Welcome to today’s podcast. Today we’re going to talk on the subject of hyperfixation. For those of you that aren’t aware, hyperfixation is a trait that is common when you are on the Autism spectrum. In certain terms, you go down the rabbit hole of information, you info dump, and you become completely obsessed with one specific thing or two or three. Usually, with a hyperfixation, it may occur one at a time. It’s not necessarily always simultaneous.
That can be a hyperfixation on a specific video game. It could be a subject, a topic of interest. It could be a certain movie genre or historical facts, music. Everyone really has their own personal experience with hyperfixation, but we wanted to share some of our experiences.
So one of the things that we’ve always been hyperfixated on is information on serial killers, as well as information on various world religions, specifically emphasized on the occult. This is something truly, that is not uncommon with people in general. There’s a lot of the more macabre aspects of life that people are interested in. That’s why there are crime TV shows and CSI and Criminal Minds and true crime stories. It’s just something that people tend to be interested in.
Well, you know, there are levels, and when you have a hyperfixation, you can go down that rabbit hole and it can really take over your life. One of the things it can do is interrupt your sleep patterns. It is very easy to be researching a topic that you are super interested in, being on the spectrum, and be awake until 3 a.m., maybe not even sleep. Just researching, trying to find the information and you’re just completely entranced by the topic.
As young as the age of 5, we were researching serial killers. One of the very first ones that we researched was Jack the Ripper. It was a completely intriguing story and just an enigma that we wanted to try to solve. That is something, even to this day, we have an affinity for researching different types of historical facts of murder and mayhem if we can put it that way. And that is something that has stayed with us our entire life.
Another thing is a complete hyperfixation on the occult. Now that is in various contexts, but as a kid, it was library books, tons of library books, and just reading. Reading information, learning about it, because it was a topic that we just wanted to understand.
Another hyperfixation that we had, or have is Henry VIII and his wives. And again, hyperfixations don’t always make sense. As you can see, we jumped around in genre completely and hours of research. There was a time that we would write an entire article, not because we needed to for school, not because we were doing it for any other purpose than we just wanted to. We would research and write 3,000-word essays just for fun.
And that’s one of the things that really started us on this path of information. Information is such a viable asset and we have chosen in some circumstances to use our hyperfixation for that method, for that benefit of being able to gather information, find it, research, look places, be able to locate hidden easter eggs everywhere of things that you might not necessarily think to find or think to look there to find it.
And that has really benefited us in the workplace. Very much an attention to detail, very good at locating things. Even in our personal life, if someone needs to find something, they ask us. If you need to know where to go to get something, they ask us, because if we don’t know, we can find it and that’s really a benefit of having the Autism trait of hyperfixation. It is super useful.
Now, that is not to say it isn’t without drawbacks. One of the drawbacks that we’ve experienced is a distraction. If you have responsibilities that you have to take care of and you have a deadline and you’re in one of your complete rabbit holes of I am researching something I really want to know, I am looking into something I really want to do, everything else can wait and that can really be something you have to grow out of in the context of learning not to do it. Even now as adults, we still do it, but it’s about a balance and finding the balance between, okay, yeah, you can spend 12 hours researching this, but make sure you have the rest of the things done first that you need to have finished.
Another thing that it’s caused is what we refer to as info dump syndrome where you’re having a conversation with someone and they will mention a topic that you’re super passionate about, know so much about, because it’s been the focus of your hyperfixation for years and you just start talking and once you start, you don’t stop. And if the person would like to get a word in edgewise, they’re out of luck with us, because if you get us on the topic of serial killers, the occult, or Henry VIII, you might as well grab some coffee and sit back and just listen.
This can be okay in certain circumstances, but it can also be really frustrating for people because often, you are trying to have a conversation, not control the conversation. You’re not giving a lecture or a speech. The goal of social interaction is to communicate and build relationships and have a mutual sharing of information. So that’s something that we had to learn over time to do and it’s something that we had to practice doing because it’s always important for the other person in any interaction to feel heard, which can be super difficult if you are on one of the special interests that you are hyperfixated on and they bring it up.
So we really make a controlled effort to not control conversations and pause so that people have the chance to contribute to the topic. And we learned that when we pause, there’s a lot of people that share similar interests and they have information to add, they have value to add to the topic of things that we might have not thought about, a different perspective, a different resource. There are so many variants of it and positive reasons to listen in a conversation and that’s something that over time we’ve learned to do.
But at the same time, having these hyperfixations and these special interests, it’s really part of who we are and self-acceptance is a huge part of this, of understanding it’s okay to go down the rabbit hole, it’s okay to info dump, it’s okay to talk endlessly about topics you like, but the key is making sure that you use it productively and it doesn’t hinder your day-to-day life. And that is something that takes a level of self-awareness and takes time and that’s okay. Recognizing your goals and then learning what you need to modify because we don’t like the word change because there’s nothing wrong with having a special interest and hyperfixation. There’s nothing wrong with that and you don’t need to change that. It’s simply about modifying it so that it doesn’t impede your progress in life
So that’s our thoughts for today and what are your thoughts on hyperfixation? Do you have any special interests?
Leave them in the comments and we will catch you next time!