war, but I grew and learnt a lot. I had a better sense of my self and my background. I've managed to travel to three of the four nations in my background, and it made me realise how lucky I was in many ways to live in Austalia. But it also underlined the negatives. Even though I was born here, socially I will never be Australian. I have a slight accent. I don't like to barbeque and watch the football, or get shitface drunk on a friday night. And for the most part that makes it difficult to totally blend in. Probably my children will bridge that final gap. Time will tell. But I do think this is a cultural and social backwater with a lot of ambition but a long time ahead of it before it really sorts itself out.
Living here we are generally safe from war and fighting, our economy is doing okay and we have a great education and healthcare scheme. But there are also all of the usual western problems too, crime, unemployment, drug use, gang violence, illegal immigration, racism, sexism, as well as natural disasters. All in all, I would say I am lucky to live here, but I am not entirely happy.

10- No I don't gamble because I am generally unlucky and see it as a waste of money I have worked hard to earn. I also do not take drugs.

11- I was raised Catholic but am of mixed Jewish and Catholic background. Electively I am Athiest. I do admire people who have faith and wish no malice upon them.

12- I have used both Spotify and Netflix. It ate all of our data so we stopped. Why do you ask?

I don't have any ill feeling toward you, on the contrary. I did actually read maybe five to ten of your posts over maybe a two week period before posting. Intially I found it interesting, then confusing. I saw some things you said that I identified with and then others that people I know would say or think. I didn't per se mean to be confrontational, or offend you and I apologise if I did. I was raised to be direct and to tell the truth as I see it, at whatever expense. Coupled with your description encouraging people to comment, I made the decision to do so.

I liked option B. I'd like it to be the truth, but it just isn't.

Where do you stand on Australia at this point in time?

BryceOceallaigh said...

I'm not a uni student, I went to University and did Business Management... if thats at all applicable. And that was a long time ago. I have no links to psycholgy at all. I do however come from a very large family, and have many cousins, aunts, uncles etc. that suffer from Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Depression and Schiophrenia. Being as they are family I have grown up around many of these conditions and am pretty familiar with them and do not view them as 'needing to be cured'. In the same way one person can be infatuated with music, so another can be with television. They are quirks at best and interfere with a persons ability to function in society at worst. It how the individual and those around them chose to manage the symptoms that matter.

***Tack this on as the first line of the first post***
-it was left off for whatever reason

Dina said...


Bryce,

Thanks for replying. I enjoyed reading about aspects of your life. My favorite thing you said is, "All in all, I would say I am lucky to live here, but I am not entirely happy."

I'm guessing what you actually mean is that you're not very happy. I don't think there's anyone in the world who's entirely happy. I don't imagine you to be the type of person who believes in an existence of pure happiness.

Well, now I'm being critical of what you said even though I said it was my favorite thing that you said.

I like the general meaning. You appreciate the luckiness of living in a country like Australia. Yet you feel it's not a good match for you?

Am I getting it right? Close?

As for your slight accent, do you get a hard time because of it? Do people ask you, "Where are you from?"

Do most Australians you know have barbecues, obsess over sport, and get drunk? I know that's the stereotype, but I'm not sure how prevalent it is among the population.

How about your partner? I'm going to guess it's a she. Though you could be waiting for gay marriage to be legalized in Australia. I'm just going to use "She" unless you tell me otherwise.

So, is she into sports, getting drunk, and having barbecues?

Why do you not like barbecues? Are you vegetarian? Do you not like food being cooked that way? Or do you just not like the social atmosphere?

Do you miss the civil war country that you lived in? Do you wish to go back? Is there any other country you'd prefer over Australia? I guess what I'm wondering is whether you felt more at-home and accepted when you were in a different country.

Dina said...

About the cosplay.

I don't personally know anyone who's really into it, so I'm kind of talking out of my ass here.

My guess is it could go in either positive or negative directions.

If there's a couple and one person gets really into it and the other doesn't, it might create a divide. This is especially the case if a lot of money is spent. I imagine there'd be a ton of resentment.

