I was thinking recently that I could probably plot the lifespan of an obsession; from the point that it becomes all-consuming to the point that I think it’s stupid that I was ever obsessed with it. I came up with three main points within the life of an obsession/idea/goal/interest: inception, crossover and reality. This isn’t necessarily true for everyone with Autism or Aspergers, but I feel that it is very accurate for me and a few other people I know.
Inception is obviously when the obsession takes hold and it’s the only thing you can think about and nothing else matters anymore.
Crossover is a phase in the middle where you start to doubt whether you’re bothered about it anymore, or if it’s a life goal, you start to think it will never work out, and also at this stage, other potential or previous obsessions begin to creep in and take up some of your time.
Finally, there’s reality - the point where you’re probably closest to being in control of that particular obsession, or the closest you’ll be to viewing it like everyone else did whilst you were in the ‘inception’ phase. You realise that it was never worth all the time you spent, or that it would never have worked out the way you had honestly believed it would.
The entire lifespan can take place over a day, a week, a month, a year, or even longer – it’s just not easy to figure out how long it will take hold for! I think that it’s possible in the crossover phase, to begin to get interesting in other things, but then end up cycling back into the original obsession rather than taking a new one on.
Here are more details about the characteristics of each phase:
#1 Constantly thinking about obsession and spending as much time as possible on it.
#2 Able to justify ANYTHING to yourself and anyone around you so you can feed the hunger of the obsession.
#3 Acting irrationally and completely unrealistic about the obsession and it’s potential benefits etc.
#1 Starting to realise that it’s not that practical or interesting. Happy to acknowledge that it won’t work out or that there are better things.
#2 Beginning to be overly critical of it on some days, but still obsessed on others.
#3 Time is starting to be spent on other things - maybe previous obsessions and potential new ones, until you finally settle on something new.
#1 Completely disinterested with previous obsession.
#2 Happy to obsess over how ridiculous previous obsession was and how the next obsession is clearly a better option or use of time.
#3 Has now perfected justifying why previous obsession was a bad idea and would never have worked, and why new one is better and will work.
Here’s the chart I drew up to explain it visually:
Let me know what you think!