Wedding Woes

... ... What?

Dear Prudence,

I have a lifelong habit of getting focused on a particular subject for months at a time, but I tend to fixate on things I find distressing. I don’t “like” these subjects, but I feel a powerful drive to understand them. The more distressing the subject, the harder it is to get out of my head. That’s not exactly elevator chit-chat, so I try to keep it to myself. Occasional relevant topics do come up, though, and I have trouble hiding how much I know about it. This year, my fixation has been about understanding how the Nazis came to power. The more I learn about it, the more distressing it becomes, and the more compelled I feel to understand it—especially when I see the connections to the present day.

But I have no idea how to explain this to people. It’s one thing if you clearly know way too much about intestinal parasites. It’s another if you clearly know way too much about Nazis. I’m worried that I’ll accidentally make it obvious that I know a lot more about Nazis than I’d like to, and people will come to the wrong conclusion. The obvious solution might seem to be “don’t talk about Nazis,” but they come up more often than you’d expect. I don’t think “I read a lot about stuff that stresses me out, including Nazis” will fly, because I don’t have a good answer to the obvious follow-up of “Why?” Plus, if the assumption isn’t directly brought up, I’m worried that trying to address it just sounds more suspicious.

—Frightening Fixation

Re: ... ... What?

  • I think LW is a bit arrogant and yet also out of touch.

    People research things that make them uncomfortable or also face areas that they don't know.   I've seen people consider getting a flying lessons to help w/ a fear of flying. 

    You aren't looking to BE someone who is dangerous - you're looking to inform yourself.  This isn't something to be ashamed of.  
  • I think anytime you have a fixation or intrusive thoughts you can’t control that are distressing you, obviously you need mental health help. It is very easy to avoid talking about Nazis. 
    mrsconn23CasadenaOliveOilsMom
  • This sounds like a compulsion rather than genuine intellectually curiosity. If they can’t stop themselves from researching/ thinking/ talking about distressing events they need to seek out help. If they can’t “not talk about Nazis” it’s time to find some support. 
    OliveOilsMomshort+sassy
  • I feel like this isn't that unusual. People watch/learn/listen to true crime to help ease anxieties. Some therapy would definitely help put things in perspective, especially if the focusing is to a point of being unhealthy.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 19
    Agree that this sounds like a mental heath concern. The intense focus on a distressing subject for a short time seems almost compulsive. 

    That said, if it comes up, "I'm a bit of a history dork" is a fine way to dismiss it. Studying how nazis came to power in our current climate is really not that odd. There has been a trend toward right wing nationalism in different places around the world (including the US), and it is concerning. Studying how an extremist party was able to take power doesn't mean you agree with the party. It can also mean you know that it could happen again. 

    Not going to lie, I do worry that we're on the cusp of something extreme happening again. I could see that this focus is more out of anxiety than about any sort of appreciation. 
    charlotte989875short+sassylevioosa
  • This literally screams therapy. It sounds like some anxiety/ocd issues
    short+sassy
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    LW needs to start with a PCP to see where to go from there.  It may be very helpful for LW to become informed about why they do this type of behavior obsessively.  What is especially odd is that LW feels like they can't avoid talking about the subject to STRANGERS IN AN ELEVATOR!

    The compulsion to learn about uncomfortable stuff should be addressed with a medical professional.  Its not unhealthy to want to learn about new and possibly uncomfortable topics, but the levels that LW goes to is not normal behavior.
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think it's completely normal to further research distressing topics. It's not normal to feel like you're just going to blurt it out, and stress about it so much you need to write a letter for online advice. 