On the other hand, what if both people were really into it? This could be a great way for them to bond. It could be the basis of their joint-social life. I think it's great when a couple shares an interest or hobby. Yeah. They might use up a lot of money. Hopefully not too much. But this happens with a lot of people. How about people who spend money on an expensive engagement ring or buy a bunch of fancy dishes and appliances that they never use. How about people who travel a lot?

The other scenario, in terms of couples, might be one in which one gets involved with cosplay, but the other one has his or her own strong interests. If they still find time for each other and are careful with the finances, I think it might work out okay.

Do you share interests and hobbies with your partner? Does she have hobbies or interests that you don't share?

Do you feel you spend enough time together?

BryceOceallaigh said...

Dina,

I suppose what I was trying to say is that the problems I have with living here are largely superficial and a result of being in a comfortable Westernised environment. I don't go hungry, or get shot at, or struggle to find employment. So i'm fine. But it does mean i'm left to focus on less important things.

I wouldn't say I get a 'hard time' because of the slight accent, just that it's hard to think of yourself as Australian if you're born here but constantly being asked where you're from. This exists for a lot of people, everywhere in the world. It just further complicates things for me. The city I grew up in, south-east of Melbourne, is almost entirely made up of immigrants, which I enjoyed because I learnt a lot about the world when I was young without having to leave my own city. But as a result, for instance, I'd go to school where i'd be in a class full of Armenian students, taught by and Afrikaans teacher and then at lunch i'd be with my Swedish and Bosnian friends. Go home to two parents with different accents again and watch British television. So yeah. When someone asks where i'm from, I usually reply with "do you have half an hour spare for me to explain?"

The food thing is an interesting one. We eat barbeques, don't get me wrong. My father even watches the football occsionally. My point was more that yes, for the most part these elements do ring true for the Anglo-Australian population. At least in my experience, where I live.
We also drink. A fair bit. It's just sort of different.

My partner is a she. She is like me, her parents were two different European ethnicities, she was born in a third courntry and then grew up in the UK, before migrating to Australia a few years ago. So no, she isn't Australian at all really. It was part of her appeal :P

I do miss where I lived. It made me undertand my mothers family and their culture and customs far more. I came home and it all made sense. I'd go back there again, but perhaps not to live.
I've travelled to 19 countries so far. Every single one of them was better then Australia in some ways, and worse off in others.
And I think that was a valuable lesson learnt.

As for my relationship, our personalities are very much the same. But our interests are not. And that seems to work very well for us. We spend a lot of time together.

Do you plan on visiting Australia again? What have you thought when you've been here? What did you like? What did you dislike?
Also what are your feelings on the USA?

Dina said...

Bryce,

That makes sense about comfort giving us time to think about less important things.

I wonder about people in horrible situations, though. Do they ever still think about more trivial things? For example: A woman with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Does she ever stop and think, "Shit. I'm having a bad hair day."

Your neighborhood sounds wonderful to me—so much variety.

19 countries is very impressive! It's nice that you were able to see both the good and bad when compared to Australia.

Did you ever have a situation where it took awhile to adjust to a place you were visiting? Culture shock? But then after awhile you grew to like the place?

Do you ever come back to Australia feeling extra negative about Australia—constantly comparing it to the country/countries you recently visited?

I plan on visiting Australia again for my 50th birthday, or around then. Who knows, though. We might end up going sooner. We might end up going later. We might not end up going at all.

Things I liked: Wildlife, Aussie accents, meeting people, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour, St. Kilda, Halls Gap, grocery stores, holiday parks, etc.

Things I didn't like: We encountered a few overly grumpy people. Most of the negative on our trips to Australia came from ourselves—our own bad moods, clumsiness, etc. And the things I do dislike about Australia are not really things that one would usually experience/encounter as a tourist. It comes more from reading; things like Stolen Children (Aboriginal and British), White Australia Policy, Mandatory Detention, etc. Not that I look down at Australia for these things. As an American, how could I?

What do I think of the USA? I'm very proud of us for fighting back against a crazy, evil ruler. I'm hoping Republicans do what needs to be done. Otherwise we might need a foreign government to come and save us...and the rest of the world.