Passion versus Obsession

by Marianne Richmond on September 24, 2005

A client was recently expressing her concern that her adolescent son may have Aspergers. He is and always has been a computer genius or computer nerd, depending on who is describing him, with a few friends that have similar interests.   She and her husband are very social people which makes their son’s personality all the more striking in its contrast to theirs.  He has one official diagnosis, ADD, and is medicated for that. Other than ADD, he is an adolescent which probably should be a pathology all of its own to define the narcissistic, angry years that begin around 13 and end around 20. Or so I am told. Over the years, they have consulted with many mental health professionals. Currently, the combination of adolescence, stimulant medication, his temperament and personality are expressing some very unpleasant behaviors. Aspergers keeps rearing its head as they consult with psychiatrists, neurologists, therapists and counselors.

The issues pointing at Aspergers are the lack of basic social skills, the inability to decode social signals, lack of eye contact, and conversations that about narrowly defined, highly technical interests. However, the last doctor that they saw said that he thought "everyone" at the medical school had Aspergers.
And we have all heard others say that "everyone" in Silicone Valley including "you know who" has Aspergers.

In thinking about this, I wondered about the difference between being considered passsionate about say, computers or being considerered obsessed with them. Or medicine, or whatever the narrowly defined highly technical interest might be. If the interest is "highly technical" maybe we say obsession. If the interest is not technical, such as a sport, maybe we say, passionate?

Of course one of my favorite blogs is Creating Passionate Users which is written by some very technical people….who write engaging, passionate posts most recently about the developmental stages of companies. What do you think about passsion versus obsession?


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