    STARMOON44charlotte989875short+sassymissJeanLouise
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    This absolutely sounds like compulsive behavior as part of a larger OCD diagnosis. H is bipolar with an OCD component and when he was manic, his compulsions would ramp up. His compulsions were obsessively researching things as well (but not disturbing things). He got into mountain bikes and would spend hours a day researching bikes, reading reviews, building and rebuilding virtual bikes, and talked about it with me nonstop. LW needs professional medical help. It's not wrong to want to learn more about things (my H is still like that even with medication) but LW is taking it to an unhealthy level.
    short+sassycharlotte989875
  • This absolutely sounds like compulsive behavior as part of a larger OCD diagnosis. H is bipolar with an OCD component and when he was manic, his compulsions would ramp up. His compulsions were obsessively researching things as well (but not disturbing things). He got into mountain bikes and would spend hours a day researching bikes, reading reviews, building and rebuilding virtual bikes, and talked about it with me nonstop. LW needs professional medical help. It's not wrong to want to learn more about things (my H is still like that even with medication) but LW is taking it to an unhealthy level.
    My DH is like this too, without the OCD. If he gets interested in something, he becomes an expert on it. His mom always says "J can tell you everything about the rain. How it's made, why it falls, what it tastes like; he can tell you everything about the rain except how to get out of it." Lol, that is exactly my husband. 
    short+sassycupcait927charlotte989875
  • I'm also on the "LW should speak to a therapist" bandwagon.  The kind of obsession they are describing, especially about topics they know upsets them, is concerning.  Another fixation is worrying about the thoughts other people have, in regards to their vast knowledge of X subject.

    I find that really odd because I don't think I have ever in my life had a thought like, "Wow, this person knows so much about the history of the KKK (or whatever subject).  Why?  Are they secretly a member or also have those beliefs?"  Unless their knowledge of a subject also came with opinions.

    Although not necessarily a negative subject, my fascination is with behavior.  Of both people and animals.  For people, a sub-topic I find especially interesting are the early years of human development.  How experiences we may not even remember can so strongly shape our personalities, our health, and the course of our life.  I can talk your ears off about documentaries I've seen.  Books and articles I've read.  So I'm just going to stop myself right now, lol.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I know so many random things.  Some of the things I know are a bit disturbing.  Some are fun!  I can talk your ear off about cross-dressing in medieval literature.  Doesn't necessarily mean I'm a cross-dresser!  Being self conscious of something that many people do as a hobby or being worried that people will think less of you for knowing a lot about a certain subject is not healthy, and I'm going to agree with all PP about the therapy.

    short+sassy
  • GBCKGBCK member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    y'all saw fixation as OCD in need of therapy...maybe it's where I am in the world but I saw it as "on the spectrum and special interests"--which means help w/ keeping it on the social side, but, you go absolutely hog-wild w/ that special interest--that's the 'superpower' side!
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    GBCK said:
    y'all saw fixation as OCD in need of therapy...maybe it's where I am in the world but I saw it as "on the spectrum and special interests"--which means help w/ keeping it on the social side, but, you go absolutely hog-wild w/ that special interest--that's the 'superpower' side!
    I don’t think fixation to the point of in depth research is the issue. It’s the fact that LW states they develop this fixation with things they find “distressing.” And the more distressed, the more they research, which in turn leads to them becoming more distressed, in turn leading to feeling disconnected from people. That’s an issue. Had LW said they encounter deep fixation about things, but the more they research the less distressed and the more relieved they feel to understand how it works, I wouldn’t feel like it’s an issue. 

    Have at your special interests. I personally know way too much about some “taboo” subjects that aren’t exactly dinner party conversation. But I’m not distressed by the subjects, nor am I concerned about interacting with others. 

    Also, I know everyone is talking about “how hard is it to avoid talking about Nazis,” but tbh it’s not that uncommon of a subject. White supremacy has been on the rise. We’re living in a nightmare where people feel comfortable being outright about their racist and bigoted views. 


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    charlotte989875STARMOON44MyNameIsNot
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    GBCK said:
    y'all saw fixation as OCD in need of therapy...maybe it's where I am in the world but I saw it as "on the spectrum and special interests"--which means help w/ keeping it on the social side, but, you go absolutely hog-wild w/ that special interest--that's the 'superpower' side!
    H and I joke that his mania was his superpower. When he was manic, he didn't do a lot of the "typical" (ie destructive) mania-driven behavior (spend a lot of money, lie, gamble, etc), he just worked out A TON and would do every project around the house. But it the OCD that when hand in hand with it meant that it was doing more harm than good. But man would he get a lot done lol. The OCD that drove him to research everything was also getting to the point of harm. But even with medication, he's still retained the desire to learn about how things work, history, research, etc. I'm glad that didn't go away.
    charlotte989875short+sassyMyNameIsNot
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