|you know that this is a horse blog, right?|
How does this relate to horses, you ask? Hang on I'm getting to that.
The lecturer was saying that the, like males with ASD, girls can have very intense interests but it's not the same. 'often it's horses' she said. My ears pricked up. She went on to describe a young girl she was working with: 'she had books on horses, her wall was papered with horses, all she wanted to talk about was horses. I asked her what her plans were for the weekend and told me "I'm riding horses! Of course". Everyone laughed. The lecturer said that it wasn't that she loved horses, 'lots of people like horses' but the intensity and how this one interest overshadowed everything else.
Sound familiar? It definitely did to me.
I do not believe that I have autism. Although, like the majority of people, I have some features in common. After all, autism is a cluster of symptoms and falls along a spectrum.* But even if I do, I am functioning fine and feel no need to have this explored.
But is my intense interest in horses something that is pathological?
|I can never get enough of this.|
Merriam-Webster, defines pathological as "being to such a degree that it is extreme, excessive or markedly abnormal. Passion is defined as "a strong liking or devotion to some activity, object or concept."
It seems to me to a rather narrow line and probably depends on your perspective. I spend a lot of time and money on horses. I'm either taking care of, riding or thinking about them. I have always been this way.
|I don't even want to think about how much money over the years....|
So I don't know. What is the difference between passion and pathology? Do you know? Are we all one mental health visit away from a diagnosis? Do we care?
It's possible that I am overthinking it.
What do you think?
*This is note to say that, personally, I don't like to use the term 'Aspergers'. It's not because of the thinking that Aspergers is simply on the high functioning side of the spectrum. It's because Dr. Hans Asperger worked under the Nazi regime, believed in Eugenics and sent children deemed of 'no value' to their deaths. I simply cannot honour that name. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05112-1
Interesting about the horses aspect.ReplyDelete
I think one reason that I focus on horses is because they don't leave me any time or money to be able to do anything else! Though I am the type to kind of get hyperfocused on one particular thing. When I was away from horses for a few years, I got really into gardening. Now that I'm back to horses, it's a hassle to just keep the grass from getting too long, forget planting any flowers.
I used to spend a lot of time gardening too. Now I have no time.Delete
I believe it becomes pathology when it is distructive behaviour. In my case, my love of horses and all barn things is purely passion. It provides me balance in my day, and brings me back to the present moment.ReplyDelete
Horses have so much to give and teach, and we are blessed to enjoy their presence in our lives. It does require our time and discipline to carve out the time, money, humility to learn their language and achieve our goals. Of course the horse has no goals. And what a blessing that is.
I have a retirement plan that includes some "yet unknown to me" retirement home somewhere on a horse ranch, and I will spend my days in my wheelchair under an awning watching horses graze. And if such a ranch doesn't exist, I will build it and invite you all to join me. :-)
I would definitely sign up for that retirement home! And I agree with the idea that it shouldn’t be destructive.Delete
Agree with Nat D that something becomes pathological when it negatively impacts your day to day life.ReplyDelete
I try to envision mental health as a continuum that all of us are on. Everyone has some elements of OCD, ADHD, anxiety, or autism (to name a few). On one end of the spectrum characteristics associated with these labels can be helpful. On the other end, crippling.
If we could only change the perception of mental health conditions (especially the perception of us vs them), perhaps we could also shift some of the stigma that prevents so many folks from acknowledging issues and seeking treatment.
These are all great points and bang on! 💕💕Delete
I agree with Nat above. It’s a problem when it becomes destructive. Loving horses. Loving to ride. Wanting to spend your time at the barn. Choosing to read books and articles about horses is all great unless it prohibits the person from functioning.ReplyDelete
Nat is very smart. 😁 also , without horses I wouldn’t have found these great blogs.Delete
I'd read something about the whole horse girls and autism thing and it's interesting. I'm curious as to why horses, though. Why not dog girls or cat girls? What is it about horses that attracts people on the spectrum? I dunno. I'm also a little worried about horse girls getting further stigmatized with this change in diagnosis. It was never easy being "that horse girl" in school. I can only imagine it'll be worse if you're now considered to be autistic too. Even if you're not. Even if there's nothing wrong with that anyway. Adults can be fine with being somewhere on the spectrum, but being a kid is tough enough even if you are neurotypical. It's gonna be even harder if you're getting labelled just because you're obsessed with horses. Also, I'm with you on the Aspergers thing. I'm glad that term is being phased out.ReplyDelete
I don’t think that obsession wIth horses will be a diagnostic criteria. Narrow interests are part of it. I don’t know why horses either. But there is something about them.Delete
Agree with the others above, as long as you're still able to function outside of horses, it's still passion. I have a psych degree, but this was not mentioned when I was in school... probably because it was so long ago! Ha!ReplyDelete
Is it always horses? Or was that just an example used to describe a very focused interest?
Ha! It wasn't mentioned I went through school either although Autism was not a big focus back in the day. It's not that it's always horses but it often is (according to her). Kind of like for boys it's often trains or dinosaurs.Delete
As a very introverted, horse obsessed child the question did get brought up :DReplyDelete
Agree though, that as long as the person is happy pursuing their interest(s) and their life is functioning around it, it probably doesn't matter too much what's driving it.
I agree. I was also socially awkward (still am really). So maybe if I was a child today I would have been assessed? Who knows.Delete
Hmmm...I am certainly obsessed, and I am the furthest from *autism spectrum*, or so I think. Horses aren't an interest, they're a way of life--family--adventure--spiritual, intuitive beings. But I do have many other interests, as do you. I hope that when I die, it's on a horse. I had a melanoma scare in my 30's, and after that, I came to the conclusion, if I'm going to die, I'd rather it be getting thrown from a horse than cancer. Therefore, I plan to remain riding until I can no longer hoist myself up--or be lifted--onto a horse. And, at that point, I can just get wheeled out to the barn to feed--or maybe drive an electric scooter--whatever gets me there. Although, it may have to be in a warmer climate than I currently reside in. :)ReplyDelete
I agree that they are way of life. When I haven't had horses in my life it's felt gray and a bit empty. There used to be this elderly man that would show up at our horse shows and sit and watch for hours on his scooter. Turns out he used to be a farrier and loved being around horses.Delete
Interesting conversation; not sure I agree with the autism thing except that there is a spectrum to everything. It seems to me that there are a lot of passions out there and most of them don’t make sense to someone without the passion. I know my family shakes their collective heads at the expense and work that is my life with horses. But, I also know that my brother is passionate about his sail boat and that is just as much a money pit. We live in wine country and the saying here is that if you want a winery, you have to have a couple million so you can afford to lose a million... Passions/obsessions/whatever...they don’t make “sense.” But, they bring meaning to our lives, and joy. And that’s priceless.ReplyDelete
I have many friends who sail and it is a money pit (perhaps not as much as horses...). And I agree with you about the joy. I don't think it matters even if you are on the spectrum. If horses bring joy then they are a good thing.Delete
As a psychology student, I have a fascination with equine-assisted therapy. Horses provide a lot of stimulation and comfort for some people on the autism spectrum. It's a very interesting topic!ReplyDelete