Obsessions, in this context, are definitely positive ones. It’s just another way of describing our beloved special interests. You can describe them however you wish to – they’re yours to take joy in!

Obsession, as a word, tends to be used as a negative descriptor. It’s used in a wealth of disordered behaviours around sex, love, cleanliness, to name but a few.

For this reason, and this reason only, it may be a good idea to describe those interests that are deeply important and precious to you – the ones that keep you balanced and happy – as something other than obsessions. I still use the word, in a positive way. But I’m also aware that we need to steer our essential special interests away from negative connotations.

Here’s a ripe example from the National Autistic Society’s website. They do have a lot of useful information, but they also spout a lot of nonsense, and here is an example for you to click on if you wish: Is it an obsession or a hobby? Need I comment on how inappropriate that passage is? If our special interests are causing ‘significant disruption’ to others in the family – guess what? Their behaviours often cause significant disruption to our lives! Think on that.

So, probably avoid this word but definitely don’t avoid your wonderful special interests.

If, however, you, as an adult neurodivergent person, feel that your special interests have taken an unhealthy control of your life, maybe read the entry regarding hyperfixationsthough even this word is used positively by many autistics, including Pete Wharmby, the author of the brilliantly entertaining and informative book, What I Want to Talk About: How Autistic Special Interests Shape a Life.